Sent in by Janet
I was raised a catholic and had quite a strict catholic upbringing. I doubted as a child, but always told myself that despite the fact nothing really made sense to me (the huge contradictions in the bible and the fact that god is supposed to be all loving and power yet there is clearly so much suffering in the world), I was not ever supposed to understand god's plan.
My first major doubts happened when I learned about evolution at the age of 16. The idea of evolution came as a bit of a shock to me, and I really was on the edge of losing my faith for a while, but in my mind I resolved the situation by accepting evolution as part of god's design. Evolution was just an easy way for Him to do what He wanted to do.
Much later, at the age of 21, my faith finally gave way, while studying the genetics of receptors while at university. I was looking at the tiny genetic differences in receptors across species. It occurred to me that the single nucleotide changes within the DNA were accidental, they were NOT designed, they were mistakes, like a switch being turned on. Then it occurred to me that god didn't exist.
After a few moments of blind panic — similar to the feeling of being thrown of a cliff — I felt anger at all the bullshit I had been told over the years. The anger subsided to be replaced by a feeling of freedom. All the problems and contradictions that my mind had struggled to understand finally made sense: there is NO GOD.
With a thirst for knowledge, I took to reading everything I could to explain life, evolution, nature, psychology, etc. Without a god to factor in, it all seemed to make so much more sense.
I can say honestly that becoming an atheist has improved my quality of life and allowed me to fully appreciate how fantastically lucky each of us are to be here.