Nathan and Todd: Beyond Atheism

Atheism, Deconversion, Humanism, Podcast, Podcasters, Secular Community, skepticism
Beyond Atheism
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guests are podcasters, Nathan Alexander and Todd Tavares of Beyond Atheism

Nathan grew up Anglican and in his early twenties, he realized there were no good reasons to continue believing. Todd grew up Catholic—technically still confirmed—but even at ten years old, he was a skeptic, wanting to explore reality rather than make-believe. 

In this interview, Nathan and Todd discuss racism, humanism, community-building and what it means to live thoughtfully in a godless world. It’s a sharp conversion you don’t want to miss!

Links

Beyond Atheism
https://www.nathangalexander.com/podcast

Nathan Alexander
https://www.nathangalexander.com/
https://twitter.com/NathGAlexander

Race in a Godless World: Atheism, Race, and Civilization, 1850-1914
https://www.nathangalexander.com/book-race-in-a-godless-world
https://amzn.to/3hGdEtO

#AmazonPaidLinks

Quotes

“The thing the nuns will teach you in Sunday school: God answers every prayer, but the answer is usually, ‘no.’…If there’s always not an answer, then there’s no one answering.” —Todd

“I kinda wanted there to be a god. I wanted it to be true because it’s a comfort that there’s some ultimate plan for you. You don’t have to worry because things are going to work out for you.” —Nathan

“Once I took that leap into atheism? You realize it’s not really a leap at all.” —Nathan

“Instead of sitting around, talking about technology and trans-humanism and how silly religions are, let’s address what we need as the people that we are.” —Todd

“If you look at the base numbers alone, the largest religious group who vote Democrat are Nones—atheists, people with no religion. It’s huge, solidly so.” —Todd

“The road to becoming an atheist is so lonely. Everybody does it alone. It’s an individual experience.” —Todd

“In the long term, maybe, having these groups where people are forced to create them, build them and dissolve them is the way it should be. That sort of creative process might be the healthiest thing for atheists…compared to those institutions that just stick around forever and outlive their usefulness.” —Todd

“Right now atheists are disproportionately white, but…when you look at the younger generations, it’s the case that atheists as a group are becoming more diverse…” —Nathan

Interact

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

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

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

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

Heather Wells: Trustworthy

Authors, Autonomy, Captive Organization, Deconversion, ExVangelical, LGBTQ+, Podcast, Purity Culture, Religious Abuse
Trustworthy: A Journey from American Christianity to Freedom
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Heather Wells, author of Trustworthy: A Journey from American Christianity to Freedom. Heather grew up in a happy Christian home, attending a variety of churches—from “Women cannot wear pants,” to “There are drums!”

She married at eighteen and expected to have a similarly happy marriage as her parents, but no matter how hard she worked—both literally and metaphorically—that was not going to happen. Heather felt like a spectator, watching the men around her plan her life.

It took years of a one-sided marriage, churches refusing to help and zero answered prayers for Heather to realize she had to be her own savior. Once she had a well-paying job and more education, she no longer needed others to rescue her or her family.

Heather now enjoys a life that is her own and no one else’s. She is the trustworthy one. She can look to herself—her own intuition, her own knowledge and education—for what is best for her. That is a sweet gift that no one can take from her.

Contact

trustworthy.wells@gmail.com

#AmazonPaidLinks

Quotes

I have the freedom and confidence to call myself, Trustworthy.

“…the men were deciding my fate. I was just a bystander.”

…I tried to trust God, and I prayed a lot.

It’s a little easier for women to be financially trapped, especially coming from the Christian background where training in other skills is not always encouraged for women. So what else are they going to do?

…I started to think, Is this a cult that I’m in? because if we can’t consult with anybody else or counsel with anybody else and they don’t want me to visit certain people…”

…the scales fell off of my eyes and I began to see things for what they were…I had been praying for so long and there had never been an answer.

If God has this plan for my life, and I’m just ‘with the wrong people,’ why should that get in the way of an all-powerful god. That doesn’t really make sense.

Once I had financial security, that’s when I could drop all of the weight: I’ll be okay…Now, I can support myself and my children.

