Reality Knows the Truth: The Art and Artifice of Being Human About Rational Spirituality–a way of looking at the world with a balance between ancient wisdom and modern reason. https://michael.ck.page/d36a3d2338
My guest this week is Carly. Carly shares her story with a great deal of vulnerability and emotion. Carly was a Christian Scientist. While studying philosophy and the Bible Carly was introduced to Christian Science. She was impressed with its logical arguments and internal consistency. Carly was more evangelistic than the church she attended. She wanted to use the Christian Science reading room during SXSW as an outreach. She was shot down. When she pointed out that prohibited alcohol would be consumed by renting the space out she was shot down again.
My deconversion was very slow. As Christian Scientists, we’re taught to heal the way Jesus did, through prayer. Eventually, I realized I was deeply unhappy and prayer wasn’t working. So I sought other methods to find happiness: diet, therapy, exercise, even Ayahuasca. When I finally let go of the expectation to be a good Christian, I felt a relief and a happiness that people noticed and commented on.
The juxtaposition of what Christian Science promised and the reality of life led her to doubt. Carly eventually found what she was looking for in more secular matters like work, exercise and therapy.
My guest this week is G.A.P. editor, Mike T. Mike grew up in the South and went to a Catholic church. Everyone in the South went to one church or another and this was just in the background for Mike. After a charismatic Evangelical friend encouraged him he began to explore charismatic churches. The big draw was the opportunity to play music, his life-long passion.
Later in life, married with kids, he had normal financial stresses in his life. When he compared the reality of both his life and the life of those around him to the promises of his more material success oriented faith tradition he could not help but question. When a financial advisor suggested he hold off on his charitable giving, the mandated tithe, he expected consequences. Those consequences never occurred. Things were not adding up.
[after stopping tithing] And that was another thing, everything I had been told didn’t happen. So I just started wondering, well, what else am I missing out on?
His first mistake was doing research on evangelists that would come to town. These fantastical claims must have generated news stories somewhere, right? His second mistake was re-reading the bible (and Bart Ehrman). Eventually, he discovered science and new way of determining what is true. His faith fell apart.
I prayed and I prayed and I never heard anything. I wasn’t trying to get out of it all together. I was trying to hold this thing together. I didn’t want it to go this way. I didn’t wake up one day and say I am not going to do this Christian stuff no more.
Mike is the editor of the Graceful Atheist Podcast. Beyond editing, Mike wants to start a local community for those who are going through doubt, deconstruction and deconversion. Music continues to be the great passion of his life.
My guest this week is Ian Redfearn. Ian deconverted over 12 years ago. Since then he has continued to obsess over his deconversion. He is still asking the why? and how? questions. Ian is concerned with the deep questions of life and continuing to find ways to make meaning.
When people ask the question, “why did you leave it?” I say it came down to credibility and integrity. Credibility, I no longer found it credible to talk about a loving interventionist god against the reality of what was going on in my life and in the life of those around me and in the world. And integrity, in that, I just couldn’t keep on pretending.
Ian has experienced the full force of the chaotic world we live in. His 24-year-old son has Cystic Fibrosis which is particularly frightening during an airborne pandemic. His father is experiencing Alzheimer’s Disease. All of this is happening during the time of Covid 19.
In spite of the difficulties of life, Ian has a joy and a sense of purpose. He is a committed father, husband, son and community member. He takes time to wonder at the beauty in the world. He recognizes that relationships are what give us our most valued meaning in life.
So there is much to wonder … are we allowed to use the word transcendent? Just that which completely expands your mind. So there is meaning in that.
But above all else I think there is meaning in relationship and for anyone going through this that will not change you will find the relationships that matter.
Also don’t stop giving … you will find meaning in reaching out and helping those less fortunate than yourself. That will serve to give your life meaning
My guest this week is Leah Helbling. Leah is the host of the Women Beyond Faith podcast and an incredibly important voice in the secular community. Leah has a long history of secular community building. Post-deconversion she started a chapter of Women Beyond Belief. She now is a team leader of Bart Campolo‘s Cincinnati Caravan. “Leah is often referred to as ‘The Great Connector‘”
Finding Freedom on the Other Side. One Story at a Time.
Leah and I discuss the gift of being present when someone tells their deconversion story. Leah shares her deconversion story which includes overcoming the purity culture and complementarianism of Evangelicalism. It also includes the unwelcoming atmosphere in the secular community for women and what she is doing about it. We talk about podcasting and what motivates us to do the work. Finally, we talk about building secular community.
I am a Scientist, Skeptic, and Professor at Bryant University and the IBNS, Brown University. My goal is to make technical subject matters widely accessible and to use my analytical and computational skills to assist anyone with their science-related problems.
In this episode, I take the restraints off myself and express the reasons why I think apologetics is faulty. Brian is the perfect guest for this. We bounce ideas off one another to articulate good epistemology. We discuss how mathematics and Bayes can be abused by injecting unstated information which changes the probabilities and ultimately the conclusions one comes to.
We also discuss how beliefs have consequences. The current rash of conspiracy theories have had real-world effects. Brian explains how decision theory can be used to make difficult choices.
CG grew up in strict religious home in Nigeria, where everything was banned except Christian media. His family was heavily influenced by the Pentecostal Word-Of-Faith/Prosperity movement. CG attended a tyrannical, authoritarian, and punitive college in Nigeria.
CG, later on, moved to London, UK. In London, he saw that the world was bigger than the Christian bubble that he had been raised in his whole life. He attended a popular charismatic church where he met people from different cultures, beliefs, and denominations. However, some of his friends challenged his Word-Of-Faith/Prosperity beliefs. He started theological beliefs started changing as a result.
