Ask Me Anything 2022

Atheism, Deconversion, Humanism, Naturalism, Podcast, Podcasters, Secular Grace

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Arline guest hosts to ask David anything. David tells his deconversion story. He talks about the beginning of the Deconversion Anonymous FB group. David goes deep on what Secular Grace is and what it means to him.

Recommendations

Blog Posts

Deconversion
https://gracefulatheist.com/2017/12/03/deconversion-how-to/

Secular Grace
https://gracefulatheist.com/2016/10/21/secular-grace/

Why I am a Humanist
https://gracefulatheist.com/2017/11/18/why-i-am-a-humanist/

Previous podcast episodes

Jennifer Michael Hecht
https://gracefulatheist.com/2019/05/16/jennifer-michael-hecht-doubt-a-history/

Sasha Sagan
https://gracefulatheist.com/2020/02/06/sasha-sagan-for-small-creatures-such-as-we/

Robert Peoples
https://gracefulatheist.com/2022/04/10/robert-peoples-affinis-humanity/

Bart Campolo
https://gracefulatheist.com/2020/07/09/bart-campolo-humanize-me/

Alice Greczyn
https://gracefulatheist.com/2021/01/31/alice-greczyn-wayward/

Marla Taviano
https://gracefulatheist.com/2022/03/06/marla-taviano-unbelieve/

Heather Wells
https://gracefulatheist.com/2022/11/06/heather-wells-trustworthy/

Thom Krystofiak
https://gracefulatheist.com/2022/09/18/thom-krystofiak-tempted-to-believe/

Ryan Mulkowsky
https://gracefulatheist.com/2022/03/13/ryan-mulkowsky-some-random-thoughts/

Podcasts

Ezra Klein
https://www.nytimes.com/column/ezra-klein-podcast

Five Thirty Eight Politics
https://fivethirtyeight.com/tag/politics-podcast/

Slate Political Gabfest
https://slate.com/podcasts/political-gabfest

Sean Carroll’s Mindscape
https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/

Decoding the Gurus
https://decoding-the-gurus.captivate.fm/

Very Bad Wizards
https://www.verybadwizards.com/

Books

Support the podcast by purchasing books with these paid Amazon links:

YouTube

Sabine Hossenfelder
https://www.youtube.com/@SabineHossenfelder

Matt Baker’s Useful Charts
https://www.youtube.com/@UsefulCharts

Link and Rhett’s Ear Biscuits
https://www.youtube.com/@earbiscuits

Interact

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

Support the podcast
Patreon https://www.patreon.com/gracefulatheist
Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Transcript

NOTE: This transcript is AI produced (deciphr.ai) and likely has many mistakes. It is provided as rough guide to the audio conversation.

0:00:11 David Ames: This is the Graceful Atheist podcast. Welcome. Welcome to the Graceful Atheist Podcast. My name is David and I am trying to be the Graceful Atheist. I want to thank all the patrons, many of whom have moved over from the Anchor and stripe support which is now shut down onto Patreon. Thank you to Joel, Lars, Ray, Rob, Peter, Tracy, Jimmy and Jason. Thank you so much for being patrons. You all will have access to Ad Free for the podcast forever.

0:00:47 David Ames: As we move into 2023 and become a part of the Atheist United Podcast Network. There will be ads if you too would like to have an ad free experience, you can become a patron for any amount. There aren't any tiers, any amount and you'll have access to that RSS feed. As a part of the move to Atheist United, we are moving the podcast from Anchor to Spreaker. The podcast will be on hiatus for the Christmas and New Year holidays anyway.

0:01:14 David Ames: From the 18 December to the 8 January we are off. You may notice that the podcast may show up in a different way in the podcast application that you use to listen to this. So definitely by January 8 be checking to make sure that you have up to date episodes as of January 8, 2023. I'll try to minimize all the technical hiccups, but there might be one or two. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any problems.

0:01:44 David Ames: This hiatus will be right during the holidays, which I know can be a difficult time when you are in the middle of deconstruction and family can be challenging. First of all, my apologies, but I want to give all of our volunteers a break in this episode. I do a number of recommendations for this episode and really all episodes. If in the show notes you'll see a link that will say for quotes, recommendations and more, follow this.

0:02:12 David Ames: It goes to my blog. Truly, there are a number of book recommendations, podcasts, blog posts, all kinds of information that can hopefully get you through this holiday season. Please hang on to the Final Thoughts section as I want to thank a number of people. Special thanks to Mike T for editing today's show. On today's show, Arline guests, hosts and asks me anything. You all gave us some questions you wanted me asked in the Facebook group and Arline is here to ask the questions and I am here to give you some answers.

0:02:55 David Ames: As I say upfront. For those of you who have been listening to the podcast from the beginning, some of this will be a bit repetitive. For those of you who've just joined in the last year or year and a half, it might be new information, so I hope you enjoy this. Here is Arline asking me anything.

0:03:16 Arline: David. Welcome to the Graceful Atheist podcast.

0:03:19 David Ames: I'm so glad to be here. Thank you.

0:03:21 Arline: Yes, I'm excited to get to interview you we've had a lot of people in the Deconversion anonymous Facebook group ask them questions, and listeners ask them questions. And so today we get to hear all about the host. David, this is great.

0:03:37 David Ames: Very cool. Yeah. You and I were talking earlier that I'm sometimes concerned that I repeat the same stories, but we have such a brand new set of people that for the die hard people sorry, you're going to hear the same thing again.

0:03:51 Arline: That's okay. We love it. It's good for us. One thing that I do want you to start with is, can you tell us a shortened version of your Deconversion story? And then we have tons of questions after that.

0:04:03 David Ames: Yeah, so the quick version is that my family is very much a soap opera, so it's hard to tell my story without talking about my mom. So I'll just lay down on the couch here and tell you lots of drug and alcohol abuse on and off. Again, being, you know, an adult and then not. And when I was about 17 years old and again, this is after years already of back and forth, she came to me and said, Jesus spoke to me, and it was life or death, you choose.

0:04:45 David Ames: And I'm going to try to choose life. And I was like, yeah, sure, whatever.

0:04:50 Arline: I understand.

0:04:51 David Ames: Again, I'd heard I'll be sober tomorrow stories a thousand times. The next day she was sober, and the day after that and the day after that. And she was great, right? Like, she handed me a Bible and said, if you care, if you want, take a look at this. And, you know, I was an inquisitive kid, so I did something that was very weird. I really, you know, our family was really kind of nominally Christian, so I really hadn't I'd been to a friend's churches here and there. I really didn't have any church exposure, so I read through the entire Bible on my own before I really went to church, right, to have the experience of church.

0:05:30 David Ames: So I fell in love with Jesus, man, this guy. I came for the sick and not the well. And you cleaned the outside of the cup, but the inside is filthy. It's like that stuff spoke to me, and I was just all in. And it's hard to overstate as well the apparent miracle of my mom getting clean and sober. She went for yet another round of impatience for a few weeks and came out but clean and sober. She got a job.

0:06:04 David Ames: Things really did change. Really did, in fact, change, but I really took this on for myself. That was definitely the impetus. But my reading of particularly the New Testament, I thought this Jesus person was amazing. Like, I loved everything about it. It it spoke to the modern hypocrisy of of Christianity in a way that I was already critical of. And so I was convinced by this concept of grace before I even really had the theological underpinnings to explain it.

0:06:43 David Ames: I'll try to speed up the story here. We were also in poverty. I had grandparents that saved me from the most dire consequences of poverty. But I had very little hopes. I was dropping out of high school, no particular prospects of what I was going to do with my life.

0:07:00 Arline: Oh, wow.

