Question of the Week: What religion did you deconvert from? What is your story?

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What religion did you practice before you became an atheist? What is your deconversion story? Shre in the comments and our favorite story will win!

 

Deadline for the contest is February 18, 2014
Winners receive a copy of An Appetite for Wonder by Richard Dawkins.

We recently asked this question on Twitter and below are some of our favorite responses!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Written By: RDFRScontinue to source article at

137 COMMENTS

  1. I was born a Catholic and was a Catholic for most of my life. As I kid, I looked forward to Sundays because that was the day my family would go to church. I loved going to church; I loved the singing, the community, the education. As a teenager, I could pray the common prayers in three languages: English, Latin and Filipino. I thought of myself as a person deputized by god to defend his church from the teachings of the ‘unbaptized.’ So I took it as a serious offense when, in 2010, a very close friend of mine handed me a copy of The God Delusion and asked me to read it. The God Delusion is probably the one book that pained me so much to read, but I read it. I still haven’t returned it to my friend whom I remain very close with to this day. And he and I are of the same mind that Professor Dawkins is, in all probability, correct.

  2. I guess, I was born atheist! However, mother always put my in various religious based schools…telling me the education was better. I was luckily enough to be asked to leave a Christian school in 7th grade due to me asking the bible teacher too many questions, which were never actually answered rationally. I just kept asking more questions and did not “believe” any of it and there was the problem…so I think that school very much for setting me back on my naturally born path of atheism.

  3. As an abused child, I was not allowed to ask questions or to express myself; then at age 11 I overheard a conversation questioning the existence of a god, and at once things began falling into place–all the contradictions and sillinesses I’d not understood–and had even been afraid to consider–pretty much proved themselves as just that; and I was released, finally, to begin to trust my own instincts and freely explore my own wonderings.

  4. I was an Hindu forced to go to temples and ashrams when i was a kid. Didn’t feel any spritual bliss there as i already had my conscience. The turning point came up when i was 10 years old. My dad was in the military and was tough. I had to be home before he came back. i was late – 7pm, and i was scared. So my friend asked me to write the name of sai baba on my index finger and cross it with my middle finger. Thought it to be funny, but my friend was dead serious as this “sai baba trick” had never failed him. Would have done any thing to escape the trashing. So went home and promptly got trashed by my dad. In bed that night made the decision to never adopt other’s beliefs – not because i was trashed, but for having made a fool of myself. I decided to cement my non belief in God and kept it a secret, until i was 16 years old.

  5. My mother oscillated between Presbyterian and Methodist churches and dragged we kids to them with a little irregularity. Like most people, her relationship to religion was emotional not intellectual, and she repeated the pattern her parents taught her. So as early as 9, I was a little skeptical of the religious dogma. I am proud of myself that I was thrown out of Sunday school at that age because I just could not believe the story of Joseph and the Amazing technicolor dreamcoat, and refused to engage in some classroom participation around this story. I called myself an agnostic in high school because I just wasn’t sure, wasn’t educated enough to think about these things, and lived in the echo chamber of believers.

    I became an atheist after watching The Exorcist. The movie actually raised instinctual fears in me which I thought was silly, and when I thought about why I started reading more on the subject of religion, introduced myself to Aristotle and other thinkers, and came fully to understand just how man made the whole nonsense is.

  6. Hi everyone. What led me to atheism. I was born a Presbyterian but I grew up Fundamentalist Episcopal Church which my parents still attend. I had a bad experience with Christian Science when I prayed to Christ to heal me he didn’t. I got very sick and while I was in the hospital I decided that I had had enough of all Christianity. I am no longer a practicing Christian. I am an atheist. That is my experience with Christian religion. That’s also why I became an atheist because of years of praying and not receiving an answer I concluded that God doesn’t exest Jesus was either deliusioonal and I belive that he didn’t die for our sins but I belive he wanted to kill himself on that “cross”. And I belive that the Holy Spirit is mainly associated with hearing voices. People always claim that receiving revaltion from the holy spirit. It is BullShit. That is my expericene and why I became an Atheist.

  7. I was brought up in a christian society, not so much a christian houshold. my mother is a catholic from holland, my father was Cof E. we were not baptised but did attend sunday school and afterwards all schools were catholic or christian orientated. religious class gave us opportunity to learn about other religions, some of which were actually the same as christianity, some were different.

    I myself have had a search for this god-enitiy but have found him to be non existant. I have had this belief since my mid twenties (am now 40 years young of age). personally I don´t see myself as having left a religion, but rather leaving the religious part of the society I grew up in behind me and feeling a free-er person for it.

  8. I was brought up in a very religious German-speaking Lutheran household in South Africa. I remember regularly feeling uneasy about religion and quite disinterested in it. Seven years ago when I was 28 years old I was working on a tricky mathematical optimisation problem (I’m an engineer) and did research into genetic algorithms as a way of solving it. This got me interested in the theory of evolution and I bought and read The Selfish Gene to broaden my thinking on solving such mathematical problems. Even though the book doesn’t focus on religion, reading it made me realise that there is no need for a creator in my model of the world and that my world view would be far more satisfying without one in it.

    I’m married to a very religious wife and confessing to being an atheist would risk divorce and alienation by her family (and possibly mine too). We have two lovely young children whom my wife is bringing up with a very well-meaning religious view of the world. Both my parents and siblings are very religious. Unfortunately my attempts at talking about being sceptical about religion always make everyone extremely uneasy and/or angry very quickly.

    I originally made a choice to keep my atheism a secret but as time goes by I’ve found that doing so is becoming difficult. Religion and the narrow-mindedness that accompanies it is frustrating me more. I want my children to have a scientific mindset and religion is a barrier to this. My current approach is to attempt to instil wonder about the natural world into their thinking and to propose alternative explanations about the way things are whenever such situations arise. (The current default explanation given to them by grown-ups is typically “God made it”.)

    I think that subconsciously my wife almost realises I’m an atheist but I know that she is so unreceptive to this reality that she represses those thoughts and things between us just continue as they have always done for the time being. I don’t yet know what will happen next. In any case, it’s a very delicate situation and one in which lots of things can go wrong very quickly if handled without care. Time will tell!

  9. I was a university student in Belfast at the time, and a committed Catholic. I was offered a chance to work in New York for the summer, and jumped at the chance. The group I was with ran a secular program of feeding the homeless, and I took part in this as it sounded like something worthwhile.

    Seeing grown men ask for an extra sandwich and being so grateful amazed me – and it showed that even as a skint student, I wasn’t so bad off as some.

    At one point there was a man who physically couldn’t carry any more items in his arms, and wasn’t able to carry an extra sandwich. A man behind him in the queue offered him a plastic bag to put all his possessions into, and he broke down in tears of gratitude.

    He extolled the various virtues of God to this man and thanked him profusely. I recall thinking that he’s thanking God, but for a plastic bag – God has put him in this place, and for what? To be grateful for a plastic bag while living on the street?

    When I returned to Ireland, my parents had come back from visiting the Vatican and I was excited to hear how it had went.

    They told me that there was a solid gold line running along the tourist path inside the Vatican, and when my father asked what it signified, the guide replied that it traced the outline of St Paul’s Cathedral, and that’s when it hit me. The Pope lives in the lap of luxury in a ludicrously opulent dwelling, while people starve to death on the streets, and are pathetically grateful for a mere plastic bag.

    The richness and inequality of the church that pays no taxes and extols the virtues of poverty sickened me, and the further atrocities of Church child abuse appalled me further.

    Reading up on atheistic literature such as The God Delusion and God Is Not Great opened my mind and changed my life. I no longer believe in a deity and despise the opulence of the Church while poverty exists in the world.

  10. I was brought up as a Protestant in Northern Ireland. My mother was very religious, but my dad thought it was all rubbish. Around the time I got to around 15 years old, I started to question religion myself. I questioned all the stories in the Bible and found a lot of them hard to accept. I am not sure when I started to call myself an Atheist, but I was reluctant to speak out at the time. Now to me, it is fairly obvious where we all originated from, but it does bother me, that there are so many people entrenched in a Mythical being.

  11. My father was a “secular” Jew. Mother born Catholic, but after being in a Catholic orphanage, where she endured abuse, rejected religion. So! I was raised without any religion. When I was a kid, I asked my mom what “I was.” She replied, “Non-sectarian.” I thought that was the coolest “religion,” because, unlike my friends, I didn’t have to attend religious services or obey rules. And, as a bonus, because I came from a “mixed” family, I could get off from school on both Christian and Jewish holidays! Not being indoctrinated with religion has, I believe, has freed me to follow my heart, but not leave my brain behind!

  12. I felt ashamed of my skepticism and from childhood hid my doubts from my catholic friends and family. I moved to the Middle East after University and met my Arab husband who gave me a copy of Christopher Hitchens’ book, God is not Great. I then took a Philosophy of Religion online Oxford course, which confirmed my doubts. Now I am addicted to reading anything I can get by Dawkins, Hitchens and a few others. I think I know the relief a gay person must feel when they finally come out of the closet. I feel wonderfully light and free! And I’m not ashamed to be a non-believer any more!

  13. I never took to the Christian path, despite spending Sunday mornings in sunday school and then in church youth groups as a teen. My mom was very religious and had me do drills of the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer at bedtime. I would go to church with my family but refuse to participate in the service, suspecting at a rather young age that religion was just a yoke we willingly bear for the sake wishful thinking.

    In my twenties and thirties I researched other world beliefs, read the Ramayana, tried transcendental meditation, and played with assorted new-age/paranormal woo. Nothing stuck. This lead me to examine what “faith” and “belief” was for myself, and ultimately, my dismantling the constructs of “GOD” and “ETERNAL SOUL” as a ruling, ever-present defaults in my life. Once I rid myself of all that baggage, I felt extraordinarily free.

    Today, I find myself at odds with the religious, and others who would put their own wishful thinking as law ahead of reason, compassion, and scientific evidence. If there is any notion I have a belief in, it’s that religion is a disease of the mind.

  14. After denoucing my forced catholic faith, I spent years feeling alone as a nonbeliever. Dawkins’ literature offered consolation as well as armament against the believers I was surrounded by.

    A quick insight into how surrounded I was. I spent my entire youth within the roman catholic bubble. My mother, a life-long catholic, and my father, a born again Christian, would not have any part of having an atheist for a son. When I came out as an atheist, at age 15, my relationship with my parents (or lack thereof) was never the same, and I’m afraid it never will be. Ironically, my mother is most responsible for my deconversion, dare I say, revelation, when I asked her about dinosaurs. I genuinely came up with this argument on my own. I had never been exposed to any atheists or atheist arguments. But my own curiosity illuminated a grand light bulb one day, and I asked my mother, “How is it possible that humans were created within the first week of the earth’s existence, but dinosaurs existed millions of years before humans?” The look on her face was enough to tell me that I had just stumbled upon an important question to which my mother had no answer. She immediately phoned her mother, who attends church seven days a week, reads the bible nearly every waking hour, and has hand-made signs above every television in her house that say “Would god watch this program with you?” with an image of Jesus staring back at you disapprovingly. Anyway, she asked my grandmother my dinosaur question before handing the phone to me to hear my grandmother tell me, “Dinosaurs did not exist, god put the dinosaur bones in the earth to test your faith in him.” That was the nail in the coffin. It was the moment I knew, as hard as it was to accept, that my mother and grandmother (and nearly everyone else I knew, for that matter) were wrong, and there was almost certainly no god (at least the one that they believed in).

    As I said, I was in the bubble. It was a rough process that took years to be where I am today; comfortable, happy, and nearly certain (a 6.99 on the Dawkins scale) that there is no god, no supernatural, no magic (except fot he magic of reality). Along the way it led to much dissonance and even worse, loneliness. But to me, the truth was worth the wager. It led to me having no place to live, and I was only allowed back in my parent’s home if I were to confess that I accepted Jesus Christ as my lord and savior and that I was simply lost and mistaken when I denied his existence. My mother would splash “holy water” around my room, soak my bedding in it, and read scriptures aloud in my bedroom to “rid the demons” that captured my soul. She phoned an earth science teacher in an irate stupor when she found out my younger brother was being taught evolution. When I was in high school, in Illinois (we moved a lot) she phoned my English teacher when she found the book When Will Jesus Bring the Pork chops? by George Carlin (who she knew was an atheist) in my room. It was the book I had chosen from the school reading list. The sad thing is, she succeeded in getting it removed from the school reading list, when, the following day in class, the teacher announced that, “Due to a phone call from an angry parent, anyone reading George Carlin’s book will have to choose a new book from the list.” It was not until years later that I found out that the angry parent was my mother. My father was known to tell me, “Have fun in hell with your buddy George!” of which he was referring to George Carlin. My renouncing of my faith also led to my father constantly telling me that he hates me, he hates atheists, and that I am going to burn in hell for eternity.

    Sadly, this is just the beginning of my horror stories from the life I spent trying to escape the bubble of religious delusion, but I will spare you the autobiography. Again, I must emphasize that Richard Dawkins helped alleviate much of my loneliness. Dawkins has aided in doing so by exposing me to not only your YouTube videos, television appearances, and books, but other authors, scientists, nonbelievers, atheist publications and organizations, etc. Knowing that there were people out there (millions of them!) who felt and thought as I did helped relieve my sense of alienation. For that I am forever grateful.

  15. I was raised Lutheran – which included: private Christian school until 5th grade, confirmation, communion, Sunday school, Wednesday youth worship, church on Sunday, etc., etc. I always had a feeling of doubt, always. The stories didn’t add up – but I didn’t know I could question. Going off to college and then out into the world – I would make an attempt and find a church, go a few times and then lose interest. By then however, I was becoming an adult, and the stories were really not adding up. Out of respect, I would go to church with my family when I returned home for a visit. I would check “Christian” when there was a form with “Religious affiliations”. Then I decided I was old enough to decide I just didn’t like religion. I would have a “Relationship with God” and talk to him on my own time. I was “Spiritual But Not Religious.” This still felt wrong somehow. My deconversion story began on 9/11/01. I was at my desk working on the 101st floor of 2 WTC at 8:45am when Tower 1 was struck and in the stairwell of 2 WTC at 9:03am when our tower was struck. Obviously I survived. Everywhere I went I heard “Oh you are so blessed” or “God/An Angel/Jesus was watching over you.” At first, I would just nod or say “I guess” but then I said the words out loud: “Then who was watching over the other people who burned, jumped, were crushed, died in the planes? Why is it that I was more special that Jesus saved ME?” Then I would say, “I was lucky and I listened to my instincts. When fire shot past my window, I questioned. When everyone in my area of the floor ran around in circles wondering what to do, I went to the stairwell. When the announcement said: ‘Please go back to your desks’ I said ‘HELL NO!’ and kept running down the stairs. When everyone was standing around outside staring, crying, praying – I got away from the area.” {you can read my story on my blog: http://oliveloafdesign.wordpress.com/2008/09/11/istillloveyounewyork/} So then people would say “Oh God/Jesus must have a plan for you – you have something more to do for the Lord.” I mulled that over a few years and wondered myself what it all meant. But, I stopped being respectful to my elders in regards to church & religion and I started reading other philosophies and exploring other opinions. To bring my deprogramming up to the present – my brother’s 2 day old daughter died for no reason and I was done. I watched Zeitgeist and The God Delusion and I was convinced. I’m not wasting another moment wondering what I should be doing to “honor God.” I’m going to make the most of the life I have left…WITHOUT fairytales.

  16. I still haven’t shared my story with anyone but my husband and children, who made the journey from Southern Baptist to atheism with me. My family members are devout Christians for many generations. I have an uncle who is an ordained minister and two first cousins who are. My father and brother are deacons in the church. I mean, they are ultra-religious. Pray before every meal, don’t drink, dance, smoke or swear. My very intelligent son read The God Delusion and shed the religious burden he never really bought in to. He introduced me to Dr. Dawkins through the documentaries, The Enemies of Reason and The Root of All Evil. I attempted to read the Bible, making critical notes in the margins, then decided it was not worth my time. It was nothing more than mythology, and not even as interesting as Hellenic Paganism. I dove into the works of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchins, Jon Krauker, Michael Schermer and others. I even had the great pleasure of meeting Dr. Dawkins in Austin at the Capitol building. I shared how, as a former teacher and school principal, I am so impressed with his ebook, The Magic of Reality. What a wonderful educational tool and what an excellent way to motivate young minds to be quizzical and critical thinkers. Brilliant interactive devices enjoyed by any age! I’m just so impressed that Dr Dawkins is intelligent, passionate, the most incredible teacher and truly approachable. He had no idea what a thrill it was for me to shake his hand and engage in even the briefest of conversations.
    I feel cowardly about hiding my beliefs from my family and friends, but I’m not ready to give up those relationships. It would deeply hurt my elderly parents and I don’t see the point with them at the end of their lives. Perhaps after the passing of that generation, we’ll see a real shift toward secularism in America. I feel I’m not alone in my annonimnity. Lets take a real survey and see how many people have no doubts whatsoever.
    At any rate, I’m living my life more fully in my appreciation for reality and the marvels of the life that I’m fortunate enough to have. I am a staunch supporter of teaching only real science in our classrooms. I’m a member of RDFRS.

