I was saved. (By that, I mean I deconverted)
I’m a proud deconvert for 9years now. The questions and nagging was always there, but after reading Dawkin’s the God Delusion I finally made it official. Thank you Richard!
Such a great book!
Apologies in advance for the length of this comment.
I consider myself lucky to live in a country like the UK, where most people identify as Christian on census forms merely due to having some loose, cultural, hereditary ties to Christianity rather than being true believers. The vast majority of people, though, when asked the question, “Are you religious?”, answer “No”. So, when growing up, religion was something I simply wasn’t exposed to regularly – in spite of the fact I went to a religious school.
My parents sent me to a Church of England primary school. I don’t know why, as I don’t think they’re religious, but I’ve never asked them so I don’t really know. Openly mocking religion in front of them has raised laughs though so I suspect they’re both atheists. I was probably sent to my CofE school because it’s seen as the best one in my town (Richard Dawkins mentioned in “Faith School Menace” that as Christian schools are perceived as being better, more intelligent parents make the effort to get their kids places in them, thus pushing up the performance of the school, reinforcing the perception that they’re good schools). Anyway, even though there was a sort of religious undertone at the school, with prayers and nativity plays at Christmas and the likes, they still had to follow the secular national curriculum and the quality of education was pretty good. I found science especially fascinating. “My” religion on the other hand I found a bit dull and somewhat annoying, so I never really bothered thinking about whether any of it was true or not.
When I was 11 I went to an entirely secular state High School. Unfortunately though it was a poorly performing school. My grades dropped and my interest in science was killed off. I was told I was lazy. Perhaps I was, and I’m just blaming my education rather than taking responsibility for my own failures, but I don’t think so. Between the ages of about 12 and 16 while feeling slightly lost in life I thought on and off about whether God existed. When life got particularly difficult I occasionally tried prayer. It seemed to work sometimes but then other times wouldn’t. By the age of about 17 I’d dismissed prayer as silly and useless – if God existed surely he had better things to do anyway?
As an adult I identified as agnostic (but not atheist) if I was ever asked. When I was about 19 I made a few new friends in the pub (thanks, alcohol) and met even more new people through them. Eventually I was socialising almost exclusively with these new groups of people, and some of them had become my best friends. A couple of them were, or rather are, atheist and would openly mock religion from time to time. I tended to just laugh and politely nod along with it.
Coincidentally this was also when I signed up to Twitter and ended up discovering certain atheist tweeters I now follow. All this going on in my early twenties (I’m 25 now) forced me to think about religion more, and this was when I became a staunch atheist and something of a skeptic. I read more about the history of Christianity and would now join in with the religion-mockery in the pub. My appreciation of science was also rekindled. I feel now that I’m making up a bit of lost time, though I’m thankful that religion has never been a large part of my life. Rather than being someone who has thrown off the shackles of belief in adulthood, I’m part of (I assume) a small minority who were never really believers in the first place. I can only imagine how different my life would be today if I’d attended a High School like some that exist in the US, where I’d have been more likely to have “discovered” God as a teenager.
Sorry again for the long post, but I started writing it and found I enjoyed it so just didn’t stop.
Twitter has been great for me as well. Please, no worries about the long comment. I enjoy getting to know the people who read my blog and encourage it!
I just realised my massive post didn’t actually really answer the question. So, short answer: I guess I’ve always been an atheist. Despite briefly considering God on occasion I was never convinced and I’ve never been a fan of organised religion.
You know, this is a difficult question for me. Because, I just don’t know. I haven’t been convinced of a supreme being for a really long time. The problem is, I don’t remember ever really being a devout Christian. When I was a teen-ager, I went to a church because they had a basketball team and I liked to play basketball. I became interested in physics, astronomy, etc and that pretty well clenched it for me. There may well be some power over us, but I haven’t seen enough… make that any… evidence to sway me.
Deconvert. I was a catholic..well not a be in church every Sunday type. My parents never made us go to church or anything but taught us about the last supper and the Easter story (which by the way confused the shit out of me..wait he was dead and came back..the hell?) and all those kind of things but nothing serious other than we were baptised. By the time I got to high school we had a choice of going to study hall or religion classes. I was not overly interested in being confirmed.
I grew up down the street from a baptist church and my little brother and I went to a youth group and we thought it was fun but I apparently asked too many questions. To my young mind having two of every animal made no sense(i had learned about evolution)..How could a person come back from the dead? How did Mary get pregnant if she was a virgin? How could all the people come from 2 people?(adam and eve) And every time I was told..god works in mysterious ways..or I should just have faith. We had a set of encyclopaedia’s and my parents would send me to them if I asked something they could not explain.If I could not find my answers there off to the library I went.(yes I am old this was before internet) So I guess I really started to become an agnostic with way too many questions and eventually I became an atheist as I got older when I learned more. Also with my insane thirst to know how things worked..”God did it.” is not good enough.
First I was able to wilfully ignore that religion was anything more than a silly cultural thing that some people, mainly of my grandparents generation, still clutched to. Later I discovered that it was still relevant nowadays. And even later than that, it took some peculiar circumstances for me to change my stance on religion from “who the fuck still cares?” to “I certainly don’t care” to finally “let’s read the bible/ Quran /Torah see what’s all the fuss about => yep I’m an atheist.