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January 8th, 2014
08:39 AM ET

Pastor tries atheism, loses jobs, gains $19,000

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor

(CNN) - In the past, at times like these, when his life foundered and frayed around the edges, Ryan Bell often prayed for help. But this year, at least, the pastor has resolved not to.

For the next 12 months, Bell says he will live as if there is no God.

He will not pray, go to church, read the Bible for inspiration, trust in divine providence or hope in things unseen. He’s taking the opposite of a leap of faith: a free fall into the depths of religious doubt.

Bell’s “intellectual experiment,” which began January 1, has already borne dramatic consequences.

In less than a week, he lost two jobs teaching at Christian schools near his home in Los Angeles. He’s 42 and has been a pastor or in seminary for most of his adult life. Now he faces the prospect of poverty and taking odd jobs to feed his two daughters, 10 and 13.

“There have been times, usually late at night and early in the morning, when I think: What have I done? It really undermines the whole structure of your life, your career, your family,” Bell said.

But just as the man of God began to despair, he found help from an unlikely source: atheists.

'Suspending belief '

The seeds of Bell’s journey were planted last March, when he was asked to resign as pastor of a Seventh-day Adventist congregation in Hollywood.

He had advocated for the church to allow gay and lesbian leaders, campaigned against California’s same-sex marriage ban and disputed deeply held church doctrines about the End Times.

Eventually, his theological and political liberalism became more than leaders in the denomination could bear, and he lost his career of 19 years. His faith was shaken, and for a while Bell became a “religious nomad.”

On the positive side, losing his church job gave him the freedom to question the foundations of his religious belief without fear of troubling his congregation.

“I could finally pursue those questions that had been bouncing around my head,” he said, while earning money from teaching, speaking and consulting jobs.

MORE ON CNN: Behold, the six types of atheists

Then, after lunch with a friend last year, he thought: What if he tried out atheism, and lived with no religion at all for a year?

“It’s like when you go to a movie and you suspend disbelief for three hours to get inside the story,” Bell said. “I’m suspending my belief in God to see what atheism is all about.”

Bell, who still holds ministerial credentials in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, thought it would be a neat little intellectual experiment.

He would interview atheists, attend gatherings of nonbelievers and read through the canon of skeptics: Friedrich Nietzsche, Baruch Spinoza, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, among others.

When friends got sick, instead of praying, as was once his immediate response, Bell said, he would “do something tangible and practical and supportive for them.”

He would start a blog, “Year Without God,” and write about his faithless journey. Bell thought maybe a few people would read his posts, follow along and offer advice or criticism.

“I didn’t realize, even four days ago, how difficult it would be for some people to embrace me while I was embracing this journey of open inquiry into the question of God’s existence,” Bell wrote on Saturday.

‘We need to talk’

The first signs of trouble came around the turn of the new year, just days after Bell announced his experiment online.

Texts and e-mails arrived from friends, family and colleagues with the ominous phrase, “We need to talk.”

Kurt Fredrickson, a friend of Bell’s and associate dean of ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, sent one of those messages.

Bell, a graduate of Fuller, had taught in the school’s doctorate development program for the past year. But Fredrickson told his friend that his sabbatical from faith meant a sabbatical from the seminary as well.

“From an academic standpoint, and even as a personal journey, I’m really excited about what Ryan is doing,” Fredrickson said.

"There is no honest person of faith who doesn’t have doubts, and Ryan is being courageous enough to take a step back and assess his life. This is bold stuff.”

But Bell’s job at Fuller was to help students through their doctoral dissertations, a particularly stressful time, Fredrickson said, when seminarians need to lean on a person with strong faith.

“They are flying solo for the first time, and we want to not only teach, but to nurture souls as well,” Fredrickson said. “Ryan saying he’s going to be an atheist for a year is a little contradictory to that.”

Fuller would be happy to talk to Bell when his experiment is over, the dean added.

MORE ON CNN: What Oprah gets wrong about atheism

Azusa Pacific University, where Bell had taught intercultural communication since 2011, also declined to renew his contract.

