Link’s Spiritual Deconstruction

Link’s Spiritual Deconstruction


Welcome to Ear Biscuits. I’m Rhett. And I’m Link, this week at the Round Table of dim lighting, it’s part four of, I think what we’re calling
four total episodes, in our Lost Years/Spiritual
Journey series. I hope we’re calling it four
parts if it is part four. Well, there may be other parts I mean, Well, yeah, we, Begin the conversation.
That’s what I was getting at So in part one and two, we
discuss what happened externally between college and becoming YouTubers. And then in part three, you discuss what happened more internally with you in terms of your spiritual deconstruction. And here we are at part four,
it’s my turn to spill my guts. And I’ve, I’m gonna spew my guts all over these notes I’ve taken
because yeah, just like you, I really, I wanted to,
this is a great exercise for me to organize my thoughts. I think, as I share, I think there’ll be elements
of it that I’m still, it will be kind of obvious
that I’m still processing. So I think it’s been a very, it’s been very good for me
to prep for this episode. I feel emotional, I think, just in general and also nervous to share. Well, before you get
into it, I will say that, having shared first, I mean, the thing I told
Jesse when I got home is like, I was like, man, “I just feel like this “giant weight has been lifted off of me,” like, because it’s, it’s– Because we talked about it? Or just because there was– Well, it’s just I feel
like there’s this story that I’ve had that is so personal, and you kind of carried
around and you know how much it has impacted who you are, but you know how kind of
touchy it is to talk about it? Right. And you just get it out there, like I started realizing
how much emotion I had, kind of attached to it,
but it was actually more kind of after I had done
it, that it’s sort of like kind of released a little bit. Did you weep in the shower? I don’t remember weeping. But no, it just I, what
I’m getting at is– But you did take a shower. It is super emotional,
and I will say also that, bunch of you are already
kind of using #EarBiscuits on Twitter is probably the
best place, that’s where, Yeah, thanks for sharing your responses. That’s the easiest way to kind of find what people are thinking and
how people are processing, we’ve been reading some people’s
stories and a lot of people have clarifying questions and– Yeah if they have follow up
questions for us, #EarBiscuits If you just want to share your experience, or your response– If something comes up in
the middle of Link’s story, like pause it, write that question down. We want your questions,
we’re not trying to like close the book on this process. We don’t know how often we’re
gonna revisit this subject, but it now is a part of what
we’re doing on Ear Biscuit, so we want this to be
an ongoing discussion. We are still in process. Yeah. And we want you to be a part of that, so. And also, I wanna thank you
for sharing these episodes, this particular series
with people that you think it will resonate with, or it becomes grounds for conversations
with friends or former friends or whatever your situation
is, thanks for sharing what we’re doing here with people so that means a lot to us too. All right, let me get into it. I think I’m, I was
trying to figure out why I was so nervous and Christie
really helped me process this and I think it’s that I don’t
wanna disappoint people, for some reason. I mean, not only dedicated
Mythical Beasts who may find out that my beliefs don’t align with theirs, but also, my friends
both past and present, and my extended family. I mean, this is not something that I’ve, there’s been an occasion for
me to discuss this with them, and I just because I just didn’t want, I don’t wanna disappoint them. So, it one thing I wanna
say, I don’t intend to, and I hope that no one listening feels implicated in my story. I’m grateful for the path that I’ve taken, for the pain and the joy and the mistakes and the thrills associated with it. Because I don’t think
there was any other way for me to get to here. And I know that I’m extremely fortunate, because I know that there’s so many people who’ve had deeply traumatic experiences associated with their
own spiritual journeys. So I’m grateful I’m still in process, and this is my story up to this point. And I am gonna go back,
I wanna start by telling a couple of stories, just
to give you snapshots of just to help you feel
what it was like to be me growing up in an evangelical
Christian environment. So I’ll just go ahead and
get into the first story. In 1988, I was 10 years old, and Buies Creek First Baptist Church, the church that I’d
gone to my entire life. I didn’t have any memories
of not going to this church. It’s also the church that
you started going to, and with your family when you
moved here in first grade. They were holding a revival,
which is a series of nights where you get together and there’s speakers and it gets real. Didn’t happen all the time,
but it did happen this year, and it was called Contact 88. I had the T shirt. Oh, it was red, with like,
a cool 80s font, Contact 88. It seemed more like it was
about, extra terrestrials getting to know us, Right. But it was really about
making contact with God, I think. And an Irish guy. Was he not Scottish? Or was he Irish? Well, as you know, I’m
trying to blur the lines between those two things these days, so. In my memory, the dude was Scottish. Okay, Scottish. So this preacher that came
in from out of town, I guess, way out of town, was preaching
at least on this last night, like the culmination
night, this is the big one. People go and make decisions this night. He gives a sermon and he explains that every person who’s born into this world is born in a sinful state. Even before you’ve done anything wrong, you have a compulsion to do things wrong. You have this selfishness, you’re in sin, put that in quotes. And, God, who created you, is being perfectly just, just cannot abide by these shortcomings
that we have baked into who we are as humans. So that’s gotta be punished. You gotta, and the punishment is not just, it’s not a minor punishment here. Because it’s, if you’re anything short of God’s standard of perfection, well that shortcoming
needs to be paid for. It’s gotta be taken out on somebody. So that’s when it came to this concept of eternal separation from God. And I’m pretty sure there
was a mention of like, eternal torment in some fiery hell, right? So as a 10 year old, just
imagine 10 year old Link. I was still sleeping with a Pound Puppy. And this was a big deal. This is something that was
talked about in our church, but it was different in revival. You were really listening. And sounds like this is a big deal. I mean, eternal damnation? That’s scary. And especially if it’s
coming from a guy who came all the way from Scotland or Ireland to tell me about it. I do think he was rolling his Rs which I think is a Scottish thing. Yeah, it was enrapturing. Yeah. But it scared the shit out of me. I just love his accent. How could it not scare you? But then he explained, that
God is not only perfectly just, He’s also perfectly loving. And He wants to make another way for us to have a relationship with Him
and not be eternally separated or currently separated from God. And it turns out God’s solution is that He sent His son to come to earth, Jesus, live a perfect life, never
deserve an ounce of punishment, or God’s wrath, or hell or damnation, but then willingly take
it on himself, anyway. And He was executed, hung on a cross, crucified, died and paid the penalty instead of us as individuals
paying the penalty, and then He rose from
the dead, He resurrected, and now He’s seated at
the right hand of God and, He’s listening to this sermon right now. And he also is God. And he also is God. That’s an important part of that, too. And that happened, that happened some 1988 years ago at the time. Well, All you, yeah, give or take. Give or take 33, Oh, yeah, so you got, so then he, Scottish dude
explained, all you gotta do is accept the fact that
he took the punishment that you deserved. And you also have to
get up out of your pew and you gotta walk down
here in front of everybody, by the way. But man, I was so scared, and I was like, I knew other people, I knew
you had already done this. Well, can I just say I
remember being at Contact 88 and I remember seeing you just get up, and you know what I was thinking? I was like, it’s about damn time. I mean, I was like, “I
did this when I was six.” Yeah, I was like, what, I mean,
why is he taking so long? , You thought you were a little Scottish, Does he not understand the gospel? Like, you don’t have to be double digits. Were you waiting to be double digits? Because I was like, I
don’t know what the age of accountability is, but all I know is I don’t wanna die and go to hell. I was a bit of a late
bloomer, and I thought, I think that was my age of accountability. Yeah, I think everybody’s
age of accountability is different, especially if you’re still sleeping with a Pound Puppy. It’s like a free pass. Yeah, I went, I remember I– By the way, we’re using
a lot of Christianese. Yeah, The age of accountability
is the age at which if you aren’t a Christian and
you die, you won’t go to hell. Because– Or just before that. Yeah, because you’re not
old enough to process. You can’t make the decision for yourself. And it’s nowhere in the Bible. It’s just something you
kind of have to come up with theologically because
if you don’t have it, it’s pretty bad, the kid’s going to hell, Well, I understood it that day. Right. And so I got up the
gumption and I went forward, and I remember that they
paired you off people and I got to be led in
a prayer by Amy Moore. Nice. This girl, I was 10, this
girl was like in high school. It was amazing. And she said repeat
after me and I accepted what Jesus did for me, and from, and at that point, I’m like,
Jesus rose from the dead, He saved my life, I’m glad I
don’t have to worry about that hell thing anymore, and I
owe this guy, everything. This preacher or Jesus? Jesus. Okay. And I really like Scottish people. Now, That might be Irish– But I don’t wanna talk to
them because they are scary. And I was like, “You know what? “I’m doing this, this is my life now. “I got it all set up.” And I’m singing in the choir next week. I sang in a choir with a bunch of adults, the next, on the following
Sunday, still wearing our Contact 88 T-shirts, I was beaming. I was a little bit jealous, I was like, “Maybe I should have waited,
I could sing in the choir.” I wanna fast forward
to high school and tell a second snapshot that
was just very formative. You wanna tell that story
before or after a break? Let’s tell it after a quick break. We’ll have a quick break. Go to mythical.com and
get this sweatshirt, also get this Ear Biscuits mug. We’ve been told we’re– We’re not making any more. Limited supplies, there’s down to less than 100 of these mugs. And we’re not doing it again. I mean, this is it, This
is the Ear Biscuits mug, at least in this current form. So if you want one of
these, and you don’t wanna complain about it after it’s gone, you gotta go to mythical.com and get it. So in high school, everything, we were still very involved
in church, and in youth group, I mean, if I had to rank
the things that I associated my identity with, yeah, I was
a soccer player in high school and, I was pretty amazing at it. I don’t know what else I
would say besides that. But that would be number three. Math Olympiad. Math Olympiad but number
one would definitely be that I was a Christian. Everybody knew that, that
like, we were really involved in our youth group, we had
friends who weren’t involved, but like our closest friends were and we were truly devoted
to God as high school. We clowned around, but we were devoted. And we understood it not
just as a belief system, but as a relationship with God. Like you said last week,
that was something that we were actively pursuing,
talking to God through prayer in a conversational way,
really figuring out how the Bible applied to our everyday lives. And we tended to, you’d boil it down to some oversimplified things
or at least in action, like we didn’t cuss, not
in public, at least, right? We didn’t fool around
with our girlfriends. Or we felt guilty about
it when we did at least. That’s more, yeah, that’s good. We definitely did not drink. Oh, that was an easy one. That was an easy one, I mean,
that was, it was illegal. Yeah. That would be extreme. I did listen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but I felt bad about it,
and I was called out on it by some of our friends in the youth group. But, one Saturday night, our friend Trent, who was not
