Sorry if this has been asked before. i was raised in a christian home (Still kinda am) and i became atheist at the age of 16. i had been a christian since i was born (not technically) but when i was 14 in 2009 my granny died suddenly. i prayed all day hoping that "god" would save her. but that didn't happen so about (insert day/month) after that happened i started searching online for the truth about "god" and came across a few things that challenged my religious beliefs so i become an agnostic cause i didn't know what to actually believe. when i was 16 i discovered Dawkins witch turned me into a complete atheist.
if that was hard to read i apologize.
I had a catholic education but didn't want to practice the faith from the age of 10 and was agnostic from the age of 13 until a few years ago when I realised I am an Atheist. I read P Z Myers tweets and googled Atheism.
Good for you Austin. You are braver and far more thoughtful than me! Hopefully your folks are okay with your choices.
I did not embrace atheism until my 40s. I was raised catholic, stopped practicing in high school but always thought of it as an allegorical club that I belonged to. As my kids grew up (they are 20 and 15) I found myself saying "they don't really mean that" a lot and we are only here for community and the ethics (i know, ha ha!). Then on the way home from my older son's confirmation, he told me he was an atheist and he thought I was too. I said he was right and we've been on that path ever since. I was lucky that I always had good religious people in my life (apart from the brainwashing) but after 9/11, the catholic scandals etc... it was easy to give up the trappings though I still miss some of the community stuff.
Although I was raised by my athiest mother, I went to a christian school because there are no non-religiously-alligned schools here and we live in a majority christian country. My mom didnt teach me to be an athiest but she didn't teach me about any religion either.
When I was about 11, I asked her to get me removed from signing hymns in school and from the religious education (christian propoganda) classes at school. I started realising that if father christmas was just a fairy tale to make it fun for kids, then this amazing idea of god must be a fairy tale to get kids to behave. At about 13 I tried to become christain and desperately wanted to fit in again with my friends at the time but that lasted about 2 days and was over. Even at that age I needed to be convinced of things via reason and rationality and scientific evidence.
My mother told me our family was protestant but she never went to church. Neither did I except twice with friends. A lutheran and a catholic church. I was absolutely bored at both. I was born in a time when the pledge of alligence and morning prayer was required. Didn't mind the pledge of alligence and the prayer gave me a little time to close my eyes and rest. Since religion wasn't pressed upon me I was able to draw my own conclusions. So, I've been, basically, an atheist all my life. I have no idea what emotions people go through when they are recovering from religion. Could it be like finding out that your BEST friend is absolutely NOT your best friend. This happened to me recently.
Wow you are lucky indeed! No need to go through deprogramming like I had to do.
I also have become stronger in my non-beliefs over the past few years. I started noticing how my right to not participate in religious things was never taken seriously. People would say 'just do it, what does it hurt' but they just don't understand that I don't want to be part of something ridiculous (sp?) and I shouldn't have to. I started to feel a bit angry about it hence my joining Athiest Nexus. Maybe chating to you guys will help me learn how to deal with things like this and what to say to people who don't respect my lack of belief.
Very good question. I was certainly a believer when I got to college... then gravitated to New Age stuff... then Buddhism/Taoism... and finally full blown existential atheist. I was in my 40s by the time I came to terms with trusting the rational mind over the emotional one.
No need to apologize mate, your question is well understood.
I am glad that you found "reason" at such an early age, this is definitely a good thing.
I grew up in a very conservative Catholic environment, and I truly believed in the dogma. I became an Atheist on my early thirties, and it happened by accident:
I had a conversation with a co-worker of mine about same-sex marriage and I remember I was not okay with it, because I thought homosexuality was "unnatural" (a common "argument" given by many theists) anyway, my co-worker said something like this: "it is natural because it happens in nature". That comment made me think, and eventually I realized that the only "reason" why I thought the way I did was because of religious indoctrination.
Then I set myself to understand my beliefs and eventually I came to the conclusion that my religious beliefs, all of them, were just BS. It is funny, but at that point I felt pretty bad, I was conflicted because I wanted so bad to hold onto my beliefs but at the same time the evidence, logic and reason pointed me in a different direction.
Then I started reading books, many books, but the one that did it for me was "In Defence of Atheism" by Michel Onfray. Dawkins, Dennet, Harris, Hitchens, Barker and Ayaan Hirsi-Ali came after, as well as many a science book.
It did not take long for me to start calling myself not only Atheist, but also "Anti-theist".
Not too long ago, I had a chance to talk to that co-worker again and I told him the effect his words had on me. It turns out this person has been an atheist since he was a kid. I thanked him for saying the right thing at the right time.
You know I don't really know when I actually became an atheist. I know that I struggled against it for some time. I kept interpreting and rationalizing scripture in order to make it fit with a reasoned and rational world view. The problem eventually became too big for that to work any longer. I had manipulated and twisted, interpreted, re-interpreted, rationalized and re-rationalized the inconsistencies in the bible that it eventually reached a point that, even while in denial with regard to my fading faith, I could not help but admit that whatever else I might be, I could no longer honestly call myself a christian.
I never made a conscious decision to become an atheist and without going into the whole long story of getting there, the short version is that one day, 5 or 6 years ago, I just realized that I was, in fact, an atheist. It was one of the best days of my life.
About 33 years ago I went from a catholic school to a public school before the 6th grade started. I heard more god-speak and saw worse behavior after the change of schools. At that point, I decided that I didn't like people in general (mostly the stupid ones) and that god was total bull$#!t (after hearing the word GOD much more than one too many times from the afore mentioned mouths). Atheism was a great way to disassociate my self from the people that I wouldn't like. This is still a great tool which has motivated me to be way to open for every one else's comfort. Once the spell was broken, it didn't take too long to realize how ridiculous my beliefs were. I have since analyzed more closely my motives and tried to make decisions that wouldn't cause harm unnecessarily (not always successful on this one).
I didn't experience much of a loss over my faith in a deity. I did experienced a greater loss by loosing my faith "that almost all people are generally good". This is hardly the case. It has taken much time to come to terms that most people are so, but many are not. And, it has taken even longer to figure that "good" is only relatively defined.
I don't ever recall actually believing in the existence of the magic sky guy. When my parents informed me that they had lied about Santa Claus they were about 2 years late; but, I still participated in the myth of the fat elf for largely greedy motives (OK completely greedy) . God was just another Santa Claus story (without the presents)
My father was a closet Atheist and never discussed religion. He maintained his occupancy in the closet to keep the peace in his 1st generation very Italian and very large Catholic family. My mother saw church as a social event and was pretty iffy on the rest.
When I was a kid my grandmother (who was very Christian) had successfully made me believe in God. I later told my father that I believed in God. He then said: "That's all right. I don't believe in God myself, though". I then realized that it was not necessary to believe in God. So then I stopped believing and didn't give it any more thought.
However, when I was around 10 me and friend buried a lemming and I had a small relapse as we said a prayer expecting something magical to happen in the sky, but that's it. :)