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Why, When and How I Lost My Religious Faith

With a keen interest in British politics this writer is never afraid to share her opinion

Where is God?

Where is God?

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.

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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.

1920s UK. Mum is third from the left and her sister second from the left. They were not classed as poor as they all wore shoes and socks and my Grandad worked on the railways.

1920s UK. Mum is third from the left and her sister second from the left. They were not classed as poor as they all wore shoes and socks and my Grandad worked on the railways.

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


Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on August 25, 2018:

I am alats open to change. However so far wth age faith and me do not mix

RTalloni on August 24, 2018:

Your honesty is full of meaning. I read your post with great interest. It sounds as if you are willing to keep your hands open, so to speak. May I suggest some books that have solid insight into the questions you have? Trusting God When Life Hurts by G. Bridges, Suffering and the Sovereignty of God from J. Piper, The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis, and L. Talbert's Not by Chance.

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on November 20, 2011:

I ended up deleting my reply and will leave it at thanks for the visit :)

Paladin_ on November 19, 2011:

A great, heartfelt hub, Ethel. I voted it up, but I feel I must point out that when it comes to belief, there is no in-between. One either believes or doesn't believe. With regard to God, one is either a believer or an atheist.

Theism and atheism refer to what one believes. Agnosticism refers to what one knows (or doesn't). Thus, based on what you've discussed in your hub, I submit to you that you're both an agnostic (you don't know for certain) and an atheist (you don't believe).

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on September 14, 2010:

Thanks for your input franknhonest. It is interesting to see everyone's different perspective. Yours sounds possible, but then I guess anything is in this world.

franknhonest on September 12, 2010:

Thanks for sharing a great article, Ethel. From my perspective I think there may be a God, or some kind of higher power out there, but not the God of Christianity or Islam or any other religion. The God of Christianity would send most of those who died in the holocaust into hell, and I don't see how any Christian can argue otherwise without contradicting the bible. Mankind has been around an awful long time, way before all the existing religions. If there is a God, he is not active in the world.

Peter on August 30, 2010:

Isn't it interesting how those with a belief in God always expound such marvelous use of grammar - it makes it sound so impressive? doesn't it? No.

They turn their eyes away and only see what they want to see - oh how glorious it must be to live in a make believe world - a fantasy. Dream on.

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on August 20, 2010:

Thanks for your input guys. John how nice to have such faith.

FF I agree so much with what you say.

John Harper from Malaga, Spain on August 20, 2010:

Ethel, you said;

"Is it not time that this omnipotent God intervened though and sorted such individuals out.?"

Well that agrees with scripture, and He is scheduled to do just that!

I was fortunate, all my introspection and exploration of God was conducted before I came to faith in Christ, so I have no doubts, just convictions!

Thanks for an honest hub.


Paul Swendson on August 19, 2010:

Thanks for sharing. I can relate to your various feelings, doubts, and questions. I also left mainstream Christianity long ago, and I don't see myself going back. I have found a home in the Unitarian Universalist Church, a place that does not claim to have the answers. Instead, we focus on encouraging one another to be wiser and better people. In the end, that is all we can do, whether God is up there or not.

With my background, it's hard to see spirituality as more than believing a creed and doing religious stuff. I keep trying to broaden my horizons, however, and if there is a good creator(s) with some sort of rhyme or reason to his (her/their) choices, then I'll assume that things will be worked out somehow. I'm just one person, on one little planet, living in one of billions of galaxies. How could I possibly be expected to figure it all out?

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on March 31, 2010:

rmcrayne how astute. I agree that all too many religious people come across as sanctimonious and often cruel.

This personal debate, between fellow hubbers, has been interesting.

rmcrayne from San Antonio Texas on March 30, 2010:

Looking back, I think by the time I was a teenager, I was starting to realize that I didn’t really believe the things I learned in Sunday School. I finally said it outloud to another person when I was in my early 20s. I think there is too much contradiction, inconsistencies, and illogic to the whole Judeo-Christian God and organized religions. I find the bigotry and unforgiving natures of scores of professed religious people repugnant. They hide behind their religion, calling it “prayer” when what they are doing is talking to themselves, rationalizing their bad behavior. I don’t need “the fear of God” to make me be a good person and treat others with respect.