involved in our youth group, I’ll just put it that way,
his parents were out of town that weekend, so he threw a party on a particular Saturday night. You know what story I’m gonna tell? Uh huh, I remember this night. So he threw this party
and I decided to go, I was 16, was able to drive
myself and I told my mom I’m spending the night
at my Trent’s house. She was fine with that. You did not go to this party at all. I wasn’t there for any and then left? You may have been there earlier but my recollection is that
you were not there at all. But you could have left early. That’s my recollection, but we know how recollection goes around here. I definitely know what
happened after you left if you were there. And that’s, they broke into
Trent’s parents liquor cabinet, or I think they just opened it, and started drinking stuff out of it. It wasn’t chained. Trent’s older brother was
there, that seemed to, make me a little more comfortable, but I wasn’t gonna drink
because that wasn’t me. I mean, we were, we, I
had to preserve my witness is what you call it. When it’s like, your reputation
as someone who’s like, God is enough for me, so
I don’t have to search for other ways to be happy. Was like this message that
you were trying to send, I think to our friends,
that’s what we wanted to do. But after a while, I just
I was like, you know what? Screw it, I just wanna have a little fun, I’m gonna drink for the
first time ever, and I did. A lot. And the majority of
everybody there was drinking and I got drunk. I didn’t do anything
specific that I regret, besides maybe the decision
to break the law and it was, lie to my mom and, but my, I was just– You probably did some annoying things. I’m sure I did a lot of annoying things, that was very silly, and
that didn’t feel too great. So I remember when the
party had died down, and everybody was like,
everybody was crashing wherever they were gonna crash. I crashed in this guest
room with our friend Jason. So we’re like, trying to go
to sleep and I just remember staring at the ceiling
and feeling so guilty. And I said out loud to him. I was like, Man, this guy,
I’m supposed to be an example to him as what it means to
have a relationship with God. I’m like, I just want, I just feel so bad. What I did, that’s not
me, man, this isn’t me. I just remember saying, “This isn’t me, “I’m just really sorry I did this,” And he was like, “Hey,
man, just go to sleep, “you’ll be all right.” Just go to sleep. Next morning, we woke up,
and Jason was in there, scrambling eggs for everybody. It’s just a new day. It was like nothing had happened. But for me, it was like
my life had changed. I just, like it was that
big of a mistake in my mind, and Jason said, “You should suck on some pennies.” And I was like, “What?” He said, “When you go home,”– He had all the secrets. “On the way home, you need
to suck on some pennies “so your mom doesn’t smell
liquor on your breath.” She just smells money. And so I had to get home because I had to go to church. And, my head was pounding,
had a hangover, felt horrible. And I opened my ashtray when I
got in the truck to drive off and that’s where I kept
all my loose change, and I got a handful of pennies
and threw them in my mouth and sucked on pennies all the way home. I felt so bad when I got home, I told mom, “I just can’t, I don’t feel good, “I can’t go to church today.” She’s like, “Okay, fine.” And then, but we did have
to go to Nani’s for lunch because you don’t miss Nani’s for lunch. And I could not get off
the couch, I felt so bad. So I’m laying on the
couch and after lunch, we’re all sitting in there hanging out and I’m just laid out, and I
remember my mom looking at me just saying, “Link, you
look like you’re hung over.” And I was just like, “I think
it was something I ate.” What does that mean? I think it was pennies, I ate pennies. I just sucked on them, I didn’t swallow. That was all she said. We never, my mom and I’ve never
talked about it since then. This is not one of those
things that comes out, What you gon’ listen to this? Sorry, mom. But that afternoon, you came by, and we got in your car,
and we were hanging out, and we did what we would always do. We were 16, 17 years old is
that we would just drive around and talk and listen to music. Right. I remember we were doing that this day, and I knew that you were gonna find out that I had gotten drunk the night before. I mean, if I didn’t
tell you, somebody else is gonna tell you, and that,
it would be better for you to find out from me. That was tough, I remember we were driving and I told you, “At Trent’s party last
night, I got drunk.” And you looked at me and you slowed the car down, and then you pulled
over on the side of the two lane country road
that we were driving down, beside a field. And I looked at you, and you looked at me and you said, “Get out.” Oh, wow. And I said, “What?” You said, “Get out man.” And I opened the door, I got out, and just picture an
extremely wide cinematic shot of a guy standing on the
side of the road beside a car in the middle of nowhere,
Harnett County, just fields and a few farmhouses in
every direction you look. And you drove off. Yup. And I just stood there. And, I knew how to get home,
because we had driven all these roads, but it was
at least six miles away. But you were a good ways out. It was at least six miles,
maybe eight from my house. I started walking, ’cause,
you just you didn’t stop. I mean, you went straight
down that long straightaway and then you disappeared over the horizon. And I just started walking home. And I started thinking about
the decision I had made and it was like the biggest decision, I guess I would have
described it at the time as an act of rebellion. I don’t know if that’s what it was, but it was a big mistake in my mind and I just started crying, like weeping, tears just
flowing off my face. And just walking in the grass
on the side of this road. I remember now it was hard
to see where I was going, if I was gonna step in something. And I remember looking up, how far do I have to go
to even clear this hill? And then I saw you coming
back over the hill. First I saw your head, then I saw your shoulders, and then you cleared the
hill and you were walking, you weren’t in your car you were walking on the side of the road and it was kind of awkward
because it’s a long ways, okay, I get it you’re walking. But we finally did, we met, we were walking towards each other. And, I don’t remember exactly what I said. But I know it was basically, “I’m so sorry for what I did.” And I, it wasn’t that
I had, I wasn’t sorry that I disappointed you,
it was that I was so sorry that I disappointed God. And, I mean, I don’t think we, I
don’t think there was a hug, I don’t think there was a handshake. I think that our MO at
the time was, like just, we knew what we both
felt and what we thought about what had happened and, I interpreted it as, like a physical representation of not only the fact that
you loved me as a friend, but that God forgave me. That, I think it was, we tended to think a lot
in terms of symbolism, and so I don’t know how much of that was going through your
mind, but I think that it really hit home for
me, I just felt like, this is a big deal, there is
a lot of disappointment here but I’m not, God hasn’t rejected me. I’m already forgiven. And we walked back to the car, we got in, and we drove off. And yeah, it was just a
picture of forgiveness, and I think it was really powerful. And I mean, the thing is
we were devoted to God and we were devoted to helping
each other stayed devoted. It was so important to
us, and we were steeped, we were steeped in the
teachings that our church and our family gave us
and the experiences we had within the church. So then when we went to
college, and got involved in Campus Crusade for
Christ, all of a sudden, everyone in that group
was also devoted to God in the same way. Everybody wanted the same
thing, it was actually, it was exciting because
it was so much easier for me to be who I’d lived my entire life, aspiring to be somebody
completely sold out for Jesus. I think we in Episode One, we painted this opportunistic approach
to like our involvement in Campus Crusade that like
really served our career. And I just, there was
absolutely and I do think we talked about it, there
was a parallel path of like, spiritually and personally, this is how we wanted to live our lives. This is a perfect scenario
for that, it was– Yeah, we weren’t there. We weren’t there first
and foremost, to try to become comedians or have an audience because we didn’t even
know that an was option. It was like this is what we want. These are the people
that we wanna be around. So the things that we weren’t doing and the things that we were
doing may seem a little odd. Like I mean, it wasn’t any partying ever, in like the traditional
tropish collegiate sense. There was a lot of group dates going on. If you were interested in
somebody, there was like the way to be as pure as possible about approaching dating. I was really good at organizing those. I could have a men’s Bible
study take a women’s Bible study out for just a night on the town. And, as long as you’re in
a group, it’s like you– Nothing can happen. You stay out of trouble. Christie and I never kissed until we were engaged to be married. And that was my decision. That’s not something that
anybody forced on me. That wasn’t the actual,
like the specific teaching of anybody– Because I did not subscribe
to that particular. You know I had Interpretation. I had come off a relationship in my senior year of high
school, freshman year of college that I felt like I had made mistakes in not being self controlled. And I was eat up with
guilt associated with that and I just did not wanna screw up my relationship with Christie and, because I saw that has so much potential, and I wanted to please God, and I wanted to do it right. You know how I think. There’s a best way to do everything, there’s a perfect
execution of of everything and I’m gonna try to, it’s
safest if I stay within that. Especially when it comes to
disappointing God or not. So yeah, it may seem odd to you– But you were a great hand
holder, I’m assuming. Like I was so calculating, I was like, I’m only gonna go out on a
date with her once a month and we’re only gonna talk once a week and I want her to, I don’t
want to get in the way of her being devoted to God and I want God, I wanna be devoted to
God and her second and, I felt for the old me reading
back through my journals, but and I’ll read one in a
second, but I just wanna, I wanna say that yeah, I was extreme because of
just the way I interacted with the environment and the teaching. But it was thrilling to
be, like we said before, it was thrilling to
answer a higher calling, to connect with God and to go through it with really great friends. It was the most meaning and satisfaction I’d ever experienced in my
life, within that context. As I prepped for this, I did go back and I read through my journals. And whenever I would journal, it was always in the form of prayer. I was writing a letter to God because it was hard for me to pray. But if I wrote it down, at
least I could concentrate and I could get my thoughts out, and it was at least my side
of the conversation with God. You did that too right? Yeah. But I wanna read an excerpt
from this one journal entry from, this my junior year,
so January 20th 1999, okay? So this is what I wrote, “Lord, I’m frustrated about us. “I just feel guilty
that it’s not clicking. “Like I’m just bad, or
wrong, or lazy or something. “I’m tired of feeling pressure and guilt “to spend time with you. “Lord, I would quit trying altogether “if I didn’t know how stupid
and mindless that would be. “To whom shall I go?” Which was like my paraphrase of a Bible verse, meaning, where would I turn if I turned away from God? And it wasn’t just that journal entry, like the vast majority
of my journal entries over those years, it was
actually heartbreaking. They were filled, and I’m talking like 80% of anything I would
write, it was filled with me apologizing for disappointing God. A lot of guilt, a lot of
shame, a lot of frustration for not being devoted enough. And I didn’t really appreciate or recall that internal struggle that I was having, I’d kind of forgotten
that until I went back and started reading through the journals, and I was a little bit shocked. It’s not that I journaled all the time. And I do think there’s a
factor of I would journal when I felt like I really needed, my relationship with God
needed a kick in the pants, like I really needed to, buckle down. And so, and then if, maybe
if things were going better, I just didn’t journal. Maybe that’s another explanation. But it was a lot of, a lot of my private
