What was the final "trigger" that convinced you to become an atheist?
I didn't have any single slide, but several events that broke my faith. The first was learning how much of daily activity would put me into HELL forever. Then I was introduced to the concept of "the God hypothesis," and I could not disagree that God is unnecessary. Lastly, I tried to verify that Christians are more ethical than non-believers, and that the sacraments gave us moral strength. No sign of any of that.
How did your decision to become an atheist affect your life?
I'm shy, and the church was most of my social life. I miss that part of religion. I also got a jolt of increased empathy for my fellow humans. For example, say a little girl is raped and murdered: for all her trouble, she's not in heaven; she's just DEAD. I also find it easier to give to street beggars--no Invisible Dude keeping tally.