Answer by Jim Ashby:
'Turn to atheism' is a phrase that portrays atheism as a monolithic alternative to faith. It's not faith versus atheism. There's many alternatives: religious/spiritual indifference or apathy, agnosticism, humanitarianism, deism, pantheism, Satanism, Wicca, Buddhism, New Age mysticism, etc.
Atheists don't 'turn to' atheism: believers do. But it's not a choice so much as a learning experience. It is common for believers to experience cognitive dissonance and to investigate the doctrines and dogmas that trouble them. Because logic is the best tool for figuring things out, inquiring minds are prone to using it. As you begin to understand the the lies you've been fed by believers — friends, family and society at large — curiosity is likely to compel you on a quest to expose all the lies — for no other reason than it's human nature to value truth.
Based on my own personal surveys of atheist websites, social media (especially Atheist Nexus, which requires new registrants to explain how they came to atheism) and forums like Quora, it's clear that most atheists on the Internet were once believers. But many never were — they never had to 'turn to' atheism.
Most self-proclaimed atheists have turned to atheism . . . but not directly. Most of us arrived at atheism after a long sojourn of exploration that, over time, shed old vestiges of our former religious selves. It's an educational process of sorts that improves our level of discernment and strengthens our appreciation of rational integrity.
I don't know any long-term atheists who are unhappy that they ever 'turned to' atheism. Nobody wants to live a lie.