experience, I think was, was kind of defined by that level of shame and frustration. And I, again, I don’t wanna imply that the main teaching from
crew or our churches, the church that we grew up in,
was really super legalistic. I don’t think, they were not
super legalistic, there was not a constant emphasis on
following certain rules. The emphasis was on having like, a personal relationship with God. But there are factors associated with going about that relationship
that the way that I internalize that, was
that I was failing at it. That I didn’t have what,
like the people who it was really working for had. That I was very hard on myself. Well, I would say that
we were on a spectrum. So I would say that compared
to just the general population, we were legalistic without a doubt. Oh, yeah. Because we did have a bunch
of rules that were sort of, interpretations of the Bible that, and applied to our specific
situation or a specific culture that kind of led to
things like not kissing your girlfriend until you’re
engaged to be married. But I do think that most of this is just the way that different
personalities interact with it. Because, yeah, for me, I was
having all those intellectual thoughts and doubts, and
that’s a lot of the stuff that I would be writing
about and thinking about. But when it came to, and of course, I felt
like, Oh, I’m prideful, and I’m lustful, and all the, the ways that I thought I was sinful, but I think I kind of gave
myself more of a break than you did just because
that’s my personality. I don’t think I was hard
on myself that I sinned, I was hard on myself that I didn’t have a quality of relationship
with God where I was motivated to connect with Him, to pray, to do like the spiritual
disciplines, like study the Bible and pray and the things that
I felt like were a true test of intimacy with God, like
our, the human’s role in that, I felt like I just, I was
trying to pull myself up by my bootstraps. I was trying to conjure
something that I didn’t, that came naturally to people who had like a
true connection to God. I also think you were perceiving that that was happening with people. And I think that everybody
has their own struggle. I don’t think it was like,
Sure, right. But it’s interesting that, and I think we had to
have talked about it. But I kept going back to it so
much in my journal that like, it’s just something that I
couldn’t shake because of, and I’m starting to understand myself now in a way that I never have,
and so I can see things that I’ve learned about
myself now in terms of like, an unhealthy view of
being a perfectionist, being a one on the Enneagram,
if you’re into that. I do think it was me being disappointed in myself more than people telling me that God
was disappointed in me. And then in, when I graduated,
Christie and I got married, there was another level
of pressure because then, the teaching was I was
to assume the role of the spiritual leader is what it was called. Initiate prayer with your
family and like, make decisions and make sure you’re doing as a family what God has for you. That was difficult for me. And then, after a couple
of years, we joined staff. And just to clarify,
that was very much the, this definitely isn’t necessarily the, sort of the standpoint of a lot of even Christian churches at this point, but, very much the sort of the
branch that we were in. You got egalitarianism and
you got complementarianism. And so we were, we were
complementarian, meaning that there women and men have
specific roles, right? And so in the household,
the man is supposed to be the spiritual leader, he’s the
one that kind of everything falls on to make sure that
his family is following God. That was our interpretation of
some New Testament passages. When we joined staff of Crew, now my spiritual identity was
also my professional identity. I was fully committed to God,
but also now financially, completely dependent on all
these people who believed in what I believed in, and
they believed in the work that we were doing when we
raise financial support. So I put even more
pressure on myself because I had these people investing in our work, and I was doing I was a
professional Christian at this point. Shouldn’t I be good at it? Should I start to have a little
bit of a Scottish accent? Yeah you should. But I had this nagging
sense of being hollow. That, I just, it was always
there, couldn’t quite shake it and around this time,
that’s when Rhett started talking about the age of the Earth and the validity of evolution. We started talking about those things. What you started talking
about them with me, I was, I didn’t have, I don’t have doubts and I don’t sit around
as I’m falling asleep or in my spare time just like having logic battles in my mind. It’s just not, I have the battles I was having was, I’m not doing this good enough. I just devoted all of my energy there. But whenever you would bring something up, first of all, I knew
like, I’m not gonna panic, you made the joke of like,
Jesse would start crying because it was perceived as such a threat and I totally get that. It was, I was like, I remember
having an internal dialogue of okay, just don’t
panic, be cool about this, just be a sounding board for what Rhett wants to talk about because, I’m not gonna fall for the trap of like, well, you know you can’t go there, because it might lead to something. So, I mean, I started listening. And, when you read Francis Collins’, “The language of God” in
2006, I also read that, and, I was like, yeah, it’s like, I’m convinced in the validity of evolution. And I remember, an unintended consequence
of reading that book was I just had this sense, and we discussed it that there was an island with
God on it and it was shrinking as science discovered more and more and it would ultimately
lead to a place where the waters of science would
cover the top of the island and there would be no more God. That’s actually what we were
taught in terms of this, if you start looking into
evolution, it’s a slippery slope. That’s what they would say. And I will say ironically, we’re not doing Francis Collins any favors between my story and your story. I’m not trying to give us
that much credit like this is, so many people are gonna
listen to this but, a lot of people like Ken Ham, the head of Answers in
Genesis are gonna be like, “I told you” and he’s
got an Australian accent. But he’s gonna say I told you, you can’t believe in evolution, look what happened, if you do it, if you believe in it, then it’s all Francis Collins’ fault, Well, I’m very grateful. But I think it, because that
wasn’t his point in the book, the shrinking island thing,
but it’s something that we discussed and that,
because, we just started asking these questions of like, well, if Adam and Eve never existed, doesn’t Paul say in the
Bible that the whole point of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection, was to undo Adam’s Original Sin? And then I’m like, I don’t want to get, I’m just like, I’m a
professional Christian. I don’t, I’m panicking inside. So I’m like, there are
answers, you can find them, anything you wanna believe,
you can find something. Right, because– And I started to find those things. Because as I said, Because I was very resistant. I don’t wanna give short shrift to this, if that’s the correct word. I know there are lots of
Christians who accept evolution as it’s taught, as it’s
understood by scientists and still believe in Adam and Eve. And there’s a way that
they reconcile that. I’m very familiar, you don’t
have to tweet those books at me, I very familiar with that argument. I just think there’s some
other issues going on. But so yeah, you can accept
both of those things. And I took comfort in that. Because I’m sitting here
on staff, man, I can’t, it’s like, what am I gonna do? Just like, become homeless? There was too much at stake. So I kept the most
threatening questions at bay, until after we left staff. And so in 2008, up until 2011, I mean, we were starting our career as YouTubers. And in that timeframe,
where we were developing this new career, I was also developing a growing spiritual disillusionment. And there were two parallel paths for me. One was the intellectual path. And then the other parallel
path was the experiential, what was happening to me in
my heart in my circumstance. So I’ll talk about both of those. First, I mean, intellectually,
the discussions that we had, they continued,
I think they accelerated, it was the next thing,
and again, you can kind of superimpose Rhett’s talk on top of mine, whenever he mentions,
dismantling his view, it was also my view, of the Old Testament. The early stuff in the Old
Testament, it can’t be literal. Becoming convinced of that
and then continuing to read the Old Testament, it’s
like the Old Testament God mandated a lot of
actions that troubled me. I just, it’s like, you worship a God, I mean, there’s some, I mean, I’m not even talking
about head scratchers, I’m talking about like, Oh my gosh, this is frightening. Our view of the Bible
started to dismantle. We were having lots of
conversations about it. I wasn’t chomping at the bit to go home and report all of these
conversations because, I didn’t know, I thought
it was a thought exercise. I didn’t know where it was gonna lead and I didn’t wanna, I was like, man, I wanna
process this with Christie, but I don’t wanna scare her. So I talked to her about,
for every one time, every eight times we talked,
I might talk to her about it once just because it was a
lot of other shit going on in our lives, I don’t wanna
add that into the equation. But then the experiential, parallel path was ever since graduating from college and leaving campus crusade as a student, like I got, Christie and I
got involved in the church, different church than you. And it was a small church. So they had an immediate
need for someone to help lead the music. And because I’d done
that at Campus Crusade, they asked me to do it, and I knew I could do it, but I was reluctant. And increasingly more over time, but, it was the right thing to do. I was like, I can really, this is how I can contribute at my church. Leading the praise and worship music. So I was like the music
leader at my church, up until moving to Los Angeles. But there were a lot of places that I was, I guess I was having an
internal existential crisis, but I remember it being very
palpable every Sunday morning because I would get on
stage and I would pray, and I would lead the music
and I would say some things to help contextualize the songs
that we were singing so that people in the audience could
really connect with God. Yet, I found it virtually
impossible for me to be able to connect
with God in that way, through music on a Sunday morning. And I remember I would
try harder and harder. I’d like clamp my eyes
shut and really concentrate on the words that I was
singing that were moving people emotionally and spiritually out there. But for me, it proved, it was like there was a brick wall there. I just couldn’t get there. And that was really frustrating. And I think there was a lot of, yeah, there were
practical aspects to that, and it’s like, I am a
performer, you’re on stage, you know people are watching
even if the goal is to not be seen and kind of step
out of the way so to speak. That’s probably still a
factor and then when I start thinking about it, it’s like,
I don’t know, it’s just, I remember after church every
Sunday, I would tell Christie, “I’m not who they think I am. “They think I’m clamping my shut because “I’m having such a meaningful experience, “but I’m clamping eyes my shut “because I can’t find anything.” And I would talk to a few people about it, like I would mention something and it was, it’s just, it’s a hairy
kind of thing to get into. So it’s, and that really
started to come to a head like the six months leading
up to us moving to LA. I felt, I just I started
saying things like, “I just feel phony.” And the conversations we were
having, again in parallel were I mean, it was the one two punch of, I’m not experiencing an intimacy with God, and then I don’t, I’m starting to question the foundations of everything
that this is built on. So they, those two paths
fed each other for me. Well you know there was an, just to add a little color to this. Speaking of our conversations, We also had another kind of conversation, and we had it pretty often. Do you remember we would
be sitting in that office in Lillington, or even
our office in Fuquay. And we would be like,
man, I just feel like, we really haven’t been
focusing on the Lord, and like, a lot of things
are happening and like, I just feel like we
need to just recognize, Yeah, How we got where we’re at
and seek the Lord’s guidance and me and you would just
