The Ages of Your Religious Transformation April 23, 2009

The Ages of Your Religious Transformation

This is an interesting little meme that began on the Friendly Atheist Forums.

Highlight the important parts of your religious deconversion, grouping it by age.

Here’s one example from happycynic:

6-8: Didn’t buy Noah’s Ark or Jonah and the Whale
9-10: Read Phillip Pullman’s Dark Materials Trilogy. It got me thinking about religion, and I didn’t like my conclusions.
10-12: Shoved the questions to a corner of my mind because questioning religion was bad, of course.
12-14: Told myself that if religion were true it could stand up to my questioning. I didn’t ask much, but slowly started shifting.
15-16: Two years of church hopping made me think about religion; an honest evaluation led me to atheism.

Here’s my own, with a focus on going from new atheist to wearing-it-on-my-sleeve atheist:

14: My family moved and I began questioning my faith for the first time; over a few months, I came to realize I was an atheist.
15-18: Became more comfortable with my atheism in high school but didn’t tell many people.
19-21: Began a college atheist group; became more vocal about my beliefs.
22-25: Became very public about my beliefs (got involved with national atheist organizations, wrote the book, started this blog).
26-30: Used my atheism to win over the ladies.

Ok, that last one hasn’t happened yet, but I’m sure I can foresee the future…

What’s your story?

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  • Gavrilo

    0 – 15: believed that “there must be something”, although not buying the stories from the christian tradition (my parents are not curch-goers)
    16 – 24: studied science and analytical philosophy. Reached the conclusion that:

    1. the human thinking can be a merely an algorithm, albeit very complex
    2. there is no need of a god for that

    It’s as simple as that 😉

  • EndUnknown

    6: we stopped going to catholic mass after my mom stopped dating her bf.
    was one of those ‘sure I believe in god’ until
    14-17: thats when I dragged my mom to church. we started going regularly. I learned more about the bible, and saw the hypocrisy of many christians.

    17: began questioning after I began my severe near suicidal depression bout.

    18: came to the conclusion that I was agnostic. that drifted to atheist.

    Im glad I started going to church(how many atheists say that!?) because otherwise I’d prob be an apathetic christian.

  • atomjack

    I didn’t buy that “Mysteries” explanation from a nun, age 10. When you see contradictory information that young, and people try to finesse it, but fail, you’re already a nonbeliever. No matter how I tried I couldn’t convince myself of a god- or rather, which god. Then, who says the xtian god is the real one? They’re all made up as far as I’m concerned, created by the arguably mentally ill or someone with an agenda I want no part of.

  • James H

    10-11: Decided religion was bunk because of televangelists and ayatollahs.

    11-16: Was a complete twit about atheism and proclaimed superiority constantly.

    16-18: Mellowed a bit. Attended church with an attractive girl. Later attended Bible study with a friend. Considered religion.

    18-23: Agnostic period. Fended off usual college attempts to convert me. Gave faith some thought, decided I couldn’t know for certain.

    24-33 onward: Girlfriend challenged agnostic beliefs. Considered beliefs, re-embraced medium-strong atheism. Maintain some allowance for religious belief in case Armageddon comes and it turns out I was wrong. Now exploring books about Christians’ culture, way of life. Have also embraced indifference to people’s religious beliefs. They can do their thing, I can do mine. Don’t really care. However, continue to harbor hostility toward Scientology.

  • Josh

    5: Prayed to God for unlimited wishes. Ceased using prayers to God in favor of wishes (I seriously can’t remember praying after this point other than for ritualized times like dinner with my grandparents).

    6-7: Figured out the wishes worked just as well as not using them. Ceased trying to use them.

    8-9: My sister told me she didn’t believe in god. I thought she was just being weird and contrary like she usually was but it got me to thinking about what I believed.

    10-11: Figured out that the whole “god” thing didn’t make sense to me. Told my mom I was an atheist. Mom took the family to church a few times before realizing no-one, in the whole family, really wanted to go.

    12: Father has stroke (survives with severe brain damage). Felt uncomfortable around relatives who insisted on praying for recovery, further cementing in my mind the feeling of being “different”.

    14-16: Joined atheism forums and IRC channels for camaraderie, exploring my reasons for being an atheist and arguing for my position. Stopped visiting after said forums and IRC channels filled with morons who would rather insult, yell, and chat than discuss and debate.

    Talked friend out of becoming an atheist out of anger advising him to think about it later when he wasn’t being irrational.

    Got caught with ‘The Satanic Bible’ at school (had to have something to read during lunch) by a teacher who then talked to me, making sure I didn’t believe what was in it (I didn’t, but so what if I did?). Forced self to refrain from explaining that I thought her religion was just as wrong. Gained a new least favorite teacher.

    17-22: Friend (previously mentioned) comes out to me as an atheist after actual thought on the subject. Friend re-introduces me to the world of internet atheism.

  • Jeigh

    Mine is quite boring and there really was no ‘de-conversion’, but I enjoyed the process of analyzing religion in my life….sorry if this isnt appropriate to the post

    0-10: family went to church maybe once a year, religion never discussed, wasnt a part of family life

    11-17: parents divorced, mom and us kids found a church to attend (mostly for social reasons), baptized at 11 (didnt mean anything to me), acolyte at church services (felt good and special, but I never felt the religious part of it), age 17: came out to church organist

    18-26: older brother became very christian and republican, father became more christian (but in a smart, scientific way)

    26-29: had christian bf, but religion rarely discussed, went to church together maybe twice in 3 years

    29-34: found life-partner/husband as non-religious (or moreso) as me, lots of talks about the wrongness of religion (esp christianity), all of our friends Wiccan/pagan or non-religious, discovered Dawkins’ ‘Root Of All Evil’, movies “The God That Wasnt There” and “Zeitgeist”, read atheist books and blogs, discovered pride in my atheism, exploring the evils and fallacies of religion, hubby currently on “New Thought” path (non-religious, personal power, etc) and showing me its benefits

  • Mark

    You wrote:
    >”Two years of church hopping made
    >me think about religion…”

    That’s part of your confusion. Church is a great place for gossip and petty politics but church doesn’t have much to do with true faith. Abandoning church doesn’t make you an atheist.

  • weaves

    0-11: Didn’t think much about it. Church was just a thing we did where i got to play with other kids and colour stuff.
    Didn’t take it literally, but didn’t voice my disinterest either. Just…did.

    12-14: Started getting annoyed/resentful over attending church every weekend. Just…didn’t believe.

    15-16: Found ways to get out of church. Stopped going to church. Regarded all religious aspects of my life with contempt. Thought the laws in leviticus were hilarious and religion classes annoying.

    17-18: Started to really critically analyse religion. Atheistic debates online – although poorly expressed

    19-21: slowly become more and more atheistic as opposed to apathetic.

  • Jade

    3 – Found out Santa Claus wasn’t real after hiding under the couch on Christmas Eve and catching my mom. Doubtful of all authority thereafter.

    4 – Was brought into the Mormon church by parents. Iffy from the beginning about Joseph Smith’s “talking to angels” story and the fact that he suggested a settlement pattern for America that I already knew to be untrue via Discovery Channel. There were no Lamenites in America, and putting black people dressed in Native American garb and war paint in the “Book of Mormon Stories” to teach kids about the history of the world makes all Mormons look like racists and idiots.

    6 – Told the Bishop it was bullshit that I couldn’t drink caffeinated tea, go out on Sundays, or have the priesthood, that I thought the planet was very, very old and God could have made the Earth and evolution could be true at the same time. Got slapped. Was told my thoughts were just as much sins as my actions; thought lots of “dirty, bad things” non-stop thereafter and cried at night praying a lot.

    7 – Was baptised, and temporarily relieved that I wouldn’t burn in Hell fire. Dirty thoughts resumed almost immediately, concern returned. Started understanding that evolution could happen without God.

    8 – Kissed one of the girls at church, found out that wasn’t okay.

    9 – Realized grown ups were talking to an imaginary friend. Never went back.

  • Lauren

    4-Mom told me God makes the cracks in the curb on the way to school. And I went to Bible school.

    5-Mom told me God makes the cracks in the curb on the way to school. In Bible school, I ask that maybe 7 days really means 7 million years, or something. I was trying to fit dinosaurs in. I <3 dinosaurs.

    6-Mom told me God makes the cracks in the curb on the way to school. I stop Bible school. Move on to real camp.

    7-Mom told me God makes the cracks in the curb on the way to school. I don’t believe it.

    8-Mom explained why there are expansion joints in the curb. My mind says *God is replaced by a real answer* That set my mind for non-theism.

    4-9 Never went to church. My mom trys to get me to believe in Karma.

    10-12 I learn everything I can about science, get my parents to go to museums, watch Discovery channel specials. Start watching Mythbusters, where everything is decided by science and evidence.

    13-read about LaVeyan Satanism and Wicca. Too much magic involved.

    14-I read the God Delusion.

    15-I go on sites and debate almost all the time. And I read tons of blogs. 🙂 Outspoken atheist online, but only a few people know in real life.

    Future-I hope to get into a Secular club in college, and become an activist for freethinking.

  • Christina

    up to age 13 – mass every Sunday and weekly religious education (Catholic)

    14-17 – very active in Catholic youth group

    17-20 – started attending Bible studies, involvement in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship in college

    20-22 – start wondering why I believe in Jesus and realize I am letting other people think for me. Realize I can’t make myself believe any of it as much as I would like to.

    22-24 – discomfort and guilt regarding my lack of belief, wondering how there can be morals without religion.

    24-30s – acceptance of the idea that I have no way of knowing whether or not there is a God, etc. No longer feel that I have to have these things figured out. I no longer care. Become comfortable with ambiguity.

