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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. Cyle

    This is ridiculous.

    Acting out a perceived role is not the same as the intellectual revelation that results in one being compelled to believe.

    I could act like a christian evangelist (I grew up with it), convince the gullible masses to give me money as I lead them to praise "god" and all things religious. It would be a lie, but I could do it.

    Ultimately all Ryan Bell will achieve is to prove whether or not he can live a lie, lie to himself, and lie to others.

    January 8, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
  2. XaurreauX

    Agnosticism is NOT a midpoint between theism and atheism.
    Agnosticism is a philosophical position regarding knowledge, in this case the existence or non-existence of God is unknowable. Atheism is a philosophical position regarding belief, in this case the lack of belief in god(s).

    January 8, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
    • Jake

      Not exactly. Agnostics believe there is a reasonable posibility there is a god. Atheists don't. Believers think there is enough evidence to conclude there almost certainly is a god or gods.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
      • G to the T

        Nope. The terms are not mutually exclusive and may overlap as they speak to different things. Some possible permutations:

        Agnostic Atheist
        Agnostic Theist
        Gnostic Atheist (i.e. the "anti-theist)
        Gnostic Theist (i.e. the "true believer")

        And more that I won't get into here (apatheism, panthiesm, etc.) One is a statement of what you KNOW, the other is a statement of what you BELIEVE.

        January 11, 2014 at 10:57 am |
    • Cyle

      I will grant the same probability of the existence of gods as I grant to the probability of the existence of leprechauns.

      Sure, in the great expanse of the universe it is impossible for any human being to "know everything". For all we know gods, fairies, leprechauns, and fire breathing dragons could exist on a planet orbiting on the opposite side of the sun from us in tnhe same orbit path as the Earth.

      The probability of that reality is slim based on what we can observe in the real world. I call myself an atheist. Not because I have undeniable, evidence of the non-existence of gods, but because no one has presented to me any credible evidence that they exist.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:28 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      There are infinite unknowable things that do not exist ... that does not give them equal possibility with their possibility of not existing.
      God(s) is not equal in probability to no God(s).

      January 8, 2014 at 2:28 pm |
    • Charm Quark

      X
      Look up Deist, a Deity that is not personal, doesn't give a crap what you get up to, has no interest in your death or which of the numerous man made gods you believed in. BTW doesn't need money either.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:28 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      And the tiresome debate about the meaning of the words agnostic and atheist continues.

      The most nuanced view (in my opinion) is the notion of 'agnostic atheist' (one who doesn't believe in God but cannot claim to know for sure) and 'gnostic atheist' who categorically claims to know that there is no God.

      The traditional use of 'agnostic' was (as is used in this article) for people who really can't make up their mind whether they believe or not. That appears to be the case with this former pastor.

      What needs to change is the idea that all atheists claim a categorical knowledge that there is no God. The meaning of the word is evolving where this interpretation is simply inadequate. It is not the definition used by the OED:

      atheism
      Disbelief in, or denial of, the existence of a God

      January 8, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
      • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

        Simple is best.
        I subscribe to the definition as the word itself is .. A-Theism (Non-belief in gods).
        Any more definition simply gives theists fuel for straw-man arguments.

        January 8, 2014 at 2:37 pm |
  3. Tired of Silly1

    Congrats to this man on being intellectually honest enough to recognize that there is another way to think than the brainwashing he experienced for most of his life. I wish him the best and predict that at the end of his year without made-up nonsense and imaginary friends, he will find himself to be freer, a better person, and in no need of returning to the lies from a story book.

    January 8, 2014 at 2:17 pm |
  4. Patrick

    The opposite of faith is not doubt, it's certainty. Atheists claim absolute certainty that there is no God. They doubt nothing.

    Faith acknowledges that there are questions we may never have the answer to regarding the meaning and purpose of our existence. But we trust and hope in God because the idea that life is just a random accident simply doesn't track with our experience as human beings.

    Read the lives of the saints and you will see that true faith is humble in the face of doubt. Faith isn't about purging doubt, its about navigating through it.