sit there and pray together. Yeah, we would. And the first part of the prayer was It was always like, Lord, man, we suck. Yeah, it’s like, you’ve given us so much, you’ve given us our heart’s desire, but like, we have this career. There was a lot of guilt. There was a lot of guilt,
there was a lot of shame. But even in the, the
reason I’m adding that is because I’m just remembering
in the midst of the again, as I hope I made clear, but
in the midst of the doubt there was for both of us,
I know you’re talking about how you were struggling
with the connection, but, it was still paramount,
it was still central and it was still kind of
what everything was based on. And when we felt like we
were sort of moving forward without giving God the credit,
without consulting Him, we felt bad. And we would like check in
on each other and then pray. For like at least 30
minutes, we would just pray. Yeah. And when you feel I mean, like, praying with somebody was
such an intimate thing. It was like, the reason
why we didn’t do it was because it was like, yeah,
it was this intimate thing that it was so super vulnerable. We were both naked. No, but it was like, I mean, it was like, we weren’t gonna cry together
or something like that, but it was, again, it was so important that we were willing to do that. I mean, I remember when
I was dating Christie, like, we wouldn’t pray together. Ironically, like when you
get married, it’s like now you’re the spiritual leader, but we talked, about how– We were taught not to pray– Don’t pray together, because that’s more intimate than,
I don’t know, a sexual act. Well, because we heard
stories about boyfriends and girlfriends praying together and then making out right after because
they were so connected. Yeah. Those prayer kisses, that prayer tongue. That’s speaking in Tongues right there, Oh, I knew I’d find that joke! I’d find it. So I just felt, I felt fed up with this
phony feeling every week. And I felt like it was on
me but I started to question if it was, if it was worth it. And I started to think, it looks like we’re gonna move to LA
at least for six months. And if it doesn’t happen, I’m
just gonna have to step down. I just can’t, this is not authentic. This is not good for anybody. I didn’t, I wasn’t saying I
was gonna leave the church, but I was gonna, that would have been like maybe the next step? And I meant that specific church. It wasn’t, I didn’t know what I believed, but it was just like, I
mean, we were just having constant conversations,
and then we moved to LA, and I was so relieved because it spared me all of these awkward and
painful conversations that I felt like I was
about to have to have with my pastor who was
a really good friend, again, throughout all of this, I’m not trying to
implicate anybody because, I bet anybody listening,
I just think about this like, man, I wish you
would have said something. It’s like, I know, it would have been probably a gracious response,
but I know it would have been, but it’s like I didn’t wanna get into it. And so it was, and tell my family that I wasn’t going to church or I wasn’t serving in the church
the way that I was anymore, like things are different, you
just don’t wanna get into it. Because you become a, I don’t
want to keep cutting you up, but when you express doubt
in the midst of church, a lot of times people say,
“Listen, if you’ve got doubts, “that’s part of the experience, “and talk to people about them.” And we did, we talked to a lot of people, but it’s still, the fact
remains that, when you raise the kinds of questions
that we were having, you do become a difficult
and complicated person for a church body. And a lot of times those
people, especially if they’re not satisfied with
the answers they’re getting, they kind of get pushed out because I got the flock I gotta worry
about, this little crazy sheep that’s asking all these weird questions, it’s taking a lot of time. Right. So I understand logistically
why that happens, but I think you were
a little bit scared of becoming someone’s project. Yeah, that’s true. Yeah which is very much my experience. Yeah, I had one friend
besides you that I confided in who didn’t go to that
church anymore because he was going somewhere else,
but I had some resources, and of course, Christie
but moving to LA was like a big relief because I could
sidestep the whole thing, and just like you said, we
both got involved in church out there, and I was like, “I
bet it’s different out here.” And, but we went to what’s
still like an evangelical church because that was our point
of reference, and I was like, I’m not gonna make mistake
of, I ain’t gonna be on stage or anything like that.
I’m just gonna receive– Well they had professional
musicians on stage. Yeah, I could have made it. LA church is a different deal, it’s like, I don’t know, I mean, you’re
great, but I don’t know if you would have made the
cut, just to be honest. I would have made the cut. And the guy had an accent too. He was British. And just like you– Much cooler than you. I was hopeful that it
would be like, a time where I could remove the pressure,
but I could experience and then I could experience God. But I was very skeptical by this point, because of that parallel path. I no longer believed in the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. Again, you presented a
lot of these resources. It’s not like, I don’t wanna say, I don’t wanna go through all of that. Yeah. I was, I think in retrospect,
I was slowly crossing the boundary from belief to
disbelief just like you get, it’s a very permeable
place, and it’s not just, for me, it wasn’t just like
this one thing happened, but I just started to realize one day, I must have overnight,
experienced some subtle shift that I was just ever so
slightly on the other side of a boundary and I was looking
at it from the other side. And my growing list of problems with the Bible and evangelicalism,
all of a sudden, all of that lit those problems that popped up over my
whole life to this point. They had much simpler explanations when I was looking at it from the outside. And again, I was teetering. But like the teaching of hell, I just wasn’t, I was letting go of that. Plus the discrimination of the LBGTQ+ communities within the church, that had troubled me for years. And you, I know that. And all of a sudden, you’re
like, hold on, it’s like I can accept everybody. And then we were discussing Jesus. And as you said in your
story, it was like, again, I don’t wanna
get into the arguments that started to sway us, to believe that he probably didn’t raise from the dead but it’s always just this
probably or, you just can’t know. And I started to feel it was more likely that he didn’t actually
raise from the dead. And I just found myself
believing that as the cumulative conclusion of all the reading
that I had also been doing and the conversations
we’ve been having for years by this point. So my entire belief
system was very tenuous. And I realized, I know about my, you got the two words belief and system, and I know enough about
myself to know that, yeah, I thought a lot about the belief, but I cared a lot about the system. As a perfectionist, I took a
lot of comfort in knowing that there was, if I’m just
signed up for all of this, I know I’m safe eternally, I know that as I just have, I trust that if I don’t know everything
that I should believe or everything I should be doing at least, it’s all there, and I’ll get to it. And it was, it felt very secure for me, someone who I think, really value that, really needed to know
that I was doing it right. And then I was safe. But I think by this point in my life, the beliefs, the questions
associated with the beliefs, I was so uncomfortable
with the basis of those and now the practical outcome of those that it overcame my interest
in keeping a system. I remember we were
taught, we would hang out with some friends and we would
discuss some of this stuff, what we were going through,
and there was one guy who was great guy. He’s a Christian who
said, “I actually don’t, “I don’t wanna hear what
you’re talking about, “because I don’t want to lose what I have. “And I think you’d probably convince me, “and this is working for me and my family. “So I love you guys, but I just, “I gotta bow out of this conversation.” And I got that, I understood it. I wasn’t, I don’t think I was
hurt by that, but I couldn’t, because I was that way for a long time as we were talking about it. But I couldn’t live like that anymore. I felt like, I just, I had to face the the facts
or the compelling arguments that I had never been
willing to look at because of what I needed, I was
getting from my faith. But again, all those
things started to shift, you start to think about
the billions of people who’ve sought God for revelation,
and they’ve gotten nothing or they’ve received profound revelation that is in direct contradiction
to the profound revelation that somebody else has gotten. I just found myself
starting to believe that, just like you said that, humans have a way of trying to, we gotta make sense of things. And so this is just, I just
found it most reasonable to believe that the
Bible represented humans trying their best to explain God. And it was one of many
well developed explanations across many religions. And they were all accompanied
by sincere experiences to validate them. Church, to say the least, church became a place of frustration,
not comfort for me. Why was I working so hard to
make Christianity work for me if it wasn’t even true? And I think it’s because the
alternative was so scary, I mean, it was all I knew, it was, you gave the analogy of the ship and then jumping into this water
and it’s like you even look over the side of
the ship and you’re like, Man, it’s like everything
I’ve taught is at it’s, it’s real ugly down there. But at a certain point,
you kind of find that you’re in midair falling into it anyway. I mean, it’s that you
can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him
drink, you can lead, you can’t make someone
fall in love with you. You can’t, if you find
yourself falling out of love with somebody.
Bonnie Raitt. I must have replaced the
Bible with Bonnie Raitt. Well, I yeah, I completely relate with and agree with everything
that you’re saying. And I think that, I thought
a little bit more about that. The boat analogy and the fact
is that, and I think this is one of the reasons that
our friend was like, “Hey, don’t don’t rock my boat.” Is because it is a boat, if
the boat’s not fake, right? You know what I’m saying? It’s like it is a
system, it is beneficial, it has helped millions of people, it’s helping millions of people right now. It has stood the test of time, so have other religions, but yeah, it’s because
people are like, hold on, if it wasn’t real, well,
what about your life change and your growth? Well, no, there was real life
change, there was real growth. There was real community, there was, all these experiences
were real, in a sense. We’re just saying that we think
that they were most likely happening in our minds and
in everyone else’s minds, which are incredibly powerful things. It doesn’t mean that
the change isn’t real. It’s like some people that
I know when I tell my story they’ll be like, “But
listen, I know it’s real “because of what Jesus did in my life. “Let me tell you my testimony.” I’m not denying that
your life hasn’t changed. And that’s what I’m saying. There’s sincere experiences to validate All kinds of things. Every belief system. Yeah. And so I just, I respect
it, but I just can’t, that’s not compelling me, this horse to drink that
water at this point. Another way is that it
doesn’t make it true. It doesn’t make it true. It might make it true or feel true to you, but it doesn’t necessarily
make it universally true, just because you had an experience. So at this point, I mean, again, we must
have been discussing this because you use the term like
you conducted an experiment, and I definitely remember
using that term at the time, I think it was a way to say
hey, I’m just gonna ease, I’m gonna ease into believing differently and see what happens. It’s not, it can just be private. I wrote in my journal, November 5th 2013. Again, this was addressed
to God, but it’s the last journal entry that I’ve written. Like I, I don’t– Whoa, really? Well, that’s not,
actually that’s not true. For a long time it was. This is what I meant to say
it was the last journal entry that I wrote addressed to God. Oh, okay. And this is not the beginning, this is a part in the middle. And I think I wrote this as
kind of a record for myself too, you can see in the way I wrote it. It was just like, I wanna
know that this was the point. This is the date. Point my life when I got,
