Seth Andrews

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Seth Andrews
Seth Andrews.jpg
Andrews at Apostacon, 2014
Born (1968-04-12) April 12, 1968 (age 50)
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Occupation Author, podcaster, speaker
Subject Agnosticism, atheism, religion

Seth Andrews (born April 12, 1968) is an author and speaker on the subject of atheism. He is the creator and host of The Thinking Atheist online community, podcast, and YouTube channel, and the author of the self-published books Deconverted and Sacred Cows. Prior to his atheist activism, he was a fundamentalist Christian and had a ten-year career as a Christian radio host.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Andrews was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, into a Christian family with parents who studied theology, and he was baptized at the Eastwood Baptist Church. When his public-school education conflicted with the religious teachings he had received at home, his parents transferred him to the small, church-owned Temple Christian School, and later to the Eastwood Baptist School. As a student leader, he eagerly participated in school functions and religious activities, including weekly church services, the student council, and the local branch of Youth for Christ, for which he was a spokesman.[3][4]

Career as a radio host[edit]

Andrews was a fan of contemporary Christian music. He hosted the Morning Show on Christian radio station KXOJ-FM from 1990 to 2000.[5]

The 1997 death of Rich Mullins planted the first seed of doubt in his mind. The premature death of the Christian songwriter was hard to reconcile with Andrews' understanding of the principles of Christianity. He later commented, "As I spoke words of comfort to our listeners and callers, I struggled to reconcile the notion that the God of Matthew 10, the one who considered us worth 'more than many sparrows,' would design or abide the taking of Mullins’ earthly life in such a pointless, gruesome manner."[5] This event was a turning point for him, and he began the long, slow journey to apostasy.[6] The events of September 11, 2001 also played a crucial role in strengthening his doubts about religion.[5]

The Thinking Atheist[edit]

In 2004 Andrews saw the video of "new atheist" Christopher Hitchens debating Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, which gave him the courage to leave his faith. In 2008, he finally came out as atheist to his family and friends.[7] Finding no community of like-minded people in his area, he decided to build an atheist community online.[8]

He created a website and Facebook page, both called The Thinking Atheist,[9] to connect with other non-believers online and "share some of the information that I had found helpful in the hope of making the journey out of superstition easier for others".[5] He considers the website to be a venue which allows people to engage their doubts and question their faith, and thus live a healthier life.[10]

Andrews is also the host of The Thinking Atheist weekly podcast, which aims to challenge stereotypes that depict atheists as angry, or religious people as stupid.[11] In addition, he has a YouTube channel called The Thinking Atheist which hosts numerous self-produced atheist-related videos. He also does public speaking about atheism.[10]

Books[edit]

Andrews signing Sacred Cows at the Atheist Community of San Jose

Andrews has written two self-published books, Deconverted (2012) and Sacred Cows (2015).

Deconverted[edit]

In December 2012 he self-published his autobiographical book Deconverted: A Journey From Religion To Reason, detailing his journey out of religion and how he became an atheist activist.[12][13] In addition to discussing his apostasy, he recounts his life growing up in the Bible Belt and his past as a DJ for a Christian radio station, and discusses how and why he created the Thinking Atheist community.

Paleontologist Donald Prothero commented on the book as follows: "Andrews writes in a friendly, relaxed folksy style, just as you hear him on the air, and it suits his humble narrative well. He is a good storyteller and conversationalist not only in his radio work, but on the printed page as well.... Andrews’ book is a short but very enjoyable read. It is especially of interest to anyone who has made a similar journey from faith to non-belief, or wishes to understand how this process works."[7]

Sacred Cows[edit]

In June 2015 he self-published his second book, Sacred Cows: A Lighthearted Look at Belief and Tradition Around the World. In it he identifies ideas, beliefs and traditions that various cultures regard as holy, stressing that ideas should be examined critically rather than being followed with blind faith.

