I was raised in the quite conservative Reformed Church of America. I was a very curious child and read the entire bible through a few times starting at a young age, yet I still swallowed every lie they fed me. I never really fit in in high school youth group. We went to a smallish church and my school friends all went to different churches. In addition I wanted to learn things like theology and apologetics; the others wanted to learn about pop culture and dating. We also weren’t much of a priority for the church (we got no funding and the room we used twice a week had to be arranged the way the elders wanted it for their monthly meeting). Because of this I was slightly bitter towards the church I grew up in, although not religion in general yet.
In college I joined Campus Crusade for Christ and their bible study my freshman year. As a biology and anthropology major I got really into websites like Answers in Genesis (embarrassing as it is to admit) in an attempt to resolve the cognitive dissonance between what I had been taught as a child and what I was learning in my courses. In the middle of college I was severely depressed for about a year and a half, and my religion didn’t really do much to help me through that. About the same time as I was coming out of the depression I went on a summer study program and made a new set of friends that were into the regular party scene. At that point I decided that since “God” hadn’t been there for me when I was down, I was going to do whatever made me happy from that point on without regard for what might be a “sin”. For a while I continued with Campus Crusade and lived a bit of a double life, but then they decided their next student leader was going to be a guy that I had been on study abroad with who had been nothing but rude and disrespectful the whole time. In disgust I stopped attending any of their events.
As I prepared to return home from school I tried to look for some answers in the biblical book of Job, but the only answer I found was that the god of the bible was a jackass. I saw a youtube video (Goon Project) on Job and that settled my views on that. At that point the only reason I still considered myself a Christian was because I was too terrified of the alternative. When I returned to my hometown, I read the newspaper regularly, and after four years away, the letters to the editor appalled me with the amount of religious intolerance and hypocrisy shown. This along with my dad pushing me and my high school experiences kept me from reconnecting with my parents’ church. One day, I think in the newspaper, I saw something about the book “parenting beyond belief” I went to the website and started reading it, and from there started reading other atheist websites (including this one). Once I saw that life without religion was pretty normal and non-terrifying, and that religion wasn’t necessary for happiness, morality, or purpose, my need for Christianity fell away. One morning I woke up and realized I didn’t believe in “God” anymore. With a feeling of relief I almost instantly got rid of the mental gymnastics keeping me from “belief” in evolution as well as the “gays are sinning” viewpoint and all the other negative beliefs that came automatically with my religion.