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on March 30, 2010:

Regards Peggy :)

Premier don't you be doing anything silly like joining up, will you?

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 29, 2010:

Only time will tell for us all :)

You are right, Ethel. No argument there! :-)

premierkj from Republic of Ireland on March 29, 2010:


The day has long gone since the catholic church was able to scare me into believing in god, and thankfully god's soldiers 'the christian brothers' didn't get their hands on me.

I sympathize with the difficult life that your dad had to endure. i hope he was happy nonetheless. i am from a spoilt generation that has been afforded far too many comforts, so i couldn't possibly understand what he went through, but for some reason, and forgive me if it sounds ungrateful, but for some reason i'm envious. I would have liked to live in a time when men were men.

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on March 29, 2010:

Yes what you say makes sense but I am not convinced. I am happy for you and others who have this firm belief though. Only time will tell for us all :)

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 28, 2010:

"There are many people in this world who have become worse individuals by following a faith."

ABSOLUTELY! You'll get no argument from me. Think of all the wars that have been fought in the guise of religion. Suicide bombers in today's age in the guise of a religious cause... The radicals in all religions do more harm than good.

With regard to the near death experiences...examples have been given of children who after coding have described equipment and the individuals who came into the room and worked on their bodies when they were clinically dead. They saw it while floating above their bodies and were able to describe it after they were resusitated. No other way possible for them to have been able to describe these things.

Happens over and over again in all cultures. Thus, my belief in the afterlife. I am convinced that it is real.

If it was just a could not possibly be so accurate. Make sense?

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on March 28, 2010:

Thanks Peggy. Religion is all opinion I think and good luck to those who have faith. When my elderly great aunt died I had been with her a few hours earlier. She was talking to my Dad etc. It was as if these dead people had come to take her. However the realist in my believes that it was just her brain flashing images from the past.

PS I work on an elderly ward where death is a daily occurrence. In some ways I believe there is something more to life but not in a religious way.

There are many people in this world who have become worse individuals by following a faith.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 28, 2010:

Hi Ethel,

Your hub was definitely from the heart and I understand it. If we believed everything we were told as we grow up and doubted nothing...we may as well be a block of wood. With intelligence and various life experiences, it is natural to sift through the information and make decisions.

I do believe in a Higher Power who created the heavens and earth. But I do not believe that He micro-manages. If that were the case, then we might all have been created as robots with no free will.

Many people may not have had the personal experiences that I have had regarding proof (in my opinion) of an afterlife...and I realize that I am lucky with respect to that. That was one reason why I wrote about it to share with others...

What gives me great pleasure also is having read many books like Life After Life, Embraced by the Light, etc. In those books (and I know that many religious fanatics would not agree with what was written) all people (even pets!) go through that same tunnel when they die. Most everyone is greeted by loved ones and assisted through that process drawn towards the light which some describe as wonderful and welcoming...some religious describe as God.

The other WONDERFUL my that everyone goes through that tunnel of light whether they belong to this faith or that faith or no faith at all. Some apparently move very slowly while others zip through it. Perhaps that is the Hell? Who knows for sure, but we will all find out when it is our turn.

When my mother just died, I was with her and she mouthed the word "Mother" and actually smiled! I believe that my dear grandmother was there to help her to "the other side." That gave me such comfort.

As you say, religion is a topic that is very polarizing. I think that you have a right to think and question. We all do. You will find your answers sooner or later. Hugs!

Vicky Gentry from Las Vegas, Nevada on March 27, 2010:

Joyce Mayers made a eye opening statement. She is an excellent teacher of the word. She said.."Growth happens through trials". Blessings!

