From Atheist to Believer

atheist-agnostic-religiousJust read an article entitled, “Your atheism isn’t going to keep your kids from believing in God.”

I was not raised an atheist. It was more that religion simply wasn’t that big a deal. My father was a lapsed Catholic, my mother was essentially a non-believer. As a young child, I was “taken” to church (Catholic due to my father’s Basque, very religious, family) and later I was enrolled in catechism classes (which I left … another story, another time).

As I grew older (12? 13?), for reasons I don’t recall, I purchased a red-letter edition bible. I was in a stationery store (where I used to love to hang out) and saw this bible with a white leather-like cover and gold lettering, “Holy Bible.”  I thought it was so pretty … which, now that I think about it, was most likely my motivation for buying it. Once I got home I placed it on my headboard in a conspicuous location (remember, I thought it was pretty).

On occasion, I do remember taking it down from its exalted spot and thumbing through the pages. Of course the red letters grabbed my attention but mostly I stopped at Psalms to read a few lines … because they made me “feel good.”

At this point in my life, I think I had a vague feeling there was a god but that’s about as far as it went. It wasn’t until many years later, after I was married, that circumstances in my life turned me towards (big-G) God (also a story for another time).

Anyway, the above-mentioned article intrigued me since it reminded me of my own situation. In one place, it asked: “Do kids raised without religion actively seek it out and convert all that often?” The answer surprised me. A 2008 Pew survey indicated only 46 percent of those raised in religiously unaffiliated families (which includes atheists, agnostics, and those who say they’re “nothing in particular”) remain unaffiliated as adults. Another study using the same data found that only 30 percent of people explicitly raised as atheists (excluding other unaffiliateds) remain so as adults. An updated study (2012) raised the unaffiliated rate to 53 percent. The article does state these measurements are not perfect, but they do indicate somewhat of a trend towards religion vs. irreligion.

I have my own thoughts on why this happens, but would be interested in hearing the opinions of others. Especially those who are in or have experienced this in their own families.