I was about 40 when I finally took on the label, "atheist". For a few years before that I would take no label for I misunderstood the definitions of the words "agnostic" and "atheist" and felt that neither applied. I was a Christian in my childhood and until I was in my 20s. (Baptist and then Pentecostal. I spoke "in tongues" more than once.) From Christianity I went to something akin to deism (there is a god but we cannot know its nature) to praying to a goddess and being into astrology and other "new age" stuff. None of my conversions were due to any drama or trauma. My atheism was due to an evolution over time which was fed by education, reading the bible, observation, honest and fearless inquiry.
I do not, however, automatically respect those who are religious, nor can I possibly agree that "religion has been a force for good in history".
I Am An Atheist
It is not for a lack of desire,
for who would not want an Omnipotent Being
looking out for one's welfare,
protecting one's loves?
It is not for a streak of rebellion,
for I live my life no differently
than most who believe in God.
It is not for disappointment
in prayers unanswered,
for my life is good.
Some call it "blessed".
It is not due to misunderstanding,
for once I believed as they do,
bible at my bed, read through
dark nights of doubt,
praises to God in the morning.
It is not due to anger at clergy,
nor encountering the wrong church
or hypocrite laity,
for I've known many wonderful believers.
It is not hatred, fear, pride,
selfishness, or lack of education;
It is not bigotry, persecution, or immorality
that prevents me from believing.
I am an atheist,
not believing in the gods of today
for the same reason believers
in the gods of yesterday.
~Ex-fundie-xian; former new ager; agnostic atheist