Question: How did you become an atheist?
Many atheists are ex-theists, with brilliant deconversion stories, such as this one. However, I am not one of them, and I have no such interesting story. Here is my dull non-story.
I never became an atheist. Becoming an atheist requires making a transition from being a theist. Since children are born atheists, i.e., they are born free from any theistic beliefs until such beliefs are inculcated into them, any theist had to become a theist, making a transition from her or his starting point as an atheist. I never became a theist. and so I never became an atheist, once again. I simply started as an atheist, and remained one.
My parents were not religious, and religious belief was simply not a part of my toddler years. My first encounter with religion came from my neighbors, when I was around three or four. I was living in an apartment building in Santa Monica, and one of the neighbors was a little girl named Amber, whom I often played with. One day, Amber’s family took me with them to church / Sunday school. I don’t know why or how my parents agreed to this, but somehow that’s what happened.
When I got to church, they told me some of the typical Christian stuff — about how there was an invisible, all-powerful man who lived in the sky who created everyone and everything; and how I and everyone else was born bad because Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge when a talking snake tempted them; and God’s son died for my badness and then rose from the dead; and Jesus’s blood would wash me clean if I accepted him; and so on. And even at that age, first I thought these people were joking with me; then I thought they were lying to me; then I thought they were crazy. Even as a preschooler, I was amazed that they were so unable to tell make-believe from reality, stunned that they did not understand these were just tall tales.
As I got older, I encountered ever more people who were progressively more insistent about their beliefs in invisible, all-powerful overlords who controlled everything, and who demanded my conviction, praise, submission, and and servitude. I became more aware that what these people told me didn’t add up, and more acutely cognizant that they couldn’t substantiate any of it in the slightest, and more attuned to how distasteful I found the underlying premises and the implications.
My parents sent me to Hebrew school. I disliked it, and found it unproductive.
Eventually, I started to approach the age where people in my life wanted me to be bar mitzvahed. I refused, because I did not believe. The rabbi at my Hebrew school repeatedly took me aside and told me I had to do this. He asked me to promise him. I refused. I eventually quit Hebrew school. My parents hired a private Hebrew and Judaism tutor named Bruce. That went nowhere. My Pa’sMa and Pa’sPa accused me of just being rebellious, and asked me why I always had to be so difficult. My Ma’sMa let me know there would be good rewards if I got bar mitzvahed, like my brother had received. But I still refused, because I didn’t believe in the doctrines. I never got bar mitzvahed, to most everyone’s minor disappointment.
As I grew up, I came to see ever more of the negatives associated with religions, and how much they outweighed the purported positives of religions. I saw the harm religions did to some of the people close to me, and the harm religions did to people all over the world. I’ve been an open nonbeliever and outspoken critic of religions since my adolescence or earlier, and now I’m using this blog as my platform.
I’m not mad at God — a popular notion theists have about atheists, which contradicts itself. You could be mad at people who use their religious beliefs against you, but how could you be mad at a purported entity you don’t think exists? Nor have I ever had any major emotional trauma from religion, as many theists seem to suspect is the case for outspoken atheists. Just a constant stream of minor incidents of exposure to theistic illogic, bigotry, and imposition. Neither did I have any moment when my faith shattered. There was never any such faith, to begin with. Simply, no one could ever present a sound reason why I should be persuaded by their religious beliefs, and so I never believed.
Not much of a story, since I was never a believer, but there it is.