Meir-Simchah: On Orthodox Judaism

20 Questions With a Believer, Humanism, Podcast, Podcasters, Secular Grace
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My guest this week is Meir-Simchah. Meir-Simchah Panzer lives in Jerusalem with his wife and their four children. He co-hosts the podcasts Two Christians And A Jew, with Frank M. Taylor and Dr. Jennifer Brown Jones, where the team dives into how Christians and Jews read the Hebrew Scriptures differently and what difference it makes for our lives, and the Artifact Podcast with Nachliel Selavan, where ordinary objects become portals into the history, ideas, and existential mystery behind them. Formerly, he co-hosted Holy Madness – The Show, with Tzvi Zucker. Meir-Simchah is a student of Rabbi Matis Weinberg. He is a co-founder and executive at Ohalecha Arts and Events Center; he writes essays, poems, and stories; and he teaches the Hebrew language and Hebrew Scriptures for individuals and groups.

Meir and I discuss his work on Two Christians and Jew, how he interacts with the Christians, what he actually thinks about Jesus and the NT and the influence of secular Judaism on secular humanism.

Links

Two Christians and a Jew
http://twochristiansandajew.com/

Twitter
https://twitter.com/MeirSimchah

Facebook

Two Christians and a Jew discussion group
https://www.facebook.com/groups/215152216739045

Artifact page
https://www.facebook.com/ArtifactPodcast

Artifact discussion group
https://www.facebook.com/groups/397213411493038

Email meirsimchah@gmail.com.

Secular Humanism books influenced by secular Judaism

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Books on Secular Humanism influenced by secular Judaism

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

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Michelle: A Loving Unequally Yoked Relationship

20 Questions With a Believer, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Podcast, Secular Grace, Unequally yoked
Sneha ss, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Click to play episode on anchor.fm
Listen on Apple Podcasts

My guest this week is my wife, Michelle. Though I have deconverted from Christianity, Michelle is very much a dedicated Christian. We still love each other and we are making it work in an “unequally yoked” relationship. We have an honest conversation about how we got to now and how we go forward in the future.

When you told me ….
It was the first time when I felt like “we are real” and I am seeing what is really going on inside of you.
And that felt, in spite of all the bad stuff that was there, that at least felt good.

Michelle does work that is social work adjacent. She is a better practicing humanist than I am. I admire her for who she is as a person. I admire her for the work she does. And, yes, I admire her for her faith.

We sit down at our kitchen table for an honesty contest. You can hear the love, but you can also hear the tension and the hurt. We discuss how we met, how we have “deconstructed” over the years, when I told her I could no longer believe, and how we are making it work “unequally yoked.”

Almost from a week in from the point that you told me,
I was released to have my own relationship and faith and to dig as hard as I wanted to and as deep as I wanted to and not be holding back …
So that significantly changed and I felt free.

In this episode, we respond to listener questions about our loving relationship when one of us believes and the other does not. Send in your questions for a potential future episode with Michelle and me.

Links

Unequally Yoked verse 2 Corinthians 6:14 – 15
https://www.bible.com/bible/107/2CO.6.14-15.NET

Recovery From Religion has a resource page with a section entitled: Spouses/ Partners With Mixed Belief Systems (from a secular perspective)
https://www.recoveringfromreligion.org/religious-resources

Unequally Yoked (from the Christian perspective)
https://thriveglobal.com/stories/what-does-it-mean-to-be-unequally-yoked/

Interact

Chosen Family Grace
https://gracefulatheist.wordpress.com/2020/11/14/chosen-family-grace/

Michelle and I discuss her listening to the Sarah: Believing Spouse of an Atheist Deconvert episode
https://gracefulatheist.wordpress.com/2019/12/12/sarah-believing-spouse-of-an-atheist-deconvert/

Send in a voice message

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Attribution

Photo: Sneha ss, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

“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/

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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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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Joel Furches: Why Christians Become Atheists

20 Questions With a Believer, Atheism, Critique of Apologetics, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Podcast, Podcasters, The Bubble
Click to play episode on anchor.fm

My guest this week is Joel Furches. Joel is a Christian and a psychologist researching topics of religion. He has a BA in psychology an MA in education, and he is working on his PhD in Behavioral Analysis. He he has focused on conversions and deconversions and has written a well researched article entitled: Why Do Christians Become Atheists? A Case Study.

The people I find most likely to adopt the label atheist and deconvert are the people who tied their identity most importantly to the Church.

Joel and I discuss his research and walk through his model of deconversion. We discuss the “Market place of ideas” and “The Christian Bubble.” We define the terms disaffiliation, deconstruction and deconversion.

