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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There are two types of atheists, the one type being those who are intelligent enough to study the history of mankind, who,ve taken a good look at the way we live and seen through the shabby curtain of religion. The other kind of atheist is the ones who are too ignorant and afraid to look behind the drape and see that God is the wizard of OZ. To me being afraid of death is the silliest fear that anyone can have. I've died twice and believe me it's no big deal. I have never believed in the God of the old or new testament, nor any god of any religion. It's a child's fear of the dark.
What do you mean, "I've died twice"? I'd like to hear more about that, Richard.
The only real memory of ever believe in a God was back whan I was a kid and asked my mom if we could go to church. I realized quite quickly though that this was nothing but an attempt to find some kind of identity for myself. I was a very emotionally troubled child, I admit this (I wonder how many kids get into religion because of their emotional instability).
I was in doubt for a long time, and didn't think very much about it. I did go through some traditional church rituals up till the age of 15, but only because of tradition.
However, my story isn't very interesting, since I do live in one of the most secular countries in the world, Sweden. I never really was a believer I think.
I think northern Germany is quite a lot like Sweden. It’s a rather secularized part of the country (most people here can be described as "apatheistic", i.e. "Wellll … maybe there IS somebody up there … maybe not … sometime I will look into this matter, but not right now …").

I was born into a family of protestants all of whom have now left the church – the main reason being the church tax which is collected by the state at a rate of nearly 1o% of the income tax.
Going to church never was mandatory in our family, one only went there for weddings and funerals.

As far as I know I am the only outspoken atheist among them after reading Bertrand Russell in when I was 16 (which is more than 3o years ago), but most of my relatives simply do not really care about religion at all.

I am still rather amazed to which extend religion, especially fundamental christian religion, has taken over formerly rather civilized countries like the US in the last twenty years.

Six years ago I had a girlfriend who was an ex-member of one of the fundamental branches of protestantism ("Freikirchen") and was shocked when we attended a wedding of some of her friends who still were members there – it was my first contact to this part of a belief structure I had never before even heard of.

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

At one time I was a Christian, having been brought up that way, indoctrinated from the age of 5. The reason I accepted atheism, was the evidence or rather the lack of evidence that there was a deity.
I've never in my whole short life (I'm only 24) be part of any religion. I'm baptised because my parents had to do it --you know that grandpas tend to be more conservative and religious, right? There you are. But really my parents are not catholic. My mother is agnostic and my father is straight realistic: his only concern are family, work and money. They reject Catholicism, and never ever taught me any catholic ideas. So both my brother and I grew up with no religion at all. Fortunately, I was clever enough to think by myself "Hey, that whole "believe in God doesn't make any sense, because c'mon...God is not more real than Iluvatar is" --I was reading Tolkien's Lord of the Rings by that time I began to question stuff life religion, moral, ethics, politics...

So here I am today. An atheist who thinks religion destroys freedom, nullifies personalities and create horrendous behaviour...but who also rejects our modern society and politics. A person interested in linguistics, anthropology, psychology, sociology, science, arts...

One can say I was born atheist, and I would say it. No, I will say it now: "I was born atheist...but as any person in the world". I mean, when a baby is born, he does as "Tabula Rasa", which roughly means "Empty Blackboard". So when she/he grows up, the "Blackboard" --her/his mind-- is filled with many things. That's why I say everyone in the world has born atheist: you don't have any beliefs, because when you are born, you're nothing more than a empty mind with some basic instincts. The moment you begin to live with your parents, you begin to learn...and you can became a believer or a atheist. It depends much on the person.
In my profile I mention the "moment" I became an atheist. Dennismik left a comment asking if I could elaborate in the forum. This seemed like a reasonable place to do that, so I thought I'd share.

Background: Dad raised Baptist and sent off to Quaker school to instill discipline, ended up joining the Navy before finishing college and swearing like a sailor. Mom raised Catholic, made us go to church with her when we were little, Sunday school included. When I was six, she asked a few too many thoughtful questions of "leaders" that resulted in a falling out with the church. I was given the choice to attend church or not. Never set foot in one again except for weddings and funerals. I just never "got it" and figured if it was all true I'd find that out as I learned about the world. Wasn't anti-church or against theism, pretty much had a "god placeholder" floating around in my head with no clue where it really fit. Just apathetic about religion in general and convinced that if God knew all, then he understood where I was coming from.

