All too often I hear people say, "I was an atheist when I was in college/younger/a teenager, but then god found me and I became a christian." In my experience, the Atheist community consists largely of people over 30 and I think that A/N reflects that. Along with the testimonials of alleged "ex-Atheists" it would appear as though there is a narrative within the christian community that Atheism is a young persons belief, and that the increased wisdom of many years leads to a conclusion that god exists. That conclusion is usually based on things like a "gut feeling" or "some of the unexplainable things I've seen", or "how life seems to work its self out".

So what gives A/N? How many of us were "converted" when we were young and maintained our beliefs and how many of us took many many years to dis-believe. Also, why is it that people who profess to atheism in their youth eventually join a church? I suspect that the answer is more complex than the simple need for a security blanket.

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I love this observation: will not find a theist who is willing to let atheists or agnostics influence their children in like fashion.

Why is it that this rings so true? Why would an atheist babysitting service be a failure? Is it simply closed-minded prejudice? Or could people have legitimate concerns about the influence that atheists could have on their offspring?

I do not know the answer to this...
Interesting thoughts here mthoreau, like:
“In my experience, the Atheist community consists largely of people over 30 and I think that A/N reflects that.”
Before I figured out how to sort by country, I was going through all the A/N members (one at a time) looking for someone from Estonia. I was surprised, at the time, by the general “youth” of A/N members. I was encouraged to think that youth today are a bit more sophisticated than in the past, less inclined to the fantasy of religion, more thoughtful, introspective.
I have come to the conclusion, however, that youth is youth, and that, to most, atheism is not much more than a new fad to which many A/N youth have not given any more thought than they give to, say, the latest movie. Atheism is just another new rebellion vehicle, like long hair, or loud music. I am not sure that the youth here at A/N are any different than the youth at a rock concert. A passing fad to be abandoned when something more popular or interesting comes along. I really hope I’m wrong.
You're wrong. Most young atheists suffer for their disbelief and/or are passionate about it.
And most young people who want to get a tattoo for a stupid reason when they're 15 suffer for it and/or are passionate about it.

He's right. To a great many youths that claim themselves atheists, it is just the same as any other religion-related label, like "zomg i'ma be a wiccan" line along which some others go. If it's a fad for a lot of them, then those lot for whom it was a fad will drop it after a while, which explains the observed phenomenon of former atheists-in-youth picking religion back up after some years.
my dad was an atheists-in-youth and he "went back to the loving arms of JESUS!!!" but he's been divorced twice and rents a small house that i can barely stand up in. there are alot of the dumb ass people you speak of, these people have little or no metal capacity at all. trust me, i know. over the last few months i have seen time and time again just how ignorant the average christian can be.

one accompanied me to a Korn concert just last month. before the show he would tell me "it is impossible to be a good person with out god in your heart bla bla bla" when we got to the concert he first offered me a beer, i told him "no thanks" then he offered me a cigarette "again, no thanks" then he offered me a joint and said to me "dude the girls here are wet as fuck, you should hit this and go bang one" this made me laugh, but i still told him no. he looked very upset with me, but its ok. he got into a fist fight about ten sec later and got kicked out. so i didnt have to look at his ugly mug or hear anymore of the stupid ideas that happen to pop into his head
i and a great deal of my friends are the long haired, loud music loving, young atheist that you speak of. i cant speak for my friends although im sure they will agree with me, im an atheist from birth and i have never given into any of the lies force fed to me by my parents concerning religion. as for my click's long hair and loud music, that is an entirely different subject all together in our case. heavy metal needs to be as loud as it can because thats just how its meant to be heard, and the long hair, it just isnt right to head bang without a big flowing mop on top :P

oh yeah, i also loved metal and had long hair from birth
maybe people feel bad about being disloyal to their parents or maybe their just bored. I have no idea though.
I think you are spot on with this, Sydni.

For myself, I have wondered about this life-out-of-control experience:

"I think that believing in god provided comfort and solace to lives that felt out of control."

There are a lot of isolating and challenges circumstances in some individuals' lives that make it emotionally very difficult to rely solely on your own intellect, emotional fortitude, self-confidence, and physical resources to help yourself and those important to you to a comfortable future.
I hear about atheists converting to religion or coming back to God after wandering away, but I don't think I've ever met anybody like that. Not sure I would in my circles, but it seems purely a move of desperation to me. And if demographic trends are any indication, far more people are going the other way, leaving the church during or after college when they realize that there's no there there.
A lot of the "I was an atheist when I was young." people who switched back over later are, I hypothesize, really irrational sorts of the very same line of "You're just angry at God" bullshit that theists'll pull out when confronted with an atheist. They're the very same irrational sort who'll believe in an impossible god. Not seeing the promotion of a piece of information as an actual endorsement of that piece of information but as an identifier for ingroup/outgroup purposes to disassociate themselves from their god-snorting family members, they proclaim "There is no God!" to piss off their parents and afterward whisper "Please forgive me."

Nowhere near *everyone* who discovers the truth in their youth is a hypocrite doing it to piss off their parents, of course.
You have to wonder if these type of people were ever true athiests, obviously they can't have done their research. When all scientific evidence points to evolution and evolution is proven fact with bacteria in the lab evolving to suit conditions imposed on them. There can be little doubt in anybodys mind as to what's what.

2 friends of mine have recently found the church by doing the "Alpha course" I've not heard of it before yesterday so I need to research it further (I digress).
But these 2 friends are both going through crisis at the moment. One of them is recently split up with her partner has serious back problems and is off work sick with depression a classic mug for the support network of the church.
The other friend, her husband has lost his job and is suffering with depression, her adopted 15yr daughter has been sexually assaulted, her adopted son has a mental age condition. So as you can see another classic case for the church to step in and offer support.

Until athiests can offer similar support networks the church will be the answer to these poor suffering types. And as Richard Dawkins pointed out gathering athiests is like herding cats.

Chris P.
I checked out the Alpha Course myself. It's a seminar that lasts several weeks. I lasted about 2 sessions. When people were singing and raising their hands upwards towards their "god".....that was just too much for me. All they did was appear fucking stupid


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