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Rhett’s Spiritual Deconstruction

Welcome to Ear Biscuits, I’m Link. And I’m nervous. Yeah, man this has been
a long time coming. Actually, my name is
Rhett, but I am nervous. Just a quick recap, we’ve been–
This week! You know, you gotta catchphrase it. I’m off my game, man. I’m gonna be off my game all day today. This week at the round table. This week at the round
table of damn wilding, I am telling my story of how
I kinda got to where I am in terms of my belief
and why I don’t believe what I used to believe. And of course, this is
all in a larger series that we’re doing. The last two podcasts we
called “The Lost Years” where we covered you
know, all those stories, filling in the gaps of how we got from being engineers to being YouTubers and the path that we took
which was a little atypical involved being missionaries for a while. Yeah, if you haven’t listened to those previous two podcasts, I recommend listening to those first. But this one and the next one are gonna be totally different
than the previous two because they’re going to
be very personal in nature, very singular in nature. This is your episode and then
next week will be my episode. But can I just acknowledge
the conversation that’s happened, is happening? Oh I got– You gotta put that on.
I got a buzzer on my– Link usually doesn’t do the timer and so he doesn’t
I gotta turn the wifi on.
know the system. So I turn the wifi off? You just turn the notifications off. Just wanna acknowledge how so many of you have
joined in the conversation using #EarBiscuits, just letting us know how you’re processing our process. It’s been extremely
helpful and encouraging because I mean this represents what we perceived as, I was gonna say risk but I don’t really
wanna use the term risk. I just feel like it
was just a big decision to share something that’s of, to be vulnerable in this way and to share these things that
no one’s begging us to share and we’re not obligated to share but we just, as we’ve said
before two episodes ago, we’ve already went into
why we’re talking about it I’m glad we’re doing it. Like I said, it’s been a long time coming. We’ve been talking about you know, it would just come up every month or every couple of months for many years. It’s just when are we gonna talk about the spiritual aspect of our lives and that in our faith journey? I guess you will now. Knowing that we always would so yeah. Okay, so before we get into that I do have a couple of
things to acknowledge. First of all, for those of
you watching the podcast, yes, I do have my hair pulled back into some sort of configuration. I don’t know the technical name for this and I apologize for it. If you’re the kind of person like me who judges men who do
this with their hair. I would call it a sad ponytail. Yeah. I think you know when you’re.. it just seems like it’s
such an interesting– Choice? The timing is interesting because this is such a momentous, I have very specific, there’s
two very specific reasons why I’m doing it today.
This is how much this episode for you? Yeah, I’m doing it for two reasons, Link. Reason number one is my
hair has gotten to the point where I can do this and then I started realizing
why people do do this. Because this podcast, I’m gonna be, I got notes as you can see, I’ve got my iPad out. I’m gonna be going through notes. I mean I don’t know where this is gonna go and I don’t wanna be distracted by my big old bouffant
falling down in my face and having to move it all around. So it’s just, it’s tight, it’s in place and I’m not gonna think about it. Now you might think about it. But just stop thinking about it, okay? I wasn’t even gonna mention it. Thanks. The other thing I wanna say real quick is that yesterday Link
and I were on the road, pitching a project that we’re
hoping will become something. And on the way back from, now Link has been driving, Won’t you wanna say the project is? Well yeah, we’re trying to turn Lost Causes of Bleak Creek into a TV show so hopefully somebody will agree to that. But we’re coming back from a meeting and Link has been driving because he’s got a new fancy electric Audi and so he drives everywhere. Eventually, I’ll get a fancy
car and then I’ll drive too but right now, we’re just
enjoying Link’s new car. So he’s been driving around town and then yesterday on the way back from the other side of
town, from the West Side, red at a light and Link
just kind of takes half and then it turns green. And then he turns to me he says, “I almost hit that pedestrian.” Now, first of all you gotta understand. Yeah, because you guys
didn’t, you and Stevie you didn’t see I almost hit a pedestrian.
‘Cause I’m not driving, Because when you– I mean I don’t have to pay
attention to the pedestrians. Maybe I do.
When you turn right off– Yeah, you don’t have to explain it. Okay.
You almost always hit pedestrians, okay. I don’t know why you’re
telling ’em about this but go ahead. Because last night, I got
a message on Instagram. A what? “Just seen y’all in the
Audi, you almost hit me, lol. “Love the show.” Seriously! Yeah. I almost hit a fan? Yeah, yeah, yeah, Yeah, you almost
I almost killed a mythical beast?
Almost killed a mythical beast. Oh man! Oh my gosh! So anyway–
Oh my gosh– He’s okay. I need to process it. He’s a little shaken up. I know.
Yeah, but not enough to send me a message. I wouldn’t say a little,
I’m a lot shaken up. Link, you do this on a,
you do this regularly man. Okay, back to the task at hand. Oh man! Never seen it, this is
when the spiritual stuff really matters, right? Right.
It’s about life and death. Exactly. Okay, my goal today, first of all, I wanna let
you know just like Link said. Today’s gonna be different. I’m gonna be doing most of the talking. Next week, Link will be
doing most of the talking. And when I say most, I mean, like I’ve got these detailed notes that I’ve literally been
making for months at this point in preparation for telling this story. And so I just don’t
wanna get things wrong, I wanna be able to move through this. It gets very detailed,
I honestly don’t know how anyone who doesn’t come
from a similar background is going to be interested
in what I’m about to say because it kind of gets
into the nitty-gritty of you know Christian
belief and Christian doubt, about those things and my particular, what we call “a deconstruction story” of how I no longer consider
myself an evangelical Christian. It’s very detailed because the things that were happening in
my mind, in my heart is sort of a particular thread that you may or may not relate to. But it is my story and I’m gonna tell it. Like Link said, I’m nervous, I’m anxious about this. I mean the last two podcasts, obviously, we were nervous
about talking about those years and how people might perceive that because people come from so
many different backgrounds, they have so many different points of view when it comes to this issue. Either you’re in it, you were in it and you’re out of it, you’re not, you have no way of relating to it. And that particular
perspective that you bring to you know, listening to our stories as I’ve seen in these Twitter comments some people have been making. People sometimes, they just don’t know what to think about it, you know? Yeah. But the thing that I am, particularly with telling my story, the thing that I just
wanna be very clear about is that I am not here to judge where you’re at currently, right? So when you tell a story in your life, “I used to believe this and
now I no longer believe that “and here’s why.” If you still believe that, then you may think
there’s implicit judgment in what you think. And I wanna say that
that is not my intention and I’m just trying to be as honest about my own situation as possible and approach this with as
much humility as possible. So, that. It is gonna get detailed and I’m trying, I’ll
try to condense it down but this is like a year’s long process. This is, we’re going back. I’m going back basically 20 years and kind of telling a lot of
different things that happened. But this is not gonna be as detailed as some of you might want it to be and it’s gonna be more detailed than some of you want it to be. Okay, so– And I’m here to support you. Well, thank you, Link,
you wanna hold my hand? If you need that, sure. I’m also gonna take notes ’cause I don’t wanna interrupt you. If there’s something I’m
thinking, I’ll just jot it down. And if I want you to hold
my hand at any point, I will just extend it, okay. Yeah, just do that. I’ll know that’s what that means. First of all, even though
we kind of covered this in one of the podcasts, what it meant to me to be a Christian. Now I believed that
Jesus was the Son of God, that a personal relationship with him was the only way to be saved, the only way to go to heaven when you die. And this belief defined everything for me. This was of my worldview, it
gave me purpose and meaning and I lived with this knowledge
of this spiritual reality. Right, there’s a spiritual reality that is constantly around us kind of permeating every decision, every relationship, every conversation. And I wanna emphasize how
big of a deal it was to me. It was a relationship and I wanna say that because I’ve noticed that
when I tell my story, often people kind of conclude that I was never a true Christian right? And I’m dressing this upfront
for a couple of reasons. First of all I understand
why people do this because this is what I did for many years when I had friends who said you know, I don’t
really believe that anymore. And I would be like well, you must have never believed it, you must have never really had a real relationship with Jesus because according to my
particular theology at the time, which was eternal security which is once you’re God’s child, you’re always God’s child
and you can’t get away. Once you have faith, you might
fall away for a little bit but you’re always gonna come back and you’re gonna be, you’re
sealed, you’re delivered, you’re gonna be saved. And that’s a difficult thing for me now because I gotta be honest, it kind of feels very dismissive, right? And I don’t think it really accounts for what actually the reality was and is. And so the only thing I’m gonna ask is that you just don’t reduce
me to a theological footnote as you’re listening to this story because as far as I’m concerned, Jesus was as real to me
as he possibly could be without physically manifesting
himself in my presence. It was a relationship,
we were in conversation. So with that kind of setting the stage, I’m gonna get into the story kind of starting back
with my college years. But first, we’re gonna do an ad break. ‘Cause that seems like the
most appropriate thing to do. Well, because we always do ad breaks. I mean it’s- I’m not gonna apologize for it, it’s what makes this possible. Yeah, that’s why we’re
out doing this, man. I mean this is not why we’re doing this, it’s how we’re doing this. I’m wearing a shirt, you
can get it at We’re drinking from mugs. Are they still available? I think that was a
everything gonna last forever so it may not be these mugs but it’s stuff that you gotta scoop up when they’re at Support your boys, wrap them up unless you unless something
about what Rhett says just really makes you never wanna buy anything from us again. Yeah. Then all I can say is I’m sorry. Okay, I gotta say first of all, you remember okay, Dennis Rodman? I don’t know, I wasn’t planning on saying this.
Okay, yes. Dennis Rodman used to have so much energy when he played for the Bulls that when they took him out of the game, he would go on the sideline and get on it like on an exercise bike. I remember that, yeah. I feel like Dennis Rodman right now. You wanna be on a treadmill? I just, I’m wired, I’m just, I’m nervous. Yeah, it’s a– I wanna calm my breathing. When you talk about it for years, just the two of us. When we talk about this moment for years, you might need to take a breath. But I’m not gonna–
The fact that you’ve got all these notes, I’m freaking nervous ’cause like I’m not, my
story’s totally different. Don’t worry, I know
your story’s different. That’s what makes it good.
And my approach is totally different. That’s what makes it good, man. We’re different guys. So, I’m prepared. Okay, this isn’t about me. Go ahead. Okay. You’re back in the
game, get some rebounds. I’ve always, thank you. I’m also gonna marry myself. Dennis Rodman jokes for days. Okay, I have always been a
naturally skeptical person so even in the midst of a
very vibrant Christian faith, I would have doubts. I’d hear a little something about how the Bible came together, how the 27 books in the New Testament were kind of put together in the way that the Canon came together and I’d be like this doesn’t
seem as clean as maybe I thought that it might have been. I would think a little bit
about the resurrection of Jesus, and I’d be like that’s a tough thing. It’s a tough thing but
that’s the whole point, it’s tough, I have faith you know. And what I would typically do is I would have these sessions where I would sort of re drive my faith but also, I would do what I
think a lot of Christians do, is that when you have a
doubt about something, you go and you read a Christian expert. We call it apologetics in Christianity. Somebody who can basically
defend the faith. These are smart people who have, they can read Hebrew and Greek and they’ve been to seminary,
they’ve written books and they spend their
life studying this stuff and they put out a lot of material, and they’re smarter than me, and they’re more knowledgeable than me. So what I would do is I would just go and I would find somebody
who was smarter than me and they would be like oh no, it’s very reasonable to believe this. There’s very good reason to believe this and that would kind of
plaster over my doubt in that particular area for a while. What time frame are you referring to? Are you talking about adulthood? Are you talking about as a kid? At this point, I started in high school, was happening a lot in college and then has happened ever since. Mm-hmm. But in college, I met some people who were really interested
in the book of Genesis and were specifically what you call a young earth creationist. So this is someone who believes that the book of Genesis
is literal history and that the implication from that is that the world is between
six and 10,000 years old. That’s when this whole thing began. Along with that, comes
the idea that Noah’s Flood like Noah and the Ark is a true story and the entire world was flooded
a few thousand years ago. All the animals were on a boat and then every single layer of sediment that you see with all the
fossils and everything in it is a result of that flood. And this isn’t a small group of people. This is a large group of people
in evangelical Christianity who believe this, still believe this. I never thought about this. My parents didn’t really care much about these particular issues right. It wasn’t something that
like we grew up being taught. It wasn’t taught in our youth group. A lot was being taught. Yeah. On a multiple times a week as we were involved but we
didn’t tackle this issue. But I was like hmm, I haven’t
really thought about this, let me look into this and again, I’m gonna do this multiple
times in the story today. I’m gonna tell you that