  • Infinite Monkey

    4-10: Attended Baptist School

    12-17: Got back into church

    13: Wondered why I hadn’t started to like girls

    15: Started to think I was gay

    15-17: Began dealing with sexuality

    17: Came out to my mother as a gay man

    17/18: Followed this logic:

    -God Hates sin

    -All sexual activity outside of marriage is

    -Gays can’t get married

    -All homosexual activity is sin

    -God hates homosexuality

    17: Declared Atheism

    ???: Came out to my mother as an Atheist

    *Can someone find flaws in my logic?

  • cassiek

    3-8 Lived next door to Pentcostal family. They had a daughter my age and I found their beliefs disturbing and really unfair to girls. My scientist parents (geologist and electrical engineer) told me that they were crazy. Vast relief on my part.

    9-11 Went on on numerous digs with my mother who instructed me on evolution and paleontology along the way. My father also introduced me to Isaac Asimov, Darwin and other writers that he considered essential for my education. By 11 I had already drawn the conclusion that my parents were right and religion was a sham.

    12-present Still an atheist, married to an atheist for 25 years, three atheist kids who are kind, intelligent and genuinely nice people. My two younger children work at a restaurant near my house and I recently got into an argument with a xtian co-worker of theirs who told me that there was no way I raised my kids without religion because they were too kind to be born of godless parents. I answered by asking him who is the truly moral one – a person who does right because they have true compassion for their fellow humans, because this life is all we get, or the one who does right out of a child’s hope for reward and fear of punishment? He had no response.

  • Jeff Satterley

    7: A strapping young Catholic made his first communion

    8: Stopped going to religion classes every Wednesday after school, based on my brilliant theological argument: “This is stupid and boring, I don’t wanna go!” Never went back.

    9-14: Made a slow transition, realized that Catholicism was kind of wacky, figured that the Christian god was no more likely than any other deity, and realized that it doesn’t seem like God is really answering any prayers, or affecting the world in any significant way, leading to a brief stint at deism (although I didn’t know that’s what it was called).

    15-17: Became a big science nerd, and began to realize that God isn’t necessary anymore, became an agnostic atheist.

    18-21: Minored in philosophy in college, heard new arguments and thought some more. Realized that I’m justified in holding the belief that God doesn’t exist, and thus could claim knowledge (since knowledge = justified true belief, barring Gettier cases; thanks epistomology!)

    21: Read Godel Escher Bach (Hofstadter), and Society of Mind (Minsky) which gave me some ideas about how consciousness could arise as a materialist (not sure if either author is correct, but they have reasonable hypotheses). Read The God Delusion, and became a more active, outspoken atheist.

    22-23 (present): Continued reading books on religion (both atheist and not) and science, and joined other atheists in supporting progressive values, denouncing backwards, religious policies held by government.

  • So, when are you going to stop talking about winning over the ladies and actually start trying to do it? Sorry, gotta call you out on this ;P

  • up to ~12, I was quite the devout little girl. Stopped going to Church once I entered secondary school.
    12-15, Started to question organised religion, which in turn made me question some of the basic beliefs of Roman Catholicism. Couldn’t quite let go of praying, having someone to listen etc.
    15-18, Believed myself to be Agnostic, in retrospect I think that was because I couldn’t quite accept having nothing to believe in. Set myself onto a scientific career path, frequently got myself into conversations/arguments with my Catholic friends (I attended a Catholic secondary school and sixth form, they weren’t hard to find).
    At cousin’s wedding, felt guilty about taking part in church service when I didn’t believe. Scary how all the right responses just came out. Boyfriend at uni bought me His Dark Materials trilogy, got into Discworld, read some Dawkins. Eventually changed my facebook religious stance to athiest and joined my university humanist society.

  • OpaqueWishes

    I don’t really post anything on here(ever), but this was really interesting.

    8-9: I admit to myself that I don’t actually believe any of the events that happened in the Bible. They’re just really long stories that someone made up.
    10: I stopped going to church, but was afraid to tell anyone else that I didn’t believe in God, Jesus, or the Bible.
    12ish: I admitted to myself and everyone else that I was an atheist which turned out be a very good thing for me mentally.

    Although no one took it seriously and they still think it’s just a phase that’ll pass despite the fact that I’m still an atheist after everything that’s happened in the past few years. *rolling eyes*

  • 0-13 raised good Lutheran boy – kind of into it
    14 imagine my own non-existence and have mystic experience
    15 atheist (grounded by parents for not going to school)
    17 convert to born-again Christian after finding best friend dead
    24-now deconvert after travel abroad and seeing various religions and observing my own mental habits while experimenting with various meditative traditions

  • 4-9 questioned everything thrown at me in Sunday school (got thrown out of several Sunday schools), was always questioning in religion class at school (was in Catholic school system), my mother was asked to remove me from the Catholic system as I was a pain in the neck

    9-18 knew religion was a crock of poop but still believed that there was a god and that he was punishing me (illnesses, abuse et al)

    18-25realised that if there was a god, he was a dick, read biology textbooks, “A Brief History of Time” et al, weighed the evidence, realised that god was a figment of someone else’s imagination. Kept my disbelief to myself and felt VERY guilty and alone about it. Thought I was probably the only atheist on the planet. Joined a youth group, went to various christian churches, accidently set fire to a catholic church (WHY all the candles people?!?!) went to synagogue and interrogated a muslim friend about islam.

    25+read “The God Delusion” realised I’m not alone, read “god is Not Great” decided to “come out” and declare myself an atheist. Was pleased but secretly disappointed in the lack of drama in my family. Discovered that my grandparents are atheists and that my mother is a “christian by tradition” (i.e an atheist who keeps up appearances in the christian world) and that my husband and his family are atheists. Am now not ashamed of my atheism, discuss it in public, write letters to the editor and am immune to attacks from evangelicals.

    Most importantly: I’m a lot happier, less bitter and feel a LOT less guilt than before I realised there’s no invisible man in the sky watching me poop and judging me.

  • 7-8: Not too sure about the praying thing. Still did it, but felt kind of fake.

    8-9: My very religious grandmother taught me that there is no Hell. I liked her explanation.

    9-10: Move to Canada, faced with whole new belief system in Catholic school (I was Christian Orthodox), not to mention learning about Islam.

    10-12: Got confirmed in the Catholic system without really knowing what it meant. I was mostly worried because I thought it I couldn’t get married without a confirmation.

    12-13: Got into a much more culturally diverse high-school, faced with a lot more religious and secular view-points.

    14-16: Pretty agnostic period. Wrote a short story in which God and the Devil are only sustained in existence through belief in them.

    I don’t remember the exact moment of embracing atheism, but it was somewhere in my mid-teens.

  • Steve

    Wow, you guys are Atheist prodigies compared to me. I feel like the slow kid now.

    0-14 I was good little Roman Catholic boy. I loved the stories of angels and saints that the teachers at my Catholic grade school told me. Didn’t really pray but went to church most weeks and all major and some minor holidays. My school was very liberal, I realize now, and didn’t teach biblical literalism. Some parts of the bible were taught as fact and others, mostly old testament, were not.

    I was an altar boy for 5 years. True confession: the unblessed eucharists are stored in the sacristy’s vault. I used to get there early and steal a sleeve of the wafers. I thought they were tasty as crackers.

    14-20 I took every science course I could in High School and became a Biology major in college. I didn’t actively seek to make my religious beliefs work with all this knowledge but I can remember reconciling evolution and creation in my head by turning it into a very passive form of ID. I also became more involved in the ceremony. I became certified to administer the eucharist at mass. I remember feeling very proud of that.

    20 My father died of cancer. I wanted so bad to feel comfort from God. I had no problem with why bad things happened to good people. I just wanted some comfort. I got none. The religious aspect of the funeral did nothing for me. It was the people who knew my father that did. Their stories and sharing my stories with them was a celebration of his life and not a mourning for his loss and that got me through it.

    20-26 became a “C&E” christian. No religion in my daily life and mass only on the 2 major holidays, and on the anniversary of my father’s death. I didn’t turn my back on it, it just didn’t seem to matter anymore. Even at mass, I just went through the motions. I still believed but it had to importance or connection to my actual life.

    26+ I really immerse myself in atheist books, “new atheism” as it’s now called. Started with Dawkins and came at it from a very scientific and materialist viewpoint. I still feel the occasional twinge of guilt since i was raised in that Catholic life for so long but I recognize that for what it is and continue living my life.

    Sorry for the long answer.

  • High Schooler on a Mission

    birth-8: went from being Lutheran to Catholic, questioned all of it with my natural skepticism.

    9-13: went through one of those “preen teen phases” where I rebelled after my family moved across the country. I quit going to family functions, protested against going to church,and started questioning religion.

    14-15.5:Quit going to church all together, declared myself agnostic, told my parents that they were crazy for believing god wants them to have all the kids they do(their Catholic,so can figure out why there are 6 of us)

    15.5-16.5(present): Came out as atheist after much deliberation. Told my parents, wrote a paper on why god is a fraud, and met a lovely atheist boy. I’ve continued on to be top of my class, mentor and volunteer of the month for multiple months,and proved that atheist are good people.

  • Larry Huffman

    11: Read the book of mormon and simultaneously began to believe, and the seed was planted to make me fall away (the slaying of laban)

    11-24: Happily mormon, not many questions. (Why would god allow Nephi to kill Laban?)

    24: Lost my first child to terminal illness. The serious questions began. Must squelch.

    25-34: Happily mormon, but the questions…the questions…make them stop!

    34: Finally began asking the questions…the end was near

    35: Left mormonism…found I was not chrisitan…oh look buddhism looks nice.

    36: Hopelessly skeptical and admittedly atheist. Bye bye buddhism, at least you taught me more than christianity that I can still look to…hello real peace and happiness.

  • I kinda already posted this over at Skepchick, although not in this format.

