Chris Highland: Friendly Freethinker

Authors, Bloggers, Deconversion, Humanism, Naturalism, Podcast, Secular Grace, Unequally yoked
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My guest this week is Chris Highland. Chris is an author of over a dozen books, he was a Protestant minister for 14 years and an Interfaith (collaborative, open-minded, inclusive) chaplain for 25 years. Currently a Humanist celebrant, he has a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion from Seattle Pacific University and an M.Div. from San Francisco Theological Seminary

The more I interact with freethinking humanists and atheists the more great opportunities I see for building connections rather than breaking them down.

My highest compliment to Chris is that he has been doing Secular Grace for most of his life.

A revival of goodness and graciousness!

Chris shares his love of nature and beauty. We discuss humanism, nature and loving believing spouses.

I am a follower of Beauty

Links

Friendly Freethinker Blog
https://chighland.com/

Clergy Project
https://clergyproject.org/

Why I am not an angry evangelical atheist
https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rationaldoubt/2019/02/why-im-not-an-angry-evangelical-atheist-part-1/

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.

Do we have to choose between aggressive religion and aggravated atheism?
https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rationaldoubt/2021/05/do-we-have-to-choose-between-aggressive-religion-and-aggravated-atheism/

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.

Books

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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Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

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Attribution

Additional music
Dakar Flow – Carmen María and Edu Espinal

“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
Listen on Apple Podcasts

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

Arline: Deconversion Anonymous

Autonomy, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, Naturalism, Podcast
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

My guest this week is Arline. Arline became a Christian in early adulthood. She went to a Christian college where she met her now-husband. Her faith tradition was a severe version of Calvinism. She was taught complementarianism. The roles allowed for women and complementarianism were not a good fit for Arline’s inquisitive personality.

Years later I realized that [complementarianism] was a very new thing and I was so angry because I had been taught it was this Bibilcal idea. So in my mind biblical means it has been around for thousands of years. No, it was like 1987. What is this?

Her husband went through an emotional deconversion first. Arline did not take this as well as she would now like. Alongside this was the long slow deterioration of her mother’s health. She slowly began to deconstruct. First by exploring other versions of Christianity. Eventually exploring other faith traditions including meditation from a Buddhist perspective. In short. she was letting her curiosity and intelligence explore all the areas of interest that were previously prohibited.

Here’s the succinct version:
Christian fifteen years, since college.
Super loved Jesus, the Bible, church, all the things.
Tried my darndest to be changed by the Holy Spirit.
Happily married to super Christian guy from campus ministry.
He slowly (felt suddenly to me!) realized he had to be agnostic because god of the Bible is a monster.
Sent me on a two-year spiritual meandering.
Finally caved and am now figuring out what atheism looks like for me.

In the end, for her own personal intellectual integrity she admitted to herself she no longer believed. She has since discovered natural human habits that have helped her far more than her faith ever had.

Links

From the Andy Stanley discussion:
Is it just that I had the wrong image of God?
https://gracefulatheist.com/2016/11/17/is-it-just-that-i-had-the-wrong-image-of-god/

Interact

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

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Michael Marvosh: Conversations That Matter

Agnosticism, Atheism, Authors, Deconversion, Humanism, Naturalism, Philosophy, Podcast, Podcasters, Secular Grace, Spirituality
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

My guest this week is Michael Marvosh. Michael is the podcast host of Dead Man’s Forest and is working on his book Reality Knows the Truth: The Art and Artifice of Being Human. Michael and I discuss what it means to be human and the human experience of spirituality.

Michael tells us his deconversion story that he no longer sees as deconversion. He describes his rediscovery of a rational spirituality.

I feel simultaneously connected and alone and that is part of being human.

Michael and I hit a broad range of conversation topics including having conversations that matter, models vs reality, A.I., Death Cafes, vision quests, blind spots and podcasting.

It was truly a conversation that mattered.

Links

Contact Michael
mm@michaelmarvosh.com

Website
https://www.michaelmarvosh.com/projects

Dead Man’s Forest
https://www.deadmansforest.org/

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

Death Cafe
https://deathcafe.com/

Interact

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

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

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

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Mike T: Deconversion Anonymous

Atheism, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, Humanism, Naturalism, Podcast, Secular Community, Secular Grace
Mike T.
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

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.