Rachel White, a spokeswoman for the school, wouldn’t comment, saying it was an internal personnel matter. But she said all school and faculty are expected to sign a statement of faith outlining their belief in Christianity.

Also this year, Bell lost a consulting job with a Seventh-day Adventist Church in Glendale, California.

Bell said he bears no ill will toward the church or the schools that let him go, though he wishes they would tolerate, if not support, his atheism experiment. The loss of income has led to some family stress, he said.

“I have kids to support and utilities to pay and the rent is due,” Bell said. “At this point I’m willing to do almost anything.” Bell said he and his wife are divorcing, though not because of his atheist experiment.

Meanwhile, the phone calls, e-mails and texts from friends and family worried about the fate of his soul continue to pour in.

‘A beautiful gesture’

“He learned what it’s like to be an atheist real fast,” said Hemant Mehta, a prominent atheist blogger and schoolteacher in Illinois.

Mehta said he knows many atheists who fear that “coming out of the closet” will jeopardize their jobs and relationships, just as in Bell’s experience.

Mehta said he doesn’t exactly agree with the premise of Bell’s experiment. How does someone pretend to be an atheist? It’s not like a hat you wear to see if it fits. Faith taps into deeply held beliefs and emotions. Even during his experiment with atheism, won't there still be a nagging suspicion in the back of Bell’s mind that God exists?

(For the record, Bell describes his current theological views as agnostic - somewhere between belief and atheism. But he's trying to put that aside for the year to live and think like an atheist.)

Mehta said he admired Bell’s pluck and sympathized with his plight. Though he had never spoken with the pastor, Mehta set up an online fundraiser for Bell on Tuesday. In just one day, nearly 900 people donated more than $19,000 to help “the pastor giving atheism a try.”

“I think more than anything else, people appreciate that this guy is giving atheism a shot,” Mehta said. “I mean, he lost three jobs in the span of a week just for saying he was exploring it.”

Bell said he knows Christians and agnostics who have contributed to his fundraiser as well, so it’s not an all-atheist effort.

Still, he’s impressed that nonbelievers have flocked to help fund his experiment

“It really validates that the (atheist) community is really all about the search for truth,” Bell said. “They know that I might not even end up as an atheist at the end of my search, but it doesn’t matter to them. It’s such a beautiful gesture.”

Will the support tip Bell toward atheism? The pastor is agnostic about that, too – for now.

MORE ON CNN: Can atheist churches last?

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Christianity • evangelicals • Faith • Lost faith

soundoff (6,251 Responses)
  1. snowboarder

    true story, my wife and i were having drinks at the local restaurant bar and struck up a conversation with another couple. after a while they asked what church we attended and when we said we did not, they asked us why. when we told them we were atheists they literally turned their backs on us and walked away. never to speak to us again.

    January 8, 2014 at 1:02 pm |
    • Live4Him

      What did you expect – for them to go home with you? Of course, they would turn their back on you. They were with each other, not looking for 'company'.

      January 8, 2014 at 1:04 pm |
      • midwest rail

        Here is the answer that best exemplifies what a disingenuous twit L4H really is. And please, L4H, don't bother responding – there is no such thing as "honest discourse" when you are involved.

        January 8, 2014 at 1:07 pm |
      • Observer

        Live4Him,

        Pathetic excuse. Please try again.

        January 8, 2014 at 1:07 pm |
      • snowboarder

        @live, you're a real dunce aren't you?

        January 8, 2014 at 1:08 pm |
      • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

        Your response was pretty much incoherent to the experience and point that was posted.

        January 8, 2014 at 1:09 pm |
      • Peter

        Thanks for answering my question, it turns out you really are this stupid.

        January 8, 2014 at 1:21 pm |
      • igaftr

        L4H is a prime example of a christian supremacist...to think this guy "teaches" his version of belief is scary to say the least.
        More along the lines of brainwashing re-inforcement.

        January 8, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
      • Hooligan

        you clearly missed the point.

