A Presbyterian Pastor & A Hardcore Atheist Walk Into A Podcast Together: The Faitheism Project Podcast — Episodes 1 – 11

The first thing my friend Randy Lovejoy and I agreed about when we started our conversation about spirituality 15 years ago, was how much awe we both felt when we gazed up at the cosmos. We also agreed: spirituality and religion are NOT the same thing. Spirituality is how you relate to things vastly bigger than you. Religion quantifies spirituality, translating the mysterious into a dogmatic “how-to” guide that penalizes those who won’t follow along.

Randy’s a Presbyterian pastor. I’m a “devout” atheist, a TV/feature film writer/producer grateful to Hebrew School for making me the atheist I am today. By all rights, we should be at each other, trying to win the argument. Except — and here’s the important thing — there’s no argument to win because we’re talking about spirituality and everyone is on their own personal spiritual journey — unlike anyone else’s.

Something Randy and I learned early on as the conversation got deeper and deeper? Our spiritual journeys were and are remarkably similar. The only real difference between us is the vocabulary we use to describe our journeys. With our minds open to each other’s experience, Randy and I can both learn from each other.

For me? That’s the best part of the whole Faitheism Project experience: learning. We invite you to join us — and, please — don’t be shy. We welcome your thoughts on our thoughts!

The Faitheism Project Podcast, Episode #11: “What’s So Evil About EVIL?”

We all know what Evil is. It’s the “boogeyman”, a Bond Villain, Hitler. The boogeyman and Blofeld (Bond’s main villain), being inventions, can be evil for no reason other than “for evil’s sake”. Hitler, on the other hand, is more complicated because, frankly, evil is more complicated. Yes, what Hitler did was flat out evil. What Robert Mugabbe did or a Pol Pot or Stalin — all recognizably evil. But all of these men share one common feature: they weren’t exceptional people. They were all, in fact, quite banal as humans if separated from their evil.

German philosopher Hannah Arendt caused a huge stir when she first described evil as more “banal” than anything else. That means evil is more prevalent, easier to spread and harder to stop. The problem is, Evil has a point of view. Dig into a Hitler and you discover the context (the socio-political environment of Weimar Germany) in which Hitler happened. It certainly doesn’t excuse the evil that flowed from Hitler’s fascism, but it explains why it happened.

And it explains why it’s happened — and is happening — again.

Evil, it turns out, is complicated. So complicated, it turns out, that we’re doing it in two parts (as if that would be enough!) It also turns out that Evil is a very personal subject…

The Faitheism Project Podcast, Episode 11: “What’s So Evil About EVIL?”

For notes and sources, please go here: https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/faitheismproject.com/1988?authWpAdmin=true

The Faitheism Project Podcast, Episode #10: “Can Spirituality Overcome History?”

Personal history. Cultural history. Political history. Tribal history. We all have history. Sometimes that history can be quite a “cross to bear” as we set out on our spiritual journeys. But, must we be prisoners of our history? Are we victims of it? Can we ever be masters of it instead?

How much of our history is baked into us before we even start asking questions?

By the time most of us set out on a spiritual journey, we do it already loaded down with baggage. How do we minimize the baggage so as to maximize the spirituality?

The Faitheism Project Podcast, Episode 10: :Can Spirituality Overcome History?”

For show notes & sources: https://faitheismproject.com/2020/09/25/the-faitheism-project-podcast-episode-10-can-spirituality-overcome-history/

The Faitheism Project Podcast, Episode 9: “Why Is There Something Instead Of Nothing?”

The cosmic microwave background (CMB, CMBR), in Big Bang cosmology, is electromagnetic radiation which is a remnant from an early stage of the universe, also known as “relic radiation“. The CMB is faint cosmic background radiation filling all space. … CMB is landmark evidence of the Big Bang origin of the universe. From Wikipedia

Beneath even “Why are we here?” is the question “why is there even a ‘here’ here?”  We know what happens after “In the beginning…”, it’s what happened before that — what happened before either the Big Bang banged or God pulled the trigger on “being”? Was there just “nothingness”? And if there was, how was the weather in it?