  17. I live in the “bible belt” of Texas, where Baptism & Baylor Reign Supreme & to say that one can literally, physically feel the religious pressure of Baptism here would quite frankly be, well, an understatement. I was Baptised when I was twelve & I was sexually betrayed by my stepfather that same year as well, so I guess one could say that I learned the lesson of just how useless the “power of prayer” is the HARD way (pun intended).
    I am truly amazed at how any one can even get through the Pentateuch (five books of Moses) without screaming WTF! There are so many errors and contradictions that even at the young age of twelve I was constantly getting into heated debates with various church leaders. I would ask things like “why does God say (Gen 1:24 thru 1:26)) that he made animals FIRST & man SECOND, but then contradict himself (Gen 2:18) by saying that he made man FIRST & animals SECOND?” Can’t God remember who or what he created in the correct order? or I would ask “Who did Caine marry when God abolished him to the land of Nod, east of Eden?” Because at this point in time Adam & Eve’s family tree was pretty easy to follow & there was no mention in the bible of God creating multiple Adam & Eves, so where in the hell did this mystery woman come from???
    One of my pastors in East Texas actually went to his “when all else fails, blame it on the devil” routine, and he told me that the devil was a crafty one, and that he planted these thoughts into the minds of man to confuse us, and that it was up to us to turn him and his wickedness away by focusing on and praying too God for foregiveness… Don’t you just love it! lol
    I guess that the more I began to read & question the bible, the more I began to realize that God (like Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth fairy, and Peter Pan) was just another story that has been passed down from one generation to the next.
    The story of Jesus after all is a really good story & one I thoroughly enjoy, but lets face it, it is a counterfeit, it was plagiarized from many stories told hundreds and thousands of years before Yeoshuah ben Joseph (Jesus) was even born.
    So now I’m just a guy who battles with the origins of life as I suspect most others do… and I search for answers, though I find so very few.
    God bless:)

  18. My mother was initially a Christian, but was a humanist by the time she retired. Her funeral was conducted by a humanist celebrant.
    Her sister was church organist for both the Methodists and the C of E. for most of her adult life.

    My father was an atheist scientist.
    I was was baptised into the CofE as an infant, and went to a Methodist Sunday School for a time as a small child, Later I went to a CofE grammar school, where the deputy head was a practising Vicar of the CofE who taught us “Religious Education” classes.
    I became an atheist as a teenager , while still at school, as I mentally matured.

  19. My mom was active in our small-town Ohio Presbyterian church. As a kid I had to attend Sunday school and, worst, vacation bible school. I passively went along until I started college and, through a very well-taught one-year course in zoology, I learned the indisputable facts of evolution. I also recall watching part of a ridiculous movie, “The Bible” I think, that showed an omniscient “god” creating “man” who immediately began screwing up so badly that “god” tried to kill him off to start over. I can understand religious myths being invented by primitive people to explain frightening natural phonomena – earthquakes, lightning, eclipses, etc. – before science gave us rational explanations for those events, but we’re past all that now. More recently it has become clear that religions are not just harmless superstitions, but are used to justify hatred, assault and murder of people who are not “of the faith” in some fashion. I also know that the “dominion” concept in Genesis sanctions destruction of the natural world by Homo sapiens. It’s unfortunate that extinction of H. sapiens doesn’t come first

  20. Religion was never forced on me as a child. I can remember getting into trouble as a child and made to memorize bible verses or hand write chapters of the bible as a punishment. Boy I hated it!!! I got in trouble at school for drinking beer on a Band trip one year and was expelled for the year….. My punishment, hand write the entire bible word for word! HOLY CRAP!!!!! It was MISERABLE!!! Although, it was also quite educational. I was amazed that so many people based their beliefs in this book that was full of murder, destruction and hate….. During my expulsion, I had the opportunity to join the Boy Scouts. My parents thought it would do me some good! The Scout Master of the troop was also a minister at a Church of Christ. I would ask him questions about some of the stuff I was reading and he did his best to explain it. More often than not, his responses to my questions were, “You have to have faith and believe to understand”. So, I gave it a shot. I started going to church with my him. I got involved in the church. Went and visited hospitals. Attended funerals etc. I really tried giving it a chance and would only have MORE questions and became even more sceptical. I even got to the point of asking for help because I thought there was something wrong with me…. I thought I was damaged because I just couldn’t wrap my head around it… My minister would get frustrated with me and I would get equally frustrated. I had no idea that there were MANY more people out there like me. So I left and never looked back.
    I explained to the church that I couldn’t lie to them and say that I believed in their god and that I refuse to believe that there’s something wrong with me. If god exists, then he should make it easier to believe in him.
    To this day, I’m still charitable, I still do what I can to help the less fortunate and I do all of this without god.
    If there is a god, I hope that he’s as merciful as he says he is and understands that I tried but refuse to live a lie and tell others that I believe.
    I’m very comfortable being an Atheist and feel that we are all born Atheists. I also believe that there are SEVERAL church going closet Atheists out there too that are just going through the motions to please their families and friends or simply seeking like I once did. I even believe there are those that just don’t have the courage to admit it and fear how others would respond or treat them.

  21. I swear for any non-deity entity this is true. I recall being a kid, around 8 years old, and seeing a broken old TV at my uncle’s. I recall thinking if that mankind was able to make something that complicate, perhaps we can explain where the world comes and there was no god. The though upseted me as I was raised as a catolich, but I kept it. Over the years and literature, history and science only make it stronger to this day.

  22. I was raised in a traditional Jewish household and am a first generation American. We kept our kitchen strictly kosher, Friday night dinners the entire family gathered, read from the prayer books and ate traditional foods. Synagogue was reserved for the High Holy Days, Yiddish was spoken and we had what other Jews might recognize as “Yiddishkeit” home and upbringing. I went to an Orthodox synagogue for “Sunday school” on Saturdays. Then one day, after the Rabbi droned on for hours about the merciful and all powerful God, I innocently asked (way before I had read J.D. Salinger), “If God is all powerful, couldn’t Mary have been a Virgin and still give birth?” I was instantly and mercifully told to leave class and sit in the hallway until my Mother came to get me. She didn’t get mad. Judaism was a tradition for her, not dogma. My father, too, thought the entire incident was ridiculous calling the Rabbi the worst kind of hypocrite. Turns out they were atheists. After my confirmation, I told my parents that I’d never enter a synagogue again. They were fine with it and I began to explore other faiths, philosophies and felt so free! My path has led to a peaceful, non-religious path, my daughters the same. My faith is in our shared compassion as a species. Rabbi Akiva: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” (I paraphrase) the great single basis for the Torah and so many other religions, turns out to be the perfect platform for atheism. A simple code and has nothing to do with the voodoo of religion and everything to do with tolerance and empathy.

  23. Roman Catholic. After six years of Catholic middle and high school, I came to the conclusion that it was all lip service and platitudes. As an adult, I decided to live my life the way I thought I should.

  24. Was raised Catholic in Puerto Rico and taught that the church was a hierarchy that we could not questioned. Feb 16 of 1991, after coming out gay to myself and realizing how much self loathing and low self esteemed I had acquired as a result of my Catholic upbringing, i turned away forever never to look ba k on that archaic, feudal, irrelevant cult. In recent years Ive founded the Society of Friends of Epicurus to help others find meaning and value through secular humanist philosophy.

  25. I was raised a catholic by my catholic father and non-church going but nominally CofE mother and went to catholic school to age 16. Hard to say exactly when I stopped believing but I retain clearer memories of believing on Father Christmas than I do of believing in god (well the evidence seemed stronger for the former).

    I don’t remember church or school trying too hard – I suppose they assumed they already had me – and the indoctrination was largely by rote. They would reel off all the bible stories and for the most part I took them as such, just stories. I’m fairly sure I was agnostic by age 10 – I didn’t buy the god they were selling but didn’t know what alternatives there were. A couple of years later I’d been exposed to three TV series – “Connections”, “Life on Earth” and “Cosmos” (one of the benefits of only having three TV channels was that kids were more likely to watch this stuff) – and essentially concluded that god probably wasn’t necessary.

    I continued a pretence to my parents for a few years but, since we didn’t talk about god at home, it consisted of no more than going to church every Sunday (and latterly pretending to go as my dad went to a later service). Then the first Sunday after my 16th birthday I declared that I wasn’t going any more. My parents simply accepted this.

    I’m not sure when the first time was that I described myself as an atheist. Probably on some form or other. I essentially just went through life being one and it never being an issue. For a long while I adopted the “live and let live” attitude that it didn’t matter if other people believed in gods. It was Richard Dawkins’ “Root of All Evil” TV series in 2006, and later The God Delusion, that finally shook me out of my complacency and made me more alert to the power that theists hold in many parts of the world and the risks they pose to freedom of thought. Since then I’ve expanded my reading on the subject and become what you might call an armchair militant atheist.

  26. Profile photo of nitnurse7 [email protected] #26

    I’d been around the Christian ’roundabout’ of various denominations, looking for what was ‘right’ for me. And frightened of what would happen to me if I didn’t have a faith. Then I read ‘The God Delusion’. Oh, what bliss!! To be finally free of the chains of religion. What relief!!
    Now I actually feel sorry for those still caught up in them. My sister is an evangelical – she used to have a sense of humour, but not any more. And it’s so sad. The sun has risen on my life and I can see and admire all we have on this world, without having to attribute it to anything other than the wonder of the creative universe. Thank you SO much, Richard Dawkins.

  27. No conversion needed. My presbyterian aligned school started the day with prayers in the (architecturally lovely) school chapel. I sat in the back and did homework, and sometimes contemplated the honour roll of past alumni killed in two world wars..

    My parents at one stage packed me off to Sunday school, but I am convinced, looking back on it, that their motive was not my eternal salvation, but rather to give them a little quiet time on Sunday morning without my little feet tapping and banging outside the bedroom door, wink, wink.

    It never dawned on me that anyone, even Billy Graham, when we (the school) were all trooped off to the Sydney Cricket Ground to hear him, actually took this guff seriously. The story was way too full of holes. In Australia, as a kid hiking in the Australian bush, I saw a lot of snakes, and stayed out of their road, they are very poisonous. None of them ever tried to talk to me. Similarly, all of the biblical rubbish turned out to be just that on even the most superficial examination.

    Giving credit where it is due, splendid architecture, and lovely music, I still listen to Gregorian chant, and a lot of other religious music. But the faith that inspired it never took in me at all.

    I read some of the harrowing journeys to reality of other respondents to this thread, and I can only express my sympathy for what you have gone through, and my admiration for your courage.

  28. I was a Wiccan. I joined the US Navy when I was eighteen in 1978, and the evangelising from various fundamentalist Christians while I was there actually strengthened my commitment in Wicca. Because of the great amount of pushback from them, I took to studying both the Bible and the Koran to buttress my arguments against them

    My deconversion started when I married my atheistic wife in 2007. While she was patient with me, she steadily chipped away at my acceptance of the premises of Wicca whilst rejecting all other faiths as having no evidence.

    Membership in the International Society for Philosophical Enquiry added to my wife’s gentle assault on my faith; as the only Wiccan in ISPE, members on its Internet forum also added arguments to counter my cognitive dissonance about my faith versus other faiths.

    The dam broke in 2011 when I moved to the Nebraska Panhandle, to a tiny town of 128 people. My neighbours were quick to note my adherence to Wicca, though I was already sliding away from it. By 2012, I had openly declared I was an atheist.

    Strangely, two things came out of that. The first was my Christian neighbours all seemed more uneasy about me being openly an atheist than they were about my being a Wiccan, though this is a deeply Christian community. The argument of “you have to believe in something” was a near-constant refrain.

    Second, they then elected me to my city council. Apparently my former religious belief and my journey to an atheistic worldview did not seem to bother them.

  29. I was raised by, nominally, church of England parents and only learned in my teens that both sides of my family had been Jewish. The families converted during the war, to save the future generations from persecution.
    I adopted Judaism during my teenage search for ‘identity’ and even spent a couple of years in Israel.
    As I grew as a person I found it increasingly difficult to balance faith and tradition with my rational approach to life. There was no Damascene conversion but rather and slow drift away from beliefs that could not be supported by evidence. I have moved through atheism to anti-theism but I try to treat everyone with respect and kindness, even as I refuse to apologise for whatever offence may be taken by the minority.

  30. My slide into atheism was really effortless because I never developed a love for god- fear and distrust to be sure but never love.
    My parents were only sporadic church-goers but seemed to think it was important for me to say my prayers at bedtime. “Now I lay me down to sleep…” It was a horrid thing to do to me.

    Perhaps other children were able to race right through it to get to the parental suck-up part of “God bless Mommy and Daddy and Grampa Ed and Aunt Martha” but I flinched every time I had to say, “If I should die before I wake, I pray the lord my soul to take.”

    I thought, hey wait a minute- I just got here and who is this person who wants to kill me in my sleep to steal my soul? I didn’t know going to sleep was such a crap-shoot. Does this happen to kids a lot? Well, to heck with that, I’m not going to sleep. I’d fight it with all my small being until I was overtaken and then wake the next day grateful I had dodged another bullet.

    Shortly thereafter, I got to wondering about my responsibility on the matter and said the prayer even on neighborhood party nights when the folks downed a couple to many to remind me. I felt I had to put myself in mortal danger because if I didn’t get around to blessing loved ones, maybe this god would come for them while they slept.

    Then when I inevitably lost an older loved one, I was given the “God needed another angel” line, making matters worse. What had I done so wrong that this monster had ignored me and how many damned souls did he need after all? I was getting on fine with just one.

    In my fifth grade year, my father was promoted and transferred to the corporate headquarters of a company town. He learned the preponderance of the other execs attended First Congregational and a couple of years later I was enrolled in “Confirmation Class.” I didn’t actively fight this because there were a couple of hotties in the class who had begun to sprout, shave legs and wobble on high heels and I was little hormone factory at the time.

    But nothing said in the class rang the least bit true and I was hard pressed to understand how anyone could believe any of it. I was there- an atheist without so much as a brief glance at the (to me) cowardly halfway house of agnosticism. I remained pretty well mum on the subject for decades until The Four Horsemen came along and ever since I’ve been rather blunt.

  31. My family went to the First Congregational Church in my hometown. I’d go to Sunday school and my parents
    to church. I’d here all these religious things that I knew couldn’t really happen and one day decided it was all
    BS. I was about 13 years old. Been a non-believer ever since.

  32. I don’t really have a deconversion story – more of a consolidation story. Both my parents had religious upbringings, but they kept all things religion well out of our childhood. Until about the age of 12, the concept of gods and creators was totally absent from my life (aside from various ancient mythologies that had been talked about at school – these were just entertainment to a young’un). Then came “RE” in grade 7… suddenly we had a teacher telling us “forget what you’ve learned in science, the world is less than 10000 years old, and god put dinosaur fossils in the ground for our amusement”. I was promptly asked to sit out this class after registering my bewilderment with above teacher.

    Again, religion vanished from my life – no one i knew was particularly religious, and thankfully at high school there was no more than a chaplain for those who felt they needed one.

    Then came the mid-late twenties, and the start of what has now become 7 years of feverish thought about life and the universe and all the normal questions. I stumbled onto Dawkins at some point, starting with The God Delusion. It was the first time my vague feelings had been transcribed into words, as well as suggesting a million new questions to investigate. I suppose it was after this that i gave my ‘vague feelings’ the tag of atheist, although really i’d never been anything else. It was The Selfish Gene that changed me more than anything though, not only hammering home the complete pointlessness of religion, but making me infinitely more fascinated with reality.

    I’m still not sure what my parents’ religious views really are – i suspect nothing more than a hangover from their upbringings, but at least they enjoy discussing anything and everything including religion (which i love to do). I also recently saw a copy of The God Delusion lying on my grandfather’s piano. He was once an elder of his church. Things/times change.

  33. I was brought up a Catholic and spent a lot of time in my late teens trying to keep my faith. I even spent a year at a Monastery which at the time as the best place for me.Lost my faith as I couldn’t believe that people really expected prayers to be answered and by reading Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins understood evolution at last. Once you grasp this faith becomes impossible. I can as a result understand why fundamentalists don’t want this taught in schools.

  34. Catholic born, woke up at college. Then, fast forward to late’80s and started reading Dawkins. That did it.

  35. I never ‘became’ an athiest, I always was one and always will be. It’s just that I didn’t realise I was one until I reached the age of about twelve when I was able to begin to think freely for myself and begin to question more rationally. Up until this time I was participating blindly in catholicism, as were my friends and peers.

  36. I am the eldest daughter of a presbyterian church minister, both my parents were educated in a theological seminary. I loved sunday schools and was involved in choirs, youth groups etc mostly because most of my friends were in them as well. But even during those years, I was never fond of the spiritual side of things like praying, reading bible etc. I just can’t and not really interested in this entity that supposedly controls and holds our lives in his hand. The only time I remembered anything remotely emotional with this god was after a faith renewal service in which the person preaching put the fear of hell in me so much that I knelt down, prayed and cried saying ” yes God! I believe in you and Jesus” because I was so scared of going to hell. In my defense, I was 9 yrs old then. I started to really question this religion that I was born into during my 20’s, and by that time I was living away from my parents which meant that I could now NOT go to church. I’m now in my 40’s and after reading God Delusion, I can finally say I am finally free! I actually feel that my life is better and I appreciate what I have now and don’t have to prepare for my after life by doing good deeds in the name of a god. I now just do good for the sake of doing good, be nice because I want to be nice, not because some bible tells me to. My outlook in life has changed and I feel happier. It’s been a slow and gradual process and it was a struggle and still is, because there are still things left in me that cause irrational thoughts to surface like the urge to pray when I’m stuck in a problem even though I’ve never believed in prayers. But the instinctual habit is still there and I have to consciously shake it off.
    I am still in the process of coming out clean about this to my parents, they kind of know, but every discussion or talk about christianity usually ends with a row. My sister, my husband and children, and my close friends know and are okay with it. But that is probably as far as I can go for now because I live in a country where atheism is illegal. So my ID card would put my religion as christian even if I am not.

