David: That’s Questionable

Agnosticism, Critique of Apologetics, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Podcast, Podcasters
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My guest this week is David. David is the son and grandson of pastors. He does has have good memories of growing up in the church and he credits his parents with restraint. As an adult, he became more fundamentalist. He was a Southern Baptist and went through a very strong Calvinist phase.

It seems like that if an all knowing god was to inspire the writing of the most important book ever in the history of mankind it would have been something that would have been preserved to where we could look at the originals and it would have been something that was consistent. And I don’t see that.

David taught apologetics classes. He delved into apologetics to qualm his own questions. But teaching apologetics on topics like the Trinity led to more doubt not less. It was a re-read through the Bible where he began to recognize the god of the Bible is not a loving one. The full implications of Reformed theology began to have horrifying implications.

We you are deconverting like I did, I was weeping before the lord asking him to give that belief back to me
and
he didn’t.

Ultimately, David deconverted and now calls himself agnostic. Today David is the co-host of the That’s Questionable podcast.

It’s amazing how much more peace I feel on this side of the decision than on the other side.

Links

Website
http://thatsquestionable.net/

Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/thatsquestionablepodcast/

Twitter
https://twitter.com/thatsquestiona1

Interact

Nominate and Vote for the Graceful Atheist Podcast on the Podcast Awards
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Deconversion
https://gracefulatheist.com/2017/12/03/deconversion-how-to/

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

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Thomas: Deconversion Anonymous

Atheism, Critique of Apologetics, Deconversion, Podcast, Religious Trauma, Secular Grace, secular grief
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

My guest this week is Thomas. Thomas is a Missionary Kid. He was very close to his mother who passed away in her 40s when he was in middle school.

There were all these other people there [his mom’s funeral] talking about her being in a better place, but I knew she was just gone.

There is nothing else.

Thomas went through real depression for years after losing his mother and losing his faith. We discuss the hardships of grieving a loved one without comforting beliefs. He went through bouts of self-medication including being immersed in the massively multi-player online game, World of Warcraft.

It all just seems like symbols for human metaphors and common experience.

Thomas went on to become a professional scientist. The meditative nature of running was helpful. He also discovered actual meditation gave him peace. A rich and varied diet of podcasts also helped him along the way. He says he now experiences real joy that was only promised to him as a Christian.

Thomas’ Recommendations

Akira the Don, created a genre of music called Meaningwave, lofi hip-hop with themed lecture content made musical. On Spotify and YouTube, with some songs having full visuals.


Interact

Nominate and Vote for the Graceful Atheist Podcast on the Podcast Awards
https://www.podcastawards.com/app/nominations

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

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

Support the podcast
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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Travis: Measure of Faith

Agnosticism, Bloggers, Critique of Apologetics, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Humanism, Podcast, Secular Grace, secular grief
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
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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.

Links

https://measureoffaith.blog/

Interact

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

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

Support the podcast
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“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

David Ames: Graceful Atheist interviewed by Sam and Daniel

Atheism, Critique of Apologetics, Deconversion, Humanism, Naturalism, Podcast, Podcasters, Secular Community, Secular Grace, secular grief
It me.
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
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This week I am being interviewed by Sam and Daniel from the When Belief Dies podcast. The focus is on what I have changed my mind about since beginning work in the secular community. We discuss the following topics:

This episode is a sister episode to Daniel and me interviewing Sam on When Belief Dies. Both episodes are dropping at the same time. You can see me in the YouTube version interviewing Sam.

Music

If you are interested in producing music for the Graceful Atheist Podcast, the sound I am looking for has a strong baseline and beat with gospel church organ, potentially with R&B or Gospel vocal samples. Here is a playlist to inspire you to Gospel R&B Beats. Get in touch.

Corrections

There were several places in the episode where I forgot names. I’ll mention them here.

It is Tim Sledge who talks about “exceptions to the rule of faith” in his book, Goodbye Jesus.

