Was there a particular event in your life that contributed to you becoming atheist?

I'm new to this site, so I apologize ahead of time if this topic is repetitive.

About a month ago, a close family member of mine passed away after a four year battle with cancer.  She was diagnosed at age 37, and despite all the prayers for her, she finally gave up the fight.  

Having been raised Catholic, I rejected the religion entirely by the age of 15, and from that point on, I remained on the fence about the existence of a god - until about a month ago when my cousin died.  The hardest part for me was during the last visit that I had with her, when I finally had the chance to talk to her one on one.  She told me point blank, "I don't want to go yet.  I'm not ready to die yet."  Despite her incredible will to live, it wasn't enough.  

Losing her made me reevaluate everything I thought I believed in in terms of a god or the afterlife, and I've since come to the conclusion that it's all a bunch of fairy tale, hocus pocus nonsense, and it is precisely the reason I finally jumped off the fence I'd been sitting on about god, and finally embraced atheism.  Not only was this decision because of my cousin's death, but because atheism just makes more sense.  

The religious people out there try to convince me of this divine master plan that "God" has in store for her, that he needed her in heaven and blah, blah, blah.  All I can do is stare at them, absolutely baffled as to how anyone could be so deluded.  How long are people going to keep making excuses for this so-called god, trying so desperately to make sense of the senseless?

I still haven't come out of the atheist closet to my family, and I don't know if that would be the best idea at this time.  However, I believe that I will at some point in the future,

Part of my question also is whether or not any of you have switched to atheism after the death of a loved one?  Something tells me I'm not alone here, so I'd love to hear what anyone else has to say.  Thank you.

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OK, I'll finally tell the truth here. The reason I became atheist is that I asked god to bring me a pony, and he never did. I was 6 years old at the time. Oh, wait. That was Santa Claus! Awh, same difference.

My parents explained the truth of Santa Claus to me by saying that we did things in the spirit of Santa. That is, he is a metaphor for joy, giving, and love (and apparently police state surveillance and behavioural intervention using fear).

When I was trying hard to believe, it was a lot like pretending Santa was real around my little sister.

It's great to have metaphors and stories. But only if we realize that they are just metaphors and stories. I quote Harry Potter all the time but most adults realize it is a work of fiction. Nobody has ever accused me of being a Death Eater.

I think my first pangs of doubt came on the heals of the truth about Santa. My parents kept the Santa story going for as long as they could, and I even pretended that I still believed for a year or two , because I felt like it was a secret that I wasn't supposed to know.

I was raised in the catholic church,.... Communion, confirmation catechism...the whole bit. I can't say I ever really felt anything but bored by it. The people at mass every week seemed bored too.

But oh I tried to find God, and I prayed for him to find me too. I wanted to be like one of the Saints I had read about. I wanted God to give me his message in a way that I knew was real. I was ready to do his biding, just as soon as he made himself real to me, to give me that one unquestionable sign that never came.

When I was older I thought maybe it was just the catholic thing I couldnt relate to, and maybe that was the obstacle keeping me from feeling the holy spirit. At least the protestants had better taste in music....and music always had a deep effect on me. And they actually read the bible, unlike catholics, who decided they would cover Jesus greatest hits, and write the rest their own way.

So I took a class in college about the bible as literature...I use that term loosely! What a horrible read! Not only because it was written so long ago...but it tedious and convoluted!  And the worst thing for me was realizing that this god was messed up! This was not the god of love that I was expecting. God promotes war and murder...takes up bets with Satan at ridiculous expense of one of his biggest fans...( Job) just to prove that Job will not switch teams and go to the dark side...even after god stands by while he loses his family, his home, is tortured with boils and other horrible afflictions. He tests him further ( I think its the same guy) by ordering him to sacrifice his child, and at the last second says no...I was kidding...just wanted to see if you would do it. God has to flood the earth to wipe out his original specimens, as they were a huge disappointment to him. I think an all powerful magical being would just say make it so and start over...like an etch a sketch. The big drama of the flood and the trouble to build that big boat ...a lot of uncalled for work from a being who made the universe in a week, right? And don't get me started on Sodom and Gomorrah ...a place full of horny people having a lot of sex...so offensive to god that he wipes it off the face of the earth in typical biblical style. This same god is decidedly offering no comment on the pedophilic scum that seems to be on every corner of the planet. If ever there was call for a dramatic show of Holy disapproval that would leave no question as to his opinion on that particular offense. The religious folks "in the know" answered that question with "He is leaving it to us "

Still at that point I was still on the fence...I described myself as spiritual but not religious.I was clearly anti-religion but still felt the need to believe in something greater than myself and that there was a reason for this life on Earth and hoped that there was more...I really wanted to believe that my soul would move on to another dimension. I wished that I would have an encounter with a ghost, or meet an honest to god medium who would communicate with a dead relative...with a message that "there was no way she could know" But no such encounter. The more and harder I looked , the more I found that people made god in out image...not the other way around.

