Question: “What convinced you to leave your religion? I myself am an atheist and would like to hear other people’s reasons/stories.”
That’s a question that literally needs a novel to describe in detail—so I’ll keep this as brief as I can.
It began with a willingness to question myself—or at least being forced to question myself when I discovered atheism on the Internet. After that, it moved on to a discovery of formal skepticism (how to properly identify logical fallacies, etc.)—and realizing as a result of that knowledge that many of the apologetic arguments I thought were valid were, to my dismay, invalid.
The more I learned, the less I believed. Philosophy, anthropology, history, biology, physics, and other fields of study all led me to one conclusion: If God exists, then he, she, or it is absolutely determined to build a universe in which it appears that no God exists.
Finally, it was apparent that the religion I was raised with (Protestant Christianity) made absolutely no sense. God wants us to believe based on the teachings of the New Testament, but he didn’t bother preserving the original manuscripts? Salvation is unconditional—under the condition of belief? God loves everyone—so he created Hell? God’s morality is static and objective—but moral pronouncements on matters like slavery change over time? God is not the author of confusion—but there are thousands of different Christian denominations, not to mention other religions?
The more questions I asked, the less sense it made. When I posed these questions to other Christians, the responses were pathetic. “God can do what he wants with His creation.” “You don’t understand: God is God.” “God’s ways are higher than our ways.” “Leave those questions in God’s hands.” “Just look at the trees!” “It takes more faith to be an atheist.”
In fact, I was sometimes accused of being an atheist simply because I was asking the difficult questions. Then more accusations came along: “You choose to believe there is no God because you want sin.” “You just want to believe there is no God because you want to go to Hell.” “You’re blinded by Satan.” The list goes on.
As a result of this quest for understanding my own beliefs, my original belief in Christianity dissolved. In its place, I discovered the joys of discovery through science—the joy of living the one life I know I have to its utmost—and the joy of being at peace about the idea of death. I could finally fully embrace the humility of recognizing my position as a finite, mortal human being. Demons, souls, and Hells were imaginary.
Ultimately, the feeling was one of freedom.