Some really fantastic stories and experiences from our listeners John H. and Paul H. Loved reading them and talking about them. Thanks!
I think the best place to start is when I was five years old, I was a member of the roman catholic church, and I went to a catholic school. Fairly normal life, however there was a catch, I thought I was psychic (not that I actually knew of that word at the time) I thought that whatever I willed would become true (a sort of self fulfilling prophecy) things were going fairly well with that until I screwed it up and decided I wanted to turn it off somehow, I decided that whatever I willed, the opposite would be true. Well, I realized a it was a paradox and droped it.
Then I learned about prayer, I was told that to talk to god you must start and finish your prayer with the sign of the cross. This quickly became confusing when thought I accidentally forgot to do the sign of the cross at the end, was I still praying? I had no idea, I did the sign repeatedly unsure of wether god was listening in or not. I eventually had to drop the whole concept before I went bonkers.
Fast forward to 6th grade and me learning all about evolution, I loved it, in me awakened an insatiable appetite for science, It made sense and it was beautiful in a way I never thought I could imagine, that summer me and my family went on a trip to the galapagos islands, I had caught bio-fever, I was in love with biology.
The next year (7th grade) I was in history class learning about world religions, when It dawned on me, what I believed is entirely dependent on where I was born. I realized that I belonged to a category I just had learned about in school, I was an atheist, I had no belief in gods at that point in my life. It took me 3 years to come out publicly as one. But now I’m off to college and I couldn’t be more pleased with myself.
I has been raised in a home that vacillated between liberal, non-denominational christian and agnostic. I started going to an Evangelical Church with my friends when I was 16 and pretty quickly wastotally swept up in the whole deal. I felt very firm in my conviction that Christianity was true but have always been an analytical/sciency person and tried to get into apologetics. I felt like Christianity was the right answer to the question “which religion is true”? and the apologetics books I read reinforced that.
But the summer before college I had a job at my local library where an atheist discussion group met. I got into a discussion with one of the members thinking that I coud convert him. I told him my story and that you have to ask yourself “which religion is true?” and that the obvious answer you come to when you look at the evidence is Christianity. Rather than try to knock down my arguments, he pointed out that I was asking the wrong question, and that I should have been asking “which religion is true, if any?” It ocurred to me that not only did I have a poorer undestanding of other religions, but I had formulated the thoughts wrong in my head, egged on by the apologists I was reading, from the start. Of course I was going to thing Christianity won that contest, because that’s what I was surrounded by, and that’s all I had read about. But Christianity didn’t just have to make a better case than other religions, it had to be able to stand on its own merits. That struck with me over the course of my freshmen yar and I slowly started deconverting, and am now a sophomore atheist (striving not to be sophomoric).