Macbeth wrote:Devil's advocate: What makes you a credible source that I should read a book about what you have to say about atheism?
Well, the 'five steps' I listed is the path that I followed to get where I am. I was raised in a Presbyterian (read: Born Again) Christian household and went to church every Sunday with my grandparents and mother. My father, whom my mother divorced when I was eight, was always either agnostic, atheist or just didn't care about religion. I never really got a straight answer from him about his beliefs. Anyway, I believed everything I was told and I would pray for my father to find god and even tell him so. Obviously, I was a kid and didn't understand that this was a hurtful thing to say to him.
Once my grandparents moved to Florida we stopped attending church and it gradually just fell to the backburner in my mind. I was always vaguely religious but didn't really put much thought into it. I entered the 'rebellion' stage once I hit high school (a Quaker high school). I was sitting in Ancient Civilizations class and realized that if history had happened a bit differently that we could all be worshiping Ra, the Sun God instead of God. From this point I entered the 'exploration stage' and this lasted for about a year. I even had Druid stamped on my dog tags because I thought it was a cool religion. After this period I skipped completely over the agnostic stage and went directly to militant atheist. I would walk out of the room whenever a chaplain would give an invocation at a military ceremony, I wouldn't rise in church, I would argue with Christians about the true meaning of Christmas etc. That's faded over the past few years and I didn't realize that I had crossed over to the 'fifth stage' until it clicked the other night in the car with my gf.
Whether this makes me credible or not, my story is not unique at all. From other people I have spoken to, these five stages are a good representation of the path they took. I'm not an outsider looking in and making assumptions, this is a story about my own experiences in my own life.