I looked into something and then I’m not going to give you an exhaustive or extensive. There’s a couple places
I’m gonna go into that but here’s not one of them because I just don’t have time. But long story short,
when I looked into this, I basically learned that no matter what scientific
discipline you start from, the evidence points overwhelmingly to a world that is very old. Billions of years old, to be specific. And basically, the world
doesn’t really make sense unless it’s ancient. I mean there’s so many
things about the world that don’t make sense. Now to just a couple of helpful books that were helpful for me, there’s lots of places
you can see all this stuff but these are both from
a Christian perspective. First one was “Creation
and Time” by Hugh Ross which kind of takes a little bit more look at the astronomical aspect of this. And then another one that
gets more into geology is “The Bible, Rocks and Time” which is an incredible resource that if you’re interested in
this I suggest that you read. But basically this was learning that there was all this evidence that kind of pointed pretty
clearly to the earth being old and then realizing that there was a really large
contingent of Christians who just denied that
and didn’t believe that. It was alarming. It was alarming for a couple of reasons. I mean, first of all, maintaining
that young earth view, it requires sort of
dismissing or reinterpreting a lot of evidence that
has been gathered, right? And you got this sort of this big umbrella of Christianity and the whole idea is
that we’ve got the truth. The whole point is we have
the ultimate truth, right? As Christians, God has revealed
the ultimate truth to us, this is what I believed. But yet, within that camp, there are these two wildly
different perspectives on basically the entire natural world. And I was like something
about this is alarming because this isn’t as
clean as I thought it was. So I was unsettled but
I was still a Christian I mean I wasn’t. The core of my Christian belief was still very much intact, still believed that the
Bible was completely true and I believe that there
was a pretty easy way to reconcile this Old
Earth view they call it with a literal interpretation
of Genesis in the Bible. And of course, I still knew
that evolution wasn’t true, knew evolution hadn’t happened, right, because what I knew is that
Adam and Eve had to be real. Adam and Eve had to be real because so much comes from them being real. That’s The Fall, that’s
where The Fall happens and The Fall is the reason
that we have original sin and original sin is why we need a Savior. It was like you can’t
get rid of that story plus Genesis presents all this stuff straight from Adam and Eve and you go through all the generations. Even the Gospel of Luke, the genealogy of Jesus features Adam. So this, if you don’t
believe in Adam and Eve like where do you start
believing it, right? So I knew that that wasn’t. I couldn’t let go of that. There was definitely a, the here’s pervading thought that I had that evolution is just
something you stay away from and if you don’t wanna get into it, don’t get into it. It’s a problem so don’t and it’s not right so don’t worry about it. And not even beyond that, I thought evolution just
didn’t make sense on its face. It seemed completely illogical. In fact, it seemed desperate. If you did start to think about it. It seemed like it’s so
And again. It’s so non-intuitive to it. It was so not intuitive to me at the time that it just felt like a desperate attempt for someone who didn’t believe in God to try to explain the
wonderful creation that we had. You got to have something. Well, if God didn’t do it, you got to come up with some rent. You got to come up with something and evolution was the best
thing that they had to offer. And that was it for me. And of course I had read all the books about you know evolution not being true. I was into that. In fact, I would sit down
and I would argue with people and convince people who
believed in evolution that evolution didn’t happen. I loved doing that, you
know what I’m saying? I can make people doubt
that pretty easily. Of course, I had never looked
at the evidence revolution. I had read books about it written by people who
didn’t believe in it. That’s what I had done and I
could roll those arguments out with the best of them. Then in 2006, I read a book called “The Language of God” by Francis Collins. Now, Francis Collins is currently the head of the National
Institutes of Health. He’s a geneticist who headed
up the human genome project when they mapped the human genome there at the end of the 90s. The subtitle of the book is “A Scientist Presents
Evidence for Belief.” This is the kind of
thing that I lived for. I loved it when someone
who was a scientific mind, who was respected by the world would come out and basically do this, make it reasonable to be a Christian, to show you that your faith was reasonable and smart people believed this. I ate this stuff up. So I got into this book, I dove right in. Now, pretty early in the book, Collins starts talking about the undeniable
evidence for evolution, evidence that humans evolved from a common ancestor with apes. And I was like hold up y’all. What? This guy’s a Christian? What? I know that’s not true. And of course because he’s a geneticist, he’s focusing on DNA and sort of that you know the
molecular evidence for this. So one thing that he talked about was sort of earth-shaking to me. And this is gonna get
technical, so please hold on. And that is this idea that the
second chromosome in people is a fused chromosome. So the second chromosome is fused. According to evolutionary theory, we’re closely related to great apes and most closely related
to the chimpanzee. Now all great apes have 24
pairs of chromosomes, right? But we, if you’ve ever been
at 23andMe, you know this, we have 23 pairs of chromosomes. Now chromosome fusion, where literally a pair of chromosomes fuses directly on top of
another pair of chromosomes is not totally uncommon. It happens at about one in
one 1,000 births, right? You can result in some issues sometimes but it’s not always the case. So if apes and humans are closely related like evolution suggests, then it seems that a common
ancestor to both humans and apes had his or her chromosomes fused together. Okay? So all right, do we see this in the DNA? Like what do we see in the DNA? Well, in humans the second
chromosome appears to be a fusion of two great ape chromosomes. First, there are two
sections of Chromosome 2 that correspond directly to two separate chromosomes in Apes. Let me give an analogy if you’re having trouble following this. DNA is basically an instruction manual on how to build something, how
to build an organism right? So let’s just simplify this and just say that this
book is 24 pages long. And let’s say on page
two are the instructions on how to make a hand and on page three are the instructions
on how to make a foot. And so that’s what you see
when you look at a chimpanzee. But then when you look at a human, you see that it goes from
page two to page four and there is no page three. But then you look closely at page two and realize that it’s
page two and page three glued on top of each other and you see the instructions for the hand and the instructions for the
foot on this long page two. Does that make sense? Yeah. That’s a simple explanation or a simple analogy for
kind of understanding this. This is why our feet and
hands are stuck together? Exactly. And Apes are not. Again, this is a grossly
simplified analogy but it does help to understand it. Now, but furthermore, there are these things called telomeres at the end of chromosomes which basically are these
like redundant material that basically protects
the DNA structure, right? And so think of it like you’ve got a header
and a footer on a page. Right? So there’s always a header and there’s always a footer on a page and if you were to take two
pages and glue them together, in the middle of those two pages, there would be a header and a
footer glued together, right? If you take two pages and you
glue them on top of each other like a really long page, Yeah. A header and footer would
be touching each other. Well, we see two telomeres,
two vestigial telomeres directly on top of each other in the middle of the
second chromosome, right? So all the evidence is pointing
to these things being fused. Now, the reason this
rocked my world so much is because I was familiar
with the argument that almost 99% of our DNA
is the same as chimpanzees. Everybody knows that because the human genome has been mapped. But the creationist answer to that is well yeah, I mean God is making he’s using the same building materials to make similar things. It’s his prerogative how he does it. So of course, you’re gonna
look at this instruction manual and you’re gonna see that yeah, it’s kind of the same and then it’s sort of
different in some key ways. It’s like God, it’s God’s
prerogative why can’t he do that? But that doesn’t seem like
an adequate explanation to why it definitely
feels like and looks like and seems to be very conclusive that we actually have the same chromosomes and they’ve been fused. That doesn’t seem like
consistent with the idea that this is just God’s prerogative. But that wasn’t the only thing. I was so interested in
this particular thing, this DNA evidence because
I’d heard about the fossils and all that stuff but
this DNA stuff just seemed this is like how we
decide court cases right and this is how we convict people, this is how we can find out if somebody actually committed a crime. This is definitive stuff. And then I learned about retroviruses. So, essentially there
are certain RNA viruses that when you become infected with them they actually insert a copy
of themselves into your DNA. So you can look at your
DNA and you can be like oh, you got that virus at that time. And then occasionally, these viruses they’re sort of retrovirus inside your DNA will be passed down to your children and that means it’s
endogenous, it’s in your genes. Well, we actually see that we share these
endogenous retroviruses with the organisms that
we’re closely related to and the more closely
related you are to them, the more retroviruses you have in common. Now, let me again take this manual, this instruction manual analogy further. Let’s say you look at page
19 of a chimpanzee manual and you see oh, halfway down on page 19 there’s a coffee stain like somebody spilled
coffee on the manual, but it looks like a copy of a coffee stain like there was an original
and there was a coffee stain and this seems like a copy of that, like somebody ran it
through a Xerox machine. And then you look at a
human instruction manual and on page 19, you
see the same exact copy of the same exact coffee
stain in the same exact place. Why would God do that? You’re thinking? And so then you think well, it seems to me that the
most logical conclusion is that these two manuals
come from a common manual, that there’s an ancient common ancestor that is the ancestor to
both humans and great apes and this is what you see. And these are just two
small pieces of DNA evidence and I’m not gonna go into any more details but let me just say that the main thing that this did for me is I had been told a lot
of things about evolution. I had been told things growing up and now I was questioning those things because I’d been told that
there’s no real evidence, this is a desperate attempt to try to come up with
some harebrained theory to just explain things. And I’m like but this DNA stuff is pretty freakin’ conclusive. I can’t imagine another way to know. I’m not saying there aren’t
explanations for this. I’m not saying you can’t
go to a creationist website and find that, it’s not like
they don’t know about this. They have an answer, I’ve read the answer, I find the answer to not
be compelling in the least. But let me just say, this
made me just question like all this stuff you’ve
been told all this stuff like I had been told that there were no transitional fossils, there were no transitional forms, there’s no transitional between
this animal and this animal. Well it turns out, there’s a lot of them. There’s a lot of very convincing ones. I’d been told that there were really no vestigial structures, that there’s nothing on your
body or an animal’s body that’s like a sign of something
that’s no longer being used. There’s always a use for it and we keep finding those use for it. Well, it turns out there’s lots of examples of vestigial structures. In fact, there’s many structures that there’s no other way
to properly understand them other than them being vestigial, meaning that they’re from the past, they’re no longer in use. Essentially, every criticism of evolution that I had held onto to justify my unwillingness
to believe in it turned out to be a misconception or a misrepresentation of the facts. And so after reading a bunch of books, talking to a lot of people, not listen, I didn’t wanna believe this. I’d spent my whole life not believing this and not wanting to believe this but I kind of was just faced with this that evolution was by
far the best explanation for what we actually
see in the real world. If you’re interested in any
further reading on this, there’s a really good wiki
entry called Chromosome 2 which breaks this down with resources. It’s very well referenced and there’s a wiki entry called
“Evidence of Common Descent” that kind of get into this and I’m gonna make some
more refs at the end. But let me just say, I
didn’t wanna believe this. It was incredibly problematic and there were plenty of Christians who I, very smart Christians, smarter than me who didn’t believe in it who I could have just stayed in that camp. But I just in my heart,
I didn’t feel like you I felt like I had to follow the truth. I thought that the truth
had to be more important than my commitment to my beliefs. It had to be more
important than my ideology and I wanna say that about, there’s these plenty
of Christian apologists and smart Christian people,
I would say just creationists who deny evolution. I don’t think that they’re
being deliberately deceptive. I wanna be clear about that. I don’t think these people are saying “Oh, we see these facts and
we’re gonna misrepresent them “because we’re gonna lie about this.” I think that they’re good people but I think that they’re so
committed to their belief system that they have become impervious to pretty straightforward
information about this subject. But the thing that did for me is I had placed a lot of faith not just in God, but in these people who helped me understand why
I believed what I believed. From an intellectual standpoint. Right, I had a very real
emotional, personal, spiritual relationship with God
that I was practicing but there was this intellectual foundation that whenever I had a doubt, I would kind of retreat to
this intellectual foundation and all of a sudden, those
people I’d been trusting in I began to doubt that I
had been shown the truth or told the truth about
other things, right? So get to this answer in due
time as you’ve planned it but I guess my question is when you came to grips with evolution, was it just okay, now I’m gonna incorporate
that into my faith? Yes, it was. Because I know there’s
people thinking well, you can understand and accept