  37. Heathen’s greetings everyone. I was brought up as a Roman Catholic in England. Both of my parents were devout Catholics. Neither of them are with us any longer, but they were great parents and I have very fond memories of them. Both of the schools I attended were Catholic schools. Many of the school masters there were priests and nuns. They were all lovely people who looked after us well and I also have fond memories of them as well. I had been living a very insular existence where everyone seemed to believe the same thing. Up until the age of about 12 I accepted what I was taught about Catholicism and I didn’t think to question any of it. But then I did start to wonder whether it could really be true. I felt guilty about these ‘evil’ thoughts that made me doubt the existence of anything supernatural. I found that I wasn’t able to articulate the reason for my doubts, but felt that Theism just felt wrong, even though my brother and two sisters believed and still do. The breakthrough came when I started work and I found that I was mixing with a more diverse social group. I didn’t go out of my way to talk about religion, but every so often, I would hear someone say something such as “all religion is a load of old bxxxxxxs” or “the god in the old testament is a fxxxxxg freak”. This all made me feel a lot better because I realized that I wasn’t alone. These days I read quite a lot about science and religion. I find the subject of Evolution absolutely fascinating and have read several books on it including The Greatest Show on Earth. I have also read The Greatest Hoax on Earth and several others from Creationists. There is also a great book called Atheist Universe which shows the absurdity of Christian Fundamentalism. Believe it or not, I also enjoy reading the King James Bible online. The comments that Christians leave are quite entertaining.

    I have only recently ‘come out’ as an Atheist so all my family know now. If I had tried that years ago, I think people would have been quite disparaging of me. I think, however, that there has been a shift in thinking in recent years. People are more accepting now. I feel proud of my atheism and confident that I can debate any theist who challenges me.

  38. I was a ’12-Stepper’, Alcoholics Anonymous to be precise. I was also ‘spiritual, not religious’. That means I lived my life like God existed but religion did not. Whoops, had that backwards.

    At age 23, I joined AA for the usual reason. I wanted to believe and for quite a few years I was content. In my leisure time I started to study advanced baseball statistics and I learned about things like confirmation bias and post hoc analysis. Something started to seam amiss at my meetings, though I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

    So there I was. Filled with doubt and confusion. Drinking coffee prior to an AA meeting. Scanning the contents of a book case in some dark corner of a church basement. What’s this? The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. I stole that book and hightailed it out of there.

    Sorry about the loss of royalty, ol’ chap. This might not be the best time to ask, but if you aren’t to sore could you maybe vote for my submission. I sure would like another freebie.

  39. I am still trying to slough off the old, Christian me… It’s truly one of the most difficult things I have ever done! I have always prided myself on my intellect and reasoning skills, but now feel embarrassed that for so long I was blind to certain truths, such as that Noah never had an Ark!

    I have Bible College qualifications, have been a church youth worker, taught religion in schools, written and led bible studies… I was in hook, line and sinker! I have always had unanswered questions, though, which I think always keep me in the “outer circle” of belonging. If any of you have church experience, you will understand what I mean!

    I have always kept my questions like the origins of ‘satan’, how was Moses never mentioned in Egyptian writings, and the suspect biblical timeline to myself. I have moved away from the very up-beat, modern church I was attending, and have begun to have clarity. One of the most beautiful things I have read in the last year of my striving was “The Greatest Show on Earth”, with its gentle, loving and wondrous approach to the evolutionary process.

    I have hooked up on Facebook with a number of ‘not believers’ through The Richard Dawkins sites post with Dan Fincke, and I am now gaining the courage to ‘come out’ on Facebook as the skeptic that I am! In fact, I think I am finally ready to link my blog to my Facebook so everyone can see what I REALLY think, not just the edited, ‘for special’ version of my opinions. Thank you for your courage in standing up for what you believe, it has helped me to do the same!

  40. Thank you RDFRS for providing a platform for us to tell our personal stories. I’ve enjoyed reading them all and I’m sure I’m going to enjoy telling my own, fairly uneventful story.

    Ther were no big light-bulb moments in my story. My parents were atheists but were fairly aggressively Protestant in cultural terms. I’m descended from Huguenots ( Calvinists who were persecuted in France and fled to England and other safe countries). Strangely enough I still belong to the Huguenot Society because I’m interested in the cultural aspects of these fascinating people. I think of the atheists as a group as the modern day equivalent of the Huguenots. Both groups defied conventions of the times and were prepared to speak out.

    When I recall visiting my grandparents in the past, there was never a mention of god or Jesus. Perhaps I come from a line of people who didn’t possess the god-gene or whatever it is that predisposes people to religious belief.

    Maybe there are others out there like me. I hope so.

  41. Was Anglican, but always with doubts. Then read a remarkable biography of Emma Darwin by Edna Healey, which depicted the extraordinary life of the Darwin family where Emma, a devout Christian, edited all her famous husband’s works, whilst praying for his increasingly atheistic soul! I turned this story into a newly published novel, SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST, which is now, I’m pleased to say, attracting a number of 5 star Amazon reviews.
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/B00FPTQYCO/
    ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

  42. I was raised Catholic. I went to Catholic schools and had to go through most of the sacraments. My deconversion began when I was 10. I started thinking ” well if religion is truth, why does nobody ever show us proof of this claim?” I later, when I turned 11 realized that I was not shown proof because there was none, it was all philosophical mantra turned into a cult following, as many other religions. I then started to read books by authors like Richard Dawkins, Leonard Susskind, Stephen Hawking, etc.. That, coupled with my intense love of history and love of philosophy and psychology, led me to the realization that most religions are 3 things: A means of control, A means to explain the world to people who cant grasp science and a logical excuse for some of the greatest crimes in history. After more reading and self reflection I came to one final conclusion: Physics is not a human invention, its an obervation, philosophy is a human creation but based on observation, but religion is just purely a human creation, as such it is full of imperfection, mistakes, human error, and as the human mind evolves and experiences, it recognizes these things and now they arent true because the illusion of truth, the iron curtain of religion, has fallen. That is when i realized that science is not just truth, but the best way by which to understand and live life, and, it has, honestly, given me a much more aesthetic view of the Earth and the Universe than the view religion gave me.

  43. I am a 57 year old recovering Catholic. I always thought I would remain religious to the end; however, the church’s social agenda ate away at me for years and I finally came to know that it was all men-made – nothing godly to be found anywhere. Woman’s issues, gay marriage, sexual orientation…their rules and dogmas are simply inhumane. I am the father of two young women and realized they would always be second class members of the church. Only man subjugates man, a god would not. After much self-study with the help of Shermer, Harris, Dawkins, Hitchens, and Dennet, I am finally free of god and mostly recovered from the indoctrination of my youth. Sadly, I wasted too many Sunday mornings by attending church. Now, everyday is to be cherished. Each new day is an opportunity to live with the biases of religious indoctrination tossed to the curb, which allows for greater compassion and empathy for my fellow man. If I die before my wife, she knows now not to have me buried from a church. She worries what my family members would say. The indoctrination lives on for some.

  44. I’m always fascinated by the comment that someone has “converted to Islam.” Why is it that everyone has to be “something”? My parents weren’t religious and while they never referred to themselves as atheists, neither believed in god nor attended a church. Neighbours occasionally invited me to Sunday school as a kid, but I could never accept the stories as being true. I could never understand how seemingly intelligent, and often well educated people believed in something and spoke about it as fact, when there was not one iota of evidence for it except some old book poorly written and full of inexplicable nonsense. I never “converted” to atheism. I always believed that religion was designed by men to be servants of their interests and adopted by those who didn’t want to face the difficult questions and the obvious answers. I was an agnostic … I didn’t see any evidence of a god but allowed that there might be. As I got older, it became evident that the concept of god is flawed in the face of evidence; evolution, society, history of the planet etc. Now I’m happy to call myself an atheist.

  45. I cannot say I have ever really believed in a god, despite going to church for a few years when I was very young. My change is that my atheism has become stronger the more I have been offended by the arrogance, nastiness and untruthfullness of religion.

    My mother has always called herself a Christian and still attends church but she never really forced it on me and had neither my sister nor I baptised/christened, saying it should be our choice when we were old enough to decide. I am very grateful for this, although my fundamentalist sister obviously thought otherwise and had her three daughters christened as soon as possible and did not invite her atheist brother, not becuase he would refuse the invite but because she was scared of having to justify her actions, especially as they went against the teachings of a good mother.

    Mum may have took me to church until I was about nine but I only went because I thought it was what people did and a few years later when I said I did not want to go and did not believe she accepted this. My main reasons for not believeing, apart from the fact it all seemed so stupid, was the false hope of prayer. I remember all the things we were asked to pray for and none of our prayers being answered. Why did this god allow all those children to starve to death in Biafra and why did a supposedly nice god allow the Aberfan disaster, I am the same age as the children who were buried alive in that slag heap. No one could answer this, my mother shied away while others were more aggressive, some actually blaming me for be ungodly.

    By 11 I went to school for the first time, the effects of my haemophilia had made home schooling a better choice until then. I was lucky, a wonderful lady by the name of Mrs Riddiford taught me maths, English, some history and geography and gave me a good grounding for secondary school and, most importantly, she considered that there was no time for religion when we only had two hours a day. I regret never knowing her when I was older to find out what her thoughts on religion were.

    From then on it was a special school for the disabled, a boarding school and Sunday church was forced. A few teachers tried to bully religion into me but all they managed was to make me a stronger atheist. As did the hospital staff who would refuse to put atheist on my admission forms. It has been people like this, in all walks of life, that expect priviledge because they believe and try to force their opinion on us that has made me a strong atheist.

    I have been lucky overall, while I have had quite a few idiots to deal with I have never felt threatened as an atheist and I have a great relationship with a Christian mother who agrees with me on most things bar the existence of god, she certainly hates the lies and excesses of the church.

    I have gone on too long but, finally, for Nitya, Mynett is a Belgian Huguenot name.

  46. Profile photo of siwel.trebor@bighpond.com [email protected] #46

    I never really came out as an atheist simply because I never was really ito religion. As a child I was taken to Church at Easter a couple of times but I felt nothing about it. When I was about 7 I was taken to Rome and attended the Easter Day address by the then pope. As he raised his hands to bless the crowd I fell in the fountain so in some ways I can say I was baptised by the pope. Once I was away from America my parents stopped pretending to be religious. I had been adopted and one of the conditions was that I be bought up as a Christian. (Mid 1940s.) When my father got a job in an Asian country I was sent to a Boarding school in India. I got there on a Sunday in time for lunch. That evening we all had to parade in school uniform and then were all marched into the dining room. When I got to the door a long arm shot out collared me and I was told “you are a Christian”. I was pushed into another line and ended up in church (C of E). Thus endeth my first brush with god. After that day I discovered that the whole school had to go to church ever morning for about 5 minutes and every evening for maybe 15 minutes. This regardless of your personal religious outlook. Sundays were always a 30 minute walk to a church, full service with communion and then walk back to school for breakfast. The students of the other school whose church we visited that morning made a visit to out schools church in the evening, another full service. Actually the two schools were all male and all female so this is the only time we had a chance to see, but not mingle with, members of the opposite sex. We also had a class or two during the week in which the bible was taught. It took me only a few days of this to realise what complete nonsense it was. and while I never said anything at the time about it I was already turning to science. Though I have been in churches a few times since then it is only with careful prethought. Friends funerals, and a wedding or two. I always make it known that it the person I am respecting, not the religious mumbo jumbo that attends the occasion. The older I now get the more outspoken I become.

  47. Born of A Lutheran Father & C of E Mother, we went to Church, only I think from habits my parents grew up with, didn’t last long, we all sort of lost our faith gradually, but what nailed it was an interference to me by one of the Male Church elders when I was about 6 or 7, during Sunday School. That was the end of it for all of us, my relations on my fathers side were still practising Lutherans and we went along to their various ceremonies held in the Church, out of respect to them. In Australia, atheism is sort of just accepted as the norm in most societies, not really talked about in the strong terms like atheists in America. My Son-inlaw, Grandson and I do have a stronger atheist feel than most of my family, and enjoy converstaions and jokes of the subject of religion, the rest just don’t believe and don’t spend too much time talking or thinking about it.
    When my Mother died, we engaged a Funeral Celebrant and conducted the funeral at the Undertakers premises – never once was God or Religion referred to, and we got comments from most who attended, that it was one of the best funerals they had been to.
    I think most Australian, despite being low in devout faith, still have weddings and funerals in churchs, because that’s the way it’s always been done, not for any real belief a God.

  48. Ok my conversion was not actually a conversion as such. The reason being that I never really got beyond the ‘Agnostic’ front. My father studied physics and university and got some sort of bronze plaque at his school for being fantastic at maths. Not that intellligence has any real bearing on creation versus evolution discussion. My place of birth (Northern Ireland) has seen more than anybodys fair share (not that any can ever be tolerated) of sectarianism which created a very uncomforatble childhood for me as I had no idea what the heck was going on. I was bullied, tied up, thrown over hedges and asked my religion time and time again. I am very happy indeed to have freed myself from any notion of religions affiliation. Folk cannot understand that somebody can not be in one of the other most ‘popular clubs’ so to speak. Each and every job application forms ask if you are Roman Catholic or Protestant or ‘other’. If you refuse to answer this section you would not even be awarded with an interview. Eventualy I had to go with one just to be able to get a job offer. Crazy business or what!!!!.

    I am now very much of the athiest grouping. Certainly no religion and no reason what so ever for belive in a ‘creator’.

    Cheers

    Simon

  49. I am an Indian, a cultural Hindu and an atheist.

    1. One common reason for atheism is coming into contact with a variety of religions.

    It isn’t unusual for an atheist to have been raised in a religious household and to have grown up living with the assumption that their religious tradition represented the One True Faith. However, after learning more about other religious traditions, this same person may adopt a much more critical attitude towards his own religion and even religion generally, eventually coming to reject not only the religion but also belief in the existence of any gods.

    My own experience : In my younger days, when I was in St. John’s Boarding School in Ranchi, I was surrounded by Jesuit priests and they never wasted a second without reminding me of the ludicrous aspects of Hinduism, viz., the monkey faced demigod cum superman called Hanuman who could fly over the ocean like geese and carry a mountain on his forefinger, an elephant headed Ganesh riding on a mouse, a ten headed demon called Ravan, a goddess called Durga with 8 pairs of hands & a four headed Brahma who is supposed to have created the universe. Same time they didn’t forget to drive home the point that Christianity was much saner.

    Much later however, I discovered some ludicrous aspects in Christianity as well, Viz., Virgin birth, Resurrection, Atonement, transubstantiation, Armageddon etc, etc.which could test the credibility of logical & critical thinkers.

    I realized then that all religions were mere fairy tales and have no correspondence whatsoever with reality. All of them claim to be the only true religion but they are so contradictory to each other. I decided that if all of them cannot be true, all of them can certainly be false.

    Have you ever wondered why there are so many religions ( Anthropologists say that there are right now 4,800 living religions in the world) telling us about the secrets of the universe, life and man but there is only one Universal Science which does the same ? Simply because regarding any concept, truth can only be one but there can be many lies.

    1. Another possible reason for atheism may originate in bad experiences with a religion or its God(s).

    A person might grow up with a religious faith which they eventually find to be oppressive, hypocritical, evil, or otherwise unworthy of following. Also some people, when confronted by a crisis or calamity, start praying to their gods expecting succour and go on pilgrimages to all the char-dhams : Dwarka, Haridwar, Jagganath Puri and Rameshwaram or do homas & yagnas but yet find no relief. Such people simmer with anger which morphs gradually into antagonism and finally into atheism.

    In my case, when in 1945 my father, a mines manager, was being victimized & scapegoated for the missing ring of Rs.10 currency notes in Doddakanya Magnesite mines near Kadakola, Mysore District, he used to pray regularly to shirdi saibaba, a saint. He knew that his cashier had swindled the money but he couldn’t prove it to his higher authorities. He had to take the responsibility for the loss and pay it back from his salary. In protest he resigned from the job. I couldn’t reconcile his helplessness and the absence of help from sky-daddies with his naive conviction of the omnipotence & omnibenevolence of saints & Gods.

    This was a prominent reason for my loss of faith.

  50. I come from an Irish Catholic family and married into one. From an early age I excelled in math and science and began to question the stories of the bible. I kept my discoveries to myself till I moved out. I still went back and forth trying to figure out if it possible to be both atheist and a believer. At 22, my moment of clarity hit me. My 13 month old son almost died in my arms in the emergency room at the hospital. He began to seize as I was rushed back to a bed, I handed him to the ER staff and watched 12 doctors and nurses pack ice around my child and try to stabilize him for his flight to the children’s hospital. I watched, shaking and crying and keep saying over and over again, “Save my baby”. I was called back into a small room as they loaded his little body into the helicopter. In this room I was told my son had 15% chance of survival and was now having heart attacks. I was devastated, I lost my brother to a heart attack when he was nine, I couldn’t believe this was happening again. I drove to the children’s hospital across the city and met the new team working on him. He suffered two more heart attacks in the air and was still seizing on and off. I was approached by a lady in suit and gave me the grim news that he was now sitting at 5%. I was preparing for the worse when she asked if I would like to have a priest come and have his last rights given to him. I knew without a shadow of doubt and the words came out before I knew it, “No, I think I will trust the doctors, if they aren’t giving up yet, neither am I”. She looked at me like I was in shock and asked if I was sure. I said, “yes, I’m atheist” . She gave me her card and told me to let her know if I changed my mind. Standing there watching my son fight for his life, I knew I was an atheist. I never prayed or asked god for anything, I had put all my trust into science and knowledge of the doctors to save him. Thats my moment.

