Were you always one or were you once a believer and how did you become atheist?  

I know this is a common, rather overdone question, but what I want to know is what was the turning point for you if you were once a believer?  

I was never a strong believer, more like a follower. The bible had no real influence on me; I always felt it was mostly symbolic, anyway.   Nevertheless,   I had the programming.   God was a part of my psyche.   I spoke to him all day long.   it was like having an invisible friend who was always there.

Then my daughter came home from college and began to speak to me about her atheism.   We had open discussions.   I examined my own beliefs and began to realize that they were based only upon what had  been taught to me and tried to figure out why I was so reluctant to challenge them.   I couldn't let go of god but I didn't know why.  

The turning point for me was realizing that guilt was the only thing that kept me believing.   I was brought up to fear hell, brought up to fear god's wrath. My daughter explained to me that it was a built in, practically fool proof  system of keeping people in the fold.   If you refuse to open your eyes out of fear,  you can never escape.  Intellectually, I knew she was right but letting go was still difficult.   I continued to investigate the sources of my beliefs; looking for some concrete reasons for it to be true, beyond what the nuns taught me as a child.   I could find nothing substantial.   I finally decided to reject the belief despite the frightening feelings that brought with it.   It was difficult at first and I felt lost and abandoned, but as time went on, I was ok with it.   Now I feel more than ok, I feel like a weight has been removed from my shoulders.

 I look back and it seems incredible that I ever believed all that nonsense in the first place.   I remember questioning as a child and then having to try to rationalize what they told me to make it work.   Even when it didn't, I took it in and accepted it, until the lie became "truth".   Then I grew up and did the same to my children.  

 It took my oldest to have the nerve break the chain.  I am very proud of her for trusting her own thinking and questioning authority.   She founded the atheist club in her university and its going strong for five years now with many members.  

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This is a great story! Seems so outside the typical deconversion that your daughter helped change your way of thinking.

There is a group where many of us have shared our deconversion stories and journeys, you might find interesting if you wanted to read a lot of other experiences: Coming Out Godless: What's Your Story?
I went through the whole xtianity process as child right up to becoming a parent and christening my two eldest kids but during this time I was skeptical and argumentative and did a lot of reading about all types of religions. I also argued with the dominees (priests: Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa) and eventually became agnostic. Then I started to write a novel called "Moses was a Liar" That was not the original name but as my in-depth research started unearthing all the myths and plain inconsistencies and falsehoods of all religions, I became atheist and named the book. Then my 5-year old grandson was fatally injured when he jumped off my Land Rover which I was driving at the time to open a farm gate for his granpa: We had over a million people world-wide praying for him but he died 10 days later. I raved and screamed at God (my wife's a Christian) and thought he was trying to punish me but it became crystal clear and confirmed my earlier conclusions...THERE IS NO GOD...PERIOD! This encouraged me to finish my book and four years later it saw the light and was published in New York.
Brian, I can't imagine the pain you must have endured with that awful accident. My heart goes out to you. I would like to read your book and will look for it.

Everybody seems to remember the exact moment that the cognitive dissonance kicked in and the discomfort it brought. I had many moments but this thread just made me remember one that stood out. I was making my holy communion and asked a priest what happens when you miss mass and his answer was plain and simple....hell. And he acted like it was unforgivable. Well,I think I subconsciously figured that if god was going to reject me at 10 years old without even giving me a proper chance, I am pretty much going to reject him too. I went along but I was never enthusiastic after that.

I do remember when my kids were small, trying to teach RE to first graders and struggling with their questions as well. When you're getting stumped by a first grader, you should know something is wrong, right there. Still, it took me another 15 years to get it right and only after I was given permission by my own kid (who was in that first grade class way back when) to just admit to myself that I never really believed. Kind of ironic. I must have been a crappy teacher, lol.
My parents are catholic and dragged me along to church in the first few years of my life.

I never believed any of it and i let my parents know that openly.
At the age of 12 i finally got my courage together and told my parents i would never step a foot inside a church because it was all a lie.

My parents tried to persuade me, but gave up after a very short period, letting me free to believe what i want too...

Thanks parents... !
When I was 10, I asked my mom why boys had nipples. She reminded me of the story about a man and his rib woman lady friend who were made in "His image" which not only creeped me out but didn't answer my question at all. I responded by asking why God had nipples and she told me to stop asking questions. But then a snake convinced me to ignore her and take a bite from the tree of knowledge anyway. The science apple told me all about evolution, human development, and how fetuses start with a single template. When testosterone kicks in, girlish parts become boyish parts but this happens after nipples have already developed. I was sold. Science > Religion. I tried to present this evidence to my family but it didn't go over well. My entire family is composed of young earth creationists. It was at that moment I realized how insane religion actually is.

I was the first in my family to stop going to church, and my paternal line goes straight back to one of the Mormon apostles (HA!) I'd completely lost my faith by 12. Shortly after that, I met a smartass atheist friend who blew my mind with his logic and reason. I was a full blown skeptic and smartass by 14, but remained incredibly open-minded throughout my teens and 20's and avoided labeling myself anything other than a truth seeker. Though I am one of those "spiritual atheists" so many on this site seem to oppose, I guess according to the general definition of atheism as lack of belief in a deity, I've been one since I can remember.

It's wonderful that your daughter helped you examine your own beliefs. Last year, my 11 year old daughter and I had a discussion about religion and her comfortable use of the word atheist when referring to herself made me question why I've avoided the term for so long. I've since embraced it and that's what led me here. I'm now totally addicted to the intellectual stimulation on this site.
Isn't it ironic that we teach our children so well that they eventually reverse roles and teach us?
Another point of interest is "Did Adam and Eve have belly buttons?"
I say no- since they were biblically the first persons.
A literalist became angry at me for mentioning that.
"Did Adam and Eve have belly buttons?" is usually my first response when I find out I'm talking to a creationist.

It's the only thing I can think to say to make the moment equally comical for them.
I evolved. :)
Although you're more open-minded than many, she was also bold to bring it up with you. Call me a coward, but I've avoided the conversation with my own parents because I know it wouldn't change anything...other than I'd be on the receiving end of a lot more pointless worrying, praying, and passive-aggressive jabs. (Besides, I've taken enough religious poison to last me the rest of my life. I'm no "militant" and am happy to deal with the finer points of fairies as rarely as possible.)

But as I was saying, she deserves even more props for speaking up and having the courage to hold up the mirror for others and not just herself.
I was indoctrinated in to a multi-denominational family and I was very devoted Baptist. Although I questioned the Bible, I never thought to question God. After I joined the Navy I was exposed to a wide variety of philosophical and theological concepts. I began reading everything I could get my hands on and began questioning my basic beliefs.
Some Christian on my ship kept asking me to go to church with him, so one day I accepted. That day I realized I didn’t believe any more. I felt this chasm between me and the thumpers who appeared to me to be deluded and somewhat blind.
I claimed agnosticism for a while as I wanted to be impartial and open to evidence, but it was ignorance to the specificity of the agnostic label.
It has been so liberating to be free from the fear of religion for over 20 years now.


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