The Handbook for the Recently Deconverted is a series aimed at helping newly-deconverted ex-Christians navigate some of the unfamiliar territory they’re now facing. In this series, I examine popular apologetics attempts and talking points, deconstruct fallacious arguments, and offer reality-based refutations of Christian mythology–as well as delve into some of the questions about morality and ethics that new ex-Christians encounter and try to defuse some of the negative pushback they’ll receive. (And yes, the title is a riff on a book featured in the old movie Beetlejuice, though hopefully my web series is slightly easier to navigate!)
* It. Gets. Better. Words of encouragement to kick us off.
* Knowing what a claim looks like. Just figuring out what a claim is can be a struggle, especially for folks who are coming in out of a really reality-denying flavor of religion.
* How to know who owns the burden of proof. One thing toxic Christians are getting really adept at is shifting their rightful burden; here’s how to see it happening, and how to deflect it back at the person who needs to own that burden.
* Why arguments aren’t evidence. They’re not, you know. Evidence, I mean. But apologists and Christians alike don’t tend to realize that.
* That one weird thing that happened once. We have a personal anecdote about something that happened that we can’t explain for love or money, but an anecdote doesn’t mean that a supernatural claim is true.
* Circular arguments. One of Christian apologists’ favorite tactics, and why it falls apart under scrutiny.
* Recognizing when the gas lights have dimmed. Gaslighting is a hugely abusive ploy to negate someone; it’s when someone tries to make you feel like your memories and opinions are crazy or wrong when they aren’t. This is how to spot it happening and hopefully defuse the attempt.
* Soaking in a bubble bath. A peek into the “Christian bubble” that keeps believers from fully engaging with or even understanding or perceiving the real world.
* Understanding the straw man. When someone attacks a position you never actually advanced or advocated, you’re seeing a straw-man attack in action. Here’s why it’s done, how it’s done, and what to do about it.
* Building a worldview around consent. One of the hardest shifts I made after leaving Christianity was understanding that it had a really big problem with consent–and had passed on that thinking to me as a believer. Leaving doesn’t mean we’ll magically start appreciating or understanding the importance of consent. Here’s how to start doing that.
* Generalizing, judging, and shaming. I examine a Christian mommyblog post to illustrate how many Christians, in the guise of offering advice or concerned observations, are actually doing something a lot more insidious.
* Generalizations and the Mommy Wars. Another thing we don’t magically learn upon deconversion is how to break ourselves of thinking that stuff that works for us would, could, and should work for everybody else. But this is a lesson we do need to learn.
* Unlearning a rather distorted narcissism. On the one hand, I was lower than a worm; on the other, I was the child and bride of a living breathing god. You can’t tell me that isn’t a recipe for trouble.
* Learning to move past religious narcissism. We discovered something really big about our universe (in every sense of the term) and this new information might help ex-Christians learn to get past a distorted self-image and exaggerated sense of self-importance.
* Examining the evidence. Why I mistakenly thought my religion had tons of evidence supporting its claims.
* The first fundamental mistake apologists make — which is assuming that their ideas are true without basing them on objective, provable, supportable observations.
* The second big mistake apologists make — presenting their arguments as compelling and persuasive to outsiders.
* An overview of the apologetics field and its hopeful end. A basic rundown of the trends–and how the gravy train is finally coming to an end perhaps.
* Apologetics: Pascal, Ontological, Cosmological. Three of the oldest and best-known apologetics arguments are covered and demolished.
* Apologetics: History- and science-based apologetics. The tactics used by pseudoscience, pseudo-archaeology, and historical revisionism and denial, and why those fail.
* Wishful thinking in apologetics. Some apologists focus instead on describing and selling an idealized version of Christianity to their audience; this tactic, too, fails to persuade those who are aware of its shortcomings.
* Recognizing an “argument from X” attempt. You see this in professional apologists’ work, but it’s also one of the most famous, best-known, and most often-trotted-out tactic ex-Christians will ever see (and one we probably used ourselves).
We’ll probably be returning to the Handbook later, but these are the links so far in the tag.