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When I was a young kid, I'm not sure if I ever truly "believed" in my family's religion (Christianity), but rather I thought that everyone knew about God and Jesus and all that, because that's just how it was in our world. My parents believe in God, but didn't really FORCE it on us, and we never went to church. The most Christianity that I got was when I went to my grandparents' house and my grandmother told me Bible stories before bed. I now consider myself very lucky to have been raised with minimal religion in my life, but at the time I didn't know. However, I have ALWAYS found the attitudes of some strongly religious people I've met just plain distasteful, annoying, and frankly, stupid. When I was a kid, it's a bit like I was caught between casually believing and thinking it was a crock. At the same time.

Anyway, when I was about 7 years old, I got really into dinosaurs and loved to read all about them and other prehistoric creatures. It took me some time to realize that what I was reading in my dinosaur books was not consistent with the Adam and Eve story that I knew...specifically, I knew that dinosaurs and other animals existed long, long before humans, but how could that be so if Adam and Eve were there at the beginning of the world? I was also introduced to the basic concepts of evolution through my dino books, but I wouldn't fully grasp that until much later.

When I was 8 years old, my aunt invited me to go to church with her. I thought, "Why not?" as I had never been to church before. As it turns out...I hated it, haha. The atmosphere was...stuffy, I dunno, but my dad would probably describe it as "fuddy-duddy." I also was unfamiliar with much of the Bible and its teachings, so I felt very awkward and kind of left out in the child groups. And, possibly worst of all, I had to wear a dress! For some reason, my aunt and grandmother insisted on making us go to church every Sunday (as I liked to spend my weekends at my grandparents' house) for I'm not sure how long... It kind of made me regret going at all in the first place, but I eventually told my parents I actually hated going, and they told my aunt and grandmother that I'm only allowed to go to church if I -want- to go. I never went back!

The church thing happened around the same time that I was riding to school with my neighbors, who had strongly Christian parents. I feel bad admitting this even now, but I never liked the parents. They were always so uptight about random things, and they way they talked to their kids was disrespectful to me. Heck, they'd even make remarks to me!  They were the type of people who seemed like a "Good Christian Family!" on the outside, but inside they were mean. I still dislike them even though we haven't really spoken since I was 13. I was always friends with the kids, though, particularly their son, who was in my grade. We used to play together every day after school in 6th grade and it was really fun. It's funny because even now, when we've barely seen each other over the years (we're 20/21), we still have the same kinds of conversations and the same kind of interactions xD

Following the church thing was a period of indifference. It was still the same for me, you know, I believed in it because that's how it was, but I never thought much about it (and when I did I either thought it was uplifting or I thought it was way too cheesy), and I was past my dino phase. Then, when I was about 11-12, I don't know why, but I was struck with the urge to read the Bible and learn more about God. I never actually did it, but my aunt did give me a book called "A Teenager's Daily Prayer Book" for one of my birthdays. Using that book as a guideline or a jumping point, I tried praying (out loud!) every night. It wasn't like formal praying either, but more like a one-sided conversation. It did make me feel pretty awkward, but I kept that up for a short while, like a month or something. It was also around this time that I met a girl at school who I became pretty good friends with, and who was also a strong Christian. I went to church with her once, but it was a more modern church, and it was pretty much just fun-and-games with a quick Jesus lesson at the end (and a free candy bar, I might add).

In 8th grade, my friend and I stopped talking as much, not because of hard feelings or anything, but because we just didn't see each other as much at school anymore. However, I did call her in 9th grade after the death of my beloved ferret, and she consoled me and told me that Jesus would care for her until I went to heaven as well. I asked if she really thought so. "I know he will!" she said. However, my casual beliefs in God and Jesus were about to come to an end! Up until that point, I had been "believing" but never understanding, and the sort of remarks that came from folks who claimed to be strong Christians were just ridiculous and off-putting.

What was the great turning point for me?