        The couple was perfectly willing to talk to them UP TO the point they said they were atheists.

        January 8, 2014 at 3:00 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      My similar experiences have also had the look of shock and fear right before the turning away.

      I've also had a neighbor who was a pastor stop by to discuss my "salvation" (lol). He told me his position, I told him mine, we spoke for hours. It was a great experience to have a pastor accept my position as I accepted his and we shared thoughts and philosophies for hours.

      January 8, 2014 at 1:07 pm |
      • snowboarder

        my neighbor across the street is seriously churchy. no christmas tree only a spotlighted sign in the front yard that says "jesus is the reason". he kid isn't allowed to trick or treat at halloween either.

        anyway, right after i moved in he came over to invite me to his church and i politely declined. never has a word been said about it since. we have a very "howdy neighbor" relationship that works out fine.

        January 8, 2014 at 1:11 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      I call BS. Live4him I have been told more than once that I wasn't worth talking to because I am an atheist.

      January 8, 2014 at 1:08 pm |
    • Colin

      I actually had a woman a few nights ago tell me she thought I was immoral for not believing.

      According to her, there was something wrong with me because I did NOT believe the World was formed less than 10,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake. lol

      January 8, 2014 at 1:09 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        Supposedly God reveals all this stuff to a chosen few in such a way that they are provided all they need for complete belief and certainty. There must be something wrong with the unchosen.

        January 8, 2014 at 1:13 pm |
      • snowboarder

        my wife has a friend that said global warming can't be true. god wouldn't allow it.

        true story.

        January 8, 2014 at 1:13 pm |
      • Happy Atheist

        It's a symptom of a person who cannot rationalize any way of life other than the one they lived and thus cannot understand how anyone could like something they dislike. This is often caused by a lack of exposure to the outside and is most often found in insulated communities throughout the south and appalachians.

        January 8, 2014 at 1:15 pm |
  2. QS

    Even if this guy doesn't become a full Atheist and decides he still believes in "god", I don't see how he could justify remaining with or going back to the religion corporation that didn't want him because he decided to think for himself!

    January 8, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
  3. romany

    this is a stupid experiment u either believe or u dont u cant pretend not to believe for a year, now people do loose faith but its a genuine loss of faith not an experiement

    January 8, 2014 at 12:59 pm |
    • joe

      this is a stupid experiment u either believe or u dont u cant pretend not to believe for a year, now people do loose faith but its a genuine loss of faith not an experiement
      ---–
      It may be for you or me, but it's pretty good stuff from a cult member. And it just might zap him out of his cult forever.

      January 8, 2014 at 1:02 pm |
  4. Hooligan

    So he decided to live AS an atheist (not become one mind you) and his community shunned him.

    What a lovely story of acceptance and compassion.

    January 8, 2014 at 12:59 pm |
  5. Hot Tip

    If he was an Imam he you have have being killed by his own congregation.

    January 8, 2014 at 12:58 pm |
  6. Atomic Z

    "(For the record, Bell describes his current theological beliefs as agnostic – somewhere between belief and atheism.)"

    Agnosticism is not BETWEEN Atheism and Theism. Atheism and theism are statements of what you do or don't BELIEVE. Agnosticism and gnosticism are statements of what you claim to KNOW.

    I can look at a jar of jellybeans and say I believe there are more than a thousand jellybeans inside, but I don't know that to be true unless I take some sort of measurement to accurately determine it to be true (like counting them). So my belief is an agnostic one.

    If Pastor Bell were being honest and accurate, I would expect his position to be agnostic Christian theism. He believes their is a god, and that the god is the Christian God, but does not claim to know it is true.

    January 8, 2014 at 12:58 pm |
  7. joe

    He denounced his cult so they are banning him. You would expect anything else?

    Right off the bat it's apparent this guy has never learned to think through anything because he couldn't even think through that if he was an atheist he might not be able to retain his employment in the cult.