James A Watkins from Chicago on March 26, 2010:

As you know, I have no doubts about God. I do appreciate your candor that clearly shows through in this heartfelt piece. The reasons soldiers can kill is because there is no Commandment against killing. There is a Commandment against murder. The same kind of murder that is prosecuted in courts around the free world today. Soldiers are not prosecuted for murder because killing in battle is not murder. Your father had no duty to God to fight in war. Most conscientious objectors, allowed to stay at home during war, are religious objectors. He may have had, or at least felt he had, a duty to Britain to fight. We surely can't blame God because madmen start wars. We, even madman, have free will.

Vicky Gentry from Las Vegas, Nevada on March 26, 2010:

Hope you don't mind me commenting again. I feel your struggle and your anger at why would God allow such things. I suffered with itching all over and no relief for a year. I was asking God this same question..why??? I had a long talk with him, an angry and emotional one. I was struggling with believing in him as you can see. I tried every possible remedy I could think of to get relief but none came. I finally broke down and gave it all to him. I started going to church and that's when it happened. He healed me but that healing needed to start with me. I had to come to a place in my life where there was nothing left. My faith is stronger now because of it. I turn to God now because of it. I trust in God now because of it. We all must die and pain causes death through disease's and wars, etc;. God interveins when the pain is unbareable, but it had to start with me. My willingness to give it to him. He promised he would never put us through more than we can handle. We can find comfort in that. How do you know if God didn't rescue the Jews from their suffering and bring them out of bondage. Wars do protect us even though they take lives. Life takes lives. That is inevetable. I just pray that God brings you out of this hold, this bondage that you are in and you find hope again. We try to understand the things of this world and why they are the way they are but remember..Satan is the ruler of the earth. When we have God we have a clearer more solid understanding of why things are what they are and we can then begin to have hope which to me brings faith through truth. This message is from someone who cares. Blessings..

Holle Abee from Georgia on March 26, 2010:

Ethel, I'm sorry you lost your faith. Mine is a real comfort to me. My mom was so strong in hers that she literally just couldn't wait to die so that she could see God and HEaven!

suziecat7 from Asheville, NC on March 24, 2010:

You opened a can of worms here, Ethel. But I totally understand where you're coming from.

Vicky Gentry from Las Vegas, Nevada on March 24, 2010:

It is what we believe and do in this life that matters. We should never neglect that. Blessings!

Judah's Daughter from Roseville, CA on March 24, 2010:

ethel? In my studies over the last year (and I'm no Bible scholar), everything I've studied along the way has not contradicted my previous studies. Because a dear friend taught me how to do inductive Bible Study (I have a hub called "How to Do An Inductive Bible Study"), this has greatly helped. I'd like you to email me if you see contradictions in the Bible so I might be able to help you by studying and providing answers. God loves you and I'd be really happy to help. Bless you.

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on March 24, 2010:

Thanks for your thoughts Eileen.

I am open to believing anything is possible but the Bible has too many contradictions.

Eileen Hughes from Northam Western Australia on March 24, 2010:

Ethel, you have opened up your life to us. Like you I believe that there is a god as how else were we all created.

But it upsets me and I wonder why innocent little children that have done nothing wrong are dying and suffering from cancers and other things. If someone is watching over us then why are the criminals living in gaols and the kids suffering.

I dont know the answer and I tried to work it out in the bible once but still confused.

Interesting hub thanks for sharing this.

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on March 24, 2010:

PS I guess my previous comment meant that believing in an after life can lead people to neglect this world

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on March 24, 2010:

Thanks you all for sharing your thoughts and opinions. After all that is all any of us can have.

In some ways I think religion can make it harder for people on earth. If you can confess your sins and be forgiven then perhaps you do not have to worry too much about your behaviour in general.

Leogal on March 23, 2010:

CMHypno says:

26 hours ago

I've always thought its odd that when there is a war both sides pray to god and expect him/her to favour their side. But war and violence are created by humans and not some external god, and they won't stop until we start taking full responsibility for our actions. I'm not a big fan of organised religion, but most of them have the edict 'thou shalt not kill'. If all religious followers therefore obeyed their religion's rules, the world would be a safer and happier place.

