My story of my path to atheism is mostly an internal story. I was very lucky to be raised by parents who realized that I was a separate person with a mind of my own. And I certainly did have a mind of my own; I can only imagine what my parents thought of the things I told them sometimes. I was a very curious, independent, and aware child.
My immediate family was and still isn't very religious. Both of my parents were raised catholic my mother to a greater degree than my father. When I was very little I went to church with my mother and members of my extended family every couple weekends. I questioned everything about my church/religious experiences from a very early age say 4 or 5 years old. Not with the intent of rejecting god or religion but with the intent of understanding this thing that seemed to be so important to many of the people around me. As far as I could tell the stories I heard in church were no different than my bedtime stories. Every time I asked a question about church/religion no one was able to give me a satisfactory answer. It was always goddidit. When I asked why goddidit the answer was always he works in mysterious ways. When I asked how anyone knows what god is thinking they'd tell me I shouldn't ask so many questions. It didn't take long before I realized that none of these people really knew the answers.
When I was 6 my family moved away from my extended family and we gradually stopped going to church. During the summer I would go to visit my extended family. I never looked forward to the nights I spent with my grandmother. She would talk to me about god and drop hints that my mother was a bad person for not bringing me to church.
By the time I could read well at 8 years old I decided to go on a hunt for the answers myself. I read the real Bible not my Children's Bible. That resulted in a lot of confusion, revulsion, and me deciding that I didn't really like the Bible. Around age 9 is where the story gets interesting. I was the type of kid at that age that had a very active imagination and at night my imagination would often take me to scary places. I remember confiding this to an aunt of mine one summer. Her advice to me was to pray when I first went to bed and that god would give me comfort like he does for her. So I tried it for a while. That went over like a lead balloon. I was rather pissed off at god at that point. God was a part of the lives of everyone else but he didn't
bother with me so I decided I wasn't going to bother with him until he proved to me that he existed.
From that point on I was completely apathetic. It wasn't until I was 15 that my interest in god and religion was renewed this time in a more academic way. I began to explore religion in a very antiseptic way. My years of apathy for god and distance from my extended family resulted in me being able to examine religion is as unbiased way as I could get. It was a chance to start fresh, to start over. For a while I decided that I was deist. There was a god who created and set everything in motion but that's all the interaction he ever had with the universe.
By the time I was 17 I had even dropped deism and began to call myself an atheist. I came to the realization one day that I was hanging on to a god that might as well not exist. Also by that point I had read about the big bang and was aware of other more scientifically based ideas of how the universe could have began and was even aware of the idea that the universe may have always existed in some state. I finally come to realize that nobody knows the answers to why the universe exists or how it began if indeed it had a beginning. Since then all my beliefs are firmly based on facts – those things that we can reasonably believe to be true because of the evidence, logic and reason that backs them up. I have become comfortable with saying I don't know all the answers and neither does anyone else. So if you want to claim something as truth or real then you've got to provide evidence otherwise I'm not going to bother with it. The more I think about it the more I have come to realize that I was never really a true believer in religion or god although I certainly tried. I was just confused by the lies and the conviction with which people told them to me.
On a side note my immediate family knows I'm atheist and they have no problem with it whatsoever. I'm confident that most if not all of my extended family (probably through gossip) knows that I am an atheist. So far none of them have tried to convert me or even confronted me about it. A cousin of mine did ask my mom about my atheism once and my mom told her 'my daughter is a smart girl who can make up her own mind about these things.' At this point my mother no longer calls herself catholic. Her belief is that the good in all of us is god and when everything in the universe is said and done only the good (god) will be left. I have no idea what my dad believes or if he's ever took much time to think about it. He has on occasion throughout his life referred to the 'big man upstairs' but I think he's rather apathetic about god the afterlife and religion. I think he's probably an 'I'll deal with it when I get there' sort of person. I have no idea what my brothers believe and I doubt they have really taken the time to think about it. It seems like they will probably be a lot like my dad. I'll deal with when I get there.