I would advise intellectual humility and the ability to say “I don’t know” about things.

Joel’s advice for Christians who are seeing more deconversions:

[What] I would say to Christians in general is that it is not their responsibility to re-covert [the deconvert].
They have not failed because this person deconverted and they will probably not succeed in re-converting them.
It is to respect the person who has deconverted, respect their experience. Give them the right that any other human being would have which is to defend their views. And interact or engage in those views as important.

Links

Joel’s Website:
https://joelfurches.com/

Switching Sides
FB: https://www.facebook.com/Deconversionstudies/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SidesSwitching

Why Do Christians Become Atheists? A Case Study
https://hubpages.com/politics/Why-do-Christians-Become-Atheists-A-Case-Study

Perez, S. and Vallières, F., 2019. How Do Religious People Become Atheists? Applying a Grounded Theory Approach to Propose a Model of Deconversion.Secularism and Nonreligion
http://doi.org/10.5334/snr.108

Interact

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

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

John Marriott: A Recipe For Disaster

20 Questions With a Believer, Atheism, Authors, Critique of Apologetics, Deconversion, Podcast
Click to play on anchor.fm

My guest this week is John Marriott. We are talking about deconversion from the Christian perspective. John is the Director of Global Learning and teaches in the department of Philosophy of Religion and Ethics at Biola University. John did his PhD dissertation focused on deconversion from Christianity to atheism. He has written a book on deconversion called “A Recipe For Disaster,” which is directed to the Church on the ways they are setting up believers to lose their faith.

I define [faith] as having enough reasons for a hope worth acting on.
I think there enough reasons for me to act on this [faith].

I first came across John’s work in an interview he did with Randal Rauser. I was struck by the honesty and clarity that he had in describing deconversion. In particular this quote:

Something similar underwrites a significant percentage of deconversions. The biblical narrative that once easily fit within their childlike understanding of reality began to get squeezed out as they matured in their understanding of reality. The stories in the Bible about miracles, witches, giants, demons, etc. began to feel as out of place as Santa. To resolve the problems they may seek answers that will allow them to continue to believe in such things as adults in the 21st century. This is the experience not just of those who deconvert but all educated, reflective Christians today. I suspect that even for those that do remain Christians, the cognitive dissonance never completely goes away, it just has been reduced to a level that allows them to continue to believe. For deconverts however, the cognitive dissonance is not sufficiently assuaged by apologetics. It grows despite their efforts and reaches a tipping point. As in the case with Santa, the only way to resolve the tension is to admit what they know is true. God does not exist.

John proved to be as honest in person as he is in his writing. He met me in an honesty contest and we found points of agreement on what it is like to deconvert. Even though we disagree on the conclusions we were able to have a vital conversation.

The reason why I believe it is there is enough evidence for me that I find it persuasive. I don’t find the counter-arguments conclusive so there is sufficient and adequate reason for me.
But why do I find it sufficient and adequate? That is the real question.
And to answer that question it is so complicated:
there are personal reasons
there are sociological reasons
there are emotional reasons
of course there are some rational reasons
but at the end of the day we’re are so much more than mere Cartesian thinking machines.
To be able to say well “I am a Christian because its the truth and it is true because the evidence points in that direction so clearly and I have reasoned it out this way.” Is I think naive in how we actually go about forming our beliefs.

This is a 20 Questions with a Believer episode. John and I take turns asking each other questions and then crucially allowing the other person to answer.

Links

Website
https://www.johnmarriott.org/

Randal Rauser interview
https://www.christianpost.com/voice/the-problem-of-christians-becoming-atheists.html

Books

Interact

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

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Support the podcast here.

Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Joel Berry: The Petty Prophet

20 Questions With a Believer, Critique of Apologetics, Podcast, Podcasters, Secular Grace
Click to play episode on anchor.fm

My guest this week is Joel Berry, the podcast host of the Petty Prophet Podcast. Both hist blog of the same name and the podcast are from the Christian believer and politically conservative perspectives. Joel is very much a believer. He had listened to the Graceful Atheist Podcast and was curious enough to initiate a conversation.

[Due to fundamentalism] I think that I was teetering, when I was 19,
…, and I was deciding which direction to go with my life, teetering in my faith a little bit, and I joined the military, became a Marine Corps infantry man. Within a year I was in Fallujah.
[I was] a sheltered kid, [a] home schooled fundamentalist. I am taken out of the [United] States, out of my Christian bubble, and I spent a year in Iraq.
… I had a little Bible in my flak jacket that I read when I could.

