My search towards atheism took me through many detours, many different "so-called" spiritual journeys. These journeys were sprinkled with forays into various religions and the reading of the various texts associated with these religions or life styles. The one thing this journey did do for me though was to create a lot of thinking and trying to justify various positions which do not fit well with positions that society holds in general. Now, while I am sad my atheism took so long to get too, I am also glad. I missed out on a large portion of my life when I was young that could have been employed more beneficially than going to church or prayer groups etc. But through this all, I learned a very important lesson.
The thing this process did teach me, is skepticism. This is something I believe some atheists never actually go through and its scary to think about, as there is no justification why they hold their atheistic beliefs. Its the same as theists born into the wrong religion?
In essence my atheism as I was explaining to a very good friend of mine the other day is what I like to term a side-effect. Sometimes you have side-effects in medicine. In the same way my atheism is a side effect of thinking. Atheism should not be our only goal, it should be to promote skeptical thinking.