the process of evolution and still have faith, I mean. Well yeah, so exactly. You’re not an atheist
all of a sudden, right? I was very unsettled but then I was like well hold up, I mean Francis Collins, the whole point of the book. Yeah. Is that he believes in God because of what he’s seen in the DNA and he’s a Christian, he’s
an evangelical Christian and he believes in evolution. He presented it as that
was God’s creative process was involved
In all of this stuff. Yeah. Not to mention one of the most respected and revered philosophical Christian minds of all time, C.S. Lewis was, you know, was a theistic evolutionist. And so I knew I was in good company. I was like this doesn’t
mean I’m not a Christian, this just means that I’m
a little disappointed in the way that this subject
has been misrepresented by so many Christians. But again, my goal was
let’s stick with the truth. All truth is God’s truth. I’m not gonna be scared of the truth. God’s in control, he’s the one who’s established
this entire universe, I shouldn’t be afraid to poke and pry any of this stuff, right? So that was when I kind
of got into this world of theistic evolutionist Christians. There’s a good book that I read called “Coming to Peace with Science: “Bridging the Worlds of Faith and Biology” the guy who believes in
evolution but is a Christian. That was a helpful book for me. And then I got really involved
or I wouldn’t say involved but I spent a lot of time
at the web site BioLogos which is essentially a group
of Christian Scientists and there’s a bunch of articles there. It’s still active, I haven’t
been there in a long time but I checked recently, it’s still there, still doing a lot of things. But things get pretty
complicated at this point. Like once I started looking into this, so I’m gonna give you the short version if you can believe that
this is the short version. But basically, what you run into is that there’s sort of two camps within people who sort of accept evolution. One camp believes that Adam
and Eve are still real, that they’re either a special creation or they’re sort of the
result of the process but they are actually
real historical people because they need to
be real and historical in order for The Fall and then the Gospel to kind of make sense. Gotta be honest. I did not find, all of those
arguments felt really tenuous and just felt like you guys, you know that you have
to have Adam and Eve and so you’re sort of inserting them in a way that isn’t,
they’re not really fitting is a little you know square
peg round hole situation. I remember the Tim Keller
book “The Reason for God” Yeah.
I remember discussing that at that time and that being as I remember it, his position. Yeah and this is problematic though because I didn’t, basically I was like I just don’t think there’s a
way that Adam and Eve were real as presented in the Bible. But like I said earlier, they’re presented in
the genealogy of Jesus in the Book of Luke so
what’s the deal y’all? You know I’m saying? This is a problem. But what this did again, I
just felt like this doubt was kind of creeping beyond
the point of creation and it was creeping into
the Old Testament itself because that’s the way the story goes. You got Adam and Eve and then you got a story that begins with them and moves all the way
down to Abraham and Moses and then David you know. It’s all part of a system. So again, I had been told. There was something I’ve been
told about the Old Testament and that was the Old Testament is always supported by
archeological evidence. I’d heard that from so many Christians. It’s like sometimes they
see something in the Bible and they’re well there’s
no evidence for that and then they dig a little bit deeper and they’re like oh we found the evidence or they find that basically the idea that the Bible
is always vindicated because the Bible is
completely true and everything, that it touches upon. But when I really looked into it, I started realizing that that’s not true. That’s not really the case. Just a few things, touching
on some quick things. Why is there no Egyptian historical record of the Israelites’ captivity? It’s two million people,
they kept great records, why is there no record of them? Why is there no archeological
evidence of the Exodus? Basically, this massive group of people wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. They’ve looked for over 100 years, they’ve looked, no evidence. Why does the modern archeological evidence call Joshua’s conquest
of Canaan into question? Why is there good reason to
believe that the Israelites arose not out of conquest or force but by simply branching
off of the Canaanites? And those are just a few things but there are some pretty major events that all of a sudden I was like no, this isn’t well-supported. Outside of the Bible, these
things are not well supported. I was even further troubled, right? And so I’m I’m losing my
faith in the Old Testament but I’m also losing my faith in those same Christian thinkers who have said all this
stuff that like guys, this is solid as a rock. You can stake your entire
life on these truths and they’ll always be vindicated. So I was in crisis at this point but here’s what I said. I said does this Old
Testament stuff really matter? Like is this really
what this is all about? Isn’t the important thing Jesus, right? If this is about a
relationship with Jesus, does this Old Testament stuff, first of all, okay maybe there’s
no archeological evidence for this stuff, maybe there’s no
historical evidence of it. But you can’t really make
an argument from nothing. It’s like just the absence of evidence is not necessarily an
argument against something. So these things could have happened, we just haven’t found that. We haven’t found them yet. But we can still have
faith and believe them and plus like I said, isn’t
this just about Jesus? Now let me be clear. I was still living in
North Carolina at the time. I was still leading a small group of Bible study at my church that I had been leading for many years. And I still considered my
still myself a Christian and I was slowly letting
people that I loved including my wife in
on some of this stuff. And every time I would
bring up a piece of it, she would just start crying. And just superimpose that
on last week’s conversation, in terms of timing from
graduation to being an engineer, to being on staff with crew. So where I’m at right now with this whole like losing
faith in the Old Testament and the archeological evidence, we’re probably talking about
like 09/10 at that point. So right as we’re kind of wrapping up, we had left staff by this point. But the early stuff about
evolution that was 06 right? So that was the year that we left staff. And then a few years before that, I was where I kind of
spent most of my time just thinking about like the
older, the younger stuff. I spent a few years and about
five years in that place. Again, so at least not being on stuff, there’s a little bit of
a pressure release to– We owe. To be able to at least start to broach these conversations. When you’re in full-time ministry, you have absolutely no impetus to actually explore these things because that’s your well-being,
that’s your livelihood. Why you’re gonna threaten that? You don’t wanna consider
to consider these things because you don’t wanna be like if I actually consider this I’m not gonna end up having
to not be a preacher anymore. I’m not gonna have to
drop out of seminary. I’m not gonna stop being a missionary. Yep or for us
And it’s so much stuff for that. It was your full-time job, Yeah. And it was as we’ve talked about, we were so fully engaged and committed to working within those
parameters to pursue our dreams, even not fully understanding that that’s what we were doing. Yeah. So subconsciously, you
don’t wanna really engage in anything that’s gonna threaten that but you couldn’t help yourself. I mean it was just your nature
to this concept of truth, I think is the thread and and again it started like
you said in high school but it brought us to this point. So back to what you’re saying. We had left stuff, we
were making it on our own. You’re still very much
involved in the church, you’re teaching people, you’re having these
conversations with Jessie and you get into a little bit of it and she breaks down. Every time. This was this was traumatic for her, every time I would bring it up. And of course, I would wait until it had become unbearable for me and then I would bring it up to her because I’m trying to respect her and we’re raising these kids and I know how important
this stuff is for her. And she was very educated in all this too. We would argue about the young-earth thing when we were dating in college because that was her
perspective, her background. And it was not easy for our marriage and– Yeah, because you don’t
wanna bring it up early because it’s nothing It may pass.
It’s a tough thing. It may pass, it’s a
tough thing to bring up so it sounds like you start to bring it up when you like you said just you can’t not bring it up
When I got separate– And then it’s almost you’ve reached a
conclusion about something and then you’re spilling your guts to her and expecting her to, she’s late to the process Yeah. Which is actually even more difficult. Yeah. And you mentioned that thing about like the concern was with truth and I list I don’t know
where this comes from it, this is my disposition. My dad was a lawyer and as a law professor he’s got a very specific way of kind of getting to the bottom of things and I think so it’s kind of in my DNA to be concerned about truth. But I think ultimately it was like again, back to what I said at the beginning, is the whole point is that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. This is the truth. You find the truth, the
truth sets you free. Truth, truth, truth. The whole point of the Bible, why people defend the Bible and say that the Bible is
inerrant without error, it is from God. It’s you know written
by God through people. The whole point of all that
is because it being true is paramount on it maybe
more so than any other faith. The holy text being true
is such a linchpin, right? Now, okay. And just one more thing. You had mentioned there were two camps when you were talking about that, about the Bible being literally
what actually happened versus Adam and Eve being figurative. I don’t know if you were
coming back to that or not, but it seemed like again, we’re at a point where there’s how you describe, that’s a certain subset of, Yeah. Christian faith that believes those things about the Bible. Yeah and I think it’s pretty fitting that at this point, we
moved to California. 2011, we moved to California, we immediately got involved in a church, an evangelical church, met some great people,
made some great friends and this is when I adopted what I’m going to call
California Christianity to get at what Link was
getting out here a second ago. In L.A. even within
the Evangelical church, I think there is this sort of because you’re in this
incredibly diverse place, with so many different perspectives, you really can’t maintain
a Christian faith in a place like this without at least some sort of realization that there’s a lot of gray. It’s not about having it all figured out, it’s not about being completely certain. It’s about a relationship with Jesus and this was like a kind of
a breath of fresh air for me, honestly coming to California
with all these doubts. I found these Christians
who had these doubts, Christians who saw the Bible differently, who were like yeah, man I don’t
know exactly what happened. Evolution seems like
it probably did happen and Adam and Eve might not have been real but like that’s not my
day to day with Jesus, man you know and so I have a
relationship with Jesus. I wrote in my journal, 2011, “My faith is still weak but it is not gone “and possibly, God is
revealing a foundation “that he can build real faith upon.” “Here are a few things
that have hit me recently. “From an intellectual standpoint, “I may never have
certainty about my faith. “That pursuit may be fruitless. “It’s becoming clearer that
the significance of my faith “or the so called proof of Christianity “is not found in a well-reasoned argument. “Rather, it rings true the
way a musical note would. “It hits my resonant frequency.” And that was very
reassuring to me at the time when we moved to L.A. I was like man in this kind of crazy world with people trying to
be all about themselves and this place, it’s all about making it an entertainment business,
I’ve got my faith, I’ve got my relationship with Jesus, I’ve got my Christian community and I don’t have it all figured out and it is gray but it feels so true and it
proves itself out to be true in my daily life. I tried living like this. I ran into a few problems. The music did not continue to
resonate well in your bosom? Basically, the foundation
of my faith ultimately was still the Bible even if I had sort of a more liberal view or more gray view of what the Bible might
mean and represent. And so every time I read the
Bible, I saw issues with it. Every time I heard a sermon,
I would have an issue with it. My experience through Christianity
was basically inflaming my doubts and my questions. So the closer I got to it, the more I couldn’t quite
shake these questions that continue to linger. And the question, the
place that I had sort of put a barrier around and
said we’re not going there sure we can talk about evolution, we can talk about the
historicity of the Old Testament but where I’m not gonna go
is I’m not gonna go to Jesus. I’m not gonna question Jesus. But I just couldn’t help myself because I was like my
understanding of who Jesus is is not just based on my
experience with him personally but it’s also based on what
the Bible has to say about him. This is how we know what
there is to know about Jesus. And again, when I looked into this my world was rocked in a very big way. I’m not gonna give sufficient detail here. Lots of people have gone and done this who are smarter and more educated than me. But basically, there are
just as many views on this as there are people who study it. But essentially, I live
my whole life being sure that the Gospels were
historically reliable, almost taking it for granted. I mean I’d read Josh McDowell’s “Evidence That Demands a Verdict” and Josh McDowell “New Evidence
That Demands a Verdict”. I had read Lee Strobel’s
“Case for Christ”. I could spit these arguments
back out to you on an airplane and make you think that
well, I must be a Christian. Why on an airplane by the way? Because when you’re evangelical Christian you sit next to a stranger, this may be the only
opportunity you ever have to share the life-changing
message of Jesus with them. There were lots of conversations that involved airplane evangelism because it was just like
his captive audience. Yeah. It’s like you’re gonna
go this whole flight and not saying anything. Right, what if it crashes? But I took a second to go one layer deeper and to look at the answers
to the Christian answers that I had been given all my life. And that was when I realized
that this Jesus thing was very, very messy from
a historical standpoint. There’s a few books that do a good job of outlining some of this stuff. One of them is “Jesus
