As I see it, religion is founded on questions.
Why am I here?
What is my purpose?
How did I come to be?
What happens after I die?
Why does the sun rise and set?
People like answers. They want to feel secure. Legends evolve to explain how everything came to be.
People also like being part of a group of friends with alike beliefs. With others to watch your back, you are less likely to be ridiculed.
If you haven't already guessed, I am an atheist. I don't believe in a god or a higher power of another sort. But it wasn't always so.
When I was maybe five or six, I held the steadfast belief, as most small children do, that everything would turn out right in the end. The villain would be punished, and the goodly would emerge victorious. Raised in a (loosely) Jewish household, I was told that God would always keep me safe.
Those who are deeply religious say that they always just knew that there is a god. For me, even when young, it was rather the opposite: having a god and everything that came with him/her/it would be nice, especially since everyone kept telling me that, but I had a gut feeling that it was all lies. I suppressed it, though. I figured it was one of those things I'd understand better when I got older. I guess you could say I was shaky on the whole religion deal to begin with.
I didn't talk about this with anyone. It wasn't pressing or really relevant to my life at the time. I only brought it up once that I can remember.
"Eva," my nine-year-old self asks her best friend, "do you think there is a real god? 'Cuz I'm not sure."
Eva blinked. "Of course there is, silly!" Then she told her mother, and they brought me along to their church the next Sunday. I hated it. I had to sit still and my shoes pinched and I didn't exactly understand how it was possible this man called Jesus could be a son of God. The preacher's feverent praying scared me slightly too. No way am I ever bringing that up again.
Fast forward five years. Eva, they tell me, has gone to heaven. I am more educated about religion in general at this point, and I know that Christians view suicide as a sin. So Eva can't go to heaven, even though she is loved and kind and just an amazing young woman.
And then it all came crashing down. If everyone has a purpose in life, what was Eva's? To die at fourteen, with so much she could still do? No kind, loving god could let this happen to me... to her... No kind and loving god could stand all the hunger, death, and hate he/she/it created... There's all those scientific loopholes anyhow. Did she still believe in God until the end, I wondered.
For the first time, I had to actually think about these things. And, it seemed (and still does) there was only one reasonable conclusion.
Lies. All of it.
(Please, PLEASE, no comments about how your god justifies all these things. Not to be rude, but I feel like I've heard it three too many times. I really needed to put this in words, and it's been really hard. I'll probably expand this post later, after I can think rationally again.)