We glance back


You should probably know who I am, at least the religious threads of my story.

I hope it casts a useful light on what I post on this blog.

It kind of seems ironic to me that I am going to do this, as I am not sure I know ‘who I am’ most of the time.

I will do my best to tell my story well.

I was raised in a Christian family. I remember, with love, my father reading the children’s Bible to my two brothers and me on most evenings. He explained the Biblical narrative beautifully and with passion.

I took that motif with me, throughout most of my school years – my parents impact upon my belief was huge.

My parent’s opinion on my doubt now carries with it a crippling worry. Rejection from the ones we love is the weapon we fear the most, whether that worry is justified or not.

When I was in my teens I rebelled against everything. I eventually realised I needed to commit to something and complete something after dropping out of a Nursing university course.

So, with guidance from those with the highest value in my life, church and family, I decided to go to Bible college.

I realised from an early age that if I wanted to really engage in this I needed a mantra, a reason for being. So, I coined the phrase ‘Teaching God’s people His word’. A reason and purpose for my life. Or so I thought.

I embarked upon my journey, with little thought on a world without faith in a personal God. I went through Bible college and did well. I learnt a lot about myself in regards to academic ability, finding a love of reading and writing (I am highly dyslexic) and starting to work out and get into good shape.

When I left Bible college I wanted to teach within a Church setting. Not in an entitled way, but rather in a passionate way. I had engaged with the Bible. I had put down some sort of roots and felt ready to encourage God’s people in their faith.

Leaving Bible college, I got married and had to find work. Work which would have to be outside of the Church, I was gutted.

The next six years are a bit of a blur.

A mixture of working within Technology, having two children. Straight after getting married I ended up having a couple of years battling with ‘purpose’. This resulted in a depression which took me out of work for a year.

I then found myself trying to rebuild my life, subsequently having to navigate living in faith and what that means in today’s world.

I still suffer from depression but have managed to realise my triggers and know myself well enough now to be able to address them quickly. For me, I find release in things like walking, reading and talking. These really help me to overcome the dark moments – which I doubt will ever fully go away.

Anyway, through all this my church attendance fell and I began to ask a lot of questions.

Where is God? I don’t ‘feel’ anything. Why am I here? I can’t see a reason. Are these dark moments planned? I had wanted to die. Have I ruined my marriage? She deserved better. What do I believe? I feel lost – like my ‘purpose’ was ash, and it was falling through my fingers.

You will be pleased to hear that my wife still loves me. She is the one I know will listen to what is going on in my head and pass no judgement. She will want me to engage with her, she will push me and she will listen to my babbling, in the good and the bad.

My faith, however, got smashed to bits.

I returned to church because they were and still ‘are’ in many aspects, my support network.

I found myself, a man, wanting to believe in God. Wanting to live out my faith in a Christian setting, but feeling like a fraud in every regard.

About this time, I realised once again that I was on the fringe of Christianity. I needed to be in, or else I was going to fall out, and with that my whole world collapses. I told the Elders of the church I was attending that I felt God had called me to ‘Teach God’s people His word’ – that I felt called to do that. They told me that they saw God’s hand on my life and they would release me and my family to do that and join a church plant in Halifax.

Surely – God would see me offering my everything to Him and make Himself known to me. Surely, I would find God and He would find me.

I remember praying, ‘Don’t leave me in my doubt, walk with me through this and bring me back to you. Restore me as you promised your world you would restore it back to you, throughout your Word’.

I felt like a man lost in the wilderness, following a stream, trying to find its source. Surely God would reveal Himself to me.

I ended up having a massive disk prolapse in my lower back. And found that I was in vast amounts of pain and anger. I wanted answers to suffering. I was and am completely aware that what I was going through then (and still am today) with my back is so minor compared to what some people experience.

I prayed. I sought. I cried. I pleaded. I felt nothing.

I began to research human origins. Trying to see the source of that stream I felt like I was walking by before.

I read an incredible book called ‘Sapiens‘ by Yuval Noah Harari.