Joel meets me in an honesty contest in which we both push each other but also take the time to listen to one another. I think it makes for a compelling conversation.

What compels me about Christianity? I think the first thing was that, and this is experiential … ,
I was taken out of a Christian world …
and I open my Bible and I read the words of Jesus in the Gospel and the words of Jesus really drew me in, there was something about that man that seemed other worldly and amazing to me.

Joel experienced a deconstruction from a fundamentalist form of Christianity. He left the IFB. He left a fundamentalist Calvinist theology. But he maintains in his words “a childlike faith.”

[I got into] aplogetics, the reasons to believe, the reasons for my faith, but all that stuff it’s all arguments, none of it is completely conclusive, and there is still an element of childlike faith involved.

This is a 20 Questions with a Believer episode. Joel and I take turns asking each other questions and then crucially allowing the other person to answer.

Links

Joel on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/JoelWBerry

The Petty Prophet Blog:
https://thepettyprophet.com/

The Petty Prophet Podcast
https://thepettyprophet.com/homepage/petty-prophet-podcast/

Interact

In the final thoughts section I make reference to this:

Joel brings up several episodes he has listened to. Here are links to those episodes:

Laura Anderson: Adverse Religious Experiences:
https://gracefulatheist.wordpress.com/2019/10/31/laura-anderson-religious-abuse-and-religious-trauma/

Matthew Taylor: Confessions of a Young Earth Creationist:
https://gracefulatheist.wordpress.com/2019/06/20/matthew-taylor-confessions-of-a-young-earth-creationist/

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Sarah: Believing Spouse of an Atheist Deconvert

20 Questions With a Believer, Deconversion, Humanism, Podcast, Secular Grace, Unequally yoked
Click to play episode on anchor.fm

What happens when you are married to a person based on your mutual faith and one of you deconverts?

My guest this week is Sarah who is a believer married to a former Christian and now atheist deconvert. Sarah describes herself as “born again.” She is a dedicated Christian who is very active in her church preaching and teaching. Her integrity, honesty, and heart for people come through with shining colors in this interview.

After many years of marriage that was predicated at least in part on their shared faith, her husband informed her he had deconverted and was no longer a Christian. He goes on to blogging and podcasting about his atheism while she continues to teach and preach at her church. As you might imagine, this was and is a difficult process of transition for both Sarah and her husband.

This decision that you made on your own affects us;
it affects both of us.
The core of our relationship was centered around
church and being Christians.

We talk about the complexity of being Unequally Yoked. She describes what it felt like when she learned her husband no longer believed. How do they discuss the Bible together? How do they handle their daughter and the Alpha Course? We explore ways to make a marriage work when one spouse believes and the other does not.

This has been a major theme of Secular Grace: that relationships are valuable and worth keeping even when we disagree on faith. And it is our job to love our friends and family through our deconversion process.

This is a 20 Questions with a Believer episode (formerly known as A Believer Interviews the Graceful Atheist). Sarah and I take turns asking each other questions and then crucially allowing the other person to answer.

Links

Recovery From Religion has a resource page with a section entitled: Spouses/ Partners With Mixed Belief Systems (from a secular perspective)
https://www.recoveringfromreligion.org/religious-resources

Unequally Yoked (from the Christian perspective)
https://thriveglobal.com/stories/what-does-it-mean-to-be-unequally-yoked/

Interact

If you are a believer and would like to have a 20 questions honesty contest with me on the podcast, get in contact: gracefulatheist@gmail.com

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

Steps of Deconversion: Telling your family and friends
https://gracefulatheist.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/deconversion-how-to/#in-and-out-of-the-closet

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Attribution

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

David Hellsten Interviews the Graceful Atheist

20 Questions With a Believer, Podcast

This is the first “A Believer Interviews the Graceful Atheist” episode. 

In these episodes, I will have believers on who I have grown to trust interview me. Rather than try to argue with them I’ll see if I can get them to understand why I no longer believe. The idea is to reverse the roles and have the believer in the skeptics seat asking the questions.

As deconverts, we may find ourselves in the odd position of defending our former faith when believers want to suggest that we must never have been a “True Christian” or that our faith must not have been real. This episode was prompted by a discussion on Twitter on this topic and the genuine and open response from David Hellsten.

In this episode, Reverend David Hellsten, a Baptist pastor from Milford on Sea in the UK, will be in the skeptics seat asking the questions.

The Twitter conversation that prompted the show.

In the show I mention the Clergy Project, which is a great resource for current and former religious professions who find themselves no longer believing. You can find them at: http://clergyproject.org/

“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats
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