Talking with a few friends we realized that when we all first 'converted' to atheism we went through a phase of uncertainty and shyness about our religious beliefs. Then we all became much more vocal and militant, normally in the 15-20 age range. Then we settled down and became more tolerant and relaxed in our atheisms as we aged (of course I'm the youngest of the group but I still followed this trend).

Has anyone else noticed a similar trend in themselves or among friends, even among the religious? Uncertainty at first in declaring yourself an atheist, becoming more militant and even obnoxious during your late teens and then pulling back and becoming more 'each to their own' as you hit your twenties?

Has anyone else pulled a 180, complete opposite of that? (of course this assumes that you decided that you were an atheist by about the time you hit puberty, sorry later converters :/ )

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I would say that mirrors me very well, with this one caveat: As I turned 40, I became a much more strident, vocal (some might say shrill) atheist. I actually consider myself an anti-theist, a 7 on Dawkins' scale, and essentially a fundamentalist. I believe there is no god as strongly as suicide bombers believe there is one. Intellectually, I know that one cannot prove that something does not exist, but that does not really budge me down to 6.9 on the scale.
That mirrors me as well. In high school I was quite vocal and militant (even trying to start an atheist club to combat the christian one). I became quieter about it in my 20's and 30's but was still staunchly atheist. In my 40's I became strongly anti-theist and also strongly believe there is no god - a 7 on Dawkins scale as well. I once again became active in the cause and know that atheism is the best way to live life.
First Kinsey, now Dawkins. I wonder what other named expert will try to coin a sliding scale... Here's to hoping it's an unfortunate pun.
There is more atheism now that a few years ago. And younger people are more likely to reflect general changes than other groups.
Would it be appropriate to say that the trend continues with a second wave of vocality (I think I just made that word up) later in life. Maybe after the kids grow up or leave or some other such trigger....
absolutely, although I have gone through that change in the course of a year, it took most of the year to go from serious doubt to "anti-theist" (The god delusion helped with that) now I am somewhere between step two and three, I still am pretty outspoken online, and with a few friends, but im not totally out as an atheist so. that makes things a little more difficult
When I Decided I was atheist, i was not shy about it at all, i felt i discovered the answer to life, i was so happy i didnt care who knew, or even who i offended, but then again my family makes it easier for me to do and think what i want, and i know others are different and a lot more trouble coming out, for social reasons
I never really had a trend to follow. I went to catholic school for 13 years so I was kind of alone in my atheism; when I realized in high school, I just kept it quiet. I was never really militant about it, I never saw a reason. I kind of just flew with it until college. I'm in my second year of college now, and I want to find more atheists to befriend. All of my good friends are from high school, and they all have roman catholic roots. I think only one of my friends is a serious believer, ironically one of my best friends. None of my friends have a problem with my atheism, and I really don't care what they believe, though it saddens me that they waste their time, I cannot change their minds. Glad I stumbled this website though...seems pretty cool. Nice to meet everyone =)
I kind of went through this trend, but with a little variation.

Upon first converting at around age 13-14, I was pretty quiet about it.
At age 16, I became more vocal, but I don't think I would have done so naturally. Rather, I was provoked by 1), this highly religious and highly conservative friend of my brother's who was often at my house, and 2), (accidentally) dating a Muslim and seeing how his religion F's up his whole life.

Thus, I don't think I ever would have become outspoken about my atheism if I hadn't had the faults of religion and the ignorant zeal of the religious rubbed in my face.
I've been belligerently atheist for as long as I have been an unbeliever. I still treat theists with respect and am even friends with several, although I rarely "agree to disagree" with irrational conclusions. Honestly, I think that one of the reasons that religion has such power in industrialized countries is because non-theists refuse to confront the basic premises of religion and pseudo-science in the public sphere. I believe that a socially progressive society will be a secular one, and that theism is an enemy of a better world in the here and now.

And now, a paraphrased quote from Einstein.
The only thing that evil needs to exist in the world, is for good people to do nothing
I can recite my own phases. I naturally thought about my world and asked questions constantly. I was raised by Christian parents in a heavy Christian environment. Being raised as such, I always found ways to put God into my interpretations of philosophy and science. Naturally, I was ignorant about what was actually written in the Bible, and what many people actually believed. From this point, it was all a matter of realizing what I really was. I was a secular Christian for a while, of course I didn't consider myself one. When I realized the flaws and dangers of fundamentalism in Christianity, I decided I was an agnostic. With my own personal beliefs, I couldn't rightfully call myself a Christian, could I? Finally, I stopped denying what I was altogether, and now call myself an Atheist. I'm a very laid back, live and let live guy, and I seem to have skipped the militant phase of my Atheist and other beliefs. Either that, it's still coming. That considered, I do get very passionate when talking about my beliefs... Maybe I'm just a ticking time bomb.
I suppose if I had the exposure to all the books you have now and the internet 25 years ago I would have been an Atheist as a teenager. But I really envy you young ones.. I was nearly 38 before I became an official "Atheist". I went between being a theist to agnostic many times over the years. I have several years of painful reflection about my beliefs. It was not an pleasant time for me. I was a Deist for a short time before my Atheism. Then I realized how silly that was.




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