It is Carolyn Golden, Psy.D. who discusses attribution and schema on the Life After God podcast
Episode: How and Why We Believe
https://lifeaftergod.org/059-how-and-why-we-believe-part-1/

Brian Peck is quoted multiple times. Here is my interview with Brian:
https://gracefulatheist.com/2019/11/14/brian-peck-room-to-thrive/

Links

When Belief Dies
https://whenbeliefdies.com/
https://linktr.ee/whenbeliefdies

Interact

My Deconversion Story

Telling my deconversion story on Voices of Deconversion
http://voicesofdeconversion.com/home/2017/11/22/027-david-ames-part-1-jesus-tells-his-mother-to-stop-drinking-her-dramatic-conversion-impacts-david-grace-was-foundational-as-a-christian-became-a-youth-minister-hes-now-the-graceful–wmm4s

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

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

Support the podcast
Via Anchor.fm and Stripe
Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

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Attribution

Photo graphic design by Logan Thomas, Beyond Belief

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Ian Redfearn: Meaning Making

Atheism, Critique of Apologetics, Deconversion, Humanism, LGBTQ+, Podcast, Secular Community, Secular Grace, secular grief
Ian Refearn
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
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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

He is now attending the Manchester Sunday Assembly and becoming an active member of the Secular community.

All you can take with you is that which you’ve given away.

Links

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/ian.redfearn1/

Sunday Assembly Manchester
https://www.facebook.com/sunassemblymcr
Zoom 11am (GMT) Sunday mornings  https://zoom.us/j/2472709402

What is your favorite #DeconversionSong?

Music is important to Ian and it influenced his deconversion and how he talks and feels about it now.

Use the hashtag #DeconversionSong to tell us your favorite deconversion song

Here are some of Ian’s favorites:

My favorite is A Great Big World’s Say Something

Interact

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

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

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Brian Blais: Bayes vs Apologetics

Atheism, Authors, Critique of Apologetics, Philosophy, Podcast, Thought Experiments
Brian Blais
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
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My guest this week is Brian Blais, professor at Bryant University and IBNS, Brown University. He is the author of A Measure of Faith – Probability in Religious Thought and Statistical Inference For Everyone. Brian is an expert in Bayes’ Theorem and how it applies to philosophy, theology and apologetics.

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.

Links

Brian’s website
https://bblais.github.io/

Twitter
https://twitter.com/bblais

Statistical Inference For Everyone (Free Version)
https://bblais.github.io/posts/2019/Jan/14/stats-for-everyone/
Amazon Version
https://amzn.to/2O2onzQ

A Measure of Faith: Probability in Religious Thought
https://amzn.to/37QzEKt

Bayes’ Theorem
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayes%27_theorem

The Monty Hall Problem
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monty_Hall_problem

Very Bad Wizards episode with Agnes Callard
https://www.verybadwizards.com/203

David Deutsch

Interact

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

Critique of Apologetics
https://gracefulatheist.com/critique-of-apologetics/

Apologetics Epistemology and Moving On
https://gracefulatheist.com/2017/10/02/apologetics-epistemology-and-moving-on/

Previous episodes referred to in this episode
https://gracefulatheist.com/2020/10/04/randal-rauser-conversation-with-my-inner-atheist/
https://gracefulatheist.com/2020/11/01/ian-mills-new-testament-review/
https://gracefulatheist.com/2020/11/15/barrett-evans-the-contemplative-skeptic/

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Attribution

John Monson and the Brothers Galaxy: Dawg Biscuits on the Moon

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

CG: African Polymath

Adverse Religious Experiences, Agnosticism, Atheism, Autonomy, Critique of Apologetics, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, Humanism, Podcast, Purity Culture, Race, Religious Trauma
CG sculpture
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Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

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.

Links

African Polymath Blog
https://africanpolymath.wordpress.com/

Twitter
https://twitter.com/AfricanPolymath

Reading list and resources
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/193EJcKRNIxAftLb6daW9f_blMaJ2QwrQ?usp=sharing

Email
AfricanPolymath@gmail.com 

Interact

Deconversion
https://gracefulatheist.com/deconversion/

Secular Grace
https://gracefulatheist.com/secular-grace/

Graceful Atheist Podcast
https://gracefulatheist.com/podcast/

Send in a voice message

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Jon Steingard: The Wonder and The Mystery of Being

Critique of Apologetics, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Humanism, Podcast, Podcasters, Secular Grace, YouTubers
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
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I really did believe and I had questions,
but I was afraid to even ask them alone by myself.
I was afraid to present them to myself.

