Was there one particular argument or incident or experience that did the trick? Or was it more of a general softening of the ground, with lots of different factors adding up?
A lot of non-believers are actively engaged in trying to persuade people out of religion. I’m one of them. I think religion is a mistaken idea about the world; I think it does significantly more harm than good; and just as I would with any mistaken and harmful idea, I’d like to persuade people out of it. And I think it would be extremely useful to have a sense of what methods actually have a track record of working. After all, most atheists and other non-believers were, at one time, believers. Clearly, something changed our minds. Possibly more than one thing. I’d like to know what those things were… so I can do them more.
I realize that this won’t be a good statistical sampling. People who read my blog are, naturally, people who are likely to find the kinds of ideas found in my blog compelling… so that’s going to skew the numbers. I’d love to see some good sociologists tackle this question, and get a good, large, somewhat statistically representative sampling of non-believers to answer this question. But for now, this may at least get a rough idea of some of the methods that can work. And hopefully, enough other atheist bloggers will link to this to make the sampling a little broader and more diverse. (I did a poll like this in my blog a few years ago: but my blog didn’t have as wide a readership as it does now, and it wasn’t part of this snazzy FreethoughtBlogs network. So I thought it’d be worthwhile to ask again.)
So: If you’re a non-believer in religion, and you used to be a believer — what changed your mind?
Did you come to your non-belief entirely on your own, simply by thinking about it, or were you influenced into it by others?
If conversations with individual atheists — friends, colleagues, family members, people on the Internet — made a difference, please say so, and say how they affected you.
If the presence of an atheist community or communities, either in person or online, made a difference, please say so, and say how it/they affected you.
If specific atheist writers or thinkers or other public figures made a difference, please say who they were, and how they affected you.
If a specific idea or argument made a difference, please say which one or ones they were, and how they affected you.
And if there’s more than one answer — i.e., if letting go of religion was a multi-step process, with several different factors playing into it — please say so.
You can tell your story in the comments here, or email me at greta (at) gretachristina (dot) com. Let’s see what works, and start putting together a game plan!