Jerry Coyne is a professor in the department of ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago. He specializes in understanding the origin of species. In addition to numerous scientific papers and his scholarly book in his field, Speciation, he is the author of the popular book, Why Evolution Is True. His most recent effort to communicate to popular audiences about science is his latest book, Faith Vs. Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible.
Peter Watson is an intellectual historian and the author of fifteen books on the history of ideas. His latest book is The Age of Atheists: How We Have Sought to Live Since the Death of God. He traces the history of atheism from Nietzsche to Dawkins. His book is a fascinating tour of poets, artists, philosophers, and others who have sought meaning in the midst of life without God.
Ryan Bell, a former Seventh Day Adventist Pastor, tried an experiment. What would life be like if he spent a year without God? He blogged about his adventure at Year Without God. He talks about that year, what he is doing now, and his new podcast, Life After God. Ryan is the third in my three-part series on pastors who have left the ministry and the church's beliefs behind.
In the second of my three-part series on ex-ministers, I speak with Pat Green. When the ministry ended for Pat due to his commitment to same-gender marriage, he left the church and scrambled to find work. He ended up driving a taxi in the Chicago area. That is where his ministry became real. He blogged about his experience and has just finished a book, Night Moves: An Ex-Preacher's Journey to Hell in a Taxi.
My conversation with David Hayward of Naked Pastor kicks off a three-part series on ex-preachers, preachers who have left their careers in organized religion. Pat Green left the ministry and now drives a taxi. Ryan Bell took a year off from God and stayed there. David Hayward facilitates an on-line community called The Lasting Supper. He also is a blogger, cartoonist, and author of five books including Without a Vision My People Prosper, The Liberation of Sophia, The Art of Coming out, Naked Pastor 101 and his latest, Questions are the Answer: Naked Pastor and the Search for Meaning.
Gretta Vosper, a minister in the United Church of Canada, and pastor of West Hill United Church in Toronto, Ontario, is under fire from her denomination. Like many clergy, myself included, she doesn't believe in a supernatural, interventionist god, or a god called God. She is an atheist. She calls herself that. She has been one for a long time. Now, officials want to review her credentials for ministry which is a first for this denomination. She returns to Religion For Life to tell her story and report on the support her congregation is giving her. Full disclosure: my letter of support for her.
One of the most interesting (and entertaining) scholars with two Ph. D.'s, Robert M. Price, talks with me about three books: The Historical Bejeezus: What A Long Strange Quest It Has Been, The Amazing Colossal Apostle: The Search for the Historical Paul, and Preaching Deconstruction: Sermons Employing the Deconstructive Philosophy of Jacques Derrida and The Death of God Theology of Thomas J. J. Altizer. The question is: how critical can you go? Taking critical methods of interpreting scripture and turning over every dogmatic stone, Robert M. Price exposes Jesus and Paul as composite literary characters. If Jesus of the gospels is mythical all the way down and Paul's letters were written by a patchwork of authors, what is one to preach? Why the liberation of deconstruction, of course.
The murder of Trayvon Martin clinched the deal for Kelly Brown Douglas, Episcopal priest, and professor of religion at Goucher College. She decided she had to write a book about America's racism. She had to write about what it means to be a mother of a black male child in America. Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God defines a "kairos" moment for America. It is the time to name and dismantle the stand your ground culture.
He has been called "the most radical theologian in the world." Don Cupitt is a philosopher of religion and a former priest in the Church of England. He has written 50 books. His latest is Creative Faith: Religion As A Way of Worldmaking. He is the founder of the Sea of Faith Network. His philosophy in short? "He rejects all ideas of gaining salvation by escaping from this world of ours. "All this is all there is" he says and he now sees true religion in terms of joy in life and an active attempt to add value to the human lifeworld." It is an honor to have interviewed this great thinker.
The number of people not interested in religious institutions is rising. They are called the "Nones." Yet even though they may leave institutional religion behind many are still interested in spirituality and meaning-making. Margaret Placentra Johnston tells the stories of the nones who are on a quest for spiritual growth. Her book is Faith Beyond Belief: Stories of Good People Who Have Left Their Church Behind.