0:07:01 David Ames: Then we did get to church. Had a youth pastor. At that time, I was probably late 18, almost 19. They really didn't know what to do with me. They threw me in the youth group as a leader. That kind of moving people up to leadership way too fast. I was good at it. Youth pastor basically said, you could do this, you should go to Bible college. And I will definitely credit him for that's. What I needed to hear, I needed to have someone other than my family say, you could go to college, you could do something with your life.

0:07:36 David Ames: And in that, with hindsight, I now see it was just somebody believing in me. That was like the huge power of all this. And of course, I saw it in spiritual terms that God was the father of the Fatherless because my dad had passed away when I was very young, and I saw this as divine intervention and so on and so forth. Still, to speed up the story, it went through Bible college. I absolutely adored it.

0:08:04 David Ames: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. There was an element of infantilizing students who are 18, 1920 years old. But at the same time, I had incredibly good professors who were critical thinkers. They taught critical thinking, they taught real biblical research, and the technical term is exegesis and herbaneutics. And I ate it up, man. And then I learned the theology of grace, and I was off to the races.

0:08:35 David Ames: And it was like, what the church is missing is grace. They just don't understand this. And I literally felt like God called me to do this thing. Speeding up the story again. I did ministry for a while. I burnt out. I left on bad terms. I had a relationship with it was fully consenting. It had a relationship with a woman. That was frowned upon. As you can imagine, that did not end things. I went on to marry my college sweetheart, who I'm still married to and adore.

0:09:10 David Ames: She is also still a believer, which I'm sure we may get into, but 20 years really like 20 some odd years after that, I remained a Christian and taught Bible studies, but didn't jump into ministry ever again. I went off on my tech career, and that has done really well, and so on and so forth. Having children was a big deal. Trying to convey this to children was kind of putting the mirror in front of me of what like, what am I saying?

0:09:51 David Ames: And in particular, what's something that stands out is when they were old enough to be baptized and really they weren't old enough to be baptized, right? The expectation was they were old enough, but really it just hit me like they don't understand the decision this means, what this means. And I started to feel really uncomfortable with it. That's about the time that I really started to be deeply uncomfortable praying, especially out loud, and expectations in a Christian family to pray for your children and that kind of thing.

0:10:24 David Ames: And I just got more and more uncomfortable and did it less and less. And near the end I had like a year or so, a year and a half before the end. I did a read through the Bible for a year, which is probably my 4th, 5th time through something like that. I wasn't like an exceptionally good biblical reader, but I read through it several times and my wife pointed out to me that I was angry, I was expressing anger and I thought, why is that?

0:10:59 David Ames: And I think it was the first time that I was reading it without kind of a grace rose colored glasses filter. I was kind of reading it for what it says and the judgment and the capriciousness of God was leaping off the page for me at that point in time. And that was, I think, a major milestone for me as I started to I was always a kind of pop science nerd and again, grace focus. So I wouldn't necessarily have called myself a liberal Christian, but on the liberal side of evangelicalism of trying to be open minded for people.

0:11:44 David Ames: And in the very last stretch, I didn't know it at the time, but I was deconstructing without knowing what the term was. I was doing it alone without any outside input. I think what Christians often believe is that, oh, we read atheists and then we deconstruct. But I did all of this on my own. But it was a much more liberal interpretation of the Bible, really understanding. And the thing that I was hanging on to, the last pearl of great prides, to use the term, was the resurrection.

0:12:18 David Ames: For me, if the resurrection happened literally, as it states on the Ten, I was a Christian. And if that wasn't the case, it was super binary for me, then I am out in the bitter end. Like I was just hanging on to my sense of God's presence alone and nothing else. And I found myself being exposed to secular and atheist writers just by accident, right, just in the Twitter feed, you know, and just like not being afraid of it and oh, let me see what this says.

0:12:52 David Ames: And in particular a blog by Greta Christina about why are atheists so angry was probably a list of like 20 things. And I realized I agreed with all 20 of the things. There was like no notes, right? It was just like, she's right. And I think in that moment. And I love the way friend of the podcast been on the podcast. Matthew Taylor says this, I suddenly realized I no longer believed, but the suddenly refers to my awareness, not the process.

0:13:26 David Ames: So that process was those years in the making, but it was this sudden moment of, I don't believe this anymore. And immediately part of it was the idea of a soul. Like, I really viscerally got. I am my body and my body is me. My mind is a part of my body and there is no soul. And then immediately afterwards was, there is no resurrection, and I'm out. I tried to make it quick. That's the quick version.

0:13:57 David Ames: And we'll get into what happens next, I'm sure, in more questions.

0:14:02 Arline: I can empathize with the doing it alone. My husband had deconverted, but it just looked very different for both of us. And so when I was going through what at the time called deconstruction, I didn't know any of these terms either. It's so lonely.

0:14:18 David Ames: It is. Yeah, I know. This is going to air later. I do an episode with the guys from beyond Atheism, and we talk about the juxtaposition of deconstruction, deconversion versus conversion. When you convert, you do it as a part of a community. In my case, it was my mom, right? You do it with people. Deconstruction deconstruction tends to be really isolating and alone. And I thought that was a really insightful thing we kind of came together and described.

0:14:51 David Ames: And so I think that's super common.

0:14:53 Arline: Yeah, I look forward to listening to that episode. And yes, that's very true. Like I said, I had my husband, but in real life, I had nobody from real life.

0:15:02 David Ames: Yeah, he doesn't tell. Johnny's amazing, by the way, listeners.

0:15:08 Arline: He's fantastic. One day, we're going to get him on here.

0:15:11 David Ames: One day.

0:15:12 Arline: But I didn't know podcasts existed. I knew the Four Horsemen, I knew some authors, but that was about it. And so that's one reason. And multiple listeners have said this. Like, when they found your podcast, when they found the Graceful Atheist podcast, it became a staple. It was like, I get to hear other people's stories. I'm not alone, and yet getting to hear the similarities and the differences.

0:15:37 Arline: And now with the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group, we're finding community. We're finding community.

0:15:43 David Ames: Yeah, definitely.

0:15:52 Arline: The first thing I do want to ask you is how would you define graceful atheist? You as a graceful atheist, how would you define that?

0:16:00 David Ames: So again, I'll circle back to mom. My my real first kind of spiritual introduction was the Twelve Steps, going to therapy and a couple of different aspects, going to the inpatient thing that I mentioned. And what attracted to me there and what attracted me to Jesus in the New Testament was brutal honesty, brutal self honesty and honesty with each other. And there was something incredibly intimate in the AANA context when somebody would get up and say, Hi, I'm so and so, and I'm alcoholic, or I'm a drug addict, and go on to describe horrific things and have a group of people love them, embrace them, and care for them.

0:17:01 David Ames: So that's really what I think my concept of grace comes from is like kind of the worst possible circumstances, real, quote unquote sin, right? These people really hurt people and finding that acceptance. And then as I became a Christian, I then had this theological foundation to describe this in this vertical way that God loves people, theoretically unconditionally, of course there's more to the story there, but I realized that that's kind of what I had been looking for.

0:17:38 David Ames: I was not a terrible sinner. Like, I had slept with my girlfriend and things like that, but it wasn't sex, drugs, and rock and roll for me. And in fact, in many ways, I was rebelling against my family by being a pretty good kid, right? But I had this visceral sense of the concept of sin, this visceral sense of, yeah, I could do better, you know, I'm not perfect the honesty. That honesty was a part of it. So over the time of being a Christian, that it changed for me between God accepting me or God accepting the people and then actually witnessing it in other people watching person to person.

