Hi I'm 14 years old and about a year ago I started to question my faith. When it first clicked in my head I felt stupid for believing all these years, like I did when I found out Santa wasn't real.

My whole family believes in God and everything and I don't know how I could ever tell them I don't believe.

Even though I'm pretty sure I'm atheist I feel bad about not believing, what should I do?

Recently my dog went for surgery and I found comfort in praying for him, praying makes me feel a lot better when something bad happens in my life, is this bad?

And last, I was just wondering if anyone had any advice that would make me feel more comfortable about my choice in being atheist.

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I remember when I became an atheist, it was just last year if I remember correctly (which I might not be).

I was 13 years old at the time, and haven't looked back since.

Before that I was a rather weak theist, I experienced the majority of my Christianity through scripture at school (public school) and at funerals as my parents aren't very religious (they were both raised Catholic).

Every now and again I used to pray, wondering if God existed.

Now that I've turned to reason I have a greater appreciation for life and humanity, and wouldn't have it any other way.

Just make sure that whatever decision you decide to make you make for yourself and no one else.

I wish you much luck!
I agree with you Geoff. Confrontation with your family can only cause problems at this stage. What I would suggest you do is watch and listen. Every time a religious topic comes up remember it. Go and read up on it or ask questions here or read up on the topic. For example, your family might talk about the idea that people can't be good without knowing god. Don't question this idea or try to disabuse them of this idea, instead research this idea. See what they whole idea means. Eventually this topic will come up. Instead of being in a pointless fight you will have a whole world view ready and waiting. You wont need to defend your world view in anger if you have a deep understanding of what it is to be an atheist.
I wish that when I started my journey that I would have known to look for sources of guidance. I was 15 and started questioning Christianity. This became a long process, I kept this aspect of my life to myself. Until 20, I had not talked to anyone other than people online about it. During these five years, I think I tried nearly every religion, then dug deeper to find that there was no answer to what I was seeking, for they were all false. I still have not told my family and probably never will fully, for it would hurt them- they would not understand. I have a great relationship with my parents and don't want to disturb that. What I have told them is vague, I've said I don't believe the way they do, I call myself skeptical around them, they know I do not attend a church and they know I am fascinated with science. They accept that and do not dig deeper with further questions because they don't want to know.

I had to lay that out, so you could understand where my advice comes from. My advice to you is this: keep active on the forums, take your time talking to IRL people about it- feel it out, it may be wise to not discuss it with your parents until you are much older- at 14 they might not respect you or wonder 'who is influencing her???'.

It took me a year to eliminate prayer and saying godblessyou and other things that are drilled into us at a young age. Even when I knew I wasn't praying to anything, at first it felt better. Then I began saying powerful phrases to myself. ", you are a good person, you are doing your best to get through , you are strong, you will be okay" Saying these things to myself when needed worked, and made me feel confident and in control- more so than any false prayer. For death, I have found a peace in the concept of non-existence.

I like how you phrased this, you call it your choice to be an atheist, and it is- unlike the religion forced on you as a child. There was a guilt I felt for a long time, and sometimes those indoctrinated fears of hell would haunt me, until I recognized the built in tactics of religions to survive. There will be strange lingering feelings and that is okay.

Hope this wasn't too long, your post touched me. I could see myself thinking the same things.
Here we go. Very interesting.
Congratulations for deciding to think for your self. You won't regret it. I don't know if you've seen this:


If you haven't it is a an interesting way of looking at god(s) and religions in general. The theory of religion is explained and why they really fail to make any sense.
Fourteen may be the modal year for realizing one is atheist. It's not the mean, obviously, since retiring priests skew the average up considerably. And it's not the median, since fourteen is practically the youngest one can come to such a realization. However, it's possible that as a mode, it is beat out by zero. Though, one can perhaps not be said to realize their own atheism at that age.

I appreciate Nate's focus upon your word "choice". You may find yourself more comfortable to recognize that you *are* atheist, and then take your own sweet time about adjusting to this fact.
Hi Melissa. You shouldn't feel stupid for having been a believer. After all, there is a vast, coordinated effort to keep people convinced that gods are real. You should feel smart for having overcome that. Many people never manage to.

As to feeling bad for not believing, you should focus on the fact that you've figured out something important, and that you are now truly free to be your own person. Of course, that also means you're responsible for your own actions, and that's a little scary, but that means you don't have to give the credit for the good things you do to somebody else.

And as several others have said, it does take time to get comfortable with a new way of looking at things. But don't worry about that. It will happen in time. It took me the better part of a decade, from about your age, to sometime after college, to really feel confident in my atheism. Even then, it was years before I really came out of the closet, since it's kind of a hassle to be openly atheist in such a religious world, and I didn't want to offend my parents.

It's not always easy, but if you want to feel like your authentic self, you have to go where your understanding takes you.
Melissa, welcome to A|N. I have been meaning to respond since you posted this. However being distracted has allowed time for the words of wisdom to build up beneath it.

Firstly congratulations on the massive leap you have taken. It takes courage to challenge the status quo and at your age, that's a brilliant testament, be proud of yourself. As to the praying, don't beat yourself up about it. After 14 years, it would be more odd if you didn't fall back on those tools you have spent your life relying on. I've been an 'out' atheist for 27 years and in my 20's fell back on prayer during a desperate time, needless to say it never resolved anything.

I think the thing to keep in mind is that you have arrived at atheism on your own and it is your perspective. You are not obliged to tell anybody else unless you want to. Confrontation with family and friends is unpleasant when we have to do it, so don't put yourself in the firing line needlessly. In the meantime make use of this site and ask for help if and when you need it. You will find many people willing to help you work out your thoughts, or even just listen, take advantage of us.

Make yourself at home and add as little or as much as you like, chat as little or as much as you like, but most of all enjoy it. There's nothing like knowing your own mind for making you feel good about yourself.

Best wishes, Anne
Welcome Melissa. You sound very thoughtful and articulate, personally if I were your parent I'd be proud of you. Not for being an atheist but for thinking about and being willing to question what you've been told is the "truth".

I will add one more thought, that becoming an atheist is not like a flick of a switch for most people. As you've said there's that moment when you realize you probably don't believe, but riding yourself of the trappings of religion can take some time, years even. So if you continue to find comfort in prayer that's okay. Eventually you will either stop finding comfort in it and shed that need or you will find something else to replace it (such as meditation). It can be unsettling for most people to be in that in-between phase where you don't really believe but worry what if... Give yourself time and you'll find what works best for you.
Hey girl,

thanks for sharing your story. I hope that postings like yours will help other young people come forward about question the world around them.

Part of the maturing process that we all go thru is the formation of belief systems. Sometimes as we building these systems we can create alot conflict within ourselves because we do not create the system as our parents.

You are not alone!

My belief system has gone thru many changes or upgrades. I started out as a believer. Then after many life events, my system has changed multilple times. Only now am I able to label myself an atheist.
Thank you everyone! Your links, advice and thoughts have really helped me. :)
You're welcome! =D




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