How old were you when you started to question religion? How old were you when you became an Atheist (if you are one)? If you don't consider yourself an Atheist, What do you consider yourself and why? Did anything in particular happen to you or someone you love that made you question things?

I started to question things at around the age of 12 but I didn't totally quit going to church and calling myself a Christian until I was about 16 years old. I'm just curious to know your stories or anything else you wanna share.

Views: 16

Comment by Michael R on April 22, 2011 at 4:52pm
I never really accepted religion as real (even as a young child) so I never was a Christian. My parents let me decide whether I wanted to go to church at age 13 and guess what the answer was?  No more church for me!
Comment by Ethan Levy on April 22, 2011 at 4:56pm
My parents are from two different religions my mom is christian & my pops is a catholic, so i never went to church or anything but it must have been around 10 yrs ago, i was 11. The stories the bible had where complete bs to me the story about a big fish eating a man, but he was alive.. then i questioned why is "jesus" "real" & not thor or zeus what's the difference how do you know they aren't real? but at the time i didn't know there was a word for non-believers until i was in 8th grade, i heard someone say the word atheist i was like "what's that?" they explained & finally i had a title to call myself, then later on i discovered & fell in love with science which explained a ton about everything, space, animals evolution etc.. now i had 3 reasons why religion was just a bunch of dumb stories.
Comment by Heather Spoonheim on April 22, 2011 at 5:53pm
Similar to Jesse, I came from two religions as well. The conflicting dogmas led to me deciding at age 11 that I needed to read the bible. I didn't finish reading it until I was almost 14 and by that time I was no longer a theist, but I think I still kind of believed Jesus was part of god or something and I definitely thought there was a god.  Anyway, I evolved more into a deist, eventually an agnostic, and after a second read through of the bible and checking out some other religions far more casually I became an Atheist in my early 20's.
Comment by SilverAgatka on April 22, 2011 at 5:58pm

Well... I answered this question on Nexus and then expanded in a facebook note. I've just copy&pasted it in here. If you have few minutes, please read. Hope I won't bore you senselessly.

 

I was born atheist, just like all of us are. It's just that attempts to convert me didn't work very well.

Growing up in Catholic-mad Poland, confronted with all-present religion... despite that for most of my childhood I'd define myself as Agnostic.

The only person form my family to have ever taken me church for worship was one of my aunts. I was incredibly bored. Before this  I'd only go churches to look at the artwork. During service I was not allowed it. What?! I had to sit in one place? Not even sit... it was sit, stand up, knee, stand up, sit, standup, knee, knee... over and over again! I couldn't believe this was what people do every Sunday! I could not understand the point. Why go church when you can play Lego instead? I don't think my aunt managed to drag me there ever again. Then I went to school.

In Poland kids have religion lessons (parents can opt-out but nobody did, my mum decided I should go because she didn't want me to get bullied). I went for first few lessons until we were asked to "draw the world". We were expected to pretty much draw heaven, below it sky, then humans on earth, ground and hell with devils below it. Pretty straight-forward? It didn't make much sense to me. I drew a bit of cosmos with stars planets, moons and all that. to make it more interesting I added a flying saucer. I was given an F. I was furious. It was a very pretty picture! Who was that nun to tell me UFO's don't exist? We can't know this, can we?

This was it for me. From that day I would not go to Catholicism, I'd hang around the school yard waiting for next lesson instead. It was decided I wasn't "religiously mature" enough and so from following year I was made to go to religion lessons with kids from the year below. I didn't really take all that mumbo-jumbo seriously until the year of 1st communion I decided to give it a go. I'd pray morning, night and before every meal. Sometimes I'd even go church. I made myself believe. But then came the celebrated 1st communion.... It was a huge let-down. How? Well, I was raised in a very artistic, bohemian home. My mother believed in the freedom of information and didn't prevent me from any whatsoever (apart from porn and the Old Testament, she feared I might take it seriously, so we only had New Testament at home). As a result I was aware of existence of LSD and read about its effects. At church they the way they described taking first communion made me think it was going to be pretty much like LSD (yes, I really believed that!), that I'd REALLY feel Jesus in my heart. If God exists surely it wouldn't be hard for him to make this experience something so special???

I took the First Communion and... it turned out God didn't exist and it was all a big scam!

 What a let down! I felt betrayed, it hurt. I was truly heartbroken. I really wanted to confide in someone but thought nobody would understand. They may even accuse me of being tempted by Satan! I kept it a secret. I didn't tell my own non-religious mother until I was in my twenties.

Catholic church did not manage to brainwash me... apart from one "little" thing. Being receptively told that faith is a virtue I did actually gain a kind of reverence for the concept. For most of my life I felt a sort of jealousy towards people of faith. In a way I wished I wasn't this rational and could (not just try to make myself but) actually believe. Religious people seemed to do only good things in the name of their gods. The bad stuff? It was the deluded crazies. Or so I thought...

In my teenage years I became interested in Islam as of all religions I knew of it made most sense to me. Its god was not an old bearded man, more like a force. Unlike in Christianity women had some rights, damn, they could even divorce a bad husband and marry someone else! The problem was... Muslims didn't make sense at all, I did not want to be associated with that. Besides, Islam is a one-way-street. Once you go for it, there's no going back. You get killed if you change your mind. What if Islam was wrong? I didn't fancy getting killed by some fanatic over a mix-up. I didn't convert.

It was no church for me until in London, late 2003. I was going though a really tough time and someone from that church helped me. I decided to give it a go. It was a gospel church, I was the only non-black person there and it was so much more fun that Catholic bullshit I was used to. All singing and being joyful! They gave me a Bible- and they shouldn't have if they wanted me to stay.

