Were you always an atheist? Were you at one point in time a Christian, Muslim, Jew, etc.? What made you stop believing?

I'm sure we could all give voluminous answers to why we don't believe in a personal god including, but not limited to: Personal, philosophical, scientific, historical, etc. reasons; which are all perfectly valid. But I want to know what spurred you to question your former beliefs and become an atheist.

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Shouldn't that be a sheep rather than a horse in that example?

How's this?
Religion never really made sense to me, even when I was a child. I never remember believing in anything when I was younger, yet I wasn't technically an atheist either. My family is Christian, but we never really went to church except for a few times during my childhood, so I didn't know much about Christianity. When I started school though and started reading, I learned a lot about other world religions and thought they were kind of silly, including Christianity. It wasn't until a few years ago until I considered myself to truly be an atheist, though.

Since then, my mom has become extremely religious and my youngest brother and her go to church twice weekly. My other brother attends a private Christian school, and even though he doesn't know much about the religion itself, considers himself to be a Christian because all of his friends are. They like making fun of my disbelief and think it to be rather amusing.
Well... I grew up with my Mom's Baptist Christianity my entire young life. I really believed it all up through 7th grade. I was even Baptized at one point - that summer between 6th and 7th grade. It seemed surreal, and i now understand why people are normally baptized when they are young: so they won't recognize it for what it is - a silly tradition.

I literally fought with myself about whether or not Jesus was actually in my heart or some other bizarre shit that was floating up there in my pubescent brain. Fortunately i met other skeptics in high school, one in particular, who made me feel like it was ok to question, and eventually throw away religion altogether. It was exhilarating, empowering. And it made high school more tolerable, thats for damn sure.
Many years ago, when I was about 7, I came home from the school I was sent to which had both religious and secular education. I began repeating what I was taught, a stream of childish parrotting about god.

A very wise man then asked me "How do you know?"
Confused I replied that the teacher had said so. "
"How does the teacher know?"
Now, completely puzzled I resorted to what I had been told was the authority, the book.
"How do you know that what's in the book is right?"

Those questions had a profound impact. I didn't necessarily have the intellectual development to take that thinking very far, but as I entered adolescence I became very interested in reason and how we know what we think we know. Reading Bertrand Russell was particularly enlightening to me.

I decided that there was no way to know anything about what is not observable (directly or indirectly) and that therefore it was useless to entertain notions about such things.

I also observed that adherence to ideas not supported by fact, when regarded as actionable, causes great harm to humanity. I observed that many have been murdered because their religion was different others. In fact, I was painfully aware that had my family lived in Europe when I was born, there was a very good chance we'd all have been killed. Even today, religion provides the excuse for killing. Disputes which could be resolved by reason and pragmatism are insoluble because the emotional poison of irrational faith intervenes.

Since adolescence I have not believed in any deity. I do, unlike some I know, respect the faith that certain other people have. The faith of those who honestly decide that they believe certain propositions without the pretension to logic or fact have my respect. It is a preference in viewpoint, avowedly emotional and personal which is not irrational. Unfortunately, among the community of theists, such rational theism is rare, although there are many whose views are not totally different. What is also vital is the understanding that faith is purely emotional, and that practical matters are always best guided by fact and reason.

Well, I hope that answers the question.
I grew up in the very heart of the bible belt (Alabama) with a southern baptist dad and a mom that didn't care about religion one way or the other.
To this day I'm not sure what my mom is. I think she's probably a deist of some sort.
I was mostly raised by my mom, and taught to question all things, especially if someone spoke as if they were an authority on the subject. (My teachers just looooved me.)
I was never much of a believer. I was probably a deist until I was about 10 or so, and an atheist from then on, once I realized religion was designed as a system for controlling people.

The area I come from admitting that publicly, which I have no problem doing, is pretty much asking to be a pariah.
The only reason most people will come anywhere near you is to convert the foolish heathen to the "truth". Then they get angry when it doesn't work, and you're granted your outcast status, again.
I've always been a pretty politically oriented atheist. If you want to know why religion should be kept out of public schools, just ask me. I've got a loooong list of reasons.

