I Would Never Go Back, But…

For anyone who has seen religion’s true colors and walked away, have you ever felt:

Lonely?

Depressed?

Confused?

Unsure about your conclusions?

I have. Sometimes I still do. I have deep regrets in my life and there is nothing I can do about them now.

I can’t say the words I needed to say to my parents. They are gone. I won’t have an eternity to talk it out with them. They are gone. I can’t get to know them as regular people. I will only know them as my parents and nothing more. They are gone and it’s too late. I miss them terribly, but my memories are all I will ever have.

I will not get to see the four children my wife and I have lost. They are gone. There is no evidence of an afterlife whatsoever. Getting to see them when I die is not an option. They are just gone before I ever had a chance to get to know them. I have four children with me here and now and I cherish that. But I have four other children who died before they had a chance to live and I have to deal with that every single day…and it hurts.

My best friend died when he was twenty, just a few months before he was to be my best man at my wedding. That was 22 years ago now. I once longed to see him again. Now I won’t. There will be no catching up and rejoicing when my time comes to join him in Heaven. That was all a dream.

Religion has a way of making some people (myself included for a very long time) feel safe and secure. People see religion as a comfort because of all it offers. If the promises are to be believed, there really is nothing that can hurt us here in this life. We have another life to live when this one is over and it far exceeds the happiness that this one can offer. All the hurt and loss we experience in our lives is no big deal. We will all be healed and can begin again in the next life. Unless…

Unless it’s all a lie, or a scam, or just misinformation. It doesn’t matter the reason. What matters is that there is absolutely nothing that indicates any of it is true. Stories in books or stories passed down orally through generations do not have any evidence whatsoever to back them up. They are simply stories that are told that comfort us in the here and now. But do they really? None of the promises are fulfilled, nor have they ever been. They are empty promises. Anyone can promise anything. If the promises are vague enough or if there’s no definite timetable, you can promise everything, deliver nothing, and no one can say you are wrong. That’s religion.

I was promised relief, bliss, comfort and answers. I was promised so many things, but there is nothing to suggest that any of these promises have merit. They are words designed to comfort, but don’t actually do anything. Once you realize that, and realize you’re on your own, it can be tough. When your crutch is ripped out from underneath you, what do you have to lean on?

There is so much we can use to lift us up. Family. Friends. Truth. Knowledge. Anything but blind faith based on nothing. That only comforts when we convince ourselves it does. We are taxing our brains to work overtime to pretend these things are real. As far as we know, they are not. Nothing suggests they are. Words are not enough. When will we as a society realize this? Words are nothing without evidence to back them up. Nothing.

Yes, I have experienced depression since leaving religion. At times, it was a deep and painful depression. I have experienced loneliness, confusion and regret. I have experienced a longing for something more like when I believed there was such a thing. Religion has done us such a huge disservice by promising us the world and delivering nothing whatsoever. It’s infuriating and sad at the same time.

I wish I could go back in time and never be sucked into that world to begin with. I wish I could have seen through the bullshit or at least been open-minded enough to catch a whiff of it. There is no reason to believe any of it. There never has been. We need to somehow move forward and get past this. I have, for the most part, moved on. As a society, we still cling to, and lean on, that crutch. Why? Why must we let old superstitious beliefs guide us? Why can’t we be honest and forthright when we teach our children? There is, by all accounts, only one life to live. Let’s live it right and just be honest.

There is only knowledge of this one life. There is no knowledge of a god as we’ve been taught to believe. There is no judgement, sin or reward in Heaven. If there is, there’s absolutely no way to know that. Anyone who says otherwise is a liar.

Be good people. Live good lives. Raise good children. Love deeply.

That’s it.

23 thoughts on “I Would Never Go Back, But…

    1. You’re right and it is enough. Too often we long for more than what we have. We are told that our happiness isn’t true happiness. True happiness comes from somewhere else. But that’s not the case. True happiness is right in front of us and we just need to embrace it, savor it and be content.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. I’m guessing it’s much, much harder in the US because religion is so prominently displayed there. You’re reminded of it every day. It’s not like that in Australia, for example, so there’s nothing to actually “miss.”

    Have you ever seen this: You want a physicist to speak at your funeral by Aaron Freeman? I like it.

    You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

    And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him/her that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let him/her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her/his eyes, that those photons created within her/him constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

    And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.

    And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. That is awesome! I’d much rather have that than the religious alternative.