Interrupted” by Bart Ehrman who’s a professor of New Testament at UNC who incidentally Jessie was in his class and she used to come home every single day and then we would come up with ways to go back to argue
against him, ironically. Me and you were actually involved in a Campus Crusade initiative
on the campus of UNC to kind of combat what he was doing because he was having so much
influence on the students. So I understood Bart Ehrman
had been the enemy for so long but what I started to realize is that he had a very similar story and I thought that he dealt
with the subject matter in an honest and even-handed way. There’s also a book called “The Historical Jesus: Five Views” which kind of runs the spectrum once again on how you can see this. But basically what I just saw is that there’s so many people coming at this with an intention to uncover the truth, to find the truth and they’re coming to these
wildly different conclusions. This isn’t like science. Somebody does a scientific
experiment in 1985 in China and then somebody does the
same scientific experiment in 2019 in California. If everything is controlled, they’re gonna come to the same conclusion. That’s not how history works and it makes it very difficult to come to definitive
conclusions about things. But essentially in the end,
by far to me personally, the most compelling and
seemingly reasonable view was that the Gospels appear to be a mix of religious propaganda as well as actual history. So there’s definitely
some history in there. I think Jesus was a real
person, so does Bart Ehrman. But I don’t think that
as he is presented there is completely reliable. That’s what I was thinking at the time. So what did you believe about Jesus? You reached a conclusion
about the person of Jesus at that time when you were
when you’re researching that. I had a picture of Jesus that was the picture that I had always had of this person who did these miracles and died on the cross and rose again and died for my sins and
was God in the flesh. All the things that were
important to believe about him. But I had doubts about
those things being true but I didn’t have
another picture of Jesus. There was no other picture of Jesus. So you read all these books, you did all this research about Jesus but your conclusion was not really a conclusion at that point? Oh yeah, it was some process. and so this was incredibly
unsettling, right? This was way more unsettling than anything that had happened so far because this was Jesus, this
was the core of everything. This is who my relationship was with and all of a sudden, I’ve got very serious doubts about him. And I think that anyone that you would have conversations with and you did initiate with not only Jesse but with me and with other people that you confided in over this decade of going through this. If you were talking to someone who was it was still very
much committed to their faith, it was like much more solid, I think the response maybe it’s not spoken is well yeah, as long as you
as long as you hold on to Jesus and you know it’s like that, you can’t let go of that. You can let go everything else but you can’t really let go of
what you believe about Jesus raising from the dead and and paying the penalty for
your sins instead of you. Yeah. Either you go to hell or or he does which he already did and came back. Right
Is the belief. So you can let other stuff
go and maybe not panic and again I’ll share my perspective on interacting with you more next week but at times, that was part of it. Yeah because what you believe
about Jesus is paramount but what you believe about Jesus is still based on what is
presented in the Bible. If not, where else are you getting it? I mean some people might be like well I’m getting it directly from God but that’s not what Christianity teaches. It’s coming from God and the Bible and they don’t contradict one another. So when it became clear to me that it wasn’t something
that I could have, the same kind of faith
in it that I’ve had, I had a meltdown. I didn’t do anything crazy externally but there was a lot happening internally. At this point I said– Do you remember a time or a place associated with this? Well I’ve got a couple of journal entry in another journal entry that I’d go into which is sort of the
next stage of this thing but not particularly. But I do remember saying this at the time. I was like “God you are
bigger than all of this right. “I’m just this little human “who sees through a glass darkly my “I got this finite mind and
I’m trying to understand “the infinite mind, the
creator of the universe.” Seems pretty arrogant actually you know. And I was like is God just sitting there watching me do all this research and eventually he’s gonna
give me some satisfying answer and then all I said I’m gonna have faith. That just doesn’t seem
like a relationship. That’s not how you conduct a relationship. I don’t make my wife
fit a certain criteria. I don’t ask her a bunch of
questions about her past in order for her to qualify
to be you know I’m saying? it’s like I experience
relationship with her on a personal level and I just felt like I was
just completely in my mind and I made this whole thing
like scientific and intellectual and also it seemed like
I was being arrogant because I was waiting for
God to fit my expectations. I was creating God in my own image as opposed to creating me in His image. I had flipped the script on God and was waiting for him to
like be my little trick pony that does all the things
that I want him to do in order for me to believe in him. There’s a verse that kind of gets in. Which was answers basically. Isaiah 55 says “For my
thoughts are not your thoughts, “neither are your ways my
ways, declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth “So are my ways higher than your ways “and my thoughts than your thoughts”. So God saying I’m bigger than you. Right. There’s certain things
you just can’t get, dude. Yeah and at this point, I was like okay you know what, I think this is
probably where faith comes in It makes sense to me that this
might be where faith comes in because I am sitting here
trying to prove this stuff out but shouldn’t I just have faith first and then maybe these answers
will be given to me by God. Isn’t this what faith is all about? I mean the whole point is this. It’s evidence of things not seen, right? And so your next step was
there’s no way for me to know but I’m gonna try a different route which is I’m gonna maybe
faith needs to come first. Yeah And would then we’ll open up, maybe that’ll lead to something. Yeah, I can believe in the
Jesus that I believe in because that’s what the Bible says. I can believe in the biblical Jesus even though I have reasons that
from historical perspective to doubt that I can still believe in it and overcome that. And this is when I ran into some problems. So the first thing was how
does this differentiate me from any other faith on earth right? One of the things that
makes Christianity a unique is that you know it is the
way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father
except through the son right? You don’t get to the son
through somebody else. You don’t get to the Son
through Buddha, right? But also evangelical Christians tend to be pretty
critical of other faiths. Mormonism is a perfect example right? If you’re in an evangelical church or certain evangelical churches you know, they teach you that Mormons
basically have it wrong, that Mormonism is a bastardization
of Christianity, right. It’s not just another Christian group and they lots of
Christians will write books that explain how all the things that Mormons believe about Joseph Smith and these things that
happened are not true and here’s why in the
Book of Mormon is not true and here’s why. So they can be very
critical of that faith. But yet, if you say
those things to a Mormon, they will say well, I have
a burning in the bosom that proves to me that
these things are right. So you can tell me that
these things seem wrong and you can show me certain things but I believe them to be true
and you can’t change that because I have this sort
of seal and sign from God, this indication that this faith is real and this is all true. And I was like, isn’t that
what I’m doing right now? Now I’m just saying that
I’m just gonna have faith that things are real. Damn the evidence. So how does that make
me any different right? And ultimately, this kind of faith felt a little cowardly
to me, to be honest. It felt like what I was saying is yeah, there’s some conclusions that I really don’t wanna come to and the way I’m going to avoid those is just by having faith. But ultimately, you just
can’t make yourself believe. You just can’t make yourself have faith. This was a torturous place for me, right and I was there for a very long time. There was lots of praying, there was lots of reading the Bible which would inflame
some of the same doubts. There was lots of talking
to Christians openly about what was happening. I wanna be very clear that I
didn’t go into a cave somewhere and come to these conclusions
and never run them by. I didn’t wanna leave this thing man. This was my life. This was this defined everything for me. This was the foundation of my marriage, this was the foundation the
way I was raising my kids. I didn’t want it to go away. It was the orienting
purpose-driven worldview that was what was basically
defined everything about me. But yet, I’m going through this process. I’m talking with people, I’m talking to my wife, she’s crying. You’re talking to me. Yeah, I’m talking to you. I was talking to you the
entire time about this stuff. You didn’t cry, thank you. I didn’t cry. But the major shift for me occurred when I asked a question I had never asked. I’d been very very afraid
to ask this question and that was what if I’m wrong? What if I opened myself
up to the possibility that maybe I have been wrong about this? I wanna be clear, I’d never done that even and all these things
that had like shaken me right. all these doubts that I
had, I still was sort of, there was this Christian core that was completely
protected through all this that I wasn’t willing to let go of. But I was like what if I am wrong? Can I just live like
that for a little bit? I’m pretty good at kind of giving myself over to things, right? I can watch a movie and get lost in it. I can read a book, I can get lost in it. I can read a book from
a different perspective and I can adopt that
perspective for a little bit to see what it feels like and I decided that I was gonna do that. So let’s just consider what it
would mean if you were wrong. What would that mean about the Bible? And when I was honest with myself, the Bible began to make a lot
more sense to me personally as a product of humans rather than God. It seemed less and less
like God’s message to people and more like people’s
best guesses about God. And in that, it became a lot
like any other holy text. And that when I came to
that conclusion, or I was and I wasn’t fully there
I was just considering what does it feel like to think this? It led to a few more questions that I’d always been afraid to ask myself. I’m gonna read these
’cause I wrote them down. These are just a few of the
questions I’d always avoided. “If I don’t have to believe “that God ordered his chosen people “to slaughter men, women and
children by the thousands, “then why would I? “If I don’t wanna believe that
every religious experience “of any person who is not a Christian “is ultimately illegitimate,
then why would I? “If I don’t have to believe that anyone “who doesn’t have a
relationship with Jesus i.e. “the majority of people
who have ever lived “are going to spend eternity “being literally tortured in a fire “experiencing never-ending
pain and suffering “then why, no pun intended, “in the hell would I believe that? “And if I can somehow accept the idea “that hell exists
because of God’s holiness “why would I believe in a God “who would choose to create
that particular world “where people have no
choice whether or not “they’re going to be born
but then once they are born, “if they don’t adopt the
correct understanding of God, “he will punish them forever. “Why believe in that
God if I don’t have to?” So where did this leave me? Because the answer to those questions are that you have, there’s a lot of fear of what you might lose or experience? But there are some things to gain um if you go to the other side. Well, it’s funny because I had spent a lot of time in my head, a bunch of light intellectual processing of all these things right,
philosophical stuff. But at this point, as I felt this sort of traditional
faith slipping away, I started worrying about
some pretty practical things like how is my marriage
gonna stay together, what am I gonna teach my kids? This is what I’ve been teaching them. What am I gonna teach them now? What am I gonna do, where am I gonna turn? What’s gonna replace this? This is community, this is purpose, this is meaning, where am I
gonna find something like that? And a verse came to mind. John 6 after Jesus has kind of talked about him being the flesh and he’s kind of basically given the whole idea of you know,
communion at this point and it’s a difficult teaching
and a lot of people walk away ’cause they’re like he’s
talking about eating him and drinking his blood. This dude’s nuts and it
was a difficult teaching. People didn’t understand
what he was getting at and they walked away. So Jesus asked the twelve? Do you wanna leave too? Simon Peter replied “Lord
to whom would we go? “You have the words of eternal life, “we believe and know that
you are the Holy One of God.” And that’s what I said. I was like listen, I
got nowhere else to go. What am I gonna become? Now, let me make it clear. I was in a state of panic at this point but I was like I can’t, I
can’t, I can’t let this, I can’t let this go, there’s too much wrapped
up in this, right? But this is where being in Los Angeles did allow me to ask a different question. And let me let me explain that. First of all, I have no
doubt that many people will probably not even
listen to this story. In fact, I’ve seen it on Twitter. I’ve already seen people say you know I don’t wanna listen to
their personal stories because I don’t wanna hear
somebody talk about leaving which that hurts mean that you don’t wanna listen to the story. I’m just trying to be honest but I know a lot of people will come to the very very easy conclusion. Guys, there’s nothing
surprising about this. You were Christians and
then you went to Los Angeles and you lost your faith. It’s a story as old as Los Angeles. This isn’t surprising, it’s
like what’s the big deal? This is super simple but
I’m trying to represent that this wasn’t this
wasn’t something made, this wasn’t some flippant decision, this wasn’t like ah, man I wanna be cool and
accepted in modern culture so I’m gonna shed all this stuff. The reason why it hurts is because– It’s a dismissal. That assumption is a dismissal, it’s an assumption of
your of your true motives that you don’t wanna state which are hey you just
wanna sow your wild oats or you wanna be cool or you wanna be able to face your friends who
believe different things or like they have different lifestyles. And in order to be successful out there, you gotta make some changes, okay. I mean watch any award show now and see how the entertainment
industry is pushing change in perspectives and changes
