I was raised in a predominantly Southern Baptist household with occasional attendance in other churches such as Independent Baptist, and Christian/Missionary Alliance. From a very young age (as far back as at least kindergarten) I attended church at least once a week and sometimes more as a member of various youth groups, children’s programs like the Awanas or vacation bible school, and bible studies.
As a teenager, I began to question more of what the bible had to say and how other Christians justified their beliefs or reconciled their doubts. I was saved at a very young age and rededicated my life to Christ as a young teen and became baptized–wanting to ensure that my doubts didn’t interfere with my salvation.
Eventually, through high school and into college, when I applied the same standards of study, evidence, and logical reasoning to Christianity that I did to any other subject, I realized there were no compelling reasons for me to accept the claims of the Bible. There wasn’t a single point where I became an atheist and it took me many years to accept that label even in my small circle of friends. I had stopped attending church at roughly the same time I entered college and even without that reinforcing influence it was still more than a decade before I gave up things like prayer, fear of hell, and the like. I have been some form of atheist for nearly twenty years but (if you haven’t read my first post) that means different things to different people. What it means to me is very simple:
I am not convinced that a god exists.
That doesn’t mean I am unwilling to be convinced. Quite to the contrary! If there is any evidence (facts that comport with the god hypothesis over any other) I would be happy to consider it and change my mind. Despite popular Christian opinion, someone does not choose to become an atheist any more than they choose to believe in anything else.
“People don’t choose what to believe. At some point they become convinced of something and they can be convinced for good or bad reasons.”– Matt Dillahunty