    January 8, 2014 at 12:57 pm |
  8. flacajd

    So if he's living like there is no tomorrow/ no future has he started using drugs, cheated on his wife, and why bother to feed his children? There are no repercussions in the end right?

    January 8, 2014 at 12:56 pm |
    • Chitown Wendy

      Why would anyone do that, regardless of belief?

      January 8, 2014 at 12:57 pm |
      • Live4Him

        For a moment's pleasure – of course.

        January 8, 2014 at 1:02 pm |
    • mk

      Except not all of us need a book, church, priest, list of rules to be decent human beings. Just common sense.

      January 8, 2014 at 1:00 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      Is that what your pastor told you would happen? He's trying to keep you scared and under control. There are millions of happy successful atheist.

      January 8, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
    • joe

      So if he's living like there is no tomorrow/ no future has he started using drugs, cheated on his wife, and why bother to feed his children? There are no repercussions in the end right?
      -----
      huh?

      There's repercussions all right. And no magic dust required.

      She started using drugs--brain damage, psychotic behavior, spiraling down socity's ladder until he wakes up under a bridge.
      cheated on his wife-–STDs, social stigma, guilt, divorce,
      why bother to feed his children-–child protective services, jail etc. etc.

      Get a clue.

      January 8, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      He did NOT say he was living as though there was not tomorrow .. he's living as though there's no God(s).

      Yes, there are repercussions .. they are in the present, not in the fabled afterlife.

      January 8, 2014 at 1:03 pm |
    • QS

      This particular demonstration of ignorant and child-like thought is one of those times (which are far too often) that religion and conservatism walk hand-in-hand....over other people.

      January 8, 2014 at 1:03 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      76% of the prisoners in the USA are christian, only 1% Atheist. Most abortions in the USA are had by christian women. What does that tell you?? (btw: Adultery is not against any law and only pertains in a civil court, so your point on that is moot.)

      January 8, 2014 at 1:04 pm |
      • Live4Him

        How many were Christians when they WENT to prison?

        January 8, 2014 at 1:08 pm |
        • igaftr

          most.

          how many were atheists when they went?

          January 8, 2014 at 1:14 pm |
      • igaftr

        You may want to check again...there are several states where adultery IS criminal, not just civll. Convictions are very rare, and actually being charged is very rare, but laws do exist...it is a state by state situation. There is no federal laws criminalizing adultery.

        January 8, 2014 at 1:13 pm |
    • Peter

      There are repercussions they just occur while you are alive, and not after you die.

      January 8, 2014 at 1:22 pm |
    • snowboarder

      holy cow! that is the stupidest thing i have read today!

      January 8, 2014 at 1:36 pm |
  9. Mo

    Another stupid article from CNN ... they are empty .. have nothing to talk about other than Gay and atheist .. thank you CNN for your stupid article .. it's helping me not only not to watch CNN but also not to visit your stupid web site .. back to BBC or FOX

    January 8, 2014 at 12:55 pm |
    • Observer

      Faux News is a joke. Enjoy the entertainment.

      January 8, 2014 at 12:56 pm |
      • Live4Him

        So, you admit you prefer a biased viewpoint.

        January 8, 2014 at 12:58 pm |
        • Observer

          Live4Him,

          I prefer news not biased in either direction. Faux News is so awful and dishonest.

          January 8, 2014 at 1:02 pm |
        • Live4Him

          @Observer : I prefer news not biased in either direction. Faux News is so awful and dishonest.

          As much as you prefer (or so you claim) the ONLY way to ensure it is to get both sides of the argument. This means listening to the liberal side AND the conservative side. This is whay I do. Then, I can objectively draw my own conclusions. Of course, this means more work for me, but I prefer to have all the facts. That you distain the conservative viewpoint reveals just how biased you prefer your news.

          <><

          January 8, 2014 at 1:07 pm |
        • Peter

          Live4Him are you actually this stupid, or do you just pretend to be?

          January 8, 2014 at 1:08 pm |
        • Observer

          Live4Him,

          So did you believe the bozos at Fox that said that the Los Angeles Police Department were buying 10,000 jet packs?

