Losing my Religion
November 1, 2009 3:21 PM   Subscribe

Deconversion 2.0. A series of Youtube videos detailing the author's separation from his faith. His diction, with...pauses, is a little odd to get used to but worth getting around.
posted by notsnot (37 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Much better, thanks.
posted by aheckler at 3:28 PM on November 1, 2009

Weak. Who cares about this guy and the fact that he doesn't like God anymore? Seriously.

Make it Tom Cruise and Scientology, and hulu.com instead of youtube, and then maybe you are closer to best of the web.
posted by Slap Factory at 4:34 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

Section 2.3 (Other Christians) was not what I was expecting and its narrative is really intriguing.

It's so cold, true, mature, and loving in a way that even the narrator doesn't seem completely cognizant of at this point in his story, and it seems unique for the deconversion genre.
posted by pokermonk at 4:45 PM on November 1, 2009

Who cares about this guy and the fact that he doesn't like God anymore?

You should probably watch the videos before assuming that he doesn't "like" God. That's not even close to the spirit of these videos.
posted by bigmusic at 4:58 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Who cares about this guy...?

I just sat through the whole thing (that he's posted so far) and found I must care about him because I was impressed by several things.

This is a home made documentary posted to the Internet. I swear, if I saw a cleaned up version on PBS I would accept it - in fact, I can only hope (pray?) that Ken Burns forestry doc is this compelling. This is a guy with a webcam and iMovie and YT. That rocked me.

Next: You know, when Sam Harris was asked by TIME why atheists seem so "angry" his reply was (paraphrasing) "really? do I come across as angry?" Answering the "angry" criticism should be a lot simpler than I have found it to be. I mean, it's such a clearly gross generalization that you think it would be a no-brainer to knock it down. It's just a relief to find this guy just for that reason alone.

Next: I love having a geek use geek talk to organize this topic. The mega-belief, graceful degradation network thing was something I don't remember understanding in any Dawkins or Harris or anywhere else and yet, here, it completely hit home. They may have made the same point but I never fully grasped the importance of the bonding relationship between the nodes -- until now.

Sorry for gushing, but I kinda loved it.
posted by victors at 5:14 PM on November 1, 2009 [5 favorites]

hulu.com instead of youtube

I love hulu but in my opinion it's good for personal watching but not ideal for posting around. Anyway, YouTube is where interesting videos from people go; Hulu is for TV shows.
posted by Deathalicious at 5:15 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Born-again Christian deconverts? Easy come, easy go. There are people in this world who thrive on transition. I bet that there were a few years there where he couldn't wait to tell people the story of how Jesus Christ became his personal savior, and how powerful a force that's been in his life. Just as no one needed to here his bloviating about that, no one needs to hear him now coming down from it. In a few years some big event will occur in his personal life, and he'll swing to something else.

I once knew a guy who was totally into Star Wars, but then he got into Lord of the Rings, and was all "Star Wars sucks compare to LOTR." Then he discovered Harry Potter. Maybe he should put up a video about how these varied and sundry epiphanies came to him over the course of his wasted life, and we can post it to the front page. Because it is just as relevant to the rest of the world as this horseshit video posted here.
posted by Pastabagel at 5:17 PM on November 1, 2009 [6 favorites]

I can appreciate what this guy is doing, but not sure I understand why he's making them into videos. What's his end goal? The enlighten and convert others? To justify to himself his own choices?

I probably agree with this guy, but I came to the same conclusions through reading Heinlein and PK Dick.

It almost seems like he had a conclusion here, then used the bible to support his conclusion. Not that I don't enjoy the irony of a non-believer doing this as well.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:18 PM on November 1, 2009

When I clicked on the Back button it kept reloading his youtube homepage. It wouldn't let me go back to Metafilter. What a dick.
posted by water bear at 5:37 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wow, Pastabagel, you're really offended by these videos you haven't watched. Something you'd like to discuss?
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:48 PM on November 1, 2009 [10 favorites]

"Born-again Christian deconverts?"

The Ex-Christian in question never describes himself as "born again", and describes his childhood relationship with prayer.

