How old were you when you finally admitted to yourself that you are a full blown atheist, and what was that like?
14, thought my parents would go crazy, they didn’t
I was 22. It was both scary and liberating.
For years I’d had doubts and questions, but paradoxically could not bring myself to admit to myself that I didn’t believe in it because of the oft-preached threat of eternal damnation for non-believers. Somehow, I was too scared to intellectually cut off all ties. Naturally the threat of damnation goes away with the rest of it though when one makes the leap-of-no-faith. That part was liberating. The scary part was being truly mortal in my own mind for the first time in my life.
21, it came after realizing that I was just propagating the beliefs of the culture I was born into, and that they were as arbitrary as any other culture’s beliefs, and were at root based on which religion had the best military in history (people believe what they believe because their distant ancestors were forced to believe it at knifepoint).
It was liberating.
I don’t think I can pinpoint a time when “it happened all of a sudden”. More just a gradual realization that all the “God stuff” couldn’t possibly be right.
Probably around 15. From around 12 I had gradually started to realize that what I had been taught was entirely contradictory to way the world actually worked.
It was liberating.
It began around 14 after studying Greek Mythology in school and flourished in my early 20’s. It was similar to dropping an unnecessary burden.
I don’t know if I qualify or not. My family, on both sides, are Christians but I don’t remember ever buying into it.
I told my family at 14 or 15, but I don’t recall ever truly buying into religion. Once I learned there were other religions, the “everyone thinks they’re right/everyone can’t be right” paradox reared its head.
I was around 14. Ironically, it was a direct result of reading the bible extensively for confirmation class that I realized I didn’t believe in the supernatural claims (I had no problem with most of the moral teachings). Prior to that time, I had just said what was expected of me. Saying that I believed in God was just another chore for an obedient child.
Acknowledging my non-belief was very uncomfortable at first because of the disapproval I got from pretty much every adult I shared it with. Some introduced me to the old chestnut that atheists were destined to rape, muder and rob because there’s no reason to fear divine punishment. Others said I’d change my mind when I got older. Etc.
A great source of comfort was encountering adults who admitted to being atheist or agnostic who weren’t criminals or reprobates (a student teacher in biology, my karate instructor). Another source was learning of distinguished celebrities and historical figures who were non-believers (Bertrand Russell, Carl Sagan).
I consider myself an Agnostic Areligionist, but my first doubts were planted at about age 10-11 when the nuns started discussing that there is “One God, but three Manifestations of HIM”. I never really bought into that after that, but continued to attend Church for about 20 more years, until I went to a Chapel in Indianapolis that severed several religions and had the Bible in the pews. Since I could do the Catholic service by rote now, I actually started reading the thing and pretty much lost whatever faith I had left. Still took me a couple years to drop the Sunday habit completely, but it’s been 30+ years since I’ve been in a Church except for weddings and tours.
I don’t even know. Doubt set in early, but throwing off indoctrination was hard. By my teens, I was pretty angry at God and those who tried to push him on me, but I may have been in my twenties before I completely understood there was nothing there at all.
P.S.: You asked what it was like? Relief and joy. The world makes so much more sense, and I’m not going to hell.
I guess around 12. It didn’t feel like much, probably because my faith had never been strong.
I was 21ish, having gone through a horrendous break up, attending a Lutheran college, senior thesis away from a religion major. After the break up, I threw myself into religion to try and find answers about life and came away an atheist. I felt a mixture of emotions - relief, anger, tremendous guilt.
I think I was 14 or 15ish. I was at a Christian summer camp, and they were giving us claims that I knew to be factually, provably false or inconsistent with scripture. I could only conclude that they were either liars or idiots.
Then they told us that everyone who was not Christian was a literal Satanist. And I was like, “Fuck these guys.” A world without God in it involved less cognitive dissonance than one dominated by hateful stupidity.
I’m not sure I was ever “Christian”, though I was raised to believe in God and occasionally went to church with friends (but never with my parents) where I bought it all hook, line and sinker. I remember crying my eyes out around age 7 at vacation bible school because I was a sinner who was going to hell and I prayed and prayed to avoid that fate when called to the alter to do so. But outside of those few times at church, religion was pretty far from my mind even then.
Several years later as a freshman in high school I remember walking through the halls between classes thinking about things and saying to myself “I’m an atheist”. But it wasn’t a conversion, it was just putting a label on something that had been an unacknowledged fact for several years by that point.
Yeah - depends what you mean by “former christian”. I mean, I was taken to church and coerced into being confirmed, but certainly at that age - 12? - I thought it was nonsense. I suspect that from the first point I was able to consider it intellectually I had no belief in any religions; and prior to that you’re just very young and have to do what you’re told.
My dad was culturally Jewish but he never practiced or went to synagogue that I ever knew of. My mom, on the other hand, is a biblical inerrancy super Christian who dragged me and my siblings to church every Sunday until I was 14 and simply refused to go any longer.
Although I cannot be certain, I think I stopped believing in the concept of a god when I was around 7 or 8, if I ever really believed in the first place. I admitted it to my mom when I was around 17. She was extremely saddened and disappointed, but I can’t say she was surprised.
The whole family were never much into religion but it was my early teens, when I was being forced to go to church, when I realised I simply didn’t believe.
Ironically, much later I had an epiphany and became a theist (but not Christian). I’m still culturally Christian, though