I will start with a short anecdote
When the war started 20 years ago in my country I didn't know very much about my religion, especially what it was called because I didn't know others existed. In my eyes all I had to do is believe in god, fold my hands in prayer and ask for little things to happen and learn bunch of thing from the catechism. My priest came to me and asked me what my fathers faith was. I didn't know. Then he sad something and I agreed because I believed he sad the name of my faith. This became a serious problem and everybody stated jumping around and asking me what did I do and why. There was panic because of me and it had something to do with 'the war'.
Later I discovered that my father was born in a small city which was know as headhold of same strange religious group called the 'greek orthodox church' (it's not that small in world sense, but it was almost unknown in my country.) I have to point out that Croatia is 99% catholic, the rest is 'not good to be' during the war. So my priest concluded that my father is not catholic and therefore I was not catholic and can't become one. My parents were in uproar and had to find their christening certificate to prove that they were in fact catholic. The good thing was that only my fathers certificate was needed because my mother was born in another country (very wrong country at that time).
Because my parent were born during the socialism they denoted them selves as Yugoslavs and forgotten all about their christening certificates because it was not good to be religious openly during this times. Finally they somehow managed to find them or made copies to prove they were a) Croats b) Catholic. If they couldn't prove this (because of something a foolish six years old child said) our house would probably be burn down. Not just because of all this stupidity, but because everybody envied us and all they needed was a reason to burn our house down. Many houses across Croatia burned down and this was very serious.
The reason why they weren't born in the city and country I was born in, was because their fathers had jobs that needed them to move around a lot. They spent most of their lives all across former Yugoslavia. even when my father started working he worked in many places very far away from home but he never asked us to move because he didn't want us to grow up as he and my mother did.
The bottom line was that I was christened, took my first communion and even had that last important thing however it was called, who cares, by that time I was completely uninterested in this 'god' that loved only specific people with strange hand movements, while droning strange words in strangely lit big houses and so on. I just didn't care about religions that made you kill each other while no one actually believed in all of it, it was just something to separate us, to make us different because we couldn't find anything else.
Did I believe at all?
When I was young I believed that cartoon characters were real, I also believed that god was real (notice I write god with lower case all the time :D). I stopped personificating inanimate objects when I reached the 'age of reason', don't really know when that was, I was preoccupied with my own fantastic inventions. I was a daydreamer. To this day I wrote down my dreams and my imaginations but I never ever did anything with them. 'To become a writer' was just a dream to me. Everything is a dream to me: what I'm going to do when I finish my studies?, where am I going to be?, who will I marry if it ever happens?, do I want to have children or not because there are to many of us?
When I lost my religion I didn't know what to do. It's like being kicked out of a football team. You did this every because other people did it and then you wake up one day and realise that you don't want to be a part of it and there is nothing else that you can do so you pretend just to be apart of something. I pretended to be religious for a long time because everybody were religious. Later I started loosing friend over this. People change and more of them became passive around religion, while other became more fired up. This is even now the grate divide that no one talks about (except priest, of course).
The whole thing started during the war. I was just a small child then. People were on brink of death every day. There was a surgeon that came to our house a lot, he was a good friend, he helped so many people to cheat death, to laugh at it's face. If there was no war there would be no dying, But nobody cared to ask this questin. Why? Because my country was in war every fifty years at least. It was something every generation had to go trough. It was considered normal. Did I mentioned that the surgeon was a devote catholic? I didn't see him as one. All I've learned from his vhs tapes of half dead people living again in his hospital was that human science and humanity can save lives while nationality and religion tries to extinguish it.
I was always surrounded by encyclopaedias and I learned every day something new. there was no god there in the texts because most of it was written by socialist that ruled my country for fifty years, and when socialism fell, religious revival started. During this time I had to pretend I was religious catholic. It was almost shameful.
When I was around 14 years old I met first person that was a devout socialist and didn't attend religious education. To this time I didn't know that this was a choice, I thought you had to be religious even if you were not. Finally my eyes were opened and during high school I attended Ethics class and forgotten all about my strange religion. I was finally an atheist, but then I realised something very strange and frightening. Everybody who attended Ethics class were religious, they just weren't catholic. Some were muslim and some were eastern orthodox. Again I was alone with my beliefs.
To this day I am surrounded by agnostic socialist (yes, being a socialist doesn't mean that you are atheist, they actually believe there is a god just not the one catholic or others believe in, to sum it up, they don't like priests), active catholic (the ones that go to church every Sunday, they read mostly theological books), passive catholic (they don't go to church, have a lot of premarital sex and swear, but if you mention something against catholic church YOUR OUT LINE) and muslim (they are very rare and yet again there are different kinds, but non are extremists, some eve eat pork and love it).
In other words I am atheist because I've been through so much. I just can't believe there is a good, just, merciful god that knows and sees all while the world slowly revolves around the sun, while little children die of aids, while people smoke aids drugs (whoonga) instead of curing themselves, while people go to extreme lengths to turn the world into their own image because only when there is no other religion, no other basis for morality and laws, no other vision of universe, no other truth only then they will feel secure in their own little paradise. Makes me sick!