The further I stepped away from region, my world got bigger and bigger and bigger.

…Christianity often teaches you not to trust yourself.

Even if it feels as though everything has been stripped away from me, and it looks like there’s nothing left, I can be something…I’m going to be something amazing and beautiful and imaginative. I just need to give myself the chance…

Interact

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

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

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

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

Joe Simonetta: Seven Words

Atheism, Authors, Deconversion, Dones, Humanism, Podcast
Joe Simonetta
Listen on Apple Podcasts

Humanist author and speaker, Joe Simonetta, grew up in a Catholic home with good values. He and his brothers “did well,” and he is thankful for the foundation his parents gave him. As a young man, affected by all the suffering in the world, he vowed to be part of the solution. He has lived a fascinating life, holding degrees from multiple universities, traveling extensively and enjoying all kinds of professions. His full bio is available here

Joe is hopeful about the future and has three basic rules that he believes can change the future for humanity: Be healthy. Be kind. Respect the environment. 

Links

Website and books
https://joesimonetta.com/

Quotes

“What triggered me was ‘suffering.’ When I observed the suffering in the world, it really disturbed me.”

“All the while I had this in the back of my mind; this concern about the state of humanity…”

“I said to myself, Do I really have to read all these books? [Metaphysics and religion] could not be this complicated.

“As I studied all the world religions, it just hit me: There’s nothing here…This is old stuff…the products of our infancy of our intelligence.”

“Everything is connected to everything else. We exist, not separately, but in communion with all other living things…Everything’s in relationship. That’s the nature of the universe.”

“What level of thinking are we at? What level of thinking do we need to get to? And how do we get there?”

“These primitive instincts and emotions which are a biological reality and these antiquated and divisive and dysfunctional supernatural religious beliefs…are a lethal combination of behaviors…and they must be overcome.”

“Religion is clearly an obstacle to human progress.”

“The current great extinction is caused by…us! It’s caused by humanity.”

“Be healthy. Be kind. Respect the environment.”

Books

#AmazonPaidLinks

Interact

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

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

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

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

Keke: Deconversion of a PK

Atheism, Autonomy, Deconversion, ExVangelical, Humanism, Podcast, Purity Culture, Race
click to play episode on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Keke. Keke’s family was in church, “running the show,” anytime the doors were open. Life at home was difficult for Keke, however, so the church provided a safe haven. But over time, domestic violence, mental health problems and other family secrets were too great a burden for her to carry.

After high school, Keke joined the military, got married and even led her husband to Jesus. Then in 2017, as she was reading a most peculiar bible story to her daughter, she started on a deconstruction journey she never saw coming.  

Keke now is learning everything she can about ancient mythologies, African American history and many other cultures. She’s raising her children to be open to the world and its vast ways of living. She knows that human connection is truly what we need—whether with our ancestors through stories or with those around us today. 

Recommendations

Contradiction: A Question of Faith on Prime Video
https://www.amazon.com/Contradiction-Question-Faith-Jeremiah-Camara/dp/B0716M7TFB/

Quotes

“My dad was always beloved…but when [we] got home, I felt like my dad didn’t have that love for me.”

“Reading my daughter a Bible story…I remember, I paused and thought, What am I reading??” 

“Before going to church [one day], I prayed, God, if you’re real, please give me a sign.

“I feel free! I feel like…there’s no one up there judging you, watching you, waiting for you to fail.”

“Black people hate everything about slavery except Christianity.”

“[Christianity] was not our religion.”

“You see the preachers: They’re livin’ it up.”

“Yeah, there are some great passages [in the Bible,] but there are still communities that are suffering.”

“I love the idea of being a humanist, you just love people, and people come first.”

“We all need to be accepted and loved and no one should tell you who you should love.”

“I feel free.
There is no one up there judging you and watching you or waiting for you to fail.
It is empowering to me.”

Interact

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

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

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

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

Daniel: Office of the Skeptic

Atheism, Critique of Apologetics, Deconversion, Humanism, Podcast, Secular Grace, skepticism
Click to play episode on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Daniel. Daniel is a social scientist with a master’s degree in psychology. He grew up in the United Church of Canada, but church wasn’t a huge part of his life until high school. He then went to bible college and worked in ministry. He tried to experience God like others were, but it just wouldn’t happen.