in the way people act. if not belief. And so it’s like, hey if I get it, if you guys wanna go out there and you wanna pursue your dreams, if that’s really what’s
most important to you then yeah, you got to give up, you got to give up your beliefs. I mean you gotta make a choice and it seems like that’s the easy thing. You guys made the choice and it again, it’s like no one’s said
that out loud to us but– Oh, I’ve seen people say it. They’ve typed it maybe. I’ve seen it typed. I saw it typed actually
after our first two episodes. Somebody was like “What’s the big deal? “It’s clear what happened. “They went to Los Angeles “and they lost their faith.” It happens. And I’m just trying to
first of all hopefully, if you’ve listened to this point, you at least acknowledge
that this was a process that was in many ways
independent of where I was at but also way more personal and torturous and it wasn’t a calculated
business decision. It wasn’t like I don’t know, that particular accusation hurts a lot. When people say you were never a Christian and what people say you
changed because of L.A., those things hurt a lot
because of how untrue I know them to be. So there’s an aspect, and I
will get into more of this. Okay. So I think we’ll come back to it but your point for now is that there was an aspect of you
changing because of L.A. Yeah and this is where
L.A. comes into play. L.A. did allow me to ask a new question and that was why am I still doing this? And I’ll be honest, I would
not have asked that question if I was in North Carolina because when you’re in the Bible Belt, you’re embedded in Christian culture. There are a dozens of reasons why you would still be doing it. I mean why rock the boat? Why disappoint your parents? Why disappoint your friends? Why extra you know get yourself
out of this and community. I would have been going to the same church since I was in ninth grade. I would say technically your whole life because that church
came from another church that we both went to.
Right. Exactly. I’ve been with the same
group of believers forever and now I was leading a Bible study. I had preached sermons on
Sunday you know what I’m saying? There’s all kinds of reasons not to leave. Why damage your reputation
because honestly, in the Bible Belt this can
be as many people know, if you’ve left the faith
and the Bible Belt. It ain’t easy. There’s a lot of pressure to
stick around and stay in there. But what I realize is that I’ve
been pulling on this thread for a really long time, right? Let’s call it the sweater of faith which is not the armor of God. This is a real offline concept. The sweater of faith. I’ve been pulling on this thread and it had sort of like turned into a vest and then a midriff and then a halter top and now it was a string bikini. It’s not appropriate. And I was like I’m gonna
take the bikini off. Really not appropriate. It’s just an analogy. Okay. And I was L.A. Yeah. Men in bikini tops, there’s
lots place you can see– Go to the convenience store. And I took it off and I call this– What do you mean, how did you take it off? Well I have a journal entry, thankfully. That’s great, okay. Give it to me. It has nothing to do with bikinis. This is from 2014, okay. “I understand that it is unreasonable “to expect Christianity to be a set “of scientifically verifiable principles. “It is a faith implying
that some sort of believing “without seeing is involved. “And more specifically, Christianity “is a relationship with Jesus “and relationships are not well defined “or experienced scientifically. “However, I don’t think it insignificant “that the deeper I have
dug into Christianity “with a thirst for the truth, “the more difficult it
has become to have faith. “In fact, for me, it
has become impossible.” And that was kind of the
reckoning for me, right? That was that was jumping
ship to use a better analogy than taking off a bikini. You see, I kind of saw
Christianity as this boat in a very stormy sea. It’s stable, there’s a
lot of other people on it, It’s got a destination,
you’re gonna get through this. It gives you something to hold on to. It gives you stability,
it gives you purpose, it gives you direction and
it gives you community. And when I jumped ship, I
didn’t jump to another boat. I jumped into the water
and I pulled my wife and my children in with me. I jumped into a sea of uncertainty and that’s where I’ve
lived for about six years. And we’re gonna spend some
time talking a little bit more about where we’re at now. I do wanna talk about it now
but we’re getting more detail and like a subsequent podcast,
maybe in a Q&A or something but I wanna kind of talk about what this has been like without getting into too much detail and I know because we’re
already pretty long. This is gonna be a long one. Right after I jumped ship, I kind of went through a period of anger. I was very mad at the
Christian leaders and thinkers who I felt deceived by. I wanna be very clear about this. No one that I was in
personal contact with, pastors, Christian friends,
elders in my church, none of them disappointed
me or let me down. I did not have a personal like tragedy. A lot of people have like a traumatic spiritual
experience in a church. I didn’t. I only got good things from the church. We talked about this while
back that like listen, I’m a straight white dude. You know you get a lot
of things handed to you especially within the church
if you fit that profile. In some churches, being a straight dude is the only way that you can teach. There’s plenty of churches right now, churches in Los Angeles that people would consider progressive where you better not tell them you’re gay and if you’re a woman, you
probably won’t be able to preach. It’s 2020 and this is still the case. I just wanna be clear about that. But for me, this had been
I got so much out of this. I was riding high. I could have ridden this
train to the top man, you know what I’m saying? But nobody disappointed me personally but I was angry at the thinkers. I was angry at the people
who had written the book saying that evolution
didn’t have any evidence. I was angry at the people who had written systematic theology books who basically made it seem like
this was all pretty simple. And I kind of, the pendulum
swung for a time into atheism. I was like this is all bullshit and I’m gonna be the enemy of this stuff. I’m gonna be an anti evangelist. That’s what I was thinking at the time. Of course, we’re still
very private about all this so it wasn’t like I said
this to anybody publicly. And that anger actually
subsided rather quickly. It’s interesting. I kind of had my moment
of anger in atheism and then that was replaced with kind of an openness and a curiosity. You know it’s interesting how liberating this one aspect has been. I think the biggest change that has happened to me in my life is that I’ve lost my
appetite for certainty, specifically certainty about things I don’t think you can be certain about. I think my struggle with Christianity for me a big part of it was I had to keep aligning my
thoughts and being certain and kind of reader living my faith and why this was reasonable
and being sure about this and knowing exactly what
was gonna happen when I died and all this stuff. But when I was like I don’t think I can be
certain about these things, it’s like when a person
I’ve heard this happens, I haven’t done it yet. When you stop eating meat, you
lose your appetite for meat, a lot of people say. I stopped being certain about things. I lost my appetite to be certain. I didn’t wake up with a sense of panic. I thought there would be panic, I thought there would be chaos Especially for someone who
that’s how you lived your life. And I thought there would be few. And so attached to it. Right. But it’s been the most liberating thing that has happened in my adult life. I’m not kidding. I’m not trying to paint that, listen, it’s not like I’m about
to give you some philosophy that I live according to now that’s got did the gives that gives me community
purpose and meaning. I don’t have that, okay. I think there’s a giant sort of shift that’s happening culturally and I think that we may be
arriving at that some time. But it doesn’t exist right now for me. But what does exist is an
openness, is this curiosity. Listen, I still think that
belief in God is very reasonable. I think that the idea that the universe is ultimately purposeful, it’s headed towards some ultimate purpose, not only is that comforting
but it kind of feels again, it feels right
to me when I just look at the history of the
world and we’re you know. But I don’t know it to be certain and I don’t know anything
about this source or this god that might be behind all this and I’m kind of beginning to think that I don’t know if you are supposed to know a whole lot about it. So I would call myself a hopeful agnostic meaning I don’t know, but I hope. I hope there’s something. A question that I’ve
gotten from some people who are close to me, love me is what do you think
happens after you die? I don’t know. I’m reasonably certain
that you don’t burn in hell because you were intellectually
curious and honest to put it bluntly. But honestly, I’m more interested now in what happens while I live. It’s not so much what
happens after you die but what happens while you’re alive. And I’m trying to answer that question but it’s one of the
reasons I’m in therapy. It’s honestly one of the reasons
that I get up every morning and do 20 minutes of back exercises. Honestly, it’s one of the reasons that I think more about what I eat because the only thing I know
that I’ve got is this life. But the other thing that
has kind of happened because people ask me about
your marriage, your kids, will get into this in more detail. But Jesse has her own story,
there’s been a lot of crying but she’s in a similar place now and this process because we were so, this whole process ruins
a lot of marriages. I’ve seen it a lot
because sometimes people are like I can’t go . They’re not going there, it’s over. This was the whole foundation. I mean yeah we made vows. If you read, we wrote our
own vows for our wedding and they were very much about– Jesus Jesus. But now, it’s kind of like our marriage has hit a second wind where it’s not so much about a structure that we both sort of assent to that tells us what our
marriage should be like but it’s like hey, it’s pretty cool that I get to go through life with you. I love you. And that has actually been a pretty good thing to concentrate on. And with the kids, you know
I think for me the idea that the purpose and meaning and sort of like orienting
your life in a certain way, all came from the Bible and from church. I actually because none of that went away, you know I’m saying, like I still wanna be the same kind of person that I’ve always wanted to be. I wanna be the same kind of husband. I want the best for my kids. Meaning like your morality? Yeah Still like you– Yeah.
You know what? The moment that you jumped ship, you didn’t start looking
to cheat on your wife. Right. As an example.
Exactly. It wasn’t like all of a sudden ’cause I’d always been told that and I had many Christians who I respected said “Man, if God wasn’t real, “I would be out doing drugs right now, “I’d be out sleeping with whoever I want.” I’m like I don’t actually think you would. I think you actually have an innate desire to be a pretty good person and to live a life that is good for you and the people you love. And a lot of people will
attach it to a structure and an explanation like Christianity. But I think very few people actually find the purpose in their faith. I think they have purpose and then they bolster it with faith. That’s my personal opinion. Or even another way to put it using the marriage example, do you think that your
motive to be true to Jesse was not just out of love for her but out of love for God you know, out of respect for you know. So now you being true to
Jesse is out of love for her. It’s a line like I’m– Yeah and it’s not a fear of God. It’s a love for her and it’s a fear of listen, there’s a lot of shit that happens when you do stuff like that in your life. There are natural built-in consequences to doing the things that are traditionally considered to be sinful according to every religious tradition. It’s not like you just… If I didn’t have this I’d be out doing all kinds of crazy shit. No, you wouldn’t. It’s like first of all,
my best friends now are not Christians but they’re faithful to their families and– They’re not horrible people. They’re not horrible people. And I think that’s what we thought was without the Holy
Spirit indwelling you, you’re just going off
the flesh so to speak, you’re going off of your own desires and I mean that’s the
only thing keeping you from being a horrible person. I think that’s from a young age, I think that’s what we felt. But I think the thing you That’s a particular view of people that we had in our particular like reformed Calvinistic. Everyone is totally braved.
Yeah, it’s– And anything good that
is coming from anybody is either because they are
created in the image of God or they have a relationship with God. I think too, I wanna get back to like that being a
subsection and everything that you’ve talked about being applied to the whole of Christianity
or faith or anything like that. But before that, you were talking about you were moving to the kids from your relationship with Jesse. I kind of went back to the
relationship with Jesse. So when you were talking about the kids, you were talking about
raising them in a way to be whole people, to be good people. I don’t wanna put words in your mouth but I think you were getting it. Well, I think the biggest thing about kids is what I have sort of observed and being very much embedded in the church for a very long time is there’s kind of this idea that it is your responsibility as parents to make sure your kids turn out all right and that it’s up to you, you better teach them the right thing. If you don’t, they’re gonna be screwed up. And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t teach your kids good things. But what I’ve observed
is that you know what my kids could actually teach me a lot. I think that kids orient themselves in the world much more
readily based on your behavior than the specific things
that you tell them. I don’t think that having an information session with your kids and indoctrinating them it’s what’s going to make
them into a good person. I’m not saying we’re
not constantly talking about issues of morality and ethical things, philosophical things. We talk about that every time, our family is very much always
talking about these things. But the interesting the
sort of freeing thing is is that when my kids
have a question about God or the deeper purpose of the universe or what happens when you die, we explore those things as people. I’m not here as some authority that’s gonna point you
to this ironclad thing and that’s gonna make it okay because you know what, it’s
not gonna make it okay. Just because I can point to this book and tell you that you should believe this I am proof that believing those things isn’t necessarily gonna make all those deeper thoughts go away. And so, in getting my kids comfortable with sort of living intention
and let it being okay with not having all
