I am writing an opinion piece and would like participation in this informal survey. I know the question is fundamentally wrong, but it is to help keep the selection narrow:
How were you convinced you to become an Atheist?
(Select the most applicable single answer)
A) A billboard
B) A book
C) A miracle
D) I’m not an atheist
E) I don’t know
F) I wasn’t convinced, it was a realization of who I was
G) A specific person (not an authored book)
H) I was mad at my god(s)
I) I have always been an atheist
J) My god is an atheist, therefore I am an atheist
K) By physical or verbal threats
L) I signed a contract and now I’m stuck being an atheist
M) I had to become atheist to marry my spouse
N) Atheists are cool, and I wanted to be like them
O) Other (please explain in one sentence)
It's for an opinion piece I'm writing... Wanted to include most of the reasons people use to pick a religion, or think influence people to pick a religion (since many now claim atheism is just another religion). It does sound silly when they are reversed to be reasons of religion abandonment (for perspective).The questions help point out the "atheism is just another religion" as just a red herring.
Thanks for the participation!
It's a combination of B and F. The book (The Demon Haunted World) made me realize I hadn't been honest with myself.
Oh, and maybe some H in my late teens, but then I experimented with witchcraft for a few years.
I pick F!
(And also a little bit of B. But mostly F, because by B I'm being snarky and sarcastic by citing the Bible for my atheism...Bwahaha!)
Now for my 2 cents...
For a long time I drifted around without considering myself theistic or atheistic. I KNEW that I did not like going to church, I did NOT believe in many, many, many, many (etc) things that the Catholic church (and my mom) wanted me to believe in and aside from all of that, I felt boxed in inside my head. I felt like I was literally closing my eyes to so much more information and science that was readily available in this day & age. I felt that there was way too much information becoming available (every day) in the world to be OK with having Jesus or God as a final answer.
Long after I decided that I would not follow a church, or believe in their gods, I decided that either way, whatever I believed in, I DIDN'T believe in Organised Religion. This was my first step. I felt stupid saying, "Yes, I still believe in a God," and arrogant for saying, "No, I don't believe there are Gods." - But of course my brain pipes in with, "But you've never believed in Thor or Zeus!! What's the hold-up here!?" Well, because I wasn't raised thinking Thor or Zeus had any literal reality in conjunction with my life.
I even felt uncomfortable calling myself an agnostic. I was pretty much happy not associating my views with any kind of title, thinking that's what got us into this mess in the first place. It was all very frustrating.
My biggest hang up was eventually ceasing all one-sided communication with the unseen force living in the sky (my head). I don't mean praying. I just mean... "talking with your Creator." I'll give you 2 very real examples.
Example 1: My mom and I get in a fight. She pisses me off. I go in my room and slam the door and start cursing her. I call her a bitch, I write in my diary about how awful she is, how vile; I hope she goes to hell!! - Then 20 minutes later I'm not that angry anymore, but I'm suddenly bloated with guilt for speaking and thinking so badly of my mother, breaking commandments! So I barter with the only other force that could have possibly heard me say all of that shit: God. "You know I didn't mean all of those things... Of course you know! Why am I even explaining any of this to you, you already know what I'm thinking! So of course you already knew that I didn't REALLY mean any of that mean stuff about my mom. Cool, props G-dawg."
Example 2: Remember being a hormonal teenager? Well, let's say maybe I experimented with myself... Now, after finishing said experiments, I suddenly feel like a filthy whore who's going to burn in hell for the rest of her eternal life. So I beg forgiveness. I pray for souls in Purgatory. I plead that, "It'll never happen (it will) ever again (many times) so please don't send me to Hell mighty Lord-man... It must have been Satan the whole time! Satan is living in my pants..." --
I realise now that the reason I was skeptical to call myself an agnostic or an atheist was because I had so little information to back up my feelings, I had so many thoughts that I could not yet place into words. So I started reading anything I could. I realised that I would be a stronger person with more knowledge.
Soon, I was realising that learning about non-belief was opening up more avenues I ever thought possible. I was suddenly reaping the benefits of leaving antiquated traditions in the dust... I was suddenly learning so much about the life that I KNOW exists...
It felt like the wool had been lifted. It felt like I was FINALLY getting some answers that made more sense than the bullshit answers the church, or that even the notion of God, teaches you to settle with.
I see now that I could have realised I was an atheist lonnnnng before I actually did, the questions were there. The doubts, of course, were there. But I considered it to be the fault of the Catholics and the way they ran their religion. (My mom converted to Catholicism when I was 13 after leaving a past involved with Unitarian Universalism & The Berkeley Psychic Institute.) Believing in God had never been such a chore before. Then along came the Catholics.
Lastly, I remember shortly after my mother had converted to this new religion, did she buy me a book titled, Did Adam & Eve Have Belly-Buttons? I thought this was a GREAT question! In fact, I initially thought the book was FILLED with great questions. I read it twice. And much to my horror, did this book very clearly explain to ME, personally, that I would be going to hell. - Aside from that, a curious Christian writes to the author, "I love my wife, but she has told me that she cannot be with someone who loves her more than they love God..." To which the author replies, "She's right. You shouldn't love her more than you love God. God commands us to love Him first above all others. The proper order in which to love is as follows: You love God before your elders, you love your Elders before you love your spouse. You love your Spouse before you love yourself."
I was SO not okay with ANY of this. My head was reeling... I LOVE MY DOG WAAAAY MORE THAN I LOVE GOING TO CHURCH!! I felt horrible because I loved my Mom more than I loved God. God wasn't the one giving me hugs, or helping me with homework, or making awesome French Toast.
Like I said, I could have realised that I didn't believe in gods and that church and religion was a bunch of bullshit lonnnng before I actually did.
But to tell you the truth, I'm just proud of myself that I managed it at all.
I was a kid raised on spirituality, not Jesus. So when Jesus walked into my life, he really did save me. He saved me from his followers.
F) I wasn’t convinced, it was a realization of who I was
That, combined with the Atheist Experience that helped me realize that my "agnostic" stance was actually the stance of atheists, I just had the wrong name.