The bulk of science does not support belief in a deity, or does it? This is an open discussion area to hone your skills at supporting and understanding the various positions. Feel free to post any links of value in this important topic.
I was involved in the Baptist Student Union at James Madison University in Virginia between 1977 and 1981. I began de-converting during that last year and subsequently became agnostic, as I still am today. If anyone else on this forum happened to be have been involved in that fellowship during that period, I would find it very interesting to compare notes and memories.
"Nunc Id Vides, Nunc Ne Vides" --I think it's apropos of religious doctrine: it was there while they said it, but the moment they stopped talking, it wasn't there. It never really existed at all. Sort of like a coin in a circus magic act.
Mebbe that's the best motto for religion: "Now you see it, Now you don't"
I think the prevailing world view often tries to suppress smaller world views that dont agree with it or want to think differently.
Some people have a rosy view of a future without religion. I'm old and cynical , though.
Conjecture regarding a possible future:
"And in the news today radical Dawkins-ites vandalized the Hitchens Foundation building in Portland, claiming Hitchens was a know-nothing because he was never a scientist ...in other news a bakery owner denied baking two Wiccans a wedding cake , stating "religion is horseshit."
White people prevail over the minorities and treat them poorly.
Christianity prevails over atheists and treats them poorly.
And that's terrible.
But I really don't think religion will ever go away since it has been around in one form or another since the beginning of time. Nor will humanity cease giving birth to people who will eventually become fanatical assholes no matter what the prevailing winds happen to be. The best we can hope to do (imo) is educate and strongly impress on humanity that loving your fellow humans as they are is much more important than spreading your religion.
I told my mom in the heat of an argument with my wife (it was one of those sort of "would you tell your mom?" sort of deals). Anyhow, I probably wouldn't do it that way again since it went poorly. Like others it wound up causing a lot of pain to my mom that I didn't want to cause. I likely wouldn't have told her at all unless it sort of came about more organically. With easter and xmas being about the only times I was going to church I imagine it would have come to a head round about one of those times and I may have built up to it rather than just hitting her up out of the blue. It's usually that shock, being blindsided, that is the worst. If I could have figured out a way to lead her a bit better to where I was so the blow was much softer I would have done that.
I suppose what I'm getting at is that I'm not suggesting that you keep this a secret but you work to set the stage for the reveal. It's not something that is urgent. It doesn't need to get out before a certain date or time, like a baby announcement, so you can work to make this a little easier for them to receive. I can't really say how to do this because it depends on your family. They may already suspect something and once they start to hear a few "hints" they may well realize the shoe is about to drop. If they react poorly just give them some time because they may come at you hard as they process the new situation they find themselves in. With any luck they'll accept it. I found just being the same person you are now, just without the religious stuff, helps them see you as the same person they've always known and not some "new" person, a stranger, that they need to learn about and be around. My mom talks about church and all that nonsense. I sit and listen like I always did (well, before the pandemic). It makes her happy. She needs the crutch. It's a part of her life. I just don't participate in any of it (outside the usual weddings and funerals).
Sorry, I'm really late to the party.
This is pretty much the same situation I was in 4 years ago.
I got to the point where I got physically sick from going to church knowing I didn't believe anymore, afraid that someone would find out and all hell would break lose. I was also afraid of the reactions of the family members. A good piece of advice I received from a member here was that I am not responsible for other peoples reactions, their hurt feelings, or their offense.
So, unable to continue living a lie I took the nuclear option and told them outright I didn't believe. Cue tears, wailing and arguments. I was blamed for my mothers heart problems because all she could think about was me going to hell. (And some people wonder why I get a bit anti-theistic at times - that's the shit that religion can do to you)
If you were 16 I'd tell you to be cautious and make sure you are self sufficient first. At 40 you are free to be your own person and I think that you owe it to yourself to do what is best for YOU. Not for your parents or extended family. My one caveat might be if you had young children and this was going to tear them apart - in that case i might say think about the kids. But short of that, it's your life.
You have one life to live and you are near halfway of average expectancy. Time is too short to be worried what others might do or say. I won't lie - those first few days/weeks/months after telling the family you are atheist is hard. But hopefully in time things will settle down to a new normal. My parents still try the occasional religious pass on me, but I just smile and let it slide. Sure we disagree on most things now but it's not worth fighting every little battle. Your parents might take it well and be supportive. Or they might cut you off. You cannot control what they do you can only control what you do. Let them know you are still their child and you love them. They will either accept that or reject it.
Some people (I won't name names but it might just include my own name) have noticed a pattern since the beginning of written history that all religions, which very much includes polytheists, have engaged in harmful actions in spite of what people today like to think about said religions. It didn't all start ~2000 years ago with xianity nor ~3000 or so years ago with Judaism or even ~4000 years ago if we want to include some guy named Abraham. It's not all about the torah, bible or koran with their beliefs and cast of characters. Xianity just happens to be the most prominent player at the moment and the one that is used for illustration since we're all familiar with it. If this were another place and time we'd use something else for this purpose and I imagine it would elicit the same sort of response (ie. we do not like <religion/belief> because we found <religion/belief> to be harmful). It makes it unassailable. I find the beliefs of the past to be problematic. I was never harmed by these. Do I wish to have a resurgence of these practices? The answer is no. They should stay in the past.
Magical thinking is something everyone engages in at some point and to some degree. It is the very nature of the character of Superman. We all want to be able to be a "Superman" of some sort. To control the uncontrollable. To bring an order to chaos. To be have power where we have none. The idea that we can pray to a higher power or make an appeal to the universe using some sort of spells or magic (or magick) and gain some form of control of the uncaring utter indifference of existence is comforting. The very idea is highly appealing. The problem lies in its appeal and the actual belief that you really can affect change over the world instead of just imagining that you can. When one has no way to test whether or not their magical thinking is actually having effect or not. So harm comes when one uses magical thinking to solve problems that are best solved other ways. Christian Scientists are very much a poster child for this since they take it to the logical extreme. They rely on their magic over all and when it "fails" it's not a failure but a positive result. It's the will of their god that the results went the way they did whether or not it was good or bad as far as we might see things. So a prayer happens and they live? Good result. A prayer happens and a person dies? Still a good result. That's magical thinking in action. A spell is cast and pink roller skates are spotted with one year? Success? A spell is cast and no roller skates? It's not that magic is false but the spell was cast wrong or the caster wasn't powerful enough or the spell was a success and perhaps the results weren't noticed. It's all magical thinking in action. The control aspect remains. It's necessary for comforting the person engaging in the action.
In middle school my only real friend was someone I met in my neighborhood, and youth group was ok, but the neighborhood friend would go on to use and manipulate me and years later molest my sister, and high school was still pretty awkward and lonely for me. I'm glad it was better for you though, I definitely would have looked for a few close and genuine friends over and popularity and shallw friendships. So many of the people who were seemingly close with one another straight up stopped contact after graduation.
Some people feel that every religion is harmful because they found Christianity to be harmful. Some people feel that magical thinking is harmful because Christians use magical thinking and they found Christianity to be harmful.