After being born into the Roman Catholic church and brought up (read 'indoctrinated') by two very devout Catholic parents (both of whom are now dead), I am now an atheist. (At one point, I was convinvced I wanted to be a priest, but I got over it.)
I wouldn't say my 'conversion' was entirely because of reading The God Delusion (a lot of it had to do with being forced to go to mass, not to mention things like Darfur and Paris Hilton), but it certainly helped put the nail in the coffin of my religiosity.
It was hard, though. My mother was so religious that she was even decorated by the Pope for years of outstanding and selfless service to the local church, and such was her influence on the family that three of my brothers are now not only hard-core Catholics, but are very involved in their local church affairs and ceremonies, and have done their best to similarly indoctrinate their children.
And therein lies my problem. Not going to church feels like a betrayal; like I'm stabbing them in the back or something.
It's not too hard to accept that my brothers are so deluded (after all, one of them even supports AFC Bournemouth*), but it IS hard to accept that my mum, whom I loved dearly, was, in effect, a poor, misguided fool who, despite her academic qualifications and obvious intelligence, clearly never took the time to actually THINK about things.
Plus I keep thinking that she's lying in wait for me at the pearly gates, ready to box my ears for being such a heathen.
Of course, I know rationally that that can never happen. My mother's ghost resides entirely within my own mind. But sometimes I wish it could. It's HARD to accept the fact that I'll never, ever see her again. (I would, in fact, relish getting my ears boxed.)
Actually, I think that's why so many people are religious. They just can't accept the fact that they (and everyone else) is finite, and that there is, in fact, no actual point to existence.
It's all hubris, really, isn't it. (“I am so important, there simply MUST be a reason for my existence!”)
It's a shame there isn't any point to it all; that there simply IS no answer (42 or otherwise), but such is life. We just have to make the best of it while we can, right?
Anyway, I just wanted to get that off my chest.
Keep up the good work, even if it hurts.
All the best,
* This brings up the 'Football as Religion' debate, but really there isn't one. My god (Man U) is DEMONSTRABLY better than anyone else's god (at least this year), so there can be no argument on that score at all. End of story.