I'm an Atheist. Here's my story.
Even though my background is that of a scientist, culminating in an honours degree in Biology, most of my emotional life has been haunted by superstition, the supernatural and religious terror.
In my early 20's I went on a quest, to apply my scientific reasoning to religion, to seek the answers to the big questions, once and for all. Rather than the calm and logical reasoning I had imagined, I found the mechanism to open up my Pandora's box of fears about my own mortality. I suffered badly from panic attacks, emotional instability, sleep deprivation, delusions about supernatural intent. Jesus wasn't my saviour, he was my torturer.
I stepped into the realm of religion, into Christianity, with a questioning mind, and fell out the other end, an emotional and psychological wreck.
For many years, I medicated myself with alcohol and worldly pursuits. When I lost my father, I held it together for my mothers sake. When I lost my mother, I lost it totally. I would cling to mysticism, fortune telling, or clairvoyants. Desperately trying to make sense of the loss.
Time wore on, and I still suffered from panic attacks and hypochondria. Superstitious behaviours and supernatural thinking underpinning my thought processes. Many imagined delusions about an afterlife. I suppose I spent a lot of time in a state of mortal terror, obsessed with death and my demise.
In my late forties, I stumble upon a video by Sam Harris. I watch it, feeling uneasy because it talks about Death. Everything he said just made sense. I tentatively watch more of his material.
Around the same time, I began watching the TV show Wonder of Life by Professor Brian Cox. I'd not watched his other Wonder series, but this one show connected my childhood fascination with Astronomy (that had lapsed since my early teens) with my biological education to degree level. In six episodes Brian had pieced together the vastness of space with complexity of life on Earth. It just made sense to me, and re-kindled both my love for Biology and fascination with Astronomy at the same time.
Finally with my new found interest in these sciences, I began watching material by Richard Dawkins. An eminent evolutionary biologist, and a man who strongly believes in the "Poetry of Reality" based on evidence. I vociferously guzzled down Richard's work, and now truly understood the evolution of life, our place on the planet and in the Cosmos itself. He just made sense to me.
This site was founded upon what I call my Dawning Enlightenment. It's taken a long time to come to fruition, but with the help of these men and their discussions, books and TV shows, I have come a long way from the emotional and psychological wreck that I once was.
If I'd have only known that my grounding in science was ultimately the key to my understanding "Life, the Universe and Everything", I could have saved myself so many years of self-torment, so many wasted years shrouded in depression.
Sam lit the candle, Brian illuminated the Cosmos and Richard grounded me in the evolutionary tree of life.
Since my personal enlightenment I have gone on to read many other important people (Hitchens, deGrasse Tyson, Krauss, Feynman, Ray, Sagan etc.) having equally important things to say about the reality of life and what's actually out there NOT what is imagined to be out there.
Atheism for me was a gradual climb, but one which I am now relieved and a little proud to be a part of. The shift of perspective is incredible. Science makes you care more for the people and the planet than any fabled laws written down could.
My hope is that with the almost rampant proliferation of information across the Internet, this enlightenment will spread and the Human race will grow up and see the world and life for what it is, a fantastically precious thing to nurture into the future. It's time to shift our perspective of concern higher than 'iron age fairy tales', territorial control, racial hatred to cherishing the life on earth and the planet itself.
I'm Ian. And I'm relieved to be an Atheist, grounded in reality.