Hello to everyone. I am new here. I have read several testimonies and wish to share my own.
I was born into a very devout Roman Catholic family. I attended Catechism (basically like Sunday School for Catholics) from a very early age. I was baptized, made my first communion, and even my confirmation with the Church.
In 8th grade, my parents sent me to a Catholic school. For five years, it was the most miserable experience of my life.
Up until the age of about 12, I believed what I was taught. I don't know that I really believed it, but I suppose that I never questioned any of it. That's just the way things were in my mind I suppose. But about this age, it all began to change.
Between the age of 12 and 14, I began to question teachings little by little. The things that I had been taught regarding my religion just didn't make sense. I had more questions than answers. Of course, the standard response to such questioning is undoubtedly...just have faith. Well, that didn't work for me. It didn't then and it doesn't now. I was ridiculed by my teachers and priests at my school for openly questioning the Catholic beliefs and teachings. It didn't really bother me, but it was frustrating to be silenced by these people rather then engage in a rational conversation. But you know, that's the nature of organized religion. It's a cult. Cult's require strict obedience.
By age 15, I had completely rejected my religion, and most any belief in God. However, being raised in a devout Catholic family, that wasn't so easy to do. I played along (i.e. attended mass, took communion, etc.) until about the age of 18, when I went off to college.
By then, I was finally free, to some extent, to believe as I chose without all of the pressure. I think my parents kind of knew about my beliefs by this point, but just looked the other way. I still played along when I went home. You know, I would go to Christmas mass, say a prayer before Thanksgiving dinner, all of that stuff.
From the age of 18-25, this is how I lived my life. Religion was a topic generally avoided in the family. I played along when necessary, and nothing more. Heck, I even got married in the Catholic Church to placate my parents. I suppose that it was just easier to play along when necessary, rather than start WWIII with my family.
Then it happened. My wife and I had our first child last year. Being devout Catholics, my parents immediately began to make arrangements to have her baptized in the Church. This is when I finally stopped lying to myself and others. I told my parents point blank: "I am not Catholic. I am not Christian. And I do not intend to raise my child as such." You can imagine the response. Silence. Then anger. Then more silence. My parents did not speak to us for about 6 months. Ironically, my parents seemed to blame my wife more than myself. My wife would have been willing to keep "playing along" if necessary (she still has some very faint Christian leanings), but together we made the decision that it was not in the best interests of our daughter.
Anyway, so here I am now. I'm 26, going on 27, and I'm somewhere in between an agnostic and an atheist. I find myself slowly drifing more towards atheism with the passing of time for several reasons.
First I have seen nothing in my life that would lead me to believe in the existence of a higher power. Sure, I've heard the testimonials, some even from my own family. I've heard of the purported miracles. But I have personally seen or experienced absolutely nothing. A God could end the doubt of every single human being if it was so desired. So do it. Throw me a bone here! It hasn't happened and common sense tells me it won't happen.
Second, history and science is a big factor. Human beings used to worship everything from fire, to the sun, to carved statues. Many of these beliefs existed because they were unable to explain nature and their environment. As time has proceeded forward, science is, one by one, giving us rational explanations for events previously attributed to a higher power.
Lastly, the concept of the Bible, and a higher power in general just seems silly. God created us to toil around on Earth, worship him, suffer, die, then go to a magical place where everything is all fine and good? Then of course there's hell for all who don't obey. That's just ridiculous.
It's strange, people often talk to me like becoming an agnostic/atheist was a conscious choice. I don't agree with that. To me, it's just the way my brain operates, and the way that I look at the world around me. This is how I think. For whatever reason the electrical impulses in my brain lead me to think in this manner.
So that's been my journey so far. It's taken me about 14 years to finally arrive at this point. It's a pleasure to find a forum where my thoughts can be discussed without ridicule; harrassment; and threats of eternal damnation.