It would be a convenient lie to say that I am an atheist because of rationalism, reason and the application of logic. I was an atheist well before I had any idea what those things were. I know that many people like to argue that everybody is born an atheist, and of course, in a sense that is true, but I like to differentiate between being ignorant of religion, and the realisation that it’s false.
I grew up almost completely unexposed to religion. My mother is a Quaker, and sometimes took me along to meetings, but I had no idea what they were, other than a bunch of “old people” sitting around occasionally speaking; not appealing to a 6 year old.
My first school had no religion classes, and I knew nobody religious. I didn’t even know what the word “god” meant for most of this time. But then I changed schools to a (public) school that did have almost compulsory religious (Christian) education classes. If you’ve never been told the stories of Adam and Eve, or Moses, or Jesus’s birth, miracles and resurrection, until an age when you’re starting to think for yourself (10), I think it’s inevitable you’ll be suspicious of such stories. It only took a month of such classes (once a week) for me to realise it was just rubbish. The volunteers taking the classes were unintelligent and uneducated, and the stories were as believable as any of the mythology books we had at home.
At this point, I asked my parents if I could stop attending the classes, which they agreed to, and my life as an atheist activist began, as the (public) school fought hard to prevent me from not attending those classes. Eventually they relented, and I was allowed to spend an hour once a week in the library. I know in Australia now, with the push for ethics classes as a replacement for religious classes, there are many complaints about sending the non-religious students to the library with nothing to do, but for me, that was probably when I started to become such a prolific reader, so in hindsight it was an incredibly valuable experience.
I’m very glad that I came to atheism, and to atheist movements, at such a young age, and basically by myself. I see many atheists now who I think dogmatically accept philosophical concepts for which no proof or evidence exists; “burden of proof,” and various logical “fallacies,” that are actually just names of types of arguments (ad hominem springs to mind). My experience taught me not to believe people, just because they say something is true, but to examine it closely, and make my own mind up. Religion is just a tiny facet of the subjects I apply that critical thinking to.