“You’re just going through a phase.” A lot of religious people love to say that about atheists, especially young ones. “You know, you’ll find God eventually. You’re just rebelling.” As if we become atheists just out of spite, just to make everyone mad, as if we haven’t put a lot of thought into this. It’s just a really, really dumb thing to say. Now maybe some of you watching this are literally new atheists Maybe some of you are on the fence about religion. How do you know when you’re a real atheist, and not just going through a phase? You know, at what point do you feel comfortable embracing the “A” word? Well, you’re not afraid of hearing information that might prove you wrong. Atheists read the bible. Christians don’t always read The God Delusion. You know, we’re always on the lookout for evidence that might prove us wrong and realizing it’s just not there. Pastors will warn you against watching secular media, or listening to secular music. The religious right will tell you to boycott TV shows if they might challenge religious sensibilities. And you know they promote abstinence-only sex education because they believe that knowing about condoms and birth control is somehow bad for you. You’ll never hear any of that from atheists Like, we’re going to quote to you exactly what religious leaders are saying we’re going to quote to you directly from their holy books because we want you to see it for yourself. Go see for yourself how ridiculous it all is. If you want to become an atheist, there’s no better way to do it than opening up your bible and reading it. Especially starting from page one. Oh my god, Genesis. You don’t need me to filter it for you, you don’t need any atheist to filter it for you. Go ahead and read it, and judge it for yourself. So if you have no concerns about what the “other side” is going to say, you’re probably out of any “atheist phase,” you are–you’re probably just an atheist now. You get excited when you learn new information. I think one of the most respectable things you can say as an atheist is “I don’t know the answer to that, let’s figure it out.” It’s not enough to just enjoy magic anymore, you want to know how the trick works. If something seems improbable, you’re not just going to take it on faith anymore. You want to know if there’s a rational, reasonable explanation for it. That’s your driving force now. And if that new information clashes with what you used to believe, then maybe it’s time to change your beliefs. That’s okay! We shouldn’t be afraid of that. We have to get used to adapting to the new reality around us. And if you feel that way, you’re probably out of your “atheist phase.” The more you learn, the more your atheism is confirmed. Turns out reality is very consistent with an atheist worldview. I no longer run into ideas that really shake my core beliefs. I’m open to the possibility, but there’s nothing I’ve really seen or heard that makes me think I ought to reconsider. And when that happens over the course of months, and years, and decades, you realize you probably ended up in the right spot. You have good reasons for your beliefs. If you are just going through a phase, it’s hard to justify your beliefs. You do things because it’s cool, or because someone pressured you to do it. That’s not why we’re atheists. We realize God doesn’t exist because we explored the question for ourselves and this is where the evidence came to rest. All that said, is it possible that some atheists are going through a phase, and that they may find God in the near future? Sure. It’s possible. But in my experience, it doesn’t happen very often. And to be honest, I’m not sure why people would say they’re atheists if they didn’t really mean it. It’s not like it’s the popular option. The same thing applies if you tell people you’re gay, or asexual, or voting for Rick Santorum. Like, why would you say those things if they weren’t true? So, to the parents and religious allies out there, if people tell you they’re atheists, believe them. It’s not an easy thing to admit. And it’s infuriating for people like me when someone says we didn’t think this through, when that’s exactly what led us to shed our faith. I mean, how long does a phase have to last before you accept that it’s not just temporary. My name is Hemant Mehta, and I write at friendlyatheist.com. What do you want to see a video about? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll be sure to check it out. And don’t forget to subscribe!