      I have told my family no preachers, no funeral home. Take my ashes and have an open house funeral at home. A keg of beer and some bottles of assorted bourbon available for the few people who would have a drink on me.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Hi Ben and John,

      Speaking of physics and cosmology, here’s what I wrote about my late mother in the eulogy-cum-memoir-cum-biography published at https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2019/08/31/khai-khim-for-always-and-beyond-goodbye/

      In the end, Khim quickly succumbed, met her quietus and relinquished the breath that gave her life as she became an exanimate entity, completing her brief but spectacular journey of being born and living a full, meaningful life on the pale blue dot known as Earth, still surrounded by the majesty and mystery of a vast universe that earthlings are only starting to understand via contemporary cosmology. Figuratively speaking, or rather, introspectively musing and tenderly reminiscing, the remnant afterglow of the universe within Khim has continued to illumine me as I recollect our good times together. It was a universe expanded by the timelessness of her being, governed by her virtuous laws of motion, populated by her muted delights and inner feelings, gravitated by her gentleness and contentment, where one could find the best of her temperament, the essence of her disposition, the grace of her beauty, and the embrace of her affection, maternal or otherwise.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Ben, I understand where you are coming from here. I think many of us do. That sense of what is lost and can never be regained hits us all pretty hard at times. I know it does me. We all have things we’d love to have back even for a minute.

    But not for one moment do I feel like I need religions lies and B.S. to offer me some sort of faux support.

    We all have our crosses to bear, and often as not we carry them alone. There is plenty of life left for me to find comfort and joy in though. These are the things that carry us through.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think that one of the biggest issues I have after leaving religion is finding the correct ways to respond to loss or hardships. I know that, looking back, it was always me who had to cope and figure things out on my own. I was told that God did it, but that’s simply not the case. Having been taught that everything is from God, I would look at things much differently back then than I do now. I would lean on my faith and pray, hoping that God was listening on the other end. When things got better, I would praise God for a job well done. But obviously, the hurt doesn’t fully go away. No longer believing as I once did, the comfort of picturing my lost loved ones in Heaven waiting for me is gone.

      Reality has set in and it’s hard to shift my mind into the truth of the situation. In short, religion has left me unprepared to deal with tragedy, pain and hardship. I am having to figure things out as I go along and it can be hard. If I knew the truth from the beginning, things might have been easier to handle. When both of my parents died, they were in the loving arms of Jesus. They were rejoicing in Heaven, holding each other again as they awaited me in the next life. Now, they are just gone. No Jesus. No Heaven. No eternal bliss. They are just gone.

      I don’t miss religion. I don’t feel like having lies fed to me is or ever was healthy. I don’t feel like there’s a “god-shaped hole” in my life that can only be filled with god. I do feel like there is a hole though. Having lived one life for so long and changing it all is not an overnight thing. A lifetime of belief is gone and I am slowly filling it with things of my choosing instead of what others tell me to. It’s a process and at times I feel like I have lost my sense of belonging.

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      1. Nothing that matters as much as your parents, or your children, or a brother or sister is ever gone my friend. As long as you still care, they will always be a part of you. I know, I carry plenty of that around myself.

        This is the only legacy we have to leave. How much will we be missed when we are gone…?

        I live my life to that general idea. I try to be fair, open minded. I let the people I care about, know that I care. I know when Im gone all I have to leave is what genes I have passed on, and the memories instilled in my friends and family. That’s good enough for me.

        It has to be.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I like your way of thinking. I hope that the way I raise and support my kids will last through their lifetimes and give them positive memories of me. I want them to remember the love I have for them and cherish the times we spent together.

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  3. It’s very difficult for me to relate to this from a religious perspective because, even though I come from a culturally Christian background – baptized, Sunday school, occasional visits to church etc, like John, I was never ”immersed” in religion so the older I got the more Christianity became unimportant and more and more abstract, to the point where saying one was Christian (if ever one was in fact asked) was for all intent and purpose nothing more than a tribal identity.
    So now after years of interaction in blogsville with apologists such as Mel Wild, David Robertson, Branyan, Colorstorm and other assorted idiotic nobs religion per se, and Christianity in particular, is even more alien and thus anathema.

    Considering all the negative effects you have experienced since deconverting as a direct result of the lies you were told I am surprised you have any feelings other than contempt and disgust.
    You can’t go back so ignore it. Regret is a complete waste of time. Take a deep breath and move on.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I just realized your comment was in moderation. Not sure why. Sorry about that.

