This will pretty much be the only, or one of very few posts on why I am an atheist. It is deeply personal and probably the first time I spelled it out clearly.
There was a point in my life where I was trapped somewhere, physically. Details aren't terribly important, the point was it involved the government and contracts signed thereof. At they time I was physically very ill, having pneumonia that went untreated until it went away on its own. I was also, at the time, undiagnosed with my bipolar disorder. I had no contact with the outside world aside from the incredibly slow postal service and had made a very sudden, impulsive life change. Now at first I did not regret the change, but due to my illness I would up isolated from my one friend who was with me and stuck in a 16 hour a day rut.
And each night, I prayed. For six weeks I prayed to personal and impersonal deities for comfort, for an end, for any grasp of reality. The whole time I was having vivid dreams that I was home, and when I woke up each morning it was to abject misery. I didn't necessarily want to go home, at least not all the time, but I certainly didn't want to be stuck where I was. I wanted some sort of action, but waiting on the government is like waiting on the continents to move. Some time in it wasn't just at night I became unhinged from reality. I would start to think my days were dreams and the other world, the one where I was home, was real. I even started having layered dreams, dreaming within my dream that I was one place or the other. During the days I barely interacted with the world aside from the required movements to and from place to place, to the restroom, through the cold showers and the rough, dry shaves.
I prayed each night, saying my good little Anglican Lord's Prayer, the English Pater Nostre, desperately searching for some clue, some sign of reality. At this point, during the day, I read the entire KJV bible and searched for something that made sense within it. I was very disappointed in the whole affair, feeling no relief, no connection to any higher power, and upon reading the bible I felt no connection to brutal gods and rapist heroes, to evil men glorified and vague myths. The notion of some benevolent being appealed to me, someone to "rescue" me, but I grew increasingly detached from such rescue.
There was nothing to do but wait. Prayer was useless, any action I took was useless. I had never before or ever since felt so powerless, but even powerless I had no god to turn to, no comfort from something that did not exist. As I grew increasingly detached from reality, less and less sure of which world was real, I began to despair. At the same time a sort of grim determination took hold of me. There was no god, no one but humans around me, and no action I could take to end my misery. There was nothing anyone or anything could do to anchor me to reality, or to end my situation. One day I hid in the showers and sliced open an arm, not to hurt or kill myself but just to feel the pain. I needed some sensation to try to show me what was real, but my senses were to dulled, to detached for it to help. I was sent to a mental health professional but too many years of passing meant that I hid any issues, ensuring them that I was merely upset or stressed, calling for some attention.
I spent the remaining weeks in near total silence. No more prayers, no turning to the various religious texts I had scrounged, just silence. Inaction was my only course of action, but still I dreamed. I dreamed I was in many places, no longer just home or trapped, but all over my life, in alternate lives, and I lost touch with which was real. I made sure I took no action in any reality that could upset the others, hedging my bets on faking sanity. Eventually I really did go home, my bodily illness proving too much for the ones holding me to handle. I spent days on buses, waiting for hours at stations with no phone, no money and one boxed lunch. I slept when I could, but then I would dream again.
In none of my dreams, now, did a deity exist. I had, in the period many turn to some god or another, rejected such imaginary comforts. Thought was all I had to myself at that time, and the thoughts of someone out of touch with reality rejected something above reality. I had determined to find out what was real and no omnipotent yet impotent deity, no beneficial or malevolent supernatural force would stop me. Before I had casually ignored god and religion, now I actively hated it. I did not hate god, but the mere notion that something like him could be worshipped. Every aspect of it disgusted me. Helpless prayer, beseeching for hope when there was none to be had. Rejection of reality by those who could see what was real. In my quest, my mission to determine reality I came down only to logic and evidence. If that was all that really was, why should I look "beyond" for vague and nebulous answers.
In time, months after returning home and trying to reestablish a life, I settled on reality. Months of nightmares made me doubt I was home, but no longer did I seek answers without evidence. No more prayers, no stories, only fact. Only evidence. I rejected the imaginary because I could not tell what was real otherwise. The bigger the fictional scaffolding I built up the worse my delusions became. Ever since that day, no matter what happens or has happened, I refuse to do anything but calmly asses a situation. I have not been stressed enough to go that manic since, but in part because I anchor myself to reality. We cannot know everything, but there is too much danger in declaring a reality that is out of step with our own. You do not need to be bipolar or schizophrenic to lose touch, to make bad decisions when you convince yourself of something dangerous.
I saw religion for what it was, a mass delusion. Not in a merely philosophical sense, but in a genuinely dangerous sense. The more who share the delusion the worse it is. Humanity needs to separate itself from delusions, especially since most do not have any excuse, any reason to fall for such falsities. I hate religion because it causes pain, suffering and the wrong actions in place of the obvious right actions. It is not harmless. It is not a right. Religion is a collective sickness of the mind, stretching across the centuries and among billions of people. It is not personal because our decisions, our actions affect others and when we base those actions on delusions, on the rejection of reality we are a danger to each other and humanity itself. For six weeks of my life I turned to delusion, and for several months I lived delusions. But only in those six weeks was I a danger. Only when I chose delusion over reality did I hurt myself. After I rejected an artificial delusion I was left to rediscover reality, and that is why I am an atheist. That is why I reject religion in others. That is why it hurts me so much to watch religious family and friends act on imaginary commands and stories.