    Ages are approximate–probably even wrong.

    0-5: Didn’t really understand the entire deities thing. I had never met any, and they didn’t seem to care to meet with me. Why should I care?

    6: Was briefly polytheistic once I understood the concept of deities (one person making all this? didn’t seem likely). I thought maybe Jesus was like the king of gods or something. Weird, I know.

    7-12: Thought a lot about Christian ethics, and tried to figure out why I was the only person that seemed to care about following them.

    13-22: Indulged in a lot of woo-ish New Age stuff while still trying to be a good Catholic, and even attending church. Kept the heretical thoughts mostly to myself.

    23-27: Really thought a lot about Christianity, what Christians are doing in the world are doing, particularly Catholics, which lead me to think about Superstition in general, and decided that all of it was really rather stupid.

    28+: Trying to figure out where all the awesome atheist chicks live, and move there. Pondering on whether or not I would ever have a chance with the awesome Rebecca Watson, or maybe Abbie Smith.

  • 0 – 12: Went to church twice a week (Catholic school ahoy). Prayed lots, never felt anything. Doubted that god had total control over life, like my mother believed.

    13: Mom dies. Decide that if there is a god, he’s a jackass. Nearly strangle the people at the funeral who say “god has a plan” or “god needed her in heaven”.

    14 – 18: Discover deism, decide that fits pretty well. Become politically liberal, decide that most organized religions don’t have much to offer.

    18 – 21: Get to college, call myself an agnostic for a while, then start reading the atheosphere and decide that atheist is much more accurate. Very out on internet/around friends, not at all to family.

  • I also want to note that my coming out story was pretty similar to Sarah’s (it lacked the drama I anticipated). My mom was also more or less a Catholic by tradition, and kept up appearances (in her heart, she had been an atheist for a while), but has given up on that since I came out.

  • mike c.

    0-10 Raised Lutheran, attended services and sunday school.

    11-12 Learned about dinosaurs, evolution, plate tectonics, other cultures, other religions, and the big bang theory. First communion.

    13+ Became certain this religious stuff is all made up by man, and told my mom I didn’t believe. I’m in a church now only for weddings and funerals and it’s been like that for the last 43 years.

  • elementary school: had zero conception of religion or god. My family calls the TV remote “the God,” didn’t connect the dots to something else people talked about. Remembered being confused when I read articles that denigrated atheists, wondering why I was supposed to dislike them.

    3rd grade: decided I hated the song Amazing Grace when I found out it was religious, and sang it scowling in school choir.

    6th grade: tried out evening prayers, felt stupid. Tagged along with a friend to her dad’s half Hindu-half Christian church in Berkeley a couple times, it was too weird.

    high school: felt a slight distaste for anyone who was religious, but didn’t really think about why. Got pissed at my best friend when she stopped writing a book for fear of a disapproving future religious husband. Didn’t declare myself an atheist outright, but defended atheism.

    college: assigned a (not very smart) young-Earth Creationist roommate who was trying to convert me – and I immediately joined the campus atheist group. My parents were somehow surprised when I told them this?

    current: happily dating a guy with “Atheist” tattooed in 4 inch letters on his chest. My mom’s now openly atheist, as is my sister; my dad wonders about complexity, haven’t gotten around to explaining evolution in depth to him. Trying to be nicer and less upset that people are religious.

  • 0-8 or so: Rarely went to church as far as I remember.

    9-12: Grandparents on my father’s side (fairly religious) move near by, for some reason this prompts my mother to want to go to church with them. I protest, as morning and uncomfortable clothes are pretty much my mortal enemies and church involves both, but in that age range there’s really nothing I can do. I make the argument that if god is really omnipotent why should it matter if we go to church. I never receive a satisfactory answer, and that probably was what got the ball rolling.

    13-14: My grandfather dies of cancer and my grandmother moves back to Virginia where most of her extended family lives, so the forced church trips taper off to zero. At the same time I’m on a bit of a science kick, spending hours online and/or at the library teaching myself about astronomy, chemistry, etc. I of course come across information on how much various religious leaders throughout history have attempted to suppress science.

    15-17: Study hall discussions with friends of various religious stances, more reading, and a newfound awareness of world religions after 9/11 lead me to the conclusion that any kind of omnipotent god is unlikely. Further, I decide that the specific “evidence” suggested by defenders of the Abrahamic religions either fails scientific scrutiny or is untestable. I go from calling myself Christian but not really believing or participating to agnostic to atheist fairly quickly, but I keep quiet to my family.

    18: Once I moved out of my parents’ house and went to college I started disconnecting as much as possible from their fiscal or legal influence so I would be able to let them know my real feelings on a number of issues, not just religion, without fear of them cutting me off from something I enjoyed or depended on. In hindsight, this was me being paranoid and I really had no reason to believe anything would come of it (nothing really has either, I get in to debates with them when we have family get-togethers, but it’s all civilized). On the plus side though that paranoia did result in me getting set up for a “responsible adult” life far earlier than most of my friends.

    19: Family RV trip and during a particularly boring drive across the flyover states my dad is listening to Rush Limbaugh. He says something famously stupid and I can’t hold my tongue any longer and go off on a rant about the First Amendment and Church/State issues. The discussion very rapidly leads to me “coming out” as a hard atheist and explaining my reasons.

    I’m now 22 and have converted my mom to the point where she’s only holding on to the social aspects of religion as far as I can tell. I have no idea where my dad or brother stand, but the topic rarely comes up with them and I don’t care to prod. My grandmother on my dad’s side is convinced I’m going to hell, though that was pretty much expected.

  • ‘black guy’ from AL

    I’ve never really sat down to really think about this.

    4-8: dad took me to church, sunday school on regular basis. I ask my dad where God came from. mother took me to grandma’s (very religious) place whenever revival week took place at grandma’s church.

    9-11: dad got me to read a chapter from my ‘children’s bible’ everyday. The pictures were cool. The stories were kinda cool/fantastic too.

    12: mother said that i needed to get ‘saved’. took me to revival week at grandma’s church. I get baptized by uncle. I felt like it was the beginning of a new and wonderful life. I thought my eyes were opened that day. Tried to get my brother to listen more in church because ‘he needed to hear what was being said’. (i regret that)

    13-16: i started taking a pocket-sized bible with me to school. Not for anyone but myself. Reading about Jesus kind of helped me to deal with being picked on and being an outcast at school. And with similar with mother at home.

    16-17: I start going to a high school more diverse than what i was used to. I take a Humanities class and ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance’ is a required book. The part about Jesus and ‘ghosts’ sticks out for me. Read ‘Brief History of Time’. More questions about my belief. I start listening to ‘Turning Point’ on the radio station every morning. inspiring. Reading bible more. Start taking bible to lunch to pass the time.

    18-19: Biology class. I try to fit creationism and evolution together by examining Genesis. I do research on the validity of the new testament. Hear a super christian classmate tell a buddhist classmate she was going to hell. 9/11 attacks. Momentarily think of the possibility of God not existing. Scary. ‘Slightly’ depressing. Attraction to said buddhist and her rejection make me question God more. I take an Ethics class.

    20-23: Church is almost non-existent. Start relationship with Hindu girl (religious). Wrestling with fear of going to hell. More research in trying to explain christianity. Take a couple more philosophy/logic classes. Come to the conclusion that people have distorted the truth and that no one can ‘know God’. Leads to ‘it doesn’t matter whether God exists or not.’ (scary and exciting) I stop praying. gf leaves (religion big reason but not only).

    24: parents divorce. drama and such forces me to examine some things about my life. Read ‘6 pillars of self-esteem’. Start reading and seeking out more information on atheism. Come across Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris. Move to SF to study animation. Currently reading ‘the atheist’s way’.

    I haven’t told my dad. I’ve had suspicions about his beliefs.
    My brother may know.
    Those who haven’t seen my facebook ‘religious status’ section are unaware of my lack of religious beliefs.

    I think the last year has been more of a turning point than that ‘turning point’ of 12.
    Right now…I feel pretty damn good about where i am.

  • Bob B

    0-10: Raised Cotholic, first communion and all that jazz.

    10: Read Childhood’s End. Didn’t actually believe it was true, but the part about the aliens looking like the devil made me realize that religion could be a mistaken way to explain the world…start looking for real explanations. (Also begins my undying love of science fiction)

    11-12: Shark Week turns me on to Discovery Channel.

    12: Mom gives me the choice to get confirmed or not. I choose not. First time I call myself an atheist.

    14-18: I get a fantastic science education in a public high school (man, those were the days). BIO final in tenth grade = Molecules to Man. Describe as many steps in evolution from single celled organisms to humans in fifty minutes. My first massive hand cramp.

    18: I go to Villanova, a fine Catholic University. Great time. Wonderful conversations with the priests. I stay an atheist.

    25-32: Get a coaching job at a Kentucky university. For the first time being an atheist presents some problems…especially when it comes to recruiting. For the first few years, I find out what it’s like to be a closet atheist. I don’t like it. Takes a while, but I find a nice middle ground and learn how to get along being “out,” despite the extreme religiosity of the area. Having fun now. Love my job.


  • Mathew Wilder

    If I was a woman, you’d have won me over. Unfortunately, my atheism seems to drive women away – at least, as prospective partners. Most of my friends are women.

  • Damn. I am SUCH a slow learner! *lol* I began my atheist conversion at age 14, but didn’t finish it until I was 37!

  • 0-17 raised atheist but was fairly apathetic about it.

    17-18 came out as atheist in high-school. Really impressed the fundi high-school girls. Resisted attempts to be converted by classmates.

    19-22 undergraduate school. Could have benefited from something like a secular student society if one existed at the time.

    23-32 had a series of relationships go south with the women saying that things could have worked out if only I wasn’t an atheist.

