Can a person who prays be an atheist if they just HOPE a god is listening but very much doubt there really is?
Eventually I realised I was only doing it because I was HOPING there was a listener but couldn't really sense any presence or see any tangible results from praying so I just stopped. I would still have called myself an agnostic but actually found that if ever I asked nyself 'but is there REALLY any reason to think there actually IS a God? The answer was 'no' so I gradually realised I was actually an atheist.
Was I an atheist all along but THOUGHT I was at least agnostic. Surely atheism / agnosticism / theism are actually descriptions which only meaningfully apply to someone who is developed enough to decided this question for themselves. I'd say somewhere around the age of 12 or 13 perhaps depending on their reflectiveness.
What really constitutes an atheist really? Can a person who prays be one if they just HOPE a god is listening? Think of it this way: If you were in a hotel at night and all the power failed and you were in total darkness with no light source and you went into the room next door saying 'Is there anyone here?' you may not KNOW or BELIEVE anyone IS there despite the possibility that someone might be. This is the analogy I would use i.e. I have ALWAYS been subconsciously atheistic even if consciously I may have had some HOPE that some sort of god existed. Who or what it was is any ones guess -there are SO MANY concepts and NO proof that ANY one of them exists at all - just faith faith faith which isn't saying much if you really think about it hard enough.