Randal Rauser: Conversation With My Inner Atheist

20 Questions With a Believer, Authors, Critique of Apologetics, Naturalism, Podcast
Randal Rauser
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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.






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


My Critique of Apologetics

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“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.


Joel’s Website:

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

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


Deconversion How To

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“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.



Randal Rauser interview



Deconversion and How to Deconvert

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“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

David Johnson: Skeptics and Seekers

Atheism, Bloggers, Critique of Apologetics, Deconversion, Philosophy, Podcast, Podcasters
David Johnson
Click to play episode on anchor.fm

My guest this week is David Johnson, the co-host and creator of the Skeptics and Seekers podcast and blog. David is a former Church of Christ member and a pastor’s kid. He was baptized at 7, leading the church in song at 7, preaching at 12, the youth leader at 15 and assistant minister at 21.

Was I the real thing? Pathologically so.

His deconversion process began as he examined the Church of Christ’s doctrine against musical accompaniment in worship. He says “the little things, were the big things.” And if the little things were wrong, what else might be wrong?

You know, I think we might be wrong about that [instrumental accompaniment].
And that was hard for me.
It was hard in a way that I am not going to be able to express.
For me, if we were wrong about musical instruments, we were wrong about everything.

Deconversion was “like death” for David.

It was so hard for me to say,
not out loud mind you,
“I don’t believe there is a god.”
And then to say it out loud … alone in the woods where no one can hear.

Today David uses an unabashed polemic approach to counter-apologetics to reveal the problems with Christianity and faith in general. You can find him on his Skeptics and Seekers podcast and on his appearances on Justin Brierley’s Unbelievable? podcast. You can read the book he co-authored in response to Justin Brierley: Still Unbelievable!

The damage I did on the other side [as a believer] keeps me up at night.


Skeptics and Seekers blog

Skeptics and Seekers podcast

Still Unbelievable! book

David Johnson’s appearances on Justin Brierley’s Unbelievable? podcast

My recent appearance on Skeptics and Seekers



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“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Sam: When Belief Dies

Atheism, Bloggers, Deconstruction, Deconversion, Humanism, Podcast, Podcasters, Secular Grace
When Belief Dies
Click to play episode on anchor.fm

My guest this week is Sam, the blogger behind When Belief Dies. Sam is also starting an upcoming podcast of the same name. Which will include his friend Dave who remains a believer with questions. They will tackle the difficult questions about Christianity with mutual respect and curiosity.

Belief was my life.

Sam was a very dedicated to Christ and to his church. He was in the process of becoming an elder when depression and doubt led to deconversion. Sam tried to appease his doubt with apologetics to no avail.

Christianity is a hope giving mechanism …
that doesn’t mean these things are actually true.

Now Sam uses his insights post-deconversion to help others who are doubting and in the process of deconverting.

People matter.






This is the Graceful Atheist Podcast’s one year anniversary episode.

My guest appearance on the Skeptics and Seekers podcast


Secular Grace

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“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.


Joel on Twitter:

The Petty Prophet Blog:

The Petty Prophet Podcast


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:

Matthew Taylor: Confessions of a Young Earth Creationist:

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“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

Captain Cassidy: Roll To Disbelieve

Atheism, Bloggers, Communities of Unbelief, Critique of Apologetics, Deconversion, Humanism, Podcast, Secular Grace
Click to play episode on anchor.fm

My guest today is Captain Cassidy. Cassidy blogs at Roll To Disbelieve on patheos.com. Her focus is on deconversion, counter-apologetics and generally describing the mind-warping nature of religion. Cassidy has an array of metaphors and analogies in her writing that make a vivid picture of what it is like to believe and then not to.

Cassidy’s “Extimony”: She is a former Catholic, was briefly a baptist and then stayed a Pentecostal for a time. Until she realized the context of her faith mattered. While at a prayer group set in a normal university room “out of the context” of a church she realized it was all an act.

And as I look back at my past, I can see all these times when I [rolled to disbelieve] … I didn’t make the roll, I continued to believe.

She now describes herself as “a humanist, a skeptic, a freethinker and a passionate student of science, mythology and history.”

