Some people become atheists post religion, and some have been that way as long as they can remember. So what's your story?

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It's quite a journey, but please read:

I was born Atheist, just like all of us humans. It's just that attempts to convert me didn't really work. Although confronted with all-present religion I became Agnostic.
When I went to school for the first time and had to go to religion lessons (I'm from Poland, parents can opt-out but nobody does and I was different enough already so my mum didn't want me to be bullied) I would not go to class, I'd hang around the school yard instead. They decided I wasn't "religiously mature" enough so from next year I was made to go to religion lessons with kids from year down. I didn't really take all that mumbo-jumbo seriously until the year of 1st communion I decided to give it a go. I'd pray, I'd go to church. I made myself believe until the communion.... It was a huge let-down. How? Well, I was raised in a very artistic, bohemian home. My mother believed in the freedom of information and didn't prevent me from any (apart from Old Testament, she feared I might take it seriously and so we only only had New Testament at home). As a result I was aware of existence of LSD and read about it's effects. At church they the way they described taking first communion made me think it was going to be like LSD, that I'd REALLY feel Jesus in my heart. If god exists surely it wouldn't be hard for him to make this experience something special??? It turned out god didn't exist and it was all a big scam.
Later in life I became interested in Islam as of all religions it made most sense to me. But Muslims didn't make sense at all. I didn't convert.
I didn't go to church again until in London, late 2003. I was going though a really tough time and someone from that church helped me. I decided to give it a go. It was a gospel church, I was the only non-black person there and it was so much more fun that Catholic bullshit I was used to. They gave me Bible- and they shouldn't have if they wanted me to believe. I read it and I was like WTF?!?!?! I was always all about human rights and racial equality and this book was against it!!! I went back to my proud Agnostic/closeted Atheist self.
And then I read The God Delusion and went back to how I was born.
Raised in a vaguely Christian family, got into Christianity as a young teen, was confirmed as a Methodist twice, then it just slowly faded as I learned more and more about the Bible. I'd say I've been truly atheist since I was about fourteen, and haven't wavered since. Some call me agnostic, because I admit that no one knows for certain just what started the universe or what waits for us after death, but I'm 99.9% certain that the whole god and religion thing is a sham. I'm just open to doubt, as everyone should be.

I'm now nineteen and a freshman in college, and though I've been "out" to anyone who matters for years, I'm just now starting to speak up about my (lack of) beliefs, so a lot of people are just now noticing.
I had been agnostic since I joined the military. My mother was always spiritual and believed in reading and living by the bible. She never forced this upon my brothers and sisters but just left it open for us to experience....

I became an athiest after coming home for 30 days and seeing that both of my sisters had gotten saved. It was the most revealing time of my life. I had happiness for them because they had found happiness and peace in their transition. I have found release and truthfulness, happiness and revelation in mind.

I thank them and their "god" for allowing me to hear my "calling" as they did theirs...
Satan made me atheist.

Seriously.

I got the warm, fuzzy Catholic upbringing - the watered-down, super-nice one that didn't even teach me to dislike Protestants. Satan was mentioned in one boring prayer we recited in church, and never anywhere else. I figured he was just a metaphor like most of the Bible. God, in my young mind, was more of an abstract higher power than a character with a personality. I supposed it was typical of ancient religious leaders to ascribe thoughts and feelings to an abstract concept, and to invent an arch-nemesis for him like in the comic books. But Catholicism was just something I practiced, and prayer was more like karma than like conversations with God.

I could conform. I could personify the mysterious forces of the universe too, and I had great fun doing it. Until I began to meet people who really believed in Satan.

Then I felt kinda bad. Here I was, gleefully engaging in religion and thinking up all sorts of wacky stuff to add to the mythos, and those people were taking it dead seriously. I couldn't handle it, and I moved away from organized religion entirely. I tried a DIY spirituality for a while, but eventually I gave up. At some point I looked back and realized I'd been an atheist for a while.

And then the Catholic pedophilia scandal broke in a big way, and I felt obligated to cut my ties to it completely. Sometimes I still refer to myself as a lapsed Catholic, but I never did any lapsing. I did a lot of growing, reasoning, and maturing.
Like many people who have posted, there was an attempt to raise me as a catholic girl. I was made to go to mass, and CCD (Catholic sunday school). For as long as I can remember attending mass, I remember thinking to myself..."do people actually believe this stuff?? NO, none of this is right! It makes no sense.
I really Never believed. Then after I went to college and studied religions, it all crystallized. I was OK that I didn't believe any of it! Religion is an invention of man. I never liked going to church with anyone, EVER. I remember feeling like what was going on was all wrong. Wrong like the earth was flat wrong. It dawned on me that all of these people must be deluding themselves, because intelligent people couldn't possibly swallow this load of crap could they??? Fast forward to today. I'm a single mother of a 13 yr old son, and I live in the buckle of the bible butt crack of the universe. I encourage my son to question anything he finds to be off or can't understand. Still, between his small minded tyrannical father, and living where he does, he says he doesn't want to go to hell and what if I'm wrong. He's stubborn like me and he's smart so I will continue to bring up the questions to get the flow started, and hope for the best. The truth, is unavoidable, and the reason religious people oppose our view so much, is because deep inside, their spider sensors are going off, but they are just so immersed in their religion and the fake world they have joined, they can't escape. I on the other hand, don't like to play make believe. I'm too interested in what is REAL. :)
Very similar to Vitomama - My mother told me I came home from Sunday school and asked her: "How come it's okay for the people at Sunday school to lie to me?" She asked me how I know they lied, and I said something like "These stories are not even close to real!". I was 5, I believe. I also went through a phase around 8 to 10 years old - asking a million questions and reading all kinds of religous books, yet getting no answers I could actually use. Hearing "You just have to believe." over and over again was my proof that it's nonsensical and (thankfully) I could choose to reject what didn't make sense. My experiences in life since then have repeatedly reinforced that conclusion and nothing has ever made me hesitate - not even my mother telling me all about her near death experience and seeing the pearly gates. Mom wasn't overly religous, but she did believe, and I never told her I didn't believe her or anything else. She was happy in her belief and I'm happy with mine. My children will also be allowed to ask questions and figure it out for themselves. I would be embarrassed to tell my children they must believe and accept what does not make sense and cannot be proven. I want my children to reason and think, not just follow. Teach 'em to fish, people!