0:18:21 David Ames: That that acceptance. That love. And one way I try to describe this is the first time you tell, like, your best friend about your first crush, right, and they don't run away screaming. Or to use a more purity culture example, the first time you tell somebody that you masturbate and they don't run away screaming, right. They're exhibiting grace, or what I would call secular grace, right? And what I've come to learn and what I think is just true about humans is that we need acceptance and love wherever we're at, right?

0:19:07 David Ames: We may have made mistakes, we may have actually hurt people, and yet we still need people to love us and accept us. And so there's some extreme examples like that, but then the regular average person hasn't gone around with a trail of tears behind them. They also need to experience love and acceptance. And for our LGBTQ friends who have been isolated from society in one way or another or felt different than they need love and acceptance, right? And so it just drove home for me over time how much we need this as human beings. And so what I'm trying to express is that there need not be a spiritual or.

0:19:52 David Ames: And here, I mean, like nonnatural I struggle for words, non transcendent aspect to grace. It can just be people loving people.

0:20:02 Arline: I love that. Yes, I am thankful for the atmosphere of this podcast because the Deconversion Anonymous group, like, the audience that we have attracted, want to be those kinds of people, people loving people, and compassion and empathy and grace. What are some things that you have learned through doing the podcast, or how have you changed over the years having done this?

0:20:34 David Ames: I want to tackle the first part of that question first. The number one thing that leaps out to me when I think about what did I learn, is that I had it super easy for a couple of reasons. One, I came to this, as I mentioned, in my late teens, and I was mostly an adult already. I had a sense of identity. I did. I grew up in a nominally Christian house. We talked about God, we talked about Jesus, but there was no pressure at all.

0:21:02 David Ames: There was no purity culture. None of that existed. Right. I had sex before I became a Christian. I knew what that was like. I liked it. I enjoyed it. I felt like that was a part of the grace that the church was missing, was, hey, human beings like sex. That's a thing. So the number one thing that I learned, and just one other aspect that I think was true for me, is there were lots of emotional elements, but it was ultimately a relatively intellectual process for me of like, this cannot be true, and this cannot be true, and this cannot be true, and what else might not be true?

0:21:44 David Ames: And it really was kind of an intellectual exercise over time. It took a long time, but, like, at the end of it all, it was it was breaking down my own cognitive dissonance, my own non critical acceptance of what the church had fed me. Right? So the thing that I've learned is that that is not the case for many, many people. I I think our our main target audience is millennials who grew up during the 90s with I've kissed, dating to goodbye.

0:22:19 David Ames: Purity culture has done an anomaly on these people, hurt them deeply. Whether they're LGBTQ, whether they're CIS, het, it doesn't matter. Like, they were deeply, deeply affected by purity culture. And then on top of that, I never had the hell drilled into me again. Coming to Christianity as an adult and being grace focused, I always thought that hell was not the focus of Jesus's teaching, and that was overemphasized. So I was trying to be a corrective.

0:22:56 David Ames: So again, I never had the sense of existential dreads that our target audience has. So thing I've learned, man, Christianity can be much more damaging, and I would want to expand this to traditional religious teaching. On the fundamental side, I want to be expansive here. Not just christianity can be deeply, deeply damaging to human beings. And that is the biggest thing that I've learned. How have I changed?

0:23:34 David Ames: I think you helped me arlene to be more open. I don't know if we have time to get into it, but, like, when I started the podcast, it was because I saw the atheist environment, particularly the kind of YouTube environment, was very reactionary. Literally half of the YouTube channels were response channels to something some apologists said, and I just felt like, that's fine, and I wanted that for like, a week, but then I was done with it, and I thought, what is next?

0:24:08 David Ames: What's the next thing? That's why I started it. But I still was relatively narrow and that I was still focused on very secular. I struggle for a better word than atheist, but non believer, non theist, non supernaturalist. Right. And I think some of the people you've brought in to have the interviewed, some of the people you have interviewed has helped me to kind of expand, hey, we want to be open, an open space for people questioning in the middle of the process.

0:24:42 David Ames: And the only way to do that is to actually do what I'm saying, really be graceful and love people where they're currently at, which is going to include things that I don't necessarily agree with. Right. And and so I think that has changed me of just loving people spiritually is where they are spiritually, where they are in the deconstruction process and not having to try to define hard barriers for that.

0:25:11 Arline: Some of that was taught to us as Christians.

0:25:14 David Ames: Yeah.

0:25:14 Arline: There are certain goals that people should reach, and so we should help them reach that goal rather than just letting them be wherever it is that they are.

0:25:21 David Ames: Yeah.

0:25:30 Arline: Speaking of a past guest who you interviewed, and she and I met through Instagram, who was in a similar place, in a place of still maybe kind of believing, not really sure, was Marla Taviano, and her question jumped out at me. So I'll jump here. How do you say, Stay so damn graceful?

0:25:52 David Ames: That's exactly how she wrote it.

0:25:55 Arline: And yes, how do you do it?

0:25:57 David Ames: How do you do it, David?

0:25:59 Arline: How did she say become the annoyed atheist or the bitter atheist?

0:26:02 David Ames: Yeah. So one of the things I want to just step back for a second and put context here. One of the things I didn't like about Christian thought leaders, let's call them, but authors, speakers, what have you, is that they would often be very judgmental without the honesty that would be required to make that actually powerful or useful. And so I want to make it clear here that I actually think I'm a fairly judgmental person.

0:26:35 David Ames: I have pretty strong opinions, right. And I'm holding those back 95% of the time. And the part of the podcast is you're hearing restraint from me. Right. I'm not doing the response video the way that I saw my peers do. I'm choosing Volitionally not to do that. And it's a close thing. And if you follow me on Twitter, which I know is dying every once in a while, man, I'll get sucked in and I have to respond to an apologist. It just drives me crazy.

0:27:16 David Ames: So the first thing is the honesty to say that I don't think I'm a graceful person, the graceful atheist moniker is Aspirational. That's why I literally start every episode by saying I am trying to be the graceful atheist. I do not think I am good at this at all. It is hard to have your arms wide open and accept lots of people from different diverse backgrounds. That's a difficult thing to do. And I never, ever want to suggest that I am doing that well.

0:27:49 David Ames: So there can always be we can do this better. It's kind of my constant mantra, I can do this better. And then further honesty is to say, I do get angry, right? Like, I get angry at the Christian thought leaders of today. I get angry at the Christian nationalism, at the politics. I am angry. I don't think that putting more anger out into the world will be helpful. So let me give you a dumb example.

0:28:22 David Ames: Like I see constantly, especially on Twitter, but elsewhere as well, a conservative Christian says some stupid thing and then a bunch of people in my timeline retweet that and have some comment about it. And it's like if we have learned nothing from 2016 to 2020, it's that you cannot feed the trolls or the trolls win. And so, again, it's restraint. It's not that I don't have passionate feelings about these things.

0:28:55 David Ames: It's that I think my end goal of a more pluralistic, more secular, and I mean secular here in the freedom of religion and freedom from religion, not more atheists necessarily, is to not put more hate into the cycle, right into the feedback loop. And I hope that answers Marla's question. But I just fall back on I'm trying and I'm trying to do that every day.

0:29:31 Arline: I'm going to tuck that away. Don't feed the trolls or the trolls win. Because yes, tuck that away inside my mind because I do get pulled into the retweeting and the memes because it is so angry. Why do you think the podcast is so successful? Like, what do people love about it?

0:29:58 David Ames: Yeah, it's hard to separate my own cognitive biases here. So, again, if I take you back to ID converts, I'm looking around online, trying to find a place for me and not finding it. On the one hand, there's kind of a hyper rationality. It's all about debate, it's all about aggressive. Even the good guys. I follow a number of philosopher people who do a bit of counter apologetics and they do it well, right? They do it with kindness.

