I have lost God

(105 Posts)
whatshapeisthisnow Mon 14-Oct-13 18:02:44

Everything has just gone. Almost overnight. I can no longer believe. Nothing happened to make this happen it just sort of occurred to me that it's all made up confused

I am feeling sad that this has happened. I miss going to church. I feel hollow and empty. It is quite a depressing state to be in.

I am not sure of the way forward now. I want to believe but I don't see any way back.

sweetkitty Mon 14-Oct-13 18:06:47

Happened to me age 16. Before that I believed said my prayers etc then I started learning about Biology and Evolution and just about the world really.

I've never believed since it's taken me a good many years to come to terms with my atheism, I wanted to believe in a higher being but the rational side of my brain could not. I go to church with my DP now and think "you all believe all this don't you? You all actually believe you are eating the body of Christ?"

Anyway I have no words of advice just that I have accepted and am at peace with being an atheist, I'm still a good person.

expatinscotland Mon 14-Oct-13 18:08:16

You can't lose what never existed in the first place. The scales fell from your eyes and you are able to see reality now. Try it! Enjoy your life as you see fit.

Snargaluff Mon 14-Oct-13 18:12:54

This has happened to me too. I went to churvh yesterday and the service was so lively and I love singing and I could have got swept away with it... Only I couldn't as I don't believe it a jot anymore

I used to never understand how 'born again Christians' could become atheists, but now I see

I know it may not be welcome but I genuinely want to congratulate you on your realisation.

Life without a God is far from hollow and empty. It is the opposite in fact. You are free to appreciate the world without the blinkers of organised religion.

You can see just how tiny and insignificant this planet we live on is. And yet how incredible and amazing every aspect of life is. That people do good things on a daily, hourly, minute basis NOT because they want to go to an imaginary heaven but because people are inherently good.

Here's a man and a video that can give some perspective

superbagpuss Mon 14-Oct-13 18:16:03

do you want to find Him again?
an alpha course is a good place to start, should be one near you

amicissimma Mon 14-Oct-13 18:17:52

He hasn't lost you.

Remember the 'Footprints in the Sand' thing? When He's carrying you you can't find Him beside you.

I had a long period when I felt l couldn't believe. Looking back, it was a time when my faith changed from 'something I always had and took for granted' to 'something I decided to seek out and follow for myself'. It's much firmer and deeper now.

My advice would be to tell God how you feel. Don't be polite. He's a big God, He can take it.

LadyBigtoes Mon 14-Oct-13 18:21:37

I can't identify with your experience, as a lifelong atheist, but I hope speaking from this side of things, I can reassure you. Having no god/religious belief doesn't have to be lonely or non-spiritual.

In fact I think it is far more amazing, gratifying and mindblowing to look at the universe as a wonder of science - that is far more beautiful to me than to think that someone all-powerful (so who could just do anything they liked anyway) just made it.

And it is far more valuable to me that so many people are simply good and kind because it's in their hearts, rather than because of some teachings about what you have to do to get to heaven.

You can still go to church if you like, if you enjoy the company, singing, the beauty of the building, the rituals or whatever. I very much think that quite a few people who go to church don't actually believe (and possibly some who are in senior positions in the church - after all once it's someone's career, it may not be that easy to walk away even after a situation like yours, which statistically must happen to some of them).

If there is a "way forward", I think it is to seek goodness, beauty, enlightenment and all that is rewarding, for its own sake and for the sake of human happiness, while we are here.

buffyp Mon 14-Oct-13 18:45:45

In your opinion. I lost my son from a brain tumour 3 weeks ago and my faith has greatly helped me including the parish priest. I believe everyone has the right to believe or not without being made to feel stupid.

whatshapeisthisnow Mon 14-Oct-13 19:50:57

thanks for you buffyp I am sorry to hear you have lost your son.

expatinscotland Mon 14-Oct-13 19:57:18

Sorry for your loss, Buffy. My daughter died traumatically from failed stem cell transplant for treatment of leukaemia last year when se was 9, but I am an atheist.

dobedobedo Mon 14-Oct-13 20:08:51

OP, I had a very sudden realisation that god and religion was all fake, a few years ago. Up until this, I'd been Christian, born again and everything.
I got depressed so much that I went on medication for it. Didn't see the point in anything, almost craved the "not existing" that dying now meant.
Thankfully I worked through it, got over it (thanks prozac!) and now I couldn't be happier. I was so blinkered and ignorant and almost conned before!

It might be really tough to first come to that realisation, but you'll be fine. thanks

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 14-Oct-13 20:54:31

OP, you are not hollow and empty.sad You are the same person you were before you stopped believing.

What exactly have you stopped believing in? Is it god or religion?

ErrolTheDragon Mon 14-Oct-13 21:02:04

I still miss church too sometimes, though it must be about 30 years now since I had my 'leap of unfaith'. But everything just made so much more sense once I'd stopped believing in God.

It felt rather like falling out of love with someone wonderful (and then later realising that they weren't so great anyway).

Hmmm. Could you just have lost faith in the manner you believed not in the concept of a god?

I find it very easy to believe in something greater that is generally good and pray to it regularly. Oddly it's because of science and nature and things that I'm pretty convinced He exists. I'm cofe and attend church but apart from loving churches as buildings I've never really felt affinity to that style of belief.

What exactly don't you believe? A church service never floats my boat really but staring out to the ocean proves it. Dunno if makes any sense.....?

whatshapeisthisnow Mon 14-Oct-13 22:06:48

I no longer believe in God or Jesus. I believe that Man created the concept of God to explain Man's experience on earth. I believe that Jesus was either made up or was a revolutionary preacher. Christianity emerged due to Emperor Constantine who promoted it for political reasons.

