Hello, my name is Matthew :-)
Hello, my name is Matthew and I am an atheist. I figured I would make my first post here. I have been lurking on the forums for a while.
Anyway, a little more about myself:
I am 28 years old and live in Oklahoma. I really wish I lived somewhere else: somewhere less conservative! I used to be a Christian. The transition from Christianity to atheism was slow, yet steady, and took several years. However, I finally realized I was an atheist around 2004, and have only become a stronger atheist in the past 6 years.
I was raised in a very Christian home, although my family very rarely went to church and was always "nondenominational". Of my immediate family, only my younger sister and I are atheists. My sister actually became an atheist before I did, but I would not describe her as the reason I myself became atheist later. My dad is the most religious person in my family, and very often talks about religion (even though he claims that it's a relationship with Jesus and not a religion, lol). My mom and older brother are also very religious, but don't talk about it as often. My younger brother is less religious, and he almost never talks about it at all. Everyone in my family knows I am an atheist, mostly because I am not very good at keeping secrets. They are, not surprisingly, very disappointed. Fortunately, they don't usually make a big deal out of it, and treat me virtually the same as they did before. My parents and older brother are also extremely consersative politically, and are young earth creationists who are opposed to evolution. My younger brother seems to be much more liberal and also seems to accept evolution. He keeps his religious thoughts completely private, so for a while I thought he might possibly be an atheist (even though he had a religious wedding). However, when I was reading "The God Delusion" he made some negative comments about it ("the author sounds deluded" and was offended that I brought the book into his house. Perhaps he just wants everyone to think he's a Christian so that our parents will not be bothered, I don't know.
I personally almost never talk about religion with anyone outside of my family. I wish I could, but I hate confrontations, and I don't know anyone in real life, besides my sister, who shares my views. Maybe someday I will join an atheist club or something. I have no close friends, and very few friends at all (144 facebook friends don't count, lol). I also almost never date or have romantic relationships. I almost certainly have Asperger's. It would be awesome to have real people to talk to about my beliefs and frustrations, though.
Why am I an atheist? Well, I was definitely not converted by any individual or group. I also rarely had any obviously atheist professors in college (even the few I have had rarely talked about it). No one ever sat me down and tried to convince me to become an atheist. However, I have had several people try to convert me back to Christianity, to no avail. My dad often goes on rants about Christianity, possibly in an attempt to convert me. Although lately, he seems to realize that won't happen. When I was little, I sincerely believed in the Bible and Christianity, although I was a teenager before I finally read the entire Bible cover to cover (the Protestant version). Yet, even then, I had some doubts. I even realized the similarities between other myths and the Bible (thinking, "it's kinda cool that we believe in myths". I hated it when they talked about evolution in school or on TV. By the late '90's, however, when I was in high school, I began to accept evolution and the big bang. But, I was still a Christian, and attempted to rationlize this contradiction by saying that the Bible wasn't really literal and that God guided evolution and such. Eventually, though, I couldn't truly reconcile science with religion anymore, and I also couldn't accept all of the evils and contradictions of the Bible. Plus, the so-called morals just seemed foolish to me. The last vestige of Christianity that I held onto was heaven and hell. For a while, I just couldn't accept the thought of nothingness after death. Now, however, I find that to be rather calming and peaceful, and I am no longer afraid of death. I am a true, complete atheist. I do not believe in anything whatsoever that is supernatural. I am also very skeptical and need evidence to believe in almost everything. I'm even skeptical of science when I don't understand it, or it is new.
So, I became an atheist almost exclusively through my own logic and reason. I realized that Christianity was just as ridiculous as all of the other religions I was tought were false. And since all religions are contradictory and exclude each other, I knew that it was impossible for all religions to be correct. However, they could all be wrong. The world makes much more sense from an atheist point of view. There are no mental contradictions to rationalize. Evils no longer need justification. In the rare situations that science doesn't have an answer, it's ok to just say "I don't know." I feel much more free as an atheist than as a Christian. There is less guilt, more clarity, and even more inner peace. There is also much less doubt and fear.
In the process of becoming an atheist, I have also changed my political views. I was once, like most of my family still is, extremely conservative and also voted Republican. Even as recently as 2008 I voted for McCain (although I was actually happy that Obama won). According to the Political Compass Test, I am far to the left of any politicians currently in power. Apparently my views (according to their chart) are closest to Nelson Mandela and Mohandas Gandhi, which would have shocked me a few years ago. Therefore, even though I can't stand the Republicans anymore, I also still don't like the Democrats either. I also find Communism and some aspects of Socialism and Libertarianism to be distasteful. It really bothers me when my dad says ignorant things like how he thinks I must be a communist because I am an atheist. Of course, he says all kinds of ignorant, idiotic, and insane crap all of the time, and I'm sick of it.
Anyway, that's my story. I'd say more, but this most is already really long.