  51. I was born and raised a Mormon and at age 19 became a Mormon missionary. During this time some fundamental questions were raised that I could not resolve about the history of the Mormon church. These included:

    1. Why were the written down “divine revelations” from God systematically changed over the years, revelations that were later edited to convey a completely different meaning (this also include the original translation of the Book of Mormon, and also the Mormon Temple ceremonies).
    2. Polygamy – Joseph Smith marrying other men’s wives because he was commanded to by God, and then when questioned about it, point blankly denying it, because God had told him to lie?
    3. Why is there is NO (0%) shred of archaeological evidence that the history of events written in the Book of Mormon ever happened (unlike most Biblical geographical history).
    4. Why does the “Book of Abraham” (Mormon scripture that Joseph Smith “translated” from some Egyptian papyri), have absolutely no resemblance to what is actually written on the source papyri – the pagan “Book of the Dead” (other than they are fabricated translations that rely on the fact that no one could translate Egyptian at the time)?

    For the next 20 years I served faithfully in the Mormon church, but always had these “issues” in the back of my mind. Then, upon moving to a new area and being free of intensive Church responsibilities, I took the opportunity to do some research into answering some of my unanswered questions – questions that 20 years of Church attendance and prayer has failed to answer.

    I then spent the next year or so purchasing and reading many books about Mormon history, told by objective historians. Instead of receiving answers to my many questions, this only exposed and raised more questions, until I finally came to the simple conclusion that the Mormon church was simply not true.

    So where to from here? I needed to know which church was the true Church. This was the next logical step as all my life I had been indoctrinated that there was only one true Church on the earth. So if not the Mormons, who? The Baptists? The Catholics? etc. Whoever it is, I’ll join them!

    Over the next 12 months I researched Biblical history. I read works by Bible scholars and historians in hope of finding the truth. But this soon became even more frustrating than researching Mormon history as further back in history you go (hundreds to thousands of years in this case) the more unreliable the “facts” are. In fact my favourite quote at the time was from Henry Ford: “History is bunk”. Nothing beyond living memory can really be PROVEN.

    The New Testament was written down hundreds of years after the events it describes. Before then it was all word of mouth. Have you not ever wondered how they were able to remember the wording of the Sermon on the Mount, for example? Can you remember word for word, a speech given 20 years ago? I’d suggest you’d struggle remembering the words of last night’s newreaders comments! Maybe God inspired the scribes hundreds of years later? Then why do the four Gospels differ so much? In fact if you read them “horizontally” you end up with a version that does not match any single account. You end up creating a 5th version. Once these New Testament accounts were written down, they were then changed, translated and recompiled into what we have today. Basically the KJV of the Bible is now considered one of the most inaccurate versions around, yet many religions rely on it as the absolute word of God. Makes no sense.

    So where from here? Well in my perusing of bookstores at lunchtime, I happened across a book by Richard Dawkins: “The God Delusion”. His argument was that there is no God at all and goes onto explain why. He quotes many sources and uses many good arguments. However, I found his approach a little caustic and while his arguments were sound, did not convince me to stop believing in God.

    Moving on, I read a book by one of the Bible scholars I had previously read in my Bible research: Bart Ehrman – “God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question–Why We Suffer”. He cites many cases of suffering in the world and shows how religion fails to explain why God does not step in. After dedicating his life to religion, he realised he could not explain why God allows so much suffering in the world.

    Two powerful examples from Ehrman’s book, on unexplainable suffering:

    1. The Holocaust. He says one person being tortured or killed is horrendous. Why doesn’t God prevent this? But 6-10 MILLION Jews sent to the gas chamber in WWII..??!!?? Why didn’t God save them? They did nothing wrong. Removing Hitler out of the equation is what most people would think a better solution, but not all knowing God.

    2. We sit at our tables each day and say a prayer on our food: “God, thank you for this food”. Hang on…God – you don’t need to provide us with this food, I have a job that earns me money which pays for it. We have no problem with being provided with food. How about INSTEAD, you bless those MILLIONS of starving children in Africa – 1000’s of whom die every day from starvation….bless THEM with food, not me, who can provide my own!!! What “lesson” are we meant to learn from that??

    So at this point I’m starting to consider there being no God a possible option. But again, still not convinced. The next book I read (Dec 2009) was another by Dawkins: “The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution”. This book is what provided my epiphany.

    Dawkins clearly and repeatedly explains that evolution is not a “theory” as most people know the word to mean, but is a demonstrable FACT. He covers the age of the earth (4.6 billion years, not 6000 as per the Bible) which is enough time for minute changes to accumulate into the different species we have today. He uses the example of the domestic dog to show how a single animal can be bred to give us the 100 different breeds we have today (evolution before our eyes). He covers radio carbon dating. The fossil records and of course the genius of Charles Darwin.

    When I put the book down I was blown away. At last I had my answers. Believing in God and the Mormon church only gave me 100 unanswerable questions. Not believing in God answered them all.

    It was at this point my personal beliefs could no longer be kept secret, so on Dec 29th, 2009 (my 20th wedding anniversary of all days) I reveal to my wife I no longer believe in God. There was the expected tears and “My whole world is now upside down” from her. Sadly, her reaction was not “Tell me more” but instead denial. She immediately asked me to fast and pray and give it 6 months before I decided to completely reject God (it was going to take the supreme being 6 months to “inspire” me?). So instead, for the next 3 days I fasted (ate no food or drink) and prayed to God for a sign – can you see how ridiculous that was? I asked that if He exists to show me. Do something that would prove He exists – something that science could not explain – heal my paraplegic son, answer my MANY questions! But as expected, I got no answer, no revelation, absolutely nothing.

    So I now live my life as…an atheist, and since all of this took place my whole outlook of life has changed. I realise now I am a critical thinker, a sceptic even. My mantra is “The truth has nothing to hide / The truth has nothing to fear”. So there is no reason for one to NOT go ahead and investigate whether God exists or not. Although none will do it, in fear of what?…offending God?…wasting time?…being exposed to…Satanic evil?

    My other mantra is “I could be wrong” as I discovered that faithful believers are extremely unlikely to change their beliefs in the face of overwhelming evidence. Why? Because they cannot accept they could be wrong. I accept I could be wrong about anything, especially God, and would believe tomorrow if the evidence was convincing. And that’s what makes me different from faithful believers and other religious followers – that I admit up front….I could be wrong. I can’t prove there is no God. He MAY exist, but until it can be proven, I am SO much more comfortable where I am.

    So there you have it – I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in God nor praise religion, and in fact I instead see the harm it provides. I still live (roughly) by Mormon standards. However, I simply don’t believe in such things as fairies, unicorns, dragons, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny or the 1000’s of Gods worshipped out there, which include “Ra”, “Thor”, “Zeus” and now “Heavenly Father”.

  52. I’m a Scottish born-once non-theist raised by secular humanists from nominally protestant families who hardly ever discussed or practiced any religion. Family emigrated to Toronto when I was 1, then they split up when I was 8 & Mum, brother & I returned to Clydebank where I was surrounded by sectarian christian enmity to the point that I became anti-theist before reading Russell & info on population growth by The Club of Rome scientists & becoming atheist during my teens.

    I left for England at 20, then back to Toronto at 24, where religion is less outspoken – but still embedded in society from it’s European history – and not such aggressive ‘free enterprise’ as in the USA. I married (no religion present) & divorced after 17 years a nominal CofE lady who has since returned somewhat to her religion of her English childhood & parents, which still affects our confused 27 yr old son…. 8-(

    I’ve hardly ever been in places of worship except for weddings & funerals – although I was an (openly atheist) godfather to the adopted girl of my best friends in the 90’s.

    I read a lot & the internet really changed my studying & interaction with the secular & science world, where I’m openly in opposition to all faith-based nonsense, simply because of what it does to humanity – just look at all the time wasted in indoctrination & mind-dulling damage just by those posting here or in the Letters Section of RDFRS…. 8-(

    I spent some of my retirement denouncing & chasing off the Faithists & especially YECists who dump their stinky piles of crap on nice, fresh, rational sites like RDFRS & NCSE, so that the Posters & Visitors can concentrate on far more important (real) things that Humanity needs to address to enable some kind of a viable future here in our one life on our Pale Blue Dot…. 😎

    Tomorrow I’m off to the Royal Ontario Museum (not a creationist facility!) to hear Eugenie Scott of NCSE discuss reality & how to defend our youth & children from the efforts of rich theocratic mafias that insult rationality, government, education & science….

    As on Mount Improbable, we need to keep ‘charging up the hill’ for all our sakes…. Mac.

  53. At 14 years old, I escaped my family’s Baptist Church. I used to sit in Sunday school and run questions through my mind while hearing the wondrous bible tales. There sure was a lot to learn in church, but no questions allowed. There’s a lot to be learned in a mental institution, too. In the first year of my civil service at the local “State Hospital,” I was hit with reality. I was only 18 years old when I started my career as a nurse’s aid, taking care of people who didn’t look or act like “Quote normal” people. Some of these poor fellow humans just laid in bed screaming all day. Some, maybe because of boredom, would thrust their own arm into their mouth up to the elbow. The self abuse was truly unreal. Even the “High functioning” kindly old gentlemen who would play their harmonicas and sing You Are My Sunshine could be found eating hot ashes from ash trays. I cared for full grown men with heads the size of softballs, and “The babies,” as they were called, with infant bodies and adult heads who survived on a lifelong diet of mush. Medical science had greatly relieved some of these folks from the frequency and intensity of the violent seizures they experienced. Their pain and constant discomfort was treated with salves, powders, splints and a variety of appliances. Still, every one of them could find a way to smile on occasion. Watching them, you’d think a warm bath, a shoulder rub, or a glass of juice was a gift from heaven in their hell. I retired after 34 years. I will never forget the conversation one day in 1977 as I sat with one of my “Wheelchair patients” in a visitors’ room. His sister was visiting and she brought the preacher with her. For what seemed like an hour, my guy, “Tom,” appeared only partially amused as he was lectured on having the honor of being one of “God’s chosen few.” Notating this activity later in his chart, and being young and inexperienced, I had a difficult time deciding if I would write he did or he didn’t enjoy his visit. But I was sure of one thing – there was no god in this place.

  54. I have never deconverted from my religion; however, I would love a copy of Mr. Dawkins autobiography if I am lucky enough to win. Does coming to an appreciation of the theory of evolution count?

    On the chance that my new appreciation of the theory of evolution counts as some kind of deconversion experience I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Dawkins for writing his book The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. This book really helped me to get a better understanding of evolution. It was very well written and I really enjoyed reading it. Thank-you.

  55. I was brought up protestant with no particular church. We attended every once in a while. That was until I was in 4th-7th grade. My father was an alcoholic and loved to scream at my mother and beat her night after night. Needless to say,it was a very abusive household. But,on Sunday,there he was reeking of Listerine and acting as head usher at the church where we were expected to attend and not say a word.I thought to myself-something is “very wrong” about this. From that time on until today,that hypocritical behavior showed me that the whole religion thing too was a complete façade and farce. I am much happier these days and don’t mind telling anyone that I am atheist. It just baffles me that anyone buys the religion card.

  56. I was born into the third generation of a large family of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1961. Following the Apostle Paul’s admonitions, my parents taught me “the Truth” according to the Watchtower from infancy. I joined the flow of my siblings and Kingdom Hall friends and offered myself for baptism at the age of twelve. By the time I was in my twenty’s I was a minister in the religion and raising my two sons in the faith. By this point, my extended family of Witnesses encompassed four generations and several dozen individuals. In 1991, I was appointed as a congregation elder. I served in this roll until 2009.

    On Boxer Day, 2004 a twin forked confluence of events and evidence from the natural world came crashing into my life.

    It is said the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755 was a touchstone in Voltaire’s rejection of a personal god. The December 26th, 2004 Sumatran earthquake and resultant tsunami’s became mine. On that day, I formed a raw and basic equation. Either god did this, or he allowed it to happen, or he does not exist. The result of this equation led me to decide, if the god of the Bible is real, I would prefer a bolt of lightning through my heart than be subservient to a monster who allows his planet to kill innocents. Although I would remain in the role of responsible elder in the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses for another five years, I never uttered a personal prayer after this date.

    I am a lover of the outdoors and nature. Over the course of more than twenty-five years, I developed an intimate knowledge of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains and adjacent Owen’s Valley. Despite having spent months climbing amongst the granite spires and glacial basins of this spectacular mountain range, my mind never settled on the reality before my eyes. By the time summer of 2007 rolled around, that changed. I formed another raw and basic equation. Either all of these mountain and glacial features were underwater 4,400 years ago, or they formed since that time, or some wicked spirit enemy of god was allowed to create geologic evidence from thin air, or the Biblical deluge never happened. The utter inanity of considering that god would allow the forces of Satan to create evidence that argues against god’s own existence is beyond the pale of all reason. When Bible characters such as Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jesus, Peter and Paul mention the Flood, they give light to the fact that they did not know the flood never happened. A global Flood or an ancient text that corroborates its own errors of ignorance? I rejected the former as myth and the latter as uninspired.

    Before names like Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens, Shermer, Loftus, Dewitt and Barker were even in my vocabulary, my rejection of a personal god was complete. My study of climatology, geology, dating sciences, dendrochronology, ice cores and pre-history sealed my conviction that I had been misled my entire life. I had misled my own children. I was still misleading a flock of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was, until my final exit, an atheist in the pulpit.

    On September 16, 2012, I publicly disavowed Jehovah’s Witnesses. In my letter of resignation, I offered a quote penned by the late Carl Sagan. “Science carries us toward an understanding of how the world is, rather than how we would wish it to be.”

    My entire family, excluding my wife, has disowned me. My parents, siblings, former friends and most painfully, my own two children will not speak with me. I am poison of the worst kind. I am the plague. When I chance to cross paths with people from my former life, I feel their eyes pass though me as though I were invisible. I am dead to their world. Their world is dead to reality.

    I was not led astray by fellow apostates, nor was I drawn in to atheism by the sound reasoning of today’s secular movement. No, this marvelous planet we call home shook me to my senses and woke me to the reality of being human.

    God doesn’t kill with earthquakes.

    God didn’t destroy an ancient world with a global flood.

    God did not make man in Eden 6,038 years ago.

    God is not real.

    With all my talents and all my breath, I will celebrate humanity until my atoms disperse to the universe from which they came.

  57. I was born into the third generation of a large family of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1961. Following the Apostle Paul’s admonitions, my parents taught me “the Truth” according to the Watchtower from infancy. I joined the flow of my siblings and Kingdom Hall friends and offered myself for baptism at the age of twelve. By the time I was in my twenty’s I was a minister in the religion and raising my two sons in the faith. By this point, my extended family of Witnesses encompassed four generations and several dozen individuals. In 1991, I was appointed as a congregation elder. I served in this roll until 2009.

    On Boxer Day, 2004 a twin forked confluence of events and evidence from the natural world came crashing into my life.

    It is said the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755 was a touchstone in Voltaire’s rejection of a personal god. The December 26th, 2004 Sumatran earthquake and resultant tsunami’s became mine. On that day, I formed a raw and basic equation. Either god did this, or he allowed it to happen, or he does not exist. The result of this equation led me to decide, if the god of the Bible is real, I would prefer a bolt of lightning through my heart than be subservient to a monster who allows his planet to kill innocents. Although I would remain in the role of responsible elder in the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses for another five years, I never uttered a personal prayer after this date.

    I am a lover of the outdoors and nature. Over the course of more than twenty-five years, I developed an intimate knowledge of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains and adjacent Owen’s Valley. Despite having spent months climbing amongst the granite spires and glacial basins of this spectacular mountain range, my mind never settled on the reality before my eyes. By the time summer of 2007 rolled around, that changed. I formed another raw and basic equation. Either all of these mountain and glacial features were underwater 4,400 years ago, or they formed since that time, or some wicked spirit enemy of god was allowed to create geologic evidence from thin air, or the Biblical deluge never happened. The utter inanity of considering that god would allow the forces of Satan to create evidence that argues against god’s own existence is beyond the pale of all reason. When Bible characters such as Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jesus, Peter and Paul mention the Flood, they give light to the fact that they did not know the flood never happened. A global Flood or an ancient text that corroborates its own errors of ignorance? I rejected the former as myth and the latter as uninspired.

    Before names like Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens, Shermer, Loftus, Dewitt and Barker were even in my vocabulary, my rejection of a personal god was complete. My study of climatology, geology, dating sciences, dendrochronology, ice cores and pre-history sealed my conviction that I had been misled my entire life. I had misled my own children. I was still misleading a flock of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was, until my final exit, an atheist in the pulpit.

    On September 16, 2012, I publicly disavowed Jehovah’s Witnesses. In my letter of resignation, I offered a quote penned by the late Carl Sagan. “Science carries us toward an understanding of how the world is, rather than how we would wish it to be.”

