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.