In a review for Skeptic Magazine, Donald Prothero wrote: "Taking a gently incredulous tone, Andrews reviews a long litany of the strange things people believe and do. In most cases, he tries to be sympathetic and understanding. He always tries to keep things in perspective and remind his readers that he once accepted beliefs that seem odd to him now. But in other cases, it’s impossible not to adopt a note of sarcasm and mockery at beliefs that are clearly bonkers."[14]

Recognition[edit]

  • In 2012, The Thinking Atheist was voted the Favorite Agnostic/Atheist Website of 2012, winning the About.com Reader's Choice Award.[15]
  • In 2013, he received the Evolve Award For Excellence in a Podcast for The Thinking Atheist, with the comment that "Andrews tackles issues about the world, atheism, and religion while showing that a person can be an atheist without being a grouch."[16]

Views on religion[edit]

In 2014, Andrews told the Arizona Daily Sun, "I was a true believer, and when I hit the age of 37, my doubts about my faith came to critical mass and for the first time in my life, I began to examine what I had held as true." About his recent activism he declared: “I’m not an enemy of religious people, but I’ll be honest and say I am an enemy of religion.”[10]

When asked by AlterNet what his favorite Bible verse was, he replied that it was probably Romans 12:9, which reads 'Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.' He explained, "The message here isn't groundbreaking (and certainly doesn't require godlike powers to formulate), but I find it admirable: Don't be a fake. Pursue that which brings about a positive result, for yourself and for others. Hold evil in contempt. Of course, I don't bind a supernatural connotation to the word 'evil' but rather see evil as an action."[17]

An Oklahoma news website asked Andrews about his opinion on Madalyn Murray O'Hair, America's first modern atheist and the founder of American Atheists, who ended compulsory Bible reading in public schools in the 1960s. He replied, "I personally don’t relate to her tactics, but while I myself may have a different style, I must give her credit. Madalyn was a such a champion for non-belief that she paid for it with her life. I have a tremendous amount of admiration (for her). She did a lot of good work."[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ McAfee, David (2012). Mom, Dad, I'm an Atheist – The Guide to Coming Out as a Non-Believer. Dangerous Little Books. ISBN 978-1-908675-04-0. 
  2. ^ Brittain, BJ (March 25, 2014). "The Unholy Trinity Tour visits WTAMU". The Prairie. Retrieved January 20, 2017. 
  3. ^ Andrews, Seth (2012). Deconverted. Outskirts Press. pp. 5–27. ISBN 1-4787-1656-8. 
  4. ^ Mehta, Hemant (July 28, 2014). "Friendly Atheist Podcast Episode 7: Seth Andrews, The Thinking Atheist". Patheos. Retrieved January 20, 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c d Whissel, Pamela (2013). "From Christian Broadcaster to Thinking Atheist: An Interview with Seth Andrews". American Atheist Magazine. Retrieved January 20, 2017. 
  6. ^ Andrews, Seth (2012). Deconverted. Outskirts Press. p. 44. ISBN 1-4787-1656-8. 
  7. ^ a b Prothero, Donald (August 27, 2014). "The Thinking Atheist Confesses". Skeptic Magazine. Retrieved January 20, 2017. 
  8. ^ Andrews, Seth (2012). Deconverted. Outskirts Press. p. 118. ISBN 1-4787-1656-8. 
  9. ^ Andrews, Seth. "The Thinking Atheist". Retrieved January 20, 2017. 
  10. ^ a b c Betz, Eric (February 14, 2014). "Popular atheist to speak at Northern Arizona University on Saturday". Arizona Daily Sun. Retrieved January 20, 2017. 
  11. ^ a b Griffin, Andrew (February 13, 2013). "Tulsan Seth Andrews, host of 'The Thinking Atheist,' talks about his journey from faith to non-belief". Red Dirt Report. Retrieved January 20, 2017. 
  12. ^ Andrews, Seth (2012). Deconverted. Outskirts Press. ISBN 978-1-4787-1656-3. 
  13. ^ Avalos, Joey (January 31, 2013). "Book Review: Seth Andrews De-Converted: A Journey From Religion To Reason". The Armchair Philosopher. Retrieved January 29, 2017. 
  14. ^ Prothero, Donald. "All Sacred Cows". Skeptic Magazine. Retrieved January 20, 2017. 
  15. ^ Cline, Austin (2012). "Readers' Choice Awards 2012: Favorite Agnostic/Atheist Web Site of 2011". About Religion: Agnosticism/Atheism. About.com. Archived from the original on April 1, 2012. 
  16. ^ Eberhard, JT (June 3, 2013). "2013 EVOLVE Award winners". Patheos. Retrieved January 20, 2017. 
  17. ^ Tarico, Valerie (June 6, 2014). "Bible Verses That Atheists Love". AlterNet. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 

External links[edit]