    January 8, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "Atheists claim absolute certainty that there is no God"

      Says someone who does not profess to be an atheist. Patrick you know not what you speak of.

      Atheism is about disbelief, not certainty.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:17 pm |
      • Patrick

        If you are not certain that there is no god, then you believe there might be – that makes you an agnostic, not an atheist.

        January 8, 2014 at 8:15 pm |
        • G to the T

          Gnosis – to know. Agnostic – Lacking the ability to know. Theism – to BELIEVE in a diety. Atheism – Lacking a belief in a deity.

          Asymmetrical – lacking symmetry. Atypical – not typical, etc. etc. etc. ad anauseum

          It really is pretty straight forward...

          January 11, 2014 at 11:01 am |
      • Patrick

        You say if I'm not an atheist then "I don't know what I'm talking about" when it comes to atheism.

        By that logic, if you're not a Christian then you don't know what your talking about when it comes to Christianity.

        January 8, 2014 at 8:33 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        But, I didn't say anything about Christianity did I?

        I am an agnostic atheist.

        I don't believe in God, but can't categorically assert there isn't one. I simply don't believe. The disbelief is what makes me an atheist.

        The OED defines atheism as: Disbelief in, or denial of, the existence of a God.

        January 8, 2014 at 8:45 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      " Life is a level of complexity that almost lies outside our vision; it is so far beyond anything we have any means of understanding that we just think of it as a different class of object, a different class of matter; 'life', something that had a mysterious essence about it, was God given, and that's the only explanation we had. The bombshell comes in 1859 when Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species. It takes a long time before we really get to grips with this and begin to understand it, because not only does it seem incredible and thoroughly demeaning to us, but it's yet another shock to our system to discover that not only are we not the centre of the Universe and we're not made by anything, but we started out as some kind of slime and got to where we are via being a monkey. It just doesn't read well."

      – Douglas Adams

      January 8, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
      • Patrick

        I'm Catholic. We don't have a problem with evolution. We believe God designed it into the universe.

        To my knowledge, Darwin says nothing about the origin of the universe.

        January 8, 2014 at 8:36 pm |
    • SEQLAR

      "The opposite of faith is not doubt, it's certainty." simply incorrect...

      January 8, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
      • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

        Patrick's assertion would mean that faith is the opposite of certainty .. LOL

        January 8, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
      • Patrick

        The statement is not offered as a scientific fact or a elfin inion from Webster's. It's a paradoxical statement of opinion, meant to convey a larger idea that true faith does is not about being certain. It's about being hopeful.

        If you can't think beyond the literal, you're going to have lots of problems in this conversation.

        January 8, 2014 at 8:41 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      No, atheists do NOT claim to know there are no gods! They simple do not believe or have reason to believe there are gods. If you are going to make an absolute claim .. at least have a small clue to what you're talking about.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
    • Happy Atheist

      Atheism is not certainty, it is simply disbelief. Where there is a lack of evidence you should not be surprised to find disbelief.

      Faith however chooses to make unproven claims and tries to give substance to the insubstantial and give a name to the unknown. Faith invents feelings and emotions for that unknown they have named and then faith judges those around them as to their level of faith and discriminates based upon that level.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
      • guest

        If what you say is right then most of the atheists on this forum make absurd statements about “there is no god or gods….” Of course, I think there are as many different kinds of atheists as there are atheists; however the only thing they seem to agree on is there is no god. Isn’t that sort’a of a certainty not just disbelief is it not?

        January 8, 2014 at 2:51 pm |
    • Jake

      You're just wrong. Atheists do not claim to know with absolute certainty that there is no god. We simply find it unbelievable given there is no evidence and it is an incredibly far-fetched concept.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
    • logan5

      There is a difference between claiming certainty that man's interpretation of god does not exist vs certainty that "a" god or the "supernatural" does not exist.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
    • Dan

      Nope. A Theist is someone who has a philosophy of the super-natural, or, that which is outside of the natural world. Atheism means "without theism." Therefore, an Atheist is someone who professes no such philosophy and acknowledges that it is impossible to see or perceive the supernatural from within the natural world. We do not claim to know the unknowable.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:29 pm |
    • sam stone

      most atheists i have met do not have absolute certainty there is no god

      most theists i have met do have absolute certainty that there is one

      lying is a no no according to your god, isn't it patty cake?

