It was late August of 2012 when I confronted myself about my wavering faith. I was coming to terms with my sister's impending death (from ALS) and my son's autism diagnosis. A lot of people don't believe me, but those two issues did not lead me to doubt God. Rather, they exposed the doubt that was already in my heart.
I remember asking people to pray for my sister, but I don't remember asking to pray for her healing. And not once did I pray for my son's deliverance from autism. Just for strategies and help coping.
That's how I remember it, anyway. I could be mistaken. But I do know at some point in both those experiences, the notion of a miracle was not seriously entertained.
I think one of the things people don't understand about losing faith is that it's not a decision. It's never one thing. It's a realization. Over a great deal of time I realized I was not praying the way I used to. Years of asking for something and getting nothing taught me to ask for nothing. The long, slow realization about the nature of the Bible could not be overcome. And, as a straw that broke the camel's back, my search for evidence that first century believers in a position to know for a fact that Jesus was raised went to their deaths rather than renounce that faith... turned up not a solitary shred of supporting evidence.
I finally realized there was no longer any belief that I held that could qualify me as a Christian.
I had to sort through my thoughts and feelings. Reject God outright? No, I would have to know EVERYTHING to know that (spoiler alert: that's bulls#!t). So I told myself I was agnostic. Then I realized that being agnostic is not incompatible with being atheist. One is a "lack of knowledge" claim. The other is a "lack of belief" claim. You could be both. Most atheists are.
I eventually came to the conclusion that the agnostic/atheist dichotomy was not a discussion worth having. Most people don't subscribe to it, and you end up sounding defensive for no reason.
When it comes to the existence of any god worth discussing, I am an atheist. Period.
When it comes to the existence of some abstract concept of gotchagod, I'm agnostic, but only to the extent that such a god defies definition and testable attributes.
Why am I not agnostic? Because Yawheh is a fictional character whose attributes changed over time according to what his creators needed for storytelling purposes, much like Superman and Captain America. He had a wife once. Israel went from recognizing many gods, of whom Yahweh was fiercely jealous, to acknowledging only one, which mad His jealousy wildly irrational.
All those other gods? Oh, they didn't exist. Or they were demonstrations of Satan's power. Except Satan is an imaginary character too, whose attributes are comically vague. He bad. No good things. Accuser. Needs Yahweh's permission to murder Job's family. And Yahweh GRANTS IT. What the bloody...
Anyway, back from THAT tangent.
So now it's been 10 years. Now and then I feel an urge to explore some facet of what I once believed. Not often. For example, I believe the 12 are largely fictional characters. Not all of them. Peter, James and John were real. Judas was a fake. Paul (who certainly existed) refers to Jesus being seen of "the 12" not because Judas was still alive after the crucifixion, but because the story of his betrayal had not been made up yet.
But they're just mental exercises at this point. My main concern with religion is that government stays out of its way and that it stays out of government's way.
I guess we can say it's not a phase.