    My entire family, excluding my wife, has disowned me. My parents, siblings, former friends and most painfully, my own two children will not speak with me. I am poison of the worst kind. I am the plague. When I chance to cross paths with people from my former life, I feel their eyes pass though me as though I were invisible. I am dead to their world. Their world is dead to reality.

    I was not led astray by fellow apostates, nor was I drawn in to atheism by the sound reasoning of today’s secular movement. No, this marvelous planet we call home shook me to my senses and woke me to the reality of being human.

    God doesn’t kill with earthquakes.

    God didn’t destroy an ancient world with a global flood.

    God did not make man in Eden 6,038 years ago.

    God is not real.

    With all my talents and all my breath, I will celebrate humanity until my atoms disperse to the universe from which they came.

  58. I was born into the third generation of a large family of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1961. Following the Apostle Paul’s admonitions, my parents taught me “the Truth” according to the Watchtower from infancy. I joined the flow of my siblings and Kingdom Hall friends and offered myself for baptism at the age of twelve. By the time I was in my twenty’s I was a minister in the religion and raising my two sons in the faith. By this point, my extended family of Witnesses encompassed four generations and several dozen individuals. In 1991, I was appointed as a congregation elder. I served in this roll until 2009.

    On Boxer Day, 2004 a twin forked confluence of events and evidence from the natural world came crashing into my life.

    It is said the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755 was a touchstone in Voltaire’s rejection of a personal god. The December 26th, 2004 Sumatran earthquake and resultant tsunami’s became mine. On that day, I formed a raw and basic equation. Either god did this, or he allowed it to happen, or he does not exist. The result of this equation led me to decide, if the god of the Bible is real, I would prefer a bolt of lightning through my heart than be subservient to a monster who allows his planet to kill innocents. Although I would remain in the role of responsible elder in the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses for another five years, I never uttered a personal prayer after this date.

    I am a lover of the outdoors and nature. Over the course of more than twenty-five years, I developed an intimate knowledge of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains and adjacent Owen’s Valley. Despite having spent months climbing amongst the granite spires and glacial basins of this spectacular mountain range, my mind never settled on the reality before my eyes. By the time summer of 2007 rolled around, that changed. I formed another raw and basic equation. Either all of these mountain and glacial features were underwater 4,400 years ago, or they formed since that time, or some wicked spirit enemy of god was allowed to create geologic evidence from thin air, or the Biblical deluge never happened. The utter inanity of considering that god would allow the forces of Satan to create evidence that argues against god’s own existence is beyond the pale of all reason. When Bible characters such as Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jesus, Peter and Paul mention the Flood, they give light to the fact that they did not know the flood never happened. A global Flood or an ancient text that corroborates its own errors of ignorance? I rejected the former as myth and the latter as uninspired.

    Before names like Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens, Shermer, Loftus, Dewitt and Barker were even in my vocabulary, my rejection of a personal god was complete. My study of climatology, geology, dating sciences, dendrochronology, ice cores and pre-history sealed my conviction that I had been misled my entire life. I had misled my own children. I was still misleading a flock of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was, until my final exit, an atheist in the pulpit.

    On September 16, 2012, I publicly disavowed Jehovah’s Witnesses. In my letter of resignation, I offered a quote penned by the late Carl Sagan. “Science carries us toward an understanding of how the world is, rather than how we would wish it to be.”

    My entire family, excluding my wife, has disowned me. My parents, siblings, former friends and most painfully, my own two children will not speak with me. I am poison of the worst kind. I am the plague. When I chance to cross paths with people from my former life, I feel their eyes pass though me as though I were invisible. I am dead to their world. Their world is dead to reality.

    I was not led astray by fellow apostates, nor was I drawn in to atheism by the sound reasoning of today’s secular movement. No, this marvelous planet we call home shook me to my senses and woke me to the reality of being human.

    God doesn’t kill with earthquakes.

    God didn’t destroy an ancient world with a global flood.

    God did not make man in Eden 6,038 years ago.

    God is not real.

    With all my talents and all my breath, I will celebrate humanity until my atoms disperse to the universe from which they came.

  59. Profile photo of Angela@SG [email protected] #59

    I deconverted from a health and wealth, claim and proclaim sort of Faith. The church is very rich, the parishioners look rich too. Except for me, having to save and be careful with household expenses etc 🙁
    I was a member for 13 years from 2000. When my marriage first start to rock that year, my children were 4 and 6 and I had a miscarriage that year.
    My husband refused to come with us saying he does not subscribe to organised religions. He was brought up a Catholic. He dad used to fool around and left his mum so he does not believe.
    I tried to tell him that the prior generation sins have nothing to do with us and we should pray for our own marriage to succeed.
    Year after year, my prayers for him to come to church with us did not seem to reach God. The children did benefit. They enjoyed the story telling and refreshments and fun and games.
    When my son turned 15, he altogether refused to get up for church and I did not push him. Still I prayed and gave offering and started tithing from my own allowance. I was a homemaker with no income.
    Then in 2012, my mum died even though I prayed ceaselessly. Five months later, my husband left the family. He followed his dad’s footsteps and left us.
    I realised he must have waited until my surviving parent passed to moved on. How very thoughtful and on boxing day too!
    I went for the New Year’s service, which was to be my last. I cannot remember the theme but I felt no presence of any caring being.
    I have lost my mother and my husband the same year. My son was not talking to his dad. I was unhappy at my new workplace. Everything was going to the dogs.
    After he left, I have the computer all to myself and started to search for answers. I searched Morality and came across Sam Harris’ work. That led me to watch Mr Dawkins youtube debates and talks that led to Mr C Hitchens work.
    I realised how stupid I had been to pin my hopes on an invisible, not only invisible but does not even exist being.
    I thought I had been living a good Christian life, denying my husband sex for fear of pregnancy as I went off contraception, thinking that (contraception) must be why God has not blessed me.
    I thought I was being faithful denying my children medication, believing God will heal them. Denying myself medication believing God will heal me. I must have good genes, my children and I are rarely ill and we recover quickly. All these I had attributed to God.
    I have gone on too long….
    Thank you for reading.

  60. I believe my family religious outlook as much as anything else decided me to become an atheist. Please allow me to explain. My Grandfather,a Methodist fundamentalist, would be described today as a “Religious Nut”. He was a door to door salesman in the ’30’s who’s religious zeal would often get the better of him. Upon opening to his knock, he would enquire of the occupant, Have you had the Heavenly Assurance?”.Those who knew what he meant, or others who thought he was an insurance salesman, would both slam their doors. My Uncle Mark*, his son, who accompanied him grew to become an even more passionate fundamentalist. You could not converse with him for more than five minutes before he was quoting chapter & verse of the Bible at you. He really loved his imaginary friend Jesus & would get teary eyed with emotion for him on occasion. He married late in life & had a daughter Oriana*, destined in life he & his wife would say, to become a missionary. Mark believed literally in the command of Jesus to “go out into the highway & byway & teach the good news of the Gospel”.In the 1950’s he installed a record player & loudspeakers in his car & with his teen daughter Oriana would park in the vicinity of a Pub, (he was teetotal) start his sermon & play hymns with his daughter encouraged to sing. She had told him from the start she didn’t want to go, that she was nervous & frightened. In light of their desires for her future as a missionary both parents prevailed on her & dosed her up with Aspirin to steady her nerves each time. eventually she had trouble sleeping & was given Xanax tablets. These events developed into a cycle, & unknown to them Oriana was also herself doubling up on these medications. Of course, the inevitable happened & she became hooked on prescription drugs requiring re-hab. a few times to no avail. Her eventual marriage ended in divorce & she lost custody of her new baby boy. Came the day when my Uncle had a visit from the Police to tell him that his twenty five year old daughter had been found dead in a city elevator, the cause being discovered later as complications from long term abuse of prescription drugs.This was my first religious shock. I wondered how such a Christ loving God fearing man like my Uncle could be allowed by God to suffer in this way. But shaken though I was, I wasn’t yet about to abandon Jesus. A few years later his wife choked to death in his presence, dying from heart failure during a major asthma attack which occurred on a long weekend when the Locum couldn’t get to her in time.What caused me to seriously question my faith for the first time in my life was when I heard my Uncle say to my Father “You know Les*, it must have been God’s will to take her because I was praying earnestly in Jesus’s name the whole time for Lea’s survival”.My Uncle didn’t survive himself for long after this twin tragedy & at his funeral I kept asking myself “What question is he going to ask Jesus first?”.I had no further involvement in my religion until in my ’50’s I concluded the whole thing was a fantasy in people’s heads. Twenty years later a grandson gave me his old PC which I taught myself to use & go on the ‘Net where I came across Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins & for me the light of reason was finally switched on.

  61. In reply to #57 by happyhuman13:

    I was born into the third generation of a large family of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1961. Following the Apostle Paul’s admonitions, my parents taught me “the Truth” according to the Watchtower from infancy. I joined the flow of my siblings and Kingdom Hall friends and offered myself for baptism at th…

    A very sobering tale. Thank you for telling it.

    Truth is always got at some expense or other. Religion has made you buy it at an unreasonably high price. It has reminded me that ordinary religious folk may yet do untold harm to their loved ones because of it. Communities based around a culture that makes dogmatic truth claims may end up producing prodigious misery and are never to be given a blithe pass.

    I am hopeful from your moniker (name) that your spirits are not too dimmed by the experience. If you can change, maybe your loved ones will too.

  62. was brought up a catholic (Arab) but always had my doubts asking lots of questions..
    reading science & history books answered most of my questions and documentary channels helped as well 🙂

  63. I was born a Catholic and at a Catholic grammar school at about 14 I began to see the silly content of Catholicism.
    In my local Catholic Church practically all the the proselytising from the pulpit was a demand for more money from the congregation.
    It was like a relief from a persistent pain in the arse!

  64. I grew up with a Church of England mother and devout Hindu father, all of us attending Methodist church on a Sunday. Whilst one of my earlier recollections as a small child, no older than 6, was laying in bed trying to imagine what it was like to be nothing, I hedged my bets, continuing our evening ritual of a bedtime prayer until the child in me was gone and I didn’t need the reassurance. I don’t think religion stood a chance in our household because there was no chance of indoctrination with such different versions of the truth being offered. The God Delusion was a joy to read. I felt liberated to tell the truth.

  65. I was born in a muslim country but my mother was in the first team of computer engineers that installed first computers to banks. She taught me the programming language COBOL and how technology is changing the era. I was lucky because she raised me to become a reasonable and logical person no matter what the topic or situation is. My aunt was living with us and she was a pharmacist she taught me the nature and science as an introduction, I was playing in her lab when I was a child. I finished high school with a full grade. But when I took the university entrance exam in 2011 the gov. made lots of mistakes and because they gave away the exam results to the students in their own circle, there were inequivalence at our results, we were just “test rats in their labs”. However I’ve managed to earn a 50% scholarship to study software engineering in a one-building-sized university which had 1mbps internet. I tried to work after school to pay the other half, but I couldn’t make it. Even though I’ve had full grades at my 1st semester of my freshman year it didn’t change anything. So I flied away to Buenos Aires after working half a year, I learned the language in 3 months by myself, but I am still having problems to enter university because I am not from a Mercosur country bla bla bla. This is my story, sorry for being boring.

    My point for the main question is, I was surrounded by Muslims in every aspect, yet I was lucky to grew up as a reasonable and logical person.

  66. In 1978, when I was just seven, I was told by my religious education teacher at primary school that a man named Jesus had been nailed to the cross. And that this had to do with his father, “god”. I was quite shocked.
    My father had left my mother when she was expecting me, so my general impression of fathers wasn’t a very good one. On my question how a father could have acted so compassionlessly, the teacher said: “But it wasn’t God who nailed his son to the cross, it was the Roman Governor and the Jewish community who condemned him.”
    His answer didn’t comfort or satisfy me. I wondered and still do: Why was I told this completely mind-fucking shit as a small child? It is damaging. I was completely appalled by the notion that people nailed other people to crosses.
    And I was scared shitless by the idea that a Jewish zombie returned from his tomb.
    I remember thinking ‘Gosh, he must have been in such a mess, what with his bloody skimpy loincloth, no shoes, no jumper, nothing to hide his bloodstained face and his dishevelled hair.’
    I imagined him to walk with wide open eyes and a mad stare on his dead face. I was wondering how far the rotting of his remains had proceeded when he decided to go for another walk.
    Thank you very much, Catholic teachers at primary school for your unasked for intrusion upon my up until that point rather innocent world view. Thank you indeed for implanting inextinguishable pictures of disgusting horrors in my head. Whoever is responsible for this, please ensure that the horror stories from the bible are labeled: suitable only for persons of 18 years or over.
    Well, anyway. I never liked scary, inconsistent stories, but I have always loved the natural world.
    So, instead of waiting for Santa and listening to nauseating stories from the bible, I decided to study English literature, which is far more satisfying to read and biology, because it reveals the beauties of the natural world to me.

  67. The point at which I ceased being a Christian was not momentous. What was doubt to me? It was certainly not a wavering between belief in a divine scheme of the universe and excruciating uncertainty. And I’m not sure I could have endured such an emotional ride.

    I did waver, yes, but the oscillation was nuanced — a deceptively small distinction between two positions. Specifically I was caught between hoping, sometimes feeling, that I had a personal relationship with the Christian God, and a sense that I lacked such a relationship. It seemed like the sort of thing that if one had, one would be pretty sure about, at least most of the time. But I was not, and had been becoming less so for some time. I was not directly doubting God or the Bible; I was only becoming cognizant of the lack of a defining characteristic in my experience. And one day, the oscillation subsided. I realized that, by my own definition of what it meant to be Christian, namely a personal experience in the context of a relationship with God, I simply did not fit the ticket. That was it. I did not reject Christianity outright. I did not posit the nonexistence of supreme beings. I did nothing so silly as telling God I no longer believed in him.

    What was present was a distinct impression that I had done little more than merely realize something which on some level I already knew about myself. What I mean is that the substance of this realization was not rooted in the moment it occurred to me consciously, but in the collection of senses, impressions, suspicions, and doubts that eventually culminated into a discreet and unavoidable thought: I am not a Christian. I think most authentic decisions are made this way, as a sort of gathering of energies, that finally have enough charge to translate into conscious psychical forces. By the time we think them, they have really already happened.

    In contrast, it is precisely beliefs that are formed forcefully and suddenly, amidst intense emotions, that are not authentic, but rather are suggestions that have had opportunity to form an especially strong and deep presence at a psychologically vulnerable time.

    Once I had admitted to myself I was not, at present moment at least, technically an actual honest-to-god Christian, an almost imperceptible shift in perspective took place. I now had nothing to defend or attack. Again, I didn’t believe God didn’t exist, or the Bible wasn’t true. I was not then making any bold statements. I merely knew I was not a Christian. It was easier now to think, and many personal anxieties and worries subsided, becoming insignificant.

    At the time, I withdrew into myself, continuing to attend church and participate, although I found it inappropriate to lead others in prayer and profane to take communion. I avoided such things discreetly but resolutely. I think I acted properly. And anything rash, such as public announcements, sudden absence from all activities Christian, or dramatic scenes with family or the leaders of my specific Christian community, would have stirred up an emotional torrent, both internally and locally, that would have created a situation needlessly destructive and, more importantly, would not have been conducive to stepping back from it all and thinking.

    Later, when I had regained a sense of self and confidence, and was able to explain not only why I was not a Christian, but why the whole idea of divine creators is dubious, an unexpected byproduct of my unbelief presented itself. I found not only had I lost belief in Christianity and God, I had also ceased believing that Christians exist at all. If a Christian is someone who has a love-relationship with their God, and if their God does not to exist, then to not believe in the Christian God, is to believe also that Christians do not exist. Christians are only people who have simply made some mistakes between what is real and illusory. The eternal and bottomless chasm between Christians and nonChristians itself is an illusion, vanishing immediately, and in fact we standing right beside to each other.

  68. I was raised in a multi-religion-atheist family, atheist dad and grandfather, protestant mom, some catholic brothers, cousins and some opus-dei relatives also including a pair of Jew brothers in law….pretty uncommon jajaja.
    But my strongest influence was my dad, who very early in my youth got me interested in science but also in religion as general culture.
    I was baptised and also a bit influenced by friends and some relatives to attend catholic church, but i always found sermons to be very contradictory and fictional. Some of my hobbies since age 6 were anthropology, archaeology and paleonthology so i was deeply influenced by the evolution theory. But doubts persited until probably age 20, when i was more of an agnostic than a true atheist. After that i inmersed myself in physics and astronomy readings. That closed the circle, physics and evolution were the basis for my total “conversion” to a true atheist.

  69. I was a Methodist, and I live in North Carolina. It has been hard for me to “come out” to anyone other than a handful of friends, and my husband. I have a sister and her family that are fundamentalist Baptists, and I am really not ready for the conversation with them. My de-conversion was a long time coming, but I think I wasn’t a believer from a very young age. I just went along with everyone else, thinking that I had a problem and everyone else was right. My logical mind could never wrap around the “Jesus died for our sins” thing, and I couldn’t understand how a god could love you one minute, and be willing to throw you into a pit of fire in the next. As a child, I worried a lot about going to hell for doing the slightest wrong thing, and felt a lot of guilt. I’m so glad those days are over! I hope I live long enough to see the secular community be recognized with respect and not vilified like we are now. I also hope I find the courage to be more outspoken about my Atheism. We have a lot to be proud of, and I am so happy now that I am free.