Man created God and the religions that promote God.

I don't want to believe any of this but I know in my heart that it's true.
sad

NonnoMum Mon 14-Oct-13 22:18:45

Something very similar happened to me this summer. I got very depressed, but also have found a new rationalism.

I tried to stop being part of an organised religion but strangely my (v v atheist) DH encouraged me...

All the v positive aspects of my religion are still there (the dignity of each individual/doing unto others/reflecting and reassessing every thing once a week in a formal service) are still very important to me. I did get a bit cross with myself thinking that if i wasn't religious I could have been ruthless and rich by now!

All the community things are still there too - all the supporting others through joyous moments and sadness in their lives/ all the endless but brilliant sponsored walks/marathons etc. Of course, all these things can be found in the secular world.

Also, I like being in the minority - whilst all the clever rational people happily know that there is nothing, my little bit of hope that all this is not in vain and that we try and reach out to others to make the world a better place, all that is just about there... Would I be burnt at the stake for my (old) religion? No. Do i admire those who have? Absolutely. Will I try and be a little bit better tomorrow than I was today? Well, I'll give it a go.

Oh, and I love a good hymn. And i love the fact that there is strength in weakness...

IHaveA Mon 14-Oct-13 22:42:08

I am a lifelong athiest and whilst I have always thought it must be nice to believe in God its impossible to make yourself believe.

I have a strong set of personal morals. Any suggestion that morals come with religion are a bit confused

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 14-Oct-13 22:51:48

What do you feel you have lost due to your realization Whatshape?

whatshapeisthisnow Mon 14-Oct-13 23:11:53

I have lost my relationship with Jesus sad I have tried to tell myself to just keep going through the motions but I can't take communion as it would just feel so wrong.

I keep telling myself it's just a phase and all I have to do is pray and everything will fall into place but I just feel that it won't ever be the same again. Something inside me has made a permanent shift.

This all took place after Lent. I had a good Lent and prayed and stuck to my Lenten promises but I felt absolutely nothing at all when Easter came and it all went downhill from there. I have felt hollow and empty ever since.

youretoastmildred Mon 14-Oct-13 23:17:32

I have heard that "may you lose your faith" is a Jewish curse.

I would say that things change and you may find that your faith changes. Or you may come to terms with a different way of looking at things - there is not necessarily no meaning when there is no god

Meditation without god is possible. This gives you benefits of prayer

but it can also perhaps in the end give you a different way to know god

youretoastmildred Mon 14-Oct-13 23:18:43

When this happened to me I was very young and felt too guilty to talk to anyone. don't be like this, find someone to talk to

whatshapeisthisnow Mon 14-Oct-13 23:36:40

I am grateful for everyone's replies smile

blossombath Mon 14-Oct-13 23:42:00

I agree it might help to talk with someone irl, I found talking to Christians outside of my own church amd family helpful when i was struggling with my faith as felt able to be more honest.

Or of course keep talking here, you have many view points to help you find a new meaning or comfort whether religious or not.

If you want to talk more privately do pm me. I'm a Christian so obviously would give that perspective but won't judge, just feel sad to see those frowny faces and would like to offer help if I can.

GhettoFabulouz Tue 15-Oct-13 00:09:42

Recently I had a friend who declared he no longer believes in God, which I'm finding hard to understand as we grew up in church together from very young, he was vey active in church and even introduced his wife to the faith. I just want to understand from those that use to believe did something happen why you feel that way? How now do you make sense of the world? How do you deal with life's ups and downs? Can you honestly say that you are fulfilled and hopeful of the future?

OP you say you lost your relationship. Can you think of a time when you had a relationship and what was different from then and now? Have you ever considered trying other churches? Sometimes churches with rituals etc can just be that. A church with a different worship experience might help you find Him again.

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 15-Oct-13 00:33:38

Perhaps not praying and going through the motions would be good for you right now OP, as it seems to be compounding your feelings of loss.sad. If you feel you can't completely go "cold turkey" quite yet, just chitter to him as you go about your day.

What do you miss about having faith?

schwertz Tue 15-Oct-13 07:24:22

Agree with lots of other posts on here.

Main think I would add is definitely do not throw anything away.

You may not progress in your faith for weeks, months or even years. But whatever you do, and I cannot emphasise this strongly enough, is do not throw everything you had away.

headinhands Tue 15-Oct-13 07:39:08

Ghetto. I'd personally love to answer your questions but think we should probably start a new thread for people to answer them.

whatshapeisthisnow you are going through something very normal and is a sign of developing and maturing faith. Think about a toddler learning to walk. The parents hold onto their hands but there comes a moment when the parent lets go and the child learns to walk alone. It doesn't mean the parent has gone away; they are still there. This is what a maturing faith is like. The early certainty goes and is replaced by doubt and prayer is harder. This period of dryness in prayer and a feeling of the absence of God is sometimes called 'the desert' and has been familiar to Christians as long as we have practised our faith.

Some churches are better at helping people through this than others. There is a lovely book by Alan Jamieson called 'Chrysalis' that describes this process from an Evangelical perspective. I found a book called 'When the Well Runs Dry' by Thomas Green(I think) really helpful from a more Catholic perspective.

So as other posters have said, don't throw your faith away but be prepared for change.

LadyBigtoes Tue 15-Oct-13 09:04:45

I totally agree this may be a "stage" and you may return to your faith - and if that makes you happy that's wonderful. But I would be wary of attempts to tell you that feeing loss of faith is just a normal part of faith and you will inevitably come back.

That might be the case, but it's also important to have your feelings recognised and understood, and to get reassurance, if you really have lost your faith.

I understand that you can't really know for sure at the moment, but I think starting out religious and losing your faith as you get older is also normal, just as normal as having a rough patch as part of continuing to believe.