that stuff figured out, but it’s like well what
can you have figured out and what does lead to a
fruitful meaningful life? Well you know what a
life devoted to others. A life devoted to
yourself is going to fail. I can’t explain, I don’t
feel like I have to explain the dynamics behind
that for it to be true. And so– But you do explain it. Sometimes you talk about being a parent as if like just you gonna be and I know that’s not what you’re saying but I think what you just said is clarifying that you are your– Well, I am saying that to an extent. I know you are
I am saying that to an extent. I think we have a little
bit of a difference in approach but that’s fine.
Well, I think, I would say that the latest child psychology basically suggests that kids sort of they’re gonna be a certain way but– But you’re talking about selfishness versus self-sacrifice. You’re talking about
what it means to love, you’re talking about who what type of person do you wanna be. Yeah. And also the thing I
try to get my kids to do is process the consequences
of their actions. It’s just like, “Hey
Shepherd, I just asked you “if you had mom’s phone and you told me no “but you do have mom’s phone. “Let’s talk about why you did that “and let’s talk about what
it means to be a person “who’s willing to lie, who’s willing “to say something that’s
false about this.” And so it’s like what is going to happen if you become a person
who can’t be trusted? What’s that gonna do? What kind of life are you
gonna live as a person who can’t be trusted? And for me that just
is a that tangible like nitty gritty getting down to the details of like what does this mean, what are the ramifications
of your behavior for me it’s in listen, listen. I know that I’ve read all
the Ravi Zacharias’ books and I’ve seen him speak. I know that the whole idea is well where’s the morality come from if it’s not coming from a
moral lawgiver, God himself? I think that that argument
is marginally compelling but I don’t think that is conclusive and I think the point is is I don’t think you wake
up and make decisions to be a good person because
you’ve got this moral lawgiver. There may be a moral lawgiver. I’m not saying that God doesn’t exist but I think that it’s a much more natural and organic process than
there’s a book I read it and now I know what to do. I think that’s why those core qualities of what makes a human good
exist in cultures everywhere. You find a culture in
the middle of the Amazon that’s never been exposed to the gospel or any sort of religious system
outside of what they believe but they’re gonna think
that murdering is great? Probably not. They didn’t need Hammurabi or
Moses to tell them that, so. I guess I’ll move on and one other thing. Whatever his name is, I don’t think that’s how you say his name. Hammurabi’s Code. I don’t know how you say his name. I was curious, personal question. When it comes to therapy,
does anything to come up? I know you talked about
anger and you also talked about how there wasn’t
an inciting incident outside of your own intellectual
exercise and research. But do you find that there’s baggage, that there’s things that you need, things that you need to heal from? Maybe now that your
perspective is shifted, is there any of that? You know again, and I feel I kind of feel like an asshole for saying this because I know that so many people, so many women and so many
people who don’t fit the mold, and we talked about like the LGBTQ plus experience of people in the church. There’s a lot of stories of trauma because as people were sort
of developing their identity and self actualizing, they’re doing it in an
oppressive environment and that’s damaging. But again, because of who
I am and what I look like, I pretty much just benefited and so I don’t look back at
my experience with the church in a traumatic way. I just feel like, ah man, I was very lucky and actually, we talked
about it last week. Professionally, I got a lot out of it. I was able to develop
professionally and do and live my dream out. For me, most of my therapy
is related to you know just sort of the realization
that everyone’s personality is essentially constructed
over their child, their inner child and it’s
a way of sort of navigating and moving through the world. It’s a protective shell and so for me it’s like why is that your shell and what is that child
underneath saying, feeling? Do you sort of like
It’s just more of your early childhood stuff and it’s not trauma,
it’s just figuring out. But do you feel like everything that you having constructed that shell, the belief system that you had became a part of that,
became another layer? I haven’t processed
it, but definitely yes. I haven’t gotten today
I have got again an area Again, it’s like the
thing that you’re taught your whole story is so much in your head you know it’s like when you talk about Well, yeah. You’d be devastated and like those moments of there’s being a crack in the dam and then when when you decide to jump ship like I mean, you allude to
it being a torturous time, you said that there’s moments
of like being really scary. But it does seem like the
story is very much in your head you know there
Yeah, yeah in– So maybe there’s stuff under there. And I understand that’s one of the reasons that a lot of people won’t
relate to what I’m saying because they’re like why is this? There’s Christians that I know and love who when I talk to my telling this story, I just kind of see them just
look off and quit listening ’cause it’s just like why
is he spending all this time talking about the second chromosome? Right. Like why is that important to him and what does that have to do with God? Yeah. And for me it has everything
to do with my story because it’s all related, you know? Again, the whole idea is
that this foundation is truth and so but in terms of I
I feel like my attempts to like focus on the
relationship and focus on faith was my attempt to get out of my own head and get into my heart when it
came to my perspective on God. And to lean into the relationship. But again, it’s the it’s that
inextricable relationship between facts and feelings. It’s still, you can have
an incredible experience with somebody relationally and it can feel completely
emotional and physical but yet, there is sort of a
scientific representation, a naturalist understanding
of what’s happening between the two of you. And I think that there’s this foundation that I just kept coming back to and every time I came back to it. An interesting thing is, it isn’t like the Christian
apologists are saying that they don’t make the argument that I was trying to make them ahead. They don’t say don’t worry about this, just have faith. They say because they know they have to. Know this is defensible. Here’s why. Here’s why evolution didn’t happen and here’s why you can trust, and I can even prove to you. I know a guy who wrote
a term paper in college on why the resurrection is an
undeniable historical fact. Those things being true are sort of what the
founding fathers of the faith you know especially those
guys in the early church who were like figuring out how to
think about all this stuff. They were doing intellectual work, it wasn’t just happening in the heart. They were laying a philosophical framework that we’ve built our faith on and I think that we’ve got
more access to information about that process than we’ve ever had. And it deserves some scrutiny and I actually think it
doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. That’s my personal opinion. I could be wrong. But that’s where I’m at. So two things. I wanna come back. I wanna end on your label
that you apply to yourself but I did want to ask, how do you process the
anticipated criticism of everything you shared? I don’t know yeah. I know I’m a three on the Enneagram and one of the characteristics of a three which is an achiever is you
wanna be liked by everybody. And being misunderstood or misrepresented is a direct assault on my ego and I know that that’s gonna happen but it’s just part of the growth process, being okay with it being okay with people mis characterizing the things that I’ve said, people dismissing the things that I said. Obviously there’s gonna be a lot of people who say that oh well it’s
clear he was never a Christian. He didn’t really, he had an
intellectual understanding but he was never in a
relationship with Jesus because he couldn’t have been. It’s not consistent with my theology. That again, I like I said that’s tough. But I think it’s only tough because I’m an egotistical
asshole sometimes. I think if I’m truly humble, then I shouldn’t let
those things bother me. It’s just like yeah, that’s gonna happen. But I don’t know how I’m gonna process it. I don’t. I actually, I’ve seen that
you’ve engaged a little bit with people on Twitter and for
some reason I just haven’t. I just haven’t had the emotional energy. I’ve been thinking a lot about this story. I think I will engage with
people if they have questions. I think we will engage with
people if they have questions and you know after you tell your story which I’m excited to hear your story because you’re so different than me. Yeah, especially for
this type of experience. And I think– But it’s very much intertwined and I think it’s you
know we made a decision for you to go first and I think that’s gonna be very helpful for me for people to understand my story second. Yeah. But go ahead. I mean I don’t know. I don’t know how. I’m definitely because I
want everybody to like me which is a flaw. It’s not something I’m proud of. I know that some people won’t like this. A lot of people won’t like this. A lot of people are gonna be offended, a lot of people are gonna say that I misrepresented the facts. A lot of people are
gonna say because listen, if you agree with everything I said, then you know how could
you still have faith? So it’s like I understand that I remember we had we had a good friend. We had a good friend who
had a bunch of doubts and I remember how we treated him. And I loved him but I remember when he started talking all this stuff about how he was doubting certain things I was like I remember asking I was like what are you
gonna teach your kids, man? I do. I remember that now. And I remember thinking things like man, I guess he just never knew Jesus because the Jesus I know I
would never think those things. And I know that’s how, I know how I would have
processed hearing this story. As side note–
And again, it’s difficult for me. I’m glad that we still have
a relationship with him and that we’ve talked
through it since then and that he was patient with us in a way that now we’re
asking for people to be, you’re asking people to patient with you and I’m asking for people
to be patient with me. Yeah. Patient not in waiting for
someone to change their mind but just to still be loving. He was still very loving to us even though it had to have been written all over every everything we said and our faces, you know. Yeah, for sure. Do you– We should wrap things up. Okay, I think my last, in a desire to put a bow on something are you happy with the label
that you’ve given yourself of hopeful agnostic? I mean is that, are you happy with that? I don’t know how to answer
if I’m happy with it. I mean you just who It’s just where I’m at. I am happy. I am happy. Is it a destination I guess is? For me, I am open to revelation from God. like I haven’t lot it’s like listen, there’s some things Should I step back? There’s some things that I am I don’t think I’ll ever believe again. Like I’m not ever gonna believe that the earth is 10,000 years old, like that car left the
garage a long time ago. I don’t think I can have a worldview that doesn’t embrace the
reality of evolution, that every living being on the earth is related to every
living being on the earth. And I actually think that’s beautiful even from the perspective
of there might be a creator. And I know that I could go into the desert or I can go into the office and have a crazy religious experience that all of a sudden I come back and I’m like I got something for you. And I’m not closing myself off to that. I’m not some pure Naturalist because listen, if anything that if my story represents anything is that I’m willing to change my mind. I had a faith that was so solid. This was so deep, this wasn’t
the Sunday morning thing man, this was a lifestyle. This was in my blood and I let it go because I did not believe it to be true. I’m gonna follow truth
wherever it leads without fear, without fear of uncomfortable conclusions. And if that means that
oh and you know what, you’re gonna have an encounter with God that is going to send
you to some new place or send you all the way
back, then so be it. But the thing I don’t wanna
do is I don’t want to… I feel like the curiosity and the openness that characterizes my life right now is something I don’t wanna let go of. And I don’t wanna be, in fact
quote from Ravi Zacharias, that I used to say, I’m
gonna butcher the quote, but he essentially talked
about you know being, you don’t wanna be so open-minded that your mind is like a sewer
just letting everything in. Eventually, you gotta
bite down on something. So I recognize that you
just can’t be passive but actually, I don’t know. I have had some experiences
and come to some conclusions but I’m not ready to share
all that at this point. But I would say that, if anything, it’s just sort of confirmed the direction that I’ve been going kind of away from the
faith of my childhood. That’s my story. Thank you for sharing. I do have wrecks. Make a wreck and then tell me
it feels good to get it out. First of all, it does feel
good to tell your story. You have to wait a little bit. Yeah. I’m gonna sleep well tonight, Link. I didn’t sleep well last night. I’ve already mentioned
a couple of these wrecks but I’m gonna say it again because they relate to
what I just told you about. Again the Wiki entry on “Chromosome 2”. Read it. It’s a short one, it’s
super easy to understand. It’s a better explanation
of what I just said. The Wiki entry entitled
“Evidence of Common Descent” which is a long one again. People might be like why are you pointing people to Wikipedia? Well, Wikipedia is
actually a great reference for these kinds of things because it’s footnoted and referenced and you can go to those
resources if you wanna dig deeper but it’s a great
comprehensive up-to-date list, sort of a living list of
the evidence for evolution. But if you’re a book person, whether you wanna read or listen to it, I do recommend “Why Evolution
is True” by Jerry Coyne which is a pretty sort of
easy to read explanation if you’ve never kinda
dug into the subject. And I was already on that
train when I read that book but I just thought he did a great job of putting it together. So those are my wrecks. Thanks for listening to this long podcast. Hopefully, Link will go even longer. We’ll see. #EarBiscuits, thanks for being
a part of the conversation and for hearing us out. We’ll speak at you next week. To watch more ear biscuits, click on the playlist on the right. To watch the previous
episode of Ear Biscuits, click on the playlist to the left. And don’t forget to click on the circular icon to subscribe. If you prefer to listen to this podcast, it’s available on all your
favorite podcast platforms. Thanks for being your Mythical best.

