A Presbyterian Pastor & A Hardcore Atheist Walk Into A Podcast Together: The Faitheism Project Podcast — Episodes 1 – 14

In a time of rancor, malice and polar division, the Faitheism Project Podcast offers a strong measure of level-headed, respectful conversation about the Really Big Things. For all their theoretical differences though, life-long atheist (and TV-film writer-producer) A L Katz and Presbyterian Pastor Randy Lovejoy, over the course of a 15 year friendship, have discovered that most of those differences can be summed up in one word: vocabulary. If we separate spirituality from religion — they are not the same thing — then suddenly people of faith and people of no faith can talk together because both feel the same awe when they think about Life and Living.

Spirituality is how we relate to things vastly bigger than ourselves. Religion quantifies spirituality, translating the mysterious into a dogmatic “how-to” guide that penalizes those who won’t follow along exactly. By stripping out dogma at the start, there’s no argument to win because everyone’s spiritual journey is their own. Instead of a relentless, dull “yes-no” argument going nowhere, we get deep, well-researched-because-heartfelt discussions that, we hope, will open your eyes and mind but also entertain you.

There are no arguments to win here. That’s not the point. How to find a little peace of mind in chaotic, rancorous times — that’s more what The Faitheism Project is after. If you’re like us, you’ll find a great deal of peace in realizing how much more we have in common with each other than we think.

We invite you to join us — and, please — don’t be shy. We welcome your thoughts on our thoughts!

The Faitheism Project Podcast, Episode #14: “Biden V Trump — Call It!”

At very long last, election 2020 is here. Doesn’t it feel more like a thousand years instead of four? Who’s going to win this thing? And will we stand by our calls? Predicting the future is easy.  We all do it.  But, rarely, if ever, do we have to explain in the loss’s aftermath how we got it all so utterly wrong.  During an election season like this one (one for the ages unfortunately), prognostication has become a parlor game played by unaccountable prophets.  

Are all these Jeremiahs shouting their jeremiads (ourselves included) doing more harm than good?  Are we just guessing at the future?  Can we really speak with any authority about what will happen as we predict what our political opponents will do once they have power?  Can we be honest about what will happen should “our side” win?

Here at The Faitheism Project we are committed to seeking truth.  

We’re also willing to put our philosophical money where our philosophical mouths are.  

We are going to look into their “crystal ball” (singular, please, and rented just for the occasion) and share what we see in the future whether a Biden victory or a Trump victory.  

Then, in the near future (as the dust from the election and this episode settles), we’ll do a companion podcast where we’ll look back at what we predicted in this podcast and take stock: were we right or wrong, how right or wrong — and what do we think about that?

And for the record, Alan wants it known that he rocks the sackcloth and ashes look.

The Faitheism Project Podcast, Episode #14: “Biden V Trump — Call It!”

For notes and sources, please click here.

The Faitheism Project Podcast, Episode #13: “Ya Call THAT An ‘Original Sin’?”

Why does evil (or Evil) take root so easily inside human heads?  Why IS there a rotten apple spoiling the whole bunch?  Why is there suffering to begin with?  Christianity has often traced it all back to “original sin”.  If only Eve had listened…But what if Eve is a literary invention?  Doesn’t the entire cause-and-effect construct of original sin come crashing down in the absence of an actual historical event?  If it never actually happened, how could we be “guilty” of it?  How can a story be the logic behind seeing and treating all humanity as “sinful”?  

There are other ways to look at this.  Buddhists, for instance, see the human condition very differently.  They don’t see sin, they see suffering; a suffering that is caused by desire and ignorance, yes, but in Buddhism the goal is to transcend suffering by achieving Nirvana.  The Christian view of the human condition seeks to overcome sin and its effects.

But, is there something essential inside the idea of “original sin”?  What if we strip out all the storytelling flourishes and try to get at what sparked the idea that one story — Jesus dying for all our sins — was the antidote to another story — Eve “inventing” sin in the first place?  What is Eve really guilty of?  Are we humans the cause of our own misery?  One could definitely make that case.  And mightn’t a little tough love (the church’s remedy) be what humanity really needs?

For notes and sources, please click here.

The Faitheism Project Podcast, Episode #12: “Evil, Part Deux”

Apparently mankind struggles with Evil.  Randy and I certainly are struggling with it.  When you’ve co-existed with Evil — as Randy did he lived in Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe’s reign of terror — your perspective on “evil” or “Evil” is different than someone in America accusing Donald Trump of being Evil.  Or a Trump supporter calling a Democrat “evil”.

It’s not that anyone’s wrong in their accusation.  It’s a gut check we’re making as the temperatures rise all around us.  Is the word “evil” conjuring things in our heads that are less than evil — still bad — but not on the level of, say, a Robert Mugabe?

Words are incredibly powerful.  As we rear back to throw the word “evil” in our current discourse, are we sure it’s really what we’re talking about?   Who’s the final arbiter of “evil”?  Is anyone?

Or is everyone?

Most importantly, what can we do to heal a fractured world where the two sides see each other as “evil”?

The Faitheism Project Podcast, Episode #12: “Evil, Part Deux”

For notes and sources, please click here.

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/

3 thoughts on “A Presbyterian Pastor & A Hardcore Atheist Walk Into A Podcast Together: The Faitheism Project Podcast — Episodes 1 – 14

  1. “Spirituality is how we relate to things vastly bigger than ourselves.”

    no, it isn’t. It is how people think they relate to magic, which has yet to be shown to exist.

    Having been a presbyterian, and knowing that Christians constantly claim each other are wrong, is part of the reason I’m an atheist. The bigger part is that none of the claims of spirituality have anything to back them up.

    1. You and I agree – except on the word “spirituality”. I’ve been an atheist my whole life. For real. But I also identify a “spirituality” as I gaze at the cosmos. That feeling of awe — I claim back the word “spirituality” from the “religionistas” who’ve expropriated it and used it incorrectly. Spirituality is awe — it’s the mystery that lies on the other side of a black hole. Spirituality doesn’t demand magic or ooga-booga. Just awe and the willingness to admit we don’t know all the answers. Yet. Religion, by contrast, is some institutionalist’s attempt to define and dogmatize other peoples’ spirituality.

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