when I felt this way. And I’m glad I did because
I wouldn’t have known it was November 5th 2013. Here’s what I wrote:
Since moving out here, and that’s to LA, and
combined with Rhett sharing his evolving perspective,
I have slowly given up trying to be the
Christian that I feel like I’ve been trying to be all these years. I’ve concluded that I’m
not going to do the things I’ve always done, the right things, the spiritual disciplines
and expect different results. Intimacy with God, or even more
directly, I’m gonna give up feeling guilty for not being
better and doing better at Christianity. And this experiment
has felt good, freeing, for the most part, everything except feeling like I’m letting
Christie and the kids down. At this point, I’m not sure if God exists. And you see my mindset
at that time it was, it seemed like I was just
saying, “I’m gonna stop “feeling so guilty for
the things I’m not doing “to try to be a good Christian.” And so it sounds like I’m like, but I’m just gonna be a Christian, Imma let go and let God. And I do think that’s
what a lot of people who may be hearing in my, maybe
how they’re responding to my story is that like, we
all go through these times and the struggles you’re having. That’s common to every person
who’s like very serious about pursuing Jesus. But I think what was really happening was, that was my true experience, even though I sincerely sought God my entire life. But it primed me to be open
to dealing with what I felt were the intellectual
things that I didn’t list in this journal entry,
but I think that’s what held the weight to make the decision. That’s what eroded the foundation and it was very important to me. And like I said, it felt freeing. Like I didn’t, I was
surprised that I didn’t experience a sense of extreme loss. I was afraid of what it would
mean for just like you said, would mean for my marriage
because I had believed that a Christian and non
Christian can’t stay married. Like do I? But I actually, I just couldn’t live, I
couldn’t pretend anymore and so one of the things that
I called it into question was if that was true. I never would have done it if
I thought it was still true, that was gonna lead to divorce. I would have just, put my
head down and and trudged on, but I actually believed that like, our marriage could still be vibrant. I had no clue how that would work, though. I believed that I could still
be a great father to my kids and that they would be okay. I felt like my kids will be better people, I could influence them
in the best way possible by being as honest with them as possible, for appropriate to their ages. Versus trying to give
them, what I believed was a false sense of security
in teaching something, much less because I wasn’t gonna give them the fear version that I had gotten. So I felt okay about it. But I still went to church
with Christie and the kids because I didn’t want to be that guy. Like, I had judged hard
the guy who would not go to church with his family? Like, what a jackass! It’s what I felt like. I was like, “So I ain’t
gonna be that guy.” Right. But it was so difficult. Because again, it was
a place of frustration, not a place of comfort for me,
and anything that was said, I would always try to
derive what it was based on and I was like, “Man,
this is all shifting sand “that you’re building all this on.” That’s how I would feel
I would get frustrated. I remember on Easter
Sunday, we were all sitting in the minivan and I was just like, “I don’t think I can go in there.” And Christie was crying and
we ended up taking the kids in to the youth group and
coming back to the minivan and just sitting there in the parking lot and just bawling our eyes out. Christie, it was, she’d
been, I think it was, she was still one year after
her brain injury, which again, it was like an extreme low point for her. I was saying, “I don’t
think I can go in there.” And she was saying, “I don’t
think, I cannot go in there.” We were grappling with, how our beliefs were changing
and it was something that we were talking about much more than when I referenced it earlier. Like one out of every
eight times we would talk. Now this was something that we
were talking about a lot now I was not keeping it from
Christie or the kids. But she was in a place, like the most difficult thing
was happening in her brain and in her body and suffering
from post concussion syndrome, which she still suffers
from many years later. It was an extreme low point
for her and it was like she was wrestling with
it, but she couldn’t, there was much more at stake for her than there was for me at that point. So I, I would go to church with them, and then I would just explain the
things that I have trouble with become a part of our
conversations that we’d have as a family, because I was just like, I just want to I want
everybody to be able to start to think for themselves
and not have something shoved down their
throat, and I don’t think anybody was doing that,
so I felt okay with it. In the church and in
our conversations, but over time, I eventually stopped going to church and then my family ended up stop going, it wasn’t too long after that. But you know the thing that happened was, the specific issue of the, LGBTQ issues and how the church was a welcoming
place and a loving place, but then when you really got down to it, they weren’t accepted as couples. There was, you couldn’t be married there. And that really ate away at me. I mean, and this is a long time coming, and these are many, we had
been having many conversations for many years about this
issue and wrestling with it ourselves, but as we made
meaningful connections with people here, like I’ll
just give Stevie and Cassie as an example, like not
just working together, but being friends and loving them, and understanding how they
love each other and how, and yeah, many other couples. And I just couldn’t sit in the seat knowing that they couldn’t, that they couldn’t get married there. I just felt like it was
a betrayal of my friends. And then of what I believed. So that was, and so then I didn’t go back. I’ll add to this, especially in a place like Los Angeles, I mean it might if you’re, there’s plenty of evangelical churches where you would know
just unequivocally okay, this is not necessarily
a gay friendly place. Even though they may be loving and say something like love the, love the sinner, hate
the sin, the old cliche. But especially in LA– And in LA, they wouldn’t say that. They would never say that. But that’s the belief. Well, what I’m getting is, in LA, the churches and the
people leading the churches are smart enough to know that they cannot have an outwardly anti LGBTQ stance because they wouldn’t
have anybody show up. And there’s plenty of LGBTQ
people who go to these places on a regular basis. And they don’t even know
that if you dig deep enough, if you put the pastor in a
corner, if you backed him or her into a corner and said, “Do
you believe that marriage is “only between a man and a woman?” They would say yes, because they have a particular interpretation of the Bible that leads them into that conclusion. Now, there’s plenty of
churches that would say, “No, we’re pro LGBTQ.” So, I’m just saying that that
is a thing that you kind of run into in LA, it’s like, all the outward signs are
that this is a super loving and accepting place, and
it is a loving place. We’re not talking about a
bunch of bigoted people. But when it gets down to it, the theology sort of leads them to a place that they’re not completely
accepting and affirming. And that’s kind of the situation
that you found yourself in. Yeah, and I think that, well
I know that also resonated with my family and was a
major contributor to saying, “You know what? “Let’s just ease out,
let’s ease out of this, “or let’s, well, let’s step out.” And that’s what we did and
we lived happily ever after. No, I mean, I guess some people are thinking, could we have found a more liberal, LGBTQ affirming church? Yes. I think you looked around and it was just, There is a church that,
when I go to church, I go to this church That is, yeah is an affirming church, But you don’t really go. But don’t really go, I’ll
go sometimes, Christmas. I think for me, I was like, “I’m just not ready
to go to church in general. And I may never be. I’m just not ready to enter
back into a specific system of belief, even if it’s
different and it aligns with the practical applications
of that belief system are exactly in line with
how I wanna live my life. Just like, maybe I’m
still just too close in, or have been in it so long that I just, I feel like I need more
distance from it, I just can’t. And, there’s a lot of like,
at least all the places that are, that meet,
that check those boxes, they’re like very, what’s the word? Ecumenical Right. And it’s like, okay, that’s
like a high church thing, and it’s like, I don’t
think I would thrive well under that system because yeah,
as much as I love systems, I do think that as I’m
beginning to learn about myself, and as I read those journal
entries to you, and like my, my internal dialogue,
I think you’re seeing as I am appreciating that, I put a lot of pressure on myself and I don’t interact in a healthy way at this point in my life with a robust belief system. Yeah. So, I mean, you ended up
saying you applied the label of like, hopeful agnostic to
to where you were right now. And, I mean, if I were to put,
if I were to label myself, I think I would say I’m an
agnostic who wants to be hopeful I think I have made a decision to be open. I do want that. I don’t want to be I just, I don’t wanna be an atheist so I’m hopeful that I can be hopeful. I know that it– Why don’t you wanna be an atheist? Because I’m not convinced
that God doesn’t exist and I don’t want to, if God does exist, I wanna
be open to that connection. That’s just not, it’s not how I think. Like to come down hard
on something and like, but I think that, left to my own devices, from a practical
standpoint, I would end up as like a practical
atheist where it’s like, You know what? I do feel like it’s easiest
for me to believe that when you die, it’s just like Dana Carvey, my Wayne’s World doppelganger. I’m replacing the Bible
with Garth and Bonnie Raitt, it seems. I remember years ago when I
was listening to WTF podcast, Dana Carvey was talking about
how he believed that like, when you die, it’s just
like the experience you had before you were born,
do you remember that? So I’m like, “Yeah, that’s, oh,
that’s actually comforting.” And I actually I find
it easy to believe that for some reason. It’s not, I’m not compelled to believe it, but it’s just an easy
place for my mind to rest Well, and you don’t have to believe it. I think the reason I’m
not an atheist is because it just feels too definitive. Right. Agnostic is the label that
literally means you don’t know and I hope I’m always and
when it comes to these issues, I hope I’m always, I don’t
wanna become dogmatic about anything. Yeah, but I don’t want to
become complacent either because I do think that it
is easiest for me to believe that everybody believes
whatever they wanna believe, Like, your innermost desires. Maybe that’s, it could
be something primal, like survival and security. I mean, there’s so many
different things, but, we have a way of finding
what works for us. And I think that’s instinctive. So just to put it bluntly, you believe what you wanna believe. It’s like, I find it easy to believe that, I find it easy to believe that because so many people have had so many earth shattering experiences
that are in complete contradiction then it’s like,
that probably means that God’s not personal. It’s like it makes more– Or maybe God is personal, and that God is just great
at relating very specifically to a lot of different people
in a very personal way that makes sense to them, I don’t know. But you know what? I’m open to that, that
would be a very loving. Isn’t God capable of doing that? Again, I’m not gonna sit
here and try to invent a new belief system of like, this is what I believe specifically. I just want to do the work to stay open. But not to get, like you said, dogmatic and I know that that takes work. It takes an investment
of time and priority for me to not just sit
back and just kind of be just go with the flow of
like, I’m not looking. Again, it’s not looking for the next thing to latch on to and believe
and start to follow, but it’s being open to
what, how God may exist, and may want to connect with me. I think the main thing
is, I don’t want to judge. I don’t want to condemn, I
wanna be as loving as I can. Maybe that sounds trite,
