I’m sure my experience sounds quite similar to many other stories submitted here – the typical Christian upbringing, the slow questioning of scriptural logic (or lack thereof) with the eventual rejection of religion altogether.
After reading the God Delusion, I was finally able to put all my doubts and suspicions into an organized stream of thought. I’m able to have more discussions and intelligent conversations about life, the concepts of gods, religion, etc. These discussions, however, have mainly been with other atheists or non-believers; the one thing still missing has been my ability to talk with religious believers.
I believe this has a lot to do with my personal character (unassuming, non-confrontational) as well as my generally positive upbringing in a Christian household. My mother and many of our close family-friends are Presbyterian Christians, and about the happiest, nicest, most positive, well-meaning people you could ever meet. Any comparison between them and the stereotypical fundamentalist Christian (think Westboro Baptist Church) is simply nonexistent – their way of life works for them, and makes them (and those around them) happy. I haven’t even admitted to my own mother that I’m an atheist, because 1) I’m terribly scared that it would drive a wedge into our relationship and 2) at this time, I don’t want to be the cause of an unsettling doubt in her mind (which I’m almost positive cannot be changed at this point). I don’t feel qualified to lay all this logic on her without completely understanding the repercussions.
This all sounds a bit rambling now, but basically, I was inspired to write in after reading another story here. It commented on how many individuals are “shackled to the burden of religious adherence”, and it is probably remarkable how many would “come out” as atheists, were Christian society (or in my case, family) not so set in its ways and quick to alienate any kind of opposition. For some, then, it is much easier to secretly learn and question and theorize, all the while passively accepting to live in a religious society. This is the route I have chosen for now – with time (and maybe a few more of your books) perhaps one day I can sit down with my mum and finally have this all-important conversation. For now, I am more than happy to let her live her life in the way she has chosen so long as SHE is genuinely happy and comforted by an illogical belief, and her illogical belief does no harm to anyone else.
I guess, to summarize, thank you for your clarity and direction in helping people untangle the mess that religion has created in their minds. Please continue your hard work so that people hiding in religious societies and families (such as myself) can find the inspiration to come forward.