  70. Worst history of all parhaps, because I am afraid I never de-converted but became more interested in history or school because god or religion were never a subject and happy not to continue in a religious school, it would not be appropriate for me.
    I wanted to be anthropologist and everything that opposed to evolution was not accepted.
    No real story of decovertion.

  71. Before I became an atheist in my childhood I was one already! It s just that I didnt know the word. Nowadays I consider myself with pleasure as non-believing stardust.

  72. I just submitted a pretty complete story to the Converts section of the Letters on this site.

    I was raised an atheist, which is to say no one ever talked to me about religion. Once when I was 8, I made dinner conversation by asking my family what god was. It’s best that I don’t record their response. There was a church a block away from our house. I knew it was called a “church,” but I didn’t know what the building was for. I never saw anyone enter or leave.

    When I was 12, I discovered that everything my family taught me was wrong, so I decided their must be a god. But I was pathologically disinclined to Christianity because of some violence directed at my non-religious family in the small town we lived in. So, I started hanging out with New Age pagans.

    I never really left this quasi-religion until I was 30 and found myself going to college in Kentucky. I encountered college professors teaching religious propaganda, intolerance, and blatant fallacy.

    By the time I read The God Delusion, there wasn’t much convincing left to do.

  73. In reply to #8 by gupe:

    I was brought up in a very religious German-speaking Lutheran household in South Africa. I remember regularly feeling uneasy about religion and quite disinterested in it. Seven years ago when I was 28 years old I was working on a tricky mathematical optimisation problem (I’m an engineer) and did res…

    Boy oh boy, that sounds like a bad situation. I have many times been shocked at the level of hostility I’ve encountered from religious people. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with a wife and children who are believers. This could get really ugly.

  74. I was raised a Seventh-Day-Adventist. I thought I gave my heart to Christ in high school. But I could never figure out how to get my prayers answered. My brother and I would fervently pray for our dad to stop his substance abuse. Never happened. He is 84 now and is sober. After researching Ellen White, we all realized that she was a false prophet. Using reason and studying the great authors like Dawkins, Harris, and Erhman, I slowly came to my senses. It wasn’t an overnight experience. But I was slowly “born again!” I think religion is mankinds biggest deception.

  75. At the age of 47 with Mitt Romney running for president, I began to get curious about belief. The Book of Mormon musical was getting press, and I loved the songs on youtube. I had been raised Christian but around college figured there were many paths to God. I googled a cliche I had always understood to be true: “no atheists in foxholes” and for the first time began understanding that there was an atheist voice out there. Meanwhile my wife, who had been a Baptist all these years, had been watching science shows on TV and was having doubts about God. She checked out of the library The God Delusion and Armstrong’s A Case for God on CD. She went on a road trip and took Armstrong, while I stayed home and listened to Dawkins. When I put the first CD in the player I had never heard of Dawkins, Dennett, Harris or Hitchens. I wasn’t three CD’s in before I was convinced Dawkins was right. It felt wonderful! When my wife got home she was ripe for Dawkins. Since then both of us have been kind of obsessed with the atheist movement, I think because we are amazed that it took us so long to figure out such a reasonable position of life, amazed and a little embarrassed we spent so much time believing ridiculous things.

  76. My father was German Baptist, and my mother was Methodist. As a child, I went to the Methodist church regularly with my mother. We were active members (choir, etc.), but were not over-zealous, and science was not an evil word in the house. However, my father’s mother was extremely religious and very fundamentalist, and I got heavy doses of that on visits. Even the rest of her family, who were quite religious, thought that she was overdoing it a bit and she wasn’t taken seriously. (The charts she should us kids were quite astounding — the seven sins entering the heart, green devils in purple underwear ascending through the floor to claim the soul of a dead man, and so on). Through her, I saw both the best of religion (altruism and compassion) and the worst of it (the utter inability to function in the world as an adult).

    I rationalized evolution and the Bible, going through the typical phases for that (a day of God is a million years, it’s all an allegory, etc). I was still active as a teenager when we had a visiting minister at the church who was assigned to lead the youth group. I enjoyed talking to him; he was very intelligent and was willing to discuss math, physics, and the nature of God in a world bounded by physics. When he left a year later, he was replaced by a man who was far more conservative. He instead that we pray a certain way, with a particular posture, and couldn’t answer my questions about why prayer was necessary. I was shaken with the change, and I refused to go to the Sunday School again. But I was still a Christian at this point.

    The cracks began when I realized that Carl Sagan clearly wasn’t religious, but was someone that I admired. Then there was my excellent high school physics teacher, who was openly atheist. I started to question my beliefs and felt so guilty, like I was letting God down.

    In college, I tried hard to regain my contact with the divine; my desperation was almost comical, and I went through all of the motions hoping to find answers. Instead, I found a plethora of conflicting religions and philosophies, all insisting that they were right, and I suddenly realized that my status as a Christian was just an accident of location — born anywhere else, I would have been something else and just a strong a believer. This was devastating. Everyone around me was religious; I had no one to turn to who wouldn’t pass judgment on me. I was alone and in pain; I felt that I must be the only one in the world in this situation and that I had to hide it carefully. I was in a deep depression for a long time; I didn’t believe, and therefore I was bound for Hell. (See the irony?)

    Finally, in grad school, I was able to admit the truth to myself and to my immediate family. I was still uncomfortable with it, but I was getter better. I did have one regression where, for the sake of my wife (who is moderately though not dogmatically religious), I tried again to be religious — but it was too late for that. It just didn’t work at all, and I suddenly saw the pastor as a prostitute instead of a priest, giving the customer a “good feeling” but nothing else — I was revolted by what I saw and heard. I started reading more Sagan, Dawkins, Harris, and so on, and finally realized that I wasn’t alone and that I was probably rational. It was a long, painful journey, but worth it, and I’m making sure that my kids don’t have to go through the same pain.

  77. I was raised a Dark Lutheran. My conversion was gradual. 1) In sixth grade I discovered with much embarrassment that Santa Claus wasn’t real. 2) At the same time our Sunday School teacher informed us that Catholics were going to Hell because they prayed to the Virgin Mary and the Saints, who are not part of the Triune. I prayed that my beloved Catholic great-grandmother and my many Catholic cousins would convert so they would be saved. 3) In seventh grade I read George Gamow’s “The Creation of the Universe” because we had learned about planets in sixth grade and I loved the star field on the book’s cover. Obviously, Gamow’s time scale was off. Everyone knew it only took 6 days! Still it was interesting. 4) In tenth grade my best friend was a Jehovah’s Witness. They don’t believe in Hell, so we debated its existence during lunch. I argued for Hell, and when she proved to me that it wasn’t stated clearly in the Bible, I refused to change my mind. 5) My Sunday school teacher told us that because of original sin we sinned with every breath we took, and if we didn’t confess every single sin before we died we would go to Hell. At night, I kept confessing my sins over and over, afraid to sleep for fear I would die in my sleep and go to Hell. 6) Finally, while praying lying face up in my bed as a college freshman, I looked up and said “Why am I talking to the ceiling?” I realized that in all my years of praying, I had never once heard a peep from the other side! Not once! Dead air! I said “This is stupid and I’m not doing it anymore.” And I didn’t. I’ve always been a bit slow.

  78. I was raised Catholic, and I believed it. But I never managed to have that good relationship we were supposed to have with God. I always thought it must be my fault (well, it couldn’t be God’s fault, right?). I thought to be closest to God, I had to be a nun, but I didn’t want to be a nun. I thought I was too “sinful” or not faithful enough. I always thought I just had to try harder. Even through all the church scandals and my rationalizations about things like the place of women or homosexuality, I knew a few people who seemed to thrive in their Christianity and kept trying to find that.

    It took many years and a few devastating events for my faith to crumble around me. Not that I expected God to arrange the world to my liking, but if he actually loved me, there should be guidance, a sense of his presence, something.

    I realized that Catholicism was, as the parable goes, a “house built on sand” – because it’s not true, it’s bound to lead to trouble. I also realised that in trying to follow that faith better, I had self-censored my thoughts to exclude anything that would tend to contradict Catholicism. In the wake of this realisation, explored the ideas of a more liberal Christianity, other faiths, and finally just simple theism, all for the first time with a mind open to wherever the truth would lead. It only took a few years for me to conclude that I have no reason to believe in God, and that I was an atheist.

    It was shortly after that that I searched atheism on the internet and found this site. In my theist days I had spent some time on a forum where people of all faiths discussed religion, and I had always liked the atheists because they were straightforward and didn’t play mind games. I was ready for more of that.

    So it was as an atheist already that I joined this site and I also read The God Delusion. These things helped me root out some of the old thought patterns that persisted and helped allay some of the damage done by religion. I am grateful to be finally free. I wish there was some way to convey the quality of this freedom to the people still stuck in religious thinking. They assume it’s just licentiousness, but it’s the most amazing thing and nothing to do with “sin.”

  79. I might have believed in Santa Clause until I was about five, does that count for anything?

  80. Thanks for your good wishes. I can reveal her proper name was Dawn. I’m pleased to say that none of my kids or grandkids have had that fairytale religious nonsense implanted in their infant brains & are happy responsible citizens.In reply to #61 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #57 by happyhuman13:

    I was born into the third generation of a large family of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1961. Following the Apostle Paul’s admonitions, my parents taught me “the Truth” according to the Watchtower from infancy. I joined the flow of my siblings and Kingdom Hall friends an…

  81. As a multigenerational atheist, I didn’t deconvert and have no story to tell.

    So I can’t win the competition.

    Is RDFRS discriminating against atheists 🙂

  82. A was raised as a “free-thinker”, protestant mom, agnostic dad, opus-dei cousins, jewish brothers in law …a good mix i must say.
    Dad introduced me to science and history at an early age, starting with paleonthology and archeaology so i was hooked on evolution by age 6-7. At least before my 20s i was an agnostic, surrounded by catholic friends and a very catholic mexican society i still had doubts about the existance of GOD.
    I never had a religion but i attended catholic church with friends for a while, but sermons felt like fairy tales. By my 20s i hooked into physics and astronomy which only strengthened my atheist view the world. Reading Steven Hawkin’s “A brief history of time” was probably one of the turning points in my life.
    I married a very Catholic girl at age 29, so i accepted her wishes that our kids be raised as catholics,. 20 years later, my kids are embracing science and at least 2 of them are if not atheist, at least agnostics. And my wife, well, she has a strong religious upbringing, but a few months ago attended the “Chopra vs. Dawkins” debate in Mexico, and to my suprise she told me, “it was a revealing moment, i now dont know what to beleive, but one thing is for sure, religion is out”.
    It is only when we open our minds to knowledge and leave superstition away that our minds are capable of forgetting about gods and fairytales.

  83. As a young child, I was made to attend Sunday School, but I soon developed an overpowering feeling that it was promoting ideas that seemed unlikely, if not impossible, (like Santa Claus, angels and men coming back to life after they had died). My father was a Methodist minister and as I grew up, my father and I had many interesting discussions about Christianity and his beliefs.
    At high school and beyond, I had an ability for science and the more science I studied, the more questions I asked and the more skeptical I became of any of the Abrahamic religions – and I made a point of seeking out and speaking to representatives of all of them. I began to read more widely – Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, Bertrand Russell, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and many others who offered a more rational, realistic and scientific approach to life.
    I think I was about 23 when I realized that I was a militant atheist and there is no doubt that I am well and truly ‘out’. I am older now, but I have, over my life, continued to confirm my views that we don’t know everything and that inexplicable events will never have an explanation other than a supernatural one.
    I abhor hypocrisy (of which Christianity offers one of the starkest examples) and become irritated when religious agendas are promoted by those with no other basis for their beliefs than ancient texts written by men who thought the Earth was the center of the universe, that some all-powerful god lived in a place above the Earth over what they called ‘The Firmament’ and ,more recently, wrote that they had domesticated camels centuries before they became so.
    I am truly astounded by people who continue to believe in supernatural explanations of events when there is a vast mountain of evidence to contradict that view. We atheists and humanists must become the guiding force for the future development of humanity and dismantle all religions which rely on myth, biological impossibilities and other superstitions to control others.

  84. I was born and raised in Italy and as such, raised as a Roman Catholic. We had Religion taught at school. I remember very clearly this one day in year 3 in primary school: we had Religion class, and the teacher was telling us about how God had created the world in 7 days. The very next class was Geography, where the teacher taught us the basics of the big bang theory. Now, one could definitely argue that the teachers had very bad timing – but, more importantly, I was 8 years old, and confused. I remember thinking: “Well, what now, is it 7 days or 4.6 Billion years?” I was quite upset. I talked to my father and, good man that he is, he sat with me and explained to me the difference between scientific facts and Christian allegory. When I then asked him: “But if one is true and fact, and the other is just a story – why bother telling the story?” And he answered: “It’s a tradition, and they die slowly”. Since then, I have been exploring, questioning, discussing, challenging. The more I asked, the less answers I’d get. “You just have to have faith” they said. Well, I am not stupid. I have a brain. I want to use it. I don’t just want to accept and have “faith”. The only faith I have is in the scientists, the great thinkers of our time. And today, 22 years after that very day at school, I have just sent off the letter to the church in Italy were I have been baptised, asking to be excommunicated. A new atheist is born. Happy days.

  85. In reply to #56 by happyhuman13:

    I was born into the third generation of a large family of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1961. Following the Apostle Paul’s admonitions, my parents taught me “the Truth” according to the Watchtower from infancy. I joined the flow of my siblings and Kingdom Hall friends and offered myself for baptism at th

    This entry here deserves to win.

  86. Baptized to the Evangelical Lutheran church of Finland, though no form of worship was really practiced in the family. During my puberty I left the church and actually practiced some Wicca, Buddhism, and others before becoming an atheist. Wasn’t 20 years old before A was my scarlet letter…

  87. I was a Mormon and left the church when I realised the bible B.O.M. were lies. If I had stayed as a stay at home Christian and hadn’t bothered to actually read the bible the I would still be in ignorance. So many billions still cling to religion when science has proven it all wrong. There are still Muslims who claim the World is flat and Christians still hold that the earth is only 6,000 years old…

  88. None. Not brainwashed as a child into believing in any sort of phantoms. The silliness of any superstition, including religious belief, was taken for granted in the home. The occasional feeble attempts at religious programming experienced at school were viewed as indications of the frailty of the human intellect. Atheism (non-belief) as always been my default position. Probably typical of much of Australia. I remember that when I was 7 I (for some some strange reason) found myself in some sort of ‘Sunday School’ with my older sister ( at 13 I think she was briefly flirting with the idea of super beings – she later settled on Marx). After I repeatedly asked where the dinosaurs fitted into the creation story the people running the session suggested that we should leave. Religious wise it’s been steadily downhill from then.

  89. I was brought up in a Congregational Church and Unitarian Universalist church attended a Christian High School for a while joined the Episcopal Church and got my first big wake-up call when I as a child received a dunning letter for my tithe of 50 cents a week. Later when I got married to a Catholic I attended classes to become a Catholic but I had so many questions and discussions with the priest I said to hell with it wasn’t worth it. Then I got divorced seems the “good Catholic” I married didn’t believe in monogamy. I began to question all religions attended some Buddhist meetings and decided that wasn’t for me either.
    The more I read the more I questioned, I had some serious crises in my life and I prayed and prayed and nothing, not a damn thing, happened. I thought about that and said to myself this whole god and religion stuff is a hoax just a way to get you to give money and give up control my life.
    I tried going back to the Episcopal Church and UU and couldn’t stand the way the hypocrites treated each other and me. Finally I said to hell with it this is just made up bullshit I’m done. Been much happier since, my family on the other hand is very displeased and we argue a lot and I’m estranged from them. I can’t believe I raised such ignorant children they all believe in the super natural and all the phony baloney that goes with it. I have put them on notice that no religious ceremony is to be said by anyone when I die I have even appointed an executor to control my funeral. I am now a staunch anti-religion advocate, this has come about gradually but strongly.

  90. I was raised in the United Church of Christ until I was confirmed (age 14). I was given the same choice my older sisters got–whether or not to continue going to church. I chose not. I still considered myself a Christian for about 10 more years when I threw away Jesus and just believed in an uncaring and/or impotent god for many years. At age 50 I went back to school and got involved with some of the new age religions–wicca and heathenry–but could not force myself to believe that magic could possibly be real, so I left. Even now, I’m not certain that I’m a full-fledged Atheist. I have trouble believing that consciousness can ever end–even with death. I’ve become a fairly sensible person who believes in science and logic, so I think it’s only a matter of time before I get over this final hurdle and can proudly say “I am an Atheist!” If anyone has any helpful suggestions, I’m listening.