it does but so what? I wanna be as loving as I can, and, I do feel like over the past few years, my capacity to love, has grown. My capacity to love myself and others has expanded a lot more in the last few years, and I take that as a good sign. I just don’t think that God, if God exists, or however God exists, I just can’t believe that, me being open and sincere and as loving as possible,
and as honest as possible is disqualifying me from receiving God’s love. I just, I can’t accept that. And so, I have hope that that’s true. Because I can’t, I cannot
just decide to be or believe something that I don’t. And I’m just– That’s not gonna stop a lot
of people on the internet from trying to convince you though. Yeah, and I feel like because a lot, I feel like a lot of what I say could be boiled down as neurosis. It’s like, but the intellectual, I mean, it’s a two, I think the one made me
receptive to the other. And I just think it’s got
to be, and that’s truth. I just don’t know how people will respond to
what I just said, though. When I’m like, I wanna
be open, I don’t know, I’m an agnostic, I just
want to focus on love. And then I’m like, “But the
reason I got here is because “of what I was convinced
that was no longer true.” Well, I could tell you how
I would have reacted to it when I was a Christian. And I would have been sad for you. And I think there’s
gonna be a lot of people who are sad for us, and
there’s lot of people who are gonna feel sorry for
us, and they’re gonna be like, “I just, I can’t.” I asked a close friend, I was like, “So do you
think I’m going to hell?” And he was like, “I don’t, no I don’t. “I think what you had was
real, and it still is, “and you’re this and you’re in a process.” He didn’t say, “I think you’ll come back.” I think maybe it’s forwarded
on the other side and. But it’s like I appreciated that in one sense,
I guess in the other sense it’s like, I don’t feel
like I’m gonna go back and assent to any of the, like the specific beliefs about the Bible. So I mean, that’s where I’m at, and that’s the conclusion
of my story to this point, but it’s obviously not the
conclusion of my journey. And I’m immediately thinking about how people are responding to it. And I’m just trying not to do that. Yeah, well– But, I wanna be a
conversation that happened. Yeah, well, maybe we can help. Listen, I’m not trying to be, I’m not trying to dictate
how the conversation should go from here, but let me just say just a couple of thoughts that I have about the conversation that will happen as a result of these stories kind of going out to the public. Most people and I totally
get why this is the case, are going to interact with our stories in whatever way makes sense according to their predetermined worldview. Right. So if you are a Christian,
and you’re not a Christian that has had a lot of
doubts, or you’re just like, 100% sure that you’re
right, you’re most likely, you’re gonna filter us
through your theology, just like I was talking about
at the beginning of my story. So you may conclude that
well, you guys were definitely never actual Christians, it
was an intellectual thing, that’s specifically
addressed in the Bible, and, God’s gonna say he never knew you. And if that makes you, I understand why you have to believe that. I don’t accept that, but I
can’t make you change your mind. And then there’s a lot of other situations that people may find, but
you’re gonna make it consistent with your predetermined belief. The only thing I ask
about it, and I hope that this was clear and Link made
it, I tried to make it clear and Link tried to make it clear that we’re just kind of telling our story, trying to be as honest as
possible about what transpired in our lives that kind
of led us to this point. And I would love if the
conversation would be, tell us your story, right? Or, you don’t have to. Like I said, I know people are gonna send a lot of arguments,
probably especially to me, because I’m the one that
talked about all the, the specific arguments about evolution, or Old Testament archeology
and that kind of thing. So people are gonna try to
send resources and books, have you heard of this? Have you read this article? And I’m not saying don’t do
that, some people won’t be able to help yourself because
I wouldn’t have been able to help myself if I was in your shoes, But I would just hope that you would just actually try to consider our
stories from the point of, Hey, we’re just humans,
trying to be honest. We’re your online friends
trying to be honest and just consider the story on its face. Don’t just immediately– Try to fix us. Try to fix us or try to make
it fit into your system. Because I think that that’s,
I think that the world has got so much polarization
right now people are like, “I’m right, you’re wrong, that’s it.” And more than ever, and it’s interesting, we’re so much better
connected to one another than we’ve ever been but
we’re also so divided. And it’s this just horrible irony that’s kind of the nature
of the information age. And I just don’t want that
kind of conversation to happen in our community where people are throwing rocks at each other and insulting one another and call it. Listen, there’s gonna be people from both ends of the
spectrum who are gonna get engaged in this conversation,
please see people’s humanity. See our humanity and
don’t just resort to just putting your feet into
your trench and just holding your position. Consider somebody’s viewpoint. I also wonder if people’s takeaway is, like, dang Link, if it weren’t for Rhett, you might be in a better place, He really brought you down. It’s absolutely true that, and that I wouldn’t have been
grappling with these issues. I probably wouldn’t have
been grappling with issues, I probably wouldn’t have done it. Because as a hard time as I was having, I still didn’t want, it
was still ultimately, this so very safe for me
and I really need that. But I’m very grateful that
your personality is different than mine in that way that, it was my active choice at every turn to actively engage in the discussion. And I didn’t, we shared
so much of our lives, and our spiritual journey
was so similar that we had the exact same language and so many of the same experiences. We went on all the same
church trips, and we were party to all the same prayer groups and, so whenever I really benefited in kind of, I hacked the system in a lot of ways, I feel like yes, I trusted you, but it was almost like trusting. Your response to it was very
trustworthy as my own response because our journeys were so in lockstep. And then I but I, there was
pivotal points all along the way when I would have to pick up
those books and read them. It wasn’t just the Francis Collins one because it started to
get real and it was like, I gotta read this stuff for myself. That’ll transition to
my, well, I’ll let you respond to that, because I think that people might say it’s your fault. It is. No, I mean, no, I’m
very conscious of that. I think that, I mean, interestingly, the other way around. I mean, like, in any sort, in
any testimony that you give, that you hear somebody give in the church, it usually comes down to a
person who shared the gospel with them, right? Like it’s, people share the message. And for better or worse, it
also works the other way. It’s like, I’m a key figure
in your anti testimony. It’s just, it’s a fact– Anti testimony. And I think that yeah, people
will be upset about that, people will be mad at me. I don’t doubt that but– I’m letting you off the hook. Because, again, I’m grateful for it and I’m fully responsible for it. Did it make the conversations
that I have with Christie even more difficult? Yes. Because it was, I was
presenting these beliefs that were a threat to her,
they were genuine questions to me, but they were also tied to you whispering it in my ear. And so we had to work
through that as well. It’s like, well, is this something that you’re grappling with? Or something that Rhett is grappling with? Ultimately, it’s something
that I’m grateful that legitimate questions are things that I actually wrestled with. I think I need, and that
goes back to my intention of working to be hopeful because I feel like it does take work for me to
engage in those questions, the difficult questions in order to become more of who I actually wanna be because that’s not an easy thing to do. All the decisions were yours. Absolutely. All I did was just present information as I was processing it. And at no point was I trying
to convince you of anything. And at no point was I trying to like,– I was the only person you
could talk to who would listen, I was just confiding in you
You really talk yeah. I was confiding in you. But, and I think that I did not want to in my session here. I didn’t
wanna retread the reasons that you gave, the arguments
that were compelling for you. That was because you gave some of those and you gave resources but
I also didn’t wanna do it because I didn’t wanna
share a story that was, whenever my beliefs started
to pivot, I described those in like a timeline
fashion, but I intentionally didn’t describe what is it that made you believe that Jesus didn’t
raise from the dead? What is it that made you believe that you couldn’t, that you
saw Paul differently or? All of their arguments, I didn’t make them because I feel like as a listener, it’s up to them. It’s up to you to look
into that if you want to. But I’ve also, I also feel
like I was giving you an out if like, Hey, this is working
for me like our friends said, it was like, if this is working for you, then yeah, I don’t wanna be
the one to screw it up for you, like Rhett did for me. But I do invite you and I’ll make a wreck. I found this book called “Why I Believed: Reflections
Of A Former Missionary, written by Kenneth W. Daniels. I feel like I’m on Reading Rainbow now. I mean, this is a freaking
self published book, Ken published the book. It’s very highly rated,
but it’s very specific. It was perfect for me because it was, Ken was like a Bible
translator who like raised finances just like we did. And, but he’s such a thorough thinker. He’s kind of like the two
of us combined, because– This is the guy that I want to be. He taught– In terms of how well he
researched all of this. He talked in equal parts
about his own experience of deconstruction. And, he’s quoting his own
journal entries in here so you really understand
what’s going on in his heart as well as his mind. And so if you relate to the specifics of coming out of evangelicalism, especially if you were in
the ministry, or if you are in the ministry, and you wanna have them, you want to read something that has a more personal touch than that. This is a profound book for me. So, Ken, thank you for
publishing this book. But again, if you don’t wanna get
into it, don’t read it. Don’t read it just so you can dismiss it. Don’t read anything, just to dismiss it, just don’t even read it, if
that’s what you’re gonna do. But again, you gave resources last time, and that’s another one to
add to the list this time. Well, I appreciate your story. Because, I mean, my guess is that more people will relate
to your story than mine. I just, that’s my, in my experience, when I talk about the things that happened
with me, again, like I said, a lot of people just are
like, “You’re crazy.” Like, why do you think about these things? Or at least, well, he lost me. Yeah, and So it’s like that meant a lot to him, but I don’t think it
matters that much, really? And I think yours was very personal. And it was about what you
were kind of experiencing on a practical level, which I think more people will relate to. I would just say again, as we
begin to have a conversation, listen, the next podcast is not, we don’t know what it’s gonna be about, but we’re gonna take a break
from this subject matter. But, I think that this
stuff, this spiritual stuff, is now a part of Ear Biscuits. It will be something that we talk about, whether we talk about our past, And we want to answer more questions. I know that there’s lots of
questions that people have related to these stories. I can only imagine. So ask those questions,
we’ll try to be as clarifying as we can and if you make
us think about something in a different way, we’ll let you know. I mean, we want this to be a
process, we want this to be a conversation, but we’re
gonna let those questions be generated, and then we’ll
continue that conversation at another time. Yeah, so #EarBiscuits. And also again, I’ll encourage
you to share these episodes with people that it would
it would resonate with, or spark more conversations
between you and your friends. So, share it, we’ll
speak at you next week, Probably about something else About something else. And then we’ll see if we most
likely will come back to it. Thank you. 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.

