Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Reasonable Doubts

It was at least a few months ago that I learned that the Reasonable Doubts podcast would no longer be continuing. Then yesterday I learned that the four brilliant members of the cast were recording a proper final episode for the show.

When I first heard the podcast was ending, I immediately went on a donwloading spree through their archives so that I'd always have them.  The podcast is immensely special to me, and I wanted to write up why.

I've wrote up my Deconversion story years ago at this point, but that was just the beginning of my journey in atheism.  If you know my story, you know I tried to go back into the faith after initially becoming an atheist. That project failed pretty horribly, and afterwards I was existentially a mess.

Christian apologetics was my first real exposure to any kind of serious philosophy, at least in a way I was motivated to give the time of day to.  When I first became an atheist I was a bit of an emotional wreck, and I think part of that was giving up the implicit philosophy I had just absorbed via osmosis growing up in a Evangelical Christian culture bubble.

My personal life was also starting to take a downward turn. My wife and I were starting to have the strain of my non-belief and her still holding onto some form of Christianity be a (luckily short-lived) issue for our marriage. Not long after that, we were told by my wifes doctors that we probably weren't going to be able to have children.

To cope with that, we decided to get a dog. Through some friends at work my wife and I ended up with two rather large dogs. Not exactly the plan we had in mind, but we fell in love with the two of them.

We still lived in a rather small townhouse and the dogs were used to a bigger yard. As such they needed long walks for exercise.  It also was barely a week into getting the dogs that my wife found out she was pregnant with our daughter.

This lead to my being the one to walk both dogs to give them their exercise multiple times a day.  It was at this point that I found Reasonable Doubts.

I remember going on podcast-long walks with the dogs, soaking in nuanced atheistic philosophy and answers to apologetics.

It wasn't long before I was downloading their entire backlog to listen to a new episode, and my listening expanded from dog walks to trips to the gym and snippets at work.

The podcast was like an existential life line for me, acting as a sort of ground wire for what I was dealing with.

When your whole worldview is up-ended, you're left with a lot of open questions. Reasonable Doubts either provided me with answers, or at least equipped me with the clues I needed to be able to do my own research to establish viewpoints on things like philosophy of mind, morality, free will, and a host of other topics.

I appreciated each doubtcaster.  Jeremy and Justin were there for what really engaged me, counter apologetics and philosophy of religion.  Luke was able to tie issues in philosophy to explanations via psychology that both made a lot of sense and de-mystified a lot.  And finally there was Dave who not only made me laugh with his poly-atheism segment each episode, but he was also the voice who would ask the right questions when the other guys got a bit too technical.

Eventually my addiction to the podcast necessarily tapered off. I had consumed their backlog and was just listening to new episodes. The group would go through periods where they were having a hard time recording consistently, which is eminently understandable.  I eventually had a newborn daughter to take care of, and the long-walks had tapered off since the dogs didn't mesh well with her (fortunately their previous owner regretted having to give them up and so they went back to a happy home).

To be honest the show kindled a then new found love of philosophy in me that I didn't have before I deconverted.  They were the direct inspiration I had to start this project of a blog and YouTube channel. Eventually I was able to converse with most of the doubtcasters either via email or Twitter, and I'm personally very glad to have listened and spoken with them.

I'm really looking forward to hearing their last episode when it's released.  I'm also happy to know that they each have other projects in the works.  I know Justin has recently launched his own YouTube channel which has been fantastic thus far. I look forward to hearing what Jeremy, Luke, and Dave have planned and will post up about it when I find it out.

I just wanted to end with a heartfelt Thank You to the Doutcasters. You gave a lot of time and effort to make a wonderful program, and it personally meant a lot to me.  I wish nothing but success and happiness for each of you.