I've felt the emotional inspirational 'hard to pin down' experience of the 'holy spirit' in church, in prayer and at other times when i was a young believer. As a 'confirmation' of beliefs... I guess if it was the only thing you knew or experienced it would be all you needed. But it is nothing compared to a full-fledged inner 'spiritual' experience.
I grew up the son of a liberal theologian.... not a charismatic, His father, my grandfather, was a mystic. I longed for more than the 'feeling'...I wanted the experience of the gnostics and christian mystics. I wanted to go on my own trip into heaven and see God and the angels for myself like these other folks did. Why should they be the only ones to get to experience these things? This eventually led me to eastern mysticism, which led me to a particular branch of yoga and a particular form of yoga meditation.
I have to say at the outset that the 'spiritual' or 'mystical' experience that can happen in meditation is light years MORE than what is normally described as the 'holy spirit' in church.
From a phenomenalogical standpoint you feel MORE awake than normal, MORE alive than normal. You actually have the experience, visual and aural of leaving the physical body, flying, and interacting with people in other arenas (planes/subplane/levels of consciousness, inner worlds..etc..)
You actually can have the sensation of 'consciousness expansion' of 'connecting with everything' of being ONE with the source.
It is MUCH harder to question the veracity of these experiences...then it is to question the vague 'feelings' you experience in church and prayer meetings.
I still don't question the 'phenomenology' of the experience but the 'definitions and ultimate definitions' of them.
What I'm getting at here is that for some people 'belief' isn't just a wish and a hope but an actual verifiable and living experience that can be tapped into at will..(with some practice of course)
This makes it infinately harder to 'question' and critically examine your experiences and MORE importantly to question the validity of the interpretations of them.
I just wanted to know if anyone else here has come to Atheism from the same or similar background.