My mind was forever changed, as the framework I had seen everything through (the Judeo-Christian framework) broke. I was struck with how raw humanity’s origin is.

The question that affected everything came back again. Could I really believe in a personal God like the Christian God?

If I don’t, then I am to live ‘outside’ of God. But being completely honest, I wanted to live ‘within’ a God narrative.

But then I realised that I didn’t believe, even though I wanted to.

Sadly, I was weak. You see I realised that if my belief died, my world falls apart.

So I sought comfort in friends, mostly Christian. I read other books, Christian books, trying to ‘even the scales’. Smart people believe in God. My world used to sit within that framework. Surely someone can convince me that it is true again?!?

Because I dived in my home Church began to rebuild me. I stopped listening to the small voice in my head screaming in the background, ‘you don’t believe this’.

Why? Because if I gave in to it I would lose my friends. My family would be horrified. My support network breaks apart. I am probably going to lose my Job. My ‘purpose’ fails. My goals fail. My basis of morality stutters to a question mark without a God. The bottom to my life falls away without the ‘God’ pin holding it all together.

I could keep going, but I think you can see, everything I am and thought I was is lost. Everything.

I shut the voice down. I ploughed ahead.

My wife, our two children and I moved to town to join that Church plant I mentioned before. We moved there to support them and show them the love of God.

But all I will give them now is ash, and I don’t want to hurt them.

What am I? Nothing but a faithless, lost, confused, ‘could have’.

I can’t stop searching for answers to everything. But I can stop lying to myself and those around me. It isn’t too late for that.

My belief has died.

It might come as a surprise to those of no faith, but I do morn it. It gave me a purpose and a reason.

I don’t have those anymore.

I also mourn my blind belief. Wanting the Biblical narrative to be true and to give me a purpose. It was my heuristic.

I am learning a lot. Reading a ton. Engaging in discovery, as discovery of new things is now a passion that has surprisingly bubbled to the surface of who I am.

I am reluctant to replace my Christian heuristic with a new one straight away. Titles like Atheist, Agnostic or Faithless carry a weight that will kill me right now.

Like a broken man moving from under the shade of a tree because he sees that the Sun isn’t bad. I begin to move.

I tread softly. I walk on the rubble of a demolished purpose that leaves me naked and exposed.

I don’t have the answers, and I don’t know where this will lead.

But I can walk and there must be many places these feet have yet to take me.

_End of Blog Blurb_

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It has taken me a few years to get to a place where I am able to share about my loss of faith and to start writing about the journey that I am still on for you all. I hope you find it useful.

Grammar, spelling, capitalisation and punctuation: I am massively dyslexic. It has taken me years to get to the level I am currently at with writing and I have done this mainly through reading. I want to be better, and ask you reader to please forgive any errors in my writing. I hope you notice improvement upon improvement over the coming years.

Time Frame: This blog is roughly six to nine months behind where I currently am at in my journey out of religion. It’s important to remember that when reading and commenting.

If you want to connect with me, then you can get in touch via any of the social media links that can be found at the top of the page. If you want to get every post straight to your inbox then you can do that by either following directly via WordPress or with your email address, whichever you prefer – the links are to the right.

I’ll see you back here at the same time next week 🙂


26 Comments. Leave new

  • How did you first come to believe ? Did you hear the Gospel message and receive
    Jesus as Savior ?

  • Why really strange ? With your history of being born into a Christian family, attending
    a Bible college and involved in church leadership, I would think that you would know
    that faith is a free gift of God, obtained by believing in the gospel message and receiving
    Jesus. This is the only way to have true belief in God. That is why it matters.

    • whenbeliefdies
      February 4, 2020 5:10 am

      Did you read the post? Forcing belief and pretending to have faith is lying. There isn’t enough proof that the gospels we have in their current form are correct, and therefore how can they be reliable enough for me to believe them. So it’s not a ’free gift’ it an impossibility for me, given the evidence I have encountered to date.

