I didn't come to atheism lightly, nor did I arrive quickly.
It started in middle and high school when I was the Perfect Little Christian Girl (TM). I was a lector/intercessor at my church, I was a part of the youth group, I sang in the choir every sunday, I participated in the Christmas Pageant, I attended Youth shut-in events, I went to a National Youth Event in Indiana, I even served on the highly competitive Diocesan Youth Council for the state of Connecticut and planned youth events for youth in the Episcopal Church.
Some of you might ask, where did it all go wrong?! Or, what changed? The answer is little things. Little changes that built up and became big changes when I looked back. In short, I evolved.
In attending these youth events, I experienced a more Charismatic worship experience where the people around me were so fully engaged in what we were doing (song and worship) that at some events it even had a pentecostal feel and people would 'feel the holy spirit to be saved again'. I never felt that and I always wondered if something was wrong with me. Sure, the music was inspiring, but I never felt "moved". And then, returning to my Episcopal Church, where parishioners recited their parts of the service by rote so much that it blended together into this drone of sound that had no feeling, no emotion, I was left feeling rather cheated by it all. Why were these people at church if they didn't even have the enthusiasm for what they were saying? Why didn't I have the enthusiasm like the rest of my peers? It left a sour taste in my mouth.
I started taking more and more science courses. I loved science, biology specifically, and I struggled with what the bible said about creation and it's 2 conflicting stories and what the data said about evolution. I read essays and thought I found my answer, someone suggesting that 7 days isn't a literal 7 days, it's relative. People who wrote the bible didn't have the capacity to understand millions of years. So I didn't take the creation story literally, but then a niggling thought occurred. If I was interpreting everything else literally but not that part, was that honest to myself? Was that honest to my god?
The answer was 'it wasn't' . I began to question more of the bible. As I went to college I became more worldly. I learned more about what people did in the name of religion, and what religion did to people. From there, I decided that I was spiritual, but chose not to identify with any religion. I did participate in some activities with the Protestant Campus Ministry but was not an active member (though I did enjoy their dinners!).
At that point it didn't take long for me to realize that I wasn't even worshiping a god of any kind. I had stopped being a theist, let alone a monotheist. I had an appreciation of the beauty of nature, but when I looked at it, I more saw the amazingness that was the interconnectedness of biology and ecology and the vast beauty and sheer awesomeness of the universe. I didn't see a creator. I saw nature. I saw DNA. I saw evolution, the big bang.
It was in graduate school when I finally identified as atheist. It's been a long and winding road. If ever there is evidence of a deity, I am open to changing my mind, because I am a scientist and that's what scientists do. I deal in facts. I do not deal in faith.