It happened to me, I was wondering if it really happens that often. Being a member in A/N for a few months now, reading all of the profiles/discussions/blogs, I still don't really know if it happens that often...
I have had experiences similar to what is described as an "epiphany", but that is not how I became an atheist. I did come to embrace the term almost over night, or so it would seem, but there were lots of nagging doubts in the back of my mind before that happened, that I refused to acknowledge.
I think there is a point when one realizes (or has the courage to admit) that one is an atheist.
whether or not it can be described as an epiphany or not, I dunno.
That moment for me was not.
Yet, I think that for many it is a disturbing moment.
I think that is a service A/N can provide: letting people know that millions of others have had that moment too. And it is all O.K.
Truly. It was the final straw snapping the back of agnostic deism. I supposed technically I may be agnostic to purists - I'm a conscientious objector. I want nothing to do with gods. If it exists, it disgusts me and I refuse to respect anything that loathsome to allow such idiocy.
I also had an epiphany when realizing that the Bible and Christianity (at least, as it is historically understood) are false and that whatever insight can be found in scripture or religion is derived not from an inspiring god, but humans, ourselves.
It was still a few years later that I became an atheist, but being able to challenge my worldview so fundamentally -- I had been immersed in a border-line cult since I was about ten years old, thanks to my parents allowing my dad's family to do so -- eventually led me to question everything else, and to this day, I am still like that.
I simply do not have the ability to dismiss a thought or argument simply because I don't wish to believe in it, or because conflicts with my current views, no matter how comforting it may be to hold onto what I think or believe. I might be able to push it aside for a while, but in the end, my skepticism -- something valuable I learned from leaving the cult -- and curiosity draw me back to the questions as I seek the true answers.
When i tried my experiment of not praying, my life seemed to clear up, and become less stressful. It was almost immediate, but not overnight. I guess the epiphany was "what will happen if i stop praying?"
Thank you everyone for responding! I really enjoyed reading everyone's response, I really do! I feel more of a comfort level!
My epiphany was pretty sudden. I was severely severely depressed. I prayed and prayed for answers and all of a sudden it all clicked to me that god didn't exist. I remember it so clearly I first cried and said "God didn't exist" repetitively. That lead me to think that the only person that can help me the most was me, not God or anything else.
Ofcourse, I did my research to put the foundation of beliefs (or lack thereof). The world makes soo much sense with no God(s). I wish more people could see it this way.
I know that the majority of xtians i come in contact with don't even know why they are xtian. My nephew claims to be xtian, and like alot of others, doesn't even look into it much. I'm sure that he's not questioning religion right now, but he told me that he doesn't believe alot of the ghost stuff. We were talking about the haunted plantations in the area, and my brother does believe in ghosts. I wanted to drag him (nephew) onto the carpet about religion, but my sister would have exploded. She is very religious. I just asked him why he doesn't believe in ghosts, hauntings, bigfoot, etc. He said that he is not going to believe something because of a rumor, he has to see it. He may be on the right track.