  • Yes, I have read the post.

    I asked you in an earlier post, ” was God ever real to you ” ? You
    answered, ” Once He was ” . So, in this article you are saying, your
    belief was forced. So, in what way was God once real to you, since
    your belief was forced ?

    • whenbeliefdies
      February 5, 2020 5:40 am

      Nope. I’m saying if I remained a believer then it would be forced. Before I started to doubt, God was what I built my life upon.

  • Hi Greg,

    Questions like this are not helpful.

    ” Did you hear the Gospel message and receive Jesus as Savior ?”

    The reason is the phrasing and the underlying assumption. You’re using language that implies god exists to converse to someone who does not hold that belief anymore. It’s no longer a question that makes any sense to us.

    If someone no longer accepts that Jesus is god, then asking them if they received him as saviour is not a good place to start dialogue. The obvious answer is that if god is not real, then no one can receive Jesus as saviour, but that road leads to the mud pit called ‘you were never a true christian’ and that’s never a good place to go because it stinks and everyone leaves needing a shower.

    We former Christians sincerely believed then as much as you do now. Our unbelief is not about rejecting truth, it’s about realising we were lied to and to continue to force our belief after that is to continue the lie.

    • whenbeliefdies
      February 5, 2020 5:14 pm

      Beautifully said!

    • Hi Limey,

      ” Questions like this are not helpful “.

      For me they are. Now, I understand where Sam is coming from.

      ” it’s about realizing we were lied to and to continue to force our belief after that is to continue the lie”.

      How do you know that you were lied to ?

  • The easiest lie to identify is the one that says he who genuinely seeks god will find him. Those of us who leave the faith do not do so lightly, we do so because we have faced doubts and genuinely and earnestly sought god, only for the response to be deathly and heart breaking silence.

  • I don’t believe you left your faith,
    because you were truly seeking
    God. Unbelievers don’t seek after
    God, Romans 3:11. God had to
    draw you to believe, in the first place, John 6:44. Could there
    be a reason for God to be silent ?
    I believe so. It could be, He wants
    you to have a stronger faith through persistent prayer, Luke

    • whenbeliefdies
      February 9, 2020 8:17 am

      I’m not convinced. Claiming God is silent feels too much like an easy get out. If God isn’t real then He is always silent. That would explain a lot.

      • I am so sorry this Greg guy is attacking you, Sam, especially considering that you clearly established your vulnerability in the post. Here is the thing—-Greg and others like him—they aren’t trying to really convince you to believe. They are fighting to continue believing themselves. They are fighting doubt with scripture because they fear untold calamity if they choose the path you have chosen. The beautiful truth is, there is no calamity awaiting you, Sam, or me, or anyone who has chosen to walk outside of the authority of religion. But people under God’s umbrella have no idea how beautiful the weather is on the outside. All they can do is press and manipulate all the other people to crowd under the umbrella with them.

      • whenbeliefdies
        February 10, 2020 5:09 am

        Beautifully said ☺️

      • Cornflower Girl, you are truly mistaken.

        ” I am so sorry this Greg guy is attacking you ”

        I am not attacking Sam, I am trying to help him.

        “Here is the thing—-Greg and others like him—they aren’t trying to really
        convince you to believe. They are fighting to continue believing themselves.”

        I am rock solid in my belief in God, not because of me, but because of God.

        ” But people under God’s umbrella have no idea how beautiful the weather is
        on the outside. ”

        Once you have God dwelling in you, not only do you see how beautiful the
        weather is on the outside, but more importantly, how beautiful the weather
        is on the inside. This is heart felt, not just intellectual.

        “All they can do is press and manipulate all the other people to crowd under
        the umbrella with them ”

        Only God can convert anyone.

  • ” I’m not convinced ”

    I understand. But why not keep on praying if you really mourn for belief in
    God and you believe it will give you purpose and reason ? If this is really
    that important to you, keep on praying and then pray some more. I will
    keep on praying, that God reveals Himself to you.

