I am a twenty-eight-year old living in Austin, TX. I am originally from Jackson, MS. Thankfully, I had a father who was a deist more than anything else, so I was saved a great deal of the usual brainwashing that goes on in that notch of the bible belt. That is not to say I escaped it all together.
I can remember earnestly trying to believe in Jesus and Christianity, including being "saved" numerous times. I prayed and so on for years, but in the end I never could get passed the feeling it was all a bit of hocus pocus. Preachers in churches I attended used to call this seed of doubt the Devil. It quickly realized that was fantastic tactic I would use if I was running a church to scare people away from exploring their doubts. I also began to have a real problem with the idea of a faith in Christ being the only way to get to heaven. I knew some great people who did not have this faith, and I knew some real, well, shit heads who went to church every time the doors opened. It became increasingly difficult to worship a god who apparently cared more about rituals than the content of someone's character.
Ironically enough though, what initially began my turning away from religion was a Christian t-shirt. Some of you may have seen it before. It reads, "I believe in the big bang theory. God spoke, and bang, there it was." These shirts became ubiquitous in my middle school around 1991 or 92. I thought they were ridiculous. I was 12 or 13, and I remember that being the first thing that made me feel very different from the believers I was around. Science intrigued me from a very early age. I found the idea that there were an underlying set of physical laws that could, if discovered, explain the entire universe to be absolutely amazing - much more amazing than some deity clapping its hands. Now here were a bunch of kids being taught to not only ignore that, but actively condescend the notion by parent who, essentially, had not managed to progress beyond a 2,000 year old or greater notion of existence. To sum up, that was the first time I began to believe fundamentalists were superstitious morons.
I suppose I finally came to consider myself an atheist about eight months ago. Prior to that I referred to myself as a deist. I had long since decided that the god of the Bible was an evil asshole, for the most part, because of all the reasons that get mentioned here. I seemed unwilling to totally shake off the notion of a higher power for sometime though. In the past year that changed, and I literally just woke up one day and found there was no longer that need to believe in a higher power. Perhaps, deep down, I had accepted that this power wasn't there for a long time and only believed out of a need. I'd like to point out that this was not during a time of depression or crisis where I felt let down either. I had long quit believing that there was any higher power at play in what happened here on Earth. I wasn't searching; hell, I hadn't even been thinking about it that much to tell the truth. It was almost like a computer completing a calculation. For twenty-seven years my brain had been processing data and finally arrived at a conclusion - none of this makes enough since to invest faith or belief.
I actually discovered The Atheist Experience while working out at Gold's one night. Some of the cardio machines have their own LCD screens, and while flipping through I caught the show. I enjoyed it and ended up finding the podcast, the non-prophets, and this site.
So there you have it.