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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. Target

    How exactly does one "try" atheism if one is a believer? Either you have doubts, which many do, and then you are called an agnostic as you (hopefully) try to investigate the truth, or you have no doubts or very few doubts and therefore are a believer or an atheist.

    January 8, 2014 at 3:04 pm |
    • Mike

      You don't. It's a publicity / propaganda stunt. A blatantly obvious one. The human brain simply doesn't work that way.

      January 8, 2014 at 3:05 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      He is going to live "as if" there is no God.
      No different than the dude who spent a year obeying all the 700 commandments in the Bible as if he believed them.

      January 8, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
  2. herleyberley

    Trying out Athiesm? Seriously? Either you are or you aren't. The 'going to the movies" reference is absurd. You don't just turn faith on and off. Believers in God should be just as offended as Athiests. He's not reading the Bible and that make him an Athiest? I am and Athiest and I have read the Bible. It doesn't mean I believe in God. This is an absolutely asinine move on this guys' part and insulting to intelligent and thoughful people on both sides of this issue.

    January 8, 2014 at 3:03 pm |
    • Aleatha

      Well, from an Atheist's perspective, it makes little sense, because Atheism is entirely about reason. But from a Christian perspective. I can understand his experiment, because a their promised reward depends, not just on the absence of thought crime, but rather heavily on superfluous chants, rules and rituals.

      January 8, 2014 at 3:31 pm |
  3. Dave

    Takes a real moron to think you can willingly choose and change your beliefs, doesn't it? His religion must be an insecure act just like his "switch" to atheism.

    January 8, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
    • Mike

      He must have the most amazing brain ever if he can just turn his beliefs on and off like a light switch ... Yeah, I call BS on this whole story. It's nothing more than a publicity and propaganda stunt.

      January 8, 2014 at 3:04 pm |
    • Bill

      All religion is secure. That is why the young are indoctrinated before they have any perspective and experience. It is also why non-believers are to be recruited or avoided.

      January 8, 2014 at 3:04 pm |
    • Jeff

      Well, speaking from experience, perhaps he just got tired of three-hour board meetings where nothing gets accomplished, congregants fighting with one another over issues as silly as the color of the carpeting, and the hypocrisy he found there. Just a thought....not based on knowing his particular situation....

      January 8, 2014 at 3:11 pm |
  4. D Lach

    Sir, forgive my boldness: BUT, GET DOWN ON YOUR KNEES AND ASK GOD'S FORGIVENESS. IT'S OKAY, WE ALL STUMBLE AND FALL.. Now, dust yourself off and get back to the basics!

    January 8, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
    • Ellen

      If god is all kind and loving like Christians claim, why should we even need to ask?

      January 8, 2014 at 3:04 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Ridiculous nonsense... but I'LL WRITE IT IN ALL-CAPS TO MAKE IT SEEM REALLY IMPORTANT AND RELEVANT!

      January 8, 2014 at 3:11 pm |
    • Bill

      In fact God has made it impossible to not be able to stand up tall.
      He's made mere thoughts capital crimes.
      He's decided you can be guilty by the actions of those you never knew.

      January 8, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
    • JustME

      Forgive my boldness! BUT ALL CAPS IS JUST SCREAMING! Would you walk up to someone struggling between belief and abandon, and scream at them until they asked for forgiveness?

      You need to rethink your approach to asking someone to rejoin the flock.

      All the "screaming" from both sides gets us nowhere.

      If you want someone to believe how you live your life is the "Right" way (for believers and nonbelievers) then you live the life. Walk the walk. Show compassion to those around you, love everyone around you (yes even those who make choices you don't agree with.) Prove your rightness by living and breathing your message.

      If you are a member of ANY faith then you should always consider yourself the poster child for that community.

      The reality of the situation is that every time there is a conversation between believers and non-believers people make a$$es of themselves 90% of the time and the ones with questions get lost in all the shouting.

      Just scroll through and see how much hate is coming from both sides.

      We should ALL be ashamed.

      January 8, 2014 at 3:17 pm |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        Great, another putz who thinks they know what everyone else should feel

        January 8, 2014 at 3:24 pm |
        • JustME

          This putz is someone who's felt the shouting and the shame when you question your faith. I don't regret leaving the church. I just don't think that people realize the damage they do to their own causes.

          No atheist is going to win a "discussion" with a Christian if they shout either. It’s a two way street and everyone is in their self-righteous car running down pedestrians in the middle trying to figure out how to just get along!

          If you want to see change, you have to be that change.

