A little about each contributor to the project.
David Johnson is known on the Unbelievable? discussion board as dandbj13. He was the youngest of three sons of a preacher, baptized at age 7, and preaching by 13. He had filled the roles of youth minister and assistant minister by his early 20s.
Before he left the church in his early 40s, he held leadership positions in three different denominations. He was published in the Seattle Times http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20060115&slug=johnson15 for his observations on race relations in the church. His commitment to follow truth wherever it led took him beyond religion https://beyondreligiondotnet.wordpress.com and beyond theism.
After he left the faith, David became a fan of the Unbelievable? podcast and Justin Brierley. He remains a devoted listener and frequent commenter on the discussion board every week.
Andrew was a Christian for 25 years and studied theology and computer science in college. His formal education and personal study lead him to the conclusion that faith in an all loving higher power was not justified.
He has two loves – his girlfriend and computers. He is also a runner and frequent contributor to the Unbelievable? Discussion boards. On good days, he tolerates Auburn football fans. Roll Tide!
Skydivephil is a You Tuber who specializes in science popularization, taking on theistic apologetics and filming the marvels of nature, especially the Aurora Borealis.
His early education was in financial economics (up to Masters Degree level). Phil had a successful career in financial markets but in his evenings he returned to University to study Astronomy. It was during this process that Phil was introduced to the Unbelievable? podcast and attended a debate between humanist philosopher Stephen Law and theist William Lane Craig. At that debate Craig made a number of dubious statements about animal pain and neuroscience which Phil exposed on his channel. This led to a response podcast from Craig, a further response video from Phil and much back and forth afterwards. This whole controversy landed him on the Unbelievable? podcast but it was not to be his last appearance.
Skydivephil has also produced the popular YouTube series Before the Big Bang which interviews the world’s leading cosmologists to explore competing models of the very early universe. This series includes exclusive interviews with Stephen Hawking, Roger Penrose, Alan Guth and many other experts in the field.
It’s this series that led to subsequent appearances on the Unbelievable? show to discuss the Kalam Argument and the multiverse.
Phil is married to the beautiful and super smart Monica who narrates and helps to make the film series.
In his spare time Phil likes to experience all the amazing things the world has to offer including skydiving (having made over 1300 jumps), scuba diving, wildlife and astro photography, dancing and a never ending search for adventure, beauty and joy.
Sophie confesses to being completely unqualified to contribute to this book as she is neither a biblical scholar, nor pastor, nor preacher, nor theology student. However, this is precisely why she is contributing. She represents the layperson’s understanding, the average Joe in the pews with no formal training, who has gained their view of faith from years of attending church, bible reading and Christian fellowship.
Sophie was born in France, but brought up in the UK within a Christian family. She believed wholeheartedly from as early as she can recall. After decades in the evangelical setting, she has spent many years deconstructing her faith and evaluating the evidence. She has listened to the back catalogue of Unbelievable? as well as many other podcasts, debates, blogs and books in her unquenchable quest to discover truth. It is with regret that in recent years she has had to come to realise that she could no longer hold a faith position.
In 2003, Sophie and her husband moved to France where they currently live and work, in the heart of the Alps. She now says it’s the great outdoors that is her place of worship, running her therapy and skiing her passion. Sophie has asked to use a pseudonym, as at the time of going to press, she has not come out to her family about her change in beliefs.
Ed studied at Cambridge University, gaining a First Class degree in Engineering. He has worked in water research in Africa and Asia and is married with children and foster children. He was brought up an atheist and converted to evangelical Christianity in his teens. After 20 years he was in the lay leadership of his Baptist Church but his doubts had also gained in strength. He decided to step away from the faith to confirm its veracity using evidence and reason, expecting to return. Instead his journey led to a return to atheism after many years of study.
Ed has been a guest on Unbelievable?
30th Jun 2014 “Os Guinness and the ex-Christian”
5th Jun 2015 “Does prayer make sense?” With David Wilkinson
16th Oct 2015 “Revisiting the resurrection” With Tony Costa
Matthew comes from a family with several generations of missionaries. His early years were spent in Zambia, growing up in this exclusively Christian environment. The bible was taught as literally true and atheists were wicked people who could not be trusted. It was in his teens, at boarding school in England where Matthew first experienced the more liberal views of the Church of England and the atheist classmates who were not as monstrous as his missionary teachers had led him to believe. It was also here that Matthew was first exposed to the ideas of evolution. Until then, the only interaction he’d had with the idea was to cross out a reference to evolution from a biology text book under the instruction of his missionary teacher in Zambia.
Leaving home meant leaving his family in Zambia and arriving in Kent, Southern England carrying everything he owned, unsure where he would live or what job he would get. Matthew met his future wife at the 18+ group of the local CofE church. Together they spent many years in youth ministry before the birth of their daughter.
Matthew discovered podcasts in 2004, where a new world of easily available information opened itself up and he found his Creationist upbringing being increasingly challenged by an insatiable appetite for all things science. After three years of questioning and seeking answers to the conflict between a literal bible interpretation and the findings of the scientific community, Matthew found himself unable to accept the Christian message any more. Matthew's wife and daughter attend their local Baptist Church where his wife occasionally preaches or leads worship.
Michael has made a layman’s study of the religious impulse for nearly twenty years. Raised in a Roman Catholic household, he fell away from the Church in his college years. While Michael finds the “God of the Philosophers” difficult to reconcile in all His attributes, he regards the angry and capricious God of the Old Testament a contradiction in terms and Christian concepts such as The Fall, Incarnation, Atonement, and the Trinity incomprehensible. Still, Michael considers himself a non-believer more than an atheist, and is pleased to continue his search for “that which is of ultimate concern”.