Was there a specific instance where you started to identify as an atheist/agnostic, or was it a gradual process?
Began to realize life was just what it is at the age of 25, when I unwillingly broke up with my ex on the bases that I am not from the same country or share the same believe with her. It was quite awful as an African being dispair by the same race, same religion fanatics who keep saying "god was love"
At the age of 7, saw a kid shot by military...I asked everyone why didn't God prevent that from happening if he could ? Why allow such a thing in the first place ?
At that moment, when no one could give me an explanation of this thing; I identified myself as an atheist.
I believe it was when my family started bringing me to church with them just before I started high school. I never believed in any religions, but had started researching the options once it became relevant to my life and realized that there was simply no evidence for any gods. This is when I began watching a lot of debates and thinking seriously about the topic and began labeling myself as an atheist and a secular humanist because the religious apologists never made a single good argument or had any evidence.
When I was 19. I had moved an ocean away from my parents and was free of the continually religious atmosphere. I did try to hang on to my faith by going to church, but I could not quieten the logical war that was waging inside me. I felt like a traitor to myself and ultimately abandoned religion. Best decision I ever made.
I remember questioning my mother about Methuselah being 967 years old and things like that. She told me to study the Bible and pray about it and I would understand when I got older. I really wanted to believe but the older I got and the more I knew the harder it got to believe. At age 41 I was forced to accept that the Bible didn't make sense.
I knew since my last couple of years in CCD (catechism). I was like, umm.. nah. Don't believe any of it. That was me turning Agnostic. I wasn't ready to say there was no higher power, but I knew the formal, mainstream religions weren't for me. At about 20 yrs old I gave up trying to force myself to believe in any of it and went full athiest.
My mother raised me going to Christian day care facilities and Sunday church. They made me memorize quite a few of the more popular verses. But everybody there seemed fake. I had questions and their answers were robotic. They were frequently easy to confuse and anger when challenged. Always deferring to "You just have to have faith." ## puke ##
I was probably about 8 when I openly defied the existence of God. I remember sitting outside yelling loudly and daring "him" to appear.
I remember a time in my 20s in the military. Our mail was delivered to us at work and was in the break room. I was in the break room getting coffee, and noticed some kind of atheist publication in a coworker's mail slot. I was a little shocked. I talked to him about it, and he made it seem like no big deal. I remember thinking "I don't really believe in god, but I'm not an ATHEIST!" LOL!
I don't know if I ever REALLY believed. I know there was a period in my teens when I really WANTED to believe - I went to church and youth group regularly. But it just never felt right. Then, I didn't really think too much about it for a long time.
Years later, when I was almost 40, Dawkins published The God Delusion. That was the turning point, I guess. Then I discovered the Atheist Experience podcast. I binge-listened to every single episode they made. I worked mostly alone in an office at the time, so it just played all day long. Sometimes, I'd put on headphones. The year after The God Delusion, Hitchens came out with God Is Not Great.
So, it was around 2006-2007 that I became OK with the label "atheist."
I identified as atheist for as long as I can remember until I wrote a paper for my 9th grade religion class (I attended a Quaker school at the time). At the end of the paper where I justified my atheism, my professor wrote "so just because Ben hasn't directly observed proof in a god means god doesn't exist?"
It got me thinking about how I was atheist because I believed science and the scientific method to be the best possible belief structure because of what humankind has been able to achieve with it. However, as I understand it, the scientific method cannot be used to prove something - such as a deity - doesn't exist. As a result, I've identified as agnostic ever since.
My spiritual journey has certainly been a life-long effort. I was raised in a conservative christian home and then explored Wicca, New Age and Buddhism as a young adult. I attended a Baptist and then a Methodist college and minored in Biblical Studies. I've probably read a library of books on the subjects of Religion and Spirituality along the way, and I've certainly gone back to church many, many times over the years. It's only been in the last 15 years or so that I've settled on Secular Buddhism and Secular Humanism as a Life Stance.
I remember questioning the idea of God when I was very young. My father was a minister for 30 years and didn't take my questions very well at all. And I remember declaring my disbelief to friends as a teenager. So, yeah, it's been a long process of back and fourth for me.
I grew up going to church, etc., but thankfully got away from that. I started saying I was agnostic when I was maybe 19-20, and became very confident with calling myself an atheist when I was maybe 22-23. It seems like it’s been longer than only a few years since I’m 24 now.