0:30:36 David Ames: But even them, right, it's still pure rationality. It doesn't acknowledge the human being. Right? And I was feeling all this emotional response. And one other thing I'll say is it was all men, too. It was just men, right? And I thought, there has got to be other people out there who this is hitting the whole person and they want to express that in some way. And I also was cognizant of not like the flip side of this, the other side of the equation is there are 1001 three X pastors and a beer podcast.

0:31:21 David Ames: So the flip side of the hard atheist is the really open minded progressive Christian, right? And I knew that wasn't what I wanted to say either. I think, and I may lose people here, that Christianity is not redeemable. I think we should take things from it and learn from that. I think grace is one of those things, but I think history has taught us that every attempt to redo Christianity, to go back to the basics.

0:31:57 David Ames: Again, I hate to lose people here, but reconstruct Christianity in some way is doomed to failure. So those are kind of the polls and I was trying to hit the middle of people who are asking legitimate questions, but also are experiencing this range of emotions as a human being does. And again, one of the things I learned is that there's real trauma, literal trauma that people are experiencing. And I didn't know that at the time when I was starting and providing a place for that.

0:32:29 David Ames: So I went in with my own cognitive bias that there must be at least some people like me out there. And I did so with the podcast knowing that I could double quadruple the audience by being an asshole, being the hard atheist, doing the response stuff, and I chose not to. Again, restraint, as much restraint as I could have, right? And it has been slow but steady growth and I could not be more grateful for that.

0:33:01 David Ames: Right. I did not need the overnight success. I feel like now we're reaping the benefits of doing it the right way. And I hope that, again, maybe my cognitive bias, but I hope that that's what people are responding to, that the core message is if you find that you can no longer believe, there is still hope, there's still awe, there's still wonder, there is still community, there's still grace. And that's the core message of the podcast.

0:33:33 Arline: Yeah, I think you're right. Those are themes that I see when I talk to different people about listening to the podcast. Those are things that I've heard. Speaking of community, how do you find community? Who do you have in your real life or online life?

0:33:50 David Ames: Yeah, this is a tough one. My best friend lives in the area, so we see each other on a pretty regular basis, so I don't feel like I'm hurting. He's a believer, but we are real honest with each other. I would say that he's in a place where I was five years before my vegan. Whether he will or not, who knows? I've also built some friendships. I'm not going to name drop here, but a couple of people we meet almost once a month and they are kind of a, for lack of a better term, spiritual outlet for me where I don't filter myself.

0:34:36 David Ames: I can just say what I'm feeling and I don't have to edit it. And make it sound pretty or graceful and I really appreciate them. I don't want to call it an accountability group, but it's kind of an accountability group. It's not, but you know what I mean, I get that from those people. And then the other thing, and I think this will be an answer to another question I'm anticipating you asking is that I'm an introverts and that might surprise people, but I build very strong, few very strong relationships and I feel pretty satisfied.

0:35:18 David Ames: I know 2020 was brutal on people and the lockdowns and things, but I thrive. My wife's very similar, we are homebodies, we literally enjoy each other's company and at times to be on our own and we provide a tremendous amount of what we need in other human beings for each other. And so it's kind of a boring answer, but I am not hurting for friendships and I have work colleagues online as well and I meet with a handful of people on a relative regular basis as well.

0:36:00 David Ames: I do want at some point in time to have some in person real world in the same room, breathing the same air experiences. Whether or not I've had time for that in reality is a question, and again, that may be a question that comes up here in a second.

0:36:14 Arline: Yeah, that was one of the questions is you are largely absent from the Deconversion Anonymous group and people were curious why you're not able to be part of it more.

0:36:25 David Ames: Yeah, that is a super honest question and I'm really glad that that got asked. So again, Arline, I'm so grateful that you are here that you've taken on the community management. The reality is that when I started the podcast, first of all, we started every other week. I was doing the editing, the interviews, I was doing all of it and I knew that there just wasn't much more that I could do. Mike came on and made a huge impact. So we went to once a week, he's doing all the editing and we could not do once a week without Mike.

0:37:09 David Ames: I had seen online communities explode just like overnight sensations and then implode and self destruct probably three or four times in the time of being kind of online after deconversion for me. And I did not want to repeat that. I knew that I didn't have the time to start a community and shepherd that for lack of a better term, but like be a leader there. And so I didn't, we didn't for a long time. We started the podcast in 2019 and particularly over the pandemic and the lockdown, I could viscerally feel the need for it and I put out the call like, is anybody interested?

0:38:01 David Ames: And you responded. And again, I'm incredibly grateful. And the point I want to make is that for listeners who are part of the Deconversion Anonymous community, it would not exist if not for Arline. Because I have two things that are competing for my time that is a very robust work demand and family with a partner who is a believer and does not understand what I'm trying to do here. So I have a very limited window of time to do the things that I do, and I try to make what I do in that limited time as high impact as I can.

0:38:39 David Ames: And so that is doing the interviews and trying to provide some high level leadership. And that's about all I can do.

0:38:48 Arline: And I am thankful for that because I can do the group stuff.

0:38:54 David Ames: And I've heard fantastic feedback, by the way. You are a National Treasurer.

0:39:01 Arline: Yes. And I've said this I know I said this whenever I was interviewed and said, again, the atmosphere of the podcast has brought in such wonderful people into the group.

0:39:12 David Ames: Yeah. Let's take a quick second to thank the moderators. So there's a team of people that are moderators and they take that very seriously to try to protect the atmosphere and the environment for people. So thank you to everyone who participates in that way. The last thing I just want to say to wrap this up is that I'll refer back to I'm also an introvert. I'm a part of I don't know how many deconstruction deconstruction Facebook groups. And I think I can count on one hand the number of times I posted.

0:39:51 David Ames: It just isn't my personality. Right? Yeah, I can do this. I do one on one really well. I am terrible in a group. If we ever do a big get together party, I will be the guy in the corner by myself. That is just my personality. I know that about myself and I'm fine with it.

0:40:14 Arline: No, that's good. In the church, extroverted personalities and evangelism and get out and do all the things. Those are very much valued. I read the book, I was still a Christian. Read the book Quiet by Susan Cain.

0:40:27 David Ames: Very good.

0:40:28 Arline: And I was like, I am valuable because yes, similarly, Donnie and I would stay home and be happy. The pandemic, we were like, sweet. We just will work out at home now. Our whole family was perfectly content being at home. And I do love the small groups that we have during the week for the deconversion group. But that fills me up and then I'm good. I don't want to socialize in real life.

0:40:52 David Ames: Yes.

0:40:53 Arline: You told us earlier about some of the things that make you angry. You were very honest about that. What are some things that give you hope?

0:41:01 David Ames: So I'm tempted to grab the Joss Whedon quote, and I know he's kind of not super popular these days, but it expresses what I want to say. I'm actually going to look at my concussion. Joss Whedon said, the enemy of humanism is not faith. The enemy of humanism is hate. It is fear. It is ignorance. It is the darker part of ban that is in every humanness, every person in the world. That is what we have to fight.

0:41:25 David Ames: Faith is something we have to embrace. Faith in God means believing absolutely in something with no proof whatsoever. Faith in humanity this is the point I'm quoting. Faith in humanity means believing absolutely in something with a huge amount of proof to the contrary. We are true believers. I believe in people, and I know that sounds insane. We're recording this on the day of the election. We don't know what the outcome is going to be.

