So the post I made in the "Coming Out Godless" group got a lot of awesome feedback.... that's super cool. :) I feel like I've found a great place to talk to people about this stuff.
Since it's the beginning of the quarter and I'm not totally bogged down with schoolwork yet, I've started doing some pretty heavy research. It's kind of difficult to know where to begin, so I'm starting with some of the names/books/videos/etc that people mentioned in the comments on my first post. Last night, I watched Richard Dawkins' documentary "The God Delusion." I know he's got a book by the same title that I've seen a lot of people recommend. Right now I'm eating taco salad (:D) and watching another of his documentaries, "Faith is a Virus." I'm gonna get to the library soon so I can get my read on.
"Faith is a Virus" focuses on the indoctrination of children, which is something that's been on my mind a lot lately. I grew up in the church... participated in Vacation Bible School almost every year in elementary and middle school, sang in choirs, went to Children's Church, Sunday School, youth ministries, and now college ministries. Even if I were to cast off religion for good, I know that I'd still be haunted with thoughts of Hell, because the idea of Hell has been taught to me since I was a baby, pretty much. I remember a few years back, reading about a man who told himself everyday that there was a person stalking him on his walk to work and back home. For years he told himself this (even though it was a lie), and eventually, he convinced himself that it was the truth and he lived the rest of his life in constant fear and paranoia. He repeated the lie so much that eventually it became very real (at least in his mind). The story reminds me of my church background... kind of makes me feel like the idea of Hell is what keeps a lot of people in church. They see church as an insurance policy: "Well, if God doesn't exist then it doesn't make a difference if I'm in church or not. But, if God does exist, then I'm safe from Hell." I think atheists and Christians alike can agree that that is not a good reason to be religious.
I've read a few lists of Biblical contradictions, and a lot of tiny articles and deconversion stories over the past couple of weeks... always looking for more though. I've realized that my story has a lot in common with others. :)
My boyfriend is an atheist. (Also contributing to my fledgling skepticism: Christians are not supposed to date non-Christians. This is understandable... and further proof that I'm a bad Christian haha. However, we're also encouraged not to associate with them at all, but somehow we're supposed to "be a light" to them... but more on this later. :p) He also idolizes George Carlin, so I'm pretty sure I've seen almost everything George Carlin has ever done. We're also going to be watching a movie called "Religulous" on date night next Friday. :)
Also on the list of things I'd like to watch/read in the very near future:
The Hitchens/Blair Debate
"Demon Haunted World" by Carl Sagan
... and I'm totally taking more suggestions, haha. :)