I was inspired by another member's blog entry to post about how I came to reject religion and settle into atheism.
I spent much of my childhood in various foster homes. I won't go into detail about the whys of it, just know I was in roughly 4 homes. Each foster family boasted of being a "loving, Christian home". But while in their care I suffered physical and emotional abuse, neglect, and flat out rejection because I wasn't their kid. I felt like an outsider, and I had no one to turn to because I was a kid and I felt no one would listen to me.
One foster parent, after going through a disastrous divorce (which I was present for and witness to), lost her grasp on reality. The majority of abuse I suffered was in her hands. She would keep me up all hours of the night, copying lengthy passages out of the Bible over and over whenever I did something wrong.
Flash forward, I'm back with my family; I'm angry, confused, and bitter. Without so much as a word, or a transitional period, I'm back with my family, who I barely know.
I spend my teenage years flip-flopping through a long list of religions/beliefs while struggling with displaced anger and my sexuality. Here's a list:
As you can see, it's quite a list. My beliefs were mostly fluid, changing as quickly as waves washing ashore. I didn't know what I believed or if I even believed it, but I thought I needed to believe in something; mostly out of fear and indoctrination, even though I hated the Christian God because of what he allowed to happen to me.
I posted about this in another blog of mine, but while I dabbled in Wicca/Pagan, I was believing in pseudoscience. Specifically ghosts. Every creak and shadow was more than what it was, I developed a fear of being home alone because I was certain things were going on in other parts of the house. I was paralyzing myself with fear.
When I converted to Pentacostal, I spent day after day after day with members of the congregation praying and counseling and talking, trying to "fix" everything wrong with my life and myself. The preaching and counseling convinced me demons were everywhere. I then became convinced the "ghosts" of previous beliefs were now demons plaguing my life. I felt like I was going crazy, and on some levels I suppose I was. I spent needless time in therapy for issues I wouldn't let go of, and 3 months on an anti-psychotic because I was sure I was being followed.
Breaking free from all of this started when I began reading various scientific articles on different theories. A casual internet search led to this article and that article, finally to me ordering several books by Michio Kaku, and The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.
Reading through the book opened me up to the realization I didn't have to believe in anything at all. I didn't have to enslave my life to the dogmatic beliefs of religion or kill myself trying to find meaning to it all.
You'll notice in the list I still went through a few more transitions after my first Atheism. This is simply due to fear. More specifically a fear of death and what happens beyond. That fear for my "immortal soul", which I was still indoctrined to believe in, led me to incorporate some sort of "cushion belief" into my Agnostic/Atheist mindset, even though I knew for certain I didn't believe in it.
Part of this was due to my mother. I've posted before that she's my biggest adversary when it comes to my Atheism. My mother isn't the poster child for Christianity. She's not religious, hasn't been in church in years, and actually hates the hypocrisy of organized religion. But out of fear for her soul, which is indoctrined in her, she believes. She firmly believes in pseudoscience and sees conspiracy theories everywhere. Rather than start some sort of religious war in the house, for her benefit I don't really mention my non-belief.
I'm now perfectly comfortable in my Atheism. Happy to report no "demons" or "ghosts" giving me any more trouble, and in fact everything I was struggling with for years has been reconciled. My displaced anger is finally put to rest, and somewhere along the way logical thinking gave way to realistic thinking, helping me lay aside all my issues or anything else I would have held on to out of anger or pity.
Somewhere along that long, bumpy religious road, I grew up, opened my eyes, and decided that the invisible stranglehold an equally invisible God had on me was just my imagination. Once I grew up and stopped believing in fairy tales, my life became much more pleasant. For only being 24, I say that leaves a lot more room for reading, learning, and living.