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/

 

 

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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.

Podcast: Episode 13: The Burden of Proof, Bayes Theorem, and Molinism

https://anchor.fm/reasonpress/episodes/Episode-13-The-Burden-of-Proof–Bayes-Theorem–and-Molinism-e3n57p/a-ad1cgl

Another of my podcast episodes has gone live, this time Andrew and I are in discussion with Dale from the Skeptics and Seekers podcast (https://anchor.fm/skeptics-and-seekers)

The conversation is supposed to be about who holds the burden of proof for what, but there is a segment where Andrew and Dale get a little stuck on Bayes, don’t worry though, it doesn’t dominate the episode.

As always, comments and discussion are welcome, or join in at the the Skeptics and Seekers site: https://skepticsandseekers.wordpress.com/2019/04/09/ask-an-atheist-anything-when-does-the-atheist-bear-the-burden-of-proof-dale-guest-stars/

 

Podcast: How should the church respond to Transgender

Recently I was a host on the Still Unbelievable! talking about transgender and the church. This episode is responding to an episode of the Unbelievable? podcast on the same subject.

The Transformed document that is referenced in the episode is found here: https://www.eauk.org/resources/what-we-offer/reports/transformed-understanding-transgender-in-a-changing-culture/transformed-the-resource

It’s a shocking document and I recommend reading this critique of it: http://mikehigton.org.uk/a-critique-of-transformed-1/

Ask An Atheist Day, April 18

Ask An Atheist Day is a thing, Apparently, and this year it falls on April 18th.

To support this, the podcast I co host, Ask An Atheist Anything, is going to do a questions episode. In this episode we’ll field a bunch of questions and give brief answers. This will be a change from most episodes where we have tended to focus on a single question.

So, what question would you like to ask an atheist?

Or, if you’re atheist, what question would you like to be asked?

Or, if you’ve seen an interesting question or set of questions elsewhere, paste in the link.

 

 

Can atheism explain Consciouness?

 

The latest episode of my Ask An Atheist Anything podcast went live over the weekend. Listen to it at the link below or wherever you get your podcasts.

https://anchor.fm/reasonpress/episodes/Episode-12—Can-atheism-explain-Consciousness-e3fr5q

The conversation that Andrew and I have with Ernest is delightful and there is a lot of genuine laughter. Ernest’s enthusiasm for life is infectious and the world does need more people like him.

The blog post that prompted the discussion and eventual recording of the episode is here: https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable/Unbelievable-blog/How-consciousness-demolished-my-atheism-and-saved-my-faith

Comments are no longer visible or possible on the blog post, which I think is a massive shame. It was only through the ability to comment that I was able to make contact with the author and to organise the live conversation. Shutting down comments kills the ability for dialogue to spread.

I am hopeful that there will be a follow up episode, so any thoughts, feedback, or follow up questions will be welcomed and appreciated.

I’m now Officially a Podcaster!

 

Was it really almost a year ago when I announced the collaborative book project I’d been working on? (more here: https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2018/04/04/reasonpress-site-launch-and-a-book-that-im-very-excited-about/)

If you have read that book I would love to know your thoughts on it. In the year since more stuff has happened, I am now a podcaster, so if you wish to hear how this limey sounds then point your listening devices at these podcasts and listen for the grumpy old Brit 🙂

Ask An Atheist Anything (https://anchor.fm/reasonpress)
Still Unbeliveable! (https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/still-unbelievable/id1448210557)

If you’re like me and enjoy podcasts on the interface between religion and atheism, then these others may interest you too. These include people who were also involved in the Still Unbelievable! book that launched last year.

Doubts Aloud (https://www.spreaker.com/user/heremcast)
Skeptics and Seekers (https://anchor.fm/skeptics-and-seekers)

If any readers have other podcasts that they enjoy and wish to recommend, then please feel free to give your recommendations in the comments, I and others may very well enjoy the content too.

In addition, if any reader (atheist or believer) wishes to review or comment on my podcast content, or better still join me on either podcast for a discussion, then I will gladly receive the feedback and engage in the chat. Now that I’ve gone public on the podcasting, I will attempt to create a new post for future episodes so followers here will get a notification.

This year, I intend to continue building on the podcast content and there are plans for further book content too, but I can’t divulge more than that right now.

Reasonpress site launch and a Book that I’m very Excited About

I hope the title of this post isn’t seen as click-bait because it’s all true. I am excited and it is about a book and a website , but it’s also more than that.

For the past year I have been involved in a collaborative project to get a book out, it’s been running under the title of The response Book Project and it’s gone live and there are plans to expand the site into something more. The something more will have to wait for now, this post is about the book.

But first the link, the curious can click this link and come back here for the boring bits later.

https://reasonpress.net/

 

Why?

It all began with a Christian radio show and podcast called Unbelievable? I’ve been a regular listener for a number of years, as are many atheists. It’s the only religious podcast I regularly listen to, because it is generally interesting, relaxed and stimulating to listen to. Details can be found at the link below:

https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable/Episodes

Last year, the host of the show released a book to state why, after ten years of hosting the show and talking to atheists, he was still a Christian. The book was officially launched at the Unbelievable? conference in London and I attended, along with a handful of other atheists to get our hands on the first copies of the book so that the response project could get underway. On balance we were not all that impressed. It seems that talking to atheists does not involve listening to them.

