Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Losing the Faith

As I recounted in an earlier post, my wife and I lost a child at the end of the year, stillborn at 22 weeks into the pregnancy. It's been difficult getting over the loss, and we're still not there yet.

We're undergoing bereavement counseling, and attend regular support group meetings to help us through, and it's been comforting knowing that we're not alone in this process.

But, onto the point of the post. One of the things I've noticed as we attend counseling and the meetings is that there's a lot of people in similar situations to us who've lost the faith that they've had. To be sure, there are some whose faith has been strengthened, but they're certainly in the minority from what I can tell.

Many people are dealing with anger with God, and, from my perspective, it's just one more level of pain to deal with that I, as an atheist, don't have to worry about. I hear constantly "Why did God do this to us?", "What did we do wrong?" and so on.

The bottom line is that people are rationalizing that they believed in a God that is omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent, but the horror of losing a child indicates that God directly caused their suffering if he is such a being. So, the theory goes, he is not omnipotent, or if he is, he is not omniscient or if he is both, he's not benevolent. So why worship and pray if it's not going to do any good? What follows is a loss of faith, compounded by a church that frequently doesn't know how to deal with child loss. As a case in point from our own example - two weeks after our son died, my wife's church sent us additional offering envelopes for our other children as if to say "Sorry for your loss - please give more".

It seems to me that this loss of faith has not been a bad thing in many people's lives - indeed, it has been freeing to an extent. I know for a fact from my personal experience that not having to worry that some psychopathic sky fairy was out to get me reduced the weight of the loss.

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