For the last 15 years, Presbyterian minister Randy Lovejoy and devout atheist TV/film writer-producer A L Katz have been carrying on a conversation together about spirituality — a thing they discovered they had in common. Spirituality and religion, Alan and Randy both agreed, are not the same thing. They also agreed: everyone — atheists included — feel profound awe as they gaze up at the cosmos.
That awe is where our commonalities begin.
As Randy and Alan learned quickly, though they use different words and vocabulary to describe their spiritual journeys, their journeys are remarkably alike — and remarkably universal. The fact is, despite our preconceptions, people of faith and people of “no faith” have far more to talk about than they realize — because, down deep, they’re far more alike than not.
We invite you to join us — and, please — don’t be shy. We welcome your thoughts on our thoughts!
“Episode #1: A Presbyterian Minister And An Atheist Walk Into A Podcast Together:
In a sense, a religious person saying that God is ultimately unknowable is the same as someone who believes in the scientific method thinking we may never know what lies beyond a singularity. Unknowable is unknowable whether we think of it as a deity or information. If we look closer, we’ll see that our spiritual quests are remarkably alike; it’s really the vocabulary that’s different.
What led Alan to atheism? Why did Randy become a minister? What exactly will The Faitheism Podcast talk about in future episodes? We’re glad you asked…
“Episode #2: Certainty v Uncertainty”
Science is a search for certainty that accepts uncertainty as a given. There are things science must admit it does not know. What then does one do when one reaches the limits of one’s knowledge? The Abrahamic religions insist God is the answer to everything. He’s the uncertainty cure. That doesn’t mean he’ll ever share what he knows with us. By the same token, the universe doesn’t exactly give away its secrets easily either. And what if “Everything we know is wrong”?
“Episode 3: What Do We Really Know Anyway?”
It’s a tricky question — what do we “know”? It might be easier to answer what don’t we know? Our search for Spiritual Truth relies upon our senses first of all — but our senses give us an incomplete picture of the world at best. Our human eyes can only see available light, for instance, while lots of other light (infra red, gamma rays, x-rays) blows past us 24/7 — loaded with information that we never receive because those light frequencies are invisible to our eyes.
Our ears aren’t much better.
And what is our knowledge anyway? We know we have thoughts and we know roughly what causes us to experience them. Other than that? We have no idea what thoughts are — or where they come from even. Sounds like the perfect starting point for a conversation!
“Episode #4: The Politics Of Spirituality”
If talking about religion can start fights, imagine talking about religion and politics. Except we’re not talking about religion and politics, we’re talking about spirituality — and politics.
Not the same thing — just like spirituality and religion aren’t the same thing. Should one’s spirituality have anything to do with one’s politics? Should one’s politics have anything to do with one’s spirituality?
Many of America’s founders were deists steeped in the thinking of the French Enlightenment. They recognized the dangers of mixing politics and religion and tried to put strong walls between them. But America has always had a strong allure both to those seeking religious freedom and to those seeking to assert their religion over others. Perhaps the problem lies right where spirituality and religion diverge.
Episode #5: “Spirituality + Drugs = ?”
Even before Christianity introduced sacramental wine to its rites (alcohol is as much a drug as anything), humans were using mind-altering substances to enhance their spiritual quests. And why not? We’re all just sacks of chemicals anyway, right? How could a little chemical enhancement hurt anybody?
As the National Institute of Health puts it: “Priests or shamans have ingested plants for millennia to induce states of dissociative trance … our taste for addictive psychoactive substances is attested to in the earliest human record.”
What do drugs bring to the spirituality table? And, why do the Abrahamic religions (especially Christianity & Islam) look upon drugs as “evil” rather than as a possible enhancement to one’s spiritual journey?
Episode #6: “Is The Bible Still Relevant?”
The Bible remains the most widely read book in the world, having sold over 3.9 billion copies over the past 50 years. For comparison’s sake, The “Quotations of Chairman Mao Tse-Tung” comes in a distant second with 820 million copies sold and the “Harry Potter” series which comes in an even more distant third at 400 million copies. There’s no denying the Bible’s influence over us. But is it still relevant? Fewer of us believe the stories told by the Bible are literal truth; its loyal, believing readership mirrors the diminishing realm of the God of the Gaps. Is it just a matter of time before the Bible becomes nothing more than a quaint museum piece?
Episode #7: “When The Spirit Moves Ya — Spirituality & Activism”
Ideally, a spiritual journey connects you to the world outside your head and all the other creatures in it. Then, once connected, ideally, one’s spirituality motivates one to do something to change the world, hopefully for the better. Alas, that’s not always what happens. Why does spirituality sometimes fail to produce acts that effectuate the change it aspires to? Is Spirituality and activism way too big for one podcast to cover? Hell, yeah!
To be honest, when Randy and I sat down to record episode 7, we thought it would be a one-n-done. A good convo about an interesting topic. Turned out there was more on the bones than we realized. Lots more.