My last ditch effort in my search for God was, oddly enough, in prison, where so many of the godless souls find him to be very available. I had the time and the will, and I searched my heart, my soul, read all the good books, went to church, catholic and protestant. Still no Jesus. I finally made my last appeal. I told him I've looked and looked, now it was his turn. After all he is god...he KNOWS where I am, it was up to him to find me. Well again a no show, and to quote Julia Sweeny, that is when I let go of God for good. That was 1998.

What's funny is that my BA cube-neighbor and I were discussing whether or not we'd be attending the wake of a co-worker's sister, and she said "I don't like funerals." I told her, "Nobody LIKES funerals! They're for the living. In Irish culture, it's a celebration if the death wasn't of a young person or tragic."

She said, "It is a celebration of the person moving on to heaven." I should have said, "Then you should LOVE funerals!!" Instead, I bit my tongue and thought, how does she get through life with all this non-logic, does she even HEAR herself?!

Does she hear herself? Probably not over the indoctrination.

I was raised Jewish. My parents are Jewish. My mom tried to send me to a Jewish parochial school affiliated with conservative Judaism. I do not remember the interview the school conducted with me and my mother but I did not talk at the interview, so somebody from the school told my mom that I had to go to public school because I needed special help that only the public school could provide. I have had this social anxiety problem for my whole life but I am doing much better now. They must have thought I was mentally retarded.

So my parents joined a conservative synagogue when I was 5 and sent me to public schools. The conservative movement in Judaism is supposed to be intermediate between the reform movement near  the least observant end of the Jewish spectrum and the orthodox sects at the opposite end. But my parents are not that religious - they are not shabbes observant. My parents and me drove to services on saturday mornings (on shabbes or the Jewish sabbath) approximately half the time on a semi irregular basis. We ate out at non-kosher restaurants at least once a week.

This one time in Hebrew school (that's what I learned to call the Jewish religious classes I was sent to at my parents synagogue) when I was 5 the teacher told us to draw a picture of what we thought god looked like. This made me rather uncomfortable because I remembered hearing that we were not supposed to have images of god, and I don't know why none of the other kids felt disturbed or guilty and I do not remember what I drew but I was afraid to point out what I remembered hearing -about not having images of god - and this one boy drew a rather nice picture in pencil of the face of a bearded old man on top of a cloud. But all religions and cultures and all people have hypocrisies and contradictions. There are other examples I remember of my chronic guilt and hypocrisies and so on.

when I was 10-11 (by coincidence or chance) my Hebrew School teachers were orthodox Jewish women. Somehow I got the idea that orthodox Jews were doing everything Jewish people we were supposed to do and any Jew who did not do everything I thought orthodox Judaism required you to do was wrong or a bad Jew. So I felt chronically guilty for not doing orthodox Judaism but I was afraid to do what I thought I had to do or say anything. I had a bar mitzvah ceremony where I read the  haltorah portion for that week and I read several paragraphs from the torah, all in Hebrew - I did not want to do the ceremony and my mom even said I did not have to do it but I had to do it anyway in order to avoid feeling too guilty about myself even though I was afraid for people to hear my voice in public. They had a microphone.

Up to now is background information. Now here is the main moment you want to know about. One day after school when I was 15 I came home from school and there was a lamp on the shelf of the headboad of my bed. i HAD NEVER SEEN THE LAMP BEFORE. THE LAMP WAS NOT THERE WHEN I LEFT THAT MORNING. I freaked out or panicked or was too over-amazed or so over astonished that I could hardly stand it and right away I thought god must have provided the lamp. I do not know how I managed until my mother came home from work at about 10:30 pm. I asked about the lamp right when she came home but I never said anything about me thinking god had provided it until I was 26. Turns out there had been two lamps in my parents bedroom. One had broke and that morning before work my mom had went out and bought two new matching lamps and then put the old working lamp from her bedroom in my bedroom because she had remembered me one time asking for another lamp in my bedroom. So that evening while talking to my mom I suddenly realized there is no god. god did not provide the lamp. My mom-provided the lamp. I felt let down and I felt like a fool and I felt like I should have known this all along. 

