I’ve never felt “called” to be an “atheist evangelist”. I don’t feel the need to convert anyone to my viewpoint or use all the mocking memes out there to prove what a great apologist for atheism I can be.
I don’t see religion going away, so I think it’s much more productive to find ways of working with those faith communities who are open to it, and those seculars who are open to it, than complaining about them top score AAA points or RRR points.
My guest this week is Travis. Travis documented his deconstruction on the blog measureoffaith.blog. There Travis has documented his journey from a questioning but dedicated Christian to a doubting agnostic. He delves into the apologetics that were supposed to give him comfort but which ultimately led to loss of faith.
This is one of the more emotionally raw episodes. Travis opens up about his grief at the loss of his beloved father. His dad was an example of faith well lived and it had a profound impact on Travis. We discuss what secular grief is like after one no longer can be comforted by belief in life after death.
I have been feeling a little conflicted putting this information out there that can potentially help people lose faith because it was so important to someone like my dad. It makes me question whether I really want to be a participant for taking that away from someone.
These days Travis feels like he has said what he needed to say on the blog. His compassion and empathy is evident in that he is more concerned with caring for the people in his life than endlessly debating apologetics and counter-apologetics.
My returning guest this week is Alice Greczyn. Alice has written a new memoir called Wayward: Spiritual Warfare & Sexual Purity. In it, Alice tells the harrowing story of growing up in an Evangelical family that attempted to live by faith. They moved from place to place believing the “Lord would provide.” Alice describes it as being “homeless.”
Alice came of age under the oppressive sexual and purity mores of the “Kiss Dating Goodbye” era. She tells the story of being shamed while on a YWAM mission trip to India for being “flirty.”
And that’s I think the greatest mind f*** of Christianity as a whole: these awful feelings are called love. They’re done in the name of love. My wires of love and shame and fear and guilt and self hatred were so crossed and it took me years to even see that wiring.
As an adult in her 20s, in a desperate but final act of faith, Alice tests God. God fails. And Alice begins the difficult process of letting go of faith. This is a dark time of panic attacks, depression and self-harm.
When we’re told God is love, and love feels like this horrible, self-hating guilt complex, what is love, how can we recognize good love?
With the help of secular therapy and the discovery of the term, Religious Trauma Syndrome, Alice began her recovery process. She studied the science of faith, neurotheology, and began to understand herself and those around her who still believed. In this new freedom, she rebuilt her life reclaiming her autonomy and discovering what real love feels like.
And again it [understanding neurotheology] alleviated the pressure. God wasn’t ignoring me. There was nothing wrong with me. I wasn’t broken. I wasn’t this chronic sinner who was just born defective and unable to feel the love of God because I didn’t have enough faith. It’s simply to be a matter of science and that’s how most things are to me.
On top of being an author, Alice is an advocate for those questioning their faith. Her organization, Dare to Doubt, is a resource for those who are no longer satisfied with their faith tradition’s explanations and demands.
Yet this demographic [millennial “Nones”] is also resilient. We are as brave as the martyrs we were raised to be. We are battling the spiritual war we were trained to fight. We’re just not on the side of religion, and believe us—no one is more surprised by this than ourselves. We are condemned, prayed for, and loathed as much as we are feared. But persecution was once our fuel. Our skin is thick with the courage to fight for truth as we see it, and where we once saw through dogma-colored glasses, we now see through the lenses of relativity, reason, and the validity of our own experiences. It is easy to dismiss us as bitter. It is understandable to write off our deconversions as desperate attempts at individuation and rebellion. It is compassionate to ask us why we left, instead of praying for us to rejoin.
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 David Johnson, the co-host and creator of the Skeptics and Seekers podcast and blog. David is a former Church of Christ member and a pastor’s kid. He was baptized at 7, leading the church in song at 7, preaching at 12, the youth leader at 15 and assistant minister at 21.
Was I the real thing? Pathologically so.
His deconversion process began as he examined the Church of Christ’s doctrine against musical accompaniment in worship. He says “the little things, were the big things.” And if the little things were wrong, what else might be wrong?
You know, I think we might be wrong about that [instrumental accompaniment]. And that was hard for me. It was hard in a way that I am not going to be able to express. For me, if we were wrong about musical instruments, we were wrong about everything.
It was so hard for me to say, not out loud mind you, “I don’t believe there is a god.” And then to say it out loud … alone in the woods where no one can hear.