He took on the “Office of Skeptic,” for himself. He hoped it would help both his faith and the church. He could articulate questions and doubts that others couldn’t. Were these miraculous stories true? Was God really even there? If so, what the hell was he doing?

Unfortunately, this only kept him in the church longer than he needed. By 2020, he’d been an agnostic theist for years and was finally seeing the harm done in North America by White Christianity.

Now Daniel writes and speaks, sharing his knowledge with those struggling with addictions and other mental health needs. He no longer looks to the supernatural for miracles but knows how much human connection is the true healer.

Links

Study: Religious Identity and Morality: Evidence for Religious Residue and Decay in Moral Foundations
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0146167220970814

Quotes

“I was now immersed in a group where experiencing the presence of God—like spiritual experiences during worship services—was very common, and I could never manage to actually feel those things.”

“[I had a]…brief but memorable career as a Christian Ghostbuster…”

“He took me under his wing and informed me that why I couldn’t feel God’s presence was because it was all blocked by demons. Obviously.”

“Why do you believe that? What evidence do you have for this? Can your observations or experiences be explained by more mundane means or is the spiritual explanation the best or only explanation?”

“To have someone convince [another person that they don’t need their] anti-psychotics because of [their] faith is something that hadn’t even occurred to me before…it was deeply alarming and stuck with me for years afterward.”

‘[In seminary,] many professors would make logically sound arguments but they’d be based on assumptions or premises that were unfounded…”

“For many of the Christian intellectuals I was trying to learn from…critical thinking was a valued skillset up to a point. When we approach the underlying tenants of the faith, we’re suppose to stop…they’re simply too sacred to be questioned.”

“I was trying to find a reason to stay.”

“It’s the human connection that we make between us that’s really changing our lives.”

“I was encouraged by my new [secular] professors to be absolutely ruthless in my pursuit of knowledge, truth and understanding.”

“Me staying in this religion…despite the fact that I was basically agnostic. It’s lending validation to all those Christians who are actively working to make the world a worse place…”

“If we don’t have practices in place—like scientific thinking, like the scientific method…we’re always going to be taken in by things that we’d rather believe or that are easier to believe.” 

“Apologetics: Philosophy, but done badly.”

“I don’t shy away from uncomfortable questions or even more uncomfortable answers. That has been such a valuable change in my life and has led me to some incredibly valuable and beneficial relationships…even some from bible college.”

“I’ve come to the conclusion that the best are going to be ahead.”

Recommendations

#AmazonPaidLinks

Interact

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

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

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

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

Thom Krystofiak: Tempted to Believe

Agnosticism, Atheism, Authors, Book Review, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Naturalism, Philosophy, skepticism, Spirituality
#AmazonPaidLinks
Listen on Apple Podcasts

Stay skeptical? This week’s guest is Thom Krystofiak, the author of Tempted to Believe: The Seductive Power of Claims About “The Truth.”

Thom grew up Catholic but as an adult began practicing Transcendental Meditation. He followed gurus and groups for decades but was never quite convinced of the more spectacular claims of TM. 

Thom shares about his experiences in the TM movement and what pushed him out. He also discusses important questions people, regardless of their belief or skepticism, could ask themselves: What do I mean by truth? How do I find the truth? And how much does truth really matter? 

Quotes

I am, by nature, a skeptical man. My skepticism shows no signs of
mellowing, but grows sharper and deeper with time. And yet I have spent my life surrounded by believers.

[Is it] better to be fooled many times than to be a skeptical man[?]

Am I missing something?

“Why is that I’m not susceptible to any of the beliefs the people around me hold…”

“[Flying] wasn’t happening yet for us as individuals, but maybe if we put three thousand people together in one place…maybe that’ll be something!” 

“…the rise of fake news and alternative facts and the more bizarre conspiracy theories…all of these things are based on beliefs and they’re based on beliefs that do not have evidence…’”

“Some of our greatest societal challenges…resonate with these same principles: How much does the truth matter, what do you mean by the truth and how do you find the truth?”

