So I 'came out' about my atheism recently to my parents, and they took it extremely well (I don't think they were that surprised, really), but the first question they asked me was "When did you know?". And I honestly just said some really vague answer. I can't remember a specific moment when I said 'Aha! I get it! I'm an atheist!'. For me, it was definitely a slow and deliberate process leading to atheism. But I was curious as to how others on T/A came to be atheist (this is assuming the majority of you were raised in religious households). Did anyone have an 'Eureka' moment, or has it been a process for you guys, too? I'm just curious; I don't personally know any other atheists, so my knowledge is pretty limited in this area.
I think this may have been covered in another discussion already, so I apologize if it's redundant. Thanks! :)
No 'Aha!' moment. My parents used to make me say prayers before bed, but other than that we never really spoke about religion at all. So eventually, I stopped saying bedtime prayers and forgot about god completely until middle school, where suddenly everyone seemed to care about what my religious beliefs were. Fortunately by then I knew how to think for myself, and I never really believed anything my friends said about god or the bible (or the book of mormon, since I'm from Utah).
This sounds a lot like the way I remember coming to the conclusion of atheism. My parents would take me to church every once and a while, but I never really considered it something anyone took seriously. And then I began to learn and think more and more, and people began to talk about religion more and more. And it just became clear to me that there probably is no God.
And my heartfelt sympathies go out to you. I can't imagine living around Mormons. ;)
I think it's a slow process for almost everyone, but I actually did have an "aha!" moment anyway. As my slow process progressed, the strands tying me to religious belief were cut one by one until there was only one thing left. I still held on to Intelligent Design. I believed in it and couldn't let go of religion because of that belief. One day, I read something that argued against ID. A simple argument that snapped that least thread of belief and was my "aha!" moment.
I didn't have a "aha" moment where I knew I was an atheist...I had an "aha" moment when I found the word "atheist". This happened at age 6...quite by accident. Two adults were having a heated discussion were one of them said "...never want to talk to a f**cking atheist again. Not believe in God?!..." I grabbed a dictionary as soon as I got home and yep, there it was in black and white. I didn't understand the real impact of accepting that's what I was at 6...that didn't happen until I was 13.
You see, I never had a moment in my life where I truly believed any of the christian stories. To me they had the same validity as all the other stories I was hearing as a child...easter bunny, santa, superman (uh, maybe I believed this one a little more than the others). I figured out they weren't real before my parents told me. I just lumped all the god stuff into the same bucket. I was an army brat and my family attended generic protestant services at whatever base we were at. I hated going, as it seemed a complete waste of time. I would pass the time watching people fall asleep or being total hypocrites to what the supposed messaged was. Luckily my parents let me decide what I wanted to do at age 13. It took me a picosecond to respond that there was not going to be any more religious services for me.
I never gave much thought about religion early on; but my convictions against it began when I first read 'Dialogue between a Priest and a Dying Man' by The Marquis de Sade [one of the best philosophers you'll ever read if you skip the porn sections-- although there is much wisdom there, too].
"DYING MAN - At proving to you that the world and all therein may be what it is and as
you see it to be, without any wise and reasoning cause directing it, and that natural effects
must have natural causes: natural causes sufficing, there is no need to invent any such
unnatural ones as your god who himself, as I have told you already, would require to be
explained and who would at the same time be the explanation of nothing; and that once ‘tis
plain your god is superfluous, he is perfectly useless; that what is useless would greatly
appear to be imaginary only, null and therefore non-existent; thus, to conclude that your god
is a fiction I need no other argument than that which furnishes me the certitude of his
No "Aha!" moment for me. It was a gradual process. As far back as I remember I was questioning religion. Mostly with the intent of understanding it better. It was when I was about 9 that I started really having the kind of doubts that have a tendency to lead one toward atheism. I was probably around 11 years old when I realized that I don't really believe in any of the religion stuff god included and stopped trying to believe in any of it. I was pretty apathetic for a while. At 15 I discovered what deism was and tried that out for size. It barely took me year to realize how useless deism was and start to call myself an atheist. I've been atheist ever since.
No a-ha! moment for me either. It was a slow process. At first, a dose of logic and reason caused me to have questions with what I was being told to believe. This lead to educating myself or both Catholicism and also science. It took years, but I eventually felt sound in believing that Gods are of the same stuff of Santa and Super-Man. I was actually an Atheist before I even knew it myself, though. For a while, I didn't believe in God but didn't know there was a term for that fact. It wasn't until I met a fellow non-believer that I realized that I had been an Atheist for a few years already. Silly me just didn't know the word for it until then.
I only had an AHA moment when I learned what an atheist was. In reality I was never really religious since I always questioned everything. I did believe in a god for a while but after i finished sunday school I doubt even more and while looking on the web I came acrossed the word atheist and it struck me to know that word represented me as an individual.
Wow. The level of response on t/a is awesome. Reading these, I've noticed a lot of similarities. It seems a lot of us (myself included, I now realize) knew at an early age that God was fictitious but may have just lacked the language to express that nonbelief. I think that's really cool. And I'm glad to know I'm not the only one for whom no specific moment of 'conversion' exists. Seems like that is a common theme also. This has been a really helpful thread so far.
Thanks again for the responses, guys! :)
The thing I remember is one day I asked my parents: "How do we know that the American Indians' gods weren't real but we think our god is real?"
I think I'd already been having a lot of issues with this god belief for a long time (or for ever) before that, but having formulated this question really put the problem into a good perspective for me. I can't remember if that was elementary school or middle school.
And I'm not sure this was before or after I'd debunked the Tooth Fairy by one time placing a tooth beneath my pillow without previously announcing to my parents that it had fallen out.
But it was still some time before I was comfortable with the "atheist" label due to the bad reputation it had. Before that I tried to see if I could wrap my mind around labels like agnostic, spiritual, or other wiggle-word labels, or if I could believe in a "god" that was really just the universe itself. But of course none of that worked.