Today David uses an unabashed polemic approach to counter-apologetics to reveal the problems with Christianity and faith in general. You can find him on his Skeptics and Seekers podcast and on his appearances on Justin Brierley’s Unbelievable? podcast. You can read the book he co-authored in response to Justin Brierley: Still Unbelievable!
The damage I did on the other side [as a believer] keeps me up at night.
My guest this week is Sam, the blogger behind When Belief Dies. Sam is also starting an upcoming podcast of the same name. Which will include his friend Dave who remains a believer with questions. They will tackle the difficult questions about Christianity with mutual respect and curiosity.
Belief was my life.
Sam was a very dedicated to Christ and to his church. He was in the process of becoming an elder when depression and doubt led to deconversion. Sam tried to appease his doubt with apologetics to no avail.
Christianity is a hope giving mechanism … that doesn’t mean these things are actually true.
Now Sam uses his insights post-deconversion to help others who are doubting and in the process of deconverting.
My guest this week is Stephen Barry. Stephen was a Seventh Day Adventist who deconverted while attending college studying theology. When he was exposed to other ideas and other people even within his own faith tradition, this small amount of scrutiny led to deconversion.
I was waiting for that … something; fasting and praying, ask and you shall receive.
After losing the community of the black church, Stephen has found secular community. Though he notes we have a long way to go to be more inclusive of people of color in the secular community.
No voice is going to tell you the meaning of life, you need to go out there and make your own meaning.
Stephen is a musician and a music critic. He blogs about this love of music with great insight on Tublr. We discuss explicitly spiritual music and how we interpret it post-deconversion.
Now I am just more comfortable being who I authentically am.
My guest this week is Jessica Hagy. Jessica is the artistic and comedic genius behind the blog, Indexed. She has recently written a book titled, The Humanist Devotional. Jessica is an artist, an author, a comedian, a marketing and social media guru.
Get as humble as you can.
Jessica grew up secular and calls herself a humanist. It is not that she rejected the bible, but rather that there was so much more for her to learn. In the episode she uses the analogy of a library card as granting access to the world’s knowledge. Access that she took advantage of.
Small talk can get big fast.
We walk through her 10 steps on how to be an interesting person and re-imagine them as how to find meaning and purpose as a humanist.
My guest today is Captain Cassidy. Cassidy blogs at Roll To Disbelieve on patheos.com. Her focus is on deconversion, counter-apologetics and generally describing the mind-warping nature of religion. Cassidy has an array of metaphors and analogies in her writing that make a vivid picture of what it is like to believe and then not to.
Cassidy’s “Extimony”: She is a former Catholic, was briefly a baptist and then stayed a Pentecostal for a time. Until she realized the context of her faith mattered. While at a prayer group set in a normal university room “out of the context” of a church she realized it was all an act.
And as I look back at my past, I can see all these times when I [rolled to disbelieve] … I didn’t make the roll, I continued to believe.
She now describes herself as “a humanist, a skeptic, a freethinker and a passionate student of science, mythology and history.”
I am becoming more and more convinced that the only way for someone to remain, Christian, is to avoid caring what reality has to say about it.
My guest today is Alice Greczyn. Alice runs the Dare to Doubt website dedicated to millennials who are detaching from harmful belief systems.
Alice tells her story growing up with purity culture, Christian Courtship and Alice’s nearly arranged marriage. She describes being an atheist while surrounded by “LA spirituality”. She tells the story of cult-like acting classes.
As a Christian, she felt she had to fake spiritual experiences because others around her seemed to be having them but she never seemed to hear from god. Her honesty stopped her from claiming spiritual experiences she knew were not real. While watching the Jesus camp documentary, she asked herself, “how many of them are faking it?”
Alice recognized that other spiritual paths still required faith. She could not accept them because she could no longer lie to herself. She had grown to recognize when she was trying to lie to herself to “make things real.”
I became not so great at lying to myself, I recognized when I was trying to make something real.
Dare to Doubt walks the tricky line to be welcoming to atheist and those just beginning to dip a toe outside of the belief waters.
I built the site that I wanted and that I needed and that I wished I could have found when I was deconverting.
Alice is interested in studying why there are not more out women atheists and what causes non-believing women to hesitate to identify as atheists.
1% of women identify as atheist, I need to come out of the closet.
Alice recommends the Secular Therapy Project to find a therapist who will not push spirituality on you while you recover from your religious trauma.
I feel so much more love and so much more peace as an atheist than I ever felt as a Christian.