I'm guessing many here walked away from one religion or another. What religion did you walk away from? Did you look at other religions, if so what ones? What made you settle on Atheism?
What a great topic!
Personaly, I grew up very fundamental Lutheran. As I grew, I began to notice the messages I heard from the pulpit and class were not being followed when inconvinient. For "unchanging" doctrine, I began to notice a bunch of changes. I also became very frustrated with the judgemental and bigoted practices. Women couldn't vote. My friends who are gay are damned just because they are gay?
I began to look at other forms of Protestantism. I went to an United Methodist Church for a time. I even tried an Evanangelical Mission. In all these visits, I never felt the personal connection to god like I was told was there. It bothered me. What have I done? Years later my life fell apart. I lost my marriage, my job, everything. I went to god for help like I was told.
What was the problem? I cursed god and began to put my head down and work. Eventually my life got put back together and my family wanted me to thank god for getting me through. What? What did god ever do but ignore me? I was very bitter. It wasn't until I began looking for counter arguments to my religious friends that I came across a Freethought Group (SWiFT). It was then I came to realize there is no god. There never was. All the turmoil and tears. Was all chasing a being that didn't exist-couldn't exist. I have become so calm. Even after the death of a close friend, I am not asking god why? I have accepted his loss.
I didn't settle on Atheism. I discovered the truth of it.
I walked away from Islam. After seeing the truth about Islam, I immediately realized God was not there.
I was raised in a very religious household: non-denominational. I was told we knew the real truth and that there were very few of us. I remember thinking how amazing it was, and how lucky I was to be part of that small group. I don't know now that I ever really believed it; it was expected of me. I just knew that I didn't like some of what was taught and learned real quick not to question. The older I got the more I did question, and things just didn't add up to me. And I really questioned the fact that I couldn't question. That, well, pissed me off. I finally decided to do the unthinkable and look at facts and science and ~gasp!~ other points of view. And what did I discover rather quickly? It is all BS. I had an almost instantaneous epiphany one day and realized without a doubt there is no god. It scared me silly for a few minutes, but it passed, and the most serene, absolute relief set in. It was a feeling of release and loss of burden that will never be repeated. So, as Troy said in his response, I did not settle, I discovered the truth of Atheism. And could not be happier.
Yes! I feel so much more respect for everything now. I guess mostly because I know I have this one, rather short life to enjoy that "everything." I truly believe this is the cause of most religious people's problems: they are not living for today; they only live for the next life. They don't care about the little, everyday things because they are focusing on their so-called rewards in heaven. Arrgghh! This frustrates me so much because I see it in people who are close to me. They don't seem aware of the fact that they metaphorically spit on their fellow humans on a regular basis. Why? "Because that person doesn't believe the same things I do." Or "They did something to offend or insult me once so I will make them know it everyday. But, I go to church every week and do all the little things that a good little christian like myself is deemed to do in the public eye, so I will reap my rewards in heaven in my next life." No, I'm not bitter. :) I have come to the realization that religion is one of the most destructive elements in society. One need only look at our current and historical world timeline to see this. But on a more personal note, I have seen how it affects the mind, and therefore actions. I see it today with my family and friends, and I know how it affected me for many years. Alas, no more! :)
Didn't mean to go off on a rant here, just can't help it sometimes.
Oh yeah, many a time. I would pray each night because that was what I was taught-that you must pray everyday in order to stay in fellowship with the lord, blah, blah, blah. Anyway, I remember doing so, but thinking that I just didn't feel anything, ever! Not good or bad, just nothing. And when I would pray for something specific, did it happen? Almost always not. On the rare occasion coincidence would occur and it did, woohoo, "God is great!" The many times not, I did the same ol' cliche thing: "God works in mysterious ways. I couldn't possibly understand his thinking or his plan." Boy, if that isn't a fail-safe way to keep the masses in line.
So, yes, that was a part that built on my walking away. And with something as wrenching as your mother dying, that kind of abandonment can devastate you, even ruin some. Glad you did not let it.
Ed, indeed, exactly as you describe. "So, slowly, very, very slowly," I began to ask questions: Why? Who says? Who benefits? How do I benefit? By what authority do they speak to me? How can I trust the authority when the things I read and see and hear and feel tell me the authority is flawed. Oh! YES. The first time I said, "There is no god!" I expected a bolt of lightning ... nothing. I said it again and still no response. Why do I need a god? Not because of fear of hell or love of heaven. Not because of Jesus' story or the bible. Then why do I spend my time with such nonsense. It is all myths and fables from the Bronze Age and has no more meaning than Beowulf of Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, other than as historic writings.
Knowledge growing during the 21st century is far more interesting, compelling, challenging, and satisfying than anything I ever read of a religious nature.
That silence that leaves one empty, feeling betrayed. I have been with several people as they died and watched as life's energy left their eyes and bodies. Realizing I am witness to change ... nothing else. The body changes and becomes atoms and returns to the elements of nature. That is all. That life is done and lives through the memories of loved ones.
Some of those I watched die left behind feelings of love and care and compassion and devotion. Others died leaving feelings of remembers fear, anger, anxiety, stress, pain. Those I want to bury and forget.
How will you be remembered? How will I? I guess that is the most important question.
Yes, I begged "god" for help in the past and..........nothing. The more blank answers I got the more I began to question.
"Did I look at other religions?" Oh! my goodness, YES! I discussed, explored, examined, thought, compared and contrasted everything from Christianity to Islam, to Nag Hammadi scrolls, to Buddhism, to eastern religions, to animism, to ... you name it, I considered it.
"That for which you seek already reside within you!" made as much sense as anything I read and didn't have the historical baggage that religions carry. I wasn't interested in Athena who popped out her father's forehead, fully suite up in armor for battle, or any other virgin birth myths. I sought things that did not have super-natural aspects. They just seemed too small for my interests. The biblical scriptures just made me disgusted.
So, what do I have inside me? I can see, hear, smell, taste, feel with my gut and heart, and have instincts and emotions. Paying attention to my senses made better sense than anything I read of other beliefs and faiths.
The result is full of wonder experiences. The wonder of a flower, or a bee than gathers pollen and in the process makes future generations possible. Looking through a telescope, I see "billions and billions of stars," and looking through a microscope, I see billions and billions of cells. Infinity in both directions! Oh! the wonder of it all! And I am a part of the whole scheme of things and so are you.