I've already introduced myself here in the Welcome to TA forum, but thought it might be a good idea to write a little blog entry to give a more detailed account of who I am, what I (don't) believe and how I embraced atheism.
So, I'm in Ireland. I was born and raised here and it really is a beautiful country.
I was born in 1985 into a Roman Catholic family. I was baptised as a child, not because my parents were believers, but because it is the done-thing in Ireland. My parents, myself and the rest of my family would have been social pariahs had they refused to have me baptised. My parent's are what I would call "A la Carte" Christians...they picked all the nice things about the faith (heaven, forgiveness, an all-knowing-ever-loving deity etc) but firmly rejected the majority of Roman Catholic dogma. Both my parents were feminists, pro-choice, had no issues with homosexuality or anything that would have been construed as an 'alternative' lifestyle. They rarely took us to church, read the bible or did anything remotely religious with us.
They were great book people and encouraged us all to read, which we all did voraciously. I think this played a fundamental part of my atheism. Through books I was exposed from a very early age to other cultures, beliefs, opinions, history, politics, science. To this day, the fastest way to my heart is through books :) I was always fascinated by myths and legends; Greek, Roman, Norse, Celtic and I remember saying at a very young age, that at some point in the future, civilisation would look back at the 'modern' gods and see them in the same way as we see Thor/Zeus/Jupiter/Lugh.... nothing but myths and legend, and probably laugh at the immaturity of it all!
I was educated in Catholic schools and I will be the first to admit that I received a marvellous education. Despite the majority of Irish schools having an RC ethos, they all teach the state curriculum so it is very much fact based and pro-science. The only times I ever felt discriminated against was during RE class. Here we were taught the Catholic view on things like divorce, sexuality, family planning..all of which I protested against, loudly. I was often told that I was a sinner/deviant/condemned but I basically told them that I didn't give a f*ck what they thought about me.
At that point in my life, I hadn't yet found atheism. I still believed that there was something out there, some sort of higher power, something that decided my fate and destiny. In my late teens I dabbled a bit in various other beliefs. I looked at paganism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam. I found solace for a good long while in Buddhism and subscribed to my own particular mixture of Mahayana and Zen traditions. However I soon tired of it and shrugged off the daily slog of 'thinking happy thoughts'. It was fucking exhausting!
At the age of 23, I went into hospital for a minor procedure. As part of the admission process I was asked what my religiously beliefs were...I didn't even have to think about it..I quickly and proudly answered 'None!" That brief moment felt amazing :) I HAVE NO RELIGION. I DON'T BELIEVE IN GOD!!
To finally admit it to myself that I didn't believe was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders, a weight that I didn't know I was carrying in the first place.
Since that day I have never hid my lack of faith and as time goes by I am becoming more and more anti-theist and anti-religion. Seeing what the RCC has done to society in Ireland has angered me greatly and I have attempted to have myself removed from the RCC records permanently. The pain and hurt they have inflicted on women and children in particular makes my blood boil. Whenever I think that the Irish Catholic Church cannot shock me any more, another gruesome skeleton falls out of their closet and shocks me to the core.