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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My parents say I was the most faithful Christian they'd ever met. And this might have been true, but I was young, and I studied the religion. Basically, I got from it, "Don't wait for God to solve your problems, do it yourself." This philosophy made a lot of good sense. So I said I believed in God for a long time, but I didn't really. I didn't act like he existed, and if I were to cut him out, so many problems would have been fixed in my questions on the world.

While I still believed, I made an argument that Yahweh, if he was loving, couldn't have created any world that couldn't exist on its own. It goes something like this.

In the world is something that is impossible for any natural or people made force to create. In this universe, if it is created by Yahweh, he is malevolent, because he has not offered proof of his existence, and faith being a central tenant to my branch of Christianity, would mean that no one could have faith in something they know for a fact exists, and we're all damned. Alternatively, other gods created the world. It was possible, but I could find no one to help me improve that point.

Or, two other options. Yahweh does exist, but exists outside the universe, not violating thermodynamics or interacting at all or he doesn't exist period, nor any other gods. I thought about this argument for a week, ran it to all my religious friends, and came to the conclusion that I really didn't believe in God, after all.

Suddenly, everything made sense. Stupidity, human suffering, human rights violations, natural evil, it's all because the universe isn't alive and doesn't care. At that moment I became an atheist, and a strong one.
Lately, I've been saying I was always an atheist that was raised as a Christian.

My parents are both extremely fundamentalist and when I was a kid, that was fine, but the cracks started showing early. I can recall having issues with particular things as young as age 7. Specifically, I can recall my county being under a tornado warning with the path predicted as going over our very small community. I was scared and my mom suggested we pray that the storm not hit us. I recall scoffing...I may not have actually done so, but I did have some type of negative reaction, because my mom told some anecdote about the power of prayer and I can remember not buying any of it, but playing along anyway.

As I got older and learned more and more objective facts that contradicted the Bible, I learned to compartmentalize and rationalize really, really well. As a young teenager, it just never occurred to me that it was possible not to believe. I think my first indication that there really were people who didn't believe in the Christian God was when I learned in world history about other religions and how many people there were that followed them. That all culminated in my dismissing organized religion by age 18 and religion altogether by age 20.

I'm 30 now and it was only in the last two or three years that I've actually done a lot of studying on the subject. Religion just never any sense to me, even from a young age, but it took a while for it to ever occur to me that it was possible to just not believe.
Were you always an atheist?
In the official sense, no. I didn't officially become an atheist until I declared as such in high school. Before then, I was, at most, a non-denominational deist. Something created everything. Then I started taking serious science classes and found out the real 'something' behind it all.

Were you at one point in time a Christian, Muslim, Jew, etc.?
My mother was raised Catholic, but a difficult experience with the church after her first child was stillborn (who would have been Jane, my older sister by 3 years) convinced her not to have me or my brother baptized or brought regularly to church.

My mother still occasionally recounts the tale where my grandmother was watching me, while my mother was out. took me down to the church to "receive the blessing," whatever that refers to, and how my mother was frustrated at this, probably not so much at the religious undertone, but at how her mother was going over her head.

My father's religious upbringing I know little to nothing about, but based on the fact that neither of my grandparents on that side attend church, chances are that my father didn't either.

As a result of this mix, I have been inside a church a grand total of three times in my life, none of these for a religious service. Twice for weddings, and one for a cheap charity concert.

What made you stop believing?
The fact that I barely believed in the first place. Between learning the underlying facts, forces, and phenomena of the universe, and never having had a meaningful relationship with a fatherly 'creator,' atheism both made sense and required no crushing emotional struggle.

However, a lot of credit goes to the fact that my parents settled in Massachusetts, where such a thing might garner barely more than a 'meh', where skull-cracking fundies are virtually nonexistent, and where my high-school's christian fellowship had, according to my yearbooks, at peak, six members.

There were a lot of Catholics among my classmates, but none of them were of the you're-not-one-of-us-you're-going-to-hell variety. I don't they really understood their faith either. Around 3rd or 4th grade, there was a wave of First Communions happening, and I think most of them were more excited about the gifts that resulted. One of my friends joked that with the money he made, he was going to buy a yacht.