0:41:55 David Ames: It looks grim. I know it looks bad. But I believe in people coming together and connecting with each other and being honest with each other and yes, showing grace with each other. That that is something powerful. And again, I want to be super clear here. I don't mean in some supernatural sense. I mean in a literal physical sense. It is powerful. It changes people's lives. It makes an impact on society.

0:42:26 David Ames: I think that if we can get beyond the just christianity is bad and actually start to collectively come together and see ourselves as even a political voice, as a civic voice, as a good actor in society, as a group, that that will have a positive impact on the world. And I'm sorry if that sounds sappy sweet, but I honestly believe that that honestly gives me hope. And again, we witness it in the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group.

0:43:04 David Ames: I'm amazed on a weekly basis. I may not post there, but I'd read a fair amount of it. Someone comes in and says, man, I'm having trouble. I got to talk to my mom, I got to talk to my partner, I got to talk to my son. And 20 people come along and go, wow, I had to do the same thing. This is what I learned and I it that gives me hope, right? Like that is super, super powerful.

0:43:40 Arline: One thing that has come up often in the group are unequally yoked marriages. People who have deconverted their spouse is still a Christian or religious in some way. We have some who in the group who are Christians and their spouses deconverted and they're trying to figure out what is happening. What advice do you have? You and your wife are making it work. What advice do you have, if any, for people living in that?

0:44:10 David Ames: Yeah, I definitely want to refer back to I think last year my conversation with Michelle that we recorded or two years ago. I can't remember now what it was, but I first have to say this would not have worked if we both were committed to the relationship. And I know there are times when maybe the relationship won't work and if only one partner is committed and the other isn't, it might be terribly sad, but it may also be necessary for that relationship to end. So I want to preface it with here that I don't want to burden anyone here with more guilt.

0:44:56 David Ames: Having said that, another reason for the podcast was I saw lots of deconverts go out in blaze of gory and burn the bridge on the way out and f you to everyone around them that was still a believer. And I thought, that can't be right either. And I love my wife and I want this to continue. The core advice is this find the mutual values. And that can be challenging when one partner is a believer and one partner is not.

0:45:32 David Ames: But in our case, we have a lot of values. What drew us together, our impetus toward ministry, was about caring about people, right? We shared that. And so when I could put it in secular and again here, I mean, just nonreligious terms, right? Not atheistic, but nonreligious terms. We share these values and how that doesn't change. I think that's step one and then step two is making it abundantly clear to the other partner that you love that person for who they are, including if they are believers for the rest of their lives.

0:46:15 David Ames: The truth is that we as the deconvert may need to be the bigger person. That sounds arrogant, but but there's some truth to that in my How To deconvert in Ten Easy Steps, which is a joke title, which I wish I wouldn't have done, but here we are. Is you have to realize that all that process that we talked about, that took years, and then the realization is sudden. Your partner has done none of that.

0:46:43 David Ames: They have none of that context. They've read none of the books, they've listened to none of the podcasts. And when you come to that person, it's going to hit them like a ton of bricks from out of left field with no context. And that is a brutal thing to do. So you have to be the graceful person in that scenario because you have all the information and they don't. Beyond that, again, I'll refer back to my wife.

0:47:13 David Ames: She has a psychology degree. She brilliantly brought up this idea of in a long term monogamous relationship. And I know there are people out there exploring other options, but if that's you, if you want to be in a long term monogamous relationship, people grow and they grow in different ways and they can grow apart. And you have to kind of reevaluate, do we want to remain a monogamous partnership?

0:47:40 David Ames: And if you do, then you have to accept that person where they're at. Michelle had this idea of a second marriage to the same person, right? Like recognizing, yes, you changed and maybe she changed too. But we were agreeing volitionally, we love each other, we want to remain partnered. I'm big on volition. Right. I think marriage in general or partnerships in general are about will and not warm fuzzies necessarily.

0:48:13 David Ames: And it was just a restatement to one another. We're committed to each other and really trying to listen, really trying to hear where the other person was coming from. It may surprise you that I never correct or try to counter apologetics Michelle, ever. I never do that. There are times when I will carefully bring up a subject and it's clear that it's not going to go, it's not going to fly. So I don't I stop because I respect the boundaries she's telling me she has.

0:48:52 David Ames: Right. And that is hard, man. That's hard. Not everybody is going to be able to do that. These are restraints I've put on myself. Again, by volition, by choice, you out there may not be willing to do that. And that's okay. That's fine. Bottom line is it takes two to tango. You need both partners to be committed and you can't fix that for someone else.

0:49:20 Arline: I saw a meme that said the only time you can change somebody is when they're in diapers.

0:49:25 David Ames: Yes. For real. With teenagers. I agree. Yes.

0:49:33 Arline: Someone did ask. Speaking of teenagers, someone did ask, how have you guys, you and Michelle navigated parenting being in different faith or beliefs?

0:49:43 David Ames: Yeah. Again, both about the marriage partnership and about parenting. I don't want to make this sound like this has been smooth sailing. Again, we have tensions flare up and when we have an argument, 25% of the time, I think it's related to we, we are we have different world views, we come from different perspectives and there's this underlying tension that just never goes away equally with our kids.

0:50:12 David Ames: Again, fortunately, unfortunately, depending on your perspective, they were into their early teens when I deconverted. They had that exposure, a graceful exposure, but they had that exposure to Christianity prior to that. Both of them are definitely not traditional Christians. I don't like to speak for them, but more, very much more on the agnostic side of things than anything, that's tension in the family, that hurts Michelle and I know it.

0:50:42 David Ames: And I've tried to spin the plates of making sure my kids feel free and unburdened by purity culture and are free to make their own choices about spirituality and at the same time to try to any of you who have teenagers, you know, it is them against the parents. And so I have to back up Michelle too. There are times there are times where I put a boundary not quite where I would have and vice versa. I push at times to move that boundary and it is a give and take and it's tension and it hurts.

0:51:16 David Ames: And I wish I had a silver bullet and I don't. And again, for me, it's all about making sure that my kids know I love them and accept them. And no matter if they wanted to be hardcore evangelical Christians, I would love them and accept them for that. If they are agnostic, I love them and accept them for that. And I try to communicate the same thing to Michelle.

0:51:45 Arline: Something I meant to ask earlier when you were talking about the podcast, where do you want the podcast to go? What do you see for the future of the podcast and the deconversion group?

0:51:54 David Ames: Do you have places or how you.

0:51:56 Arline: Want that to go?

0:51:57 David Ames: Yeah, let's do the group first. Again, I'm really interested in now that it seems as though the pandemic is winding down. There doesn't seem as much personal health threat out there. I'm sure there are some of you who have family members who might be ill and that's not true for you, and I acknowledge that and I think that's true. But eventually maybe we want to meet together. And again, I don't know that I'm going to be the best person for that, both from a time point of view and a personality point of view.

0:52:27 David Ames: So I'd be interested to hear people who are interested in making this happen. I know that some North Carolina people and you in the south, there like a few other places have met one another in real life, and I think that's super valuable. So I'd love to see us try to build the infrastructure such that people can do that organically and then maybe also do something a little more structured once in a great while.

0:52:55 David Ames: I'd like to see more people step up, and that's happening just today even. I think there's more push towards an unequally Yoked group thing happening, like for people who are willing to lead, you know, a get together to step up. I know how much this sounds like the small group thing in church, and that's because it is. We're human beings. That's just the way we work. And I'm sorry, but we need people who are willing to just be there, be present, say, I'm going to be here at Wednesday at 07:00 every week, right? Like that's, that's all it takes.