...The internet!! We finally got internet access again when I was 13, and when I was 14 I started regularly browsing forums and reading the debate section. Between the forums and Google, there was so much information for me to discover! There was one Pokemon forum in particular that was full of intelligent kids that were fairly close in age to me, or somewhat above my age, and it was that forum that made me an atheist for sure. I read every page of their debates about religion, god, homosexuality, morality...you know name it. The non-religious viewpoint won out every time, because the religious (usually Christian) arguments were all based on themselves if you get what I mean. Circular.  I'm thankful to those strangers for getting rid of my back-and-forth yes-no Christian beliefs.

When I was 16 years old I found this website, and enjoyed reading all of the testimonies here. Seriously, I ate them up. I'm thankful for the community here as well for sharing your stories and exposing some of the darker sides of Christianity to me. Er, it was also when I was 16 that I went through a brief New Agey phase, complete with animal spirit guides (mine was a crow btw) but in the end that was mostly just a fun thing for me to do, and besides, the people on the spiritual forum I went to were a bit weird anyway. I still enjoy meditating, which is actually useful, and reading about crystals, which is probably not useful but still fun to read about.

And here we are. Nowadays, at 20, I consider myself an atheist, and I still enjoy reading debates online. I also have a grasp on evolution, which I realized was introduced to me through my dinosaur books. I wouldn't really call myself an expert, but I know enough about it to understand how it basically works. For me, religious belief was just some quiet nonsense I had in my brain because I thought that's how it was. Thankfully, it was never that relevant in my family's daily life, so I had plenty of opportunities to grow away from it and learn more. It's really weird, though, how I kind of believed but didn't at the same time. It always seemed so cheesy and kinda dumb to me, but I also thought that's just how the world was!! I never explicitly told my parents I was an atheist, but I'm pretty sure they get the idea.

So there's my religious life story. It's not much, especially compared to most of the stories posted here, but I just wanted to talk, I guess! I have some other fun tales involving religious people, but those are for another time!

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Thanks! I mostly just lurk around here, but even then it's not as often as I used to.

Religion was not really a major part of my childhood at all, but I thought I'd just share the important parts here.

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It is so true, the internet is where religions come to die.  Welcome Volt. jesus.gif

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Hello, Volt!  Our stories are pretty similar, as I came from an agnostic family.  I too loved dinosaurs in third grade, as did my son at the same age, and I also had vague questions about dinosaurs vs. Adam and Eve but I figured at that age I just didn't get it.  

 

My grandparents on my mom's side refused to ever step foot in a church again when they immigrated to America in the '20's, and they didn't.  They came from a poor village in Czechoslovakia and had seen too much of how the Catholic church kept taking money from everyone for themselves and they were ethically offended.  My grandfather was friends with the priest from the church across the street, and he'd come over and drink, and supposedly my grandfather would tell him, "When I die, sneak me in the back door!"  I never really knew any of my grandparents as they were all sick and died when I was young, but my family did seem to have a rather leery but light-hearted view of xianity.

 

It is funny, too, how I had the same feeling of xianity just being there with some kind of truth, even though reality proved otherwise.  But when you're young you just accept it all and figure the adults understand what they're doing.  My parents went to church but were agnostics.  It was more social and what was the norm in the 60's.  But friends and their parents took it more seriously, so I figured there must be some truth to it.

 

My big teenage rebellion was being the only person in the family to take religion seriously and I became born again!  

 

Over time, I was back to being agnostic, where I stayed for decades, and I have to agree that the internet does wonders for providing access to information that was never easy to get before.  I'm 50 now, but a year or so ago I read a book that finished off any vague religious views I had lingering, and this site and others and youtube definitely reinforced that xianity was made up.

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Welcome, Volt.

 

So there's my religious life story. It's not much, especially compared to most of the stories posted here, but I just wanted to talk, I guess! I have some other fun tales involving religious people, but those are for another time!

 

Don't minimize the importance of your story.  It's the history of how you came to be what you are today - as such it is as impressive and important as anyone else's and something that may provide a sense of reassurance to someone with similar experiences.

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