  91. I was Muslim. When I was younger in the weekend-religion-school in mosque priest said that god acts through the animals. He mentioned some examples. I remember that he said: Look the animals, if you offer them alcohol, they will not drink it. That it is because God ordered them to not drink, because the alcohol is harmful. I had my dog at the home. I was bored and my scientific instinct begun to act 😀 I bought a several bottle of beer, put my dog on a long chair and gave them beer to drink. After a while, he begun to swing. He couldn’t jump off the chair, even in the normal situation he could. After that, I become a skeptic and start to ask explanations for everything. Of course, I was still a Muslim, because I was too young and I didn’t know for the other religions views. But now, I had that skeptic instinct in myself. In the high school I heard word ‘agnostic’. I found description on the internet and said: ‘I am more agnostic than Muslim. Ok, now I am an agnostic’. I was agnostic for some months when I heard for atheism 😀

  92. I was brought up high church C of E. I had always had questions about the existence of a god, but it came to a head when I was 10. My then teacher, Cameron Stenhouse – a Church of Scotland minister – asked how many in the class believed in god. Many hands went up, but not mine. Then he asked, “How many of you don’t know if there’s a god or not?” Again, a few hands. Then, “How many don’t believe in god?”
    Mine was the only hand.
    “Why’s that, David?”
    “Well, sir, when the Bible was written, we put god above the clouds. When we made airplanes, we found he wasn’t there, so we put him further away, and then we got into space, and he wasn’t there either. So it seems to me that we just keep making up the place that he has to be.”
    “Interesting argument, David, and the name for someone who doesn’t believe in god is an ‘atheist’.”
    Cue a conversation a little while later when I walk in to the lounge. My mum was ironing, and I put my satchel on the couch and said, “Mum, I’m an atheist!”
    My mum put down the iron and looked hard at me, and asked in a very stern voice, “Who has been poisoning your mind this way?”
    She was clearly angry.
    I told her, and she was clearly upset. Many years later mum and I were able to discuss this, and even though she kept her faith to the end, she finally respected my view, and we had many wonderful late night discussions over a glass of wine about this. She also confided in me that she was an atheist until she was in her mid 30s, and only had her conversion when she prayed for a friend, and that friend recovered. My rather cold logic – that this would have happened regardless of her prayer – fell on deaf ears.
    I have never changed my view in all of my 55 years, and I think that even before the incident in school, I had decided at a very visceral level, that there are no gods. To me, a theistic view is some sort of comfort blanket for the feeble minded.

  93. I was raised in a secular household. I have always viewed religion with a degree of derision. I have had times in my life where I thought I should try and believe, but always came to the same inescapable conclusion that it was utter nonsense. I still struggle with tolerating those who do embrace religion.

  94. I come from Lutheranism. I got depressed and tried to take my own life when I was 19, the summer of 2005. I wanted to go to a better place, Heaven. I don’t really want to tell you the details but I died for a minute and a half… I’m so thankful to everyone that got to the rescue! There is no life after death! I recent any religion and nobody should tell anybody that there is a better place you go to when you die. I’m so thankful for science. Science and good people saved my life. If there hadn’t been an ambulance, and all these gadgets that the doctors had to use in the plane on the way to Reykjavík. If there wouln’t have been all those good people that saved my life! i’m an electronic engineer now on east-coast of Iceland. I teach guitar. I have a bad time remembering stuff after the car-crash but I try my best to think critically, in a good way 🙂 I was teaching the kids at music school this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYSVMgRr6pw
    Have a nice weekend, and love life!!!

  95. As all Swedes at the time i was borne in to the Swedish church, wich is lutheran. My parents were never religous and neither were any of my grandparents so i guess i had a good start. I did actualy get both baptised when i was a baby and confirmed(is that the right word in english) when i was 15, but mosly out of a sense of tradition, and a little for the gifts. So i guess i have always been an atheist but its only in the last few years i thought about why i am an atheist and why people belive in such farytales as religions.

  96. I was raised a Methodist in the USA. I went to church every Sunday, went to Sunday school, was in the choir, was in the church’s youth group, and was in the church’s Boy Scout troop. It never really caught on, I guess, but I didn’t give it much thought. It was just what one did. I do remember wondering why the bible was considered a holy book with all that unholy stuff in it. I don’t remember praying other than in group led recitations – it just seemed a little foolish to talk to the invisible father figure. At 18, and on my own at college, I decided not to waste my time on Sundays participating in what seemed a flawed, largely social, function. When I thought about it at all, I just said I was agnostic to avoid dealing with it. My wife and I felt that hypocrisy was the bigger “sin”, so we raised our kids without religion and they turned out just fine. They are hard-working, honest, moral people who give back to the community – kids of which any religious person would be envious. More recently, while reading a physics book by Krauss I became aware of Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris and read The God Delusion and then the major works of the others. It was eye-opening to see the reasoned and thought-out versions of what for me were just the feelings in the back of my head. At 68 years old, it has made me proud of my almost lifelong atheism and frustrated that it is not obvious to more people. And hopeful that such people are fighting the dangerous institutions of religion.

  97. I remember the exact instant it happened. I was about 6 years old and fascinated by the Space Program of the early 1960s. I remember clearly envisioning an old, long-bearded man sitting on a throne orbiting the Earth and I thinking, “That’s just not possible. There’s no air for God to breathe in orbit. So, God can’t exist.” And that was it. It was as true for a 6-year old then, as it is today. I was brought up in a Jewish household. I had a Bar Mitzvah. I went through the motions for my family. But, in reality, I’ve been a “devout atheist” my entire life.

  98. I was a Baptist growing up, (never baptized), Joined the military, and really began to question religion, continued my quest for knowledge, found that religion was a construct of man to control the increasing numbers of people throughout the world for governments to use a control. I went from Baptist to Agnostic, and Agnostic to Atheist. Nothing special changed my mind, about religion, just the facts that the more I researched the more I found to be false and that there is almost zero evidence to support creationism, biblical myth, Judean myth, and Islamic myth. If there ever was a “religion” I were to support it would be Buddhism, because it is purely about spirituality.

  99. In reply to #90 by HnrSpk:

    This is a definition of brain death found in Wikipedia.

    A brain-dead individual has no clinical evidence of brain function upon physical examination. This includes no response to pain and no cranial nerve reflexes. Reflexes include pupillary response (fixed pupils), oculocephalic reflex, corneal reflex, no response to the caloric reflex test, and no spontaneous respirations.

    Religious dogma would have us believe that the dead brain reactivates itself in some mysterious way even though brain cells have begun the process of decay. Taking a really clinical approach to the problem, one is left to wonder how on earth this could happen!

    In my opinion this is fanciful. I’m also at a loss to imagine what sort of things a disembodied consciousness could possibly experience.

  100. I was on the fence, all religions confused me. my mom is a christian and very domineering. she would only help me out (financially), if i read the bible, so i did and some of the stories upset me and i told her i couldn’t understand it. so she bought all 13 of the left behind books and made me read those. then she told me i had to get baptized. so i went to a church and they made me take a class on genesis. after, they questioned me and asked me if i believe in the bible and i said i’m not sure, i didn’t believe the story about adam and eve, because i knew about Darwin and the theory of evolution. they said you have to believe the whole bible to get baptized. i left convinced i was going to hell and i was doomed. I went on the internet and found out i was not alone in this dilemma. i came upon a video called militant atheist, by Richard dawkings, of course i was afraid to look at it but curiosity got the better of me. I liked it and wanted to know more. then i saw videos with Christopher hitchens and knew right then i couldnt carry on faking being a christian and had to change. but now my relationship with my mother is strained and we rarely speak. since then she has come to terms with my choices in life and i am a better person for it. i can now say with pride that i am an atheist.

  101. Was a Sikh. Agnostic now.
    Cut my beard and hair recently.
    I’m not ‘out’ as of now, but in the pipeline, just a few more weeks.

  102. Born a Roman Catholic and schooled in a Catholic school for boys ran by foreign missionaries in the Philippines, the ONLY Christian nation in Asia, I was raised a true-blue die-hard Catholic. In high school, I had briefly studied Latin on the way to the priesthood but quit after having made up my mind to get me a wife when the time comes. I met my future wife in college and married her right after graduation and about seven months into my first job at age 22. She belonged to a Pentecostal church and had so many pastor relatives from siblings to uncles, aunts, and cousins. So, we got married by a judge. On the eve of our wedding, I was still arguing as a Catholic with her fundamentalist protestant Pentecostal American missionary aunt from Texas. I was defending the Virgin Mary and the Statues of Saints in our churches. Not agreeing to enter each other’s church, my wife and I spent our first two years of married life going to the beach on Sundays. However, both of us longed to belong so we decided to attend her church. That is where I, for the very first time in my life, studied the bible. As a Catholic, all I did was study catechism and most of it was about the Virgin Mary. After a job transfer in 1980 to my own hometown, we joined an Evangelical Baptist church where I served as deacon and volunteer lay pastor. By 1983, however, I came across a unique magazine, The Plain Truth, published and freely-distributed worldwide by the Pasadena, California-based Worldwide Church of God headed by Herbert W. Armstrong. This was a selectively TORAH-practicing Christian church. We joined the church in 1985 until we left in 2010. The major changes in the doctrines of this church in 1995 left the worldwide congregations in splinters – those that remained in the original teachings, those that welcomed the shift to normative Protestantism, and everything in between. I was already in the lay-preaching stage by 1990. Accusations and criticisms from every splinter group came and went and as a member of the Pastoral Team, I had to deal with these for the sake of our own flock. Around 2008, there was one word that struck me and which I came across for the first time – UNIVERSALISM. As I began defending our doctrines from accusations on Universalism, I went to the internet to gather material. One thing led to another. Trying to search for material in defense of my Christian beliefs against the criticisms of my fellow Christians whose beliefs differed from mine, I came across Atheists criticizing us, Christians. I wanted to deal with the atheists first so I began studying their arguments instead. By 2009, I still could not find enough material to begin to tackle the Atheists’ arguments. Their arguments, evidence, proof, etc., etc., etc. were just too heavy to ignore. I had to be honest with myself. I requested my daughter in America to buy me some books to read. The first one I finished was The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. I had become 99% atheist then. After reading it, I got me the final 1%. It was followed by Sam Harris’ End of Faith, Hitchen’s God Is Not Great, Breaking The Spell by Dan Dennett, 3 more books by Dawkins, another 2 by Hitchens, and Harris’ Letter To A Christian Nation. I devoured material from many more – Grayling, Barker, Shermer, Pinker, Randi, and dozens more. YOUTUBE provided me Matt Dillahaunty, et al. I began incorporating these new knowledge in my sermons but the congregation began to squirm in their seats. One Sunday, the Senior Pastor told me my sermons were getting controversial week after week after week. By the final week of January 2010, I gave my final sermon and quit church. All my four adult children welcomed it and joined me joyfully. My wife still prays one-sentence prayers like “Thank you, Lord” before meals to which I would jokingly add, “Yes, Jack” or “Amen, Jack” (referring to Jack Lord of “Hawaii 5-0”) but, otherwise, has joined me in boycotting church-going. She doesn’t read any of my material, though. She, nevertheless gets glimpses of Atheist material on my Facebook Page since we’re friends. I’ve never been happier in my life.

  103. When I saw by first time a mapamundi immediately I thought that South America and Africa were united in the past, then I thought that something was wrong with religion(catholic). I was 10.

  104. I was born in India. Parents are both Hindus and tried to convince me that its ancient scripts were analogous to Science. Some of the teachers at high school did the same especially my chemistry teacher trying to link sacred fires as a means to purify the atmosphere. Years later after I became more scientifically literate I did my own research and only found out these were extraordinary claims with no proof and most of the time with a negative effect for a cause proving their pseudoscientific status. I soon found out my parents, in spite of being medical practitioners were influenced by society and were obsessed with religious fundamentalism. Looking at my mother all the more depressed and crying in front of idols made me get confused. I soon found out her belief in a magical saviour as described in myths and his apparent absence from divine intervention to improve her quality of life is what is depressing her. This realisation made me get even more repulsive to their religion. I did most of my elementary and middle schooling at Christian convents and realised that they were only promoting mere slavery where the inconsistencies and hypocrisies in their beliefs must not be questioned due to blind obedience to their version of God. Throughout my childhood and my education and all over my society, I was exposed to more religious fundamentalism than genuine scientific literacy which made me stay confused and ambivalent in mystical beings at the same time. My uni life at Australia and their strict discipline in promoting research methods among students and after i met this person who will soon become one of my friends and introduced me to RDFRS and more Scientific communities helped me get rid of my ambivalence on religion and helped me realise the hypocrisies of family and society in my past and that Real science is a discipline more open to change with sound reasoning and evidence rather than enforcing conjured up impractical philosophies. This convinced me to happily shed my beliefs and take up an open mind. I’m not a religious atheist as such, but my personal beliefs are more reasonably agnostic and are analogous to that of Carl Sagan’s who says spirituality can be found through the humility that comes from understanding contemporary science which reveals the many intricacies and subtlety of physics and life in general. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Sagan

  105. hi, i am noura 32 year old transgender from libya ,tripoli ,i converted from islam it started early in my childhood when my family gather and start to discuss the greatness of muhammed as they said i was wondering where is his greatness lie in the invasions that he made or the killings of people who do not believed in his delusions i started to question my grand mum and she responded by giving me the reason behind his invasions that he is a gifted man and god chooses him to deliver his message but here is where i get confused why the master creator god need to choose if he is able to creat all creatures at the qualifications muhamed had because from simple example if i want to bake a cookie i will try as hard as i can to make it all equal in shapes in sum symmetrical in shape ,taste good ,but if i failed that means one of two either iam not quite good at baking or i intend to do it that way ,its the same applied to god if he is able to create all people with the same qualities why he had to choose and from that point i start to loose trust in the god image i thought for a while if he is evil then i started to talk loudly as i wanted him to reply i started to write papers like messages to god even the devil and hiding it under the capet in hope one of them will pick it up (god or the devil) but each day i found those messages in the same place lol,then i left islam ,years passed i got to the medical school i met an american guy who is missionary he gave me a bible and started to feel in love with me it was in tripoli one of my most beautiful years he kept taking me to restaurants and talking about the virgin miram who give birth to jesus sadly and for his bad luck i was studying gynaecology and given to my knowledge a fertilization to occur must have 1 ovum and millions of sperms and only one of those sperms succeed in getting in the ovum to form a zygot and the rest die ,so i remember telling him that i do not believe that she gave born to babe without intercourse at that moment i saw a look in his eyes as if i got doomed ,and he started to pull himself fron me slowly then he changed his mind that he want only sexual relationship with me in fact i got into that but after that he changed he started to call only when he wanted sex i cut off my relationship with him and my story with christianity got to the end ,then my feelings start to come out i wanted to tell me family about the pain i had because i want to match my brain with my genitalia by sex reassingnment surgery and i remember i first told my mum she and all of sudden she slapped me across the face told me that this is haram unforgivable in islam and at that moment i remember when i told her that i am an atheist i went into a very bad years and the war still on because i am still living here in libya but the good news is i influenced lots of muslims so they became doubtful about their believes and i insist to tell the children about the horrible truth about muhammed religion especially the girls and they loved what i said , i encourage them to love, kiss , and most importantly think deeply and always doubt because doubt is the key to truth ,,,,,,thank you noura

  106. Baptized Presbyterian, forced to go to Christian Science Sunday school until I finally got a job senior year in high school and worked on Sundays.

  107. “Normal” Roman Catholic. I even was an acolyte – until the day of my confirmation. I always imagined Jesus as a kind of cool hippie who has a big heart and loves everyone equally. The day of my confirmation the bishop of our diocese was present and I noticed his huge Mercedes and that he had a driver. I was a little irritated because this is much like a lackey in my eyes and I couldn’t understand that a follower of Jesus could accept something like that. So I asked and was ignored and looked at like a traitor. This was the moment I understood something was terribly wrong here and a couple of weeks later I quit the acolyte job and never went to church again. I didn’t leave church until the pope visited my hometown and reminded me by this, that there was something I had forgotten. Next day of I went to the town hall where you have to tell the officials that you want to leave church and did it.

  108. “Normal” Roman Catholic. I even was an acolyte – until the day of my confirmation. I always imagined Jesus as a kind of cool hippie who has a big heart and loves everyone equally. The day of my confirmation the bishop of our diocese was present and I noticed his huge Mercedes and that he had a driver. I was a little irritated because this is much like a lackey in my eyes and I couldn’t understand that a follower of Jesus could accept something like that. So I asked and was ignored and looked at like a traitor. This was the moment I understood something was terribly wrong here and a couple of weeks later I quit the acolyte job and never went to church again. I didn’t leave church until the pope visited my hometown and reminded me by this, that there was something I had forgotten. Next day of I went to the town hall where you have to tell the officials that you want to leave church and did it.

  109. I confess I was in evangelical christianity for over 30 years, from age 16 to 48.

    The first chink in the edifice was discovering how extensively creationists lie, and make God a liar for planting evidence for evolution over billions of years.

    I started to realise that the lies didn’t stop there. Little by little the whole thing fell apart in my mind.

    It was time to wake up, grow up and start thinking rationally. Never looked back since.

    I wince at all the wasted time though…

  110. I was raised a Jehovah’s Witness from birth. At a very young age I was often shown gruesome pictures of mass corpses and told that is what is in store for all non-believers. I grew up understanding reality only as the literal interpretation of the Bible depicted it. In my attempt to be a strident JW apologist that could rationally argue against the secularist’s view, I familiarized myself with the sciences by reading best selling books on physics, cosmology, neuroscience, relativity theory, evolution, genetics, and the complete history of the world’s 3 major monotheistic religions. I gradually became blown away by the sciences and couldn’t stop reading; read hundreds of books and still can’t stop. Needless to say, I am now a strident atheist who is right up there with Sam Harris.