          January 8, 2014 at 3:33 pm |
  5. sly

    Some Gay pastor decides to play smart?

    Sorry dude – we don't need any godsters coming over to our side. Go away.

    January 8, 2014 at 2:59 pm |
    • Aleatha

      Reason and the search for truth are for everyone with a working brain.

      January 8, 2014 at 3:34 pm |
  6. castrawberrygirl

    Good for him to really test his faith and ask hard questions. But did he really think that the organizations he worked for would support him in going off the grid and against the statement of faith he signed? He should have known better that you can't continue as part of an organization if you are publicly going against their core beliefs and practices.

    January 8, 2014 at 2:59 pm |
  7. Mike

    Anyone who knows anything about the scientific method and experiment design is laughing uncontrollably right now. I mean seriously, you can't "try atheism". You either believe in god or you don't. A pastor who believes in god can't just turn off his belief like a light switch and say "I'm going to try atheism. I don't believe in god anymore" The human brain simply doesn't work that way.

    Bottom line is this is nothing more than christian propaganda. And it's already got my vote for biggest non-story / nonsense story of 2014.

    January 8, 2014 at 2:59 pm |
    • leetlib

      Try again.

      Belief is a choice.

      You have three options, not two.
      (1) I believe that God exists.
      (2) I believe that God does not exist.
      (3) I neither believe that God exists nor believe that God does not exist.

      Some people describe option #3 as intellectual cowardice. I call it intellectual integrity.

      January 8, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
      • ThinkRationally

        Do you believe in unicorns and leprechauns? If not, could you simply "choose" to start? I doubt it. Belief is not voluntary (i.e, it's not really a choice)–you do or you don't.

        January 8, 2014 at 3:12 pm |
      • Scott

        Let lib,
        #1 Belief in one or more deities = theist.
        #2 Not holding a belief in any deities = atheist
        #3 Not holding a belief either way, means you do not believe in any deity = atheist

        You and the author are confusing the 'do you believe' and 'do you know'. Agnostic is a statement about being knowing or being able to know about a specific topic. Atheism makes no claims, it just is a statement that the individual does not believe in any deity.

        January 8, 2014 at 3:20 pm |
        • leetlib

          Actually #2 and #3 are two different types of atheism. Having an opinion (for or against) and not having any opinion are two different things.

          January 8, 2014 at 3:23 pm |
        • leetlib

          Additionally, agnosticism is not distinct from theism and atheism.

          There are agnostic theists.

          There are agnostic atheists.

          Agnosticism is the admission of not being able to know something.

          January 8, 2014 at 3:27 pm |
        • Scott

          Agree leetlib,

          January 8, 2014 at 3:58 pm |
    • Scott

      I agree with you Mike, you either believe in one or more deities or not. You don't get to 'choose' your beliefs. Can you choose to believe you can fly without assistance? You can claim it, but belief is different.

      January 8, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
      • leetlib

        I still disagree. It would take extraordinary mental discipline or ignorance to choose to believe that one can fly unassisted when evidence exists to the contrary. However, numerous children and delusional adults have died testing this belief.

        Belief in an omnipotent being is entirely different. There can never be evidence that could sufficiently support the existence or non-existence of God. Therefore, when evidence is insufficient for belief, one has no other option but to make a choice.

        January 8, 2014 at 3:18 pm |
        • Scott

          I did not say someone could not be wrong in what they believe. It is that you don't get to choose in what you believe. You might give some evidence more weight for any number of reasons which can influence the conclusion you reach. That is still not a real choice. You might even only look at the arguments or evidence from one side to not challenge a current position.

          January 8, 2014 at 3:27 pm |
    • Aleatha

      Give the man a break. He questions his faith and has decided to try eschewing prescribed Christian chants and rituals to see if his god punishes him for it. That is just one step in a thought experiment.

      January 8, 2014 at 3:48 pm |
  8. shawbrooke

    Of course they gave him money. When Christains help people, atheists routinely criticize them for buying peoples' support. Apparently their own apparently high road rules do not apply to themselves.

    If atheists want to be honest, they must now tell everyone that they were wrong before. That would mean that each atheist teacher would have to contact all the Christian students that they guilt tripped because Christians help people world wide.

    Don't hold your breath.

    January 8, 2014 at 2:57 pm |
    • Robert Raulerson

      I know you said something there – but I'm danged if I know what.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:59 pm |
      • Live4Him

        Simple: When an atheist gives to others, it is out of love. When a Christian gives to others, they have a hidden motive (win them over to Christianity).