          How about when they had to announce that Obama was re-elected and they immediately started the LIE that his margin of victory was the worst of any re-elected president?

          January 8, 2014 at 1:11 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      Bye. Go post on Fox. Oh wait they don't let you. Probably to much hate speech made them shut it down.

      January 8, 2014 at 12:58 pm |
    • QS

      Another trivial comment from an irrelevant conservative / zealot who despite whining about the content decided to read it and comment anyway! LMAO! People like you are magnificent illustrations of the dangers of religious indoctrination.

      January 8, 2014 at 1:08 pm |
  10. 2 cents

    In my personal opinion this is disingenuous. Regardless of whether he didn't go to church, prayed, etc. He has years of experience of being a person of Faith to not worry. The thing about believing in God has to do with faith. The Bible says cast all your cares upon the Lord because he cares for you. That is not predicated upon how many times you pray nor how many times you go to Church.

    Also the largest numbers of Atheists happen to be in China and Asia in general. Yet they don't have the vitriol, hostility, and animosity toward Christianity as many Atheists in America who happen to be primarily White American. Contrary they are actually interested in learning about Christianity purely because its different from what many of them have known.

    I personally find Atheists that Americans produce off putting because all I hear is white privilege talking. Its shallow and hollow in my opinion, and they speak in the same fashion about Atheism as a Christian speaks about Christianity. I have heard people say that Christians act like they come off better than others, well Atheists do the same thing.

    And honestly saying you believe in God and self-identify as Christian doesn't mean you actually Lean on God for anything so they say they're Christian but living as an Atheist. It is what it is at the end of the day. Everyone in America has a soap box to stand on.

    January 8, 2014 at 12:54 pm |
    • Live4Him

      James 2:17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

      January 8, 2014 at 12:57 pm |
      • 2 cents

        Ephesians 2:8-9

        For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

        @Live4Him see what happens when you post scriptures out of context?

        January 8, 2014 at 4:26 pm |
    • joe

      He has years of experience of being a person of Faith to not worry. The thing about believing in God has to do with faith. The Bible says cast all your cares upon the Lord because he cares for you. That is not predicated upon how many times you pray nor how many times you go to Church.
      -----–
      Even if you want to believe in God, as most people do, God many of us some pretty good brains to think and analyze with. And when you use those thinking and analyzing abilities and they tell you Christianity is but a false cult–well, that can obviously create some cognitive dissonance even with people of faith.

      January 8, 2014 at 1:13 pm |
    • Peter

      Also the largest numbers of Atheists happen to be in China and Asia in general. Yet they don't have the vitriol, hostility, and animosity toward Christianity as many Atheists in America

      That is because in China they don't have to put up with you guys on a daily basis like we do here.

      January 8, 2014 at 1:25 pm |
  11. ace

    It seems that a significant part of "leaving belief", especially if you are older, is it feels like you have lost a part of yourself. Its a scary, uncomfortable feeling.

    January 8, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Breaking the bonds of psychological conditioning IS uncomfortable and scary .. but it's worth it!

      January 8, 2014 at 12:56 pm |
    • igaftr

      " is it feels like you have lost a part of yourself"

      Or... he can really examine himself by leaving his comfort zone, and then become a person with better insight to himself.

      You will never learn anything by listening to someone preach to a choir.

      January 8, 2014 at 12:58 pm |
  12. correctlycenter

    I don't know what bible he was reading, or what he is a Pastor of. Clearly, not the same authentic, inerrant, historically accurate bible I read and study. The bible says in John chapter 1 that Jesus Christ is the Word! ANYONE can rewrite or rethink God's word. The world is full of nutty cultists and false teachers. Typical CNN atheistic slant story...

    January 8, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
    • Observer

      correctlycenter,

      Where in the world did you ever find an INERRANT Bible? Which ONE of the DOZENS of versions is the INERRANT one?

      January 8, 2014 at 12:55 pm |
      • Live4Him

        @Observer : Where in the world did you ever find an INERRANT Bible? Which ONE of the DOZENS of versions is the INERRANT one?