      I would never go back. I have no interest in doing so. If I could go back, I wouldn’t want to go back to living that lie of a life where I blindly believed and felt that every bad thing happened for a reason even though I was hurting. I would go back and avoid all of it to begin with. The reality is that from the time I was born until I was nearly 40, I was living that life. I knew nothing else. It was as much a part of me as my family. Losing it felt like a death at first. It hurt. I was devastated. As time moves on and I have a few years separating me from that time now, I realize it is still like the death of a family member, just not a cherished one. Religion was the family member that I now know lied to me, abused me and took advantage of me at my weakest moments. It took a young, innocent child and promised everything while delivering nothing. It made me someone I am not. It made me a bigot. It made me a homophobe. It made me intolerant of so many different groups of people, merely because I was part of the “right” group. It made me overlook my true feelings and adopt the ones written in its book or taught by its members. I was held captive for years. They told me I was free, but I was brainwashed to believe I could never leave. Even when I discovered the lies I was being told, I still defended it. It was family after all. Well, some family members get disowned, and rightly so.

      I can’t help but feel regret about the loved ones I have lost. I know I can’t take back words I said or add the words I wish I had said. Nothing will bring them back and nothing can turn back the clock. I just wish I had been taught the right way to deal with death and pain. Praying was a temporary comfort, believing my words were being heard and help was on the way. But then the pain would come right back and I’d pray again. It was an endless circle that got me nowhere closer to peace. I’m on the right track now, but it’s a slow process.

      I know my parents and my friend knew I loved them. No matter what happened between us, the love was always a given. I know that if my children that I lost were here with me, they would be loved beyond words. I never knew them, but the loss of their potential and hopes and dreams can be hard to swallow. I am doing my best to move on and be grateful for what I do have and the love that now fills my home.

      My feelings towards religion are disgust and contempt, just as you said. When I was part of it, I felt like I had a purpose and that is what I think I am missing; a sense of purpose. I do make my own now and it’s great, but it somehow feels smaller. Religion is taught to be about something bigger than yourself (supposedly). That is much different than having a purpose of your own design. Personal purpose is all about yourself, so I can see the appeal of being part of more. The reality is, Christianity (despite all the boasting it has done about being about more than one’s self) is all about the individual and what they can get out of it. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be that way in the beginning, but it has become the religion of ME and its adherents always seem to be looking out for number one. I am no longer like that and never want to be again. Maybe that’s why things like global warming, recycling and cleaner energy issues are more intriguing to me now. Back then, it was up to God to clean things up and if he didn’t (and the earth died) it was meant to die anyway. Now, I realize there is much work to do and no god in sight, offering to help. Maybe that’s where I need to focus my time and energy; into causes that actually benefit something bigger than myself: The world and the children who are set to inherit it from us.

      I appreciate your support as always my friend.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I was certainly sad at times leaving religion, as much as you know how BS it was. I guess you could say it was like leaving an unhealthy relationship. You’re sure that you made the right decision but it still hurts, because you also had an attachment to them.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Agreed. It’s one of those situations where you know leaving was the best decision, but you still feel the pain of letting go. I have come to accept that truth is of the utmost importance and having empty promises thrown your way is not healthy or productive. I look at this unhealthy relationship as a good life lesson on what not to do. I am happy to be free of all that was holding me back and to be able to write my own story, having been sucked into someone else’s for so long.

      I look back at religion and wonder what it was I ever saw in her.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true. Again, it’s not that I miss the rituals, the sermons, the fantasy world of the Bible or the promises of eternal happiness. I miss having a sense of belonging and being around like-minded people. At least I used to think they were like-minded people. However, looking back at my time in the church, I realize that there was very little that people actually agreed on. People’s views on Jesus, Heaven, morals and how to life our lives couldn’t have been more varied. Since Christianity is taught as a very personal religion, people take advantage and make it so personal that they make it entirely about themselves. What makes ME happy? How do I want Heaven to be for ME? What version of God suits ME best? The wrath-filled monster or the cuddly peaceful version? The religion of ME only goes as far as our imaginations allow it to. When you really need help and comfort, there’s nothing there.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t have much of an issue with a sense of belonging. Wherever I happen to be I belong right there where Im at. If that changes then I will go somewhere else. 😉

        But the being around like minded people thing, that is a tough one. Living in a world of tribal groups of numerous values and multiple issues, and being an independent mind among the cultists is a difficult, lonely road to travel. But it sure makes a hell of a lot more sense!

        I know exactly one atheist here that I can interact with, he is a good friend and a good bass player. The rest of my like minded people I get from WP, a few assorted blogs, and my atheist kids. They were not raised in the school of atheism, they just weren’t lied to as children. They came to atheism on their own. (with the one caveat, I have one stepdaughter that I raised from 6 months old. She is religious, but also note she has mental issues beyond her control. Small sample size I know. Only mentioned in the sense of full disclosure)

        The rest of that comment I sum up thusly, there are as many gods as there are believers.

        Liked by 2 people

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