  • Sam, thank you for your vulnerability in this and other posts. Please don’t let Greg or any other trolls get you down. Trolls are gonna troll – it’s what they do, and you don’t owe any of them a reply. You have other readers who really want to read and intelligently discuss your reflections.

    • whenbeliefdies
      February 15, 2020 8:12 am

      Thank you for this Tony!

      I hope you enjoy the next post in an hour’s time… I’m very nervous about sharing it…

      Sam ✌️

      • Sam,
        Thanks for letting me post on your site. A troll, I am not.
        I will stop posting.Thanks for your time and best wishes to you
        and all who have posted on this site.

      • whenbeliefdies
        February 17, 2020 5:05 am

        Take care Greg ✌️

  • Wow, these are the thoughts I battle consistently. I’ve heard it called ‘the dark night of the soul’, it’s an apt description. I really resonate with your ‘longing for blind faith’, I’ve been there many times. I don’t know if I will ever end up in a place of complete unbelief but no doubt my definition of God has changed beyond recognition. I’m in a much healthier place than I was but I don’t know where I will end up.

    • whenbeliefdies
      October 19, 2020 1:16 pm

      Enjoy the journey Anna, you don’t have any control over it anyway. At least not any that will enable you to have your faith back as it was. If God is real, He will lead you back around to Him Himself.

  • Wow Sam, this post is eloquent, moving and very well written! Reading this several months after it was written, I trust you have gained peace as you have moved through the journey. Having lost confidence in my faith a few years ago, I can attest that it is possible, in a post-Christian life, to achieve a peace that compares to what we had before. But now it comes not from outside, but from having a sense that the world “fits together” – even if in quite a different way from what we formerly believed.

    • whenbeliefdies
      December 10, 2020 7:44 am

      Things have got better, I am grateful that I managed to capture these feelings at this time, helps to see where things are now.

  • Brian Monahan
    January 27, 2021 5:49 pm

    I think I understand. I’m someone who lost whatever faith I had in my teens but
    regained it again much later in life. One might well argue that I never really
    lost faith – oh, but I did! Even to the extent of going to rubbing out all vestiges
    of faith in my three kids as they grew up. I and my wife did a “great” job – none of
    them are Christians now. My wife isn’t a Christian – although, bizarrely, I am now.
    This said even after a long career in science, computing, and maths.

    I was I think quite a hard-knock atheist for a long time, dismissing all the “god-talk”
    as being just like “fairies at the bottom of the garden” – inconsequential and nutty!!
    Anyway, to cut a rather long story short, I came back into a far deeper and much more meaningful
    Christian faith – because I realized a number of important things, some of which I discuss below.

    Firstly, I believe in a big God, one that dwells both inside and outside this physical domain
    that we call the Universe.   This means that looking for physical evidence of something _bigger_
    than the physical reality that we encounter everyday, by using scientific instruments and our senses, probably
    isn’t very credible. What we should conclude when we don’t find “something” where we had hoped to find
    it is either that such a “thing” doesn’t actually exist – or- we failed to find it because we looked
    in all the wrong places or using all the wrong tools with the wrong search criteria
    (i.e. the methods of search used weren’t good enough).
    As the well-known saying goes, absence of evidence is NOT evidence of absence!

    Secondly, faith like other powerful beliefs is partly emotional, partly philosophical, and is
    therefore not a purely reductionist evidential thing in any case.   This is a subtle but very
    important thing to realise – faith works naturally at both an emotional, spiritual and personal level
    and necessarily also on an intellectual and philosophical level as well.  These have to match up in
    balance or faith as such becomes very unbalanced and can whither away or become toxic.

    The issue here is that one can mistake the emotional aspect for the philosophical, intellectual side.
    As an example, ask yourself what 3rd party evidence could anyone have that allows them to experience
    directly the same range of emotions, such as love, that you are experiencing yourself?  One answer
    to this is through art, of course – but even that is indirect and subject to interpretation.

