For some it was a gradual erosion of faith as their doubts mounted up and religion failed to provide the necessary answers, while for others it was a dramatic burst of realisation, like waking up to find they'd been living in a comfortable but unrealistic dream.
For me, it was nothing like that. I was raised in a household where religion was just not important. My Mother is probably best described as an agnostic lapsed Christian and my Father is "spiritual" in a new agey, ageing hippy kind of way, and while they were (and still are) happy to openly discuss their beliefs and views with us kids, there was never any pressure to conform and always a willingness to engage in heathy debate. Although we were baptised (though I think that was more because it was the done thing rather than any aspiriation on my parents behalf for us to be religious) and we did attend Church of England primary schools (though, again, I think this was less about religion and more about good quality education.)
So, without the pressure to conform at home, and raised in an environment where having differing views and opinions was respected as being an important part of developing yourself as an individual, I was free to make my own mind up as to whether or not these stories I heard at school had any relevance to my life.
I think that's why I never viewed any of the modern religions as any more real than the ancient mythologies my Father would tell me about or the fairytales my Mother loved to read. They were just more stories and while, as with all stories, there may be helpful messages interspersed here and there they're also full of some of the darkest capabilities of the human mind and they just end up sounding ludicrous if you try to take them literally.
So I never really felt as if religion was something I needed, though that's not to say I never felt the need to try at various points growing up. Whether it was the feeling that I was missing out on something my friends had (not helped by my being a precocious little brat who'd happily proclaim at age 5, in class learning about the creation story, that I didn't believe in god and it was evolution and revolution that created the world we live in and thereby getting myself thoroughly ostracised by the rest of the kids who were happily lapping up the indoctrination) Or the times in my life where I was desperate for a saviour, any saviour, to protect me from my darkest experiences. I even went through a phase, around the time when I was first diagnosed with depression at 13, where I read every single religious text I could get my hands on (the benefit of being hyperlexic is that it thankfully didn't take too long, because that's a hell of a lot of drivel to dedicate too much time to, trust me!) So it's not as if I didn't try to find any gods, just that there were never any there for me to find and the effort of trying to convince myself always just left me feeling rather silly, rather like being caught dancing to music in my head (which, I'm embarrassed to admit, has been known...)
The trouble is, for me, none of it makes any sense. There's far too many inconsistencies and not enough convincing evidence for any kind of loving creator deity (I may go into some of these inconsistencies in a later post) and if there's no loving creator deity, then what need for any kind of deity at all? And if there's no deities at all then what purpose is left for religions and all the spiel that comes along with them?
It's all just rather pointless and redundant, really. Especially when there's far more wondrous and awe inspiring aspects of reality than we can even begin to understand within my lifetime. Personally, I'm far happier investing my time in those!