After all most religious people don't automatically have a set of beliefs that suit them - it's an accident of birth and the place/culture/family you grow up in. If, as you discover what you really think, you find it doesn't suit you, you have to seek out an alternative that does and that is a common process for lots of people.

nooka Tue 15-Oct-13 09:06:45

I lost my ability to believe many many years ago now, and really it's not changed my life at all. My basic core beliefs are really all the same (that fundamentally the world is wonderful and people are generally good) I just don't have a 'god shaped hole' to fill. I don't think that you can fake belief, it's something you have or don't have.

My mother keeps telling me that you can have faith and doubt, but I don't doubt, I'm really pretty certain that the god I was brought up with was created by people, and really if he wasn't would either be a pretty awful being or else oblivious to us. She recommends me books where great academic Christian thinkers have expounded on belief and doubt and persuaded themselves intellectually that god must exist, but I'm really not interested. I don't think you can find god academically in any case.

We have two priests in the family too, so lots of belief swimming around, and I assume I'm prayed for on a regular basis but it's all just irrelevant to me - feels very alien.

I do remember feeling very lost for a while when I realised there was no one listening to my prayers, but then I adjusted and it was fine. I suppose I could have a moment of grace at some point in the future, but I can't imagine that would be the case. I don't really get the 'don't throw anything away' comments here - what is there to throw? It's not as if you need anything other than faith to be a Christian.

chocoluvva Tue 15-Oct-13 09:29:01

I feel for you. I lost my faith at uni. I talked to a close Christian friend but she explained that you either have faith or you don't, ie you either believe or you don't.

For me it was reading about evolution and studying philosophy.

I still see it as a loss. I understand your feeling of pointlessness. I felt like that too, but it passed. The secret to happiness is in doing things - fulfilling your potential, raising your DC as well as you can, helping other people, trying to be good. I have no less conscience as an atheist. I know I have to do things I don't want to because I'll feel guilty if I don't.

But now I see the value of giving strength to others by being generally positive. Some people have unwavering faith in the capacity of humans to make things better through science.

Mindfulness might be the way forward for you.

If you think about it, even God is pointless - what IS the point of him? Organised religion acts as a force to keep people behaving in a way beneficial to society as a whole, but it's not necessary.

You can still believe in love, be loving and be loved whatshapeisthisnow smile.

ButThereAgain Tue 15-Oct-13 09:42:36

I often have what I am sure is a version of this loss of God. I have never believed in God but I am pro-religious because it seems to me that there truly is an experience to be had of something divine, of which the idea of a God is kind of an allegory or metaphor. It seems to me that religious practices and attitudes are a way of capturing and conceptualising this divine. When (almost always) I am not in an kind of contact with the sense of a world (and a self) that is infused with a kind of unity, creativity, value, I do think of that as an experience very like (or even the same as) the one that is called the loss of God. I don't mean that at all as a way of saying that there is no truth in religion. The opposite, if anything. It's just that the idea of a transcendent God who may or may not exist just seems like one among several religious ways of conceptualising the absence, disvalue, and sense of separation from an absolute, that religious practices seek to overcome.

It is a very blank way of feeling. But the consolation is that you are actually apprehending, perceiving, the thing that you seek even while you yearn for it. You experience it, even if only as an absence.

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Tue 15-Oct-13 09:48:55

OP, I have had a similar experience as well. I am going through a very anti religion/God phase at the moment, I am hoping that it will settle down and lead to acceptance at some point in the future.
thanks Buffyp, sorry for your loss.

Hi WhatShape, I think, however much of a change in your thinking and feeling these recent changes seem like, maybe try to see it all as part of your life, and even spiritual/faith, journey. Many people have travelled the path you are travelling, as well as a variety of other paths people have been talking about here.
So, there are many people you can talk to, and experiences you can read, which may help you feel less lonely - as well as talking here.
Personally I moved from being a member of an evangelical church in my twenties to find myself feeling very at home with the Quakers. Quakers are probably the most liberal faith community with roots in the christian tradition. There is much more room to explore freely what you personally really believe than in many churches - advice given is to "Follow the promptings of love and truth in your heart"
I do like that advice .... try it and see where it takes you ?
There is even now a recognised branch of "Non-theists" (or atheists) within British Quakerism ... so you can see how liberal we are grin
There's a book you might find interesting (edited by David Boulton, one of these Quaker non-theists) called "Godless for God's sake" (a collection of thoughts from several writers)
- The title in itself gives food for thought I think ?
All blessings to you for your future path x

If anyone's interested in what the Quaker path or community might offer then there's a very good website which will help you explore things further at quaker.org.uk, and can for example help you find your local meeting.

LadyBigtoes Tue 15-Oct-13 10:34:32

I was also going to suggest mindfulness which I am doing a course in a e moment. It's a completely non-religious, evidence -based form of meditation and approach to daily life that helps you deal with stress, pain and difficult thoughts/feelings - or in fact all thoughts and feelings - in an accepting/non-judgmental and kind way. The course also features poetry and stories that help to explain the approach - its very beautiful, gentle and spiritual in many ways.

I am the most atheist, anti-woo, non-group-joining person you will ever meet but it really suits me. It meets my need for a calm, accepting approach to stress and worry and it makes me feel connected to beauty and spirituality - all without any god, belief or religious proscriptions.

It is actually increasingly being used medically for stress, depression and PTSD and it strikes me that it may actually meet a need that can also be met by religion.

ButThereAgain Tue 15-Oct-13 10:36:16

Yes, I used to attend Quakers. It is a brilliant space to reflect on these things. And it gives you a rest from the business of belief, which doesn't need to be at the centre.