“It’s not just a matter of, ‘Do you accept evidence at all as a valid way of finding out what’s true?’…it becomes a much more difficult task of sifting through competing versions of evidence.”

“Some people have given—either themselves or others—the license to make things up…”

Links

Thom’s personal site
https://krystofiak.com/

#AmazonPaidLinks

Interact

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

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

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

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

Doug Traversa: Atheist Minister

Atheism, Authors, Deconversion, Dones, Humanism, Podcast, Secular Grace
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Doug. Doug became interested in church when he was in junior high, and when Doug is in, he’s all in. 

He was a believer throughout high school, college and into the military. But then books and magazines happened. Doug began reading more “skeptical literature,” and the questions began. 

Doug’s faith unraveled while he was “an atheist in a foxhole,” but faith in the supernatural was unnecessary. He needed his own strength, and the strength of the people around him.  

He has since been an atheist pastor, finding the human connection he and his wife needed, without changing their beliefs or forsaking their values. As Brene Brown says, “We are hardwired to connect with others,” and Christianity has no longer cornered the marked on community and belonging. 

Quotes

“When I was twelve, I decided to get serious about my eternal destiny”

“So I began asking harder questions at church, and I soon encountered a pattern I would see again and again as we visited different churches. Once my questions became too difficult (or too annoying), I was told I just had to have faith.”

“I left God behind, at least the version taught in the Bible. I would now be unapologetically atheistic.”

“I deployed for a year…and that was my ‘atheist in a foxhole’ moment. … we were convinced at least some of us were going to die, and I was thoroughly convinced in my mind at that point that this was my last full day on earth. … At no point did I pray, acknowledge God, feel slightly drawn to God…I was perfectly good with: There is no god, and I might die tomorrow. We’ll just see what happens.”

“People have often asked me why I left the faith, and I tell them, ‘It’s because I studied the Bible.’”

“It was my reading of skeptical magazines and literature that gave me the freedom to look at the Bible in a new light, but it was the actual Bible itself that condemned itself.”

“All I can say is I’ve been extremely happy not having to believe in God, not having to worry about saving other people.”

“Having left behind a church that demanded faith, I found a most unexpected church that reveres rational thought and welcomes atheists. Amazing. Having sworn to never set foot in a church again, I find that the universe loves to throw curveballs. To quote Douglas Adams, “In an infinite universe, anything is possible.””

“When you’re taking care of someone else, you’re not thinking about yourself.”

Links

Unitarian Universalist Church of Tullahoma
tullahomauu.org

Doug’s Short story “The Faith I Left Behind” is in the book, The Sandbox

#AmazonPaidLinks

Interact

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

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

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

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

Jack: Emily’s Story

Atheism, Deconversion, Podcast, Podcasters, Religious Trauma, Secular Grace, secular grief
Emily, Jack and Duncan

Content Warning: graphic wound details, surgical processes, PTSD, emotional trauma, religious trauma and dark humor.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Jack Robertson. Jack is a returning guest and an integral part of the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group. Earlier this year, Jack’s youngest daughter, Emily, was in an accident, suffering severe burns on her body.

Jack explains how his online community and IRL friends stepped in to support his family but also recounts the platitudes and clichés given by the Christians in their lives. 

Emily’s clearheadedness, dark sense of humor and incredible resilience has brought her a long way in the healing process—mentally, physically and emotionally. Jack and the rest of their family are also healing in their own ways, supporting one another and seeking professional help. 

We are Human. We are social beings whose needs are not met by “a guy in the sky.” Our needs are met through our relationships with one another, especially those who are closest to us. 

Quotes

“It is heart wrenching to see someone you love go through that much pain…[and] there’s not anything else that you can do, other than hold their hand.”

“Do NOT, while people are still in ICU or a burn unit…message them and say, ‘You know? God only gives you what you can handle.’” 

“If I have to be caught on fire, so you can look super to heal me, I want nothing to do with you.” —Emily

“You’re going to have to talk to a professional…You can get through it, no matter how difficult it seems in that moment…”

“You don’t need the clutching of a Bible or a rosary. You don’t need that. You and your family are what are going to get you through it. Not some guy in the sky…Talk to a professional.”

