Hello out there. I'm feeling a bit shy. Is it weird that I am actually more shy around atheists than christians?
Maybe it's because to me, other hardcore atheists are a bit of a rarity. Most of the people I know who are non christian are either pagan or agnostic. I'm not sure how I managed it but I have ended up with a boyfriend and a roommate who are both very strong atheists, though neither are what I would call "militant." I am probably the most dedicated of the three of us in pursuing atheism as something of a hobby.
I was brought up pentecostal. The whole speaking in tongues, hellfire and brimstone, "the devil's tricks" and "the devil's influence" and all of that. My parents were never very devoted christians though - I think my dad has secretly always been more of an agnostic and my mother is only a christian when she's not drinking. During my formative years she was drinking a lot although I didn't know it at the time.
I on the other hand was fascinated with church.
Even as a kid I asked questions. Some of them were about where god came from, how long he existed before the world came about, how we know the devil isn't good and god just happened to win so god told us the devil was evil; how did noah fit all the animals in the ark, if god knows what I'm going to do before I do it how is it my fault for doing any of it; and why doesn't god fix >forgot name of retarded neighbor kid< ? Why is God punishing people for what Adam and Eve did?
So they told me: "The Devil is putting thoughts in your head. The DEVIL wants you to go to hell so he's fighting to take your soul. Thinking like that will get you a one way ticket straight to Hell - Jesus loves you!"
Of course my next little kid question: "Why would God send anyone to hell? Would he send me to hell for getting tricked? Are Adam and Eve in hell? Did they just die because Jesus hadn't saved anyone yet? What happens to those people who lived before Jesus?"
And so forth. I could go on but you get the idea - I asked a lot of questions.
I remember this stuff clearly because they were honest questions. When I ask them now I'm usually teasing theists because they're childish questions without answers. I've heard a variety of rationalizations for the above and some are better than others but they're all ultimately unsatisfying and only serve to raise more questions.
As a preteen I dabbled in various religions, doing research here and there but never with much depth. After scratching the surface I'd see that it was just like the religion I'd looked at before. Eventually I gave up and went quietly agnostic.
In my teens I became strongly anti-christian. I think this had more to do with rebellion against my parents who had re-found religion and against my community which was a shitty little shithole with a church at every mile marker. Then back to quiet agnosticism again.
Then... around the time I turned twenty I started up again and never quit. I was an agnostic, had recently started smoking pot and ended up in college taking mostly science, math and english courses.
Basic biology blew my mind, basic psychology gave me so much insight! Then when I was 22-23 I took three classes that had the cumulative effect of causing me to completely abandon theism:
Anatomy and Physiology 2
It's hard to describe the change. A&P showed me how imperfect and even flawed the natural "design" of our bodies could be and how it can malfunction sometimes for no apparent reason. Studying genes and evolution even furthered my disbelief. My research paper in Ethics regarding physician assisted suicide was another eye opener. No one single moment or thing crystalized atheism for me but it was a steady progression. I started reading apologetics sites, blogs and books and realized that nobody had answers for the questions I was asking - no answers that weren't deeply flawed and/or didn't employ circular logic anyway.
On Halloween evening of 2006 I wrote it on another site. I am an atheist. The first thing I did was go to find a safe friend and talk to them about it. I'm not stupid - atheism is a bombshell - so I told a friend of mine who was a FTM transgender. He was like, "uhh, thanks for sharing?"
Funny stuff. It was a good move though and I have since let it sort of circulate around people who know me that I'm not a believer. I try not to be too vocal about it so as not to risk the brand of being disrespectful in a community that thrives on churches. I don't want to alienate those around me. I might need them later.
I have still not told my parents and as far as I'm concerned they don't need to be told. At this point it would just kill my mother who has sobered up in the last few years, found AA and subsequently become devoutely religious. Last year for my birthday she sent me a copy of the New Testament with a note about how sorry she is that she didn't bring us up with spiritual guidance.
Now I'm interested in meeting people and someday perhaps starting an atheist group in my area.