Links

Clergy Project
https://clergyproject.org/

Interact

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

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

Deconversion Anonymous episodes
https://gracefulatheist.com/category/podcast/deconversion-anonymous/

Podchaser - Graceful Atheist Podcast

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

Attribution

“Dawg Biscuits on the Moon” and “Restless Regions”
John Monson and the Galaxy Brothers

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Barrett Evans: The Contemplative Skeptic

Atheism, Authors, Book Review, Critique of Apologetics, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Humanism, Naturalism, Philosophy, Podcast, Secular Grace, Spirituality
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

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/

Send in a voice message

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

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Ian Mills: New Testament Review

20 Questions With a Believer, Critique of Apologetics, Naturalism, Podcast, Podcasters
Ian Mills
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

My guest this week is Ian Mills, a PhD candidate in New Testament studies at Duke University. His dissertation is “Rewriting the Gospel: Second Century Evangelists and the Act of Gospel Writing.” His key advisor is Mark Goodacre and Bart Ehrman is on his dissertation committee.

[Regarding methodological naturalism] I am making a claim that when we do history … we do not, and in fact we cannot, include supernatural explanations (entities, forces or actions) in our successful explanations.

Ian is a professing Christian who confesses the resurrection of Jesus. I ask Ian to provide intellectual cover for believers. His example is one of honesty and intellectual integrity while maintaining faith. What makes him interesting is his commitment to methodological naturalism as it applies to studying the first and second century gospel writings. He explains why even as a believer this is not threatening to his faith.

I am genuinely interested in the history of the first century and the second century is where my research is focusing on and I do not see it is threatening or challenging my faith.

Ian is the co-host of the New Testament Review Podcast. He and his co-host Laura Robinson rose to internet fame (at least in secular circles) after they did an episode giving an unflattering review of Lee Strobel’s “A Case For Christ.” Ian’s approach is a breath of fresh air particularly when compared to popular apologetics.

What [popular apologists] do is bad for you. And it is because it is a complete inversion of what people of integrity and what good science inquiry should be.
Instead of starting with questions and data and going and looking for explanations that satisfy your questions, they start with a set of conclusions and go mining the evidence looking for that.

I personally learned a lot from Ian in this conversation. He is a wealth of information and expertise on the early Church and the process of gospel writing and canonization. As I say in the interview, I felt transported back to the best of Bible college. I suspect we will be hearing from Ian for years to come.

Links

New Testament Review Podcast
https://soundcloud.com/user-829560134

YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCR8SeIgZf4x0-wUMWVvWchw

Academia
https://duke.academia.edu/IanMills

Twitter
https://twitter.com/IanNelsonMills

Interact

I mention Ted Chiang’s Hell is the Absence of God
https://gracefulatheist.wordpress.com/2017/06/04/review-hell-is-the-absence-of-god/

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

Send in a voice message

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

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Randal Rauser: Conversation With My Inner Atheist

20 Questions With a Believer, Authors, Critique of Apologetics, Naturalism, Podcast
Randal Rauser
Listen on Apple Podcasts

My guest this week is Randal Rauser. Randal is, in his own words, “a systematic and analytic theologian of evangelical persuasion.” He is a professor of systematic theology, aplogetics, and worldview at Taylor Seminary.

Randal has written a number of books on apologetics and atheism. I first became aware of Randal’s work around 2017 when I read “Is The Atheist My Neighbor.” At least in the circles I am a a part of, Randal is considered to be a fair and honest apologist and is widely regarded for “steel-manning” atheist arguments before giving his arguments against them.

My own shifting relationship with certainty and doubt, confidence and questioning, is reflected in my history with apologetics.

This week we discuss his new book, “Conversations With My Inner Atheist.” In this book, Randal personifies his doubts as an interlocutor named Mia, My Inner Atheist, who presents the atheist, humanist and naturalistic arguments against his faith. Randal shows real vulnerability in several of these dialogues and often leaves the matter without a satisfactory conclusion by either party (believing Randal or non-believing, Mia).

Instead, I believe that certainty can journey along with doubt, confidence can welcome questioning, and together they can work to create a healthy and balanced Christian community.

