When I was a young child, religion played a small role in my life. I was baptized Lutheran, and I vaguely remember attending church and Sunday school. The greater portion of my life has had no attachment to any religious affiliation; and that is the way that I prefer it.
Although I never gave too much thought to whether there was a god or not during my adolescent years, I actively began to question godly existence when I was in high school. Before I graduated, I decided that I couldn't answer my query, so I aligned my views in an agnostic way.
But now, I am a full-fledged atheist. God has no place in my belief or value system, and over the years this has become a much easier viewpoint to stand behind. I am much more open in admitting my stance; although, it has taken me 28 years to reach this comfort level.
I try and put a friendly face and attitude to atheism, because I have discovered that I am the first of my kind that some people have come across; a few have incredibly negative assumptions about what an atheist is. While I cannot speak for others, I can explain what I personally believe in and answer any questions. Most are friendly and curious, and we can generally have a discussion without being rude to each other.
Commonly, I'm asked about where my morals come from, since I don't believe in a higher power. My morals come from an inherent sense of right and wrong, from my familial raising combined with societal influence, and from my experience in just being alive. These things allow me to feel in control of my life. My mistakes are not sins; rather they are platforms on which I base my future decisions.
The next most frequent question concerns the existence of humanity. If a higher being did not breathe life into the world, how can our existence be explained? Simple. The world, and universe, is an amazing place. The intricacies that biological beings exhibit are wonderful. Life was created because the conditions to create such life existed. Cellular life took advantage of the opportunity it was given and both evolution and natural selection have steered living beings to the place that they are today. I am satisfied with not having an absolute and concrete starting point of life. Science is approaching this answer, but if it is never discovered, I will still marvel at my surroundings and not overly concern myself with their ultimate origins.
I am an overall happier person since I've become a more visible and vocal atheist. I have my own personal ideas on life and morals, and they are ever-changing based on new information and experiences. Keeping my mind open and always questioning things in an atheistic manner, not only allows me to learn an incredible amount, but it also enables me to live my life in an enriching way.