Podcast: Rebekah, The Curious Atheist

I managed to grab a conversation with Rebekah, The Curious Atheist. I do know that some (most?) of those who follow this blog also follow Rebekah, who started out as the Closet Atheist and then re-branded, for obvious reasons, as the Curious Atheist. I enjoyed the conversation we had and I hope those who follow Rebekah’s blog will too.

You can find Rebekah’s blog here:

https://thecuriousatheist.blog/

Listen to the episode:

https://anchor.fm/reasonpress/episodes/Episode-21-Rebekah–The-Curious-Atheist-e4hsr5/a-aicf8f

Podcast: Episode 15: Easter Round Table with Skeptics and Seekers

https://anchor.fm/reasonpress/episodes/Episode-15-Easter-Round-Table-with-Skeptics-and-Seekers-e3o0ab/a-ad5lhg

It’s time for another Round Table episode; Andrew and Matthew are joined by Dale and David from the Skeptics and Seekers podcast for another of their regular round tables. This time fielding questions about Easter.

Find out more about Skeptics and Seekers at https://skepticsandseekers.wordpress.com/

 

 

Podcast: Episode 14 – Ask An Atheist Day Question show special – part 1 of 3

There’s going to be a flurry of podcast posts in the upcoming weeks. I have two in the queue waiting for me to hit the publish button, and I have 3 more in the edit process. I never wanted to publish more than one a week, but I don’t think I can avoid it right now. Today is Ask An Atheist Day and I recorded a four hour session answering various questions. Due to the length I have decided to split the recording into three parts, the first hour is available at the link below. The next two parts will follow, plus I have an Easter special episode to publish.

https://anchor.fm/reasonpress/episodes/Episode-14—Ask-An-Atheist-Day-Question-show-special—part-1-of-3-e3p327/a-adbbc2

This first part of the Ask An Atheist Day special covers the fire at Notre Dame, deconverting Christians, giving up beliefs, sex and marriage, and monkeys throwing poop! Have a giggle with us.

Daddy, why don’t you come to church anymore?

I knew the question would come eventually. I have been kidding myself for ages that my daughter would accept the status quo and not question it until she was an argumentative teen. At that point we could discuss the issue properly. I don’t desire having a deep conversation with a pre-teen about how god is a lost concept and the combination of science and logic have reduced the chances of his existence to little more than highly improbable.

To be honest I have been afraid of this question. Afraid because I simply did not know how she would respond to the only answer I could give. That is, “Daddy doesn’t believe in god any more darling.”. I have pondered on what lies I could tell to divert the issue, but one thing that the limey daughter is good at (along with pretty much all children her age) is perpetually asking “why” until she gets the answer she is seeking. So the fear of being caught trying to lie my way out of that one has been there too.

So here I am, thinking back on the conversation we had had yesterday and my current situation. I am still out of work, life at home is occasionally stressful, the worry about how much longer we can manage before things get really serious is present and looming larger. The depression that I mentioned at the start of the year (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/good-riddance-2013/) is still lingering in the background ready to swallow me up at the slightest hint of trouble. If there is one thing I desire to avoid, it is to add the fate of my eternal soul to the imagination of my daughter, there are other more pressing matters that we face daily.

Until the point she asked the question, it had been a great day. We found a way to purchase a cheap Kinect for our XBOX 360 to replace the one that broke a mere 2 months outside of its warranty. This is a purchase guaranteed to add pleasure to the household; it also served to clear the unused Wii and Wii Fit Board from my office as they went in part exchange. In addition, daughter and daddy were on their way to a ski centre to have a ski lesson and toboggan session at a bargain offer price. These things need grasping when there simply isn’t the freedom to spend money on days out.

So, after a few seconds of utter panic, not helpful when driving, I answered with the truth, that I no longer believe in god. She asked why I don’t believe. I knew that would be the next question, I panicked for longer and said that I don’t think it makes sense for there to be a god. I could have gone on about how I think the science of evolution makes the god hypothesis impossible. I could have explained how I used to believe in a literal creation. I could have said lots, but I wanted a short conversation because the subject of the limey daughter’s own beliefs is still a subject that Mr and Mrs limey are processing. Making our daughter the battleground for our conflicting worldviews is not somewhere either of us wants to go.

The limey daughter does get evolution though, science is something she has great interest in and recently she has been hovering up the Horrible Science series of books in the school library. These are her bedtime reading of choice. It is not unknown for her to come out of her bedroom and call me from the top of the stairs so that she can share a science fact she has just read. I can get cross with her she does that at a time when she is supposed to be settling down to sleep. I want to encourage excitement in nature and the workings of the world around us. If I use her thirst for scientific knowledge to explain how my faith was undermined, who knows what the result will be? If only I could tell the future.