    33 – 42 got married to a moderate Christian girl. Had a secular marriage. We didn’t go to church. Had two kids.

    43-45 Wife’s religious friends convince her that she needs to start taking kids to their fundamentalist church. Wife starts taking kids to fundamentalist Baptist church. I basically say WTF and go along to see what it is all about. At first the message is interesting in that it is all so different than anything I have heard before. I view it as cultural anthropology. Still an atheist. Join Christian “small group” with wife. Play act like a Christian in small group. Learn all about demons in small group. Minister is slick in preaching to the “unchurched” to slowly draw people in to the fundamentalist mind-set. I start the religious comics blog basically as a reaction to what I hear in church. Kids hate going.

    46-present stopped going to church. The sermons were repeating. Even wife doesn’t go as much. Still going to Christian small group, though, to learn more about demon belief and learn about the fundamentalist tendency to plead to god about every little thing in life. Still atheist.

  • KeithLM

    12-14 While working on a science project I realized the bible didn’t make sense with respect to science. I decided fairly quickly that if the bible was wrong about the origins of earth, there must not be a god. Maybe not the most logical or rational thought process, but that’s how I remember it.

    There wasn’t much progression, I decided god didn’t make sense and to me it was an either/or situation. So I never went through a period of being an agnostic or anything like that. In the past few years I’ve become more interested in the subject, and started reading Dawkins, Ehrman, and some others. Over 20 years ago I gave up my faith and have never felt lost without it. Life is better when you’re not worried about some magical guy in the clouds watching your every move.

  • 9-12: Refused to go to church around this time. Church was boring!

    13-17: Refused to get confirmed. If you force me to do it, that sort of defeats the point of confirmation, which is all about freely affirming one’s Catholicism.

    16-18: I start thinking about religion seriously. Gee, it sure seems like Catholic beliefs are incorrect, doesn’t it?

    18: Decided that I’m an atheist. Told no one.

    19: Started blogging about atheism among other things. My family finds out about it. It actually went very smoothly. Life goes on.

  • Nick Wallin

    0-9: Never went to church, nor was I baptized.

    10-12: Went to church at most once or twice yearly, and was very bored. If asked my religion, I would say “My father is Methodist and my mother is Catholic”.

    13: Read in Geography class something along the lines of “20,000 B.C.: Man invents religion to escape fear of death.” This making perfect sense to me, I was now an atheist.

    14-17: Became militant atheist on online message boards. Among friends, was open about my atheism, but did not make fun of my Christian friends… too much.

    18-19: Bored of winning arguments on online message boards, stopped being militant atheist. This being the beginning of college, I was careful to not associate myself with any “crazies”, but did not really pay attention to the issues. During this time read my first atheist literature, “The God Delusion”.

    20: Studied abroad in Hong Kong and studied Buddhism (on my own time, not in college). Impressed with its teachings, became a “fake Buddhist”. After a few months, did not like what being Buddhist entailed, and also was uncomfortable with its similarity to liberal Christianity. Declared myself again to be atheist. Joined the local atheist group on campus. Started reading lots of atheist literature.

    21 (current): Still reading atheist literature, though have focused more on the “militant” atheists (Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens). Want to move on to Mehta and other “friendly” atheists. Intend on running for an officer position in the atheist group.

  • Dirk

    0-53 Christian
    53 The slow learner finally wakes up. I deconverted when I started looking at my daughter’s interest in mormonism. It took all of about a week to see that my own christianity was just as crazy. Now I have to deal with all the baggage of 50 years of a crazy world view.

  • Skunque

    0: got baptized in Catholic church, entirely because my grandparents pressured my parents.

    1-8: didn’t think much about religion. At times I imagined/hoped I was an alien who could telepathically communicate great distances to my home planet, and that one day they would come to take me away from this world. That’s not really religion so much as make-believe, but it’s the closest thing I could cough up.

    8: visited my grandparents, had to attend church once. It had the same invisible-wall “get out” feeling that going into the boys bathroom did.

    9-18: Oscillated between assuming agnostic and atheist labels, largely because I had the most common misconception about what the difference actually was (i.e., atheism not a positive statement about belief).

    19-33 (well, 2 weeks shy): identified as atheist, found dating anyone even slightly religious was becoming a problem. Met current boyfriend 3 years ago, he went public with his atheism (except for the parents) soon after that.

    Now I occasionally participate in atheism-related events/etc, and I’ll read/write blogs in my spare time.

    Wow, what an uneventful timeline 😉 It’s a significant part of my identity, although the nature of it really hasn’t changed too much in 3 decades and counting. Thank you, secular upbringing!

  • Nick

    8-14 Start and regularly attend Christian church and Sunday school but have hard time believing claims made in the Bible because of my love of all things scientific. Adopt idea that much of the Bible is metaphoric.

    15-18 Church becomes boring and I stop regularly attending. Become twice-a-year church attendee. Belief in God of the Bible persists.

    18-20 Try to reclaim Christian belief while in college. Find campus Christian groups too aggressive and borderline suffocating. Eventually, try to explore outside of western religion – identify with many Buddhist ideals but never convert. Become de facto deist.

    22 Write investigative news story for class on campus cult activity. Never gets published despite urging from professor. Personally find the parallels between cult activities and mainstream Christian beliefs startling. Develop growing thoughts questioning legitimacy of the Bible. Become de facto agnostic.

    23-25 Use humor and sarcasm in my critique of Christianity among my friends. Date neo-Christian who tries to explain to me how Christianity isn’t a religion and how personal experience somehow translates into objective truth. Further solidifies agnosticism.

    25-26 Return to college to finish degree and join secular student group. Talks help solidify what I’ve come to understand about belief. Become de facto non-believer.

    26-?? Launch prolific writer and political career, debunking claims by Dominionists in politics (how grandiose, right?), but not before …

    ?? Come out about non-belief to lapsed, but still Christian parents. Yikes.

  • I wasn’t raised in any kind of formal religion or made to go to church, so:

    8-10: Stopped believing in Santa and the Easter Bunny, chucked god out too since he didn’t make any sense either.
    10-18: didn’t care much one way or the other

    18-24: college brought me in contact with a variety of beliefs but no one ever changed my mind. Mostly I got annoyed, was occasionally verbally insulted.
    24-Now: GW got elected by the far right. I got scared and decided it was time to be more outspoken. Felt I needed to prove I wasn’t some kind of villain. I’ve also become a more vocal skeptic and science supporter in that time.

  • Brian C Posey

    0-12 Didn’t think about it. My family isn’t very religious. I accepted the god concept because everyone else did. However, meeting a few people of different religions made me realize how everyone thought they were right but had no evidence.

    About 12 Learned somewhere that some people don’t believe in god. Learned the word atheism. I was already aware of the negative associations of the word. So, I also learned the word agnostic. I mainly used agnostic until fairly recently.

    27 I learned more about how many view atheists. I have to say, however, I’ve never felt any rejection because of my atheism. Those close to me have known about my disbelief for a long time.

    27 to Now I am more vocal about my atheism. I make it almost a point to tell people.

    My Mom kind of rolls her eyes when I get a little religi-rant going. I don’t think she minds the disbelief, just the disrespect. My best friend jokingly (I hope) calls me a heathen and tells me that I’m going to hell.

  • trois

    I was reading a small dictionary (yea, that’s right) when I was 10 or so and one of the first pages had “Atheist” on it. I knew right then that that was what I am. I can honestly say that I never “converted” from anything else. My parents were pretty bad people (and not particularly religious) so if you were to tell me at a young age that I had to believe in a concept like “God” when my parents (who are God figures when you’re very young)are so messed it –it would be a hard sell.

  • Hank Bones

    0: Born heathen.
    2 months: Baptised in da Lutheran Faith. Ceremony confuses me. I thought Mom and Dad bathed me, not Strange Man in Robe. I cry.
    3 years: Become jealous that older brother has illustrated Bible, I do not.
    8 years: Pray for a victory in tomorrow’s soccer game. Realize the logic in there is flawed. Stop praying earnestly.
    12-17: Realize the hypocrises involved in organized religion, i.e. most people only go on holidays; most people there every Sunday seem there only to goad over those who aren’t; WTF does God care if I wear jeans to church Mom? Really? Pretty sure he’s okay with that. Give up organized religion.
    18: Take philosophy class in college and attend Buddhist services. Move to Christian agnosticism.
    20: Have argument with religious (though rational and not fundamental) father about why I think it’s wrong for people to kill in the name of their religion. I say I would never kill in the name of Christianity. He gets upset, says now he knows I am not a Christian. I am now an atheist.
    21-22: Start reading Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, Mehta. I am now very comfortable with my atheism, though I haven’t officially come out to most of my family. Not worth the inevitable conversation with Grandma.
    And now I’m a heathen again. I guess that makes me reborn?

  • Marissa C.

    10: Realized that God and Santa use the same logic.

    13-15: Furious study of every belief system I can get my hands on; convert to new religion virtually every other week.

    16-17: Serious study of both UU and Buddhism.

    18: Realize I like UU and Buddhism more for underlying principles than for their religious aspects. Abruptly realize my atheism.

    22: (present)Found a campus group for atheism and live happily ever after with all my heathen comrades. 🙂

  • This idea of looking back at your progress toward atheism actually triggered a very emotional response in me, and gave me a much needed shove towards rediscovering my adolesence. Also provided good blog-fodder! Thanks for the idea!

    Growing Up An Atheist: Another Internet Meme

  • 8-11: Collected, read and loved a series of books about dinosaurs. Believed in God, was good catholic kid, but evolution was a fact.

    15-16: Wanted to become a priest. Now I remember that and feel dirty.

    16-17: The leader priest in my school was a prepotent idiot who would yell at us whenever he felt like, If that was a man of God then something was wrong.

    18: Got out from catholic school and started questioning all the stuff I had learned.