      January 8, 2014 at 4:13 pm |
  5. Jebediah

    All your blasphemers are gonna rot in hell. You will get what's coming to ya and when ya do, i will be up there saying i told ya so! Wake up people! Jesus will come again and when he does, will you be READY?? I was born ready and i will take his side against all you blasphemers on that day and you will finally see the power of our almighty god.

    January 8, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      If I give you a troll treat, will you go back under your bridge?

      January 8, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
      • Gandalf

        One does not simply feed the trolls

        January 8, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
      • Michael Tyler

        Where's the Billy Goats Gruff when you need them most?

        January 8, 2014 at 2:25 pm |
    • SEQLAR

      Yeah... yeah.. start believing in every religion out there even the ones that haven't reached your ears yet , since who knows which God is out there and what he wants from you.. What if there is a God who will punish everyone for farting? Better pray to him for the forgiveness...

      January 8, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      That's scary stuff jebediah. I'm shaking in my boots. It's going to happen any day now.
      Forget that. I'll kick him in the balls and send him back to his daddy.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
      • Jebediah

        God has a father? No he is OUR father. And you will be shaking in your boots when that day arrives. All of you. You may not be scared now but you will be

        January 8, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
        • Lamb of dog

          Now that you repeated you silly point I'm really scared.
          No wait. I'll kick all three in the nuts.

          January 8, 2014 at 2:29 pm |
    • Observer

      Jebediah,

      So do you believe and support EVERY word of the Bible or are you just another HYPOCRITE who picks and chooses?

      January 8, 2014 at 2:17 pm |
      • Jebediah

        It is the word of god so yes i believe in the literal word as it's written in the bible, and you should too

        January 8, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
    • ezbakelovin

      So you basically will sit up there judging and ridiculing those who didn't follow your beliefs?...thats provided all that you speak of comes to be. Real smooth you moral savant you!

      January 8, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
    • Wilbur

      1/5

      January 8, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
    • MotoJB

      What GOD do you describe to? Sounds to be one that isn't worth worshipping. Get a clue, you self-righteous, judgmental idiot.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
      • Jebediah

        The one and only god of our bible. i wrote that more than once so who's the idiot here?

        January 8, 2014 at 2:27 pm |
        • doobzz

          Jebediah
          "It is the word of god so yes i believe in the literal word as it's written in the bible, and you should too"

          Apparently, you. You don't get to tell others what to think.

          January 8, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
        • Lamb of dog

          And the idiot is ................ Jebediah

          January 8, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
    • Michael Tyler

      Sounds a bit like the Emperor in Star Wars: "Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL battle station!"

      January 8, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
  6. Peter Metz

    This development illustrates the hold religion has on people and why their claims to be an altruistic organism needs to be looked at with great skepticism. It is not just be strength of belief but the social and economic that are created by being a Christian, Muslim, etc that maintains someones belief. When your paycheck depends on your belief the connection is obvious as Ryan Bell just found out. But it is also true to some extent when your community, school, medicare call, and business are religious based. It becomes exceeding difficult to leave let alone question these beliefs and is why separation of Church and State is so important.

    January 8, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
  7. tednugent'sdiapers

    I hope he was able to figure out that "god" is as real as the Easter bunny, that there isn't a Bigfoot, that pro wrestling is fake, that the tooth fairy and Santa Claus aren't real, and that Michael Myers is really dead. It would be a big step in his recovery.

    January 8, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
    • KHS

      Don't forget Elvis! He really IS dead.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:39 pm |
  8. DustyOnes

    Pope Francis has excommunicated a bunch of priests and bishops for the same reasons.