        The one in the original language, of course!

        <><

        January 8, 2014 at 12:57 pm |
        • Observer

          Live4Him,

          Please list your credentials as an expert in the original languages to validate your disapproval of the work done by dozens of BIBLICAL SCHOLARS who created the English Bibles.

          January 8, 2014 at 1:05 pm |
        • mk

          Are you referring to the original real one or the abridge real one or the modified real one or the real real one?

          January 8, 2014 at 1:37 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @center, inerrant? you really can't blame people for laughing at that statement.

      January 8, 2014 at 1:38 pm |
    • asdrel

      You state that you don't know what he was pastor of. Didn't you read the article? It clearly stated he was pastor of a Seventh Day Adventist congrecation in Hollywood.

      January 8, 2014 at 1:48 pm |
  13. Observer

    When it came to gays, he CHOSE the MORE IMPORTANT Golden Rule rather than CHOOSE negative verses.

    It's not a surprise that Christians in his church were unhappy with him.

    January 8, 2014 at 12:52 pm |
  14. Just Listening

    Please shut up.

    January 8, 2014 at 12:51 pm |
  15. hockeynut90

    It's really sad how quickly they can turn on you when you show signs that you can think for yourself. My first thought was when 'Neo' first became aware in "The Matrix" by eating the red pill and seeing how far the rabbit hole went. The machine unplugged him and threw him into the sewer as soon as he was no longer a slave. Kudos to Ryan for taking on this experiment in free thought. I hope that better fortune finds him since his long time employers showed their true spirit and abandoned him.

    January 8, 2014 at 12:51 pm |
    • skalaballa

      If you're speaking in terms of the job loss only, it's a simple concept. If you worked for an oil company, and then suddenly were out and about protesting big oil and practicing against what your company stands for, they won't keep you around long.

      The same is to be said if you had an atheist in an atheist organization that was practicing hinduism or christianity. I highly doubt that that organization will keep that person on their payroll long.

      January 8, 2014 at 12:58 pm |
  16. Alex Dumas

    I betcha he's praying now...that he finds a job. He probably could be the head deek somewhere, ya think?

    January 8, 2014 at 12:45 pm |
  17. Jeff

    I'm going to try to live a year by suspending my belief in gravity. I'll update you after I step out of my 30th floor office window.

    January 8, 2014 at 12:43 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      Gravity is unfortunately for you a proven fact. Unlike a make believe god you can't just will it into nonexistence.

      January 8, 2014 at 12:48 pm |
      • Jeff

        Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven is also a fact. And you can't just will that into nonexistence.

        January 8, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
        • Hugh Jass

          It's a fact if you can prove it. Pro Tip: Burning people at the stake when they disagree is not proof.

          January 8, 2014 at 12:55 pm |
        • highplainsparson

          We have proof in the form of credible eyewitness testimony of Jesus' resurrection and ascension.

          January 8, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Jeff
          And you know this because it was written in a 2000 year old book. Do you believe that jesus had a daughter that has direct descendants that are alive today as written in a more modern book? Why not?

          January 8, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
        • Peter

          highplainperson, no, no you don't. Not even close. You the gospels and you don't even know who wrote them.

          January 8, 2014 at 1:15 pm |
        • Bob

          Jeff, apart from your sneaky attempt to claim proof where you have none, consider this: How is it again that your omnipotent being couldn't do his saving bit without the whole silly Jesus hoopla? And how was Jesus' death a "sacrifice", when an omnipotent being could just pop up a replacement son any time with less than a snap of his fingers?

          The root premise of your religion is ludicrous and just plain nonsense. Pretty pathetic "god" that you've made for yourself there.

          Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
          Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
          http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

          January 8, 2014 at 1:24 pm |
        • snowboarder

          @jeff, you have absolutely no proof the the divinity of anyone.

          January 8, 2014 at 1:47 pm |
        • sam stone

          Apparently, Jeff is from the topher/gopher i-believe-it-so-must-be-a-fact school

          January 8, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
      • Gravity?

