I was raised atheist, and while religion had never been taboo in my home, it was never really discussed (parents had chosen not to go because of my grandparents, who can be pretty toxic about it).
Growing up in the Bible Belt, most of my friends were of one faith or another, and I gradually just started reading up on the different faiths. Wasn't until after college that I joined a Bible Study, just looking to understand it better.
Overall I'd say I'm not entirely religious, but it's been a work in progress. I've started going to church, I'm properly trying to read through and study the Bible (going to read the Quran after I finish it, too), and starting to actually ask questions. It's a process.
I grew up in a low-key toxic environment, sounds weird but basically, it was all verbal abuse. Not anything crazy enough for social services to come in, well, except for that time my dad tried to slam my head in with the garage door.
I would say growing up, through elementary school all the way up to high school, everyone around me was all about voicing out things they hated. So I thought that was the norm.
Moving into my college dorm, meeting other people I realised that my behaviour was pretty toxic too. I would say that learning basic stuff like being kind, and caring for other people was eye-opening for me at that point.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son was probably the life-changing point for me. I felt like it was the willingness to finally accept myself for who I am, after years of being told I was worthless and horrible, that helped me the most. Eventually, after being able to accept myself, I was able to accept others and eventually let others into my life.
It's still only been 2 years-ish, so I still got a long way to go. But whenever people would mock how religion is a sham, I would just tell them, that even if it was a sham all along, everything I have gained from then has given me so much more than I could have ever begun to wish for in my life.
It occurred to me that if you look at religion as a personal quest for emotional and spiritual fitness rather then a literal explanation for how the universe works, it's a lot more rational and accessible.
Taoist here. The idea that god isn't a consciousness but rather a force that keeps the universe moving and flowing at its own whim is a lot easier to swallow for me then what the abrahamic religions would have you believe.
I was raised religious, as I grew up I found fault in that religion and became atheist, then I traveled and spent more time away from society and realized it wasn't about me.
I am not back where I started, I don't believe the same things my parents did, but I have grown out of thinking that I had the whole picture figured out.
I grew up in the Church, but left after watching my sister suffer with a debilitating illness. Shuttling to and from the hospital was so normal for us, and seeing her suffer made me wonder why a "loving" and "good" God could let that happen to a child. My parents never really brought a lot of religious instruction into the house, so when I had these types of questions, there wasn't anyone to ask. Throughout my teenage years, I was agnostic.
The turning point for me came in college. I was walking down a narrow, one-way street with some friends, when one of them accidentally shoved me. I went flying. I remember landing flat on my hands and knees, in the middle of the road, and looking up to see that the front bumper of an oncoming car was exactly in line with my head. I didn't have enough time to get up, but luckily my friends were able to haul me out of the street--I mean, pulling on my shirt, hauling me up by my armpits, just before the car hit me. We always joke, "Oh, I could get hit by a bus" but I was literally almost roadkill. And I'd done nothing wrong. I was just walking down the street.
At that point, I wasn't willing to be Agnostic anymore. I knew that I needed to find out one way or another if any of the world religions were real, or if I'd be an Atheist after all. Life was too short to not know. I decided to start with Christianity since I thought I could poke the most holes in it.
For me, the key was that I was willing to seek the truth, whatever that truth was. I was willing for Christianity to be true, or Islam, or Atheism. And I put aside all the hurt from my past, and all the questions, to give it a real shot.
I had some Christian friends at the time, and they encouraged me to start praying. At first, it felt like I was talking to an empty room, but at the same time, it felt good. I remember during my research phase, someone saying "It's OK to pray to God and tell him you don't think He exists. He knows He exists and won't be offended." So I did a lot of that. Just getting on my knees and praying that He reveal himself to me, show me a sign, etc.
I also did a lot of research on C.S. Lewis's arguments for Christianity, and really tried to look at it from his perspective. Ultimately, after a couple of weeks of praying and researching, I was ready to look at the Bible itself. I found this "30 Day Challenge" where you read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), and I thought, "OK, I can give 30 more days to this."