For now I will shorten my story but you can ask for more details. Anyway I continued to feel guilty about not doing orthodox Judaism but I did not actually practice because I did not want anybody to think I was crazy, but actually the only entity that would have thought I was crazy was another part of my brain. I finally became a bold confident person and came out to my parents as an atheist when I was 26, over the phone, and the conversation might have been the most terrible phone conversation of my life and it requires another description somewhere.

Michael Pianko, I will look forward to reading it when you want to write about it. 

What sparked my atheism was actually my interest in Christian Apologetics. I wanted to become well versed in all the questions atheists ask and know all the answers to them. But I ended up inding that the apologists arguments were unsound and unreasonable, and I was convinced the other way. I have always been a reasonlable person. I knew I believed in God, but because I was raised to believe, and never knew any different until I was deeply rooted in fundamental christian beliefs, I didn't apply reasoning to why I believed in "a god". The reasoning was always mixed with confirmation bas, trying to find reasons why it could make sense to believe in the specific God I believed in. I never even considered that there might not be a God at all until I was 18 years old. What got me to that point was an argument with a friend who was trying to convince be that the bible was fiction. I decided that if there were answers to these questions (which in my mind there had to be be because the Bible was perfect) I was going to find them so I could help anyone who didn't understand. I went straight for the hard stuff. I read God is not Great by Christiopher Hitchens. I had heard he was the best atheist debator there was, so I thought if I could trump him, I could get anybody....Well, turns out I had no answers to the points he brought up. He told me things I never knew about my Bible. I started thinking maybe my belief wasn't the only option. But what made any of the others any better. And that's when the big question finally hit me. Is it possible that there is no God at all? Why do I believe in one anyway? And I had no answer for that either. And that day I was no longer a christian, no longer a theist at all. It was a tough realization and I wrestled with it for a couple weeks before I was comfortable with it, and I still haven't come out to anyone other than my husband, who went through all this with me and arrived at the same conclusion, and my little sister, who is dating the friend that started the argument in the first place. I discovered she is an atheist too. 

Sorry to hear about that death'

But in answer to your question, for me , no, there was no particular event. It was instead a long, decade or so, journy from theism to doubting and questioning theism, to deism, to agnosticism, to finaly atheism.

A couple minor points do come to mind. One, after questioning and doubting my theism more and more, and frankly, not giving it a hell of a lot of thought, I realized that no, I didn't particularly believe in my god any more. And two, after reading, I think, Dawkins book I realized that I was an atheist rather than an agnostic. Tho that was not so much a momentus change as much as a realization that change had already happened.

I was 12, it was a particularly wet and cold day outside and I didn't have anything else to read, so I read the bible for the first time.  The whole shebang.  Then, I shook my head, thought, "It didn't really say that (or that or that or...), did it?" so I read it again.  If I'm 12 and I know bats aren't birds, and that plants (generally) need sunlight to survive and that rabbits don't chew cud and diseases aren't cured by throwing bird blood around...and...and... and this is written by some all-powerful, all-knowing god?  What a bunch of horsesh....manure.

I'd grown up on the Norse, Welsh and Irish myths from my family and the stories in the bible didn't sound any different to me.  Much more boring, mind, but not any less fantastic.  Now, older (though not necessarily wiser) and having read the Quran, the Book of Mormon (snooze-fest), the Bhagavad-Gita, the analects of Confucius, the Egyptian Book of Coming Forth by Day (now that's a good one.  Don't know the name of that door and its doorway and the monster guarding it?  No afterlife for you!), the writings of Mary Baker Eddy and a bunch more, I haven't found a single reason to change my mind from atheism.  Same crap, different packaging, is all.

A long way to say that, contrary to the beliefs of many religious folks, I became an atheist not through loss or a desire to sin (however you want to define it) nor through "being angry at god" (if you can even be angry with an imaginary being), but just by thinking about what I'd read in their so-called "Word of God" and coming away with the opinion that it was written by someone who wasn't particularly bright and who seemed to have an obsession with begetting.  

"...who seemed to have an obsession with begetting."

That also aptly describes quite a few religionists who use that book, who are extremely concerned with who is doing what kind of begetting (or not begetting) with whom!

i'd been involved in a conservative christian church for around 10 years. Struggled - for most of that time - to do what was required of members, and to believe the teachings.

In the end I quit fighting it - mainly because I found that it didn't work. Jesus, if he existed at all, didn't care, and it's just not possible to have any sort of relationship with that. I'd also quit questioning doctrines/teachings/practices, and realised that much of what i'd been taught was lies, hatred and ignorance. I also got tired of being told that god loved me - how could he possibly love me when he'd allowed so many terrible things to happen to me during my life? He had too many excuses for allowing bad stuff anyway.

So I left, and never looked back.




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