I've only been inside a church twice in my life. Once was a southern baptist church that I was told not to come back to for asking too many questions when I was about 9. The second one was a pentacostal church I went to because I was dating a girl that went there when I was around 15. The first time someone started speaking in tongues and rolling on the floor I was terrified the poor woman was having a seizure and tried to go help her. Once I realized what was going on I laughed until they threw me out. I thought that was rather unfair, since she was rolling in the floor too. Needless to say the girl never spoke to me again. I wasn't upset about it.

So pretty much atheist born, halfassed-deistyjesus raised, atheist by choice.
Common sense.
There were no direct influences in my realization that there is no god. I didn't start researching the topic until after I had come to this conclusion, but up until my Sophomore year of highschool I was going back and forth on the issue. That was when I first became interested in science in my biology class. My teacher, Mr. Tripeer was an awesome teacher. But before I got here all that I did was ask myself questions, such as "if god created everything then who or what created him and what created that, ." Sometimes I would ask others but usually I would keep them to myself. I don't know when exactly I began to question my faith but it was sometime early on in elementary school.

These are some of the questions and thoughts that popped into my head which helped lead me to being free from religion. Why must we confess sins, if god actually does see, hear, and know all then couldn't he look in to my mind and see that I truely am sorry for what ever it was I was doing? If he is so powerful then why can't he go to each and every person and prove his existance above all else? Why can't he physically disprove all other gods so that everyone is a Christian and not just a third of the world population? Why are there so many other religions in the world and so many different versions of christianity? Why won't he stop all of the atrocities in the world? Just question after question, they piled up. When I stopped believing the answers became obvious to me. With plain common sence I stopped believing in illogical superstitions but a part of me still wanted to believe. Biology class seemed to blew the rest out of the water.

Also, once I finally got a computer and internet access I stumbled upon one of Pat Condells videos. Soon after seeing a few more from him and others I research the topic more. The more I looked into atheism the more antitheistic I became. Now here I am today. I can write a lot more about how a came to be an atheist but it would be rather long and boring, so I won't. Overall I don't believe in any sort of religious dogma for the simple reason that there is not a single shread of emperical evidence that would prove anyone of them to be true.
There's not much to say really. I was born without a belief in any sort of god and I've simply remained that way.
My parents tried to raise my brother and me the christian way (practially my whole family on my dad`s side are devout christians), but it never kicked in. I`ve never believed in gods. I remember asking my friends in elementary school, whether they believed in god or not. The answer was always "Ofcourse I do, don`t you?".
At that age I almost felt guilty not believing in god, as everybody else did. When I got older, I wasn`t afraid anymore to say I didn`t believe in god, and that I found the evolution theory far more plausible than some all-powerful ghost.
Nowadays I find myself more aware of my atheism, as christianity and islam show their ugly heads more and more, and being more agressive about it. Who said "If you don`t stand up for something, you`ll fall for anything."?
Probably an over-simplification, but I am an atheist because I freed myself to ask myself as a Reformed Believer (you know the ones who REALLY know the truth) "What if I'm wrong?" That and an innate love for the truth. I just couldn't live knowing that I believed something simply because it kept me from some harsh realities. I totally agree with some previous posts- I feel more alive and happy and free now than ever before! All that nonsense about Atheists having no hope and being depressed is a bunch of BS!
Like everyone else, I was born an atheist. I then had the misfortune of being indoctrinated into Christianity. My parents were convinced it would be good for me, most likely because their parents did the same to them.

I guess what made me stop believing was that I realized during adolescence that much of what I had been asked to believe was simply absurd. Not only was there no evidence to support any of it, but I discovered what beliefs of this nature did to people. It was a combination of reading, secular education, and my own life experience that helped me free myself from the mind virus of religious belief.



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