The tipping point for me was really reading what Jesus said, and understanding who He is. He said some pretty incredible things, and His wisdom was so apparent to me when I was reading. It was just clear to me that He really was divine. It made all of those misconceptions I had about Christianity fall away. Really seeing who He is and what He stands for made me want to walk this path with him. I remember praying, "I don't know where this path leads, but I want to walk down it with you." I know Atheists will find this part of my story unsatisfying, but really, it was God answering my call for help, and letting me see what was right in front of me.
From there, my faith journey has progressed slowly. I had to relearn all the things I thought were the tenets of faith, and really understand how to have a relationship with God. (For example, before, I thought that Christianity was about following these rules and being a good person, and Heaven was the bonus at the end. I didn't realize that salvation was the whole point, and that there's nothing we can do to "earn" our way into God's good graces. It's a free gift. We ask God into our lives and He accepts us, just as we are. And we're saved, just like that. And all the "good deeds" and "rule following" is moreso our desire to act more like Jesus here on earth, and let our faith enrich our lives, and the lives of others).
You may also be asking, "What about God letting your sister suffer?" and I can definitely answer that, but it's something that came to me much later. For me, my baby step was just believing in Jesus, and those questions I'd had as a child were resolved when I better understood my own faith.
Was at a low point in my life and needed something to believe in just to keep me going.
I started studying philosophy.
I grew up with parents who hated religion (although I couldn't tell you if they are atheist or agnostic), so I never believed in God until I was in high school. I felt like I was missing something, so I started out trying to pick a more trendy religion, which led to about a year of being Wiccan when I was 15 or so. But that didn't really fit for me.
A friend invited me to her church many times, and I finally said yes when I was 16. From that point on, I believed in the Christian God, although I wouldn't say that my faith was very strong. It didn't help that my parents were very upset about my beliefs, because they hate Christianity more than other religions (both had bad experiences as kids with Christians).
In college, I had my first manic episode (didn't know I was bipolar until then, just thought I was depressed a lot), and ended up in the psych ward for being suicidal when the mania started to go away. Having (what I consider to be) a near death experience pulled me closer to God, and I've had strong faith since then.
The first girl I fell in love with broke up with me. Last night was the lowest night I've ever had. After telling her I was going to kill myself, looking up ways to do it, and truly believing I was actually going to, I prayed and asked for a sign to whether or not I should keep going and I shit you not, music that I had tried playing earlier on my phone finally loaded or something and started playing and the words I remember hearing said how can I pick you up if you never fail. I'm going to church today for the first time in a long time because I want to believe there's a reason for the hurt I felt and because I truly believe that something saved me last night.
Well for me it started because of a girl. She was a Christian, I was not so for us to date I had to become one. That was just my motivation though.
Like many atheists I simply didn't want to hear any of the arguments Christians made. Doorknockers would come and I would be polite but it didn't matter what they said I didn't care. I had many interactions with many Christians and every time I was willing to sit there and listen but I wasn't personally concerned with what they told me, no matter how sincere they were. So basically finding a girl gave me the motivation to actually listen and care and once I heard the message I realised the truth of it.
I remember quite clearly one conversation I had with her in my car one night. She was trying to get me to believe and I was just firing question after question at her. Just the same cliche questions like 'if God is good why is there suffering?'. She had a good answer for every one and I was getting frustrated because she always had an answer. But then I kind of thought 'hey, wouldn't that make her right then?' I mean if she answers 50/50 questions correctly and they all make sense and I haven't got any real evidence to refute it then maybe she is right.
I now fully believe in creation, virgin birth, Jesus death and resurrection and everything else.
I wouldn’t say I’m religious now but I certainly believe in more than I did a few years ago. I was staunchly atheistic before my mom passed away. I grieved her death before it even happened when she was sick with lung cancer because I believed when you die, that’s it. After she passed away, so many things have happened that have lead me to believe that she is still around and that there is more than I what I previously believed. So I guess I would say I’m agnostic now but I’m certainly more spiritual than I ever was.