One other thought ... even if we have created God (and religion) rather than He creating us ....it is still all equally amazing !
The universe is still full of miraculous wonders ... like the stars in the night sky, or a beautiful wayside flower, such as the beautifully named "Heartsease" that I discovered on a walk in the Highlands this summer.
So many wonders, from big to small.
And religion too, even if a human creation, the sacred writings of the world faiths still contain some of the greatest expressions of human wisdom and poetry and understanding of and teachings for life, passed down from one generation to the next through the ages.
It is not all gone, even if it may feel like a loss for a time.
It is all still there waiting to be re-discovered (in one way or another)

Perhaps God becomes less an old man with a grey beard sitting on a cloud (Michaelangelo style ?) and more "Mercy, pity, peace and love" residing in the human breast .... and "There God is dwelling too" (William Blake)

PicardyThird Tue 15-Oct-13 11:19:23

Solidarity, Whatshape.

Going through an extremely agnostic phase myself after a series of very difficult things happening to me and others.

My faith was never on the particularly strong side, and I think a lot of my clinging to it was out of fear. I am still afraid of God, I think, if he exists. I can and do pray for others, but since something particularly painful happened to me I can no longer pray, or ask for anything, for myself.

I'm an Anglican living abroad in a place where i can't attend Anglican services regularly. Have stopped going to services of the local denomination. The rites of Anglican worship still mean a lot to me and I go whenever I can, but saying the creed is perhaps not a comfortable experience atm.

I have no idea where this is going to take me, or whether I will ever turn down one path (that of atheism) or the other (that of renewed faith). I suspect I may remain a doubter.

PicardyThird Tue 15-Oct-13 11:20:47

(Lovely posts, btw, Juggling)

Thanks Picardy flowers

chocoluvva Tue 15-Oct-13 11:27:06

YY to the lovely posts.

OP - you can still enjoy beauty, the security of the cycle of nature, the feeling of pride/happiness in seeing children put their hearts into their best efforts, become broody at the loveliness of tiny babies etc

I still think the birth of any baby is miraculous.

TBH - even the way a plant grows from a seed seems miraculous.

I don't mean to be trite - it's very comforting.

madhairday Tue 15-Oct-13 11:43:34

This sounds so difficult for you. As a Christian, what you are going through resonates with me, as a similar thing has happened a couple of times to me. The first time, I remember being bewildered and very, very depressed. It just felt like there was nothing there. I went to church, went through the motions, prayed. Everything - but nothing. It felt like a literal brick wall.

It was one of the most difficult experiences I'd been through, as my faith had always been so deep, and for me had been incredibly experiential and emotional. So I decided to go with it, and almost as a cerebral exercise to see whether my faith could survive through a more rational way of looking at things. I studied theology at a secular uni, and if anything would turn me away, that would grin.

But instead I found, as greenheart referred to, that this was a much documented human condition, and something that happened over and over, often referred to as 'the dark night of the soul' or 'a desert experience.' It certainly felt that way to me. I couldn't see a way back. But studying turned it round for me - I found a rationally robust basis for my faith, and found that it could be more than an experiential thing. I realise this doesn't work this way for everyone, but this was my experience.

I asked myself if I could still believe these things when exempt from any kind of feeling or sense of the presence of God. And for me, I came to see that I could. Of course, without the emotion and the experience it is incredibly difficult, and I have times like this occasionally, where I remind myself that for me, my faith is founded on a rock of reason and evidence that I have studied and accepted, and at times this has had to be enough.

At those times, it can be good to take a step back from all the 'trappings' - prayer, worship etc etc, and almost embrace the desert experience to see where it goes. I can only say this having come out of it the other side, I know that it is not that easy - but for me it led, both major times, to a deepening of faith that changed me profoundly.

I hope you can come to some peace with where you are, and have a glimmer of hope as to how things could be. I'm very happy to talk more via pm if you would like, as I remember the cold feeling surrounding me. Thinking of you thanks

I think it's not so bad to be an agnostic or fence sitter Picardy.
It's quite a reasonable position to take really. And quite humble ?
We don't know all the answers to the questions of the Universe. And we don't have to claim we do!

My dd helped me realise I might be an agnostic. She has recently decided she is an atheist (due mainly to the scientific arguments such as evolutionary theory) Well "not an atheist, a Quaker non-theist" - she is very supportive of me and my faith (slightly idiosynchratic though it is) and values our faith community too. She's 14 and I'm very blessed by her - and DS(11)
But anyway she said "You're an agnostic Mum, you're always on the fence about everything, and see both points of view. In fact when I'm trying to remember what agnostics are like (such as in RS she means) I think of you!"

Hmm, seems from the number of posts from me on here this morning I may have become quite an evangelical agnostic grin
A slightly strange thing to be ?!

madhairday Tue 15-Oct-13 12:03:23

grin Juggling

Well you do write so beautifully, you have a natural evangelism gift grin

I do love reading your posts.

Wow, thanks mhd - that's very nice of you.
I hope you don't mind me posting on the christian prayer thread too.
I do appreciate the thoughts and prayers over there too, such as that beautiful prayer Badvoc shared last night.
That was just perfect for me then (as feeling rather weary)

schwertz Tue 15-Oct-13 12:27:10

You might find reading the book of Eclesiastes helpful.
Personally I find it a bit of a strange book, but some people, including Christians find it very helpful. Perhaps it was put in the bible for times as you are in now.

ErrolTheDragon Tue 15-Oct-13 12:29:05

Strictly speaking, agnosticism isn't necessarily sitting on the fence - its the view that we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of a deity. You can be an agnostic and, depending on what you then believe a theist or an atheist, or a fence-sitter. So agnosticism does have an element of humility. (not sure whether this is relevant to the OP or not!).