100 comments

  1. I've been a fan of you guys for quite some time. This series has only made me like you guys even more. As someone who grew up in a very strict Apostolic Pentecostal home and has since left and deconstructed that faith, I sincerely appreciate hearing your stories. People don't understand how much of an internal battle it is to deconstruct one's faith and how doing so can make you feel alone and scared so to hear stories from others who did the same is comforting to those who have went through that and I'm sure it's comforting to those who are currently going through that. Thank you for being raw and honest about something that is so personal and intensely emotional. This has been such a beautiful series.

  2. This one hurt my heart. 😞 I hope against hope that Link can find hope again someday. 💙 Love. It’s all about Love and seeking Truth. I cried so many times during this episode because I am also a One on the Enneagram and I sooo relate to Link feeling “not good enough” and being so critical of myself. Finding peace in letting go of the dogma and being ok with just being ok does sound freeing, but I don’t feel that internal pressure from God, or my church. I only feel love, acceptance and grace. ☺️ I love you guys and I thank you for sharing your stories. I’m looking forward to more episodes with Q&A… and future #EarBiscuits episodes about spiritual topics. 💙

  3. This is such an amazing series, open and honest and so human. I think that people's minds will rest where they are meant to if we are honest and true to ourselves that's the best thing we can do. I also understand God as being individualized, he meets you where you are and understands. It's comforting and not about judgement, for me where I am now in my spiritual journey. For me God is love, so he should be a force of love in your life, if you choose to believe in him.

  4. If anyone says anything bad against you guys, I will personally hunt them down and revoke their GMM privileges. If everyone were as honest and forthcoming as you guys, the world would be a much better place. Thank you!

  5. Athisme is not the disbelieve in a god, its the rejection of god claims. agnostic is a state of knowledge. You guys are both Athiests, agnostics.

  6. I'm really liking these ear biscuits. I'm from Portugal and the reality here is very different. I don't believe in god and I only did some catholic things when I was a kid, but nothing in this level. It's crazy to ear your stories, It's like finding a new reality. It's such a big deal for you guys to let this story out and that's just curious to me cause I never had that experience. Religion is so fckd up… people used it has straight up brainwashing.
    I'm glad you feel better by talking about it! 😀

  7. Rhett, Link, Most of us atheists don't claim that there is DEFINITELY no God. Most of us are agnostic atheists, meaning there in insufficient evidence to believe that there IS a God. It sounds to me like you are 'agnostic atheists', but I guess it's splitting hairs. A lot of people don't want to consider themselves atheists because of the "evil" connotation that churches have given the term. In any case, welcome to the club!!! Come on in — the water is nice!! We don't bite… too often. 🙂

  8. I just wanna pat everyone on the back for being so warm, understanding and kind in their comments. Most of all, supportive regardless of our journeys. I think there's a lot to admire in this series, but the honesty with oneself and the quest for truth… it's a tricky conversation to have when it comes to faith/beliefs. Bravo. Everyone. 💖

  9. I meet the love of my life, who comes from a family of baptist belief. Her family is super devoted to the church and to god, and over time, my wife came to the same beliefs as link. I had her sit down and watch this four episode series with me and she was crying most of these last two episodes. The fact that someone out there was able to put her feelings into words, and share it with the world moved her. She wants me to thank you guys for doing this, and I want to thank you for always being yourself.

  10. Ultimately we must all find our own way, and make what we each feel are the best decisions we can. If we turn out to be wrong, then we must find comfort in the fact that we did all we could honestly do, and that if there is a God, we are just as we were made, and could never have done anything more.

  11. I love these so much. In my own de-conversion, I related a lot to both of them (more-so to Rhett's story in terms of the reasoning) and I think they are going to be really effective at conveying a lot of the feelings I felt when I left the faith (and still feel today).

  12. After hearing both stories now I am just shocked at how two guys our family adores (saw your Bleak Creek show, in Boston, last year, and have followed your endeavors for years) have deconstruction stories. I do, too, and my family is in the throes of dealing with this major change in our family's foundation. People who haven't experienced this will not understand how hard this is. My mental health, marriage, and even my teen sons' mental health have all been impacted by this huge shift in our family and what it was based on. I am still feeling lost without the church community that was where we belonged for decades…it's a lonely place and I and my family are all still working through it. Knowing that not only am I not alone, but that YOU BOTH have had similar journeys, brings such comfort. Just because I know we will be ok, too. If you can get through this and keep finding purpose in this life, my family will, too. We will get through this. Thank you so much, so so much, for sharing.

  13. Thank you both for sharing. It truly hit home with me. I’m from TN. I had a similar upbringing but not as drastic. I was raised in the church, always had doubts. I was just talking to my therapist last month about me not believing anymore. Then my husband told me about this 4 part series. I LOVE y’all but don’t always listen to the podcast. I was glued to these. It was personal and vulnerable and I appreciate it. I haven’t allowed that for myself yet, but I think because of this, I will. You aren’t alone. 💙💙

  14. I would love to hear more about your journeys from your wive's perspective. When Link said "I was afraid to disappoint my wife and kids"… that hit home. That's where I'm at.

  15. I'm surprised you guys haven't ended up in a Unitarian Universalist church, because so much of what you are talking about are part of central conversations in UU. The searching for your own answers (even if that is agnosticism) is one of the key principles.

  16. I have absolutely loved this series. You guys have let us all into your personal lives and stories. And I applaud you for your journey and sharing it all with all of us. Link hearing how you struggled with your faith was truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing how hard it was for you.

  17. Your story up til now is sad, I pray that you will come full circle back into the Fathers arms. He loves you, beyond your doubt.

  18. One thing I learnt about this series is I wish I kept a journal back then! Now I don't have any tangible evidence or memory of how my mind functioned at the most interesting and messy times. I only occasionally wrote down my dreams (I still do).

  19. The only thing I have commented on is that Rhett thinks we are more polarized than ever before and I just think historically that is inaccurate and actually feeds into the polarization of today.

  20. I’m less than an hour in… but it really feels like Link is giving up on the God he came up with in his guilt and shame.. a God he created and hated… it doesn’t feel like he really knew the one true God to me.

  21. I've been through things very similar to you, Link. I think that you two sharing these experiences will help people who are in that uncomfortable "in-between" of not being sure what to believe anymore. I know that in the end, it's a personal choice for each person, but I feel like seeing people you look up to who have left that culture and belief system, that are still great people, is really encouraging.

  22. My brother would insult me for my faith and my father would abuse me with it.
    I moved away from my faith when my own brother used me as something other than a brother, treated me awfully. That coupled with not being allowed to return home really soured all my relationships. It's been down hill since then and that was in 2006.

    By the way, Rhett and Link: I think just like Rhett and I've mentally processed my deconstruction roughly same. However I react to my environment very much like Link. I call it emontinally explosive.

  23. Thank you both. These episodes will stay with me for a long time, as they came while am going through detachment process from my previous believes and faith too. I am so grateful for your clarity, honesty, loving and compassionate way of sharing your deepest spiritual experiences. You are a beautiful example of friendship, kingship, joyful meaningful living. Enough said, I love you!

  24. Is it weird that the biggest thing ive gotten from this is a sense of relief that yall are actually great friends? Lol. I was, for some reason, scared yall hated each other, idek why. I think i just really want yall to be as kind to each other privately as yall are publicly.

  25. When i first realized i didnt thinm god existed i became afraid. I was afraid i would feel empty, no one would like me, and that i would lose all of the people i loved. So the thought entered my mind, i had a very visceral reaction, and then i burried it deeply for years until i really couldn't bury it anymore. I had to face it, man.

  26. Oh that discussion of "believing what you wanna believe" is SO freaking honest. The line between being open but not complacent. You guys…your honesty is so refreshing and honestly so hard to listen to because you're talking about the human condition. It's so much easier to ignore these questions than confront them head on and realize that the answers aren't simple and maybe we can't understand them.

  27. You guys are such great people! So glad I found your channel. You’ve helped me get through tough times. I appreciate you both. I first found your podcast when you talked about Ariel Camacho and how talented he was on the guitar. I was like “no way, these two guys from North Carolina like Ariel Camacho” 🙌🏼👌🏼 respect to both of you!

  28. https://youtu.be/BoT9dO13CRU you both need to check on THE influence for you walking away..Francis Collins 3 years ago …completely(well nearly) refutes his disengaging creation from God . https://youtu.be/2AawJfivGHA https://youtu.be/HaEQyNeaFZs

  29. I am a long time Mythical Beast, watching y’all from the first fast food rap video. These videos are so amazing in how you have bravely told your stories. I think I can speak for the whole community that we feel honored that you would share your life journeys with us like this. Like everyone else has said, the self-awareness and vulnerability displayed during your discussions has been inspirational. Y’all are the best and I’m so proud to be a part of your fandom.

