I stopped believing in God when I was a young teenager.
It made no sense to me that the omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God of the Torah-era, who constantly smote the bad guys, did not stop Atilla the Hun, the Black Plague, the Spanish Inquisition, Stalin, Nazis, the KKK and other evils.
The explanation offered by some ultra-religious people that God was upset because people did not pray enough seemed like a cop-out. If God really did exist in the old days, then she, he or it must've been protective even before people decided to pray.
If the ancient God was not active in modern times, maybe God was not really active in ancient times, either. Maybe God was a mythological creature, created in man's image rather than vice versa.
I am willing to recognize the existence of a creative force (not a "Creator"). I prefer to call it the "Primal Catalyst."
But I am unable to make the leap from a Big Bang to an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent Supreme Being that should be feared and prayed to.
I realize that the image of God pushed on me as a child (the old guy with a long beard up on a cloud) may not be appropriate for adults. But for over 50 years I have been unable to find an "adult" definition of God that I could accept, that would enable me to stop calling myself an atheist.
My quest continues, and will probably result in a book. It was supposed to be published in early 2016, but is not yet complete.
In the USA we have freedom of religion. That includes freedom from religion. This is not "one nation under God." This is not a theocracy. "In God We Trust" should not be a national motto. Those words do not speak for me and do not belong on money or on government walls.
Despite my theological lapse, I am definitely a Jew. Judaism is a religion, a philosophy, a way of life, and—especially—a people, a tribe. Jews have a secret code. We refer to each other as MOTs (Members Of the Tribe). Some people consider Jews to be an ethnic group. I don't.
Judaism may be the only religion that permits non-believers to remain. You can't be an atheist Catholic or Baptist, but you can be an atheist Jew. Or a Jewish atheist. It's also possible to be a Jewish Buddhist ("Joo Boo").
When I first started doubting the existence of a supreme being I called myself an agnostic. As a teenager I was not ready to "come out" as a full-blown atheist. Maybe I was afraid of getting beaten up.
There was also an issue of language. An agnostic says "I don't know if God exists." An atheist says that "I know that God doesn't exist." I felt it was egomaniacal to assume that I knew everything, so I avoided the atheist label until I was in my 50s. Since I was living with the assumption that there is no God, I saw no reason to avoid the atheist label anymore.
Strangely, I still say Jewish prayers a few times a year. I amnot praying to anyone or anything. But the words and melodies feel good, and help to connect me to the Tribe, and take me back to my innocent, uncynical childhood.
I even light yahrzeit memorial candles to remember my parents. It helps me to think of them and other departed MOTs. It's sad—but feels good.
When I was in high school and college I dated a wonderful Catholic women. I liked her a lot. Maybe I loved her (whatever love is for a teenager). But the thought of having a crucifix over my bed made me realize that our relationship had no future, and I moved on.
Half a century later we reconnected. She told me that even though she still went to church services and confession when we were in high school, her Catholic connection had been broken.
If she told me that back in the 60s, my life might have taken a different path. (No, I'm not complaining about the woman I did marry.)
Religion sure screws things up. So does bad communication.