Jean Kelley



  1. The Real World with Gordon Joseph Posted on March 10, 2020 at 9:28 am

    Evolution is what man has measured…. that does not mean that its not a tool from the creator… Polarizing Evolution and God is like Polarizing an assembly line and manufacturer.

  2. The Real World with Gordon Joseph Posted on March 10, 2020 at 9:34 am

    Have to have adam and eve? we dont know everything yet. Doctors allowed and promoted smoking in hopital beds. Why are making a decision based on current knowledge? Science was driven by faith. Its God procesess. And we wont understand them all. In fact. I suggest, just like

  3. The Real World with Gordon Joseph Posted on March 10, 2020 at 9:49 am

    Look at Bart Ehrman debates. He is intellectually dishonest.

  4. The Darkest Waffle Posted on March 10, 2020 at 10:53 am

    It's so sad to see what fame does to people. Matthew 16:26 " And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?"

  5. Hanne Be Posted on March 10, 2020 at 1:31 pm

    This is probably the best episode so far. Love it.

  6. Shawn Harkey Posted on March 10, 2020 at 2:14 pm

  7. Mr. Mack Posted on March 10, 2020 at 4:21 pm

    Watermelon and clouds and both 99%water. But both quite different from each other. You wouldn't say that a cloud evolved from a watermelon. Think about it.

  8. Bruce Boydstun Posted on March 10, 2020 at 4:26 pm

    How old was Adam 2 days after God created him? Remember that God created him as a fully matured man. How old would science tell us he is? Science can't explain miracles. I think that is what defines a miracle. He was a 2 day old, fully matured man.

  9. Rebecca Rahe Posted on March 10, 2020 at 6:14 pm

    Rhett you make some really good points. Not coming from your background, but still turning away from what I was taught to believe since I was young I can understand some of your views. You are a really smart guy and really brave for coming out with so much of your story that may bring you criticism which is unfair. It's really interesting to hear your views on where you came from and your thoughts on what YOU believe. Keep on keeping on. #earbiscuits

  10. Emerald City Treasures Posted on March 10, 2020 at 7:56 pm

    Best thing I've had the honor of listening to in a very very long time, Rhett. Thank you for opening your soul and sharing. I know how hard this was and you should know that it was an honor.

  11. Hopeful Agnostic Posted on March 10, 2020 at 8:06 pm

    Wow. My story is eerily similar to yours but unique to me, as I suppose very many are. I expect I’ll be “coming out” later in 2020, and I know my whole life/relationships WILL change, and it’s quite scary. Anyway, thank you for putting yourself out there, it’s encouraging to those of us who haven’t yet done so

  12. Mason Chamberlain Posted on March 10, 2020 at 10:43 pm

    The comment section has made me pretty happy seeing all the support to Rhett & I'm sure Link in the next episode. Id like to say that this series of episodes has been amazing. These subjects & perspectives on them are essentially the meaning to life for me. I believe that human interaction , at least for me, is the whole point to being alive. The openness the two of you are demonstrating is something g I've been afraid of for a long time but unknowingly brushing it off. I thank you for sharing yourselves & helping to inspire. Looking forward to next week.

  13. savvas s Posted on March 11, 2020 at 1:30 am

    IMO, your spiritual journey is as reconstructive as deconstructive

    You seem to have a good grasp on morality and how to teach to and that's what's most important.


  14. Samantha Tycz Posted on March 11, 2020 at 3:04 am

    thank you Rhett for sharing

  15. Kenny Vert Posted on March 11, 2020 at 4:46 am

    Thank you, Rhett. Extremely relatable. We appreciate you guys. -Ken

  16. Joshua J. Jackson Posted on March 11, 2020 at 8:48 am

    This video is quite informative and I hope it will be helpful to you guys on the topic of spiritual deconstruction.

  17. FD Zaher Posted on March 11, 2020 at 12:15 pm

    Loved this episode. Rhett is my favorite youtuber.

  18. Isaac Comelli Posted on March 11, 2020 at 3:49 pm

    Rhett, thank you for your candid honesty. While I don't understand or agree with all the conclusions you came to, I appreciate your willingness to be honest and the amount of time, effort, and mental work you put into your spiritual beliefs over a long period of time. May God bless you and your family.

  19. PapPomPop Posted on March 11, 2020 at 4:26 pm

    When I finally asked myself "what if I'm wrong" everything changed. It's such a good question

  20. Michael Andersson Posted on March 11, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    "It's not so much what happens after you die, but while you're alive"

  21. Trippingonfaith ! Posted on March 11, 2020 at 6:13 pm

    I needed this today thank you, excellent!

  22. Crazy Conscious Posted on March 11, 2020 at 8:54 pm

    59:39 "I didn't want to leave" resonates so much with me. I think one of the most frustrating things for me about how people respond to my story is for them to not get that. Others always want to think you must have wanted to leave if you did. But no, we often don't. And that's why we hold on for so long. And it's not exciting (in the way others seem to think, at least) when we finally give in. I feel you.

  23. Shanely Montañez Posted on March 11, 2020 at 9:40 pm

    I loved this video. I loved Rhett’s honesty and his open mindedness. It’s normal to feel a fear of questioning things especially when we are so deep into our belief system but seeking truth always sets us free. 👏🏼

  24. Buck Buchanan Posted on March 11, 2020 at 11:14 pm This link is to an open and honest letter to Rhett, that was written by Robert Carter. It addresses many of the points that Rhett brought up. Well worth the read.

  25. Todd Spencer Posted on March 12, 2020 at 12:21 am

    Rhett–thanks for this, whatever comes of it–you were honest and I loved it. It helped me, at least.

  26. The Magical Ducklings Posted on March 12, 2020 at 1:05 am

  27. JaxH0pkins Posted on March 12, 2020 at 1:33 am

    Semantic deception. You, or those who raised you, never knew God or His son. You may think you did/ do, but it’s delusion.

    You didn’t know him, and someday He will say He never knew you (Matt. 7:23).. really tragic.

  28. Susanne Byrd Posted on March 12, 2020 at 3:00 am

    Thank you so much for doing this. By being brave and honest you have done more good than you probably realize. I am the only one in my family to have questioned any of the religious beliefs I was taught. My story is strikingly similar to yours. You have made me feel so much less alone in my doubt, so thank you.

  29. Meisheaven : Posted on March 12, 2020 at 3:23 am

    You never knew me

  30. VTV SD Posted on March 12, 2020 at 5:52 am

    Love your songs and will continue to watch your funny videos. I'm glad that you are honest and I respect that. I'm happy to say that I too was in the same position decades ago and like others, I arrived at the opposite conclusion. There are many answers to the questions that you posed and many do not require a leap of faith. I think you just don't want to hear them at this point in your personal life. I respect that too. Lastly there are quite a number of responses to this video and while you're not obligated to agree with them, you should at least listen to what they have to say. Here's a link.

  31. Jewel Hardin Posted on March 12, 2020 at 8:01 am

    As someone who grew up in a similar background (southern Baptist) and also began questioning almost all aspects of the religion and its history and organization, it has touched me deeply to hear how Rhett handled this. I feel horribly that he has lived like this for so many years but I am glad that he feels confident to share his process at this time and I hope there are fewer dismissive people about this than what they both feared.

  32. Declan Rodden Posted on March 12, 2020 at 8:47 am

    Congratulations and well done for representing your belief in an easy to understand and honest way, makes me sad to think that people still need to feel nervous saying they dont believe, hopefully in time people and societies will accept all of us for what we believe or dont

  33. blargiefarg93 Posted on March 12, 2020 at 12:38 pm

    Rhett, I haven't listened to/watched earbiscuits up to now, just due to the fact that I'm typically not the biggest podcast guy, but I totally understand where you're coming from. Thanks for being real.

  34. Karl Gruner Posted on March 12, 2020 at 7:18 pm

    Man, is this boring… Gonna have to talk to the individual who recommended this video…

  35. Caiten S Posted on March 12, 2020 at 9:02 pm

    I want to make a notebook full of beautiful Rhett quotes now.

  36. Ladondorf Posted on March 12, 2020 at 10:20 pm

    It's really weird to imagine that Rhett was once a hardcore Young Earth Creationist.

  37. Faith Killen Posted on March 13, 2020 at 1:09 am

    Old testament stuff doesnt matter

  38. David Allan Posted on March 13, 2020 at 1:16 am

    Rhett, I'm literally speechless. I can't tell you how refreshing it is to hear you speak these words. I've been working through this transition for 5 years now. I've lost 90% of my friends, and the support of my entire family. For the few of us that resonate with your story, I can't think of a more important topic. Stepping away from the judgement alone has made me feel like I now know what the term 'born again' truly means. Thank you.

  39. Joe Vallee Posted on March 13, 2020 at 4:06 am

    This is so my story! Thanks for sharing.

  40. oneandahalf39 Posted on March 13, 2020 at 10:44 am

    I will no longer watch Rhett and Link. Bye

  41. cnramsey Posted on March 13, 2020 at 3:04 pm

    Thank you so much for having the courage to share your story . It was absolutely beautiful. I can't even imagine how difficult that journey must have been, especially with roots buried that completely in faith.

  42. PhilGeissler Posted on March 14, 2020 at 1:12 am

    You'll be back! Love ya Brother! Praying for you and your family! BTW, if Eternal Conscious Torment is holding you back, may I recommend Edward Fudge's videos. Many Evangelicals are beginning to leave ECT and starting to latch onto Annihilationism.

  43. Kelly McCoy Posted on March 14, 2020 at 3:52 am

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I'm going thru a similar spiritual reconfiguration, and your story helps me feel like I'm not just going crazy or throwing away a "perfectly good life." I wish more people were willing and able to engage with such deeply ingrained constructs and ideologies.

  44. Lena Monroe Posted on March 14, 2020 at 4:02 am

    I love you guys from the bottom of my heart and I'm immensely grateful to listen to your stories. 💓

  45. rizzolovesryan Posted on March 14, 2020 at 6:25 am

    If puritanical certitude leads to "What do I know?" it may be helpful. "Be still…"

  46. Thomas H Posted on March 14, 2020 at 7:47 am

    Every believer doubts; praying that you’ll get through. You’ve been searching for truth real deep, but you haven’t reached the bottom yet… you’ve been muses by the siren at the entrance to the cave of mystery. Friend, don’t be fooled by her. There is a greater treasure.

