I apologise for the lengthy post in advance, but I just had to get my story out! I hope you find it vaguely entertaining! ;)
I'm glad to have found this site! I've only been an atheist for about a year now, but now that I've realised where I truly stand on the issue of deities and the supernatural, I've become fascinated with the topic of atheism and can't get enough of it!
I was born in Europe but have spent most of my life in South Africa, where I'd say the majority of the population is religious, especially in the small towns. That said, fortunately my parents are very liberal and religion was never really a big topic in our house. This proved to be a problem when I befriended an extremely pious Anglican girl from around the age of 12, who actually managed to convert me briefly to Christianity. In fact, she even managed to make me ashamed of my un-Christian family - indeed, nearly all my school friends went to church on Sunday and I just wanted to fit in.
Eventually I befriended less zealous people but I could not openly admit to the doubts that were creeping into my mind. "How do the Christians know they're right? Aren't the Muslims/Hindus/Jews/Sikhs just as convinced their faith is the right one?" I wondered. What also bothered me was that no matter how good and kind a person was, if they did not "accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour", they would burn in hell for ever. I found this profoundly unfair.
In my late teens I decided that I could not longer call myself an "open-minded Christian" (who believed that the Bible was more metaphorical rather than literal and who ignored the parts depicting god as a blood-thirsty control freak, as well as the book's logical fallacies), settling on the vague label of "spiritual". I believed in a higher, mostly benevolent, power and karma. Then, for a brief period I was fascinated by the Baha'i faith, but rejected it too when I found out that homosexuality and pre-marital sex were no-nos.
Recently, I befriended someone who was raised an atheist. We would have hour-long discussions about religion and the ridiculousness thereof, and after a few months, he wore down my already crumbling resolve. Add some of the Ebon Muse's essays into the mix, and I was sold!
And yes, I definitely believe atheists have more fun!
Welcome to the forum. Don’t worry about any lengthy posts. You’ll find members to be a little more literate than what you find on your average boards. And, most have longer attention spans. (One has to have a longer attention span to read through the bible which is the most common deconversion tool from christianity.) We all enjoy reading about how one reaches their conclusions. And we understand the necessity of being able to speak freely. Consider your self fortunate that you personally know a fellow atheist. Many on this forum were completely alone on their journey to reason.