LadyBigtoes Tue 15-Oct-13 13:21:16

It's been said before that all rational atheists are actually agnostic too. If you base your beliefs on evidence and have a scientific mindset, you accept that there are things you cannot know for sure and that god cannot be disproved.

I'm an atheist so some might think I'd see it as a victory, but I think it must be really hard to find that you don't believe any more.

For what it's worth I wouldn't try to force yourself to be theist or atheist. You don't have to come up with a long term plan or solution right now Just be yourself and relax and see how things go.

As others have said you don't have to cut yourself off from your social life in church. Many of the others there don't really believe either.

"Many of the others there don't really believe either"

I think that's probably true Back - though many also have a very simple, honest faith too (hope that doesn't sound patronising to anyone)

Anyway one thing about that is I think you can find truth in story, indeed this has always been so important to human society.
Jesus for example told many parables and his truths are illustrated through the story.
Seems to me one option is to look on the account of Jesus' life as a story in itself, and see what truth that might hold for you?

For example I always enjoying watching children re-enacting the Nativity story and find much meaning in listening to "Little Donkey" - struggling along that dusty road with his precious load. "Don't give up now, Little Donkey, Bethlehem's in sight!" - always brings a good tear to my eye on Christmas Eve smile As does the birth of the baby - a sign of hope - in the poor, dark stable.

I suppose the main thing here in my thoughts for OP and others is that you can still take meaningful things with you even if your fundamental beliefs are changing.

TheSporkforeatingkyriarchy Tue 15-Oct-13 19:28:01

I would really recommend Letting go of God by Julia Sweeney, in full in this youtube audio only version. It's a very candid but funny look through her journey. It really helped me earlier this year when I went through it again.

I've been through this twice. First from Christianity where even having a grandfather and three uncles and an aunt in active ministry and an very devout mother who played TV evangelists all the time didn't stop unanswered questions and problems when I began to study the texts and history of the texts and beliefs on my own. It was slower separation, much like Julia Sweeney, and as much of my study lead to texts in Judaism, that's where I went which likely dulled the issue. I spent over 15 years as a devoted student of Judaism and was welcome into the Noachide path until someone was pushing for full conversion showed us that the rosy vision and embrace we had been given were false. That one hurt far more as there was nothing to cushion our fall, my fall particularly as I'd spent so much time in study and in traditions to find out the very texts they said didn't matter proved to be the ones that shed the light. I felt utterly deceived and could no longer go back.

Thankfully, I had my partner there to help share the burden. I looked at my life and our lives as a family and worked out what was missing now that the Western Abrahamic concept of a deity was gone. What was missing, for us, was a grounding philosophy and traditions, and for me personally a lot of how I saw myself. Many others who go through this also feel a great loss of community, belonging, and for some even hope, but these and more can be gained back - the wonders of the Universe and of the world around us are still here, we just have to figure out which lens to view them through. In my journey, I fell back into what I do naturally and did a lot of research, connecting to other branches of my family history, and through discussions with others worked out what points of view and beliefs were still important to me and what other traditions we could move onto and grow into something better.

It was hard and very upsetting, I spent a good few weeks really off balance, but looking back over the last half year since then, I'm glad it happened. I have far more clarity in who I am and how I see the world and far less burden in having "a side" as it were. It's different and we're still finding our feet in this new view, but I feel we are now really us and really connecting - I actually feel better not being part of it and working on my own course than I ever did in it (which is saying a lot, I got a lot of pleasure out of the study and traditions before, it was a major part of my identity, but I now know I don't need to hang myself on that. Really, I just believe in one less God-being than I did before, with so many out there that seems very small issue, it's the rest that's tied into being part of a religion that's the real issue I think for most people.

I hope I have been of some help and that you come through this as well as many other have before you on this journey.

What a great and interesting post Spork
I've really enjoyed the wise, warm, and empathetic writing of the Rabbi Lionel Blue. Through him I've been introduced to many of the wonderful writings and prayers of the Jewish faith.
I wonder if you might find him helpful to read, or have come across his books already?
I hope in time perhaps you will be able to come back to some of the treasures you found, perhaps in both Judaism and Christianity - but of course continuing to see them through the new lens you have found.
I guess to continue with that analogy, the one which brings the world into clearest focus for you ?
With all blessings on your onwards path thanks

This really resonates with me. Last year my father died unexpectedly. As I sat there looking at his body I felt such a strong feeling that he hadn't gone anywhere, he was just gone. And I always thought that I would be devastated by that thought having been at various stages C of E/ Baptist/ evangelical C of E/ fuzzy slightly wavering C of E. but actually I felt fine (beyond the terrible grief of course).

I was totally thrown but this feeling of evaporation of my faith and it made me question how I'd been so strong in the past, regular church attendance and friends in faith definitely made a difference, does this mean I was brainwashed in repeating the words of the Creed without seeking them out for myself? I attended an Alpha Course and various pre marriage and parenting courses through various churches.

But it is the sense of community and fellowship and the ability to think solemnly about the mysteries of life and how not to take it for granted that I loved church for. I miss that now my children are small and slightly feral. So I don't go partly as its stressful and partly because the congregation are so overly friendly and keen to see you that you feel obliged/guilty/drawn in and less able to come and go as you wish.

Buffyp I'm so happy for you that you have your faith, that must be real solice in such an awful loss. thanks

But that lack of a god/God in my life means you have to make every day worth living, day gratitudes for the simple pleasures in life still exist as can a profound happiness and peace. It just rests on you to make that happen now. You are not alone. smile

TheSporkforeatingkyriarchy Wed 16-Oct-13 15:00:23

Juggling - yes I have read some of his and many other Jewish and Christian writers works. I studied both personally and academically for over 15 years. As I said repeatedly, I'm quite happy now without the Western Abrahamic deity concept and connected ideologies, and anything I could find there to "treasure" I have already found better elsewhere. While it was hard when it happened, I now don't need or want any of it as part of my worldview or life anymore.

