We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us the reason they stopped believing in God. Here are their insightful replies:
1. Watching a loved one die:
"I never doubted God, until my grandma was diagnosed with vascular dementia and Alzheimer's when she was about 60. When she died, my mom said she would be singing with the angels, but I couldn't understand why a loving God would have taken her voice away in the first place."
2. Being excorcised:
"I first experienced depression when I was 13. It tore me to pieces. My grades were shit and I became a recluse. My family thought I was possessed by demons, so they called a priest over to exorcise me and that was the last day I believed in a God. No true God would make me suffer through that in deepest of despairs."
3. Working in the medical field:
"I stopped believing when I began to work in oncology and end-of-life care. My faith was pretty rock solid up until then. Over the years, I've seen too many lovely people experience hideous pain and die before their time."
4. Experiencing infidelity and divorce:
"I got married and took the vows we had for each other as a serious covenant with God. She had a child from her previous marriage, and four years into our marriage, she cheated on me with the child's father. I told her about the pact we made to each other and to God, but it didn’t matter to her. I gave my life to God and the church, but he wasn’t able to save my marriage."
5. Being gay:
"When I came out to my grandmother, the first thing she brought up was religion. She said that she'd accept me, but she was worried about me going to hell because I wouldn't be accepted in the eyes of God. I don't want to believe in something that doesn't believe in me."
6. Knowing believers who weren't compassionate:
"While at the funeral for a friend who had died from suicide, my mother held my hand and said, 'He’s going to burn in hell for this.' That was the day I decided I couldn’t believe in a religion that produces such hateful people."
7. Seeing a family fall apart:
"My parents got divorced, and things ended horribly for everyone involved. Ten years later, and we are still in court. I don’t live with my younger siblings anymore. Both of my parents and my siblings are incredibly depressed. If there was a God, he wouldn’t let children and good people go through this much pain."
8. Not having any evidence:
"I was raised in a strict Catholic family. When I was 18, I came to reject religion. I needed empirical evidence, and there simply was none."
9. Witnessing greed:
"When my grandmother passed away, my grandfather asked the priest to say a prayer to help her get to heaven safely. The priest then held his hand out to receive money for doing so. After that, I didn’t believe anymore."
10. Seeing parents stay in a bad marriage:
"I was a kid, and I watched my parents stay in a marriage that was completely rotted from the inside. Knowing that God thought it appropriate to keep two people like that together forced me to stop believing entirely."
11. Feeling restricted:
"It happened when I was 13. My family belongs to the Christian Reformed Church, and some of them are extremely religious. I was constantly told I was going to hell for the smallest things, like playing with a Magic 8 ball or reading Harry Potter."
12. Being forced into having faith:
"When I was younger, my dad told me all about Islam, but when I turned 14, I realized I was being forced into the religion. Everyone I knew always asked me if i was Muslim, and while I didn't want to let them down, I didn't want to be pushed into believing things that have no proof of being true."
13. Experiencing infertility:
"I felt like I was put on this earth to be a mother and was told I have unexplained infertility. That was a hard pill to swallow."
14. Having unanswered prayers:
"After graduating from junior college, I fell into a huge state of depression. I prayed a ton for a sign or something to let me know I wasn’t alone, but it fell on deaf ears. I managed to eventually crawl out of the pit of despair and start to feel more like me. The silence from a supposed merciful and loving God just made me lose my faith."
15. Feeling uncomfortable:
"Religion just kind of drifted out of my life as I got older, and when I tried to revisit it recently, I found it to be anxiety-inducing and a bit cultish."
16. Connecting with the universe:
"I was sent to Israel for six weeks when I was 16. At one point, we camped out in the Negev Desert. For the first time in my life, I saw the Milky Way with zero light pollution. I knew right then and there that some man-made deity wasn't my way. I felt more connected with the universe than I ever had before."
17. Viewing God as a child's myth:
"I questioned the existence of a God at a very young age. When I was in about first grade, I found out that the tooth fairy wasn't real and I assumed that all mystical beings I had been told about were also made up."
18. Having unanswered questions:
"I grew up in Salt Lake City, where everyone I knew was Mormon. In my teenage years, I started to realize some things didn't add up, and that this 'faith' was truly blind. I would get in trouble for asking questions about dinosaurs and earth's timeline. They preach and preach but never get to the hard questions."
19. Seeing faith do more harm than good:
"After learning of all the persecution and atrocities that had been committed in the name of Christianity, I came to the conclusion that the world would be a better place without religion."
20. Being shunned by peers:
"I went to church on my own for years, until I started dating a boy who didn’t go to church himself. I was completely ostracized by my entire youth group. I couldn’t believe people who preached love would do such a thing, and I stopped going."
21. Seeing God as selfish:
"When I was 14, I tried to read the Bible in its entirely and could barely make it through the first few chapters of Genesis without wondering why God sounded and acted so selfish."
22. Meeting people of different faiths:
"It happened when I backpacked through Southeast Asia. I refused to believe all the people I met would be condemned to hell for having a different faith."
23. Feeling overwhelmed by guilt:
"My mom was never pushy with us as kids, but we were told about heaven, hell, and sin, which made me worried and obsessed about everything I did. Guilt is not what religion is supposed to be about, so I decided to have faith in myself."
24. Researching the roots of religion:
"I started to doubt the existence of God when I learned in high school that the Bible is entirely written by humans and not by some divine creator. Then in college I learned about other religions and came to accept that religion is a man-made concept."
25. Experiencing constant fear:
"I realized that, for my whole life, I had only 'believed' out of fear of getting in trouble or going to hell. It didn't seem like a great belief system to have. So with the help of two amazing boyfriends, who were non-religious, I was able to separate from the church."
Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.