0:53:29 David Ames: And then people will follow, you know, so more more niche needs in the group. So secular parenting, we've already talked about unequally yoked. We've talked about you're doing the sex and sexuality. I think that's an amazing thing. Maybe we need an LGBTQ, maybe we need a black corner, a Hispanic corner, whatever the people need, let's do that and provide that space for people. So as for the podcast, I feel like we go through waves and I'll talk about I'm going to go back to the beginning again.

0:54:10 David Ames: The other thing I noticed about my peers is they would go after all the famous people, of which there is really a very small number of secular people out there, and they'd get four or five of them and they would peer out. And I knew from day one. First of all, again, my personality, I'm not going to go ask all those people, like day in and day out to let me interview them. And I also was interested in real life stories.

0:54:36 David Ames: What is this actually like? I don't want to hear, like, even I at this point, what you hear here is pretty packaged. Like, I've told this story a bunch of times. I know the points I need to hit, that kind of thing. I want to hear regular people, what are they going through? And I've been honest with you. I wanted that to be open to women in particular as well, and not just be a male dominated thing, not just be a white dominated thing.

0:55:02 David Ames: We've tried really hard to accomplish that. I'll let listeners and community members be the judge of it. So I knew I wanted to do just people telling their stories. And here's the beautiful thing. And you and I talked about this, how intimate it is to just be the receiver of someone's story. And I could feel the magic of it right while I was interviewing somebody. This is it. This is the thing that people will want to hear.

0:55:34 David Ames: And again, maybe my cognitive bias, but I believe that sincerely, that that was the thing that was not out there or rarely out there. Yeah. And then I have interviewed I've interviewed authors, some people that I adore. Jennifer Michael, hex jumps to mind. Alice gretchen recently. Tom Cristofiak I love that book. I really like author. We just had Heather Wells, just someone who takes the time to really lay out that story in detail and has much better eloquence than I do to put that down on paper. So I really enjoy that.

0:56:12 David Ames: So we have an opportunity to be and I'm not going to name drop yet because I don't know if it's going to happen. Part of a podcast network that is atheist focused but very humanist in its approach. Basically what we're doing here, and I'm fairly certain that's what we're going to do and we're going to cut this part if we don't. And that would open up the door to a few more famous people, right? So a few more authors, a few more speakers.

0:56:49 David Ames: So I want to lace that in. I do not want to lose the heart of what we're doing, which is the people. And so my promise to you is that will always be the core. That's going to be the core. But if you have a few more podcasters, a few more authors, a few more speakers, that's what's happening. And we're also getting noticed. So even apart from the network thing, I'm starting to get people reaching out to us back to the it's starting to pay dividends, doing it the right way from the beginning and not just taking the easy, quick way.

0:57:25 David Ames: I'm getting solicitations from slightly more, wellknown, people and things like that. So I think you're going to see a bit more of that on the podcast. And again, I want to keep our feet on the ground and it's still going to be about people. The core driving thing for me is about honesty and vulnerability. I think you get those two things, and you have an amazing conversation, and that's what people relate to, and so I'm not going to lose sight of that.

0:57:55 Arline: And that's exciting. That sounds exciting. The last couple of questions, some of your favorites. Do you have any favorite interviews that you've done, favorite blog posts that we can link in the show notes?

0:58:16 David Ames: Sure. Some of my original stuff was before the podcast. It was me just figuring this stuff out. If you read it, you hear me trying to work out what this has become. Right. I already mentioned how to deconvert into any steps. Again, I hate that title, but it has a bunch of Google SEO. I can't leave it. Yeah, trust me, this is not just an intellectual exercise. I was trying to get to what does it feel like to deconvert?

0:58:47 David Ames: What does it feel like? And I feel like I hope that I captured some of that. I've gotten some positive feedback from it. So I would say that my early doc on secular grace and humanism. So those two different blog posts are really kind of my pouring out my soul. I did my deconversion, but it was a bit intellectual. I've had feedback on that, that it was more counter apologetic than most people care about.

0:59:22 David Ames: But if you're into that thing, you'll enjoy that if you're into that counter apologetic things. I also have a set of what I call thought experiments for believers where it kind of addresses some underlying apologetic without just to let the reader come to their own conclusion. Right. I'm not trying to tell them what the answer is. Just like, what do you feel the answer is when you get to ask this question? So I love all of those blog posts for interviews. I've already mentioned Jennifer Michael hecht her book.

0:59:56 David Ames: And let's do recommendations, too, if you don't mind, here.

0:59:59 Arline: Yes, go for it.

1:00:00 David Ames: So her book, Doubt a History, one of the early books I read, actually not the earliest. So, again, I read all the people that atheists read. I read The Four Horsemen. I read a few humanists early on, and it was all very cold and philosophical, and I still was looking for if I was going to describe secular grace. It's humanism with boots on the ground, blood, sweat, and tears, loving people. Right.

1:00:28 David Ames: That's what was missing. And what I found in Jennifer's book was, yes, it was intellectual, but it connected me to history. Deconstruction is not new. Atheism is not new. These questions, I mean, the exact questions now, I'm not talking about just generalities here, but the exact questions you are likely to have gone through. There is a trail of historical references of people going through the same thing, feeling just as isolated, feeling just as societally, left out and apart from the mainstream.

1:01:09 David Ames: And her book connected me to that. It also was humbling. I say this every time I talk about the book, not only are my ideas not original for today, they are not original for 2500 years ago. This is not new. And there's something profoundly comforting about that for me. I love her spirit. She also comes from a secular Jewish perspective, which I adore. Christians who say that humanism is stealing from Christianity. I want to just laugh in their faces.

1:01:45 David Ames: It is all secular Judaism. Like, we owe everything to secular Judaism. That's best. So a follow along to that is Sasha Sagan, that interview with her in it. First of all, I think Carl Sagan is one. You know, I often say I'm a Sagan like atheist, not a Dawkins like atheist. And what I mean is there is still wonder and awe and joy and connection and people. I love people. And I feel like Carl captured that and Dawkins doesn't.

1:02:21 David Ames: Well, man his wife Annie and his daughter Sasa Sagan have extended that legacy, and I love everything they do. Her book, Small Creatures Such as we, captures the need for us as human beings to have ritual again. There need not be a spiritual, non physical, non natural element to the need to connect with each other and mark time, mark birthdays, mark weddings, mark mark deaths, and collectively grieve and celebrate.

1:03:01 David Ames: Right? So in that conversation with Sasha, we talked about, man, how can we capture this and put it in a bottle and give it away? If I could give away to you the feeling that I have the satisfaction and I'm not a nihilist at all, right? 95% of what they accuse atheists of, I feel like that just doesn't apply to me. Right. I have more than what I felt as a Christian because I feel freer. Right? And if I could give away this project is trying to give that away.

1:03:41 David Ames: And I feel like people like Sasha have that. Alice Gretchen, I think I already mentioned she wrote the book, wayward I'll mention it's, in the same tone. Heather Wells, who was just on both of them are memoirs. I think there's a deep place for that. You mentioned Marla taliano hers'book of poetry. The three of them speak in a way that I could never right. That's not my experience. They are expressing an experience that's deeply important in a way that I don't have access to.

1:04:17 David Ames: And so I love those three. Amy rath came on. She has a podcast about nuns. N-O-N-E-S. Love her work. I think she's on to something deep and meaningful and important there. Just in the recent past, ryan Mukowski, Robert Peoples gosh, there's so much. I feel like I leave people out by trying to acknowledge these people. But you can hear in my voice when I'm super excited, right. And it tends to be humanist, skepticism, loving people, right? That combination, some combination of that is going to fire me up and I'm going to be excited.

1:04:58 David Ames: Can I give you more recommendations? I don't know you have more questions. Okay. More recommendations really quick, because this question was asked of me. I think it was via you. And I was unprepared. I came prepared today. All right?

