At first, I was an atheist as a sort of default state. No one had told me to be otherwise. The idea of a god or gods had not been given to me, and was not in any sort of even semi-clear form for quite some time. I do not recall when I finally was exposed to this idea.
I remember watching the Peanuts Christmas Special and being kind of confused as to what the heck Linus was talking about as he explained Christmas to the rest of the cast. So far as I was concerned, Christmas was a time to hang around with the extended family, eat delicious things, and exchange presents. What he was saying seemed like a fairy tale.
Speaking of extended family, a number of them displayed strange things in their homes. In the main floor bathroom of one set of grandparents was a depiction of the ten commandments. I didn’t know the context for it for quite some time. I didn’t ask. Some of them seemed like common sense, some of them I did not really understand for a while. I was a shy child, you understand, and tended to let people tell me what they thought was important when they chose to do so, at least at that phase of life.
Insofar as I got a clear idea about religion from my parents, my mother gave me a general sort of contempt for people using it as a reason to be complete dicks to eachother, and this may have led to me thinking the whole business was a little silly. I tended to be quiet and let people assume I was one of them. Churches were weird places to me. There was a sense of cameraderie and belonging there, certainly, and some of the singing was nice, but the words slowly felt creepier and creepier. I wondered if there were things that people were not telling me that made the whole busines smake sense, and may have been waiting for it to come up on its own.
When I moved out of my parents’ lair and in with some friends, a few hundred miles away, I accompanied said friends to the church they attended for a while, and this was pleasant enough. The strangeness began to creep back in, though, and between a Bible study session at which asking if we had some more support for this (as opposed to letting a source confirm itself, which seemed questionable at best) got me some unwelcome looks, and a guest speaker who seemed to be rejecting conclusions based upon observation as somehow not impressive enough for him, I stopped going.
Faith was becoming my problem with the whole business. The more I learned, the less I wanted anything to do with it. Just accept sometthing without support? How could a person learn anything of any use that way? Bad ideas could never be rejected, and new ones never accepted if one just accepted what one was told first without question. Mystery was not beauty, mystery was a huge target to anyone with an appetite for knowledge, and I very much counted myself in that group.
Since then, friends have tried to mend what they saw as a broken relationship with God, but missed the point. I do not hate God, I just don’t think he’s there. I’m not closed to the possibility, but neither will I accept it without rigorous examination, and have yet to find an argument for theism that is at all convincing.
Theists are welcome to keep trying, but I can’t say I think much of their chances.