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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Recovering From Religion's Jerry DeWitt - Episode 48

Jerry DeWitt is the new executive director of Recovering From Religion, and he joins us for a wide-open discussion of the process of leaving faith and finding a way to make a life of reason work for you.

Recovering From Religion


  1. From Barry Taylor:

    I found what Rich said about how so many of the people who really, truly believed in Christianity end up being open, outspoken atheist activists when they come out of religion quite interesting. Why do you think that is?

    Most of my atheist friends are quite laid back about it, but I'm far more outspoken about my atheism. The only difference I can see is that my background (born again, Spirit-filled Pentecostal, theological seminary, preaching, evangelism, intense personal devotion) was far more intensively religious.

    Any thoughts on why this is?

  2. If you read this, the problem with posting here has been resolved :o)

  3. I would expect that it has to do with how integral religion is to their sense of self. When that disappears they have to find that new sense of self and in a way I think that the new internal identity ends up also taking on those public properties that the religious beliefs used to have. Not by choice, or thought, but by training and tradition.

    Further, I can imagine that the frustration and anger that someone who looks back on their life and sees how much of it was spent on something that they now believe to be imaginary would be upset. That they would want to help prevent others from wasting any more time on something that hurt them so much.

    Disclaimer time: I have always been agnostic, even as a young child. I have believed in the possibility of god, but now I am a agnostic atheist where I give no claim to even the possibility without evidence. I never remember believing in gods, just the possibility. I tended to lean towards magical thinking (supernatural powers, ESP so on and so forth). That is what I had to train myself out of as I saw more and more that we live in a world governed by natural laws, but my view of the possibility of magic was never a central aspect of me, as a hairy mammal.

    What do you think about my ideas on why deconverted true believers tend to be so much more outspoken? I can only speculate and I wonder how true those thoughts sound to someone who actually went through it.

  4. I was pretty much a lifelong atheist (with the exception of a mercifully brief spat of intense religiosity in grad paraphrase Rick James a la The Chappelle Show, "Postmodernism is a helluva drug.") and was pretty apathetic towards religion until I hit puberty and realized just how anti-sex, anti-human religion can be. That moved me from "apath-thism" to outright anti-theism. Even during my brief religious phase in grad school, it was New-Agey enough that I remained "sex-positive". Never could or would buy in to traditional religious guilt-tripping.

    I'm not as militant as some atheists friends are, but I won't deny what I am either (though I may soften it with language like "I'm not [very] religious") if directly asked.

    One thing I deeply respect about my fellow atheists who were formally religious is, they're great to have on your side in a debate, because they know the opposition's stuff backwards and forwards. I still haven't read the bible cover-to-cover (too boring!) but I like having allies who have.

    Although my brief lapse into religion is embarrassing, I did get to experience, in highly condensed form (a few months), what a lot of my formerly religious atheists friends did over several years of their lives. The problem of evil and questions about immortality/afterlife tortured me constantly. I also had "religious experiences", and so can empathize with (if not sympathize with) what religious people are talking about when they describe such experiences and how compelling they are to them, etc.

    I admire Rich, Jerry, and Dan (Barker)...still concerned about finding the truth and shouting it from the rooftops. Keep up the great work, guys!