CG, subsequently, moved to the USA to get a graduate degree at a Christian college. He lived in the American south where, as an immigrant, he felt isolated and disconnected from the Christian culture around him. This drove him to a personal intellectual journey, where he spent hours reading books, listening to podcasts, and watching videos.
After graduating with his master’s degree, CG came to the point where he could not ignore the damage that Christianity was inflicting on his mental health and personal development. He realised that he had to choose between completely losing his sanity & freedom by remaining a slave to religion or abandoning his beliefs and accepting his freedom/autonomy. A few days later, he became an Agnostic, and, subsequently, an Atheist.
CG has been on the path of freedom, healing, and recovery ever since. He is deconstructing sexual shame, self-hatred, misogyny, white supremacy, colonization, and western imperialism (and other forms of injustice). He also seeks to heal the havoc that religion has inflicted in Nigeria (and other African countries) through evangelism, cultural imperialism, and colonization. Religion, significantly, contributes to the apathy and passivity of Nigerians, which prevents them from fighting for their freedom and justice.
CG is very passionate about humanism. He believes humanism is what our generation needs to help make the world (especially Africa) a better place. He is an existential humanist, a cosmopolitan humanist, and a planetary humanist. He believes that humanists need to have freedom (autonomy), humility, compassion, hope, love for learning, curiosity, and open-mindedness.
My guest this week is Logan Thomas who blogs at Beyond Belief. Logan interned at St. Andrews, a famous church in the UK. He went on to Bible college and eventually perused a Master’s degree in theology where he studied biblical studies, biblical languages, history and textual criticism where he began to question.
After all that I had been through, what I had studied, what I had learned about myself, about people, and the world around me, I could no longer hold on to the faith and the God who had been my constant companion through it all. It just didn’t fit.
From the Beyond Belief Blog
After discovering his sexuality, Logan came out during his internship at St. Andrews. He discusses coming out twice. He started with a more progressive view on homosexuality. But between the Church’s stances and the biblical texts, he realized these things could not be reconciled. We discuss the differences between UK and US churches handling of the LGBTQ community.
Logan cares about truth. As he was deconstructing what he believed about the bible based on what he was being taught at Bible college he came to a point where he could no longer believe. Logan tells his story with a great deal of honesty and self reflection on his former faith.
It was not simply because I had lost trust in the historical reliability of the Bible; it was not only on account of the unpleasant character of the god found within; it was not just because I could not reconcile my feelings for people of the same sex with a god who condemned this without reason; it was not simply due to the increasing incoherence of the Christian worldview; and it was not only because of the vast chasm between theological expectations and my lived reality. However, when these were all viewed together…
From the Beyond Belief Blog
Now Logan has a social media presence where he blogs and creates videos asking questions about faith and doubt.
My guest this week is Barrett Evans, author of The Contemplative Skeptic. Barrett wrote the book for those who are skeptical but drawn to spirituality. A former evangelical seminarian and ex-Roman Catholic, Barrett is an agnostic who has retained a fascination with contemplative spirituality. Building on what he learned in his divinity, counseling, and historical studies, he draws on hundreds of religious and secular sources in an effort to combine honest doubt with the best of contemplative experience.
Perhaps ironically, dogmatic religions claims now seem to me to critically undercut two of the most valuable spiritual ideals for fallible people – humility in the face of complexity and honesty in the light of human limitations.
We discuss how honesty and humility lead to doubt. Barrett’s look at comparative religion reveals the reasons for doubt and the wisdom of a contemplative life. We ask what does it mean to be “spiritual.”
And as history of religions and other psychological phenomenon show, delusions can be passed from one person to another with some rapidity, especially if they are in close relationships and it is a time of stress or excitement.
The tremendous range of religious diversity is one of the greatest reasons for skepticism towards any particular religious belief.
My guest this week is Jimmy. As early as the beginning of 2020 Jimmy was still in the closet trying to determine how he would come out as an atheist and humanist. By mid February he had told his family and was bracing for his church to find out. Jimmy was a serious and dedicated Christian drawn to Calvinism by family and the intellectual rigor.
It wasn’t that I was running away from it. But I think at that point I had internalized that I wasn’t a believer … I realized I was going to have to come out at some point. I couldn’t maintain a charade.
As the years went by and his attempts at self-betterment were not realized he began to be drawn by the pragmatism of Stoicism. He eventually realized that counseling would be beneficial, though this had so far been off the table. Through these active measures he began to see some success at self-betterment.
[Stoicism has] this very pragmatic approach to making yourself a better human … [Stoicism] hit me at a time when I needed something.
Jimmy’s chief concern was not damaging the relationships with his believing friends and family. He was very careful to show them he loved them and had no contempt for their faith.
It is one of these things where I think, this has got to be a band-aide I am ripping off and not a cancer I am injecting into my family. And I am going to do my darnedest to make sure that this works and that they know I love them.
I love these people How can I not harm them? Or how can I minimize the harm?
Jimmy is eminently quotable so here are more quotes from the episode
I had a long list of potentially scary things that could happen … I wanted to see it in writing to remind myself why I am trying to be careful and it is because of people I love. The best people I know are die hard Christians. The would die for their faith. Like I would have 10 years ago.
So I don’t want to harm these people and I don’t to make them think that I think they are idiots … I don’t want to conjure up of images of Christopher Hitchens sneering at them whenever they look at me.
The whole feeling alone thing. That is just hard. All the people you really care about you can’t tell
Jimmy’s book recommendations
A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, by William B Irvine
Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary, by Kenneth W Daniels.