So in answer to your seemingly rhetorical question, "No."
posted by striatic at 6:22 PM on November 1, 2009

I can appreciate what this guy is doing, but not sure I understand why he's making them into videos. What's his end goal? The enlighten and convert others? To justify to himself his own choices? (cjorgensen)

Does he need one?
posted by ocherdraco at 6:24 PM on November 1, 2009 [3 favorites]

striatic: He does describe himself as "born again," at least in the text that overlays the video.
posted by smcameron at 6:25 PM on November 1, 2009

i stand corrected, but since he describes his childhood prayer to become a robot i don't think there is anything "easy come, easy go" about his de-conversion.
posted by striatic at 6:50 PM on November 1, 2009

is this some...

sort of...

'reverse psychology' keynote presentation...

trying to make me believe?
posted by the aloha at 7:00 PM on November 1, 2009

the aloha, I thought the same thing. That's the reason I love this series so much.
posted by Taft at 7:11 PM on November 1, 2009

I can appreciate what this guy is doing, but not sure I understand why he's making them into videos. What's his end goal? The enlighten and convert others? To justify to himself his own choices?

From his youtube channel page (i.e., where the big link in this FPP goes):

-Inspire rationalists, atheists, secular humanists, and freethinkers.
-Provide support and solidarity for other former Christians.
-Inform the undecided.
-Generate discussion with the open-minded and intellectually honest religious.
-Cause the over-confident religious to question their unwavering certainty.

posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:17 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

I like this for the simple reason that, as a person raised without religoin, it is very hard for me to empathize with religious people. It is very very hard for me not to kind of think they're a little crazy. I have no real experience with religion first hand as any kind of seriously viable thing. And so those who subscribe to religion, to me, end up coming off as kind of crazy. And yes, this means that to me, approximately 90% of people are a little nuts, can't be trusted, and seem to be, well, not very smart. Uh, that understates things considerably, but I won't belabor the point.

So, I like this kind of thing, as it helps me see, and reminds me (and I need reminding) that maybe this 90% of people aren't quite as nuts as I thought they were -- just mistaken, and led so far down the wrong path into a maze that they have a very hard time getting out of it. This kind of thing helps me empathize with believers, and I could use help with that (not that it will make their arguments any less ridiculous to me/)
posted by smcameron at 7:27 PM on November 1, 2009 [9 favorites]

It's an atheist trying to reach out to Christians in a different way than most Christians and atheists generally relate. So I can appreciate what this guy is doing.

You'll notice he never once defends his choice to be an atheist, nor challenges anyone's choice to be a christian.

I'm wondering if it matters to anyone whether or not I should claim to be an atheist or a Christian. After watching this video, I realize no, it doesn't matter. I made my own choices and will believe what I choose to believe.

If you're really pissed off about pointless fpp's, well then shit. What the hell is Metafilter then? There's plenty of people who don't care about what's posted here. Heck I bet they don't even know this place exists. Have some empathy please, then maybe you can have a dialogue.
posted by bam at 7:37 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

As someone who deconverted (though I was never, thankfully, as deep into it as this guy, as I wasn't born into a fundamentalist family) I found these videos really compelling. One doesn't just wake up a non-believer (or non-fundie) overnight. The process of moving from blind faith to reason is really a powerful, human drama, and it takes time and it leaves a very deep imprint on one's psyche. These aren't matters of semantics -- to a believer, they're literally matters of life and death, and the steps toward reason aren't taken lightly. I really applaud this guy for bringing light to this process.
posted by treepour at 8:05 PM on November 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

I think this is a very compelling series and I actually love his diction-- his slow and thoughtful pace. He comes across as so genuine, like you can see the memories fluttering across his mind as he's talking about them. I think it's rather rare to have this quality of storytelling in the webcam-in-a-bedroom format, regardless of if you like or agree with his content.
posted by fontophilic at 8:40 PM on November 1, 2009

Born-again Christian deconverts? Easy come, easy go. There are people in this world who thrive on transition.

Didn't bother watching any of these videos before commenting, did you? Perhaps in future you'd want to do that before posting your 'horseshit' comments here?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:52 PM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

As another person who was raised without religion, I also really appreciated this.

It's sometimes really, really had for me to talk to people who were raised with religion and are on the fence about this stuff. I feel like they just need a good slap in the 70's movie tradition to bring them back to reality.

...and I know that's totally not helpful.

