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My friend, August Berkshire, was mentioned in an article in Minnesota’s The Free Press newspaper.
The article talks about the cliché that you “find God” suddenly, maybe in a moment of difficulty, and you have “one of those a-ha moments.”
August says that it’s not quite the same for atheists:

But when someone decides to abandon their belief in God, things don’t happen quite so suddenly. August Berkshire of the group Minnesota Atheists says that becoming an atheist — which Berkshire defines as “a lack of belief in God, rather than a belief that God doesn’t exist” — could take three to five years.

That seems rather long to me. Personally, it took a few months from the moment I started questioning my faith to the time I “officially” called myself an atheist. Was it a matter of months or years or something else for the rest of you? Either way, I can’t think of any stories where someone instantly became an atheist.
August makes one more statement in the piece:

Berkshire compares his revelation to friends and family to a gay person coming out of the closet. When he told his family, it led to a decade of strained relations.
“They felt as though they had done something wrong in raising me, until they realized I was still the same person,” he said.

Again, my time frame was much shorter. I would say it was about five years after coming out about my atheism until my parents finally got used to it. They’ll still tell me to pray or have faith, but they know the words mean nothing to me, so they don’t push it anymore.

[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]