Right, where to begin? Born and raised a (Catholic) Christian, confirmed etc I was, until recently, content to believe that there was some higher transcendental being watching over us/putting challenges before us/being there for us in times of need. For most of what has so far been a short life I took comfort in this, without ever having a shred of evidence or a religious experience to support this belief. I'm perfectly happy to admit it was blind faith, a result of my schooling and background.
More recently (the last six months), I have begun to actually think about what it all means. I understand this will be a rather boring discussion as my hackneyed comments will have been churned out many times before on this forum, but I guess, like many other users on this site, I just want to hear the opinions of those who don't take comfort, but are disturbed by the notion of a 'Big Brother' supernatural being who, according to the chaps who wrote the big book, claim that this God will cart me off to an eternity of waterboarding and mutilation, or some other such torture, just for being sceptical in the face of no evidence for perhaps the most extravagant claim for them all.
My early transition points, from a weak belief promoted by my family to, 'I just can't get there from here!', seem to be the following:
1) my sister died when she was 4.5 years old at xmas time, after spending most of her childhood in a children's hospital. Why would 'god' do this to my dear sister?
2) after her death we went to family counseling, and during this, our parish priest was ask to talk with us, with the counselor as mediator. I remember, at 11 years old, that the priest told our family that sister died because 'we did not attend church enough'.
3) as I matured in my science and math interests, I noticed details about the logic enbeded in the ideology, and the cultural details that resulted.
a) reading the bible was discuraged.
b) reading anything dealing with science was both discuraged by the catholic school program and other students.
c) fear of both our intelligence, cognition, and humanity seemed to be promoted. There was no 'safe' place to 'think from' without fear infesting that process.
d) the ideology seemed to consist of a very small and confined/closed loop of logic, that was 'self sealing' against disconfirmation, via 'no outside information', 'fear of individual cognition', 'doubt of process due to satanic influence', and 'submission of results to church authority'.
4) the characteristics of 'god' seemed to imply both practical and abstract contradictions. The characteristics of omnipotence, omnicience, etc would/should allow 'god' to do 'all things', be 'everywhere at once', 'know all things', etc. 'God' should be able to make 4=5, all false 'logic' statements 'true', both 'create and uncreate at once', etc. Such a situation seems to be a fully mad situation and untenable.
5) the effects of the ideology on human nature seemed questionable to me. Submitting the results of 'science' to the congruence with 'ideology' seems nutty. Could the bible consisting of about 4.5 megabits of textual data really contain all the true and necessary knowledge about the universe, human nature, spirituality, etc?
This is my short form, feel free to add your own..
Steady! After a lifetime of indoctrination we can feel weightless and untethered over on this side. But it doesn't sound like you need much help. You've thought about it. You can't unthink it (in the absence of more evidence to consider).
In the long run you will find that the rational world is a much happier place to be.
Sadly, there can be much sadness that emerges out of the 'real'. I can understand why many will not leave the comfort of shared fantasy.
Thank you all so much for your replies - apologies for my absence I have been snowed under with my degree these past couple of weeks. To Gallup's Mirror, I actually found Christopher (of whom I have been a long term admirer) to essentially 'push me over the edge' towards atheism (but that video is a gem regardless).
James, I am repulsed by the priest's response to the death of your sister. Sadly I am not surprised. Regarding the catch-all nature of religion's response to questioning and doubt, I call to mind a short documentary by Stewart Lee (an atheist comedian in England), in which he tells a fable about a little girl born with dark brown eyes, but who dearly wanted blue eyes. Reassured by her mother that god loved her and would always answer her prayers, the first night she prayed to god asking that he give her blue eyes. The next morning, she woke up to find them still to be the same shade of brown. The following night, convinced that god would answer her prayer, she asked again, but, again, to no avail. She tried once more, hoping that this time god would grant it. Of course, she woke up and there was no change. She asked her mother why god didn't answer her prayer if he loved her, to which she said (in Lee's words), "oh, my child, God did answer your prayer, but on this occasion his answer was no".