So thanks for posting this. It's helpful to those of us who aspire towards civilization and don't always achieve it.
posted by lumpenprole at 12:55 AM on November 2, 2009

I've watched the first five videos and am pretty impressed. This is not your usual run of the mill pro- or anti- religious polemic, but is rather a detailed presentation of transitions of thoughts and feelings over considerable lengths of time in one person's religious outlook. Although it has been a very long time since I "believed", I once actually did and these videos remind me of some of the changes I went through.
posted by telstar at 1:30 AM on November 2, 2009

This series is a refreshing and humanizing glimpse into the experiences of those who are all-too often drowned out by the lunatics on either side of an extremely sensitive topic.
posted by potch at 1:35 AM on November 2, 2009

I am enjoying the videos. Thanks for the post. Disregard the users ragging on this, it seems somebody has to bitch about every fpp these days, arghhh.
posted by meta87 at 2:22 AM on November 2, 2009






posted by Rumpled at 3:13 AM on November 2, 2009

Fascinating post - and I haven't seen better production values on a video made for YouTube...

I'm a fan of Dawkins, Dennett, and the "new atheists" - but I think this softer approach may appeal more to people on the fence.

I was never a true believer the way Evid3nc3 was. I believed, but only by default, since everyone around me did. Maybe that's why I abandoned the faith earlier, around age 17. But I was a lot less rational about it. What struck me most is how calmly and gradually he stepped from belief into unbelief... removing one node of support at a time, all the while seeing this as something God himself wanted. His faith was a lot more open-minded than my own, which I guess let him hold on to it for longer.

I also saw a conflict between science and religion - the Bob Jones University textbooks at my Christian school vs. the National Geographics my parents subscribed to. Theistic evolution wasn't an option, since only pseudo-Christians believed that - the same pseudo-Christians who believed the Bible was just metaphor and God approved of homosexuality. Real Christians knew that God created the earth in 7 days, the fossils were laid down in the Flood, and early hominid fossils were hoaxes like Piltdown Man.

National Geographic was more convincing. But the main reason I left was ethics, not science. I couldn't get past the idea that everyone who didn't believe was going to hell - "where their worm does not die and their fire is not quenched". For most fundamentalist Christians, this is a great motive to evangelize. (I sympathize with sincere evangelists. They aren't trying to annoy or insult you, they're trying to save your life... wrong as they may be.)

For me, the doctrine of hell was a motive to question. If God is all-powerful and perfectly good, why does he allow this? "He doesn't want it," would be the reply. "But if you don't accept his free gift of salvation, he has no choice... for he is just as well as merciful." No one explained how this could be considered just. I knew a few non-Christians, and I couldn't convince myself that they were all evil. They seemed like perfectly nice people. Why was it just for them to go to hell?

So eventually I realized I didn't believe anymore. I spent the next few years hating Christianity and dismissing it as fundamentalist nonsense. But eventually I realized that the Christianity I grew up with isn't the only kind... and the other kinds aren't "pseudo-Christian". People who believe the Bible is a mostly-metaphorical guide to living a good life have as much claim to the word "Christian" as people who believe that every word proceeded from the mouth of God. People who believe God loves everyone have as much claim to the word "Christian" as people who believe he'll send most of us to hell.

I'm still an atheist and not a Christian, mostly for reasons of evidence. I don't think there's anything morally wrong with liberal Christianity, but I do think it's factually false. So I don't believe it... but I don't have anything against it either.

I do have something against fundamentalism, but more against the system than against the individuals within it. I can't hate most of the people who were raised as I was and who sat next to me in school. We were all taught at an early age to believe fables, and to judge those who aren't like us. It's not surprising that this sticks with people.

As far as I can tell, Evid3nc3 is somewhere close to where I am now - I just went through more ups-and-downs to get here.

Finally, A History of God mentioned in the videos is a great book. The Historical Jesus lecture series on iTunes is also great - it makes a convincing case that many of the core beliefs of modern Christianity were added on after Jesus' death.
posted by problemspace at 5:03 AM on November 2, 2009 [3 favorites]

Make it Tom Cruise and Scientology, and hulu.com instead of youtube, and then maybe you are closer to best of the web.

....Why? What makes Scientology of a different class than Christianity in this regard? Or Tom Cruise? Or Hulu.com?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:28 AM on November 2, 2009

Didn't bother watching any of these videos before commenting, did you? Perhaps in future you'd want to do that before posting your 'horseshit' comments here?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:52 AM on November 2

Two people have said this now. Actually, I did watch some of them. More particularly, however, I played them and sent the window to the background. So I originally didn't watch it as much as listen to it. But after reading these comments, I did watch them, because I wondered if there was some visual thing not referenced in the audio that I missed.

There wasn't. A lot of you are more impressed by production quality than argument.