I'm sorry (if I got a bit carried away with my enthusiasm for LB) Spork
I guess I just thought you might like him as much as I do.
I thought it was possible you might find his thoughts on life helpful, and was just looking to share some common ground with you.
Anyway, I still really liked your post and found yours helpful, even if you didn't feel the same about mine!

bluebeardsbabe Wed 16-Oct-13 21:41:28

OP I came here to start a similar thread myself and found this so will share my experience. I lost my faith this week, just like you literally overnight. The difference is I feel OK about it. I am not saying it is gone for ever and I have no resentment or ill feeling towards the church or religion. I am very much of the belief that people should believe what they want and respect others belief, but I do sort of look at religion through different eyes now.

Honestly if you had asked me six months ago I would have said that I would have NEVER lost my faith, I could barely go to sleep without saying my prayers, thanking God for a good day, praying for other people, asking for help etc etc. I mean this was a huge part of my daily life having chats to God and feeling his support in my life. And yet here I am.

For me it has also been a culmination of a series of hardships and tragedies for me and my family. Funnily enough the first hardship I faced I very much looked at God to support me through it, my recent issues made me angry at God but I still believed he was there, I was just pissed at him and letting him know this. The recent events (just past weeks) just made me feel 'nope, not there anymore'. It's not left a hole and I'm currently not bothered. I feel more free in a way. I guess free of dogma and free of putting my utter faith in something.

Nothing is certain, we go from day to day, and bad things happen to good people. I am just focusing on the now and this moment...which is just that mindfulness is. It seems to be working.

bluebeardsbabe Wed 16-Oct-13 21:46:18

Pelvicfloor How interesting as when my father passed away I had the exact opposite emotion. I looked at his body and in that moment felt like the soul that made him who he was had moved on and left a shell. I felt such a tangible difference in him from the moment he was alive (even when in a coma) and dead that to me it was evident that the soul exists and leaves the body at the moment of death.

Obviously this is all up in the air now. My loss of faith has come so sudden that I have not even sat down to contemplate my thoughts on the afterlife etc. This will be a long process for me.

niminypiminy Thu 17-Oct-13 07:40:21

Bluebeardsbabe: I think your experience is a normal one in the life of faith. It is normal for us to feel that 'God has gone', and to feel that there is nothing there. Most people of faith will have had similar experiences. Some people feel there is a devastating hole, and some (like you) feel ok (though how you feel now may not always be the case).

I would say that your focus on mindfulness is another way of praying -- a way that people get to when their faith moves to a deeper level. It may be that by being meditatively in the present moment your faith is transforming itself into a more mature version. I hope that God will come back for you -- or rather, that you will find that he's never gone away. Whatever happens, I pray that as the dust settles and you do get time to sit down and contemplate that you will be helped to make sense of what has happened to you. Bless you.

I like to think in pictures and this analogy came to me ...

I think where you are now can feel like you've just driven up a cul-de-sac.
You've reached a dead end.
But after a bit you get out of the car and wander over to the corner of the cul-de-sac noticing there's a little wicker gate there, with a path leading onwards into green fields ....

As the Sufi poet Rumi said ...

"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there."

Hope some of you might like that thought. I love the sense of freedom and space in the Rumi quote.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 17-Oct-13 12:09:47

I like that image, Juggling. smile

niminypiminy Thu 17-Oct-13 18:41:05

Me too smile. Thank you.

expatinscotland Thu 17-Oct-13 18:47:12

I feel that about my daughter, Pelvic. She is just gone.

DioneTheDiabolist Thu 17-Oct-13 23:09:15

Expat how are you coping with your DD's death? If you feel strong enough/inclined I would very much appreciate your reply. I have been struck by your strength over the years. How have you felt? What helped you? What made your life worse?

Please ignore if you don't want to answer. I do not wish to cause you any more pain.

Hope some thoughts on the thread are some comfort to you expat ((hugs))

BurlyShassey Fri 18-Oct-13 18:19:15

genuine question- just wondering-

do the atheists here go on threads about other faiths -Allah,Krishna,Mohammed, (bit naive here, just starting to study other faiths) and the rest and dismiss them as much as they dismiss Christiantity?

Asking as Ive never come across it anywhere else.

thanks.

DioneTheDiabolist Fri 18-Oct-13 18:26:39

Interesting question Burley. Perhaps you should use it to start another thread.

It would be nice if we could maybe keep this a support thread.smile

BurlyShassey Fri 18-Oct-13 18:33:30

sorry, didn't mean to derail thread smile, was just looking through a few posts on this one and jus wondererd.

Maybe ill start a separate thread, good idea Dione (I think, don't want to start a bunfight!)

apologies, OP.

IHaveA Fri 18-Oct-13 18:35:03

I am an athiest and will go on religious threads and chat about my point of view. I don't like to read that people who are atheists can't have proper morals. It's insulting and rude.

I am very respectful of people's religions and I think people should be respectful of my atheism.

My other bugbear are local authority religeous schools that EXCLUDE children's whose parents don't happen to be of the correct religion. I can not believe that this archaic and discriminatory situation is allowed to continue. It's ironic how this encourages people to pretend to be more 'devout' than they actual are. I could never be that hypocritical.

All schools should be secular.