    19: A girlfriend of mine had been mistreated in her catholic school for being bisexual. That made it for me. Christianism wears a mask of love and understandment but it’s a lie.

    21: Moved to the US from my third world country and noticed that there were actually non-believers that were proud of it. Also noticed that separation of government and religion is to be enforced.

    22: Learned about Inteligent Design and how popular it is in the US. It was almost unbelievable that the country I considered the first power in the world would allow such stupidity.

    23 – 24: Started buying books and reading blogs about atheism and agnosticism. Not all the answers were there, but at least it wasn’t a magic sky man.

  • Carlos

    I saw Carl Sagan’s series Cosmos when I was twelve. It taught me to appreciate the world as it actually is, not as someone else wished it was.

    I identified myself as an atheist at 18 or so but Sagan started me off on the path.

  • Edonil

    0-7: My parents avoided mentioning religion whenever possible (no bibles in our house until I was around 8 – I have no idea how that one got there), so more-or-less atheist.
    7-17: Met Catholic friend. Slowly moved towards agnostic leaning towards atheism.
    17: Looked up info on atheism online for a school project. 2ish days later, returned to being an atheist.
    18: Started reading atheist blogs, books, and joined my uni’s humanist club.
    20: Still an atheist (and waiting for guys to win me over with their atheism 😀 ).

  • Sandra

    My family always put a lot of emphasis on being honest, and when they would tell me that god was real and that scientists “faked” things I thought they were telling the ‘truth’ not expressing their opinions.
    4-7 Raised in Southern Baptist fundie fashion attending church weekly (often told I was a bad person) so bought the whole Christian package.
    8-10 Mom quit going to church, but insisted that me and sis still go (church members took us).
    11-20 Only attended church a couple of times here or there, but family would still insist that god is real and so is entire Bible.
    21-24 I become ‘born again’ after years of mental abuse and finding a few Christian ‘friends’ who are nice to me.
    25 Pastor talks about how all these ‘different’ religions are “wrong”…after service I ask why and he (very angrily) yells at me that “THEY JUST ARE!” at this point I become agnostic, but don’t know that word yet so still say I am “christian”.
    28-35 I explore many different religions, lean toward New Age and Pagan beliefs, but don’t buy into any gods, really like Buddhist philosophy. I make the leap to atheist during this time.
    36 Take a class on “Anthropology of Religion” which really affirms my atheism, and I come out to my mom as an atheist. My other family still are unaware.
    37 After many conversations about different religions I convert my mom to atheism through the use of logic. 😀
    Present I am raising my son to question everything, and (at least) be a free thinker. I mostly don’t discuss religion with others, however, if someone asks about my ‘religion’ or beliefs I tell them.

  • DeafAtheist

    4-6: Taken away from biological mother and bounced around foster homes.

    6-7: Adopted by strict Roman Catholic family. Adoptive family wasn’t sure if I was baptized or not so they decided to baptize me “just in case” found out some time later I was actually baptized twice.

    8-11: Educated at Catholic private school didn’t really believe bible stories being taught were real (Noah’s Ark, Jonah and the Whale).

    12-17: Transferred to public school due to drastic loss of hearing and was exposed to a melting pot of different religious beliefs causing me to realize that they couldn’t all be right, but they could all be wrong and became agnostic…atheist by 18. Did a lot of personal study into different religious beliefs.

    18: Transferred to state school for the deaf and met and fell in love with deaf Christian girl. Relationship was brief but emotionally intense. Different religious beliefs caused a perpetual rift between us.

    19-26: Closet atheist. Few people knew about my atheism.

    26-29: Out of the closet. Still study religion from historical perspective and find it fascinating. Outspoken and often engage in religious debate.

    30-33: Got back in touch with deaf Christian girlfriend from high school. She divorced her minister husband and pursued a relationship with me again. We’re still together and have a 10 month old son. She’s still a devout Christian and I’m a rather militant atheist.

  • Robyn

    5-13 Really didn’t like going to church and was just annoyed by the whole business of religion. Decided Christianity was just as plausible as Greek mythology (which wasn’t plausible at all). For some reason, the word “atheist” garners my sympathy and a small sense of pride, thought I really didn’t know what it meant.

    14 My best friend commits suicide. We had played with a ouija board not long before that, so I was filled with guilt and was really scared.

    14-17 Cue my interest in Wicca. However, even though I was encouraged by my gf and her family at the time, I just couldn’t get into it. It was interesting, but I just didn’t believe it.

    18-20 Just apathetic to religion. I didn’t know what it was doing in the world.

    21 My best friend at the time tells me she’s thinking of converting to Reformed Judaism and my very first question is “Why bother?” I wondered why that was my first question. As she studies to convert, I study on my own, to try and understand why she would do that. But I came across “atheism” at some point and I was like “Oh yeah. This makes sense. I guess I was an atheist all my life.” My friend’s conversion makes even less sense to me.

    21-23 Reading science and atheism blogs and donating to charity whenever I can. I’m still closeted IRL (but not on the Internet) and I am very annoyed by religiosity around me, but I just do what I have to.

  • stephanie

    5-6 Begin journey into skepticism by going directly into pool after lunch instead of waiting 45 min and suffering no ill effects.

    7 Traumatically discover non-existence of Easter Bunny when dog devours entire Easter basket at approximately 4am. Dog survived chocolate ingestion, almost didn’t survive mom’s wrath. 😉 Sleep beleaguered mom dumps stashed extra chocolate in my basket and hands it to me.

    7.5 Extrapolate Easter Bunny to Santa Claus.

    10 Go to a friend’s Christian Scientist service. Hear man and woman testify how woman was raped during mugging but everything was OK because she talked to assailant about God and invited him into their house to begin his conversion. Parents forbid me to go to service again.

    11-24 Study science. Learn how much more magnificent universe is than religious books imply. Firm Agnostic at this point.

    19 Meet Atheist boy, who is most upstanding and morally centered- try to figure out what’s there as loadstone in place of God.

    21 Move in with Atheist boy. Move across country with same boy.

    26 Marry Atheist boy in non-religious service. Agnostic in name only at this point.

    29 Take in two college age kids who need a place to stay while they’re regrouping from various hard knocks. One is very Lutheran.

    30 In discussions with Lutheran, realize am not Agnostic after all but completely Atheist. Also realize it’s my goal in life to be happy-go-lucky, moral, compassionate, relatively tolerant and generally friendly without an ounce of superstitious coercion forcing my actions.

    30-40 Living the rationalist dream. 😀

  • 0 – 7: Default atheist. Was raised by nonreligious parents, never went to church, had no idea who God or Jesus were, etc. Read books about dinosaurs.
    7 – 10: Fell in love with Greek mythology.
    10 – 12: First introduced to Christianity through my classmates. Thought it was about as silly as Greek mythology.
    13: First time I really called myself an “atheist.” Had never heard the term before, but someone pointed out that’s what I was. Didn’t realize the implications – just thought, huh, yep, that’s what I am!
    13 – 15: Went through a deist phase where I desperately tried to believe in some sort of God, just so I could fit in. I thought I was broken somehow. But deism was about as far as my faith ever went.
    15: Science teacher introduced me to evolution and, knocked creationist nonsense out of my head. Fell in love with evolution.
    15 – 18: Called myself an agnostic mainly so people would stop arguing with me.
    18: Dated a very religious guy. He eventually dumped me because of my agnosticism. I got cranky because I was basically calling myself agnostic instead of atheist to appease him.
    19: Bought and read the God Delusion. Realized I was really an atheist.
    20 – 21: Formed a club on campus for nonbelievers, and acted as President! Woo!

  • chancelikely

    4: Went to a funeral; asked my mother what the big ‘t’ at the front of the room stood for.

    4, shortly thereafter: Started being taken to church.

    7: Got a book about dinosaurs. Got in an argument about carbon dating with my babysitter, who (it turns out) is a YEC.

    (NB: I know carbon dating doesn’t work on dinosaur fossils; I’m pretty sure carbon dating came up in the last chapter, on extinct North American megafauna, which can be carbon dated. I wish I had a recording of our argument – it would have been interesting to see a seven-year-old and a fifteen-year-old hash out the age of the earth.)

    8: Figured out the truth about Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. Was asked to maintain the charade for my younger brother.

    10: Started having to sit through the entire service instead of just the first half (the first and second graders got to leave about halfway in for church school).

    12: Started skipping church. Didn’t have anywhere to go, so hid in various places in the church building. (I told my mother I had been sitting in the balcony.) Actually started reading the Bible. Didn’t seem different enough from Norse or Greek/Roman myths, which I loved to read.

    With the benefit of hindsight, I can now say that this is when I became an atheist.

    14: Was confirmed in the church. I didn’t exactly want to; when I brought up my concerns to my mother, she told me that she had already called my grandparents to come up (about an hour and a half drive) and that if I wanted to not be confirmed, I would have to call them and tell them so. I backed down. I am still a member of that church to this day. (My mother is the church secretary, and would be really hurt if I quit. She knows I’m an atheist now, but my not being a United Methodist would break her heart. People can be pretty funny sometimes.)

    16: Found out my brother and stepfather were both basically atheists. Also found out the word ‘atheist’, which meant I finally had a name to attach to the state I had been in for about four years.

    18: Went to a college founded by the United Methodist church. Got a small scholarship from my congregation, went to a service at the college chapel honoring all the kids who had gotten scholarships, never darkened the door of that church again.

    26: Accidentally came out as an atheist to my mother. I thought she already knew. Oops.

  • It’s a long story. The short version takes all of the doubts any rational person would have, a read through Daniel Dennett’s Darwin’s Dangerous Idea and Carl Sagan’s Demon Haunted World and transforms an uncommitted pseudo-deist agnostic (there may be something there, but hell if I know what it is) to an agnostic atheist (I don’t believe anything is there, but I could be wrong).

