A friend recently posted, “If you are someone who was raised in a Christian home but you have walked away from the beliefs you were raised in I would like to know what you believe now and why your beliefs changed.”

Here was my reply:

We both know firsthand what religious abuse looks like. While those experiences didn’t destroy my belief system, they started me on a journey of examining what I believed and why I believed it.

I ultimately concluded that Christianity is no different than any other religion. What was the difference between what we once believed, what evangelicals believed, what Pentecostals believed, what Catholics believe, what Mormons believe, what Muslims believe, or what any other religion believes. Nothing. They are all stories that people tell. And ultimately Christianity was a story told by a sect of people who claimed YHWH as their tribal diety, who wanted to elevate themselves to a special status by using their stories of supernatural as justification. Sound familiar? Those stories started with people thousands of years ago, by people just like you and I. And they got repeated again and again and took on mythical grandiosity. Just as many other stories in many other religions and sects.

In the end they’re all just that— stories. And I decided that the story that mattered to me was that which is based on what we as the human race have learned through the process of science. I don’t want to believe something just because someone somewhere said it or because I grew up in a certain culture. I want to believe it because it is based on provable fact. Truth that can be independently verified no matter where or when you’re from.

Second Ascent

The name of the blog is taken from a book by Alison Osius about Hugh Herr, a young rock climber who was one of the best in the early 80s. One winter he got lost in a snowstorm in the mountains of New Hampshire and ended up losing both of his legs below the knee. But instead of giving up, he went on to be an even better climber afterwards than he was before. He is now leading changes in the science of bionic limbs (prosthetics) at MIT.

I can identify with Hugh, in much different circumstances. I was a zealous Christian who went through a tragic experience of being caught up in a religious cult. It took a long time to come back. But I came back wiser, stronger, and with a broadened perspective on the world, and religion. I don’t have aspirations to change entire fields of study as Hugh has, but I do hope that my story can give strength to those who are seeking answers – who take the step to ask the hard questions.

From my guest post on the churchtrauma blog series:

The rabbit hole went deeper than I ever could have imagined. Like Indiana Jones taking a step into nothingness, I gulped and took the step. And found solid footing, where many others had before me. “The answer” to the question was simpler and more freeing than I could have imagined. Four little words. “There is no god.”

“And that’s Jenga” – Paul

A few resources that have been helpful for me in hearing others with similar stories:

How We Let Go

A Better Life: Joy & Meaning in a World Without God (and film on Amazon)

To be continued…

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