Jessica, indeed, our many different religious experiences impact the ways we view life, let alone how we perceive god or not-god, or the meaning of life, or the things we value.
Another friend on Facebook recalled her precious moments created because of religious traditions and they clearly give her comfort and joy. I celebrate that.
My memories of people assuring me they had the "one true way" and then observing them treating others with contempt and hate and loathing, formed my thinking. Racism was a big issue in our family as was sexism. Also, the notion of one person having the right to have control over another or judging another forced me away. Very happily, I discovered I am not alone and there are many others who have found great pleasure, and comfort, and joy while making the statement, "I have not found compelling evidence that god exists." When and if I do, I shall gladly change my position.
In the meantime, I enjoy learning of your life and experiences and pleasures of your family and your traditions. I salute you.
Jessica, you are very generous with your praise, but I must say, I am profoundly happy and grateful that I was able to escape, and perhaps others have stories that will give us insight into other ways to find our own lives.
Afrikans are said to be notoriously religious...it has been analyzed again and again, by afrikans and non afrikans..!
Okot p Bitek, an Afrikan renaissance man from Uganda (anthropologist, dancer footballer, teacher, educator, lecturer, novelist, social activist) also saw to it that while we are are "religious" and yet we are atheistic at the same time..!
that our gods are in fact deities only...strong but not omnipotent, great but not omnipresent,wise but not omniscient, old but not eternal...
according to p bitek, it was the eurocentric theologians and some anthropologists who "hellenised" afrikan deities to make them look/like their own Abrahamic one..!
so from those ground, I an Afrikan freethinker feel justified to see that while i can be religious, yet i am atheistic. Adding Ludwig feuerbach that our ideas of god are in fact our mind projection of a wish, that then we come to believe as true..!
thus there are god...but created by human beings, and not other way round..!
thus an atheist who believes in god...god created by human being..!