  • I was raised as a Oneness/Holiness Pentecostal, meaning everyone is going to hell except for the 4 million or so members of the UPCI. “Salvation” comes from being baptized and then speaking in tongues, after which a person is “completely different”.

    11: Became a cynic about emotions when I realized (1) they had an effect on the way I thought and believed and (2) This could be manipulated.

    13: I read the diary of Anne Frank and had to deal with the problem of evil for the first time.

    14-15: I started getting active in church to deal with my anger/depression/fear of not having a happy life.

    19: Realized I wasn’t really “saved”, meaning I was going to Hell — along with most everyone else. I will fight this for another year. My pastor’s daughter lost the “Holy Ghost”, wore blue jeans and makeup for three months (big sins for women in the UPCI), and then got “resaved”. I never noticed a difference in her, before or after. I began suspecting that “salvation” wasn’t good for much outside of avoiding Hell, since the “saved” people seemed so miserable, angry, and petty. At the same time, I was realizing that happiness could be found in being with and helping other people — not by “worshiping God” in church.

    20: After living with the idea of Hell for a year, I told God to go screw himself and declared “I’m going to enjoy my life and help other people”. Two months later, right before my 21st birthday, I found an internet forum for ex-Pentecostals.

    21: Discovered freethought and humanism at the forum for ex-Pentecostals, giddily shed every trace of my old identity, got into atheism and so on.

    22-23: Stopped thinking of myself as an ex-Christian, an ex-Pentecostal, an a-theist, and so on, eventually even stopped calling myself a “freethinker” even though I still think freely. Although I still think of words like humanist and skeptic as applying to me, and in the case of Humanist derive great meaning from it, I generally just tell people what I value instead of giving them my label.

  • Anna

    5-6 shocked the first time i encountered a discussion of jesus in a history book. despite being part of a devout church going family, my reaction: “you mean he’s REAL?” not really “he’s realliy the word incarnate?” more “you mean that was even based on an actual dude?” i just had him lumped in the the easter bunny and santa. i didn’t believe in them either.

    8-12 devoutly religious yet very concerned over lack of conversion experience at my baptism. confusion due to attending a catholic school as a very liberal protestant probably didn’t help my angst.

    13 At my 8th grade graduation mass I am asked to carry the Host. I explain that it might not be appropriate since I’m not Catholic. Response: “Just this once it’;; probably be OK.” My response: “Transubstantiation is a LIE!!”

    14-18 increasing angst regarding church’s (organized religion’s) treatment of women, LGBTs, minorities, members of other religions. briefly serve as president of gay straight alliance, and have lots of ineffectual debates with the christian student groups. continue to identify as a liberal protestant, throw in some eastern thought, cuz why not?

    18-22 become fascinated with philosophy, theology and church history. briefly mistake the fascination for a calling to the ministry. later realize it’s more like the fascination of watching a train wreck, as i don’t believe any of it; especialy the big “jesus is the incarnate son of god” thing. still not sure about the big guy himself. mostly think of him as natural processes and physics personified.

    23-present realize that there’s no need to personify natural processes and physics, and also (a big one for me) that I don’t believe in any type of eternal soul (this revelation was largely connected to watching my grandfather’s slow demise from alzheimer’s, and reading lots of oliver sacks (he’s an atheist, right?).

    so now i’m an atheist who can recite all the books of the New testament and bible-thump with the best, so i remain grateful for my rigorous sunday schooling.

  • Polly

    ~6 years old: I think my dad’s pulling my leg when he tells me the story of Noah.

    early teens: I’m horrified, absolutely horrified, by the sheer volume of evil commanded by god.

    -push bad thoughts away and just believe
    -push bad thoughts away and just believe
    -push bad thoughts away and just believe

    ~29: Start to doubt that you need to believe in the trinity to be saved and wonder if the Bible even really supports such a notion.

    ~31: Start to wonder if “follower of Christ” isn’t just a state of mind and not a set of doctrines at all. Pretty much abandoned YEC and start to accept JWs and Mormons as Xians.

    Almost exactly 32: “This is all made up. I’m an atheist.”

  • 6: At school (Catholic school) during a lesson on the concept of “best friends,” I said my best friend was Jesus. No one thought I understood, but of course I knew they just didn’t get it.

    8-17: Feeling guilty about being bored during Church, I became an altar boy. During teen years, I noticed how similar the altar was to a stage, complete with strategic placement of the ambo, Bishop’s chair, etc.

    12: Bit by a mosquito at summer camp. Didn’t fight it, just watched and encouraged her to take her full. Understood what it meant to be an animal.

    13-17: Worked as a Sacristan in the church, so was exposed to even more of what went on back stage. None of it was bad, or anything. In fact it was great, I had priests who’d lend me Vonnegut.

    14: Having been a math wiz throughout elementary school, by the time I got to high school I had already completed up to the grade 11 or 12 math program. Grade 9 math teacher didn’t believe me and wouldn’t check. The next couple years of math were very boring. I occupied my time by paying attention to people to try and figure out why they found math to be so hard. I came up with all sorts of neat models of learning, thought and communication. A consequence of all of this is I completely lost my interest in math and gained an interest in psychology and other social sciences.

    15: Though I didn’t know the word for it, I became a staunch Secularist. At about the same time I realized the power of the answer, “I don’t know,” and agnosticism. I still believed, but I didn’t know. Since I didn’t know, I didn’t have any right to enforce my views on anyone.

    16: De facto Deism, though I didn’t know that word either. Still wanted to believe though.

    17: Admitted to myself I simply didn’t believe in any of it anymore.

  • Thilina

    0-15: was very bored of having to sit through any religious service but was taught to respect and don’t question any of it.

    15-18: started questioning religion privately, because it just stopped making sense.

    18-20: became agnostic but just couldn’t come up with any argument for either side. didnt realy care either way because it didnt have a large part in my life.

    20-21: started listening for some arguments for either side. Debated the idea with people and realised the true harm religion can have as well as understand why people feel they need it. Became an atheist because it was too empty once you know about it from a scientific point. (kind of like a magic trick once you know the secret)

  • Wendy

    0-22: Believed in “something”, simply because I was told it was so. Never looked into it for myself.

    0-5: Heard silly Bible stories from my dad. Didn’t buy a word.

    8: Asked my dad what happens if I rip a page of the Bible. Would I go to hell? Dad said no. Something smelled fishy.

    8-10: Set traps to find the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and Santa. No results. Fishier, still.

    11-14: Dabbled in Wicca. No spells ever worked.

    14-22: Put spirituality out of my mind completely.

    23: Car accident almost killed me. Developed fear of death, and realized that I had NO IDEA what I believed would happen after I die.

    23-25: Actually *thought* about it. Considered the evidence. An atheist is born!

  • Kim

    13: Following September 11, I realized what intrepretation of holy scripture could incite. I felt like the only person who saw the irony after America labeled an act of religious fanaticism as being a war on ‘freedom’ and then sat back as George Bush used the same religious idealism to inspire a war on terror. This made me very cynical about most religious people in general.

    14: A atheist one day asked my friend and I many questions regarding the ridiculous stories of The Bible and all the contradictions contained within our beleifs, none of which we could answer. I realized our faith up until then had been entirely blind and unquestioning.

    15: The most I became interested in history, politics and learning, I stopped going to church entirely after I realizing that too many idiots and not enough deep thinkers attended.

    15 – 19: Basically an uninterested atheist.

    20: Began reading more history that dated back to the inception of religion, to discover that there is a HUGE amount of evidence to dispute almost everything in The Bible. At the same time I began reading science books and discovered alternative explanations for everything using the scientific method were far superior than I had originally imagined. Agnosticism as I saw it, was no longer an option.

    21: Several Richard Dawkins books and hundreds of YouTube videos on the subject of atheism later I became an unapologetic atheist.

  • eL_sTiKo

    The year Santa Claus gave me a punching bag.

    It was clear that he wasn’t omniscent, as I didn’t want one…

    And if he wasn’t omniscent, he probably wasn’t real…

    And then, I thought: You know who else this sounds like?

  • Jared

    12-15: I got suspicious of my religion because I was getting called to supposed “inspired” calling in my church, callings I know that I wasn’t worthy of because I didn’t follow church standards.

    15-17: I would say I was agnostic at this time, although I didn’t really think about it.

    17: Thought about Christianity for a while the summer after I turned 17. for about 9 months I looked into Wicca.

    18: My interest in any religion ended. I realized that the good feelings I had felt were of my own making.

    18-19: Looking back over the last two years I would say that I have been an atheist that whole time, I was just denying it. My only experience in the atheist community up until that last few months was from my older sister who is what I call a religious atheist. My sister treated atheism as a religious and promoted the idea of what is basically a Jesus camp for indoctrinating people to become atheist. I finally admitted to myself and a close friend after deep thought on the matter of existence that I was an atheist.

    What drove me away from religion the most is my early teenage years was when I realized that my religion taught that people had only been on Earth for 6000 years.

  • This sounds like fun! Can I play?

    0-5: Lived in completely secular world. Life revolved around parents, brother and friends, going to preschool, playing with toys, and watching Sesame Street and Mister Rogers. No idea that religion even existed.

    5: Attended kindergarten attached to an Episcopal church. School was completely secular. Began to have a vague idea that churches were places where people got together to sing.

    5-6: Began to have some idea of things like “angels” and “devils” from Disney cartoons. Assumed they were fictional. Dressed up an an angel for Halloween. Little brother dressed up as a devil. No idea anyone thought these things were real.

    6-7: Began to display serious skepticism towards Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, and Tooth Fairy. Very much wanted to believe (especially in Santa) but was unsure.