    If faith were purely a matter of finding actual, physical evidence, then finding it would
    only show that “god-stuff” was nothing more than some physically measurable entity – something subject to
    direct scientific examination – and eventually, human manipulation (e.g. something akin to The Force,
    as in Star Wars, or like gravity). In other words, the big God that I believe in could never be found as an
    outcome of scientific, experimental investigations – and so it’s not surprising that no direct 3rd party
    evidence is found.

    Thirdly, although we may never be able to incontrovertibly say much about whether gods actually exist
    or not, we can instead say, just from a purely logical point of view, that either God does actually exist
    or He does not, irrespective of what each of us actually believes. Each of us can make our own choices –
    when I say I believe in God (which I do now), I am making a logical _assertion_ that God exists – and that
    such a statement is either true or it is false. Although I believe that the statement is in fact true,
    my belief that it is true may in fact be mistaken – I cannot directly know if it is true or not.

    The really interesting thing is that, broadly speaking, every atheist and agnostic is in the same kind of boat –
    except that proving a negative like non-existence is logically harder to substantiate in terms of evidence.
    It is all very well asserting the non-existence of God (and the Risen Jesus for that matter) but how do you show
    that believing such a thing is just plain wrong – how
    could this be demonstrated incontrovertibly?  What possible evidence could you find to finally nail it down?
    The answer of course is that you can’t do it directly through evidence, but only by finding indirectly those things that
    do exist, but whose very existence would point towards the non-existence of God.  Some people, like Richard
    Dawkins for example would claim that evolution is the smoking gun for God’s non-existence at this point.  On
    the contrary, I believe it is entirely credible that God provided the evolutionary mechanism as an expression
    of His divine will and for His glory to create life in all its abundance.

    Finally, I claim to have good personal 1st-hand reasons to accept Jesus as the risen Son of God – but I have to also
    accept that those reasons are not immediately translatable into 3rd party observable data that can be
    independently examined and verified. All I can do is point people to Scripture and hope that possibly the connection
    could be made.   Everyone can find the Lord if they wish to – they only have to ask.

    Interestingly, Richard Dawkins completely avoids the whole “existence of God” issue these days in his more recent writings (e.g. Outgrowing God) – he admits that there can never be proof that gods don’t exist, and instead simply asserts that the Universe just makes so much more sense without them. Obviously, I don’t quite accept that now :)!

    Sorry – I didn’t mean to write so much about this – got a bit carried away there! I found your blog after
    watching the Unbelievable podcast (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQD8rLZPjlc). Given your journey through
    Bible College and church leadership, no one can doubt your sincerity and your deep immersion into the Christian
    faith from the emotional side.   For me, I very much appreciated your direct honesty and I can see that the
    opening of your eyes to more philosophical matters has seriously challenged your personal faith in a foundational manner. There is a lot more I could have said that explains where I’m at now – and I may follow your very brave example in exploring this in a more open way. The problem for all of us who challenge long-held cherished positions, both believers and non-believers alike, is the cognitive dissonance that we inevitably feel with what we see around us. It is difficult for everyone to work out what they do believe in – and then why! All the best!

  • whenbeliefdies
    January 27, 2021 6:49 pm

    Hi Brian,

    Thank you so much for this! It’s amazing to hear other peoples stories and understand a little bit about why they believe. The podcast that came out today is all about someone who became a Christian at uni, lost their faith, and then re-found it because they made the most sense of life within a faith framework. Which I find fascinating.

    I really resonate with your last few lines:

    ‘The problem for all of us who challenge long-held cherished positions, both believers and non-believers alike, is the cognitive dissonance that we inevitably feel with what we see around us. It is difficult for everyone to work out what they do believe in – and then why!’

    Yeah, I mean this stuff seeps into all of us, into more areas than just the religious/spiritual positions we hold as true.

    It’s amazing to see believers willing to engage with this, to think things through and to live as honestly as they can with what they believe.

    I hope you continue to enjoy the blog (and maybe podcast).

    Take care,
    Sam 🙂


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