PZ Myers has been putting up one post a day that his readers send him explaining why they are atheist. Since I have my own blog, I thought I would borrow his idea and post my own road to atheism here. I think it makes a good first post and is a good way to introduce myself a bit more.
My parents split up when I was pretty young and I spent most of my childhood primarily living with my mother. She grew up in a Catholic home. Her parents were both deeply religious and I still remember going to church with my grandmother when I spent summers there in my youth. My mother was less religious than her parents but she did have me baptized (I think she believed then and she thought it was important) and I went through with my First Communion (I was six years old by then; still too young to have an opinion of my own about a god). I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but by the time I reached ten, I no longer thought god existed. I told my mother I did not want to do my Confirmation, since I thought that would be hypocritical. To her credit, she did not force me to go through with it. In retrospect, I think my mother may have been having doubts of her own about god. Whenever she may have lost her faith, my mother never said anything to me until after her mother died. I think my mother wanted to spare her feelings given that my grandmother was deeply religious.
Like I said, I do not remember when I realized that the idea of god and religion was silly. I didn’t come to the realization after long and deep thought. I was a kid. I just realized that the stories I had been reading from the Bible made absolutely no sense. I just could not get over the fact that an all-powerful being would just let people suffer and allow wars to go on. And that was it. No more god and religion. I stopped spending my summers at my grandmother’s at this point. I don’t think it was a result of my conversion to atheism, but more of a logistical issue. I had siblings that were old enough to babysit at this point and my mother liked having me home for the summer. My mother never went to church so it’s not like it was a fight to avoid going.
My father was even less of a problem. Even though my primary home was with my mother, I still spent quite a bit of time with my father as a kid. I don’t recall explicitly discussing religion with him but I’m pretty certain he was an atheist by the time I was born. I actually credit my father with my eventual skepticism. I didn’t always self-identify as a skeptic but I’m pretty sure I’ve been one since a fairly young age. My father was a big fan of Carl Sagan and I remember watching Cosmos with him many times. We were at the Montreal Planetarium almost every weekend to take in a show or just see the exhibit. He encouraged my interest in science and I think that learning about scientific inquiry and thinking is what made me a skeptic.
I’m grateful to both my parents for not indoctrinating me in religious bullshit. It prevented me from wasting years on religion.