        Are you sure? Nobody has seen gravity just like nobody has seen God, we only see the effects and atribute them to the unseen. I assure you they are both real as I have personal experience with both.

        January 8, 2014 at 12:55 pm |
        • igaftr

          Just because you have assured yourself that god exists, does not mean that god exists.

          NO ONE has ever shown any evidence that a) god(s) exist and b) it is YOUR god.

          Nice try, but you only think it is god, you do not know. It could be something entirely different.

          January 8, 2014 at 1:02 pm |
        • snowboarder

          gravity is both measurable and predictable. god is simply imaginary.

          January 8, 2014 at 1:49 pm |
      • Eliavaa

        Actually, scientifically, there is more proof of evolution than gravity.

        January 8, 2014 at 1:02 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      Nut jobs. If saying it's a fact makes it so than. Jesus is dead it's a fact.

      January 8, 2014 at 1:05 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Gravity—which is taught to our children as a law—is founded on great gaps in understanding. The laws predict the mutual force between all bodies of mass, but they cannot explain that force.
      Gravity is a theory in crisis!
      The different theories used by secular physicists to explain gravity are not internally consistent. Einstein's ideas about gravity are mathematically irreconcilable with quantum mechanics.
      What the gravity-agenda scientists need to realize is that 'gravity waves' and 'gravitons' are just secular words for 'God can do whatever He wants.

      (blatantly plagiarized from The Onion)

      January 8, 2014 at 1:06 pm |
  18. Schmorty

    Mr. Bell has just learned more about Christianity than he ever did living as a Christian.

    January 8, 2014 at 12:42 pm |
    • Richard

      More about people, he signed a conditional statement and when he did what he is doing, he broke the contract. Trying to use this to bash all Christians makes you a fool or a troll.

      January 8, 2014 at 12:49 pm |
      • Chitown Wendy

        What contract was that? That he believed in God? Such a contract is UnConstitutional.

        January 8, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
        • igaftr

          It is absolutley acceptable in any "at will" employment states. An employer can have you sign any agreement that they wish....you always have the free will to not agree and walk away.

          Likewise, employment can be revoked for violating the pre-employment agreement. In "at will" states, an employee can fire you for no reason at all. If no reason is given, they cannot deny unemployment.

          January 8, 2014 at 1:07 pm |
        • Tim

          Actually, requiring Religious belief is perfectly legal for a religious organization. Churches are not required by any law to employ people who disagree with their theology (In the US). I'm not sure how far that exemption goes (I'm pretty sure colleges are covered but I've been wrong on recalling facts before).

          January 8, 2014 at 1:17 pm |
      • Hugh Jass

        Let's see if they actually 'forgive him.'

        January 8, 2014 at 1:25 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      How can you contract someone to believe in a fairytale? Would a contract stating you have to believe in the tooth fairy hold up in court?

      January 8, 2014 at 12:51 pm |
    • skalaballa

      True Christianity is not judgmental or condemning but loving and supportive. You're ignorant and a troll if you are saying that all Christianity is like this. Any organization or religion is made up of people. X% of those people are idiots and halfwits only claiming their stake and not truly living what they say.

      Read John 3:17, the commonly overlooked verse behind 3:16. Jesus didn't come to condemn, but save.

      January 8, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
      • ace

        Calling people ignorant and a troll sounds rather condemning to me.

        January 8, 2014 at 1:21 pm |
      • Hugh Jass

        "True Christianity" There are No True Christians. There are No True Atheists. This is because there are No True Scotsmen.

        January 8, 2014 at 1:26 pm |
    • Jeff

      Agreed. Once you are on the other side of the "Christian community" you get treated very differently.

      January 8, 2014 at 3:00 pm |
  19. Teamski

    I get a kick how people switch on faith. You either have it or not. Deep in your conscience, you either have faith or you don't. This isn't a case of choosing the color of your shirt. People just don't get it. Some go to church to find it and athiests try to make it easy on themselves to deny it. It doesn't work that way folks.