In 2007 Mom came back from a wonderful trip with her girlfriends to England. But she had a cough. Diagnosed as pneumonia. Turned out to be non-small-cell lung cancer, quite advanced. Twenty painful days later I sat next to the Hospice bed set up in her living room. She was folded in half, cheek to knees, gone on morphine, fighting for every breath. And at 1:18 in the afternoon on August 9th, the next breath simply didn't come. As I let go of a parent the god placeholder somehow went with her.

When the inevitable sympathy cards started to arrive I found that my apathy was gone. I found the religious sentiments to be worse than hollow; they were a proxy for sympathy. With God erased by colossal injustice, the church had become an obvious fraud, its followers dupes. Some of these people wanted to use the tragedy as fuel for their engine of logical insanity and it pissed me off.

Time has cooled some of the worst of the experience, but I've found myself becoming more sensitive to religious influence than I was before. I'm at odds now with long-time friends and associates. Atheist is a bad word in America, a sign of severe deviance in Atlanta. But I'm slowly finding my way. Granted, this wasn't a monumental shift in thinking, but giving up that last thread was hard. Pascal's Wager is powerful, and it's good to know there are others who don't buy the whole thing.

Thanks for listening,
This looks like a fitting thread for my first post.

I was raised Catholic until around the age of 12, and then indoctrinated heavily into a very hard core Pentecostal church when my mother got "saved." My Achilles' heel was an exaggerated trust in authority figures, parents, pastors, etc. I thought that being older, they were also wiser than I was, and if they had figured it out with such certainty and were so earnestly feeding it to me, that they were right.

As time went by and I got older, I had to start going through more and more mental gymnastics to maintain my faith, but the fact that questioning my core religious beliefs was supposed to be a grievous sin helped suppress my questions in my mind. For the longest time, I told myself that god deliberately planted evidence contrary to the claims of Christianity as a test of our faith. My deconversion process lasted quite a long time, fully from my late teens to my mid 20s.

The catalyst that started me down the path to deconversion was when I realized the damage inflicted by suppressing every carnal thought, 24/7, 365 days a year, and how god would NOT magically fix it, but I eventually, gradually, gingerly at first, employed logic, reason, science, evidence (or rather, lack thereof for my Christian god as well as other gods), contradictions in the Bible, impossibilities in the Bible, history, and the tendency of religions, including mine, to borrow from each other, to realize that the Christian god and other gods were fabricated out of unsupported fables, and the religious claims they were built on simply did not hold water.
Welcome to the Atheist Nexus.

As someone who grew up in a Pentacostal church, I understand both your past and your journey. It is one many have gone through. I congratulate you on your escape from unreason. I look forward to your contributions to the forum here!
I am a former christian fundamentalist. Punk rock gave me a thrist for truth(or at least fanned the flame), which led to me christianity, which led me to agnosticism. I discovered that the bible is a very flawed and questionable document, which went against everything that I had heard from respected teachers of the gospel. Around the same time I started to study philosophy pretty intensely. At the same time I came to the realization that my religious neurosies were destroying my life and that I had to do something about it. I consider myself an agnostic as I reject all religious dogma and doctrine, but I dont know that there is no divine reality. The world is too rich and colorful and mysterious to for me to make such a claim.
Because I don't believe in lies. I don't remember exactly when I realized the atheist concept was an appropriate description of myself, since middle childhood indeed, but the aversion to god is old in me as the feeling of betrayal by believers.
I think I have always been an atheist, I was brought-up in a family where critical thinking and free thought were valued. We often had discussions concerning the nature of religion, the origin of life, the universe and everything. I was always encouraged to follow my own beliefs, to explore any belief system I wanted, but however much I studied religion I always found my way back to atheism. Science was always a far more satisfactory way of looking at the universe than looking through the myopia of religion.




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