This video (transcript) makes a lot of sense, pointing out that how atheists are made is a combination of historical/cultural/emotional experiences plus an intellectual assessment of the meaning of those experiences.
I used to think I too was brought up as a religious believer, going to church and Sunday school almost every week. I noticed something, though.
- When I was very young, I would regularly see my great-grandparents in church. I’m confident that they were true believers, their house was full of religious and ethnic displays, like the Lord’s Prayer in Norwegian on a plaque. But they stopped going late in life because they were relatively frail, and were dependent on being driven to church by my grandparents, who…
Almost never went to church. Maybe sometimes for a Christmas pageant, although they were quite insistent that we kids had to go, to which my parents…
…agreed. My parents also didn’t go to church. My father, never — he would say that he was a member of the Church of Christ, as was my paternal grandmother, but I would never see them pass through the door of that church. My Lutheran mother never went, either. She was a good mother, but she had six kids, and Sunday morning was two hours she could use to recover, even if it did impose an additional cost of getting the kids into their shiny shoes and putting on nice coats or dresses and putting a bow tie on me.
And, you know, I was able to use my keen observational skills and analytical mind to put the facts in order and realize that church was a sham, a glorified babysitter for an overworked family that saw no other value in the ritual. I was a Christian because I was told that I was a Christian, and I found no lasting spiritual value in memorizing bible verses or singing hymns. I could also see that my parents were good people who didn’t need Christianity to make them that way.
So here I am now.