Image via WikipediaBy Christian
I was a Non-Denominational Christian girl and as I got older, I was very involved in my church. I went out witnessing (trying to proselytize people and inviting people to my church) on Saturday mornings and I was thoroughly brainwashed by my church to think that all non-Christians would be in hell. I constantly attended altar calls to rededicate my life to god and to make sure that I would go to heaven. Well, this lasted until I went to college and was exposed to new ideas. I eventually knew that my beliefs were going to change and I started reading Carl Sagan. I started learning more about my first love which was science and how it actually worked. I was exposed to a world that was more wonderful than anything I experienced. I read other science publications--books, magazines, anything I could get my hands on--and digested the information. I eventually discovered the joy of reading Skeptical Inquirer; I decided to strengthen my natural skepticism.
I took a logic class and met a friend at the college who was an atheist. These last two factors caused my already crumbling faith to disappear. During the transition, I felt like I was in a storm and nothing was certain. Talk about a most uncomfortable feeling but I could only go with the changes. It was tough but my friend helped me through it all. He loaned my Dan Barker's Losing Faith in Faith and the scales fell off my eyes. While reading that book and talking to my friend, I started understanding atheism and learned it was not evil; it was just a lack of faith. I learned I could be ethical without being religious. I started coming out as an atheist as I knew that I didn't believe in the supernatural or any deities.
When I gave up my faith, it was like being released from a prison that I was assigned to without any guilt on my part. It was the greatest feeling and a change that I never regretted. My parents found out about my atheism and I was given the opportunity to return to Jesus. When I refused, they kicked me out of the house. I went to Amherst, New York, for my internship and went on to college. It was a bitter-sweet moment. On one hand I was finally free but I had no visible means of support save for friends that let me stay with them. Through it all I stuck to my principles and was an open, out-of-closet atheist; I'm still open about my atheism. My life has been an interesting journey but I would do it all over again.
February will be my ninth anniversary of my atheism and it is still the greatest decision I made. I am still reading about philosophy, science, humanism, etc. I look forward to turning 80 and still being a freethinker.