Find the book here, if you dare:

https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable/Unbelievable-the-Book

 

What now?

Well, the site is not intended to be a static site. All the chapters of the response book are free to read on the site and there is a Discus comment block under each one so the hope is that there will be a chance to take the response further and have an active back and forth and not a stale opinion page. There are plans to extend the site beyond just this response book, but those ideas will have to wait until they are made real before I announce them here. For now it’s just the book and that’s about all the excitement I can contain anyway.

The Atheist Prayer Experiment

I listen to an large number of podcasts. In fact I’d go so far as to say that when I’m working from home or out and about with my iPod, my listening is 99% podcasts. They vary from music podcasts to comedy and audio stories right the way to science based. There are some atheist podcasts and there is a sole Christian podcast in the list.

That Christian podcast is Unbelievable? (https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/unbelievable/id267142101) From UK Christian radio station Premier. The basic format is that the Christian host takes a subject each week and generally chairs a discussion between a theist and a non-theist. Usually the theist is a Christian. I find the show is generally well balanced and I appreciate the honest discussion that follows. I think Justin (the host) does a very good job.

Now that the plug is out of the way; last year they ran An Atheist Prayer Experiment (http://www.premier.org.uk/atheistprayerexperiment). I’m so far behind on listening to the podcast that I’m only just catching up with the results shows. The basic idea was to challenge Atheists to pray daily for 40 days asking God to reveal Himself to them.

My Thoughts

When I first heard about the challenge, I did consider if I would have taken part. The experiment was already over by the time I heard the first podcast advertising it. My conclusion was that no I would not take part because I would more than likely be guilty of not being open enough to pray the prayer and mean it. Surely that would disqualify me as I could not be objective.

The conclusion from that was that if the only people would be able to take part where those who were considered open to their being a god, then surely they can’t call themselves atheists can they? While I applaud the sentiment behind the experiment I do see it as being a bit valueless.

Testing God?

Having ruled myself out of taking part, my next thought was that surely this would come under the banner of testing god and the Bible specifically warns against this doesn’t it. I had a brief conversation with my pastor (since I no longer attend the church is he still my paster? Who cares, he’s a good chap and a good friend so for clarity I’ll refer to him as my pastor) on this and we both seemed to agree that it did get close to falling foul of that.

Rather naughtily I asked the question “In that case, isn’t all prayer testing god?” Hmmm, I think the answer to that is a whole blog post on its own. Anyway, we agreed that the boundary was more a fat grey line than an absolute boundary.

Later I would discuss this with my wife and while we too agreed it was a largely valueless experiment, her answer to the testing god question was that the warning to not test god was more about seeking a bargain than it was about praying this sort of prayer. I asked her if Jacob and the Fleece was a test, she said yes. We agreed that since the command came much later than Jacob’s bargain that we’d let him off on this occasion.

Praying on Video

In order to protect himself from accusations of not being sincere, one participant recorded a video of himself praying. Christians commented that the prayer was genuine and complimented him on his prayer. The participant reported that he felt humiliated by it. I wondered why they were complimenting him on the words he used, surely it’s the state of his heart and mind towards god that is of greater importance!

It’s a Christian Win-Win

Regardless of the results, Christians can claim a win here. If there were many converts, well the answer is obvious. For each of those who don’t convert, well they were clearly not open to god’s message or the time wasn’t right for them, or any other apologetic reasoning.

As it happens, there was a tiny number of converts out of the 70-odd participants.

 

Has he left the church? Should I go to see him?

I’ve mentioned before that my wife and I were unhappy in our past church (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/there%E2%80%99s-a-problem-behind-the-pulpit/). This was one of the reasons for me no longer attending before we re-located to our lovely seaside location.

I knew that my non-attendance could never go unnoticed. I was wondering when the pastor would notice and if it would result in a visit. Despite the negative things I have said about him, he was very good at pastoral care, engaging and very sympathetic, also wise beyond his years on personal and emotional issues. He had proven to be a very real support and friend during Mum’s final years (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/death-of-a-much-loved-mother/) and previous to that, when I discovered a book about the farm my family lived on in Zambia which gave new details of Mum’s kidnap ordeal (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/coming-close-to-being-an-orphan/) he was also very supportive as the revelations brought fresh pain and memories of that most awful event.

So, when it was reported to me that the pastor had noticed my absence and had asked one of the church members responsible for pastoral care the above questions, I wasn’t surprised. However, said person is a close friend of my wife and I and my wife had confided in her many of our issues and concerns. So, on being asked these questions, said friend deflected and advised against coming to see me. I don’t know what exactly was said.

I understand the motives of said friend, but I think she advised wrongly.

I am fairly sure that if the pastor had followed his gut instinct and come to see me I would have shared my loss of faith with him. OR at the very least implied I was having difficulty with my faith.

Right up until we moved away, I pondered on visiting him to talk over my situation. I think he would have been a good ear, but I am not completely convinced he would have understood my reasoning. I also think there is a chance he may have tried to convince me I was wrong, which at that time, would have been the wrong thing to do. So I did the English thing and did nothing.