Losing My Religion

When I was younger I was, what my wife refers to as, “a searcher” – one who is looking for a spiritual meaning of life. I was looking for answers to how I fitted into the universe and in what shape or form a god, if s/he existed, might take.

There were plenty of religions out there (including in excess of 30,000 forms of Christianity alone), most telling me that theirs was the one true path. And when I asked how I was to know theirs was right and the others were wrong, it usually ended in either, “because our holy book/ prophet says so” or “you must have faith”. Never one for trusting authority, neither of these answers appealed.

So I read widely, questioned frequently and debated incessantly with anyone willing to engage. I returned to education in my mid twenties and spent 4 years gaining a philosophy degree, at the end of which I was no closer to any conclusions, but I did have a far better understanding of how people can make false arguments sound very convincing.

All this changed in the months following the birth of my daughter, Meg, nearly 11 years ago

Meg was born with Down’s Syndrome and I would find myself biting my tongue when people would say things like, “God gives special children to special parents”. I’d know they were trying to put a positive spin on things, and so would just nod and smile, but internally I would cringe. These days I’m far more likely to challenge that assumption and gently point out, if this is so, then it makes no sense He would give them to so many people (somewhere between 80% and 90% according to current statistics) who abort them before they have a chance to live.

Now Meg was born with a hole in her heart. The first few months of her life were a struggle as we fought hard to feed her (she would frequently take over one and a half hours to feed, and would need to be fed every three hours, yet would throw up about every third bottle) and give her the strength to live. At 5 months old she had to have open-heart surgery and we had to face the very real possibility that our little girl could die.

At this point, more than any other in my life, I called out for some kind of meaning, some kind of support, some kind of sign or feeling that we were not on our own with this.

But what I got back was nothing, nothing at all.

There was no sense of a larger plan, that someone, or something, was looking out for us, that the universe cared in any way shape or form. All I felt was an overwhelming sense of empty randomness.

Meg might live; she might not. If she did then we’d be lucky, and if she didn’t then we’d be unlucky. It was as simple and straightforward as that. I felt no God; I felt no Universal Force at work; only blind chance. This was the point that I stopped searching; this was the point I lost all interest in religion.

Now Meg did survive, and has thrived since, but we were lucky. So many people are not.

If others feel the hand of God where their children are concerned, then I am genuinely pleased for them. I have no intention of trying to undermine any one else’s beliefs. But from my own experience and feelings, if He does exist, He has chosen not to make His presence known to me in any way that I would understand.

Please note: this is a personal view only and does not seek to represent the views of 5MFSN or any of the readers or contributors. I hope it might spark interesting and informed debate, but name calling or outright condemnation of anyone’s beliefs is unacceptable.

Kim Ayres
Kim is usually to be found at his own blog, Ramblings of the Bearded One. Although you will find tales about his daughter, Meg, under his “Down’s Syndrome” category, you’ll find far more simply under “Fatherhood

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