Even IF there was a super-entity that created the whole universe and everything in it. Any such entity would in incomprehensible to us. I always thought why would it care what you think and punish you for thoughtcrime. As the late Carl Sagan said it does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity.
"So here I am, ready to take a step and say I'm an atheist. I guess my question is: Is this nagging feeling normal? Have other people dealt with this, and if so, what did you do? Or is this even an issue?"
The nagging feeling is perfectly normal. I don't presume to offer new atheists advice on how to deal with it, except to enrich themselves with science. I believe that most who are willing to do that will soon find the sheer nonsense of religion and the arrogance ..especially that of mainstream religions ..becoming obvious. Belief in 'god' is Not a requirement for living a happy, moral and productive life.
My respect for your intellect and courage
I know this is an old post, but I have to say that I, very recently, went through the exact same thing. The old saying is totally true!: "Watch that last step 'cause it's a doozy!" It took me a long time to get over the phobia...and that's exactly what it is; an irrational fear. I felt physically sick when I thought about taking the final step and saying, out loud, "There is no god". Have you seen the movie The God Who Wasn't There? I referenced it in a blog I posted on my own conversion and it's got one of the most powerful ending scenes I've ever seen in a movie. I'm betting there are some other former christians out there who would agree with me. He stood in the very same church he was saved in and said "I deny the holy spirit." and that was the end of the movie. Gives me butterflies thinking about it. I don't think people who were fortunate enough to not be indoctrinated will have a hard time seeing it as such, but it was a scary moment for me.
Hope all has gone well in your "coming out"!
I think most of us coming out of religion experience the same concerns, however based on my experience the atheistic logic becomes obvious as you naturally move forward and you can't understand how you actually believed that biblical stuff in the first place. It doesn't make any sense and it is rotten with contradictions. Having said all that and claiming to be atheist I will say though that in my opinion we haven't ruled out the possibility of an ultimate creator larger than the universe technically speaking, But one thing is for sure. Religionists need a reality check and get back to the drawing board. They claim to respect science but only choose what suites them.
I believe the nagging feeling is normal for anyone who is trying to overcome years of indoctrination by a religion. To me, Its similar to a person addicted to alcohol or drugs and suddenly going "cold turkey" it's scary and can be painful but its worth it.
"Faith means not wanting to know what is true".