IHaveA Fri 18-Oct-13 18:43:07

Sorry, blush good idea not to derail the thread. Please excuse my rant

...back to supporting the OP

Just to answer Burley (but can only speak for myself) I always try to enter into the spirit of the thread but keep my own integrity. I go on the Christian prayer thread and both offer support and post my own prayer requests. Possibly as a liberal Quaker agnostic I shouldn't, but I appreciate the support given and received there, and try to be honest about where I'm coming from. I also love some of the traditional prayers posted there to support each other.
I also joined in with a great inter-faith thankfulness thread. Really enjoyed that one.
Otherwise I tend to view most threads, including this one, as pretty open to general debate - though I agree with Dione that this one has a strong supporting OP and others aspect as well.
But at the end of the day Mumsnet as a whole is a discussion forum.
Due to my own quirks, and possible attention deficit tendencies, I do find it hard to keep as rigidly faithfully to the thread topic as some wink

headinhands Fri 18-Oct-13 19:08:52

The majority of mumsnet non-believers will have Christianity as their most recognised and familiar cultural religion, many are ex-Christians, which explains why Christianity is the main faith discussed. I have got into debates about Islam but I don't know as much although many of the key criticisms are the same regardless of what belief system is being discussed.

KitchenDiscoDancer Fri 18-Oct-13 19:17:56

I too have lost God, I have struggled to find a church I like and then stopped going completely. My father is a priest(retired) and my mother very much a vicar's wife, my sister goes every week - basically my whole family are church based. I find it nearly impossible to express why, my husband is an atheist of sorts - so no church support there. I have a HUGE amount of resentment inside me re: how the church was the most important thing in my childhood - my sis and I were second to it.

I don't want to dismiss it completely as that would be to almost dismiss my dad - who I really look up to, but on the other hand I go to church and just feel hollow and lonely......

Maybe I should look for him - maybe it is easier not..... OP I feel very like you.

DioneTheDiabolist Fri 18-Oct-13 19:30:37

Kitchen, you sound so hurt.sad How much of an impact is this resentment having on you?

KitchenDiscoDancer Fri 18-Oct-13 19:43:40

It makes me feel a bit cut off from my family and I can't bear to discuss 'church stuff'. I have broached it with my dad, over a whiskey, but did not want to hurt him. He understands losing faith but I did not want to go into my church resentment......

I was thinking about a retreat, a last ditch attempt and some peace and quiet.

DioneTheDiabolist Fri 18-Oct-13 19:55:55

Kitchen, a bit of peace and the opportunity to discuss your feelings with others sounds like a really great idea. Please come back and let us know how you get on.smile

CoteDAzur Fri 18-Oct-13 20:08:33

Welcome to the rational side, OP smile

This is a complete change in your perception of the world - a paradigm shift on a personal scale. It is entirely normal that you will take some time to adjust.

zulubump Fri 18-Oct-13 20:45:09

This is such an interesting thread and my heart goes out to you OP. Hope you are getting some support in RL. Just wondered if any of you that have talked about how you lost your faith would mind talking about how you now view any past "religious experiences" that you had. For examples prayers that you felt had been answered; situations in which you thought God was guiding you; inspiration you got from reading the Bible. How do you think of those kind of things now looking back? Not wanting to start any arguments, just curious.

To give my own position I am a Christian, but a relatively new (and often cynical!) one. smile

ElBombero Fri 18-Oct-13 20:56:07

Oh come on get a grip.

It's a revolution. Read some Richard Dawkins and fill that hole with science and knowledge

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Fri 18-Oct-13 21:13:50

Kitchen you have described almost exactly how I felt about church, feeling hollow and lonely.

NonnoMum Fri 18-Oct-13 21:50:35

Been following the thread.

Hope you are feeling OK, OP. I think I genuinely went into a clinical depression when this happened to me... I felt like I had no soul and was just a collection of random atoms. What all the clever rationalists had been saying for years and years... It was pretty rough. I felt like there was nothing 'special' about me.

Also, I didn't know who to talk to. My doctor? A priest? Even my DH didn't know what to say to me...

I had to treat myself with some of the recommendations that are given to people being treated for depression - take exercise, do things for other people, appreciate the beauty that is around in nature...

Sorry to go on - but hope you find some peace...

(*btw I would NEVER say that atheists had no morals - far from it - in fact their morals are that more impressive as they don't come from a place of fear/redemption*) but I didn't want to be associated with the smugness of people like Richard Dawkins who seem so sure they know all the answers...!

bluebeardsbabe Fri 18-Oct-13 21:53:00

Cote a bit harsh to insinuate that Christians are irrational. Why can there never be a religious thread on mumsnet that remains respectful of everyone's opinion and doesn't turn into derogatory put downs.

As I mentioned above I feel I have recently lost my faith but I certainly am not of the opinion that I was irrational a few weeks ago. Faith/no faith is so much deeper than that and to state that someone has simply gone from being irrational to rational I find quite insulting.

CoteDAzur Fri 18-Oct-13 22:29:12

I don't remember singling out Christians.

It is not disrespectful imho. Anyone rationally thinking about the God hypothesis would inevitably come to the conclusion that it can't be believed because there is no proof whatsoever.

Believers say they are spiritual (whatever that means), use the heart rather than the head, faith doesn't need proof etc. Well, we are rational, using our brains to evaluate the hypothesis, and hence we do need proof.

I'm sorry you feel that is insulting. It's still true, though smile

niminypiminy Fri 18-Oct-13 22:53:44

That's a perfect example of a passive aggressive smilie ^

Are you sure it is niminy - you don't think some of us people are just overly fond of emoticons, or trying to soften our words?

ErrolTheDragon Fri 18-Oct-13 23:44:39

I think that the rational position is agnosticism - but that from that point it can still be possible to believe in a god. I was (largely) a rational being when I was a Christian... but faith is outside of that. I'd probably say I'm more rational now but that doesn't imply that therefore all believers are 'irrational'.

