About a year ago, some folks from CNN were interviewing and asking around atheist groups for stories and perspectives on life as nonbelievers and our experience. With the airing of “Atheists: Inside the World of Non-Believers”, which looks to be the end product of this work, and my response to the special after it aired last night, I thought I’d finally post my lengthy email response to their questions.
I had never written this part of my life down to its completion before, so it was really long for a relatively short series of questions. I kept going, though, for my own sake, so I could process through it all and have a recording of that. Now I’m thankful I’m able to share it with others. There are a lot of conversion and deconversion stories out there, some filled with much more pain, suffering, triumph, loss, and acceptance, but mine is quiet, without great strife, and this type of experience should be known, as well. If any part of this story provides someone comfort on their journey to self-discovery, it was worth taking up this space on the internet.
There’ll be some edits to make it fit better in public blog post form.
I listen to many different podcasts, and one of them is Stuff You Should Know, hosted by two guys: Josh and Chuck. They cover all sorts of topics, from history to science to pop culture, in an informal and friendly tone.
Sometimes, though, they cover a controversial topic and attract some feedback. Usually they’re on the reasonable side of things, but one area that they often shirk are the skeptical angles of topics like “alternative” medicine (acupuncture, for example) and, in this case, ghosts. They give less time to criticisms of these topics and treat objections less sympathetically than normal. I understand their position of wanting to be welcoming and non-confrontational. But giving certain topics even the resemblance of a credible platform can be problematic.
I wrote them an email about acupuncture when that episode aired over a year ago. I was calm, rational, and kind, and one of the hosts responded with a thanks in that regard. Here’s a copy of my email to them concerning their recent episode on ghosts. I give enough context in the email to get the gist of what they were saying.