My guest this week is Jon Steingard, the lead singer and guitarist for Hawk Nelson. In late spring of 2020, Jon posted a gut-wrenching confession on Instagram that he no longer believed in God. He is one of the more prominent recent high profile deconverts. Jon risked more than most by publicly acknowledging his lack of faith as his career was tied to the Christian music world. This confession and the public discussion of his loss of faith has and will continue to have reverberations throughout the Christian community for some time.

I was ensconced in this culture and my career was a part of that
and questioning it would have meant undermining my career
and so for a long time I just didn’t.

Jon has made himself widely available to honestly and vulnerably tell his story both to the Christian community and to the atheist humanist communities. It is Jon’s honest seeking after truth and his willingness to respectfully engage apologists and other prominent Christians that are having such a large impact. He has become a safe person for others in the Christian world to discuss their doubts.

So often I would say, “You know I am really wondering about this,” and you would just see this look of relief go over their face
and they would be like, “oh, thank you for saying that, I’ve wondered that too.”

I noticed there [were] a lot of people in Christian culture that were my age that had grown up in the church that were beginning to ask the same questions that I was and also similarly intimidated by what it would mean to say [this] out loud.
And so I just found myself being like, “well, I’ll go first!”

In my conversation with Jon, he describes a major turning point in his life when he saw poverty, starvation and abandonment of the Batwa children and community in Uganda. This began a quite reasonable time of questioning: if God is all-powerful, all-knowing and good, why are the Batwa suffering?

{Witnessing poverty starvation and abandoned children in Uganda} And that kind of thing wrecked me

The things that I am seeing here, do not dovetail with the idea of an all powerful and all loving god.
Because when I read scripture, when I listen to what I hear in Christian culture,
I hear about a god who intervenes,
I hear about a god who answers prayer, certainly not always but definitely sometimes.

And so I grew up hearing [answered prayers for parking spots], and then I go to Uganda and I see this [poverty …]
And I go like, “God, maybe answer a few less parking spot prayers and a few more prayers for these children who are literally dying
and suffering unimaginably.

I came back from that trip and I was just like, “There is no way that I can believe in god the way that I used to.”

In January of 2021, Jon started a podcast and YouTube channel called The Wonder and Mystery of Being.

Links

Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/jonsteingard/

The Wonder and The Mystery of Being podcast and YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUjFcPl10_QMxoevHL4jLXg

Jon’s deconstruction story

Twitter
https://twitter.com/jonsteingard

The documentary Jon produced while still a Christian

Interact

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

Jennifer Michael Hecht’s Doubt: A History
https://gracefulatheist.wordpress.com/2019/05/16/jennifer-michael-hecht-doubt-a-history/

Clergy Project
https://clergyproject.org/

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

I Was Mistaken

Critique of Apologetics, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Secular Grace
Photo by Khoa Vu00f5 on Pexels.com

I was mistaken.

That is it really. After the books have been read, after the arguments have been considered, and after the process of deconversion has run its course. This is my conclusion regarding my former faith. Rather than arguing over philosophy, history, meta-physics and ethics, I just need to tell you one thing:

I was mistaken.

I believed the Bible was Truth with a capital T.
I believed miracles happened.
I believed that Jesus was the Way the Truth and the Life and the only way to the Father.
I believed the Crucifixion and the Resurrection atoned for my sins and gave me Living Water.
I believed that God … was.

I was mistaken.

Years after deconversion and after much study I now have words to describe what was going on in my head when I believed: attribution, community knowledge, confirmation bias, cognitive dissonance. But really, it is much simpler and clearer to say:

I was mistaken.

The honesty, the humility, the relief, and the release I feel when I say the words:

I was mistaken.

Deconversion is the ultimate repentance.

I was mistaken.

Is it possible that others have been mistaken too? I suspect I am not alone.

I was mistaken and so can you.

Barrett Evans: The Contemplative Skeptic

Atheism, Authors, Book Review, Critique of Apologetics, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Humanism, Naturalism, Philosophy, Podcast, Secular Grace, Spirituality
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It is proper to 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.

Links

Barrett’s website
https://www.americannone.com/

Honest Doubt
https://www.americannone.com/post/doubt-and-the-good-life

Twitter
https://twitter.com/ContemplativeS4

Books

Interact

Secular Humanist Graces
https://gracefulatheist.wordpress.com/secular-grace/

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

Critique of Apologetics
https://gracefulatheist.wordpress.com/critique-of-apologetics/

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats