Questioning Young

(Via Matt)

So, I will start off on a funny note. When I was 7 and I was a fully indoctrinated christian, I read the bible cover to cover. I actually ended up stopping 3 book in. I was of course at Leviticus (Since then I have read it cover to cover for educational value). Specifically Leviticus 11:12.
I decided I liked squid better than I liked God. This is when I began to question religion. In my naivety I asked my Sunday school leader If I would go to hell because I like squid. Naturally, she had no idea what I was talking about. I showed her the verse and she said no, because Jesus died for me. To this day I wish the question I had asked was 'Why does God hate squid?'. I went on with my life with a little less trust in religion.

So now on to when I was a bit older and could make these serious decisions for myself. The setting now is Middle school biology. Of course here is where many people could be expected to turn atheist if they had any doubt in religion. I learned about evolution. In middle school (and high school) I was that scholarly type, always doing more research than was necessary.
So I went and read The Origin of the Species. This is when I really became an atheist (Though a closet case). I was at that time in a youth christian organization (YoungLife). I asked my leaders about evolution and how it pertained to religion. I wish I could remember their response, but I do remember it was snide. That really made me shy away from religion. Unfortunately, that also made me want to keep it a secret.

It stayed like that for awhile. I am 19 now. I am no longer a closet case after reading The God Delusion and learning about reasons not to keep it hidden. So one of my steps of course is to post here. I am a proud Atheist!

Too Much of a "Good" Thing

(Via Derek)

I was never really "rooted" in a church for most of my life, but my family, in no uncertain terms, subscribed to the Christian tenements. It went so far as to my attending a private Christian academy for 5th and 6th grade, a very critical stage in social development, I'd say.

Note, however, that we were not actively attending church. It was always the boring thing we had to wake up on Sunday to go to and carry out the rituals and all that jazz. Even while I was at this Christian school, I slept in on Sundays.

When I was in 7th grade, my mom found a church home and immediately dragged us along with her. She's still happy there, now an ordained minister of two years, and if it gives her justification to carry on, good, she's my mother and I love her as much as a son is entitled to love his mother.

Throughout high school my faith slipped more and more, as I befriended more rational thinkers and shirked on my devotion to church more every week.

Then my brother told me in no uncertain terms he considered himself agnostic (about two years ago, when I was a senior in high school), and I started actively resenting church: stopped responding (i.e. - no talking, singing, etc. in response to a church figure unless it was one-on-one direct contact), refused/excused my way out of any function I could, started to let my personal KJV/Amplified parallel bible gather dust on my dresser in my room. I'm convinced that thing has now sat on my dresser for a good three years solid without being opened, much less touched.

I then moved off to college, far from my Bible belt origins, into New York, to a science and engineering school, of all places. Religion was still all around me, it seemed: several of my friends are devout Christians and still attend service every Sunday, but my impetus to go (my mother) was gone, and so was the leash that religion seemed to hold on me. But it took one of my good friends to say those empowering words to me: “I'm an atheist.” And from there on I finally had a reference, a person to turn to who was comfortable in the beliefs I so longed to accept as my own.

Of all the things that finally pushed me to make the leap from agnostic/“a-religious” as I put it to calling myself an atheist, it was adding StumbleUpon and turning on “Atheism/Agnosticism” to my interests (including finding this site). IMMEDIATELY, the answers were there, the support was there, the PEOPLE were there. It wasn't just me. I wasn't just going crazy, the science that I've devoted my life to studying is actually rational, and just because I have more trust in that than an imaginary deity does not make me any less of a human being.

I am moral, despite what most people would think upon first meeting me (I'm a college student, so morality is a bit bent for my demographic regardless). I think that there are some people who will never in the bottom of their soul ever renounce their beliefs, and to you I say “More power to you, whatever helps you sleep at night.” The universe is a beautiful place, I just like to watch the equations that define it unfold rather than thinking some magic words created the Earth and the “Heavens”.

Never a Believer

(Via Rob)

My story is rather short, since I was never indoctrinated and was never made to attend church I never received the full effect of religion. I am grateful my parents were never church goes, even though my grandparents were, for some reason we never attended church.

My mother said that we were supposed to be Baptist, but even as a wee lad I do not recall ever going to church. While growing up, my religious aunt would take me along with my cousins to church functions when I stayed over. But that was not on a regular bases and it was never for regular service.