The closest I came to religious harassment was some mention of Jesus Christ in the speech given by the valedictorian at high-school graduation. I don't remember exactly what he said, but it was in the sense of Jesus not as a divine figure but as a moral teacher. I don't recall being outraged then; I probably would have been more so had it happened recently. Mostly I'm just confused, since he used to be a good friend of mine.

Eventually, I decided to read the bible "just to see what all the hype was about." Start to finish. I never got past Numbers without boring myself silly. While I recognized the familiar tales of Genesis and Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy concerned themselves with so many mundane and inane rules that just made me wonder, "There are people out there who still consider this relevant?" and Numbers was just a long stream of geneological diarrhea. (Thanks be to the webmasters of Skeptic's Annotated Bible for streamlining the whole process.)

As for other religions, Jews were a sizeable minority in peaceful coexistence with the rest of the student body. On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, everyone was Jew For A Day just to get out of doing homework. Yet another sign that most of the student body in general didn't take religion all that seriously.

Also, it should be noted that at one point before atheism, I considered Islam just because I wanted to be different. I had read the cliffs-notes summary of Islam, e.g. five pillars: say the Shahadah, donate to the poor, make the pilgrimage at least once in your life, say a few words facing Mecca...seemed like something that I could do, or at least give lip service to. Ultimately, I think my interest was more based on mystique, unfamiliarity, than on real sense of piety.
It was slow for me, but I quite clearly remember thinking there was something wrong with the idea of a god when I was a kid in Germany. This was the early '80s and with the cold war going strong, we would have evacuation exercises on the post my father was assigned to.

The families gathered up in the gym on post, and there was a man keeping the kids occupied by shooting hoops. I asked why we were there, and he honestly answered that it was to make sure that we would be safe if the Russians attacked. Naive kid that I was, I immediately went to what was instilled in me, "Won't god save us." His answer, and I have to paraphrase being that it was a while ago, was something along the lines of God can't control what happens to us. I was sure, and fairly adamant that God indeed had control over everything and he bounced around but I do remember him also saying that it was all Gods will. Can't blame the guy, I put him on the spot I guess. But after that I spent the rest of the night, and many nights thereafter thinking like Epicurus, though I wouldn't read anything by him for years to come. But the logic was there, even in a juvenile manner, that if god was omnipotent, why did harm come to people, and if he wasn't what the hell could he do for me if I prayed to him.

It took some time, and a lot of thought before I realized that religion was nothing more than early mans fear of death, and inability to explain his existance. But because I didn't know there was the possibility that you couldn't believe in something I stayed in the closet for a while, until I hit High School. Of course that is when you try and find your identity and this being something I felt was pretty individual to me, I started letting it be known away from home, and finally threw it all out there by graduation.

All I can say about it is its hard to break away from the brainwashing and clear your head alone as a child, probably even moreso as an adult when your friends family and employment can very well be on the line. Thats why I am very interested in sites like this, a place where closet Atheists can anonymously meet and gain support from those who have already taken the leap.

I think I'm rambling, I better finish up.

Well, thats my story as I remember it, it was so long ago I am surprised it came back so clear.
I'm an atheist because when I was young my parents raised me to be a jehovah's witness. Part of that religion consists of teaching why other religions are wrong. So finally after I realized that Jehovah's Witnesses are cult members that pretty much eliminated all the religions. I since then went to college and learned about evolution. Now then I'm annoyed by religion pretty much.

It's funny because now I can't get enough science. Now I realize how sheltered I was and what a shame for millions of Jehovah's Witnesses.

Oh well, life goes on and I think it has made me stronger. Hopefully it will help me to avoid being taken in by any other cults in the future.
Do you think it would be better if they had never lied and taught you that Santa was real?
That story breaks my heart... You poor child. Nothing can compare to that. :(
Hi everyone!, I finally read all of your posts (it took me about three days). It was really interesting. Some of you have great sense of humor!

