Having deconstructed all of my belief systems to the point where I began again, I reasoned that in order to believe anything, I needed to understand why we believe anything and what constitutes a belief, how that becomes what we would called knowledge and how that relates to what is real.
This helped me to understand that most of what we think we know, we only believe and most of those beliefs struggle to get beyond the speculative.
As I searched and read and looked for evidence of what is real, I came to the conclusion that atheism was the most intellectually honest ‘non-belief system’and that its companion ‘Darwinism’ could answer most of the questions that religion never could.
I had become weary of the intellectual curiosity appeasing and totally unsatisfying ‘God did it’ explanation. So I became a Dawkins disciple, so to speak, and read as much as I could on atheism and evolution.
Despite all of this and despite being fairly convinced that my new found model of reality was correct, my intuition had a couple of things to say. Firstly it kept repeating the phrase ‘Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater’ and secondly, it questioned how did synchronicity fit in with this new paradigm?
I knew that the ‘Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater’ phrase kept coming back to me because of an experience I had had when I was a member of the Mormon church. The experience was as follows:When I was in my early 20’s I was, shall we say, filled with a little religious zeal. I had been brought up from the age of 10 as a Mormon and was now recently married and a well-established member of my local church.
It was, during my early days of marriage, that we would entertain young missionaries, often from America feeding them and sharing religious affirmations. Due to the relationship we developed with these young men, they often asked us for help in their various endeavours.
On one particular occasion they asked us if we, as a couple, would pray over the names of some roads they were about to proselyte, so that they could focus their efforts.
We took up the challenge and my now 'ex' wife and I decided we would pray over these roads separately, with the intention that we would then come back together and share notes, so to speak.
I am not sure what method she used, but I got down on my knees and repeated the road names out loud, one at a time over and over. I was not sure what I was expecting to happen, but I was determined to follow the admonition of Matthew 21:22:
And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive Mat 21:22
So I asked and asked and waited and asked some more. I must have spent a good thirty minutes on my knees, the whole time expecting an answer. But whatever I was expecting was going to happen did not happen. It probably didn’t help that I was not sure what it was that was meant to happen.
I sat back and looked at my list, there were around eight road names. I read the names out loud again, more in open contemplation than anything else, then as I read out the name ‘Darenth Drive’I heard a voice, a whisper ‘Yes’.
I stopped still, my eyes went from side to side, as I thought to myself ‘what was that?’
I must point out that I have never heard voices before this time, or since and whatever it was I heard, I heard it externally not internally, or at least that’s how it seemed.
Just to add further weight to my experience I went back into the room where my ex-wife was sitting and was about to blurt out the words “I know what the road name is and you are not going to believe how I got the answer”.
When she looked me in the eye with tears in her own and said forcefully, “I don?t care what answer you got I know which road it is”, Which took me back a little and even more so when she then said the “the road name we need to choose is Darenth Drive”.
When we told the young missionaries of our experience, they stood there open mouthed, and said nothing for a fair while until eventually they managed to come up with the word “Wow”.
They then promised that they would find someone on that street and they would start looking immediately. But they never found anyone and I recall thinking for a while after, how that could be?
At the time I put this experience down to the fact that I belonged to the ‘True Church’ but now I had no answer. The experience was as real as any other I have ever had, but it was unique.
Now even if someone were to say maybe I somehow imagined it, I would have to counter that with the fact that whatever it was took me by surprise and the answer I received was then confirmed by my ex-wife in a way that makes this a consensus rather than jusr a singular experience.
One thing I had learned was that just because you don’t understand something, doesn't mean you have to assume it is of supernatural origin. So I decided to carry these things with me and I had noticed that since my adoption of atheism the numbers had almost vanished anyway.
The next few years saw me becoming separated and divorced from my wife and ending up at a point where I was alone living in a rented room and suffering from depression.
Now I am in no way associating atheism as the cause of this, my life breaking down was the cause, but atheism had been a factor in that after throwing off the shackles of religion I had struggled to re-establish my moral code and sense of personal integrity.
Atheists can argue differently but logically, under atheism, morality is personnel and relativistic, it has to be. Add to that as any atheist will point out, there is no 'purpose' to life, other than to maybe reproduce.
In fact there is no point to or meaning to anything, such that many philosophers have argued that “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is why you don't kill yourself.”
So other than the purpose you chose to give it, life is in essence a pointless struggle to survive. I thus found myself in a very dark place, with with an indifferent Universe looking down upon me.
It was a dark time and having become very rational and logical atheism could provide me with intellectual stimulation but no comfort, just a cold hard mechanistic reality.
But I don’t want to turn this into a debate about atheism, for me it is not only a perfectly valid and rational position to take, in terms of a world view, especially when given the alternative of irrational organised religion, but it may be the only way into the rabbit hole for someone with irrational religious beliefs.
It is akin to taking the red pill, to enter the rabbit whole, one must be prepared to question and if necessary give up all of your beliefs. That in turn led me to my own personal hell, but as Winston Churchill once said “If you're going through hell, keep going.”
Most of this darkness occurred around my 40th birthday and for the next eleven months I went through my own personal hell.
Then for whatever reason, my landlady decided to put a note under my door giving me a month’s notice. This was somewhat out of the blue, yet my friends, who had visited me always said the same thing,you need to get out of this house.
Well now I had no choice, so I decided what type of alternative accommodation I wanted and created an Ad to reflect what I was looking for.
I received an offer from someone who had seen my Advert and yet they were more expensive than I wanted to pay and they were also ‘live in landlords’ which I didn’t want either. Yet for some reason I thought it won't hurt to have a look.
When I did and I immediately knew it was where I was meant to be, as I travelled there I saw a road sign that said B1417 and as I did my mind did the sum 17 - 14 = 3, so much so that I could have sworn I actually saw the number 3 on the sign and thought that must have been the number of miles to where I was going. However when I again went past the sign I saw there was no three on there at all.
Was the road sign metaphor returning?
It did have the number fourteen on it and for some reason my mind had shown me the number 3. I didn’t know it, but I was about to come out of the dark and find myself in wonderland.