1:05:13 Arline: That's right.

1:05:13 David Ames: Yeah. Often people ask me, what podcasts do you listen to? And the truth is, I don't really listen to the conversion deconstruction podcasts. And the reason is, like, I know that people will age out, for lack of a better term, of the graceful atheist, right? People come to us at a time of need, either during the process or they need a booster shot, so to speak, after deconversion, and they need to feel like I'm not alone.

1:05:46 David Ames: And they probably get satisfied right. Within, let's say, a year or so, right? Like, okay, I have enough. I can move on. And they will age out. And that is a good thing, not a bad thing. I feel like that for me, too, just in the same way that I was just 15 minutes of rationalist atheist and I was done in the deconversion space. Like, you know, I've listened to the podcast. Of course. I still do. I do a ton of research, right? Like, just for the podcast, I do a ton of research.

1:06:15 David Ames: So I still am listening to it. But for myself, that's not what I listen to. So a couple of recommendations. One is. Sabina hasenfelder. Dr. Sabina hasenfelder. She is a science communicator, and she is a skeptics skeptic. I love this person. She has both a YouTube channel, she's written the book Lost in Math. Where she is critical of the Tlcr is the concept of the beauty of mathematics and physics.

1:06:51 David Ames: And she says that led us astray. We're too focused on this aesthetic value and not looking at the data. She is critical of the foundations of quantum field theory, which, as you know, can spill out into things like the multiverse concepts and things like that. She is a skeptics skeptic. I love her. Even if I disagree with her, I respect her beyond anything else. For that reason, she's willing to just stand.

1:07:25 David Ames: And I want to be really super clear here. There is a movement, the wrong word, an intellectual trajectory sometimes called the heterodox sphere. And that's actually my next recommendation I'll talk about in a second that I don't agree with. Okay? So this is the people who are heterodox just for the sake of being heterodox. These are the people who were pushing ivoryctum during the antivaccine, during the pandemic, which I think was it makes me angry.

1:08:07 David Ames: Misinformation, disinformation, makes me angry. That was to build a podcast audience, and it pisses me off. So I do not mean heterodox. I mean willing to stand for the truth based on the data we have, right? And stand in the unknown. We don't know. The other message of this podcast is that the Christian apologetics will say, you have to have this answer. You have to have an answer. And it's okay to just not know.

1:08:37 David Ames: And I would much rather not know something than to speculate and get entrenched into my speculative answer. And that is the description of all of apologetics, but also sometimes philosophy and sometimes even science in some science, anyway. Sabina the second one is a podcast similar in that it is of skepticism. It is decoding the gurus. Two guys, Chris Kavanaugh and Matt Brown, they are both academics, but they are looking at all the famous people that I have avoided talking about so far, people like Sam Harris and Brett and Eric Weinstein.

1:09:22 David Ames: And that heterodoxphere. They are looking at it from an academic point of view, and they are looking at how it feels. Whenever you use the term cult, it gets negative immediately. But how they are abusing their personality, their charismatic personalities for monetary gain. And so it is critical of the critics, right? And so I think it's a super valuable perspective. Another YouTube channel that I really like, that I just found literally within the last month is Matt Baker's Useful Charts.

1:10:01 David Ames: Matt is a theistic Jew. He came, from, what he calls his words a cult. The British Judaism. I don't probably not even calling it right. Anyway, long story short, he's a history buff. He is a religious studies. That's his actual degree, his education, and his business is building, drawing out these charts. So he does things like monarchic lines, successions and so forth. But he has applied that to his religious studies knowledge.

1:10:45 David Ames: And so he has a ton of really well documented, really well resourced researched biblical history from a critical point of view. So he'll be like, here's the Bible's timeline and here's the archeological timeline. It's super valuable, right? Like, was Moses a real person? He tackles that with real honesty, right? And he separates mythology, legends, and history. And there's a bright line there. And I've learned things from him, I think.

1:11:20 David Ames: Man where were you 20 years ago? So I love that one from that podcast is of the book by Neil Silberman, the Bible unearthed similar. This is actually I'm way late to the game here. This has been out for a while. I believe he's at least Israeli, if not Jewish. But again, looking at the actual archeological evidence, is there evidence of 700,000 to 202 million people going through this tiny little space in the Middle East? And spoiler alert, no, there is not.

1:11:56 David Ames: And it's just an honest look at what does the data actually say, right? And I'm just beginning that book, but I think it's great so far. Again, I'm late to the party. Christian Demez is Jesus and John Wayne. One thing I learned what did I learn? I learned that I have been super privileged and ignorant and I have had the privilege of nivete. Right. I was a white ish male in an evangelical patriarchal environment.

1:12:36 David Ames: And similar to Jennifer Michael Heck's book about deconstruction is Not New the Christian Nationalist Patriarchal Elements of the Christian Right and Is Not New And something I would talk about from the Watched it Happen from the 80s, but she's taking it all the way back before the 50s even and just tracing the line of we should not have been surprised by Trump. So the fact that I was surprised is a revelation of my own naivete and privilege. Right.

1:13:19 David Ames: I highly recommend that book. I know you have as well. In my interview of you we talked about Tyler Merit. The name of it is I take my coffee black. He references the school I went to. He is definitely a Christian. But the experience of being a Black Man in 2020. And not only that, a Christian Black Man and his Christian friends and family not understanding, not getting it. And the pain that he'll just what he's so good at is the visceral experience of being a Black Man in America during that time period. And prior to that, too. So I highly recommend his book.

1:14:10 David Ames: Just to rattle off more podcasts that I listen to. You don't have to. Ezra Klein on politics I think is amazing. Yes. Sean Carroll on all things science, particularly physics, particularly cosmology, but also the philosophical background. He kind of blends those two. His his is called Mindscape 538 on politics, political Gabfest on politics. You're seeing sensing a theme here, very bad wizards, philosophy and psychology kind of related to the gurus, but without that critical aspect.

1:14:48 David Ames: So those are the kinds of things that I listen to. And then last recommendation is I wouldn't have known these guys but my teenagers. But Lincoln Rhett are the famous guys from what is it? Mythical Morning. Mythical morning. Yeah. Now. Ear biscuits. They were youth for Christ. Minister they did all kinds of stuff. They didn't talk about that through Mythical Morning. They deconverted and they came out publicly.

1:15:19 David Ames: And the series of podcasts in ear biscuits, both on YouTube and on their podcasts are just amazing. Very, very good. They did like a year after retrospective. All of that is fantastic. Go listen to it. It is great.

1:15:37 Arline: Yes. And Good Mythical Morning is just hilarious and funny and it's just think of a family friend, their kid was like, can we watch Good Mythical, Mythical Morning? Like eating the hot cheetos stuff. I mean, just the most bizarre, random stuff and it was so much fun. And then somehow I found out that they had deconverted and listened their story and so similar to so many people's stories that we've heard.

1:15:59 David Ames: Totally. Yeah.

1:16:01 Arline: Any more recommendations?

1:16:03 David Ames: I'm done. I'm finally done. That was wonderful.

1:16:06 Arline: I wrote a lot down podcast, although I do not need to keep adding to my podcast.

1:16:11 David Ames: Yeah, I hear you. And I'll definitely send you these names. I had to write it down. I would not have remembered.

1:16:18 Arline: Is there anything I did not ask that you wanted to talk about?

1:16:22 David Ames: I talked briefly about kind of having this packaged, trying to have the elevator pitch. So I want to wrap with secular grace is I sometimes talk about this ABCs of a secular, quote unquote, spirituality that's all belonging in connection. So again, I appreciate that this is a little too three points in a sermon kind of thing, but to try to simplify it for people. Again, thing I learned is how much cultural context feeds into our interpretation of the experience of awe.