Compare the quality of this "argument" with that presented in the Blood Meridian thread a few posts down on the front page. Obviously they are different subjects, but the depth of the research, and the consideration given to the sources is of an astronomically higher caliber in the latter lecture than this one. This is precisely because the Yale video is a lecture. This video is a sermon.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:02 AM on November 2, 2009

water bear: When I clicked on the Back button it kept reloading his youtube homepage. It wouldn't let me go back to Metafilter. What a dick.

That's not because he's a dick; it's just a fluke that sometimes happens with the Youtube Flash interface, which likes to take control of the browser. I don't think a Youtube user could make it do that if he wanted to.
posted by koeselitz at 6:11 AM on November 2, 2009

..depth of the research, and the consideration given to the sources...

Now that you say it that way, it does strike me as odd that this guy would consider to base his approach on respect for all sides of an argument when he could just employ tactics such as "watch some of them" and "sent the window to the background" and just form opinions based on impressions. And that whole unseemly faux eagerness to revise his own thinking based on the "evidence" is annoying as hell when he could have just constructed logical fallicies using phrases like "A lot of you" to back up those initial impressions. Indeed what a wasted life posting his thoughts to YT when there's clearly such a higher calling (i.e. commenting on mefi) in the world.

I'm changing my vote to 3 mehs and 6 fails!
posted by victors at 9:55 AM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I liked it. He's cute. Wonder if I can deconvert him from heterosexuality. Or is he already deconverted?
posted by PigAlien at 10:33 AM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

My view is that these videos enumerate all the classic gaffs made by both atheists and literalists with respect to their approach to the Bible. The idea that science could validate faith seems to defeat the point of being a theist. Conversely, what exactly does atheism require from faith and what does science really have to do with it?

The story of the progression from a temple cult to the understanding that their god is with them, is very beautiful and moving. The path from separation, to sacrifice, to redemption does not, to my Buddhist mind, require that it accord with any science. Of course I have probably totally misunderstood the whole issue.
posted by aquathug at 3:57 PM on November 2, 2009

This was oddly fascinating. I went through this exact same process... except I went from agnostic (raised without any religious beliefs, a distinct memory of asking at around age five "Mommy, what happens when you die?" and hearing "Well, you just sort of stop. There's no more you anymore") to Christian (around my late teens, after having attended private religious schools for five years due to concerns about getting the crap kicked out of me in public school.) It was not a pressured conversion; instead, I applied what I'd already worked out about morality, beliefs, faith, and spirituality and examined the religion around me. I never did get along very well with my fellow Christians, and my impassioned theological arguments with the Bible teacher were the stuff of whispered schoolroom legend, but I came to faith via my reasoning rather than losing my faith after an assault from reason.

This is why I really really really really really hate fundamentalism, as it's currently expressed in America, and particularly the sort of "education" that goes on in the little bubble worlds of private Christian schools and universities and so on. These kids get taught this nonsense about literal interpretation and Biblical inerrancy and how there's no way to behave morally if the Holy Spirit doesn't make you do it, and then they go out into the actual world and their whole conception of reality falls into pieces. It's tremendously traumatic, and it usually ends up with the deconverted people in a very bitter and angry place.

I was impressed by Evid3nc3's calm and earnest demeanor; he came through the storm of his network of beliefs finally collapsing and he managed to get out the other side largely unscathed. A lot of these kids are explicitly taught that their entire salvation rests on believing that, say, all the animals in the world were literally stuffed onto a boat barely big enough for a large family. No wonder there's backlash and vindictiveness and depression and all the other things that go along with a crumbling worldview. In my opinion, it's self-destructive and ultimately self-defeating.
posted by Scattercat at 5:52 PM on November 2, 2009

I just have to add that he's got a lot of pretty lazy intellectual habits, especially in regarding others as mental inferiors. I have these same habits, which is why I can empathize with him. (I'm just kind of amused that his new spiritual mentor is some guy with soooo many degrees and stuff who still has to post flamebait trollish "reviews" of the freaking BIBLE on Amazon. What the heck, professor dude?)
posted by Scattercat at 6:43 PM on November 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

Man I was just putting together a post about this. Here are some of his posts I found most noteworthy. Deconversion: Other Christians (part 1). Other Christians (Part 2). Morality
posted by nola at 9:06 PM on November 3, 2009

« Older After the Wall   |   Article about the environmental impact of pets. Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments