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Lecture by "pastor-turned-­atheist" Jerry DeWitt + socializing

Jerry DeWitt, author of "Hope after Faith: An Ex-Pastor's Journey from Belief to Atheism", will be giving a talk Saturday evening on the UW-Madison campus. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is part of the Freethought Lecture Series presented by the Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics of UW-Madison.

If you'd like to meet up with other skeptics to socialize, please gather in the hallway outside of the lecture hall after the talk. Someone will have a "Madison Skeptics" sign so we can identify each other, and we'll then head down to Memorial Union as a group for some beer/other refreshments and lively conversation.

Hope to see folks there! :)


Summary of "Hope after Faith" from Amazon:

Atheism’s leading lights have long been intellectuals raised in the secular and academic worlds: Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens. By contrast, Jerry DeWitt was born and bred into the church and was in fact a Pentecostal preacher before arriving at atheism through an extraordinary dialogue with faith that spanned more than a quarter of a century. Hope After Faith is his account of that journey.

DeWitt was a pastor in the town of DeRidder, Louisiana, and was a fixture of the community. In private, however, he’d begun to question his faith. Late one night in May 2011, a member of his flock called seeking prayer for her brother who had been in a serious accident. As DeWitt searched for the right words to console her, speech failed him, and he found that the faith which once had formed the cornerstone of his life had finally crumbled to dust. When it became public knowledge that DeWitt was now an atheist, he found himself shunned by much of DeRidder’s highly religious community, losing nearly everything he’d known.

DeWitt’s struggle for identity and meaning mirrors the one currently facing millions of people around the world. With both agnosticism and atheism entering the mainstream—one in five Americans now claim no religious affiliation, according to a recent study—the moment has arrived for a new atheist voice, one that is respectful of faith and religious traditions yet warmly embraces a life free of religion, finding not skepticism and cold doubt but rather profound meaning and hope. Hope After Faith is the story of one man’s evolution toward a committed and considered atheism, one driven by humanism, a profound moral dimension, and a happiness and self-confidence obtained through living free of fear.

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  • Dick H.

    This looks like an incredible opportunity, but I will be out of the State this weekend. I hope that this occasion will be as wonderful as I expect it to be!

    1 · April 25, 2014

    • Ingrid

      It was a good time, especially the discussion after the lecture. Hope we'll see you at a future event, Dick! :)

      April 28, 2014

  • Cindy D.

    I really enjoyed the evening. I think it is great to get the younger set of the AHA and the grown-ups of Madison Skeptics together.

    1 · April 28, 2014

  • Richard S. R.

    DeWitt was pretty good, and I'm glad he spent a lot of time taking questions from the audience. (That's the difference between education and indoctrination, you know.) I'm glad we had a chance to socialize afterward, but it was so noisy that conversations were down to tiny little groups of 3-5 huddled together for audibility.

    1 · April 26, 2014

  • Dennis C.

    "Atheism" implies nothing more than not sharing in a belief in some external sentient entity. It does not imply any other political or philosophical precepts. Secular humanists perhaps come closest to matching many atheists. A question that needs to be addressed is why over 70% of the known human population expresses some degree of theism. This not delusional thinking. Several anticedent influences. First, the need to conform as children and adolescents to social norms. Second, the comfort people derive from believing that some kindly authority manages their lives; sort of a projection of authority of parents who did not do so. Third, A political ploy to gain or retain political power -- which may explain much. Fourth, the offer that one's own personality will survive biological death. Attacking theistic beliefs on intellectual or logical grounds alone is ineffective, except to make the attacker feel superior.

    1 · April 25, 2014

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