    January 8, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
    • QS

      "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"

      – Pope Francis

      What if I'm gay and have good will, but have no intention or desire to "search for the lord"?

      In other words, he is saying: "whether you're gay or not you must still believe as I do, else I will in fact judge you simply because of that".

      January 8, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
    • KHS

      An example of Christian love and tolerance!

      January 8, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
  9. Robert Raulerson

    If we dint have Eeeville we woodent have Good. You mean if we never had war we woodent have peace? No, if we never had war we would always have peace. But without war we woodent KNOW what peace was. No, and we woodent care either.

    January 8, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
    • Observer

      Robert,

      You BABY-TALK just like lol does and sound as ignorant. Coincidence? maybe.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
  10. Nate

    Blind faith is not faith at all. Only a true inner struggle to find God can bring about faith. Faith is a path.

    For most people "Faith" is simple a word they have to use in order to be on "the winning team."

    January 8, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
    • SEQLAR

      Nonsene.. Believing in claims without evidence is believing on faith.. That's what belief in any God is.. There is no evidence of his/her/it's existence... The moment you present it you will win a Nobel Prize... Till then , keep your blind faith to yourself...

      January 8, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
      • Live4Him

        That's what you BELIEVE, but since you're not god, you don't know.

        January 8, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
        • SEQLAR

          Do you have evidence or not?

          January 8, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
        • Live4Him

          @SEQLAR : Do you have evidence or not?

          Since you asked, it reveals the FAITH in your claim. You don't know.

          <><

          January 8, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
        • SEQLAR

          I knew I'm talking to a delusional individual... Go to school and learn simple logic...

          January 8, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
        • Guest

          Actually its a fact that there is no tangiable evidence for gods existance.

          January 8, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
        • Live4Him

          @SEQLAR : I knew I'm talking to a delusional individual

          Yep, when tested, the mocker resorts to mockery. have fun in your blind faith.

          <><

          January 8, 2014 at 2:25 pm |
        • SEQLAR

          Live4Him, do you know what burden of proof is? You have one for your claims... But since you don't know how to reason how would you know that you need to actually present evidence for your claims. In your little bubble every belief is valid and no evidence is necessary.... silly you..

          January 8, 2014 at 2:37 pm |
        • sam stone

          "That's what you BELIEVE, but since you're not god, you don't know."

          Back atcha, gash

          January 8, 2014 at 4:16 pm |
    • Live4Him

      Kudos!

      January 8, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
    • sybaris

      If religious faith were true there would be only one religious faith

      January 8, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
      • Raphel

        We would rather believe a lie then see truth.

        January 8, 2014 at 2:30 pm |
  11. Universe

    Quran says (Islamic Scripture)

    “The example of Jesus, as far as GOD is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, "Be," and he was.” Quran [3:59]

    “It does not befit God that He begets a son, be He glorified. To have anything done, He simply says to it, ‘Be,’ and it is.” [19:35]

    “No soul can carry the sins of another soul. If a soul that is loaded with sins implores another to bear part of its load, no other soul can carry any part of it, even if they were related. ... [35:18]

    “They even attribute to Him sons and daughters, without any knowledge. Be He glorified. He is the Most High, far above their claims.” Quran [6:100]

    “Recall that your Lord said to the angels, "I am placing a representative on Earth." They said, "Will You place therein one who will spread evil therein and shed blood, while we sing Your praises, glorify You, and uphold Your absolute authority?" He said, "I know what you do not know." [2:30]

    “They say , "We live only this life; we will not be resurrected. If you could only see them when they stand before their Lord! He would say, "Is this not the truth?" They would say, "Yes, by our Lord." He would say, "You have incurred the retribution by your disbelief." [6:30]

    “We have honored the children of Adam, and provided them with rides on land and in the sea. We provided for them good provisions, and we gave them greater advantages than many of our creatures.” Quran [17:70]

    “O children of Adam, when messengers come to you from among you, and recite My revelations to you, those who take heed and lead a righteous life, will have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.” Quran [7:35]

    “O children of Adam, do not let the devil dupe you as he did when he caused the eviction of your parents from Paradise, and the removal of their garments to expose their bodies. He and his tribe see you, while you do not see them. We appoint the devils as companions of those who do not believe.” Quran [7:27]

    “Losers indeed are those who disbelieve in meeting God, until the Hour comes to them suddenly, then say, "We deeply regret wasting our lives in this world." They will carry loads of their sins on their backs; what a miserable load! [6:31]

    Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to visit whyIslam org website.