Born in 1947 in the first wave of WWII 'baby boomers', I was raised unremarkably as a free-thinking, progressive Episcopalian, an experience without much soul-scarring trauma and for which I still have fond memories. So I cannot claim that running from horrible memories of dogmatic tyranny was a factor. I immediately followed that up with a period of social and political activism centering on civil rights and war in southeast Asia. What propelled me to finally eject religion as an unnecessary companion to all my moral sojourning was an intersection of two things:
1. An inescapable, growing awareness that the very foundation of religious faith was rooted in illogic, inconsistency and insufficient evidence to justify the blind fealty that it so officiously demanded.
2. A inexplicable welling up of the courage needed to simply withdraw my assent to religious faith as a way of knowing. I can't stress enough how important this last factor was in my ultimate leap of reason.

That was some years ago and as I happily reflect, largely without regret, it was the most sane. clear minded decision I ever made.

PS:
BTW. I would characterize my "becoming an atheist" more as a happy affirmation of a naturalistic worldview rather than any kind of angry rejection of a supernatural religious one.

Well, I have to say that I was a born atheist and have never seen any reason to change.  My father was a science teacher and nonbeliever who always told me to think for myself and to never follow the herd.  My mother was raised in a Christian home but never did more than take us to Sunday school off and on as we grew up.  I was raised in the south and learned early to keep my views about religion to myself. 

 

I got a couple of degrees in biology while my boys were small and was delighted in college to meet the first atheists outside my immediate family.  My professors were the first people to whom I could freely open up about my atheism.  Since then, I have felt rather isolated, living in a small Texas community.  I have only very recently found a local group of freethinkers and it is very freeing to be able to discuss these matters openly and intelligently.

 

I'm a "post religion" atheist.  I wasn't raised to believe in any particular faith or religion (perfect now that I look back). 

I met my wife, who believed but had "backslidden" and felt she needed to get right.  As such, she asked me to attend church with her one Easter and because I was falling for her and thought she was so stinkin hot, I agreed.  Long story short, I began to dig the change of perspective and wanted to be in sync with my wife so I continued to attend with her.  I slowly started to develop friendships with members of the church and those personal connections kept me wrapped up and involved in the church for years.

About a year ago, we relocated to the Kansas City area and began to visit churches in the area and none of them really did anything for me and found the people in them so hypocritical.  Soon after, I began to spend more time studying the Bible and research religion as a whole.  I found so many things in the Bible that just made me sick to my stomach and I just couldn't force myself to believe any longer. 

I finally decided to tell my wife of nearly 12 years that I had been living a lie and had to come clean and free myself from the religious dogma that I had forced myself to believe for so long.   She continues to practice her faith and I am ok with it but refuse to  participate just because I love her and our 4 kids. 

 

Scott

 

@Richard L.~
Hi and thanks for sharing your mini-journey. I have often thought how odd it would be if I, as a former birthrite Episcopalian and an atheist now for 25+ years, would retain a significant identification with the national and cultural practices of the Church of England. It would sound funny, don't you agree, to hear Richard Dawkins (perhaps a bad example) say: "Yes. I'm an atheist but I still am a cultural Anglican and I feel a strong allegiance to Great Britain and all the great folks at Cantebury." Wouldn't it?
I'm guessing the reason Jews have such a sense of connection even after declaring themselves non-theistic, (I have many Jewish friends and unsurprisingly, they tend to be non-religious), is owing to several things:
#1. The antiquity of the cultural connections, including language.
#2. The small, almost intimate size of the "Tribe" worldwide...so to speak.
#3. The powerful, concentrated symbolism of the state of Israel as a 'centering' principle...especially in view of the prophetic coalescence it represnts after the diaspora.

You know what? After actually writing these thoughts down on 'paper', it's clearer to me why the Jews, as a people, retain an identity apart from faith... the framing of my question answers itself. What do you think about my speculation anyhow?
Lary
LMAO. That is funny. I may use it. Thanks, Richard.

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