Loss of faith is fundamental to this question, for in order for a person to “become” an atheist, that is to reject the gods, they must first have had the gods in their life. There are any number of reasons for loss of faith, for rejection of the gods.
The overwhelming Christian belief is of a just and loving father God. How confronting for the believer to continue with devotion when earthquakes and storms kill thousands in a blow. When witnessing the violent deaths of innocent children and loving families.
This tenet of Christianity holds people through the worst personal trials. If your father beats you, if your neighbour rapes you, if your dog gets run over and your best friend goes off with your boyfriend, it’s okay, you’ll be good when you get to heaven.
If your baby is born with a deformed spine and your mother gets dementia and doesn’t even know who you are and your husband is crippled in a forklift accident so that he can never walk again or work and then you find out that your health insurance won’t cover it, don’t worry. Jesus will look after you. And then you find out that you’ve got bowel cancer and it’s really advanced and you’ll be dead in less than a year and for that time you’ll suffer the most horrific pain, that’s okay because you’ll be going to a better place in the end.
To some people this faith will carry them through all of the worst things you can think of. To the atheist this is just stupid. The atheist will have figured out that there’s no percentage wasting his or her last days praying to a god who has done all this.
So some guy (it’s usually a guy) apparently has a direct line to god and is now going to tell you exactly how to run your life. What to eat, what to buy, how your sex life is supposed to go and how to spend your money. Most of all, in fact, how to spend your money. Let’s not focus on how many of this guy’s officials are off sexually abusing your children.
Who wouldn’t be cynical about the way these places were run?
Who would want to give them any power?
So Jesus was born on Christmas Eve, right? 24th of December. While the shepherds were out there, watching their flocks.
Uh, hang on a sec. 24th of December is the middle of winter in that neck of the woods. Those shepherds would have been tucked away somewhere warm.
Okay, what about Noah. He built that ark, put two of every kind of animal on it, and saved them from God’s flood.
No probs. And when the floodwaters receded and the animals hopped off, they all went about their business. The two rabbits went off to make more rabbits and the two Thompsons Gazelles went off to leap about the place and the two lions went hunting and ate one of the Thompsons Gazelles and oops.
God is loving and just and forgives all.
God created hell for nonbelievers.
Cognitive dissonance is the ability to believe in two conflicting ideas at the same time. Somehow, the believers’ brains are able to accommodate these “square circles”. They have no problem in believing what they have been told is The Truth. Not everybody is this prepared to suspend disbelief.
Strangely, this topic assumes that everybody is born with the belief of gods. Is it possible, though, that belief of gods is not an inbuilt structure in the human mind, but simply a powerful meme that’s been around for thousands of years. That some of us are naturally immune to this meme, and some of us just manage to recover from it? That the real question is not “understanding why some people become atheist” but “speculation on the need for a religious mindset”?