    January 8, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      What a bunch of silly nonsense.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
    • Peter Metz

      If it's in the quran it must be true. But then why are muslims killing each other?

      January 8, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
  12. Nosey

    Am I the only one who wants to know why he and his wife are divorcing??

    January 8, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
    • Jesus dies in the end.

      I'm guessing that he might be gay

      January 8, 2014 at 2:08 pm |
      • Gozer

        Not a HARD guess by any STRETCH

        January 8, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
    • Live4Him

      Good call out!

      January 8, 2014 at 2:09 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      It's not something that Seventh Day Adventists are very keen on either, unlike most protestant denominations.

      Having said that, this is a real person. Clearly he agreed to talk publically about his crisis of faith which makes that fair game here, but idle speculation about his marriage seems a bit cruel to me.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
      • kyzaadrao

        And it's amazing how profitable those public crisis can be at times.

        January 8, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
  13. Happy Atheist

    Religion is like constantly preparing yourself to play a tennis match against a void on the otherside of the net. You keep lobbing shots into the other court but they never get returned and the coach just keeps telling you that the only way you lose the match is to stop playing. Atheism is the act of stopping play and deciding to wait for an opponent before lobbing another ball into the void.

    January 8, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
    • sybaris

      or................. Religion, the ultimate ponzi scheme

      January 8, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
    • JJ

      Good analogy.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
    • Jeff

      Atheists simply believe what they've been taught to believe. I was raised in an atheistic family. I was taught and embraced atheism. Then I rebelled.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
      • sybaris

        surely you are being sarcastic

        January 8, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
      • KHS

        I was never taught atheism by anybody. I arrived by it by simple logical thinking.

        January 8, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
    • QS

      Nice analogy – though I would amend it slightly as Atheism, to me, is recognizing that the void is simply a void and that even waiting for an opponent that will never come is still on some level a belief that it's possible for that opponent to show up in the first place. So we don't keep waiting for the opponent, we end the game and walk away.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:17 pm |
  14. Robert Raulerson

    I have Free Will. See, I can raise my arm when I want to. I can lower my arm when I want to. That's Free Will. Oops! I just had a stroke. Now I can't raise my arm even tho I'm still willing it. So I guess there's more involved than 'will', huh?

    January 8, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
    • SEQLAR

      Ever read Free Will by Sam Harris? Free will is an illusion..

      January 8, 2014 at 2:08 pm |
      • Robert Raulerson

        Nietzsche dint accept it either. I will read Harris.

        January 8, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
        • SEQLAR

          There's a very good speech of his on youtube.. Quite long over an hour or so... But worth watching...

          January 8, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
  15. sybaris

    The difference between me and your god is if I saw a baby being ra.ped I would try to stop it

    January 8, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
    • SEQLAR

      God is dead...

      January 8, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
      • KHS

        No, he never existed.

        January 8, 2014 at 2:49 pm |
    • Live4Him

      How have you helped the homeless today?

      January 8, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
      • snowboarder

        @him, you are well practiced at diversion.

        January 8, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
        • Live4Him

          @snowboarder : you are well practiced at diversion.

          sybaris advanced a claim, but is obviously TALKING rather than DOING. And talk is cheap.

          <><

          January 8, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
        • snowboarder

          @him, your comment has nothing to do with sybaris comment.

          January 8, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
  16. Jumping from one circe to another. Comfort girls get no respect.

    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ 🙂 $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    January 8, 2014 at 2:02 pm |
  17. Mother Teresa

    Give me all your money and convert to Catholicism. Or burn in hell.