I think CMHypno put it well. This life is merely a test. God gives someone a lot, someone a little and someone none at all. I was just reading Jyoti's story, and was so touched. I was telling my husband how fortunate we are and should be so grateful to God for everything we have..... If we read about one such person everyday, we will feel more satisfied with what we have and stop whining about the havenots. Good luck.

Judah's Daughter from Roseville, CA on March 23, 2010:

Man must be born and must die (with the exception of the rapture) to see eternal life. Believers look forward to that "transition" day. Where is God? He is with us now and greets us on the other side, in the blink of an eye...those who've killed and harmed people will face their consequences "on the other side". This world is Satan's realm; Jesus said His kingdom is not of this world. This life is temporary; life after death is forever. This is why believers don't grieve like those who have no hope. Our hope lies in what is unseen ~ hope that will be realized from the last breath to the first. For the wicked, this life is the most "heaven" they will ever know; for the righteous in Christ, this is the most "hell" we will ever know. I'm praying for you.

Tricia Mason from The English Midlands on March 23, 2010:

I, too, am agnostic and I can understand how you feel. There are many things that we so not understand, and I do 'feel' that there is an afterlife, even though I do not know. Maybe there is or maybe there isn't. Who can say? And maybe there is 'something' that might be termed 'God', but I cannot believe that a loving all powerful being would make a world, where one animal has to rip another one apart just to eat and stay alive, for example. Again, we just cannot know the unknowable. :)

Jen's Solitude from Delaware on March 23, 2010:

Hello my friend,

I must agree with you, as I have often said if it is God's will that people suffer, and die without any hope of a better world, then this is not a God I wish to get to know, let alone worship.

I purposely chose not to discuss spiritual matters in a detailed way in this forum, but will contact you by e-mail to share some thoughts we have in common.

I love discussing spiritual matters with reasonable, thinking individuals like you. No arguments, no disrespect, just conversations and sharing of opinions. It is hard to find that these days as religion can often be a polarizing subject. I'm glad we won't have to worry about that as an outcome, in our situation.

I'll be in touch.

De Greek from UK on March 23, 2010:

Thank you for this wonderful touching, personal story. I have been through the same questioning and I understand what you are saying.

CMHypno from Other Side of the Sun on March 22, 2010:

I've always thought its odd that when there is a war both sides pray to god and expect him/her to favour their side. But war and violence are created by humans and not some external god, and they won't stop until we start taking full responsibility for our actions. I'm not a big fan of organised religion, but most of them have the edict 'thou shalt not kill'. If all religious followers therefore obeyed their religion's rules, the world would be a safer and happier place.

Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on March 22, 2010:

Thanks for dropping by guys.

Hello, yes there is just so much sorrow and hardship in the world that religion is a hard one to believe in.

Like you I suppose that I hope there is more and each time I here of a tiny miracle I feel hopeful. This is too often soon dashed with more negative news.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on March 22, 2010:

Ethel, you wrote about what I belief too. Hitler could have stopped and should have been. You forgotten Stalin. He even murdered more. Also, my son had a friend when he was smal in school. Thank child was so lovely. He died at the age of seven. He had two operations, one at three years and then at seven. He had a tumor in the head. Whatever, had he done to deserve that and so many other children you read about it? The Catholic Church - all holy - is he richest and when there is a famine or disaster, what do they do? Even when there isn't a disaster, the very poor shouldn't be. All they would have to distribute their money. Yet they stand there on Sunday and preach. I believe in a - well call it God - but not they go about. I believe purely because there must something more higher up. I hope mankind is not that last step. Look at that mess. I also had a lousy life and it is still lousy and why? I never done anything wrong. Been kind to everybody, never had any affairs etc. I fully agree with you on your outlook.

Thank you for a fantastic hub.

mdlawyer on March 22, 2010:

It is interesting and at the same time soul-searching experience.

debugs from Odessey777, Umbris on March 22, 2010:

I completely understand you.

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