1:17:05 David Ames: We know that you can use high powered magnet over a person's brain and they will experience God. And if you're in the west, you're going to see Jesus, right? And if you're in Asia, you're going to see the Buddha maybe, or Shiva or Vishnu or what have you, right? And if you're in the Mideast, you might see Allah, right? Your cultural context gives you the interpretation of what awe means to you. And what I'm trying to say is awe is a human experience and we should embrace it.

1:17:39 David Ames: It is a wonderful thing. I experienced that for sure, in nature and in friendship and sometimes in these interviews, right. That literal physical feeling of man. This is amazing, right. I feel that and I no longer have to say that's a god, right? No, it's just two people connecting and that's a great thing.

1:18:00 Arline: Yes.

1:18:01 David Ames: The belonging is what we've been talking about with the deconversion anonymous group. It's to know that you are not alone. You are a part of a people. It's part of what I talked about with Jennifer Michael Heck, that we are in a historical line of doubters. We are not alone, not only for this time period, but for all of human history. As long as there has been belief, there have been doubters, and we are a part of that. And so having a sense of I'm a part of something, I'm a part of this group is a hardwired need.

1:18:36 David Ames: We are social creatures. It's okay to embrace that. It's also okay to be very critical about which groups you are willing to make yourself be a part of. We are not particularly joiners secular people and that's okay too, but it is kind of a human need. And then the connection is back to what I was talking about earlier, about that almost confessional level, one on one human talking to your best friend in the world, the human being who holds your secrets, whoever just came to your mind.

1:19:13 David Ames: That's what I mean by connection. It's about trusting that person with implicitly. You know they are going to hold your secrets. You know that you can tell them anything. You can be angry and you can be an asshole. You can be yourself unedited to that person, find that person, love them, hug them, be the same back for them. That connection is so valuable, so necessary, such a deep part of being a human being.

1:19:40 David Ames: And the whole thing I'm trying to say is if you find yourself no longer able to believe in spirituality of any kind, you get to keep all those things. Those things still come with being a human being. You do not lose them. You do not need to be a fatalist nihilist who succumbs to despair. That is not necessary. And that is the message of the podcast.

1:20:06 Arline: All right, mic drop.

1:20:07 David Ames: I don't have a microphone.

1:20:09 Arline: David, this was wonderful. This was so much fun. I learned a lot and I know our audience is going to really enjoy this episode. This is great.

1:20:16 David Ames: I appreciate it. Thank you so much for doing the interview. I think this is valuable.

1:20:20 Arline: Thanks for being on.

1:20:27 David Ames: Final thoughts on the episode.

1:20:31 Arline: My final thoughts on the interview I really enjoyed getting to interview David. I learned a little bit more about his story, where he's come from, and it reminded me again how much he has a heart for people, how much he has a heart for helping people who used to find community. In the church, but now know that's not something they can believe in or are journeying away from the church and can figure out ways to give them space to tell their stories, to find empathy and compassion from friends through whether it's the podcast or the Facebook group.

1:21:14 Arline: He is putting good things out into the world and it's wonderful and I love it. And it reminds me of how thankful I am that I get to be part of this. I get to be part of his vision, I get to be part of whatever comes in the future. And it makes me excited about the future of the podcast, to see where things are headed and to get to see what the future holds for David and the graceful atheist podcast.

1:21:46 Arline: I love it. It's wonderful and I'm so thankful to get to be a part of it.

1:21:51 David Ames: For the secular Grace Thought of the. Week, it's just my gratitude for everyone involved with the podcast. I'm terrified I'm going to leave some names out here. So please, if I forget you specifically, you are included in all of this gratitude. I obviously have to begin with Arline and all of the work that she's been doing as the community manager of the Deacon Version Anonymous Facebook Group, guest hosting, recruiting people to be on the show, copy editing, just a number of things.

1:22:22 David Ames: The podcast could not happen without her. Equally, Mike T doing the editing, we do about 48 50 shows a year. That is a lot of editing to do and I could not do it without Mike. He is an integral part of what you get to hear. Both Arline and Mike are in the deconversion anonymous Facebook group. So if you appreciate the podcast, please thank them. Let them know how much their work means to you. I also want to thank the moderators in the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group.

1:22:53 David Ames: Thank you to Arline again, lars, Mike, T. Again, Stephanie, Ian and Vanessa, thank. You so much for the work that. You do to help make the group graceful and provide a safe place to land for people doubting, deconstructing and deconverting. Thank you guys. I want to thank everyone who has been a financial supporter of the podcast in the past through Anchor and Stripe. Thank you so much for really years worth of giving there.

1:23:22 David Ames: I really appreciate that. And I want to thank the new Patreon patrons, some of whom have moved over from the Anchor stripe scenario. Joel, Lars, Ray, Rob, Peter, Tracy, Jimmy and Jason. Thank you so very much. I want to thank Ray from the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group for doing the memes. These beautiful memes that you see of quotes from the guests on the episodes are just absolutely beautiful and it's a great way to promote the podcast and for people to connect and recognize there's something there that they want to see.

1:23:54 David Ames: In this episode, I mentioned there's a couple of people who I hang out with about once a month. You all know who you are and I thank you guys so much for keeping me sane, letting me be myself, and giving me a place to just vent sometimes. That is incredibly appreciated. Again, I'm terrified that I have left someone out. I need you to know that if you have participated in any way with the podcast as a guest, as a member of the community, if you've promoted the podcast on your social media, if you've told a friend, thank you, thank you, thank you.

1:24:26 David Ames: All of that is just so important. For 2023, as I've been talking about, we will be moving to the Atheist United Podcast Network. What that will do will give us. Some more exposure to the wider secular community, hopefully more guests on the show and me as a guest on other podcasts. But also we will be supporting the. Work that Atheist United does and they do a lot of work in the Los Angeles area for the homeless and various other community efforts.

1:24:58 David Ames: And the ad revenue from the podcast will go to Atheist United and will be helping a good cause. A reminder of one more programming. Note that after the 18 December to the 8 January, we are off. We're going to be migrating the podcast from Anchor to Spreaker. Definitely before the 8th, double check to make sure that you still have the podcast in your podcast application. And after the 8th, you definitely have a new episode.

1:25:27 David Ames: And if you don't, I might have made a mistake and you might need to refresh your connection to the podcast. I'm excited about 2023 and everything that we're going to do together. Until then, my name is David and I am trying to be the graceful atheist. Join me and be graceful human beings. Time for the footnotes. The beat is called waves from Mackay. Beats links will be in the show. Notes if you'd like to support the podcast, you can promote it on your social media.

1:26:04 David Ames: You can subscribe to it in your favorite podcast application, and you can rate and review it on podcasters.com. You can also support the podcast by. Clicking on the affiliate links for books on gracefullaytheus.com. If you have podcast production experience and you would like to participate with the podcast, please get in touch with me. Have you gone through a faith transition and do you need to tell your story?

1:26:29 David Ames: Reach out if you are a creator. Or work in the deconstruction, deconversion or secular humanism spaces and would like to be on the podcast, just ask. If you'd like to financially support the podcast, there's links in the show notes to find me. You can Google Graceful Atheist, you can Google deconversion, you can Google secular grace. You can send me an email Graceful. Atheist@gmail.com or you can check out the website Graceful Atheist.com.

1:27:01 David Ames: My name is David and I am trying to be the Graceful Atheist. Join me and be graceful human beings. This has been the graceful atheist podcast.

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