Atheism and Adolescent Identity

Essay by mystikalkashCollege, UndergraduateA+, April 2008

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Atheism is characterized by an absence of belief in the existence of gods. This absence of belief generally comes about either through deliberate choice, or from a primitive inability to believe religious teachings that seem literally incredible. It is not a lack of belief born out of simple ignorance of religious teachings. Some atheists go beyond a mere absence of belief in gods: they actively believe those particular gods, or all gods, do not exist. In today's society it can seem potentially tasking to identify who a true atheist is, as opposed to an individual who doesn't practice religion or considers themselves to be reformed, however once these individuals are identified it will be easier to examine this phenomenon. A person is not born with innate religious convictions they are influenced the religious beliefs and practices of their parents right after birth, an idea that some religious zealots may contest.

To understand atheism one must first understand the establishment of religion in an individual's life, followed by the possible causes of straying away from their religion. Infants and children do not have to deal with direct problems or needs pertaining to religion, because their parents are their 'higher being'. Even so, this early stage in life is vital in formation of religion. The identification that infants make with their parents combined with their parent's beliefs and religion form a new parental unity that the infant learns from and unconsciously begins to develop an idea of religion.

Before we begin our investigation into the formation of atheism, an important distinction between religion and spirituality must be made. As a child develops religiously, they grow within a community of their peers who have the same religious beliefs, ideologies, and practices. Spiritual development occurs when a child becomes more focused in their search...