Evolution of an Atheist
Hey, my name is Jon and I’m an atheist. :)
I came to this realization in three distinct steps. Before then I was a Christian who would regularly attend a non-denominational church.
The first nail in my deist coffin came during my mid-twenties when my wife and I began trying to have a baby. Unsuccessful month after unsuccessful month would go by and we eventually began looking into potential medical explanations. It was then that we learned that my wife would have severe difficulties getting pregnant, let alone carrying a fetus to term. We were devastated. This completely shattered any illusion that I had in a just and ordered world. I couldn't reconcile the sight of my wife heartbroken at the prospect of never being able to have children with the notion of a deity having structured the world that way. From that moment, my belief in a god limped on.
The next nail came several years later, in my early thirties. My wife's sister Caitlin told us that she was gay. For our family, we felt that we'd finally gotten the chance to meet the person Caitlin was always meant to be. To those who loved her, it was impossible not to see the joy and happiness she'd finally allowed herself to experience. This seemed right: a "no brainer". It was the reaction of some of the members of our church that caught me by surprise. Ignoring all of the love that Caitlin was only now able to embrace, some suggested that her homosexuality was the work of the devil. To see people that I had respected, church leaders whose judgment I trusted, miss something so self-evident, it made me wonder in what other ways they could be so wrong. At this point, my faith was on life support.
The last nail went in a couple years later, after I had started teaching. In the classroom, everything I say needs to be supported by evidence. My first few teaching experiences were exhausting semesters spent reading and researching every topic that would be discussed that week in class. It occurred to me then that every aspect of my life was based on demonstrable evidence. More accurately, in everything save the supernatural, I required proof. There was no epic realization, no existential awakening. Simply, with a whimper, my belief in any aspect of the supernatural died and was put to rest right then.
What I didn't expect was the freedom that came after. Not right away mind you, but slowly, bit by bit. The world was such a bigger place. Terrifying? Yes, but mostly liberating. By then, I felt ready to be a member of this larger world, to make a place for myself in it. This might be unrealistically optimistic but I want to try to make it better, no longer relying on someone else to balance the scales. We have a responsibility to ensure that this world remains and the best way to do that is by learning as much as we can and applying that knowledge every day.