@Tom - I know what you mean, I'm schizophrenic and so am I --
Mercedes, my dad was Catholic and my mom Methodist. She converted to Catholicism when I was in a Catholic middle school.
About your "...we've always trusted God to get us through."
While in college in Florida, and quitting Catholicism, I rented a room from a elderly Methodist couple who told me their belief: Pray as if everything depends on God; work as if everything depends on me. I thought about it and asked myself "Why do both?" Prayer never had worked for me so I chose to do the work part.
That was decades before the Internet and before support groups like this one. Quitting religion was a mostly lonely task. In the college library I found and read books about the different kinds of Christianity, about the many different world religions, and about the world's many creation stories. I was relieved to find that all of the world's major religions have a form of the Golden Rule.
I met atheists who said they "knew" there is no god and decided that they knew as little as Catholics knew, and so I settled on agnosticism.
More important than that was graduating and finding work I enjoyed that people would pay me to do.
I wish you success in your search.
At 13, I stood on a hilltop in a lightening storm, and dared god to strike me dead - I walked off the hilltop an atheist.
You sound a lot me, at one time. However for me religion and it's influence made me a Hateful, B@#$%. I could not rationalize why we are so special and how god could of made such an utter mistake by granting me passage to the world. But as I started to break free, I found relief, from all the worrying, and intolerance that comes as a part of a true believer.
More importantly, if a religion does make all good people feel happy and empowered, it's good, but just one human is made to feel less than all other humans, because of words in a book, it's not so great now is it? A god who is all good, all powerful, all knowing, all loving, could not create a hell, could not be envious of how human existence, or jealous of our interactions as humans. S/he could also no knowingly create evil, bad sure why not, but a human that wants to see the world burn is against the whole prefect bit.
Bad things happen, life is hard, it's is suppose to be difficult. But to think a god has an investment or a reason to see one human excel and another suffer, after all it's Yahweh's plan. The plan is for most people to live in poverty? A fair and honest god, that allows genocide or war? For women to be property, own by a man, or even more laughable made from a rib, even though every single human is a female before it's a male. For the minorities of world to suffer from the lack of protection, the lack of education, the lack of food, shelter, water, clothes, love, community, property?
So all that is part of god's perfect?? plan? This is what stopped my faith, and I would of rather been able to hang on to some form of god, but the picture wasn't painted as such, it was painted to scare you into submission, which is really the cruelest trick of all, you could possibly be robbing yourself of a better life, one filled with joy, and love for everyone that can be considered good, by a standard of real world moral, based of earthly knowledge, and common sense.
So I have some questions for you Mercedes.
Do you feel like in your current perceptions, that atheists can be grouped and labeled as a whole?
Do you feel there is any possibility that any other religion could be true?
Do you, for the briefest moment, feel that after reading some of the posts on this thread your belief could be changed?
Do you believe in the literal story of creation as set in the bible?
Do you know any atheists in your personal life at all?
What part of the U.S. do you live in?
Wrong question. It's not what we BELIEVE it's what we DON'T believe. We do not believe in anything supernatural: Any God, Psychics, Mediums, Prayer, etc.
It is a bit of a grey area as to what we believe because that connotes some sort of faith. To be clear, I don't think any Atheist subscribes to faith (although some right wing conservatives would say we do, we don't). We, for lack of a better term, believe in anything for which there is scientific, tested, and proven evidence. This being said our beliefs can change with new evidence (like any good science). We try to stay current on our research and we can be swayed given proper evidence.
Look at it this way: Is it really plausible that the entire universe was created by some magical sorcerer? To me, waiting for an explanation beats that one!
RE: "I am a Christian...." - that's OK Mercedes, none of us are perfect --
I still call myself a Christian sometimes. I haven't figured out if I'm a Christian or an atheist. Some days I just feel like I really need God, yet I've gone almost two years now without believing in him and I'm still doing fine.
I believe that if you say the Bible is true, it needs to stand up to the same kind of scrutiny you would give any other belief system. I believe it's important to follow the facts, no matter where they lead, even if it makes you uncomfortable. I believe that science works; computers, microwaves, and penicillin were invented by humans doing research and using their minds, not handed down by divine revelation.
I believe slavery is wrong, that men and women are equal, and that political/religious freedom is good. These are all values which are not found in the Bible. (You could make an equally strong argument for or against any of them based on the Bible.) I believe those values have come about slowly through cultural evolution and a better understanding of empathy, not by studying the Bible -- in fact, periods where people relied more heavily on the Bible are periods which did not have those values.
The atheists on this site I'm sure have given you many ideas where to get more information. Many of the users on this site have blogs detailing what they believe. I like this blog, myself, and this one. Good luck. I apologize that I haven't had time to read all the comments, so I hope I'm not just repeating what others have said.
Isn't science a way we can understand God better?
Absolutely not. Science has been disproving the claims of gods and holy books at every turn. Science supports facts and testable evidence. The scientific method is anathema to religion. Every scientific discovery is first denied by the church, and later reworded to sound like "See! We told you God is great!"
As Neil deGrasse Tyson put it,
“I want to put on the table, not why 85% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences reject God, I want to know why 15% of the National Academy don’t.”
Or my personal favorite,
“God is an ever receding pocket of scientific ignorance.”