    January 8, 2014 at 2:02 pm |
  18. jasim

    I am a muslim and i tried atheism for couple of months when came to college. It was a personal experiment where i stopped practicing and at least tried to deny the ideology as much as i could. But after a while, emotionally and even sometimes physically i felt very sad and tired. Eventually i stopped and rediscovered faith. I developed a better relationship with faith afterward. Good luck to the pastor

    January 8, 2014 at 2:02 pm |
    • SEQLAR

      You can't try atheism... Atheism a conclusion one arrives at after looking for answers and evidence in claims that theism makes... You never were an atheist, you still are someone who values blind faith that is opposite of what most atheists are. Atheists value skepticism and beliefs based in evidence. You don't....

      January 8, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Anyone can live like there is or isn't a God(s) ... to be atheist is to not believe in gods, not just act like you don't.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
    • QS

      People who say they were once believers then doubted and became Atheist, only to then come to some miraculous realization that their faith was the only thing that made their life good, sound very much like someone who has had an addiction, broke that addiction and got sober, then fell off the wagon and remembered just how blissful that high was to the point that they finally realize they can't cope or maintain without said addiction.

      In the context of religion and/or faith, I prefer sobriety! Life may be hard and truly miserable sometimes, but that has never been a good enough reason for me to give up and say that I'm too weak to deal with it on my own so I need a coping mechanism that eases my fears.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
    • Tech N9ne

      You can't try atheism. You either believe in a god or you don't. If you never truly felt you didn't believe, then it doesn't count, hence the depression and all that. You can deny it and pretend you don't believe but it's not the same. What you did is more like fasting from religion. When you fast you stop eating, but you never deny the existence of food or ignore its benefits. You starve yourself and then appreciate it more when you eat again.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:50 pm |
  19. wisdom4u2

    Duhhh... He wasn't a true believer in the first place. There is no way on earth would a person who truly trusts in the Lord put his faith through that kind of dumb testing. I already know the end of this story...

    January 8, 2014 at 2:01 pm |
    • Topher

      Very true.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:02 pm |
    • Jesus dies in the end.

      spoiler alert! Jesus dies in the end.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:05 pm |
      • Jesus Lives

        *Spoiler Alert* Jesus rose, and He lives! =)

        January 8, 2014 at 2:09 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Jesus is the Easter Zombie.

          January 8, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
      • Tech N9ne

        Not according to Mary Magdaline's gospel.

        January 8, 2014 at 2:51 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear."
      – Thomas Jefferson

      January 8, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
    • sybaris

      Oh here we go, "he wasn't a true believer"

      You need to look up the True Scotsman Fallacy

      By your logic if a person went to law school, passed the bar, had a law practice for 15 years then chucked it to flip burgers then they were never really a lawyer.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
      • Topher

        I know all about No True Scotsman, and it doesn't apply here. Second, your analogy doesn't work, either.

        In Christianity, you're once saved, always saved. So just because he claimed to be a Christian once upon a time, it doesn't mean he was saved.

        January 8, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
        • Live4Him

          Exactly what Jeremiah wrote:

          Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

          January 8, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
        • sybaris

          Please provide evidence that he was never "saved".

          January 8, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
        • sybaris

          Quoting the bible is like and 8 year old stabbing at you with their pretend Star Wars light saber........... cute and ineffective

          January 8, 2014 at 2:25 pm |
        • Topher

          sybaris

          "Please provide evidence that he was never "saved"."

          His wanting to be an atheist is a pretty good start.

          January 8, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Saying "He wasn't a true believer in the first place.", is the literal example of the true Scotsman fallacy.

        January 8, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
    • Landru

      “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.”

      January 8, 2014 at 2:08 pm |
  20. AverageJoe76

    My atheism is rooted in the search for truth and understanding of our reality. So I can appriciate this quote, "It really validates that the (atheist) community is really all about the search for truth".

    And although you can't lump ALL atheists together in a search for 'truth', I can at least say that's the reason I'm an atheist.

    January 8, 2014 at 2:00 pm |
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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.