  30. #tryingtobehonest
    If God is love and love is a verb, yet historically religion is a distructive force of action and therefore love can not be found there; perhaps God ( transcendence? ) is not in religion but in the love we give one another. 💜
    You're a special individual Link.

  31. I can only imagine what denouncing your faith must have been at that age. This only really gives us a glimpse. In no way do I look at them in any negative light. This just makes me respect them more. Denouncing your faith is an incredibly hard thing to do, especially when everyone has known you as being one way.

  32. Yes, I am saddened, but I am thankful you were open and shared with us- you were so vulnerable! I appreciate the specifics you both provided… I still (and even more) greatly respect both of you and care about you and your families! I’ve been listening and watching you guys since I was in high school and feel like I know you and now I know you even better. I am thankful that you have each other and that I found you though we have different views.

  33. This series of videos has really meant a lot to me. I have been going through a very similar struggle and really appreciate hearing your thoughts on it. Being a hopeful agnostic in the south can be very lonely. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  34. I’m so happy for you! I personally think my relationship whit a superior power it is still developing is not about a dogma is about a conexión about that superior power and me I can’t explain what it is I just now is something that is a mixture of what I known and what I’m open to learn and maybe is my own creations I just know that I need a superior power that feed my spirit and it just mine. It’s difficult to explain. And not in Spanish more difficult hahaha love you bought

  35. This is where the I believe the 12 steps for a recovering addict like myself would be so helpful to anyone lol. "God as we understand him/her". The word god was scary to me as first, then I was taught all I needed was a higher power. First it was the love I saw In the rooms of NA/AA was once my higher power, the relationship with my daughter was my higher power, now it's a combination of all those things and I still dont know exactly who or what or why my higher power is and that's the beauty of it. I dont feel like I have to ever know. Loved these series. Love you guys. Takes a lot of courage.

  36. I really appreciate these guys sharing their stories. They were so vulnerable, respectful, and honest. About something that is so polarizing. It was really enjoyable to listen to and hear a new account of someone's human experience.

  37. I have to say that I have quite enjoyed these glimpses into your lives as I have gone through very similar situations as both of you to get to where I am today. I grew up in an evangelical church, very similar to you two… and I do remember being rather thoughtful and skeptical as Rhett has discussed, having spent time questioning my parents and pastor as a teen… I remember breaking down in tears in fear because various verses such as James 1:6 "…for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind." and Romans 14:23 "But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin." I was genuinely scared… I also constantly had a feeling of guilt as Link mentioned. I always had a nagging issue that I didn't feel anything that I should have felt… like I constantly saw "people of God" and what they experienced and what I thought I should have been experiencing as a believer but wasn't… it wasn't until I was in my 20s that I opened myself up to all of the physical evidence that exists in the world… I'm happy to hear that others out there have had similar experiences as I have… Thank you both for sharing!

  38. Listened to both. This was big and impactful for me, as I have been through these uncanny experiences. It’s nice to hear something I’ve felt for so long coming from someone else.

  39. Thank you. Thank you both. For having the courage to put your journey with God and how that relationship evolves over time. No one should be sad that someone seeks the truth of God, no matter what religion/science they use to get to their own individual truth. God is different for everyone, and everyone needs to go on their own journey to find God. The rules and regulations set forth by such systems for some people have to be discarded for them to find the ultimate truth. Honestly, Love everyone is the basis of all religions, and throwing out the old dogmatic rules associated with so many different religions, Love everyone is all any of them need. If you Love everyone, you don’t even need any other parts to make a system where everyone can coexist and be happy.

  40. Link and Rhett, thank you for these past few weeks of podcasts. I have been trying for the past few years to put into words how I was feeling about my religious and spiritual beliefs, I have spent the majority of the last year desperately trying to hold onto my beliefs that I was brought up with and what link said really spoke to me, that you’re on the ship and you’re scared to jump off but you suddenly realize you’re already floating down off of it. And that’s exactly where I was at, but it is so inspiring and honestly relieving that it is possible to be open without having to say yes I believe or no I believe in nothing. It is such a comfort to know that you both have at least “come off of the boat” and have still been able to move forward in your lives. I think in these few weeks you have both been able to shed some light onto the path less taken. And again I want to thank you both, thank you for sharing your experiences, because I can understand how deeply personal this is to talk about, and I am so grateful that you did share it because in doing so, it has put some of my fears to rest.

  41. Well done you guys, takes a lot of balls talk about this kind of stuff and you did it with absolute class. Long time beast ♥️♥️♥️

  42. 10:09 Rhett's interjection is something I heard in church growing up all the time and made me laugh just now.

    Signed, the kid who always asked "What was happening in America?" after they ended a story in Sunday school. 😉

  43. Atheists are open to god potentially existing. We are more open minded than most religious people. We simply require scientific evidence and proof of his existence. But as long as it is not proven we refuse to believe in even the potential the potential of a god because it is completely illogical and does not align with the scientific evidence of how the world and universe functions

  44. My story was very similar with Link the reason I stepped away for the church that I believed in was because they couldn't accepted my sister who was part of the lgbtq+ community. So I walked away.

  45. I am so glad that Rhett and Link made these videos. It helped me feel better about the fact that I have doubts about my belief.

  46. Thank you for opening up and telling us your stories, when it comes to touchy subjects like these it must take courage to initiate a conversation and share. It was interesting to listen to you describe your journeys, as someone who doubted religion and became agnostic at a fairly young age, it was interesting to get the perspective of of someone who grew up in a highly religious community and see the emotional process behind such a change. I hope you both (especially Link, wow, you were too hard on yourself) will love yourselves despite whatever guilt might still get at you sometimes (I assume it does sometimes, hopefully I'm wrong, since your relationship with "god" was such a big part of both of your lives). Thanks for sharing.

  47. Love is the key to everything Link. I had a very different up bring then the two of you , and in a different place. Yet, I find my self in a very similar place. I am maybe more hopeful then you are, but I think that just comes from the way we process things. Rhett may have brought up the questions, but you were struggling in your heart even without it. Thank you to both of you for being so open and honest with this.

  48. I'm a Roman Catholic and I appreciate you both telling your stories. I appreciate that you want to stay open to the truth and the possibility that God might exist. I pray that God bless you both.

  49. That you both SO MUCH for sharing your personal stories and beliefs like this. It seems to be becoming more and more difficult to talk about your beliefs (or non-beliefs) without offending someone or receiving harsh backlash, and watching you two discuss something so personal is very powerful to me. As someone who was raised Catholic but now considers himself a "skeptical agnostic", I can't even imagine discussing these things with my family, let alone an audience of millions of fans. I'm glad you did though, and thanks for showing me that I'm not alone in my struggles with religion.

  50. they are so brave to sharing all of this. thank you guys! Link are not afraid to talk about this in a real emotional and deep way, and somehow that makes it so relatable.

  51. Link, the God-island you speak of has actually grown in size with the advancement of science in the last century. Modern science has been very unkind to atheists. For instance, scientists long held that the universe existed in an eternal steady state. Einstein's theory and Hubble's discovery has shown that our universe did, in fact, have a beginning. Now, if the natural world (universe) of time, space and matter had a beginning, then its cause had to therefore be, above nature (super-natural), timeless, spaceless and immaterial. RIght? Unless, of course, you believe that the universe created itself – which is illogical. For the universe to have created itself would mean that the universe would have had to exist before it existed.

  52. I've really appreciated these past two Ear Biscuits. I grew up super involved in church and faith, but became incredibly disillusioned after four years at a legalistic, horrible college. You guys have made me realize that it's okay to come to a point of kind of letting my faith go in a sense. I've just had it on a shelf ignoring it, but these podcasts have almost been therapeutic for me. It really hit me hard when Link said that he wasn't who everyone thought he was. That's exactly how I've felt probably sense high school. Thanks for sharing these personal stories, guys.

  53. I always find so much more theological and moral value in a person's exit story from a belief system, than the belief systems provide themselves.

  54. I relate so much more to Rhett's story but I absolutely love Link's heart. Maybe I'll start listening to earbiscuits more often if the content is this interesting!

  55. the story of rhett telling link to get out of the car and then walking back to get him made me cry both times that i heard it. i can see it in my head and it breaks my heart dude. they've been through everything together.

  56. Interesting, but as a person of faith, I prefer to believe in a loving God. As for the LBQTB community, why does everyone assume that an evangelical would hate these people? Or that all churches would reject them? My church welcomes all who want to come. I have taken the time to teach my (now adult) children to love all. Their uncle left his marriage with my sister because he's gay. They still love him and treat him with respect. Their cousin is gay. Same thing. I agree some churches are homophobic, but NOT all believers are.

  57. From what it sounds like, if I'm interpreting correctly, I think it boils down to "there's merit – GOOD merit – in an honest search for truth, and a desire to love others regardless of impetus". And I really respect that, Link.

  58. Link’s story resonates with my experience so hard. That feeling of safety in the structure. The feeling of just wanting to know that I’m doing okay even though I may not understand it all right now.
    I left the church because I started to feel like that safety and comfort was a lie. I started to see the holes and noticed how thin the veil over my eyes was, and I just couldn’t stay in that mindset knowing that it was a lie.
    For a long time I resented my parents and authority figures for perpetuating that lie. Then that resentment got tiring to keep up so I just let it go.
    I still feel it a little whenever I go back home, but I feel like I’m in a good place now.

  59. I couldn’t agree more. When I was 8 years old I was terrified of church. Talking about the rapture and the mark of the beast. Now an adult with a family of my own I have a very open mind about religion. To each there own. No one is wrong for their beliefs. Thanks for you both sharing your stories✌️

  60. Church can feel so uniting and also so toxic. No one should tell you how to specifically have a relationship with god, or whomever you believe in. Its personal, individual. I like how this ended with the thought of wanting to be a hopeful agnostic. I do not have a strong belief in anything in particular myself, but it feels good to leave the door open and be open to what comes. I have to be thankful and grateful for my existence and the opportunities I have, and I personally feel I have to thank life itself for it. Whatever "life" is.

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