I started to read and was like WTF?!?!?! I was always all about human rights, gender and racial equality and this book was FIRMLY AGAINST all that!!! I quickly went back to my proud Agnostic/closeted Atheist self.

 

Then in 2008 I read The God Delusion and went back to how I was born, only very loud&proud about it. What a bliss!

 

Comment by Scarlette Blues on April 22, 2011 at 6:01pm
I was a Bible Thumper until I was about 16 years old. Then, I started to question faith, prayer and all that other silly stuff that comes with religion. I dabbled in Wicca but found it no different from Christianity..become agnostic...researched and educated myself...became an atheist around the age of 19. I'll be 24 this year. :)
Comment by Ethan Levy on April 22, 2011 at 7:23pm
I was born atheist, just like all of us are. It's just that attempts to convert me didn't work very well.
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Comment by Discern on April 22, 2011 at 7:53pm

It might be easier for some who have parents of differing religions, or parents that aren't hardcore about their beliefs.....at least that opens up the door to wonder whether their beliefs are actually for you. I grew up in a fundamentalist pentecostal church. There are no questions and no 'liberal' christians. It's Jesus' way or the highway, and if you question anything, you're being influenced by Satan and you're in danger of falling away from God.

 

The proof of God is backed up with speaking in tongues (if God's not real, then how does that happen?), and miracle crusades where people are always being healed. So you see that as a kid and you KNOW God is real, and every other religion is wrong.

 

Thankfully, my church was a spiritually abusive church which demanded high levels of commitment, you were to obey the pastor no matter what, you were cursed if you didn't give money, and you were discouraged from having a real career when you should be preparing yourself to be a pastor to "go into all the world and preach the gospel".

I say "thankfully" it was abusive because it was the abuse that finally got me questioning that church and how it didn't line up with the New Testament. Once I finally got out (at age 28) and was going to another church, I wanted to get "back to Jesus" and understand REAL christianity. But the more I studied, the more problems I found. The last straw for me was studying hell and finding that the bible supported both positions: yes there's a hell (Matt 25:41,46), and no there's not (no warning of eternal torment in the Old Testament or book of Acts). Then I found out that a lot of the prophecies in the New Testament of Jesus being the Messiah were not actual prophecies at all, or they're very flimsy at best. Some 'prophecies' didn't even exist in the Old Testament! (Matt 2:23)

 

So that was it. The cognitive dissonance was too much and I started to see through all the garbage. That was two years after I left the abusive church. I'd consider myself agnostic. I don't believe in Bible God or any other religion's god - because I figure if that god actually wanted to be known he would've made himself real to everyone and not just a select group of people following their own ancient book of contradictions.

 

But I can't go as far as saying there's definitely no god at all. I don't know that. Earth is such an anomaly in space, I find it very hard to believe we just got lucky and started evolving, out of millions of other inhabitable moons and planets. I guess if there is a god, he's extremely hands-off.

 

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on April 22, 2011 at 8:07pm
Our paths were quite similar, Discern, other than I had two indoctrinations.  That lead to the 'abuse' that made it impossible for me to rationalize Christianity.  I had a deistic phase, which is where I think you are now.  My views have evolved a lot since then (not implying improved, just moved along), and now I would ask what even makes this 'hands-off god' a god at all.
Comment by Brandon Cure on April 22, 2011 at 10:20pm

Well how long do you have? lol. I was raised as a Luthern. I was brainwashed with kindness. When I was a kid being a christian was just what eveyone was. I never really had a reason to question. When I was 12 a family moved into my small town that was mormon. I became friends with them and they were mocked and laughed at behind closed doors. This I think was my first inclination that something was wrong with religion, because these were great people and there was no reason to make fun. Then when I got into high school some friends of mine started to point out the questions that we all know, such as the contradictions in the bible, how can there be only one right religion. Well I started getting my answers from all the wrong places. The youth pasters were giving me all the shit that you get from the kirk camron's and ken hovind's. Like an idoit I just took it and with a vengence. Also when I was 18 my dad died of werid circumstances. So I suppose I didn't want the truth I wanted the beauty. I did bounce around in all things woo till I read Richard Dawkins "The God Delustion". As Dawkins put it "I didn't know I could". About that time I found out about the skeptical movement and everything just fell into place. Christipher Hitchens and Sam Harrison sealed everything for me.

Yes I'm an atheist. Just took me way to long to find out the truth.

Comment by Akshay Bist on April 22, 2011 at 10:23pm

I was 7 or 8 when I first started questioning religion. I was wondering how the universe formed(at that time I hadn't learned about the big bang theory) & thought if the gods, who live in the sky, created us then who created them? Maybe they had another sky above them & had their own god & those gods had their own gods & so on. It was pretty hard to swallow for 2 reasons - 1) why were we praying to the gods we were praying to when there were clearly other gods higher up in the chain, and 2) how come we were the lowest in the chain? Shouldn't we be gods to someone else, maybe we were, but I didn't feel like a god, so I started losing my belief in religion.

The first time I said it out loud was when I was 9 1/2 & was having an argument with my sister & she said something about god & I said I don't believe in god.

My atheism really came out when I was 10 & my classmate/best friend was also an atheist. We made fun of religion together, one really funny thing I remember from that time was we getting pissed everytime one of us said thank god & tried to change it to thank goodness.

And from then on I slowly started acting more like an atheist. I stopped participating in religious ceremonies when I could, I'd wait outside the temple instead of going in(if it were a temple I hadn't seen, then I'd go in, just as a curious tourist).

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