When I was a child, I believed in Jesus. I couldn’t wrap my head around how he worked or what he could do, but my mom told me he loved me, so I thought, cool, I love him too. Once she told me that when I got older I would see much greater things that God could do than what I could even imagine. Obviously, I’m not as impressed as she thought I would be, but I do know a lot more about God now than I did then.
I was taught the usual fundamentalist Christian ideas: God created the universe, and that is the end of the discussion. There is no evolution and there was no big bang, and don’t ever question it or listen to what those evil others (atheists) tell you.
Unfortunately, that’s not what they teach you in public school. Being practically scientific fact and all, evolution and the big bang are pretty widely taught in grade school science classes (of course, not without the disclaimer first that anyone who doesn’t believe in these ideas doesn’t have to personally accept them). I was one of those kids on the day that my 6th grade science teacher showed us a video about the big bang and the formation of the earth. I couldn’t believe that someone would try to teach me about the non-Christian (read: evil) option of origins. However, it didn’t take much of the video to convince me that the idea of a big bang wasn’t so impossible. In fact, I didn’t see anything hard to believe about it at all, unlike the concept of creation.
This video sparked the beginning of my skepticism. I had never really liked going to church anyways. I’d never understood how anyone had been able to accurately record the creation story in the first place if no one was there to witness it, and I didn’t know why people believed that humans used to live to be 900 years old but nowadays they couldn’t. I never asked about it, though, because something told me that my mother probably wouldn’t have the answers.
From then on until high school, I didn’t really have a name for what I was. At first, I just called it I-don’t-think-I-believe-in-God-but-whatever (a convenient excuse to not pay attention in church), then what-makes-anyone-think-they-know-all-the-answers (non-labeled agnosticism), then I’m-not-a-Christian-but-I’m-not-an-atheist-because-that’s-bad, then you know the rest. Until recently I’ve said I’ve been an atheist since 6th grade, but it definitely wasn’t that clean cut. I didn’t truly accept atheism until coming to a Christian college.