Personal stories of three Atheists
People become Atheists in many ways.
- Some simply do not develop a belief in God and remain Atheists from birth to
- Some grow up being trained in a specific theistic religion, but
gradually abandon their belief later in life.
- Some grow up within a theistic religion, but suddenly abandon their belief in a deity, often as a result of experiencing a major tragedy.
Interview of Atheists by "The Bee:"
Sue Nowicki of The Modesto Bee -- the newspaper in Modesto CA --
interviewed a number of local residents to learn how they became Atheists. 1 It was not a simple task to find Atheists who were
willing to talk openly about their religious beliefs. Ms Nowicki wrote:
"It's difficult at times being a person of faith, but it can be even harder
to be an atheist, someone who believes there is no God."
"Some local atheists who replied to an invitation in The Bee were afraid of
adverse reactions at their places of work. Others worried about being
flooded 'with unwanted attention from zealots,' and two were protective of
neighbors and spouses. One hesitated to talk on the record, but then said,
'If I don't speak up, who will'?"
"... area atheists say there are several misconceptions about their beliefs.
Several strongly make the point that they are not Satanists, immoral or
dumb. Those who spoke with The Bee range in age from 20s to 60s and from
business owners to blue-collar workers. They'd like faith groups, especially
Christians, to be more tolerant of their views."
Statements by three Atheists:
Mary Brush is a 53-year-old teacher. She was raised in a
Catholic home. She said:
"I went to catechism
classes, but I gave my mother so much grief, I didn't take confirmation in
eighth grade. The nuns frightened me. They really made me afraid of dying. I
thought I'd go to hell."
"The [Bible] stories sounded a little too
fantastical to me. It didn't seem to go with reality. Over the many years,
I've had [religious] friends and have gone to church and tried to
pray. It just didn't work for me. I'm more of a
scientist at heart; science works for me."
[She has] "... mellowed over the years. I used to be more militant. I
believe if [religion] helps people get by in life, that's OK. I can see how
prayer can be important in other people's lives. I think it's helped a lot
of alcoholics and people on drugs, people in hard circumstances."
"I'm a good person. Just because you don't have a belief in God doesn't
mean you're not a good person. I'd like a little more
Shawna Amaral is a 22-year-old caregiver. Her parents and grandparents
were inactive Christians during her childhood; they did not attend church or
read the Bible. She said:
"They were too busy. Since nobody was there to teach me
basic religion, I just came to believe that I can't
believe in a god or a higher power or anything."
"When I was 16 or 17, I discovered
paganism, an earth-based
religion. You don't have to believe in in a god or
goddess, so I still consider myself an atheist in that
She lived in Alabama for a while. When they found out
that she was an Atheist:
"... they'd call me a devil
worshipper and said I'd go to hell. I'd laugh at them and
ask how I could go to hell if I didn't believe in it to
She would respond:
"Your religion is not
the religion. I believe whatever someone believes will come
true for them. If you're a Christian and you believe if
you're good that you'll go to heaven, you will. If you
believe you'll be reincarnated, you will. I believe
willpower is extremely strong."
Jason Gale is a 57-year-old business manager, said:
"As a child, my mom was religious, so I kind of came along for the ride."
At the age of 25, someone told him his religion:
"... was a
belief in magic. That caused me to start thinking about
removing magical things from my thinking."
Gale became an
Agnostic which he describes as "... someone who says God can neither be proved or
disproved." He later transitioned to Atheism: He says:
"It is a belief; not something you can prove, but
it seems to be better supported by empirical observations
around you than religion. In religion, you need to have a leap of faith.
Gale believes that religion is:
"... a crutch. They don't have the
fortitude to stand up to reality. That sounds cruel, but I
recognize the necessity of [religion]. You can't yank it
away from them, or they'd be disoriented and unhappy. My
wife is much happier going to church, so I encourage her in
He wants people to know that:
not an evil person because I'm a nonbeliever. I don't
torture dogs and cats just because I don't believe in God."
To followers of conventional religions, he suggests:
"No matter what
they believe, it's not worth injuring other people -- from
flying planes into buildings to starting wars. If you gave
me the chance to do one thing about religion, I would say,
'Keep it on the positive side.' Help people, like the Peace
Corps. Do what Jesus said, visit the sick and the people in
prison. Do all the good works and stay away from weapons."
The following information source was used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
Sue Nowicki, "Modesto-area atheists speak up, seek
tolerance," The Modesto Bee, 2008-AUG-16, at:
No copyright claimed, for obvious reasons
Original posting: 2008-AUG-21
Latest update: 2011-AUG-21
Compiler: B.A. Robinson