I was raised catholic in a northwestern city of Mexico, but I don't remember ever being aware of what all those rituals meant. I found a lot of discrepancies between what people said and what people did. So I realized they had no idea of what they were talking about, so they couldn't really convince me of the importance of being a believer.

As I understand it, when you are part of a community you are expected to behave in a certain way and you just go along because you need to be part of something. Religion is a type of procedural knowlege, you learn it the same way you learn to ride a bike: by practice (you don't need to know mechanics in order to ride a bike). And I guess that is how a learned to behave in the catholic way.

My mother basically forced me (in a nice way) to go to church when I turned 15. In case you didn't know, in Mexico is a big deal when girls turn 15. They make this humongous parties after attending a mass where the girl is blessed. She also has to dress like a doll (yikes!). I strongly refused to follow that tradition, but I had to go to church anyway. I didn't dress up, and I didn't have a huge party. I just went to church accompanied by my family since that was very important to my mother. Now I just go to church once in a while because of major events, like weddings or when a loved one dies. I do it because of sympathy to my family.

I found the reasons of my atheism mainly in two concepts: (1) humans evolved with a sense that things occur because of a reason, Daniel Dennett calls it "intention"; (2) there are structures in the natural world that do not have a main controller (or head, or nucleus), they "emerge" because of the interaction of their elements.

Somehow I connected these ideas to understand that believing in god is a by-product of assuming intention behind any event that occurs in the natural world. (Thank you Daniel Dennet!)

It is very interesting that many of you said that we are born "atheists". I think if that were the case, there wouldn't be millions of people believing in some sort of deity in the world. I would rephrase that by saying that we are born with the biological predisposition to believe in a super-entity (I got this idea from Paul Bloom "Descartes Baby"), but we are also born with the tools of rational thought and consciousness which allow us to orient our believes in a more realistic way than by faith alone. I think that atheists are simply using those tools.

I apologize for any bad grammar! English is not my first language.
2+2 = 4
Not 5 nor 3 nor 3.14159265358979323846…

When I was little I went to a christian elementary school in Mobile, Alabama and I think some of the experiences while there shaped me. I recognized at a young age that people were just using religion as a tool for conformity and only following the rules if it fit their goals.
In my later years is became obvious that many did not even really believe "it", but instead used it as a tool in order to make themselves feel superior from others.
Around the start of high school I started to read much more (mostly fiction), and that was when the light went on finally and I admitted to myself that I was an atheist. Looking back, I suppose I had known it for years, but I just never openly admitted it to myself; always clinging to the idea that what was taught to be as a child was true. Brainwashing children into a religion is horrible and I do not know how any parent can do so, it puts so many barriers for someone to have to overcome in order to be a rational, well rounded and intelligent person.
I was raised Lutheran, though not very strongly. The pastor my mom liked retired, and the new pastor was the "fire and brimstone" type, which she didn't like at all, so we stopped going when I was maybe 10, and my brother 8. I haven't been in a church for anything besides weddings since. Religion was just never really a big part of my life. My mom believes in God, but doesn't push her beliefs on others; my dad seems to be apathetic; and my brother considers himself agnostic (which I would like to think I influenced.) Thus, I was never a strong believer in the first place. In high school, I thought very hard about what I believed, and settled on "agnostic." (This was before I realized one can be both atheist and agnostic.) Early in college, an online friend of mine helped me realized that even if I was unsure and admitted that, theoretically, there could be a god of some sort, I was still an atheist. And that's my super-boring story. =)
Why am I an atheist? There are several reasons. Some of the most important answers are:

I want to do good things for good reasons instead of trying to second-guess the whim of some ill-defined, transcendent mind.

I actually care about whether my beliefs are true or not. If the real point of your religious philosophy is its concern with the truth of reality, then the absolute last things I want to hear in its defense is that I just gotta believe (suspension of disbelief?!), it gives people answers (to problems that religion makes up), and it makes people feel good (a form of recreation?!).
I was a muslim ,a practising muslim ,till i was 13 years of age.Over the next 4-5 years ,i struggled and re-evaluated the basis of my faith.If i were to give a short answer why i stopped believing in a personal god , its most likely due to
3.lack of evidence for god




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