    7: Started to watch “Highway to Heaven” on television. Big fan of the show. Gave me an idea of “heaven” as a place in the sky/clouds but figured that everyone knew it was make believe. Also introduced the idea of “God” and more explicit ideas about “angels” but still had no clue people thought they were real.

    7-8: Began to read more widely, progressed beyond picture books. Started to notice references to God and Sunday School and the Bible in children’s novels. Cracks started to appear in my secular worldview. Decided people only believed in such things in “the olden days” or in books.

    8-10: Began to get vague hints about religion. Started to have a clue that Christmas had something to do with a baby king in a manger. Started to wonder if adults told kids that God and heaven were real but didn’t really believe it themselves.

    10: Parents finally confessed that Santa Claus was not real. Had been 99.99% sure, but still somewhat disappointed. Had figured out Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy a few years before. Though sad to be done with childhood magic, glad to know that my skepticism had been vindicated.

    11-13: Middle school years. Began to have more of an idea that people were religious in real life and that they actually did take it seriously. Found it hard to believe, but was intrigued. Went to a few religious services with friends. Found it fascinating, but still could not see how people could think it was true.

    14-17: High school years. Interest in religion increased. Spent a lot of time doing religious and political debate online. Firmed up my political views, which were in stark contrast to conservative religious ones. Went to Mormon and Baptist summer camps with friends. Found it fascinating, but Baptist camp unpleasantly full of pressure to convert. Felt upset, as I had never had any intention of converting. Had just been in it for the cultural experience.

    18-21: College years. Attended Catholic university, but found it to be a pleasant experience. There was no pressure to convert. Continued my interest in religious and political debate online. Enjoyed watching movies about religion and reading books on religious topics. Had some religious friends, but was happy to agree to disagree.

    21: Senior year of college. Took innocuously-named course called “Social Psychology of Religious Values.” Was upset by religious teacher who did not seem to believe atheists actually existed. Had never been “attacked” for my beliefs in that way before. Felt out of place and upset in the class. Began to check out the atheist community online. Started posting to alt.atheism.

    21-present: Continued my interest in atheist community online. Started to read books about atheism and remained interested in all forms of religion and religious belief. Began to identify as an “out and proud” atheist. Even though I had never hidden it before, began to take more pride in atheism as an aspect of my identity.

  • MV

    0-9: Strong indoctrination by parents. Catholic school, etc. I do not think about it.

    9: 9/11 hits. I begin to read about Islam. I cannot help but notice similarities to Christianity.

    10: I find out Santa Claus does not exist. I become extremely cynical, and no longer trust my parents. I examine everything they say.

    12: Pick up a book on mythology. I notice extremely strong similarities to Christianity.

    13: Expanding my research on religions(ancient and current), I begin to construct a flow-chart of how one religion leads to another. At the same time, my mother is trying to make me study for Confirmation. I notice how Christianity uses the same rhetorical techniques (capitalization, overly flowery language, etc.) as Islam (which I am very well versed in now having continued my 9/11 research).

    14: I enter high school and I strongly feel that faith cannot explain many things, but I do not devote any time to it. I was busy with other things. Religion faded out of my life. Agnostic at this point.

    15: I take European History for my 10th grade history course. It started out with the Crusades and moved up through the religious wars. I thought it was stupid, but it forced me to confront my views on religion, and I decided on atheist.

    16: I continued to read everything I could get my hands on, and all it did was firm up my opinion. At this time I was firmly atheist, but I kept it to myself.

    17: I am currently becoming much more of an atheist advocate. Most of my friends at school know my views and do not care. I still refuse to tell my parents because I am afraid of what would happen. I am planning on getting much more involved when I go to college this fall.

  • zoo

    5 – I’m told I was “saved”. I don’t remember it. I do, however, remember a number of things from that same period. I suspect that I did it because some grown-up said I was supposed to, and they decided I understood what I was doing.

    7 – My depression begins (I think this is significant to how I believe now).

    10/11 – My dad gets his first full pastorship, we move to a new town, a new church, a new school, and I have to ride the bus. I have -very- slightly more choice in when I go to church since the house is within shouting distance of the sanctuary. I experience what hypocritical church members of all ages are like for the first time (and not the last, unfortunately). School really aggravates my depression. School tells my mom I’m suicidal, doctor tells us it’s a phase essentially (neither true, thanks doc. . .) and suggests a book by Dr. Dobson (from which I gain nothing).

    14-17 – Start reading the Bible from the beginning during services out of boredom (when your dad pastors different churches over time and fills in other places on occasion you get your share of repeats, and it was not of interest anyway). . . it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me but that didn’t make me rethink anything at the time; think I accepted the ‘old testament doesn’t apply’ argument. Homeschooled (myself) because high school was excessively boring and my parents were homeschooling my sister for middle school anyway, was forced to listen to J. Vernon McGee (which I got out of every chance I could, my favorite was procrastinating at the library on library day so we wouldn’t have to listen on the way home; I liked the library).

    16 – was coerced into being baptized by my parents, on Easter no less. Didn’t want to, but I couldn’t see much choice.

    17-19 – ‘Dual-enrolled’ and took 25 science credits as part of that (and an AA), but I still held on to YECism because it was what my parents/church taught me (community college science is rather shallow, since it’s introductory; I’d long been interested in science, but our local library system doesn’t have a lot of depth and I was more interested at the time in what I could see right then). I didn’t try to argue the point with professors and I knew inside out what they taught me (fortunately I was never encouraged to refuse to learn what I was being taught, even if my parents disagreed with it; I was [LOL] well-grounded).

    19-22 – Finish an AA and move on to the local university as a biology major. It still took a bit to get to the classes that would -really- explain evolutionary theory and the idea of abiogenesis (not to mention Hardy-Weinberg in at least 4 classes. . . think it’s important?). By the end of this time exposure to other people through volunteering at the zoo and being in hard-core science classes I’m having subconscious doubts.

    17-23 – I’m also having conscious doubts. All the time at church and on Christian radio people are saying how you’re supposed to vividly remember being saved (including the date) and you’re supposed to feel this way and that way and the other way. I didn’t, and of course I wondered what was wrong with me. Of course I’d also been told that would happen too. Problem (heh) is I only had the doubts and NEVER the feelings I was “supposed to”. I also didn’t like trying to go out and get other people to do things I didn’t want to do, and they didn’t either.

    24-26 – A “friend” eventually gave me three things: a severe aggravation of my depression with suicidal plans, realization of my lifelong depression, and a name for my doubts (not in that order). I didn’t accept the latter right away, but an injury and then work gave me the excuses I needed to quit attending church (Christmas ’05 was my last day). I (finally, they don’t call it U Can’t Finish for nothing :P) graduated, with a decent undergrad biology education I’m very grateful for.

    26 – I looked back and realized I never did believe. I thought I did, but it was more a “keep the grown-ups happy” deal and not caring enough about life itself to bother with (or have time to) thinking through religion too. I think my depression. . . protected. . . me from those feelings I was supposed to have. I started looking into felids’ role in culture (myths, symbols, everything; it’s a big topic I’m still working on) which cemented my rejection of Christianity. I couldn’t believe God would let people go to hell just because they hadn’t ever heard about Jesus. The story that hadn’t really sat well with me at the time (16/17ish) came back to mind, a missionary told us that the fact a certain tribe fears death is proof they know (wtf!?). My now rather extensive experience with animals (work in two field studies, 7 years of personal relationship-of-sorts with more than a hundred individual animals of various species, and having pets from birth) and my biology degree completely disagreed with this. Fear of death is natural, animals fight tooth and nail to survive unless instinct (and/or the complete lack of any energy left to fight with) tells them they’re just bound to die. [Sometime before I’d already determined subconcsiously that humans are (barely) glorified animals.] While sitting someone’s dog at their house I saw “The Lord’s Bootcamp” which brought me to search the internet for information about it and I came across this site and more of this sort.

    27 (present) – I’m willing now to ‘claim’ atheism, but only to people I think can handle it, which basically means I’m only “out” to my zoo friends [zoo people in general are just plain awesome when it comes to accepting other people]. I’m struggling with everything that was pounded into my head over the years of one sort or another, and keeping this from my family (I’m unfortunately not able to be on my own yet with all the things I need to work through and the super bad days I can have -_-) on top of my own biological tendency toward depression, and that “friend”‘s oh-so-generous parting gift. And seeing how little my mom actually understands of the science she so heartily disagrees with (she thinks the “why are there still monkeys?” ‘argument’ is perfectly valid); don’t know about my dad, our relationship has always been very distant, but he -is- still an SBapt. pastor. Someday I hope I can be my real self wherever I am with whoever is near, but I fear that won’t happen.

  • Up to 7 – I was baptized and went to Sunday School.

    7-16 – Did not go to church or think about it.

    16-19 – Dated several Catholic girls but none too seriously and still didn’t go to church and did not want to but I didn’t know why.

    19-29 – Lived life (partied, worked, partied some more), tried not to grow up. Still not going to church because I didn’t like getting up on Sunday. 8~P

    29-40 – Got married, had kids. Started to question religion and evangelism in all its forms. Identified myself as agnostic.

    40-44 (Present) – Became repulsed at all things religion and started to accept that I am an atheist. In the last year or so I have been reading and learning more about what it means to be an atheist and how to deal with fundamental Christians that surround me in my daily life.

  • 0-14 My family never talked about religion. I heard about it from other sources, and I just kinda thought all of it was true. I never really thought about there being no god, because no one ever proposed that idea to me. And I never thought too hard that all religions can’t be true, because I never debated anyone on it.

    14-18 Some friends invited me to join a Christian youth group. It was fun and I met a lot of nice people and I liked the music. I enjoyed the emotions that I felt when attending the group, and decided that must be the power of God and became a Christian. When I was 16 I was good friends with an athiest. He was the first person to really challenge me on the idea that there was no God, and planted the seeds of doubt. I still hung on to religion.