As you might imagine, I have some thoughts on these matters most of which I express in the Final Thoughts section of the podcast. We also discuss a recent back and forth between Randal and Ian Mills of the New Testament Review Podcast fame on the topic of methodological naturalism.

The truth is, I’d rather accept that there are some questions I may never answer rather than return to the simple days where I thought my answers were beyond question.

Links

Blog
https://randalrauser.com/

Twitter
https://twitter.com/RandalRauser

YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/user/RDRauser

Books

Discussions on Methodological Naturalism

Randal’s a Miracle isn’t a violation of the laws of nature

Ian Mills (a believer) defending methodological naturalism

Randal’s Respones to Ian
https://randalrauser.com/2020/09/methodological-naturalism-as-a-wet-firecracker-a-response-to-ian-n-mills/

Interact

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

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

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Sarah: Deconversion Anonymous

Critique of Apologetics, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Deconversion Anonymous, Naturalism, Philosophy, Podcast, Secular Community
Sarah
Click to play episode on anchor.fm

This week’s show is a Deconversion Anonymous episode.

My guest this week is Sarah. Sarah is a co-author of the book “Still Unbelievable!” She is a regular poster on the Unbelievable? discussion boards. Sarah has a unique blend of down to earth perspective and an intellectual rigor.

In some respects, it is like being skinned alive layers of belief are being pulled away.

Sarah grew up a Christian. She was a part of the Shepherding Movement which is now considered a cult. She has moved from the Anglican church, to (British) Baptist, and then to Charismatic Vineyard churches. Until she began to research her own faith. What she found was an utter lack of evidence and a confusing morass of conflicting information.

You are giving god CPR.
You really are trying to keep it alive with the best intentions

She describes her search for validation as “going forensic” as she studied apologetics, philosophy, cosmology and evolution. Ultimately, she could not keep god on “life support” and she is now an agnostic.

Love is a good way to live your life.
Love is the point.
We’ve only got this present moment.
That is all we know for certain.

Links

Reason Press and the Still Unbelievable! book
https://reasonpress.net/
“Sophie’s” Story
https://reasonpress.net/SU1E/Sophie1
https://reasonpress.net/SU1E/Sophie2

Skeptics and Seekers
https://skepticsandseekers.squarespace.com/blog/x-tians-part-one-what-christians-who-stay-need-to-know-about-the-christians-who-dont

Justin Brierley’s Unbelievable? podcast
https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable

Interact

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

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

Send in a voice message

Support the podcast
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Via Paypal: paypal.me/gracefulatheist

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Sasha Sagan: For Small Creatures Such As We

Authors, Book Review, Humanism, Naturalism, Podcast, Religious but not Spiritual, Secular Grace, Spirituality
Click to play episode on anchor.fm

My guest this week is Sasha Sagan. Sasha has written a beautiful book called For Small Creatures Such As We: Rituals For Finding Meaning In Our Unlikely World. The book title comes from a quote in the book Contact:

For small creatures such as we,
the vastness is bearable only through love.

Ann Druyan and Carl Sagan from Contact

Sasha and the book she has written embodies Secular Grace and carries on the graceful life philosophies of her parents. Sasha has a galaxy spanning perspective on life that only the child of physicist can have. Sasha has an infectious joy about life. Listening to her or reading her work it is hard not to share in this joy.

In her book, Sasha argues that we as human beings need ritual in our lives to mark the passage of time, to celebrate the momentous moments in our lives and to mourn the loss of loved ones.

[Ritual] is really important to us.
Sometimes, when people are not religious or were religious,
there’s an urge to throw the baby [ritual] out with the bath water.
We still need these [rituals] even if we do them in a secular way.

We discuss secular grief in the face of the loss of her father, Carl Sagan, when she was 14 years old. Sasha shares the wise parting words he had for her and the ongoing impact he has had on her and the world.

Seeing life itself as worthy of celebration, For Small Creatures Such as We is part memoir, part guidebook, and part social history, a luminous exploration of all Earth’s marvels that require no faith in order to be believed.

From sashasagan.com

Links

Website
https://www.sashasagan.com/

Twitter
https://twitter.com/SashaSagan

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

Interact

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

Send in a voice message

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

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats