My mom is a Roman Catholic, and comes from a long line of Roman Catholics. My dad, however, is a Southern Baptist. This interfaith upbringing gave me the first conceptual step toward my Atheism,
Conceptual step 1:Religious doctrine is subject to interpretation.
My mom got her way for the most part, and I and my brothers were raised Catholic, & attended parochial school for 12 years. I never quite agreed with all of the Catholic dogma though. As an adult, I decided to look into protestant Christian religions. Consequently, I started attending a Lutheran Church, or "Catholic Light", if you will. The Lutherans seemed like a much more friendly bunch, and they had coffee and doughnuts. But then one day in adult bible study, during a lesson on the Creation Story, our group leader explained about how ancient people viewed the world, and how the Creation Story reflects that. She pointed out "the firmament- a solid, dome-shaped structure in which the stars were placed, and separated the waters below from the waters above" as a good example. We now know that rain comes from clouds, and not windows in a firmament being opened.
Conceptual step 2: Some stories in the Bible are just too contradictory to science and reason to be real.
So then I started thinking, what am I supposed to believe out of this holy book if some of it isn't true? There's no disclaimer in any of the chapters. If some of it isn't true, maybe the whole thing's been embelished. So then I started looking into the world's other major religions, and their traditions, and writings. I probably found something I liked and didn't like in each and every one, so I thought,
Conceptual Step 3: Why choose?
The final step of my Atheism odyssey came to me while studying World History My sons and I passed through Ancient Eygpt, Rome, the Myans, Aztecs, and many more rich cultures. I couldn't help but acknowledge how valuable each culture's personal faiths were to them, even though we look back and view them all as myths. It made me wonder if 500 or 1000 years from now, school children would be reading about "Christian Mythology". Weren't the beliefs in the Roman gods just as important to the Romans, as Christianity is to modern Christians?
Why limit myself to current, conventional belief systems? If I could believe in the Holy Trinity, then why not Zeus, or Hermes?
Final conceptual step: When it comes to religion, moving forward in time, and the evolution of cultures do not validate belief systems. Instead, as times change and people evolve, so do their beliefs.
I'd love to elaborate on all this, and I will-in another post.