I havent always been an atheist, in fact until I was almost 23yrs old I was a Church of England Sunday School teacher who took Communion every Sunday at 8am, could quote huge tracts of the Bible, recite The Book of Common Prayer word for word and went to church every day during Lent.
I began to question my faith and the veracity of all I had been told when I was about 18 and went off to University to study archaeology and anthropology, neither of which subjects was compatable with my Bible!
I questioned my professors about how I could reconcile my “faith” with my new found knowledge and skills and what those skills were revealing to me on a daily basis.
On the subject of Adam and Eve, and biblical creation in general, one particular professor who was also a devout Catholic explained to me that the writer of Genesis actually meant that Adam and Eve were not actually the very first people on the Earth but they were the first to “find God” which set them apart from the rest of creation and is why, when they all toddled off East of Eden, they found other folk to marry!!
He spent a lot of time trying to help me marry my faith to historical facts.
I did my best to see his point of view but I was fighting a losing battle and by the time I left University I was quite troubled by the erosion of my faith and belief in the God of the Bible.
My first job after Uni was as a site assistant on a dig in East Africa searching for the most ancient of Mankind’s ancestors, my fellow diggers had absolutely no truck with my still semi-religious leanings and we spent many a night in deep discussion on the subject. Eventually, someone suggested that I read the Bible from Genesis to Revelations with a more critical and educated eye, employing my new found anthro/archaeo knowledge.
So thats what I did.
The more I read the more I realised how little I knew or had questioned over the years. The long passages of biblical verse that I could quote had all been learned as a child and thus had been unquestioned and undoubted. I didn’t even know until I was 22 that the familiar Christmas scene of the traditional nativity wasn’t even in the New Testament!!
I began to see that ignorance played a large part in the maintainance of unquestioning faith.
Never one to do things by halves, I threw myself into Biblical study, I pestered the life out of a very patient Hebrew scholar, enlisting his aid in re-translating mistranslated words in the English Bible and he put me in contact with 2 other Biblical historians who were also very helpful in identifying places and people.
By the time I went back to Uni to do a PhD at age 24 I had no religious beliefs of any kind. I still read and study and dig and puzzle over the Bible to this day but with a very different attitiude and for different reasons.
You ask why I am an atheist……………… because I grew up, I sought knowledge and I used the knowledge I found to enlighten me.
I can not explain it any better way than to quote Corinthinans 13:11 ……”When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a (wo)man, I put away childish things”