My disbelief in god can probably be initially summarized with one picture:
When I was a kid I believed in Santa, the Tooth Fairy, closet monsters, etc. One by one, however, I started connecting the dots.
Santa Claus stopped becoming real when I discovered, at a young age, that it was my parents. This happened through peers in kindergarten/elementary school, finding presents before hand that were labeled "From Santa", why my parents locked us in our rooms Christmas Eve night, and from basically figuring that he couldn't have been magic because I had never seen evidence of magic.
The same happened with the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, etc. I often debate in my own mind how much I truly believed in them in the first place, but I know I stopped believing in all of them around the age of 6, but pretended to believe in them till about 9.
Why do I say this?
Because this also describes my experience with religion and gods.
I do not come from a very christian family. My parents both tried going to church and such, but both found their own peace with god and decided they did not need the church or others to determine or change their beliefs for them. They left the church comfortable with their own personal relationships with god, and left it at that.
Due to this, my parents were very "find your own path to god" as I grew up. I knew about Christianity, but here is when things come full circle:
The Bible, God, and the divine Jesus described in the Bible instantly fell into the Santa Claus category for me. I simply assumed this was another story my parents had told me to make me feel better.
The difference between Christianity and Santa Claus, however, is that I never attached myself to the religion and never believed God or Jesus were real from my recollections. I may have at around the age of 4 or 5, but it was not for long.
We sparingly went to Church and for the longest time I never understood what was going on. Why were these people focused so much on this fairy tale? I like the books I had at home, but never assumed that they were real.
We eventually stopped going to Church entirely, as my family was getting nothing from the experience.
This blissfully naive view of "Why do they like that book so much?" went upside down around Middle School. At this time, kids were more knowledgeable about their beliefs and this was when it got shared.
This is when things got weird for me. Not only were there people that fully believed in what I had initially thought to be a story book, but there were dozens of other religions as well.
So, for the first real time, I grew a facination with their logic and researched into the various religions (Yes, maybe extensive for a Middle Schooler but I was always told I was too mature for my age) and made some interesting discoveries.
Not only were there many kinds of religions and gods, but people fully believed them. History class and research showed me the bloodshed and malice created by these beliefs. The happiness and blissful attitudes of the believers showed me that it was a tool for comfort, even though many of them had apparently lived rough lives.
So, I surmised that people stuck to beliefs like Santa Claus for comfort, and no so much a reason to stay in reality or follow rational logic.
Now, keep in mind that I only had a vague idea of what an Atheist was from chatter and only really got the meaning of the word by late middle school/early high school. This was not a pre-conceived notion that I adopted; my disbelief came solely from my own experiences.
Now, this is not to say I was a naive little girl up until then. By the time I hit mid Elementary School and eventually Middle School I had become very cynical towards other people. Why?
I grew up with severe emotional problems. Violent outbursts to sudden onsets of deep depression. This led me to getting into many fights with other kids, mainly due to being picked on and harassed on a daily basis.
By middle school I was so severely broken by years of torment that I could no longer function in a normal classroom. It was recommended I be put into a school for the criminally and emotionally unstable, but I was instead placed into an on campus special education class where I was taught emotional control and given the support I needed to piece myself back together.
After Middle School and into High School I was mostly patched up emotionally but my outlook on life and people had not changed. I had been stabbed in the back by good friends, beaten up by people I considered friends, and other fun things. People were cruel, and out for themselves primarily which only furthered my distaste of people hiding themselves from reality through fairy tales.
High School, however, is when things got interesting. Now that most people had taken the fairy tales to the stage of concreting themselves in an armor against the world, I was suddenly surprised at how outnumbered I really was and opened my up more to the reasons of human cruelty to one another.
I encountered some of my first serious fundamentalists. Gay bashers and racists. Severe hypocrites and liars.
In my Freshman year I was ganged up on by a few friends and a teacher for defending gays. I was laughed at, mocked, and treated like an idiot for apparently not being apart of their club.
This was when I truly became angry at the religious, and that anger stayed for a long time. I had given up fairy tales when I was 6. I had put up with people's beliefs and religions for years and quietly tried to analyze and understand them, but this was when I truly felt that this willful detachment from reality was dangerous to me and others.
From being someone who was always someone looking from the outside in, I saw the many religions being presented and expressed and it was around that time that I adopted the concept of Moral Relativism. If each person thought they were right, who was to say what was right or wrong? It seemed to be the black and white view of the world was what was causing so much conflict.
Now, until High School I had no real solid sides that I stuck to. I followed politics intently after 9/11 and found out in High School that I fit into the "liberal" or "left wing" part of the country more than others even though I dislike the labels.
But, one topic that I quickly became very supportive of was pro gay rights. I have personal reasons for being apart of this that I do not feel I need to share in this thread.
I saw people shot down and mocked, and myself put in corners for this stance. On a day of Silence that I decided to take, myself and others were mocked, poked at, and generally abused in classrooms and hallways. In my last block I was sitting at my computer and this jackass and girl were poking at me and generally being bigots. After an hour of this, I finally snapped, yelled at them, and then left the room.
I then went home and expressed my distress to my mother and became more pissed at the world than I may have ever been beforehand. Not only was I treated this way, but the other people in silence were as well. Which, in the end, justified the need for the day for me.
At that time I hated religion and the religious. I thought they were all ****ing children that refused to grow up. Bigots and fools that selfishly brought pain and suffering in their wake to justify their own happiness.
It took me awhile to get over that initial hate.
This was followed by me reverting back to many of my older beliefs. They were not purposely trying to hurt people. They did it unconsciously, and they did it because they believed they were doing good.
Which brought me around to hating people less, and more of a focus on the concept of religion itself. It was reasonless. It worked with faith.
With History classes, online debates, real life debates, internet research, etc I eventually started to change my view on Moral Relativism to a more Nihilistic approach. Now, like Atheism, I had no idea what Nihilism was at the time. I didn't actually learn what it was till about a year ago and was shocked, yet again, to find my ideas were not original.
I read through the Bible and did other research. I tried to understand religious friends and theists on the internet. It was not till a Sociology class and a very informative History class that I changed my outlook once again.
People are selfish. All people are. Every last one of us. Every action we do is based off of some selfish desire.
Religion was simply a selfish shield from the world. Whether they had been abused, seen others abused, seen atrocities, or seen miracles. I determined that religion was a way for people to cope with the world. To try to stay sane.
I do not believe in god because I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was 6. God/Jesus/etc has never been apart of my everyday life and I have never felt the need to feel their touch, or ever wanted to.
I've been told I'm going to Hell. I've been told I am a sinner. I have been told my life is a lifestyle choice. I have been called lost by the very people who are far more lost and detached.
I can see why people have these beliefs. Why people have held onto what I, personally, let go of as a child. Why, even into adulthood, people will hold onto a blanket or teddy bear for comfort.
I cannot change this. I feel for the same reason I cannot believe in god, many of you cannot change yourselves.
But old habits die hard, and I will admit that I still hold a deep distaste for the practice. I understand the need, but I also view many religious statements and arguments to be dangerous to not only myself, but to many others and will challenge them if that is the case.
God does not scare me. Jesus does not scare me. Hell does not scare me. Religion and those that practice it trouble me. I do not mean to imply I hate anyone on this forum that is religious, but I will admit that your beliefs and the faith you have in them trouble me and make me feel uneasy.
Maybe this is my natural response to something I feel threatened to. A fear based on something I cannot fully understand. But that is just the view and feelings I've gained through my own life of watching all you theists from the outside in.
I could go into specific details as to why, but I don't think this is the thread for that.
That is about all I can say on the topic without repeating myself.