If, it turns out, God created everything, then how did he get there?  How long did he wait before creating everything?  Why then — the moment he created everything — and not the moment before or after?  And how exactly does one create something out of nothingness?

It’s the ultimate brain teaser: why do you have a brain to tease in the first place?

The Faitheism Project Podcast, Episode #9: “Why Is There Something Instead Of Nothing?”

For notes & sources, please visit: https://faitheismproject.com/2020/09/23/the-faitheism-project-podcast-episode-9-why-is-there-something-instead-of-nothing/

The Faitheism Project Podcast, Episode #8: “Spirituality & Activism, Part Two”

One’s spirituality should be at the heart of one’s actions.  But not everyone’s spirituality is the same.  While we may not want to apply the word “spiritual” to Nazism, from a dedicated Nazi’s point of view, what they’re experiencing is both transcendent and spiritual.  It fixes their place in the Greater Scheme Of Things and compels them to act.

Activism can be less malignant but dangerous in other ways; it can be wrongheaded — its heart in the right place but its activism completely mis-directed.

Turns out? Activism is complicated. Spirituality doesn’t make it any less so.

So — now that we’ve ID’d the problem, what’s a spiritually-inclined, activist wannabe person to do?  I bet if we talk about it, we’ll come up with some answers.

For notes and References, go here: https://faitheismproject.com/2020/09/14/the-faitheism-project-podcast-episode-8-spirituality-activism-part-2/

The Faitheism Project Podcast, Episode 7: “Spirituality & Activism, Part 1”

Ideally, a spiritual journey connects you to the world outside your head and all the other creatures in it. You see your place in the world on a micro and macro level. You find inner peace and a path toward further enlightenment. Then, once connected, ideally, your spirituality will spur you 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.

For notes and sources, please go here: https://faitheismproject.com/2020/09/02/the-faitheism-project-podcast-episode-7-spirituality-activism-part-1/

The Faitheism Project Podcast, Episode #6: Is The Bible Still Relevant?”

Love it or Eschew it, the Bible can boast of being the most widely read book in the world, having sold over 3.9 billion copies over the past 50 years. That’s a lot of books. Plenty of hotel rooms still have a Gideons Bible hidden in a drawer. Plenty of televangelists still hold it aloft like it had magical powers. Heck, even Donald Trump pulled that trick.

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?

For notes & sources, please go here: https://faitheismproject.com/2020/08/14/the-faitheism-project-podcast-episode-6-is-the-bible-still-relevant/

The Faitheism Project Podcast, Episode #5: “Spirituality + Drugs = ?”

If you do it right apparently, spirituality is the best drug ever. Never mind getting high, spirituality can get you connected — to everyone and everything in the world. But, if your spirituality needs a boost — we have chemistry. 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 a spiritual journey?

The Faitheism Project Podcast, Episode #5: “Spirituality + Drugs = ?”

For notes & sources, please go here: https://faitheismproject.com/2020/07/31/the-faitheism-project-podcast-episode-5-spirituality-drugs-2/

The Faitheism Project Podcast, 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?

For notes & sources, please go here: https://faitheismproject.com/2020/07/14/the-faitheism-project-podcast-episode-4-the-politics-of-spirituality/

The Faitheism Project Podcast, Episode #3: “What Do We Really ‘Know’?”

Can we ever really know what we think we know? It’s a tricky question. 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!

For Notes & Sources, please go here: https://faitheismproject.com/2020/07/08/the-faitheism-project-podcast-episode-3-what-do-we-really-know/

The Faitheism Project Podcast, 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”?

For Notes & Sources, please go here: https://faitheismproject.com/2020/07/01/the-fatheism-project-podcast-episode-2-certainty-v-uncertainty/

“Episode #1: A Presbyterian Minister And An Atheist Walk Into A Podcast Together”

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.

The Faitheism Project Podcast, Episode #1: “A Presbyterian Minister & A Devout Atheist Walk Into A Podcast Together”

For Notes & Sources, please go here: https://faitheismproject.com/2020/07/01/the-faitheism-project-podcast-episode-1-a-presbyterian-minister-an-atheist-walk-into-a-podcast-together/

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