“I’m going to make the fire my Bitch.”—Emily

Links

Go Fund Me
https://gofund.me/bba4d01e

Jack’s Deconversion episode
https://gracefulatheist.com/2021/10/31/jack-robertson-deconversion-story/

Kenyetta and Jack Save the World
https://www.podchaser.com/podcasts/kenyetta-jack-save-the-world-4099553
Graceful Atheist on Kenetta and Jack Save the World
https://www.podchaser.com/podcasts/kenyetta-jack-save-the-world-4099553/episodes/the-abcs-of-grace-127398471

Musings of an ADD Mind
https://www.podchaser.com/podcasts/musings-of-an-add-mind-2160439

Interact

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

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

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

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

Matt: Deconversion of a Missionary

Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, Dones, ExVangelical, Missionary, Podcast, Secular Community
Click to play episode on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Matthew. Matthew grew up in the Pentacostal tradition and went from being a youth leader in high school to a full-time international missionary as an adult. He had all the right answers to all the important questions. 

The missionary life, however, didn’t turn out as he’d expected. He and his team did everything in their power to tell people about Jesus but nothing supernatural was happening. Year after year, “the hiddenness of God” became too much for Matthew. 

It hasn’t been easy for Matthew to arrive where he is now—living a freer life, not having to have all the answers, not having to wait for the supernatural to happen. He loves the people closest to him, enjoys his friends and acquaintances without judgment, and those small things are what can slowly change the world.

Tweet-worth Quotes

“For a long time, I was doing mental gymnastics to make things work…”

“I was asking everybody, ‘How do you know?!’ And all of the answers were so unsatisfying.” 

“I’m trying really hard [to communicate clearly with my kids] and I’m not able. But God, by definition, is able but doesn’t seem to be trying very hard.” 

Recommendations

YouTube

Religion for Breakfast
https://www.youtube.com/c/ReligionForBreakfast

Digital Hammurabi
https://www.youtube.com/c/DigitalHammurabi

Esoterica
https://www.youtube.com/c/ESOTERICAchannel

Paulogia
https://www.youtube.com/c/Paulogia

Organizations

The Clergy Project
https://clergyproject.org/

Books

Interact

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

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

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

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

Adria: Racism in the missionary field

Atheism, Autonomy, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Humanism, Podcast, Race
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s guest is Adria. Adria is a sociologist working in international development. Adria grew up in various multiethnic churches but each one seemed to worship whiteness more than Jesus. By the end of college, Adria was done. Years later, in atheist spaces, she would find racism to be just as prevalent. 

Her experience with the Christian missionaries showed her the inequity that must exist for missionary work to thrive. In the last decade she has since seen that Western nations continue missionary work; only as evangelists for “neoliberal economic systems” rather than the gospel.

Adria’s understanding of supremacy culture’s effects on humanity is invaluable to any community—church, atheist or global—working toward a more equitable world. She truly is a model of graceful atheism. 

We discuss international development, missionary work, economics, equity, racism, atheism, black non-believers and much more.

Recommendations

Organizations

Black Non-Believers
https://blacknonbelievers.org/

Books

Black Non-believing authors
https://the-orbit.net/blackskeptics/2012/09/11/books-by-black-atheists/

Tweet-Worthy Quotes

“The same reason that white women have less money than white men is the reason why black people have less money than white people. It is the system created for whiteness and white maleness.”

“We were really evangelists for this neoliberal economic system.”

“…my ascent into atheism.”

“It would mean seeing other countries, other entities, as equal, and that’s not the case right now.”

“…equity: Everyone does not get the same things because everybody does not have the same endowments.”

“I went to general atheist events…it was amusing but it definitely wasn’t welcoming.”

“That [evangelism] turned me off. Imagine how much what I do turns other people off.”

“The Church is just the world. It’s just people.”

Interact

Catch me on former guest, Robert People’s, Affinis Humanity, Instagram live Thursday August 4th at 5 PM EDT
https://www.instagram.com/affinishumanity/

Join the Deconversion Anonymous Facebook group!

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

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

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

Photo By James Barry – http://www.treaty2u.govt.nz/images/impact-main-1.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12666818