I can do this very shortly. I walked away from Southern Baptist Christianity when I was around 15. From the time I was 15-16 I tried both Wicca and Buddhism for that I was stuck on that there must be SOMETHING. That was a result of brainwashing and nothing more. I decided on atheism when I couldn't get results out of anything I tried to do. Buddhism mostly fall apart when I realized that it's mostly a structure of philosophy which I can look at without going overboard with anything else. So with no supernatural demonstrable thing out there to date and to my knowledge, I am an atheist.
Mine's not too different from Sean, oddly enough.
Southern Baptist (age 7- age22/23)-> Wicca/Paganism (1.5-10 years)->Naturalistic Pantheist/Atheist (3ish? years)
It's hard for me to pinpoint where my beliefs changed. I tried to resolve wicca with xianity which didn't happen in the end--I'd been raised too fundy to resolve the differences. In the end, I dropped the religion and kept the traditions (various "xian" holidays having very pagan roots). And even though I'm a nonbeliever now of any belief system, I am still curious over the mythologies and ritual customs of religion. It's easier now for me to appreciate the cultural aspects of religion, even of the one of my youth, than it once was. I think leaving the toxic fundamental environment back home helped me in that endeavor. Still, I find myself rolling my eyes when I hear about some exaggerated overstepping of boundaries between the separation of church and state. Disenheartening (sp).
In the end, though, the reason why I left paganism is that at the end of the day, all the woo was just woo and didn't impact the world. There's no substance. It's mental masturbation, if you will. I'd rather spend my time living than trying to sugar-coat the world in faerie dust. I'll enjoy my fiction as fiction. If I get lonesome when I get back home, I'll probably join the SCA or a LARP. That'll be enough ritual culturalism for me. ;)
While in Japan, though, I enjoy the matsuri. Although there are roots in Shinto and Buddhist ritual for many matsuri, some are totally just for fun. Take as example the Shibukawa Belly Button Festival, as that town is the very center of Japan. People paint up their bellies and dance down the road. Why? Why not! It's fun and gets people to know your town! :)
I think that progression is rather common. I hear people talking about similar journeys out of religion quite frequently.
Christianity...Lutheran to be specific. I walked away from it because it didn't make sense at all. not to mention there was NO proof whatsoever of a god. also, if God was all loving (and he existed), why wouldn't he help those with cancer, why won't he help those poor starving children, sick children (he has to have us mortals do it?) and really, it's all a bunch of nonsense.....we were created from dirt? Noah's Ark? people living for 900 years? pfft
You asked a lot of questions similar to my own and I guess many others too. Questions that Christians (and other religions) can't answer.
I did not actually walk away from the Baptist Church because I never really considered myself "in" even when a small child. One day I was there and the next day I wasn't. I moved around a good bit so I don't think anyone was aware I was gone. I was orphaned at a fairly early age so there was no family to push me. I did not try any other religions because none really appealed or met any need in my life. I didn't really settle on Atheism. It settled on me. I am perfectly content being a non-theist.
I was, for a few years, brought up in a non-denominational christian church. There was nothing odd about it, with no wacky out of the norm beliefs. At some point, I think my parents started asking themselves why they were taking us there. I really don't remember either of them actually attending. They just seemed to drop us off for Sunday school. I think they thought it was the right thing to do.
After that stopped, although I considered myself nominally to be a christian, I floated for a while. At some point I began to question what I'd been taught. Over the next 15 years I read to answer the questions I had. At the age of 25ish I'd say I had pretty well settled into non-belief, although the debate continued from there regarding agnosticism/atheism. That one still hasn't been resolved as I have serious disagreements with the definitions. I call myself an agnostic atheist even though that chaffes a bit. I've been reading more seriously of late so my position has solidified. I see no way, short of a miraculous personal experience, that I'll abandon non-belief.
I can't say I "believed" in any religion after leaving christianity. The same question kept coming up- "what evidence is there and why should I believe (fill in the blank)".
It's not hard, theists just want it to be. I'm convinced the main reason people stick with it is for social reasons. There may be somebody out there that has talked to god/jesus, I just wish the rest of them would be honest and stop spouting crap. Warm fuzzies don't count in my book.
I was raised Catholic, after denying catholicism, I spent time exploring other religions but could not come to believe in a single one. I then spent some time accepting agnostic beliefs, and decided that I didn't really know.
It took a failed relationship with a fundamentalist to finally understand that I was an atheist.
Southern Baptist many many years ago and no I didn't look at other religions.
I can't honestly say I walked away from my parents' Methodism because it never really 'took' with me. It was always assumed one would believe and no serious discussions about religion ever took place. It never seemed to occur to anyone that a child might not accept what was taught. By age 12 it was over for me. In high school my girl friend was very religious and it finally came between us. My parents knew that religion meant nothing to me, but they ignored the fact and went on with their own practice as though there was no difference between us.
Did they force you to go to church?