Ok kids, gather round and let Uncle Mutant tell you the story of how he became an atheist… Hey, no twaddling back there!
The funny thing is, that I probably have been an atheist all my life – I just didn’t realize it until later one. But let’s start at the beginning…
My childhood was pretty normal, I guess, living in a small city with my parents, going to school, etc. I was baptized catholic (the norm here in Bavaria) and, as a child (from the ages 6 to 10), I even was an altar boy („Ministrant“ in German, not sure if the translation is perfect – it simply means helping the priest doing mass, ringing bells, fetching things, everything following a catholic ritual). You don’t get money for it, you do it for free – except at weddings, where it was customary to give the children a little tip, but that’s not the point. We had no girls there (our priest was obviously old-fashioned, because at other catholic churches, girls could do that as well), but honestly, at this age, girls weren’t that interesting to me.
A few years ago, my mum even told me, that she „feared“ I would become a priest some day… Seems like I was really into the whole thing. Funny, how these things go. But honestly, I don’t remember really thinking about it at that time. I just did it, because it seemed to be the right thing (not in spiritual way, I was just a kid, after all).
But one day, I really don’t remember the first time, I simply realized that I didn’t believe in god. I simply felt, that were was no proof at all, no reason to believe. I never felt „enlightened“ or „connected“ with god, I never had any special religious feelings and so there really was no point in believing. For a while I envied the people who could simply believe, without any reason to do so, because I thought that it must feel nice.
I started calling myself an agnostic, feeling pretty smug about being more „wise“ than those stupid atheists who couldn’t prove that there was no god, too, so agnosticism must be the right thing… I had this feeling for a while, not really thinking much about my agnosticism. I was older, around 25, I think, when I started to think the whole thing through again and that was the point when I started to be an atheist. I realized that calling yourself an atheist doesn’t imply that you think you have prove of god’s non-existence, just that you don’t accept the theory of god without any proof, that the burden of proof has to lie with the people who want you to believe in god and not the other way round. If someone claims that fairies exist, most people will also not believe him and not starting to discuss that they cannot really prove that there are no fairies. I realized, that most atheists accepts the (very small) chance that there is a god, but thinks of it as so small, that it doesn’t justify acting like he exists, which most religious people do for all the other religions, too, anyways. I officially quit the church then, which started my atheism being „official“.
Fortunately, working in the IT industry, I never had any problems „coming out“. I know some religious people, but there was never any problem with them – and of course, I also know neo-pagans and others :-). Bavaria today is quite open minded, as long as you don’t work for the church (where atheists are still not allowed and the church is permitted to violate all the working laws) or perhaps live in a small village. I never felt that I had to fear any problems because of my atheism and as of yet, I didn’t have any, preventing me from become a new atheist martyr (luckily).