Deconversion: Losing God
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30-03-2010, 11:17 AM
Deconversion: Losing God
This is very good and gives me hope. It appeared today in the University of Kansas news.

This is Chris Redford's self-documented journey to Atheism. The son of a religious fundamentalist bread basket republican family, he was sure his faith was unchallengeable until he attended University.

You can watch the videos he created here;

The Story;

Student atheist’s mini-documentary wins award
By Erin Brown
Tuesday, March 30, 2010


For 17 years, Chris Redford attended Sunday church services, participated in religious organizations and considered himself a devout Christian. He came to the University Of Kansas as a freshman in Fall 2001 with a mission to spread the word of Christ.

Chris Redford, a graduate student from Wellington, won a video contest and $10,000 from Project Reason, a non-profit secular website, for his mini-documentary illustrating his journey to atheism. Redford is a member of the Society of Open Minded Atheists and Agnostics at KU.

But after two years of science and philosophy classes, Redford’s beliefs began to change and he began to document his metamorphosis into atheism on his YouTube channel Evid3nc3. Six years later, these mini-documentaries have won him more than just a new point of view — they’ve won him $10,000 from the non-profit secular website Project Reason.

“A lot of things started that shift,” Redford, a graduate student from Wellington, said. “One thing was my education here, a scientific education, philosophy classes, classes in ethics.”

The biggest shift in Redford’s religious transformation came in March of 2004, when he read a New Mexico professor’s controversial review of the Bible on Amazon.

“I found it kind of offensive, but I thought I would try to reach out to him,” Redford said. “It turned out that he had more to teach me than I had to teach him.”

Redford communicated with the professor over e-mail for a week and the logic of the professor’s arguments began a dramatic change in his religious ideals. Redford began to see holes in the religion he had been committed to for his entire life.

“It was the most important thing in my life,” he said. “Basically any kind of higher criticism of the Bible, until then, I was completely unaware of as a Christian.”

Faced with the emotional and intellectual turmoil of his religious “deconversion,” Redford began to document his experience with videos. As a graduate student pursuing his doctoral degree in computer science, Redford had a passion for illustrating his journey with images. His YouTube channel, Evid3nc3, is a stream of videos documenting his transformation, and the different stages he went through as he gradually drifted from his former religious beliefs. Redford’s “deconversion” series has received YouTube awards and garnered a large following.

So when Redford stumbled across Project Reason’s video contest, he didn’t think twice about entering.

“Since I had been making these videos about my deconversion I had a lot of experience, and I decided to go for it,” Redford said.

Redford’s video argues for changes to U.S. symbols in order to include atheists, and also documents the history of U.S. religious symbols during the Cold War.

On March 23, he found out he won first place — a grand prize of $10,000 — out of 10 finalists.

“I was a little nervous,” he said. “There were some good competitors.”

After his life-altering experience, Redford reached out to the Society of Open Minded Atheists and Agnostics, or SOMA, at KU. Through his involvement in SOMA, Redford established friendships and connections with other students who shared his skepticism of organized religion.

Joey Ralph, president of SOMA said Redford didn’t tell anyone he had entered the contest until he had made the final cut. But Ralph said he wasn’t surprised that his friend had won.

“He’s the video master,” Ralph, a junior from Hutchinson said. “Obviously, for a $10,000 grand prize he had to put out a pretty good video and he did.”

Conrad Hudson, a sophomore from Topeka and member of SOMA, said Redford’s achievement is one that all members of SOMA can be proud of.

“Chris’ videos are an amazing honest and poignant look at someone’s journey, which I think is always something worth watching,” Hudson said.

Redford said he hopes people will come away more informed after watching his video.

“I really think the last 20 seconds or so are the most important,” he said. “It’s that this is a country whose government we all create. We’re all a community so if there’s our pledge or in our motto that excludes a certain group, then it shouldn’t be that way.”
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30-03-2010, 12:16 PM
RE: Deconversion: Losing God
The main thing I liked about Chris' videos are his manner of speaking. He is incredibly eloquent and doesn't come across harsh or condescending. He is soft spoken, almost like speaking to (dare I say it) a priest. Smile
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30-03-2010, 08:18 PM
RE: Deconversion: Losing God
I like the background music, and he is really soft-spoken. I honestly haven't heard many priests speak like he does, but then again I haven't heard many priests, period.

This makes me wonder if I'm the only one here who gradually developed the capacity for critical thinking and eventually rejected not monotheistic religion, which I was exposed to but never compelled to believe, but the rather strange collection of New Age beliefs, mysticism, and superstition that my upbringing encouraged me to believe. That is, a lot of Atheists seem to be former Christians. I'm just formerly gullible, and still working on that. :-P
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31-03-2010, 01:01 PM
RE: Deconversion: Losing God
His videos really are excellent. Often I find it difficult to respect the different beliefs of theists in the way that he manages to. Or at least appears to. The way he tells his story is very truthful and honest.

I'd also love to track down the professor that he corresponded with.

Our brains deceive us on a regular basis, so we have to find ways to fight back.
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05-04-2010, 06:55 PM
RE: Deconversion: Losing God
Yes, he seems to be extremely honest and the videos are certianly well done. I wish I knew when the next installments will be!
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