Blog >
The Total Life Experience (TLE) Argument


The Total Life Experience (TLE) Argument

Glenton Jelbert shares a conversation on faith that explores atheism, faith, and the total life experience argument.

One of the unexpected joys of having written a book on atheism is the opportunity to have conversations with people of many different perspectives. John wrote to me out of the blue the other day, and we had a short back and forth. I happened to have been talking to my friend Bill Zuersher (author of Seeing Through Christianity: A Critique of Beliefs and Evidence) about arguments for God, so I looped him in too as this one was different from the classic cosmological, ontological, and teleological arguments.

With John’s permission, I’ve reproduced the conversation below, with only light editing for typos or context.

Dr. Jelbert,

I cannot tell from your website what your worldview (eg, pantheism) preference is.  Do you have one?

I have a Christian worldview, and my preferred epistemology is inference to the best explanation.



Dear John

Thanks for your email. I was a Christian but am now an atheist. Both halves of that sentence are prone to misunderstanding so let me expound slightly.

On the first half: Some Christians have the view that ‘once saved always saved’ and conclude that I was either never a “real” Christian or that I still am and I’m on a complicated journey. I obviously cannot persuade anyone that I was a “real” Christian previously, but that’s what I was.

On the second half, I often get quibbles about the definition of atheist. I’m an atheist in the sense that I do not believe in God. I don’t believe there’s a God because I am not persuaded by the evidence I’ve seen (including personal experiences, testimonies, philosophical arguments, historical arguments, biblical arguments, scientific arguments etc). Specifically, I don’t reject god, or have a philosophical belief that there cannot be a god. It’s “I don’t believe in God,” not “I believe there’s no God.” The former position puts the burden of proof on the theist.

Key points include:

  • Dualism

  • American christianity as morally corrupt

  • Intellectual masturbation and sophistry