(That's right, you got your very own blog posting dedicated to you!)
Lissie would like to know;
"Ps. A question for all of you, (Bath Tub, and Mr. Matt, and you Zilch (Is that your name or your blogging name..? Sorry, just had to ask.) Were you atheists ever since you were old enough to decide that for yourself? And what made you come to the conclusion that you are at now? (*hem* God doesn't exist..)"
I will answer for myself (which is all any of us can ever do) and say the following;
I was raised in a 'Christian' home. I phrase it like that because, although we were nominally Church of England, it was not a major part of daily life. Likewise, my school was a 'Christian' school because we had daily assembly and prayer in the church next door, but we were not instructed to believe in God during lesson-time.
From this 'cultural Christian' background I was familiar enough with all the classic Bible tales and would have said that I knew enough to think that maybe there was a God (the Christian God seemed the only likely one at the time), but I had no idea what He wanted from me or how I should go about being True Christian beyond trying to be a good person etc, the typical False Convert thing basically.
I went through a phase of total apathy towards all things spiritual/religious during my mid teens because there were far more important things at hand; football, girls, music, alcohol & drugs (probably in about that order too!) but by the time I went to university I had started to think more honestly about the whole 'religion thing'.
I joined the Christian Fellowship at my university and spent many a long evening discussing scripture and doctrine with some good friends of mine (two of them are in South America as Missionaries now) although I remained skeptical, despite how attractive the whole deal sounded (eternal life, spiritual security, certainty, a relationship with the Creator, etc).
There was a time when I was fully convinced that God was real and was waiting for me to come to Him. I got down on my knees one Friday night and prayed. I spent hours recounting all my sins, both real and perceived, I delved into the darkest aspects of myself and asked God to bring the light. I acknowledged my need for a saviour and believed that Jesus Christ had borne the weight of my sins on His shoulders when He gave His life for us all and I humbly asked that the Holy Spirit transform my heart and bring me under God's grace.
Nothing happened. I was on my knees for three days, taking only water and sleeping only when I passed out from exhaustion. Now, I wasn't expecting lightening bolts or the voice of James Earl Jones ringing in my ears, but by the third day I was wondering why nothing seemed to be any different.
I continued to live as if something had happened, I knew it took faith and commitment to make any relationship work, so I assumed that this was normal. However, other Christians spoke of the powerful nature of their conversion and talked about how God 'spoke' to them through the Bible, or how the Bible 'came alive' when they were born again.
To make a long story short, it didn't take me long realize that I was deluding myself out of a fear of death and a desire for security. The thing was, my fear of death and need for security weren't that strong to start with, so there was no compelling reason for me to delude myself.
In the years since I have read the Bible multiple times and I see nothing but a collection of Jewish mythology and Middle Eastern superstitions. No doubt there was a man called Jesus who was a great spiritual leader, but the Son of God? I think not.
I have also been convinced by the many arguments against there being a god(s) from an intellectual and naturalistic position. I understand mankind to be a species of ape and that we are no better than any other evolved form of life on this planet. This makes us no less important, nor our deeds no less heroic/monstrous, but it puts us in our rightful place amongst nature.
My conclusion that there is no god(s) is based on the lack of any evidence to suggest that there is a god(s). No other conclusion would be rational, based on the experience that I have.
I hope this answers some of your questions, Lissie, and don't be afraid to ask some more.
BathTub, Zilch; care to join the confessional?