    -Ski

    January 8, 2014 at 12:40 pm |
    • NorthVanCan

      Who died and made you god?

      January 8, 2014 at 12:42 pm |
    • Alias

      Absolutely right.

      January 8, 2014 at 12:43 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      It's never easy to go against the grain and be rational in a world of mass hysteria. So I disagree with who you state is taking the easy option.

      January 8, 2014 at 12:44 pm |
    • Econ301

      Which is why Faith is problematic, it represents the blind acceptance of belief, and if you wish to test said beliefs you are shunned as someone who lacks faith.

      January 8, 2014 at 12:45 pm |
      • Live4Him

        @Econ301 : Which is why Faith is problematic, it represents the blind acceptance of belief

        If blind acceptance is all that is required, why do people spend so much time looking for evidence, be it for God or for atheism (i.e. big bang, evolution, etc.)?

        <><

        January 8, 2014 at 12:55 pm |
        • G to the T

          I don't look for evidence for evolution or for god. I seek as much data, in general, as I can find and try to let the evidence speak for itself.

          January 10, 2014 at 7:35 am |
      • ace

        That takes me back to when I was about ten years old in a Penetecostal church. I expressed disbelief and they did not like it.

        January 8, 2014 at 12:57 pm |
    • Econ301

      A few examples.

      Remember back when you just had to have faith that the Earth was the center of the Universe?
      Remember back when you just had to have faith that the Earth was Flat?

      January 8, 2014 at 12:48 pm |
      • Richard

        Remember when Al GOre said the costs were going under water before he spent millions on a beach house.

        Remember when Dems said that the war on Poverty would eliminate the poor by now.

        Remember in the 70's when climate nuts said by 2014 the city of NY would be under a glacier a mile high.

        January 8, 2014 at 12:50 pm |
      • Chitown Wendy

        Rember when God wasn't supposed to be political?

        January 8, 2014 at 12:56 pm |
      • Live4Him

        @Econ301 : Remember back when you just had to have faith that the Earth was Flat?

        Remember when you believed that most people thought the earth was flat? Wait – you STILL believe that tale? You need to research this issue.

        <><

        January 8, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
      • Will

        Yes, and I also remember when you just had to have faith in a utopian, atheistic Marxism so that all the world problems would be solved. Kooks exist in all quarters but that doesn't prove or disprove spiritual reality.

        January 8, 2014 at 1:04 pm |
    • Madtown

      This isn't a case of choosing the color of your shirt
      ----
      It is kind of like that, choosing which variation of religion you will follow, if any. It's a choice. Maybe not quite similar, because the religion you accept does depend on some arbitrary factors out of our control, such as the country of our birth.

      January 8, 2014 at 12:51 pm |
    • QS

      This is the type of self-righteous tripe that typically vindicates my anti-religion sensibilities.

      Do people like you not know, or do you simply not care that you are being such arrogant hypocrites?

      January 8, 2014 at 12:59 pm |
      • skalaballa

        True Christianity is not self-righteous. There are many verses in the bible. "By Grace are you saved through faith, through nothing that you have done so noone can boast", There is none righteous, no not one,(except Jesus), Judge not lest ye be judged.... and so on it goes..

        You're making judgment calls of religion based on those that aren't truly acting what they think they believe. You can blame those claiming to follow religion, but you can't blame God for how they act.

        January 8, 2014 at 1:05 pm |
        • QS

          Thanks for making my point.

          January 8, 2014 at 1:19 pm |
        • Hugh Jass

          "True Christianity is not self-righteous" There are No True Christians. If a Christian does something terrible, then aha! He was No True Christian. It's a logical fallacy, google no true scotsmen.

          January 8, 2014 at 4:14 pm |
  20. A traveler

    This is no more news than Rodman playing ball for a dictator.

    January 8, 2014 at 12:38 pm |
    • Alias

      When did Rodman start playing ball for god?

      January 8, 2014 at 12:42 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.