  111. Mormon. Left it over twenty years ago after being raised Mormon, being a missionary, etc. Goddamn, it still brings up all kinds of intense emotions and thoughts. My exodus is a long story. L&S: I always questioned my beliefs–never getting sane answers. After my mission I spent some time with an ex-mormon girl who I was madly in love with. She helped me see how ridiculous my beliefs were and eventually I had to choose between the girl and church. Love won (she of course married someone else). Took a few more years to take the plunge into atheism. That was helped by education. College & university. There are no better weapons against theism than critical thinking and knowledge. Oh, and love…

  112. I was born into a Roman Catholic family. Like many children around the world, I was disinterested in God and religion though I was forced to attend mass every Sunday. I often wonder what would have happened if I had tried to exercise my “God given right to free thinking” (contradictory phrase intentional) with my parents with regard to this matter. Would I have been ridiculed? Possibly. Would I have been banished? Unlikely. Would I have been beaten? Possibly. The adult mindset of the rural Australians of the 1960s was very conservative. Anyone stepping out of the accepted framework was considered a bit of a misfit. My introduction to Richard Dawkins through electronic media has truly been a breath of fresh air. I’m currently reading The God Delusion. What a guy?

  113. In reply to #57 by happyhuman13:

    I was born into the third generation of a large family of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1961. Following the Apostle Paul’s admonitions, my parents taught me “the Truth” according to the Watchtower from infancy. I joined the flow of my siblings and Kingdom Hall friends and offered myself for baptism at th…
    The level of bravery you have displayed in embracing science, knowing full well the cost, is indeed admirable. You are obviously a very intelligent person. I hope one day that your children, too, come to understand science and you can hug them as a father once again.

  114. I deconverted from Judaism at 18. I’ve always
    had large doubts. I had periods of being moderately religious, most often when I was weak. I’ve gotten too smart now to even consider it. Being an atheist is very freeing in many ways. It allows me to further my intellectual curiousities in open minded ways.

  115. I’ve always been a fence sitting agnostic leaning towards atheism. Having grown up in the southern US bible belt, I always kept my opinion to myself. I came out of the closet as an atheist after reading The God Delusion, and I have found it to be the most liberating, motivating, and inspiring experience of my life.

    Scary fact of the day: The science section in the local bookstore (including all mathematics, biology, chemistry, and physics) is less than 0.1 the size of the christian living section.

  116. I was a Roman Catholic until my senior year in Catholic high school, when I took a world literature class. Our teacher/nun told us we were going to read a book of an atheist author, THE STRANGER by Albert Camus. I read Camus’ novel and it brought to a head all my doubts about religion. I went on to investigate and read more by Camus, especially THE PLAGUE. Recently Sean B. Carroll’s book, BRAVE GENIUS, gave me a new perspective about Camus’ friendship with Jaques Monod, the famous microbiologist.

  117. My father was a religious Jew, and my mother was also Jewish but not quite as religious. They made me go to a Hebrew speaking kindergarten where I was diagnosed as being severely retarded (apparently for not being able to speak Hebrew, a language that was not spoken in my home). I spent the first grade in a school for severely mentally handicapped and deranged children, where I was bitten and attacked with scissors on numerous occasions. When the staff at the place finally convinced my parents that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me, and that I didn’t belong there, they finally put me in a public school beginning in the 2nd grade. ‘Round about the 4th grade, my father suddenly got bitten by the Jew bug once again and began forcing me to go to an after school Hebrew school, where for four years, I learned absolutely nothing. Until the day he died, my father could not understand why I was not like my older sister (who is an orthodox Jew that eventually moved to Israel, and cranked out a lot of children). From a very young age, I was fascinated by books with pictures of dinosaurs in them and bored shitless by Bible stories, which gave me all sorts of nightmares. After the complete joke that was my Bar Mitzvah (where I basically stood at a podium and mumbled some Hebrew crap that I learned phonetically), my dimwitted sister started harassing me to join some idiotic Zionist organization that occasionally got together and did Jew crap that by this time, I wasn’t merely disinterested in, but downright hateful of. She and I have not spoken since the mid 70s, and that’s how I prefer it. To this day, every time I hear a chorus of “Avenu Shalom Alechem,” I have this compulsive urge to throw a brick in whichever direction it’s coming from, whether it be to destroy a radio, an amplifier, or to severely maim a human, if that’s the source. So far, I’ve managed to restrain myself.

  118. Hi, I was baptized and raised Roman Catholic, did confirmation and first communion, then I found out it was all lies to sustain a business, so now I’m an atheist and I deal with reality with no problem. Cheers. 🙂

  119. :/ People are crazy

    In reply to #118 by IDLERACER:

    My father was a religious Jew, and my mother was also Jewish but not quite as religious. They made me go to a Hebrew speaking kindergarten where I was diagnosed as being severely retarded (apparently for not being able to speak Hebrew, a language that was not spoken in my home). I spent the first gr…

  120. 45 years ago, near Geneva, every one seemed to believe in a catholic god but in a strange manner, I found the beliefs were bizarre as well as the grown-up playing at this. Adam story was a tale. Why did they say it wasn’t ? I was 6. I couln’t grasp the whole thing and was very sad the grown-up were lying. I must say, my mother had died one year before.

    So I tried my best to understand them. And search where I was failing. Strange feeling, when you know you are not playing the game, cause you know it is a game. And you know also, there is no way to let a stream of real exchange happen.

    Later the same situation went on with my in-laws. I couln’t even enter in a church anymore to listen to a priest. Not even for peace in the familiy. Years ago, after the aids scandal (condoms), I just couldn’t anymore. I needed to send my demission (we can do this here) to the church, as a way to tell them with dignity, it is the end between us and I want you to know it. The priest phoned home, trying to overcome his little panic attack and tried to get me back…. and he phone my husband at work ! My son went out also. He was 8. I knew it would not please my in-laws in the little village. And neither some neighbours. I sure felt out of the group. It was a hard time. I felt the discord very much.

    Mr. Hitchens book made me feel having a new friend. And with time, I choose to go for the religion- liberated people. I admit to flee as soon as religious heaviness comes around. Sometimes nevertheless, I know it is time to fight for reason, free thinking and freedom and my arsenal of sharp arguments becomes alive for a short time.

    Thank you every one here. Take care.

  121. In reply to #110 by Terry:

    I was raised a Jehovah’s Witness from birth. At a very young age I was often shown gruesome pictures of mass corpses and told that is what is in store for all non-believers. I grew up understanding reality only as the literal interpretation of the Bible depicted it. In my attempt to be a strident JW… Great post. Amazing how science and reason can wake us up. Now when we say brother it has a whole new and real meaning.

  122. I was taught Catholicism as a child, but I had no more “belief” in Christian myths than other fables, legends, or folklore I read as a child. I have been a lifelong, fearless Agnostic who doesn’t believe anyone can know if consciousness can survive beyond death. Making up stories to scare humans towards peaceful co-existence hasn’t worked, but as a child I thought religious stories were as socially benign as telling children tales of Santa Claus, Paul Bunyan and other folklore. I believed the US Constitution kept us safe from religions undermining education & civil rights in my country until the 1970’s. My hope now is that everyone who believes in individual civil liberties & our US Constitution will come out of the closet to actively defend the separation of church & State from religious extremists everywhere determined to return our world to the Dark Ages.

  123. In reply to #2 by flipdinjp:

    I guess, I was born atheist! However, mother always put my in various religious based schools…telling me the education was better. I was luckily enough to be asked to leave a Christian school in 7th grade due to me asking the bible teacher too many questions, which were never actually answered ra…

    I could never get serious answers from any leaders in religious denominations. They seem to expect children to simply regurgitate whatever they are taught until they learn never to question at all. Religious brainwashing never worked on me either. I think some children must just more resistant & confident. As an adult I’ve found that all religions play on human fears of death, rejection, isolation, etc…I understand that any age we long to be loved & accepted by others. That is why it is so important for Agnostics & Atheists to come OUT. We should support each other, our right to be FREE from religious superstitions, and our Constitutional right not to have our government taxes used to promote ANY religious teachings.

  124. In reply to #8 by gupe:

    I was brought up in a very religious German-speaking Lutheran household in South Africa. I remember regularly feeling uneasy about religion and quite disinterested in it. Seven years ago when I was 28 years old I was working on a tricky mathematical optimisation problem (I’m an engineer) and did res…
    I understand your fears of losing your family if you are honest with them. Half of my family are born-again, Evangelical Christian Fundamentalists(fanatics). To have a relationship with them, I must not discuss my opinion of religion at all, but endure their constant proselytizing on the topic. It hurts to see them brainwashing another generation of children, but I’m afraid many Atheists & Agnostic are blackmailed in this same way. Seeking out like-minded Atheists on discussion websites can at least assure you that you are not alone. Atheists & Agnostics are growing, while religious group membership is decreasing. People who live in dreams beg not to be awakened. Your adult wife may have the right to dream her life away, but she has no right to deny reality to your children. Encouraging them towards math, science & logic thinking is the right path.

  125. In reply to #9 by DarkStranger:

    I was a university student in Belfast at the time, and a committed Catholic. I was offered a chance to work in New York for the summer, and jumped at the chance. The group I was with ran a secular program of feeding the homeless, and I took part in this as it sounded like something worthwhile.

    Seei…

    Your compassion & kindness is what deluded people mistaken for GOD, while your times of self-interest, lust and discontentment are attributed to the Anti-Christ, Satan, etc… Those are ancient superstitions of primitive humans. Twenty-first century mankind is ready to accept that he controls how he treats his fellowman, responds to civil laws and authority figures. When a man accepts that he is responsible for what good & evil he allows to exist in himself, his community, his world, he finds no need to hide behind superstitions or god(s). Not everyone is strong enough to free themselves from their childhood brainwashing & wake themselves as you have done. Others may beg you not to wake them, or shatter their delusions. Even your family may resent you for your ability to face reality without superstitions, but there are more people like you than you know.

  126. Born without any beliefs, as we all are, I soon found myself in a Madrassa. At around age 5, we left that neighborhood (it was largely Islamic) and lived near a CofE type affair — which my parents belonged to. I was soon attending Sunday services with my peers, but spent half of the time there (three mind-numbing hours) playing in the church car park. Aged 9, I was introduced to Evangelical Christianity by my older sister. I too became a born-again Christian. One day, aged 14, I was attending church (dragged there against my will) when I suddenly thought to myself: here is this man, the pastor, claiming to have a Hotline to God, barking God’s Word out to us sinners; how could this be? Without knowing it at the time, it occurred to me that we, his audience, were all undergoing a kind of halo-effect reverence for the pastor. Because of his vestments, his booming voice, his apparent self-confidence, we assumed that he must be some kind of authority on God. Like a child suddenly realizing the Emperor has no clothes, I realized my pastor was a charlatan. And if he was a charlatan, then, generalizing the thought, so too must God be. My end of faith followed quickly after that day.

  127. @rdfs I was raised in the Lutheran Church, Western Synod. The Pastor, Byron Nelson (not the golfer,) wrote a book trying to disprove evolution and that was enough for me, at age 13 I became an atheist.
    jjohnson1253 (@hotmail.com). Feb 18, 2014

  128. I was raised Catholic by a mentally ill and severely fanatically religious mother. I swallowed it all hook, line & sinker. I remember being beaten with a wooden block by my mother at age five for “playing doctor” with a neighbor girl across the street. I never cried so hard and so long at any other time in my life. I remember going to the museum of natural history on a school field trip in the 6th grade and being mortified by all the talk of evolution.
    I can identify four steps to my becoming an Atheist:
    1) When I had to study psychology in college–in 1986–the psych 101 chapter on learning is what got me to understand how I was indoctrinated. Understanding REM sleep and dreams showed me that religion is tool of power and treachery, based on idiocy and ignorance, as much of the prophecies were “Revealed” in dreams. I was no longer Catholic, but I think I was then a Deist.
    2) Several years later—in 2007–I stumbled across “The Blind Watchmaker” and for the first time in my life I understood that all life is related. I then read all of Richard’s books as well as some by Dennett, Harris, Hitchens & others.
    3) I then for the first time in my life, in my 40s, took the time to read the Bible. I was horrified by the mythology of what is the basis, the foundation, for Judea/Christian belief. But the final nail fell when: 4) I read the god Delusion. After that I had no more feelings of some celestial being with all the answers that I would some day realize after death.
    This all took many years, and I view it as a kind of reworking my roots from the boulder that had been placed in the way of my taproot in the form of religious indoctrination. That boulder no longer directly touches my roots, but the pain and suffering and scars it caused will never be forgotten.
    If I could change one thing in my life, it would be to read The Selfish Gene when it was published in 1976, instead of discovering it over 30 years later.

  129. Figured it out when I was 8, didn’t think about it again till I was almost 20, when I heard about creationism trying to be taught in Dover, Pennsylvania. I told my dad “I’m an Atheist” he responded “So am I” we subsequently high-fived. After a moment he said “Don’t tell your Mother” I nodded.

  130. Hello

    Last week I contemplated answering the question of week (which religion did you convert from) I think the suffix(( if any))should
    have been added.as I have never seen any evidence that religion is true.(I know some people say atheism is a religion)

    I do have little tale to tell which may be of interest.

    I am 79 years old but I remember vividly when I questioned the fairy tales I had been told I can tell you nearly to the minute 14 November 1940 that about 2 am.How do I remember that ? because that was the night Coventry bombed.All the family were in the front bedroom where we saw the fires burning over the city. Then came moment that i started on my journey to being a bright as Richard suggests we should call ourselves.

    This is how it happened. My mother then said let us pray I was that we win this war. Hey Up! wern”t the germans praying for the same thing,WHY SHOULD HE FAVOUR US Looking back this I see as a significant point in my life as it is the first .time I can remember questioning things.I was,5yrs 6 months old . Now thinking about this, at this age I must have been subjected to to brain washing, indoctrinisation,or radiclisation, whatever you want to call it from people of the christian faith.Luckily I think I stopped it at this point(Or at least slowed it down.)

    Luck then favoured me as I gained a scolarship to the nearest Grammar school.Wellingboro.The science teachers were fabulous,I only wish could thank them but unfortunately they are no longer with us.With the knowledge they gave me and the facts that I gleaned from science books I was a convinced atheist at 15 (Of course I now know that that I can only be a 99=99999999999999% non believer thanks to Richard. As the year was 1950 I can imagine Richard down the road at Oundle in his short trousers.As you can see I had no faith at this time to convert from .Of coarse Richard is right you cannot be a christian child or a moslem child ect .At this time I would like to say that Richard had no influence on me becoming an atheist(I am not keen on this word as it has baggage behind it like infidel)

    I am sorry this letter is all about but it seems it is the only way I could answer it . As the question was asked it was only polite to answer it.

    Post script
    I would like to add that Richard is my hero.I have read most his books My favorite is River out Eden it suits my intelligence level. What do I get out his books,extra understanding and convincing me I have a logical and healthy mind.This does wonders to my self esteem Thank you Richard

    Yours J homan

  131. I was raised in the Protestant religion but at 12 years old I just couldn’t accept the ridiculous stories I was being told in Sunday school as fact. It sounded just like folk lore to me as most of the stories would be impossible without breaking the fixed laws of physics. Once I left my parents house I never went to any church again. I have tried to argue against religions to religious people but it seems their minds are made up with no chances of ever changing them. You just can’t win an arguement with an idiot.

    Steve in Dunlap California

  132. I was born into a not-very-religious Jewish family. I can pinpoint to the date my deconversion began: Jan. 14, 1962. I was a devout admirer of TV comedian Ernie Kovacs, one of the great geniuses of the entertainment media. (For anyone who doesn’t know about him, check out his lengthy Wikipedia entry.) As a very little kid, I even saw him perform live once on his morning show in Philadelphia.

    In the wee morning hours of Jan 13, he was driving home from a party in Los Angeles when his car hit a power pole and he was killed almost instantly. When I heard about it, I was devastated. I was depressed all day, and when I was going to sleep that night I cried and prayed for god to take me instead and bring Kovacs back, or at least transfer his genius into me so that I could somehow continue his work. Neither of those things happened; although I am a writer, no one, especially me, has ever claimed I approached his level of talent. I started deciding that if god couldn’t perform that one little favor, for which I prayed with such heartfelt conviction, what good was he? Over the years my atheism became more formal and intellectually based, but that was where it started.

  133. There are so many stories and mine will probably be buried, but it has become important to me that I want to tell it anyway.

    I am Jewish and went to a religious school where we studied torah and gomorroh for two hours everyday. I started to think that all the rituals didn’t make sense and slowly lost interest.

    I am 53 now. A few months ago I heard Sam Harris interviewed by Joe Rogan and he made so much sense. Everything he said was obvious to me but it was just nice to hear some one say things that I related to. I am now an active internet atheist but still a closeted atheist, as it would distress my father if he knew. Sid isn’t my real name.

  134. Believe it or not it was the goofy Roman Catholic Church with their Pope and his Pope mobile and other ridiculous customs that was a driving force in my becoming an atheist. When I was a 12 year old kid and was told the bible was “The Word of God” I wondered how on earth it could be when it was written by ordinary (and very ignorant) desert dwellers over a 1000 year time span. And pictures showing humans (and naked babies) with feathered wings sticking out of their backs hovering above the ground didn’t make any sense. And neither did the many pictures of Jesus Christ when nobody had ever painted him. And Jesus Christ’s coming back to life after being killed DEAD. And the many impossible stories that defied the laws of physics. Then there were the so-called “prayer chains” and the act of kneeling and closing eyes to pray and believing a ghost made a man from a handful of dirt and a woman from one of man’s ribs. The whole entire thing reeked of an ignorant Hebrew’s vivid imagination after sitting around a campfire fueled with dried camel dung.

    Steve Westbrook
    Dunlap, California

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