As I write this, the more I think about it, the question comes to mind, why didn't my mother send me to church? I need to ask her this, I am sure there has to be an underlying reason for it. But none-the-less, I am thankful she did not send be church, what kind of mindless drone would I have become if she did?

Even though I never was indoctrinated with the poison of christiandom, my friends all seemed to have some sort of 'religiousness'. They were not hardcore or anything and never professed it really, but it came to that I had to have 'belief' in something dogmatic. During high school I did goto a couple of church services with a friend or two, one was Catholic and the other was just general christian something or another, I do not really remember simply because I was just not interested whats-so-ever.

Anyway over the years a pondered over the superstitious and what it might mean to me. My Mother even stated that "I never believed in that kind of stuff." Which, for as long as I can remember, has been my entire life. For the longest time I too the Agnostic route, The 'I'm o scared to make a decision' position. Simply for that very reason, but also I was not to clear on what 'Atheist' actually meant. It was not something, that at the time, I was familiar with. I was still trying to find a spot for in the religious world, much to my luck I never found one.

Religion has always appeared to be phony and wants you to submit to something that they can not prove to you exist. 'Come and pray to our invisible friends' and while your at it 'give us some cash.' A couple of years ago I made a friend that was reading about Satanism, I started to read about from this site and that site, after awhile of reading into it I hit a wall....The wall of reality. At the same time I was also dabbling in Wicca, something that another friend was into. It's funny that Satanism lead me to becoming an Atheist, but what ever works.

I did not practice any of it, but just the reading of it made something come together in my mind. I realized that it is all rubbish, all religions are nothing more then something for some one else to have power over you. To mislead you into believing none sense, rather then the reality of just how the world and the universe works. That to me is lying.

Now, I am a very vocal Atheist and if a religious person was to question me about this, I would not with hold anything. I am not shy about it either, I say I am an Atheist without seconded thought, like telling someone my name. Once you make your stand and not let the religious push you around, they tend to leave you alone. But you have to have the fortitude to do so, it's not as scary as you might think.

So come out and stay out.

"Gods don't kill people, people with Gods kill people."

From fundy to freethinker

(Via Kathleen)

I grew up in the northeastern U.S. and my parents converted to a fundamentalist sect of Christianity when I was about five. Heavily indoctrinated from an early age, I thought I too was saved and heaven bound. I was so intense as a young child that I proudly became the youngest child to be Baptized in my church, at the age of 7. It wasn't easy to convince the pastor that I understood the Christian teachings and wanted to demonstrate my public admission of faith by Baptism.

As I grew into a teen, I remained faithful but not as involved with my beliefs. Still, at the insistence of my parents, I spent my Sundays in church from early morning to late evening. It became quite a burden to a teen that had discovered more interesting things in the secular world. Despite this, I maintained my strong beliefs throughout my teen years.

When it was time to think about college, I was given the choice of attending one of several conservative Christian colleges. I don't remember why I chose Gordon College in Wenham, Ma. but it was during those early days in school that I suddenly realized my childhood religion was not only disturbing but quite a fantastic stretch of reality. Oddly enough being indoctrinated constantly helped me see how incredible the Christian claims were when compared to the lack of evidence. I left college after a brief illness during the second semester an ultra liberal Christian with agnostic leanings. The truth is after losing my faith, I could barely stand being in an atmosphere that stifled freethought.

During the next decade, I returned to school, survived a nine year unhappy marriage, gave birth to my only son and eventually became a professional registered nurse. I continued to seek and investigate religion with the attitude that my search would lead me to the truth. I was an agnostic with theistic leanings during this time. One day when I was about 28, I had what can only be described as a moment of enlightenment. I suddenly realized that my search for God had been in vain as there is nothing supernatural about the universe. I felt both relief and peace. That was thirty years ago and I continue to live a happy god free life.

I've always been very open and usually pleasant about my atheism at work and among theistic friends. I have no desire to convert or debate as I believe it's best to allow and encourage people to investigate truth for themselves, while answering questions honestly. I am currently enjoying 28 years of a happy marriage to a fellow atheist and am involved in several organized atheist groups. These groups have helped me feel far less isolated living in the heart of southern U.S. In fact, I often forget that I live in a place heavily populated by the same type of people that I knew at my childhood church.

I don't regret my childhood experiences. They have only made me stronger and more perhaps more tolerant towards those that still believe. I've tried the aggressive atheist persona but it's not who I am. I'm much happier and effective as the tolerant atheist who tries to be an example of how morally positive and satisfying life can be without religion.