Zulu - 'Just wondered if any of you that have talked about how you lost your faith would mind talking about how you now view any past "religious experiences" that you had.'

Yes - the term that seemed to apply was 'delusion' (this was decades before that book!). I could see uncomfortably clearly how things could be the product of my own mind, or of induced emotional states (I was quite surprised to find when I eventually went to a non-religious pop concert that the feeling was remarkably similar to some evangelical worship events!)

headinhands Sat 19-Oct-13 06:53:37

Believers of other religions have 'experiences'. Similar experiences can also be had via secular means, obsession and so on. There's no reason to believe that my experiences were genuine. There's reason to believe they were self/mass induced.

CoteDAzur Sat 19-Oct-13 15:47:42

niminy - I was hoping to soften my words with that smiley, for those of us with a sensitive disposition. You can get the brutal version next time.

Of course belief in any god is irrational. It's supposed to be. Christians in particular are usually proud of believing without evidence. It's considered a sign of faith.

Many people are led into becoming religious before they are old enough to have experience and a critical sense. The Jesuits for example boast that this is their method. Get them while they are too young to know any better.

Not everyone is as cynical as that, but if you take kids to church with you then naturally they take it for granted. When you're young you're not going to say "hey! why am I going to church".

So you carry on doing it and carry on believing it even though that is irrational. Not because you are stupid, but because you have never really applied your intellect to the question.

If you are prompted to examine it in later life and realise you've been following it blindly that must be really hard to deal with. That's why you won't see me cheering that someone is going through it.

CoteDAzur Sat 19-Oct-13 23:16:39

Exactly, BackOnlyBriefly.

That is exactly why no child of mine is having religious education of any kind.

When they are old enough to debate it, we'll talk about it. If they want to research religions, they are free to do so. if they feel like following one, I won't be thrilled but will live with it they are again free to do so.

But I will not be complicit in their brainwashing introduction to religions.

headinhands Sun 20-Oct-13 10:49:47

I'm happy for my dc's to have religious education. I think looking at the religions in comparison and contrast to one another is a great way to see the manmade-ness of them. I have Christian friends who remove their dc's from religious education so they don't 'confuse them' I think was her explanation. I didn't probe her on the assumptions behind her thinking as she's almost family, I keep my probing to Mumsnet. grin

CoteDAzur Sun 20-Oct-13 11:12:30

I think it depends on the RE.

I gather from around here that most DC get a "history of religions" type of RE. That would be fine.

This doesn't exist where we live, which is a Catholic country. RE is basically peddling of Catholicism. The course itself is called "Catechism" and is meant to pave the way for the children to be confirmed as Catholics at the end of 2nd (3rd?) year.

headinhands Sun 20-Oct-13 11:32:56

Ahh right, no that doesn't sound like the sort of RE I'd be wanting my kids to have either.

CoteDAzur Sun 20-Oct-13 11:35:07

Thankfully, DD's school exempts a child from RE on demand from parents.

There are schools that demand to see written proof that your child is being brainwashed educated in another religion to exempt them from Catechism shock

headinhands Sun 20-Oct-13 11:39:52

Great opportunity to make up your own religion. But no, that's shocking. I know I get irritated with the local church drama group doing assemblies but that's another level.

springylippy Thu 24-Oct-13 13:33:48

Jesus had it, the 'dark night of the soul', I suppose, on the cross: my God my God why have you forsaken me.

Which I assume could mean - where are you, I've lost you.

Agreed, it could suggest that he hadn't lost his belief in God but that he felt forsaken, abandoned. You thread title says you have lost God, which could suggest a similar thing.

I wouldn't take it too seriously iiwy. I am not being flippant. 'Feeling' you have lost God is, ultimately, an emotion. Devastating, of course - I feel for you. But if you have lost religion, rote, mentally relating to God, then you've not necessarily lost him entirely; you're probably gaining more of what he is about. But the dark bit is uncomfortable and can be very distressing. Try not to take it too seriously if you can.

Because God hasn't gone, that's not possible. You're probably shifting gears which will be his doing. So good for him to be leading the thing. Alarming, of course; especially as we are so used to driving it all, driving everything. Wonderful (and challenging) to find out we don't have to, that the relationship he wants he is perfectly capable of carving out - whether we are knowingly on board or not. Painful, though - as he knows it will be. Devastating and desolating. It's not possible to nail your own self to your own cross - always a spare hand - so it's a good job he knows how to do it.

iiwy I'd go with it. Which will take time if religion has defined you. Enjoy and explore being 'Godless', enjoy losing the bits you never enjoyed but felt you 'ought to' (good to get rid of those, I find). Enjoy sloughing off the tonne of guilt (that was never meant to be there) and obligation (ditto). Spread out.

Well, if you want to interpret the experience within traditional religious thinking then I'm sure you could describe it as "a dark night of the soul"
- but there are other ways of looking at how you're feeling now too (as I'm sure you're aware)

Coupon Sat 26-Oct-13 17:31:48

> people do good things on a daily, hourly, minute basis NOT because they want to go to an imaginary heaven

The Christian faith is based on salvation by grace, not deeds Bunny.

Coupon Sat 26-Oct-13 17:34:24

> I don't like to read that people who are atheists can't have proper morals. It's insulting and rude.

I don't recall reading that anywhere on MN. Can you give any examples?

Coupon Sat 26-Oct-13 17:39:05

whatshapeisthisnow how about getting some books on various topics and see where they take you? You could look at the history of the Bible, some Richard Dawkins, books on other religions, Christian books on faith and how we feel, etc. Also perhaps visit one or two other churches for a new perspective. I think it's totally normal to question one's faith and to feel differently at different times.

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