  47. Daniel York Posted on March 14, 2020 at 4:52 pm
    I would invite you to listen to Stephen Meyers. Brilliant scientist/philosopher. Maybe answer some of your objections

  48. dartarro21 Posted on March 14, 2020 at 10:19 pm

    @Ear Biscuits A lot of people are fed up with how far astray mainstream churches have gone. I left church, knowing God was still present but something felt off, and He lead me to the Hebrew Roots movement…out and away from all the Pagan idolatry and perpetual milk that have been absorbed into the church. Back to the intent of what was written, to the deep and rich underlying meaning of the Hebrew alphabet and hidden layers of meaning in chiasms and poetry. Yeshua doesn't leave us stranded at the altar like many churches do…there is the laver of washing, the lampstand, the incense, the showbread, the ark of the covenant (10 commandments) inside of the tabernacle to be fully explored, and to be close to Him. Most churches do not teach the relationship aspect. If people know something is wrong, but don't know where else to go, they will go into the water before they will stay on a sinking ship. Rhett, check out the "Truth and Tradition" series by Michael Rood, it changed my life. The Bema Podcast is also super helpful – church from it's western perspective often doesn't ask the right or the relevant questions of the text. It's like in The Matrix when Morpheus is describing the splinter in the mind…you know something is off but don't know what is missing until you breathe in fresh air.

  49. Emma Mattsson Posted on March 15, 2020 at 12:11 am

    I cried listening to this, thank you both for sharing your stories.

  50. Laurel Dunstan Posted on March 15, 2020 at 1:06 am

    Why are you still wearing a wedding ring?

  51. Laurel Dunstan Posted on March 15, 2020 at 1:24 am

    If you two, combined, are smarter than this guy, I'll wear your story!!

  52. MunterHonn Posted on March 16, 2020 at 1:35 am

    I have been waiting for this series of videos for so long. Loving this candidness.

  53. Roman Jeeper Posted on March 16, 2020 at 2:41 am

    This hits home for sure. I found it extremely in interesting and completely get where you're coming from. I'm currently going through some of the same battles.

  54. joe midd Posted on March 16, 2020 at 9:28 pm

    Wow. This is amazing!

  55. Ash Edwards Posted on March 16, 2020 at 11:18 pm

    Really appreciate you sharing this, loved it

  56. Joshua Posted on March 17, 2020 at 1:02 am

    I've felt very alone recently in my own deconstruction of my beliefs. This was great for me to hear, almost even more great that I got to hear it from a voice that I almost consider a friend. Thanks for your vulnerability Rhett.

  57. K w Posted on March 17, 2020 at 4:27 am

    Lmao how sweet of Link for not apologizing at all to the fan he almost ran over

  58. Chris White Posted on March 17, 2020 at 7:09 am

    Rhett, have you ever spoke with Pastor Brad at Grace about any of this?

  59. intensionless Posted on March 17, 2020 at 11:47 am

    Great story. Thank you for telling it.

  60. Nashelle Here Posted on March 17, 2020 at 3:03 pm

    i was a bit confused on 20:26 because it kind of sounded like you were forcing them to believe Romans 14:1-23 ESV
    As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind…

  61. Larry Fischbach Posted on March 17, 2020 at 6:12 pm

    I have a lot of things I would love to talk about but I think first and foremost I want to say as a theologian and as a human being… Thank you for sharing your story and your journey, no matter what anyone has said you are loved and appreciated. We come from very different backgrounds (I'm a cradle Catholic), but you have helped me in the sharing of your journey. Thank you for being honest and being the amazing human being I believe you to be.

  62. HiperALFA Posted on March 17, 2020 at 10:17 pm

    Thank you very much for sharing this. As someone who also experienced loss of faith, there isn't enough sincere thoughts and experiences on media on this subject. I think more and more people experience these experiences in the digital age and the globally connected world. Agnostic people most likely gonna be the majority at some point.

  63. rosie x Posted on March 18, 2020 at 8:40 am

    I just want to point out: Rhett, just because you're a straight white man does not mean that you didn't have bad experiences with your religion/church. Just because some people have it worse than you doesn't invalided your struggles. Someone is always going to have it worse off than you. That's just life. But don't downplay any struggles you had because some people might of gotten it worse. Your experiences still matter.

  64. toemuncher Posted on March 18, 2020 at 11:44 am

    personally i believe that god is the greatest scientist and these insane things happen because god has a hand in it

  65. Evil Christianconservative Posted on March 18, 2020 at 12:15 pm

    Eternity matters guys: Pascal's wager.

  66. Tshaaj Thomas Posted on March 18, 2020 at 8:56 pm

    1:12:08 L O L . . ., That's stupid. You would rather jump off a ship to the water and get drowned? How stupid is that?

  67. Algore Posted on March 19, 2020 at 7:01 am

    I never have time to finish. Whats rhetts conclusion in the end?

  68. Bruh Moment Posted on March 20, 2020 at 4:35 am

    This is almost the exact same story as mine. Deconstruction, quick phase of anger, and then openness. 👍

  69. Megan Sweeney Posted on March 20, 2020 at 10:57 am

    Your stories sounds kinda similar to that of Michael Gungor and the crew on the The Liturgist Podcast.

  70. Intelituitive Posted on March 20, 2020 at 12:27 pm

    Whenever I did something bad as a kid I was always asked "why did you do it", I always replied "I don't know". I still don't know to this day but if I had someone talk to me about how my actions translate into my existence like Rhett does with his kids I might have a much clearer picture of who I am. I went through a very similar mental spiritual journey as Rhett did, but the physical circumstances leading to the realization were on opposite spectrums. I feel myself as Agnostic not because I don't believe but because I don't trust the words that have morphed over the millennia through the mouth of men. Great listen Link and Rhett, have a goog one guys.

  71. Stephie Sommers Posted on March 20, 2020 at 10:41 pm

    I haven’t seen you guys content in awhile to be honest and I’m sorry for that. I’ve been mostly unplugged for a couple of years. That being said, I stumbled upon this podcast and I very grateful I watched the whole thing. I hear you. I understand you. I believe you. I identify with you. Stand strong, I know where you are at. My journey is very similar to your, just from a Mormon perspective. So naturally my anger period in time lasted longer and was a little more intense. Now we live life for the people that matter most and my motto is, “if this is the only life I have to live, I better make for DAMN sure it the best life I can make it.” When it comes down to it, you have to do what’s best for you and what you know in your heart to be true. Cheers Rhett!

  72. Miscellaneous Me Posted on March 21, 2020 at 4:32 am

    Rhett is duch a great linguist. Everything he says is so well-thought out and easy to understand. Even with the notes he's written. You can just tell he has a sense of wisdom and empathy within him. Meanwhile I write sentences with 'duch' rather than 'such'.

  73. JGM Mackmen Posted on March 21, 2020 at 6:03 am

    This is amazing, thankyou!

  74. Jeremiah White Posted on March 22, 2020 at 12:19 am

    1:12:56 – "This one's gonna be a long one." Good timing.
    I of course have an opinion on your decision, but you'll likely not see my comment. So..

  75. Dylan Alexander Posted on March 22, 2020 at 11:50 am

    just stop thinking about it

  76. Jason Nation Posted on March 22, 2020 at 8:28 pm

    Hey, …WHY? like how is it important for me to watch 3 hours of history about you 2 losing your religion, growing up and becoming a bit realistic? My god, you're just a person and it makes no sense that you would do an hour and a half documentary each about your own problems. Nice sponsorship attempt….good youtube revenue right?

  77. DarkSky Posted on March 23, 2020 at 12:22 am

    I wish I could give this one thousand likes instead of the one I gave. as someone who has been struggling with this very thing, i wish more would watch and understand it.

  78. Gabriel Christian Posted on March 23, 2020 at 12:23 am

    The questions that rhett asked are the same ones I'm asking myself today- and I don't have an answer. Why would God torture people for not adopting a religion that they may have never heard of in their life?

  79. Aynsley Saucier Posted on March 23, 2020 at 12:43 am

    Hearing someone else say these things and knowing that I wasn't alone in my confusion and fear has been a profound experience. Thank you.

  80. Armybeast18 Posted on March 23, 2020 at 3:40 am

    38:28 huh. Interesting. While I don't necessarily believe in God, I do or maybe now did believe that the exodus and that stuff was real. Maybe not the religious parts but like the hard fact that those people existed and they just happened to believe in God. Even from the point of someone that used to be a Roman Catholic, I still it's interesting to think about all of that

  81. Affan Uddin Posted on March 23, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    Rhett is being too polite to the monsters these religious people are within themselves

  82. Stella Mantikou Posted on March 23, 2020 at 2:16 pm

    1:12:25 Welcome brother. We are all swimming together here.

  83. Stella Mantikou Posted on March 23, 2020 at 2:56 pm

    Rhett thank you.

  84. Matt Romer Posted on March 23, 2020 at 11:53 pm

    I totally understand how the Old Testament is difficult to believe, there are a lot of legendary sounding things in it. What led you to believe the same about the New Testament (ie., gospels, Paul's stuff, etc.)? In other words, is Paul (or the apostles or whoever wrote them) lying, mistaken, or something else, in your view?

  85. Necessary Evil Posted on March 24, 2020 at 1:41 am

    Sounds like you all believed in stuff as long as it paid the bills

  86. Nicolás Scarcella Posted on March 24, 2020 at 6:09 am

    4:57 Love how Rhett turned "You always ALMOST hit pedestrians" to "You ALMOST ALWAYS hit pedestrians" hahaha

  87. Sourceror Posted on March 24, 2020 at 7:30 am

    Faith: Let's Talk About That.

  88. Natalie Mauney Posted on March 24, 2020 at 7:44 am

    I love y’all I don’t agree with y’all but I will not judge I’m still a mythical beast and I still love y’all I will pray you will find your way back to God but even if you don’t I will not judge you

  89. Keyser Soze Posted on March 24, 2020 at 11:12 am

    So respectfully done

  90. Nathan Kawanishi Posted on March 24, 2020 at 12:21 pm

    came to the comments to support and say this is such a beautiful story, then realized how many people were like me

  91. Julian Colon Posted on March 24, 2020 at 9:01 pm

    I have a very similar story. The Calvinist mind prison is hard to escape. I’m glad you did.

  92. Shari Russell Posted on March 24, 2020 at 9:32 pm

    This!!! Was everything to me! Can’t wait to go over and listen to Link’s story

  93. jdjdsaihfudshauj Posted on March 24, 2020 at 9:53 pm

    If God's not real, and you never had a relationship with Him, why are so anxious to talk about rejecting the belief of Him existing? I doubt it's man's opinions you're concerned about. Love you so much and praying for you both 🙂 Ephesians 1:13

  94. Jancellor Clementine Posted on March 25, 2020 at 5:15 am

    Great googly moogly, that instruction manual analogy is eloquent

  95. Iram Nunez Posted on March 25, 2020 at 9:57 am

    I do believe in god but I also refuse to believe that he is willing to let me burn for eternity even if I never did anything wrong

  96. Bryson Clark Posted on March 25, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    The parting of the Red Sea was real there is plenty of evidence there was old armor weapons and chariots that were found in the red sea. And why do you think the Red Sea

  97. redraider21s Posted on March 25, 2020 at 4:54 pm

    I think Rhett should listen to Jordan Peterson and his thoughts. I think Rhett could find his speeches valuable when it comes to morality. Morality is Meta true. It is a human quality. And the concept if god can be anything. You're god is whatever you value most IN you're actions, not thoughts. You act AS IF god exists… Why?

  98. Kay Schiller Posted on March 25, 2020 at 11:49 pm

    Awesome video guys 👏 loved hearing such a thoughtful side of each of you. Many things you spoke about resonated with me