I had an unusual introduction into religion, as a young child growing up in a big family in London our front door would often knock and my mum would answer and quickly close the door without warning and without saying anything I would always ask who it was but she would never tell me, i eventually discovered that it was jehovah's witnesses but still had no idea what they wanted, fast forward to my first home with my partner and I got my very own visit, at last my curiosity was to be quenched, I invited them in for a chat and 3 hours later they left, for 3 hours I questioned their beliefs in a bid to understand their thinking and how they had got to this point in their lives, well like feeding a stray dog they returned every weekend and each time i would invite them in for a discussion which nearly always lasted 3 hours, and over the years i have had many faiths come knocking on my door and some have preyed for me and given me bibles and pamphlets etc, and over the years I have discussed their faith and put forward all of my arguments as to why there is no god but the always have a counter argument that hold no water and i feel I have in some way made them rethink their beliefs, I still do this when they come knocking but these days I think they have marked my door or something as they no longer call.
I know that the experience is different for each of us. That said, this is exactly what happened to me over the course of 2 1/2 years as I researched why I believed in God and what I believed about that God. The more books that I read and the more "Atheist Experience" shows I watched the more I unwound the binding. Now when I look at faith and the Christian faith in particular, I see it as what it is...an grand illusion.
That was the final puzzle piece for me, relaizing that every thing God did was through men. Through people acting in Gods will. Even my own actions. Ones I belived were due to Gods but could only be done if I chose to. If I’m still capable of doing these things without God, then why do I need him?
I don’t think people truly believe stuff just because they are told to. They might pretend to believe in order to please their parents, assuage fear, get a good grade, etc, but if the assertions do not seem reasonable their belief is skin deep. If they “lose their faith” it is because they have found the inner strength and courage to assert truth and escape those who would use religion to control others with guilt and fear. Good for them!
It is liberating to feel you know the hard truth about life. It's hard because it takes away the foggy notion of everlasting life. This life is it. For very religious people and people who were steeped in what seemed like scriptural certainties about the next life, it is a very palpable loss.