    19 – Started dating my now husband. He really challenged my views about religion (he is an atheist). We stopped discussing the issue for a while.

    20 – now I decided that although religion made part of me feel good, I really didn’t beleive any of it. I eventually became more comfortable with saying I was an atheist. Now I am quite vocal about it.

  • Emily

    I don’t think I ever really believed in God. I wasn’t ever brought up with religion, but I wasn’t brought up in non-theism either. I have always felt uncomfortable in churches, like I wasn’t supposed to be there with all of those people that believed so strongly.

  • 0-12: Took for granted what adults said was true. Religion was everywhere (school, choir, clubs…)

    13: Critical faculties begin to kick in. Lying in bed, considering religion objectively for a few minutes before the finding the killer paradox – if god created the world who created god?

    13-48: Issue settled I’ve never had any further doubts.

  • 0-5 Never really involved in anything religious, aside from getting dragged to the occasional christmas play

    6 Begin my life path as a huge science geek

    7 Parents take me to mass and sunday school for the first time that I can remember. Questioned that if we were christian, (Lutheran to by precise), why did we have to go to the church two miles from the house instead of the one directly across the street. Get kicked out of sunday school first week after asking how the world can be 6000 years old when the pyramids are over 7000 years old, the wooly mammoth is over ten thousand years old, and the dinosaurs are much older than that.

    9 Lost argument about going to church to the classic parental logic of “Because I Said So.”

    9-14 Since my mom works early on Sundays, she “volunteers” me to be an acolyte/altar boy for the way-too-early 7am mass…on the only day of the week I got to sleep in. Fell asleep twice during mass, had to be

    12-14 Forced to attend church and sunday school 3 times a month for three years, as well as one 3 hour “religious study class” per month. Almost became first person in church history to fail course. Only reason I passed was due to charitable work performed.

    12-16 Baptist Minister moves in next door. Become friends with family. Invited to a couple of their church functions, and at an overnight church gathering hear about the “Rapture” for the first time. Question beliefs a little more, but keep most of my questions to myself.

    14 Confirmed in Lutheran Church. Never attended a mass in that church again.

    15 Have in-depth debates during Chem Lab with other students over existence of god. Realize I was an agnostic who wouldn’t admit it to himself.

    17 “Dated” a mormon girl. Beginning of the “Mistake Era” in which I tried to make sense of religion.

    18-21 First College Tour. During this time, I dated several different women of various backgrounds and faiths, and realized that I had issues with anyone who took their faith too seriously.

    21 Dated and became engaged to a devout christian. Shut off the “religious portion” of brain around the same time she cheated on me.

    22-24 “The Wandering Years” Went on a personal Walkabout, trying to find meaning. Never once questioned the existence of god, nor the non-existence. Essentially, I was a cowardly agnostic.

    24-26 College Tour, Part II. Start dating, and eventually fall for a catholic girl. Mom comes down with Alzheimer’s.

    27 Marry a catholic girl, in a catholic church, and in the process lie to several priests about my intentions to raise our kids catholic. Belief in any god is rather low at this point.

    27 Realize in retrospect that I was already an Atheist when at my mom’s funeral I don’t believe a single person when they tell me “She’s gone on to a better place.” Almost tell my aunt off.

    28 While viewing Reddit one day, I see a post about a movie about a Ben Stein movie called “Expelled” and watch it online. As a filmmaker, I am thoroughly offended by the one-sided view of this “documentary.” Brings me into the “Evolution Vs. ID” fight, and, by connection, leads me to several Atheist blogs and websites.

    28 Finally break down and listen to “The God Delusion”. Am trying not to agree with Professor Dawkins, until he talks about the magical china teapot. Pull off of road and re-listen to that portion again. Come out to my wife as an Agnostic a couple nights later.

    29 Come out as an Atheist to my wife and friends. To my wonder, no one was surprised.

    29 Begin the “Angry Atheist” phase, eventually calm down and start focusing energies on making the world, or at least my world, a better place.

  • 1966 (<1) – I am baptized in the Lutheran church. As I was not terribly cognitive at the time, this event did not have a profound influence on my faith.

    ~1970 (4) – While sitting in church, I am bothered by an insect and yell out, “I get that damn fly!” My first blasphemy.

    1976 (10) – I join the Boy Scouts of America. For the next 8 years, I hike, camp, complete merit badges and increasingly mumble my way through the “reverent” part of the scout law and “promise to do my duty to God” part of the oath. I start leaving “under God” out of my recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance as well.

    ~1977 (11) – Catechism class. I learn to recite the books of the bible, 10 commandments and other rote memorization skills. Disappointingly, classes happen on the same nights that I would otherwise want to be going to the local amateur astronomy club meetings. The teacher’s lack of ability to answer fundamental cosmological questions fail to convince me of God’s creative powers.

    1978 – (12) I begin playing Dungeons & Dragons and fail to be seduced into Satanism and human sacrifice.

    1979 – 1981 (13+) On and off, I wear a pendant that used to be my grandfather’s that says “I am a Lutheran” and consider what that actually means. Failing to come up with any answer, I eventually abandon it.

    1985 (19) – My Great Grandmother dies and I am so repulsed by the constant talk about Jesus and the mentioning of my great grandmother only at the beginning and end of the eulogy that I never attend another funeral service. Some funeral homes pipe the service into the parking lot over speakers so sometimes it’s a long walk.

    1985 (19) – My girlfriend becomes pregnant and my mother insists that I visit the pastor for advise. By the end of the meeting I have received no productive or actionable advise, have revealed that I don’t believe in Christ or God and have been removed from the church rolls, ending two decades of membership in an organization in which I never had any faith.

    1986 (20) – I work at a summer camp. The first few days are typical training stuff but when the kids arrive, the prayer before meals changes to Hebrew. I’m a bit pissed that I was not told this in advance but that could be ignored just as well as I ignored it at Boy Scout summer camp. What I disliked more is that the pizza always had onions and would walk a few miles into town on my days off for a proper meat lover’s pizza.

    1987 (21) – I take a college course on political philosophy, read works by Martin Luther and finally learn what it means to actually be a Lutheran. It’s clear that I never was a Lutheran.

    1997 (31) – I join the Universal Life Church so that I may perform Klingon weddings.

    2005 (39) – I start blogging, including various rants about the stupidity of religion

    2005 (39) – I listen to Penn Jilette’s “This I Believe” essay and abandon the last vestiges of agnosticism, comfortable thinking of myself not as an atheist; someone who does not believe in god, but as an anti-theist; one that believes that there is no god.

    2007 (41) – Read Sam Harris and Dawkins.

    So, you can see from my history that it was never really a de-conversion. I was never really brought into the Christian fold. Never convinced. An un-conversion. And, in some ways, I have my parents to thank for that. For whatever reason, religion was something that was done on Sundays and holidays. We didn’t say grace at dinner except at Thanksgiving and Christmas. There were no bedtime prayers. Religion wasn’t discussed about the house. It was go to church on Sundays, send the kids to Sunday school (because, where else would they be) and do the obligatory early teen catechism class. My faith was otherwise left to my own devices and, starting with my first grade year hiding behind the classroom piano reading fourth grade science books, religion never stood a chance.

  • Bryne

    1-18: Went to church but began to internally question the teachings when I was told that my sole goal in life should be to marry a decent man and produce many children. An older member told me my education was a lost cause, only Jesus mattered.

    19-22: Went to college.

    23: Had an epiphany during a talk with a visiting teacher from the church. Asked questions and received easily refutable answers.

    24: A closet atheist to all but my boyfriend. Wish I had the courage to speak up.

  • Rob

    Wow you guys must be prodigies…

    Here’s mine.

    5-14 Devout Catholic

    15 Start questioning bible stories.

    16 My mother dies. I question religion more. My 7 year old brother asks a preist why, with so many bad people in the world, did god have to take our mother? His answer: God works in mysterious ways, He needed her up there more than we needed her down here.

    17-25 lost in religous limbo, read plenty of books about Atheism, and also read the bible.

    26 I ask myself, Really? He needed her more than we did? Really? An Omnipotent being. I became agnostic.

    27-38 Declare myself an Atheist.

    39 After reading Richard Dawkins’ the god delusion I discover that I had been an agnostic all along. By the end of the book I was a strong atheist. And now I’m so mad that religion had me fooled for so long that even after declaring myself an atheist I was merely an agnostic… Hoping for life after death. What a horrible thing religion is…

    40-? Atheist, Atheist, Atheist…

  • Jackie

    3 – preschool friends told me that I was christian because I celebrated christmas
    3-12 – randomly went to church a few times with a friend, didn’t really think about religion, “I guess I’m christian”(just because I celebrate christmas)
    12 – went to a christian camp with a friend in the summer and she told me about when she “became christian” and asked when I “became christian.” I mumbled something incoherent and changed the subject. I realized that I’m not really christian.
    12-17 – Knew that I didn’t belong to any religion, but didn’t think about it much. My best friend was Morman and I went with her to the church sponsored summer camp twice. No one tried to convert me or anything, and I just stayed quiet for the religious parts. Both times I went I considered Mormanism for a day or two after, but never acted…I liked the sense of community, but I just couldn’t believe all the stuff in the Bible.
    17-18 – Realized that a lot more people are religious than I thought. Thought about the terms agnostic and atheist, wasn’t really sure what the difference was. My brother mentiond that he’s an atheist and I thought about it some more. I decided that atheist sounds too harsh and definite so I decided that I’m agnostic. Started college, and felt a little left out when friends started joining christian/bible study groups. Did more research online and realized that I really do not believe any of that stuff and decided that I am an atheist.
    Present (still 18) – Thinking about what atheism means and how the whole idea that god sent us to Earth to test us seems really manipulative and kind of passive agressive.

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