I am becoming more and more convinced that the only way for someone to remain, Christian, is to avoid caring what reality has to say about it.

Join her “Commentariat,” a thriving community of commentators on her blog at https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rolltodisbelieve/.



The Handbook for the Recently Deconverted

The Unequally Yoked Club

Newbie Guide

Pool of Faith

Conservation of worship

Doctrinal Yardstick

Atrocity Apologetics


Cat Photos!


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“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats

John Lopilato: Counter Apologist

Atheism, Critique of Apologetics, Humanism, Podcast, Podcasters, YouTubers
Counter Apologist
Click to play episode on anchor.fm

My guest today is the Counter Apologist AKA John Lopilato. John is active on Twitter as @CounterApologis. He has a YouTube channel called Counter Apologist. He is also one of the new co-hosts of the RealAtheology podcast.

John has taught himself philosophy, apologetics and counter apologetics. In fact, he learned apologetics in a desperate attempt to keep his faith. Ultimately, he found apologetics wanting. He became the Counter Apologist because he wanted there to be sophisticated answers to apologetic arguments that could not be easily dismissed. John can be found online interacting with apologists and discussing the relative merits and flaws of apologetic arguments.

I appreciate John’s approach. He is often more than fair to his interlocutors. In my conversation with him, he is very kind to my naive questioning. We discuss a wide range of topics including: debate culture, the burden of proof, lacktheism, Kalam Cosmological Argument, the rationality of faith, values vs facts and how difficult it is to make a compelling argument when the two sides may have differing values and presuppositions.

I threw myself into apologetics to try and salvage my faith.

Counter Apologist


John’s Blog:

John on Twitter:

John on YouTube:

RealAtheology Podcast

For further study

Kalam Cosmological Argument:


A and B Theory of Time:


Send in a voice message to the podcast:


“Waves” track written and produced by Makaih Beats


Alice and Bob Make a Wager

Critique of Apologetics, Thought Experiments

Thought Experiment


Alice and Bob believe in contradictory theistic gods, Theo and Uja respectively. Both faiths require belief in their mutually exclusive gods or dire consequences are at stake.

Carol does not believe in a god, but she is an open and honest seeker of truth. Carol has separate conversations with both Alice and Bob in which the believers try to convince the non-believer why she should believe.

Independently, Alice and Bob both use variations on Pascal’s Wager to try and convince Carol to believe. However, Alice wants Carol to believe in Theo but Bob wants Carol to believe in Uja.

Alice and Bob’s argument goes something like this:

If you are right about the nonexistence of God and I am wrong,

I lose nothing.

If I am right about the existence of God and you are wrong,

you lose everything.


  • Why might Carol not be convinced by either?
  • What happens when Alice and Bob talk to each other?

This post is in the series Thought Experiments for Believers.

Shazam Cosmological Argument

Critique of Apologetics, Thought Experiments

Thought Experiment


Alice and Bob believe the universe was created by the Great-Universe-Creating-Thingy (GUCT). According to Alice and Bob’s faith GUCT is ineffable and cannot be described nor understood. The GUCT is eternal and beyond time and space. It is powerful and wicked smart. Also the Great-Universe-Creating-Thingy is blue.

Alice and Bob use the famous, unassailable and air tight Shazam Cosmological Argument to prove the Great-Universe-Creating-Thingy created the universe.

1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause;
2) The universe appears to have begun to exist;


3) The universe has a cause.

1) The universe has a cause;
2) If the universe has a cause, then an uncaused, ineffable Creator … um Thingy of the universe exists that sans the universe is outside of time and space, powerful and wicked smart. It would also help if it were blue;


3) An uncaused, ineffable Great-Universe-Creating-Thingy exists, that sans the universe is outside of time and space, powerful and wicked smart. Also clearly blue in color.


  • Are you convinced by this argument that the Great-Universe-Creating-Thingy created the universe?
  • What flaws do you see in this argument?
  • Does the blueness of the Great-Universe-Creating-Thingy seem arbitrary?
  • How is the Great-Universe-Creating-Thingy different than your tradition’s explanation for the beginning of the universe?

This post is in the series Thought Experiments for Believers.