I was raised Protestant. I took it for granted that everything the Bible says was true. For me, Christianity felt so natural that I couldn't “not believe in God”. But as I grew older, and learned more about the details of my religion, I started wondering. If the Bible is the word of God, how can we know God's always telling us the truth? And how do we know it is the word of God? If God would have people he loves burn and suffer in Hell forever, what would he do with someone he hated? Why does the Bible contradict itself?
And when I realized that scientists take pride in using proof, while religion takes pride in “faith”, that is, voluntarily believing something that evidently isn't true, that didn't help. Neither did the realization that most “proof that God is real” was actually “proof that MAYBE God doesn't HAVE to be a figment of our imagination.”
After a while, in the middle of a mental debate with myself, I asked the most important question: What was it that originally made me decide that Christianity is true? The answer was: Because my mum said it is. Apart from that, I hadn't had any reason to believe in God. I drew the conclusion that as far as I know, God isn't real. But it was your book The God Delusion which made me realize that God almost certainly isn't real.
Becoming an atheist was very strange and very enjoyable. I've found myself doing things I only thought happened in newspaper funnies. I've exclaimed “Jeez!”, thought to myself that I shouldn't misuse the name of the saviour, and thought “That's right, I don't believe in him anymore, so I can say Jeez as much as I like!” I can finally go to a synagogue and see what it's like, because it's not sacrilege anymore! No, wait – it never was sacrilege in the first place!
I'm much happier now that I know I don't have to do things I find dumb, boring, or even immoral, just because of the bizarre idea that you have to agree with God in every way. My motto used to be “The laws of God and Jesus are great!” but now it's “No good law would need to be justified by the authority of God; no bad law can be justified by the authority of God.” It sounds much better.
I've gone from reading the Bible to reading your books, because unlike the Bible, they use evidence and cite their sources.
/Michael, 21, Sweden