Daughter accepted my explanation and the conversation moved on, we continued to talk about the upcoming ski lesson. We had a wonderful two hours together, getting very hot and tired. Afterwards we came home and enjoyed some more XBOX time, using the new Kinect of course, since mummy limey had and evening at work. All in it was a great day we had together, but I am wondering what she thinks of my non-belief and when she will raise it again. I fully expect her to and more than anything, I want it to be something that she feels she can raise. The worst result will be if it is seen as a taboo subject.

As I type this on Sunday morning, a time normally reserved for me to have my alone time at home, to write, or study or read or whatever, daughter is in the living room playing. She decided this morning that she didn’t want to go to church. Mrs limey thinks it is because she is still tired from yesterday, that’s possible, but I can’t help wonder if there is another reason.
So, the question I have been fearing came, yet the world didn’t end and life has not changed. If only all my fears could turn out to be so harmless.

There is Nothing to Fear in Doubt

Like all Christians, there had been many times when I’d questioned or doubted my faith. In fact most of the churches I’ve been to didn’t consider it a shame to admit to doubt. One church in particular loved to quote “honest doubt leads to true faith”. While I won’t go so far as to say they encouraged doubt, they didn’t say it was a bad thing and those to admitted to having doubts were encouraged to ask the questions because if you don’t ask the question, there is no one who is going to give you an answer.

This attitude of not fearing doubt is still one that I consider worthy and honest.

I remember one group conversation where I expressed the opinion that everyone should question their own beliefs. This was met with unanimous agreement, so I am glad to say that I am not alone in holding that view.

Of course, those who wish to control others will always fear and discourage doubt, especially doubt in those they have a hold over. In those situations, doubt brings about the potential of freedom, freedom from manipulative others. I am very aware and saddened that some churches have (and even still do?) act like that. I have a suspicion that one of the churches my family attended when I was a child had a senior pastor like that. That is not ground I wish to cover though, it was many many years ago and suspicion is not proof and I don’t really have a way of confirming that suspicion. I am judging events of long ago from a cynical adult mind when the memories I am working from are those of a child not even 8, possibly younger. That’s hardly fair.

As an adult, I have not consciously been in the situation, where I have been manipulated so I am thankful of that.

Enough of that, back to the doubt.

Doubt is good, it makes one ask basic questions about their own assumptions. Sometimes it will serve to confirm and sometimes it will serve to correct. The important thing is that stuff is not being taken for granted, it is being questioned and assessed.

Fear of this process is unhealthy. If your belief (no matter what it is) can’t survive the process of honest questioning, then its not a valid belief and you are living a life with little integrity.

Even as a Christian I can honestly say that I would rather have a friend who was an atheist with integrity than one who was a Christian without. You can swap that around now that I’ve left my faith behind, I’d rather have a friend who is a Christian with integrity than an atheist without. It’s the integrity that matters, not the belief.

Someone who fears or runs away from doubt lacks that integrity.

Can a Christian Lose their Faith?

Well obviously yes, since I now call myself an atheist, having been a Christian for many years. Yet the answer is not at all that cut and dried.

I once had a discussion with a close friend of mine about this very question and we disagreed very strongly with no common ground at all.

I argued, that yes, one could lose their faith. One could come to the conclusion, for various reasons that they didn’t want to be a Christian any more and actively reject their old Christian life. Or one could ‘backslide’ as we called it in those days, and eventually fall away from faith.

My friend argued the opposite; that a Christian could not lose their faith. His argument was that the action of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian would be an active block against desertion of faith.

His point rang bells with me, because I had once held that view too.

As a young child at boarding school inZambia, I distinctly remember having discussions with school friends along the lines of ‘Once you are a Christian and God has you in the care of His hands, then He will never let go and you will always be a child of His’. I’m paraphrasing there, but the basic synopsis is that once you are a Christian, then its just not possible for you to unconvert. It’s a once only irreversible decision. I’m not sure where the original idea came from, but it was reinforced by the conversations that children have between each other on the playground.

Years later, here I am having this discussion again, but from a very different perspective. I wonder what had changed.

At the time we were both very definitely Christians. He is now a vicar and I am now this anonymous internet blogger spouting my stuff as if its important. He probably reaches more people weekly than I do.

What if I do it?

Anyway, during the conversation I posed the hypothetical suggestion that at some point in the future I would abandon my faith. Of course I knew it would never happen, but lets ignore that and just pretend it does, oh the irony!

My friend’s retort was that if that were to happen he’d question if I was a proper Christian to start with. Ouch!

But of course that would never happen because he knew I was a proper Christian.

I wonder how the conversation will go when (if?) he finds out about my change of heart. I guess for the moment I’ll just have to ponder, but eventually he’ll find out and I am a little bit curious as to how the conversation will go.