Why, When and How I Lost My Religious Faith
The Internet writing community is full of people who hold strong religious beliefs. I envy such resolute faith. I know that is what faith is all about. It is not about having tangible proof that God exists but having faith that he does.
I have read many articles over the years regarding all sorts of religious beliefs and quite a few from religion hating writers. This mixed bag of opinion makes for interesting reading but has not managed to sway me either way.
If I am being honest I have to say that I veer towards being an agnostic. That is someone who is unsure whether or not God exists. I was however brought up in the Christian faith but somewhere along the line this went out of the window.
I will try to explain and will appreciate comments but not any that are bigoted, hateful, patronizing or offensive.
It is just that having read so many religious based articles and Hubs I thought I would share a little of why I find the idea of an omnipotent God hard to have faith in.
OK, where to start.
My parents were in their thirties when they married and started a family. Back then, in the late forties and early fifties, this was not the done thing.
My Mum was classed as a mature Mum even though she was only 31 when she was first pregnant. She lost this first baby which was stillborn but went on to have my brother and then me.
By the time I was born Dad was almost 38 and Mum almost 35 years old.
Like so many people of their generation they had not enjoyed an easy life.
My Mum had Rickets as a child and could not walk properly until she was nearly four-years-old.
My Dad did not live that far away from my Mum as a child but his circumstances although different were no better. When he was about three-years-old his Mum died. With a father away at sea Dad was taken to live with my Grandfather's two sisters.
These ladies were unmarried and remained that way until they died in great old age.
The elder had been taken away from school aged 12 to raise her siblings after their Mum died.
Brought up in late Victorian times these two relatives were very religious. Dad was given a strict, religious upbringing. Faith was instilled in him and if he became unruly a male relative would ‘clatter him around the ears’, just to make sure he understood.
When Dad was aged six his father remarried. However, by now his two Aunts thought he was theirs and they were reluctant to let him go. Ultimately my Grandfather went off to his new life and left my Dad with his aunts.
They were kind in so many ways but eccentric also.
My Dad must have felt that his father did not want him. By the time my Dad was approaching manhood his father was killed when his vessel was sank by a U Boat. All hands were lost.
Still none of this deterred my Dad's or my Great Aunt's faith in the Lord.
At the age of 25 Dad was called up to serve in the Second World War. Serving nearly eight years in all, in countries such as Burma and India, the War was not easy for him. His de-mob papers though show that his behaviour was exemplary throughout.
Of course, that is one thing that tends to go hand in hand with firm religious belief. A feeling of having to do the right thing. Your Duty. It is what helped keep the masses down for years.
After the War Dad suffered Malaria attacks for a while and eventually had a nervous breakdown. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was not recognized back then. Such soldiers as my Dad were simply sent on their merry way once the army had finished with them.
With no support or counselling Dad managed to keep in work but had periods of ill health. This meant that money was always tight for us. I always thought that his religious upbringing must have made the war extremely hard for him. After all killing is a sin.
This is something I found hard to come to terms with once i was a teenager.
How could a priest bless troops and happily send them to war?
The two should not go together.
Dad had more than a few traumatic episodes and then, just when he seemed to be getting his head together, he was diagnosed with cancer. Within a few weeks he was gone. Dead aged 55.
A sense of duty had made him give up so much of his life and for what?
A big chunk of his life was his sad childhood and the War. He shares such a fate with all too many other individuals.
As a teenager of the sixties all of this information began to raise doubts in my mind. How could a God let such a man suffer so much? Compared to many others he hardly suffered at all but life was hard for him.
Then, of course, the facts of the Second World War became known to me. It was right that Hitler was stopped and a sad fact of life that this needed men like my father to sacrifice themselves but if God is so omnipotent how come he was powerless to intervene? Could he not have prevented the mass slaughter of Jews and the march of Hitler?
Having attended church without fail each week, been christened and then confirmed my faith was still quick to go.
This teenage questioning has carried on throughout my life. I have yet to find the answers necessary to re-kindle any faith in God.
Events such as earthquakes, starvation in Ethiopia, The Twin Towers, the troubles in Ireland and so much more just make it harder to believe in God.
In fact it often appears as if religion is the driving force behind so many dreadful acts.Those who believe will argue of course that it is not religion but what man chooses to do with religion that causes the problems.
Is it not time that this omnipotent God intervened though and sorted such individuals out?
The eldest aunt, who helped raise my Dad, would always say that such horrific events were God's way of testing a person's faith. I used to retaliate that I did not want to know such a God then, if he was so mean and with age this opinion has changed little.
Our lives on this earth are so very brief in real terms. Life is wonderful and precious. How sad that some individuals suffer so much. Cruelty and torture are a way of life for far too many people.
Still nothing really changes.
I will close this ramble now. I have written from the heart and did not write this Hub in draft, and then check what I had written. I have written as my thoughts came to me and hopefully this Hub will make sense.
To those of you who have unquestionable faith in God, good luck. I envy you. For those, like me, who are unsure, perhaps faith will come with time. I may not hold firm religious beliefs but I still try to be a good person.
I have memories of Church on Sunday as a child, stood listening to the God fearing adults of the congregation calling Hell out of others, and each other, after the service had finished. Even as a child I knew this was wrong. Faith or no faith.
My final memory is regarding that elderly Great Aunt of mine who raised my father. She would always say that dying would reveal the great secret. That is whether or not God, heaven and hell existed and to which place you would be sent.
She died aged 88, outliving my parents by a year, though they were so much younger. On her deathbed she said that she thought she was dying. Aged just 24 myself I did not know what to say. I asked her if she was frightened and she said yes she was.
I was sad that her faith had failed her at the end but sincerely hoped she found what she was expecting, on the other side.
I doubt it somehow though.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2010 Ethel Smith