Disclaimer: My posts contain my own personal opinions and are not meant to offend. I understand that some people are religious on here, and I 100% completely respect your right to your own opinions and beliefs. That said, this is how I view things:
Also raised Catholic. Funny how many Atheists were raised Catholic.
... why, its almost like there's something hard to believe about Catholicism.
I personally think the entire concept of "faith" as a positive is counter-intuitive to the entirety of human nature. We're clever and curious little buggers, so it hardly makes sense to treat blind obedience as a positive and thoughtful skepticism as a sin. There, really, is my problem with religion as a whole. Anything that tells me "Oh hey, don't think about it too hard, just believe what I'm saying", sort of sends red flags for me... like 'hey, I think this MIGHT be a scam'.
It's just all too... convenient. What? Eternal life and bliss in the kingdom of heaven? All I have to do is blindly accept everything you tell me, never question what you say, and donate money to your organization? Oh, and of course, you have no actual proof of any of this? Oh, yes, this sounds incredibly reasonable. Oh, and you don't want to pay taxes? Certainly.
I also find it bizarre and confusing how whether or not you receive the CORRECT religion, and thus avoid going to hell (or whatever happens to non-believers in your particular faith), seems largely to be based on geography. Born in Saudia Arabia? Islam is clearly and obviously the one true religion. India? Hinduism, of course. Peru? Catholicism is obviously the right answer. If you're born in Iceland, then Lutheranism is the clear and obvious truth. You would think if there was an all-powerful deity out there, their religion would be nigh-universal, right?
Of course, the simple fact that religions widely seem to be fairly critical of scientific thought is another red flag. After all, the true word of God should be able to stand up to a little scrutiny, don't you think?
I also have to deal with religious family. Oddly, though, I admit, none of mine really fit too terribly into the stereotypes... except perhaps my mother. On one hand, I have my Catholic grandmother, who I love and adore and is absolutely one of the most wonderful people in the planet. Like... she embodies everything GOOD that can come from religion. She believes in love and kindness towards your fellow man and doesn't buy into all the hateful garbage spouted by others. I even heard her talking to my mother once, and my grandmother said quite clearly that she supports gay marriage.
My Aunt is a strange example to me. I love her too, don't get me wrong, she's always been amazing to me. It just baffles me that she is a lesbian, with a wife, who is strongly religious. I know that religious people come in all shapes and colors, but I just find it confusing why one would so strongly adhere to a faith that's so commonly used to deny your rights. I'm sure there are gay people on here who are religious too, its just a strange concept to me.
My mother... eeeeeh... I mean... she's my mother. She's always done great by me, raised me the best she could, and alone at that, since my dad was never really... well... much of a dad. But she's just... stupidly religious, that's the best way I can put it. She gets along great with her sister (my previously mentioned Aunt), so... its not like she's... bigoted and hateful or anything. But she just has this ridiculously old-timesy way of looking at certain things. She ALWAYS seems to mention someone's race, regardless of its relevance to the story she's telling, she regularly (especially after drinking) makes a point to inform me that the Muslim terrorists are coming to take away our freedom, she thinks teaching kids that gay people are normal human beings is some form of indoctrination (ignoring the fact that she tried to have me indoctrinated into Christianity), and so on.
Like Blythe, I honestly don't really know if I would ever have considered myself 'part of' that religion. I was raised Catholic, but I pretty much rejected that from the moment my critical thinking skills were fully developed enough for me to realize all the errors and holes in what I was being told. I also considered myself agnostic for a while, until I realized that how I felt was more in line with atheism than agnosticism.
As I've said, I don't judge people based on their religion. The family members I mentioned above I love dearly, despite ideological disagreements I may have with some of them. I personally identify not just an Atheist, but as a Buddhist. I find many of the teachings of Buddhism do not require faith in anything supernatural, and many of them I personally find to be very logical and intuitive. I do not believe in the Buddha as some divine being, but I do believe that he was a wonderfully wise teacher, far ahead of his time. I believe strongly in a secular interpretation of his teachings, and I find that trying to incorporate them into my daily life has had an overall positive effect on my well-being. Granted... I'm not a monk, I still drink and have fun and all that other distracting stuff that is typically frowned upon for monks.
At any rate, Buddhism does have a lot to say about simply accepting the world for what it is, and I think a part of that is accepting others for who they are. Even if someone else has different beliefs than me, if they're a good person, they're a good person. Likewise there are other Atheists who are right pricks.
I really do love that quote, by the way. "Religion is like having a penis..." Pretty much sums up my feelings on that matter.