        January 8, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
        • Robert Raulerson

          If I give it to Pam Anderson – would that be Love or Lust? Either way, it woodent be Xtianity.

          January 8, 2014 at 3:05 pm |
    • JS

      Or they could just be nice, like Christians wanting to be nice, because they saw that he lost a job and couldn't get one? Wow...

      January 8, 2014 at 3:06 pm |
    • Scott

      It is when the charity is also linked to their faith that is the problem. Sending Bibles to disaster areas ... Making receivers of charity have to sit through a presentation (service) to get the gifts - sounds more like Timeshare marketing. The gift is not free.
      That is the difference.

      January 8, 2014 at 3:31 pm |
  9. Dilapidated Emu

    Being intellectual has strong ties to being open minded. To do this, you need to be able to entertain concepts that are contradictory to your own personal philosphy. It would appear that Bell did this, and his world view shifted because of it. That is pretty cool, but I think it is easy for athiests to forget that a disbelief in gods or a God is their own personal philosophy, and to be open minded intellectuals, they should also earnestly entertain ideas that conflict with their philosphy. This isn't really meant to be a come to Jesus speech, but if you want to stand on an intellectual high ground, you need to be open minded about it. Plenty of intelligent historical figures have been on either side of the religous fence; whether Athiest, Christian, Hindu, Islamic, or any other religious affiliation. This is evident in their contributions to both the sciences and humanities.

    January 8, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
    • Ellen

      One aspect of that open-mindedness is just being aware of opposing points of view. It is very notable that generally atheists know Christian doctrine better overall and in more depth than Christians do. Better give that some Emu thought cycles.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:59 pm |
    • Scott

      Open to hear the arguments of why any deities exist and then why any specific deity exists.
      When the arguments can't hold up ... No reason to give the claims much credence.
      Individuals are free to believe what ever they want, it is when they try to validate actions or policies which limit rights of others they should be required to support their claims and/or face the backlash.

      January 8, 2014 at 3:38 pm |
  10. Epidi

    Sounds alot like a self fulfilling prophesy to me. Doomed to fail because you expect it. This is not a rational or nor measurable experiment.

    January 8, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
    • Scott

      I might say it is just as likely that he lost his belief before the experiment started as not.
      Don't know, don't care.
      But I would bet if he lasts a year, he does not go back to calling himself a theist.

      January 8, 2014 at 3:42 pm |
  11. Ron

    "I am the Good Shepherd.., and I know My own, and My own know Me.." ...Jesus (John 10:14)

    January 8, 2014 at 2:54 pm |
    • Robert Raulerson

      A Shepherd herds sheep. So yer a sheep. Right?

      January 8, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
      • Ron

        Robert, yes. HIs people are His sheep, as opposed to the goats which are rejected. Robert, and which are you my friend?

        January 8, 2014 at 3:00 pm |
        • Robert Raulerson

          I was born to boogie Ron.

          January 8, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
      • JS

        lol, he didn't get it 😦

        January 8, 2014 at 3:17 pm |
    • Bob

      Ron, why would anyone follow your "word of god" when it contains such nasty guidances as these, according to your Christian book of nasty AKA the bible?

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      1 Timothy 2:11
      "Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor."

      Revelation 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

      Leviticus 25
      44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
      45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
      46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

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

      January 8, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
  12. Robert Raulerson

    People tell me I should ask Jayzus for forgiveness, but I never did Jayzus any wrong. I don't owe him an apology. Plus which, he isn't real.

    January 8, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
    • Ron

      Robert, you and me and all of us are guilty of sin before God. God sent Jesus to pay the penalty for our sin. You are in denial. You must first admit that you are a sinner, before you can come to the Savior.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
      • Robert Raulerson

        Ron, you are so fulla horzchit John Wayne could ride you into the sunset.

        January 8, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          HA!

          January 8, 2014 at 2:59 pm |
      • Aleatha

        Ron, gods requiring torture and blood sacrifice of an innocent in order to forgive others' flaws (that the gods themselves instilled) is a primitive and barbaric concept, utterly devoid of reason or compassion. How does this make ANY sense? I will never understand how people are so drawn to death cults.

        January 8, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
        • Ron

          Atleatha, you have managed to get it perfectly wrong. You must be an atheist lol. Those who receive God's gift of eternal life through faith in Christ are those who are drawn to LIFE. Those, like yourself, who are rejecting this gift are drawn to death. Unless you repent it is death you will have. Eternal death!

          January 8, 2014 at 3:22 pm |
      • Aleatha

        Ron, you utterly failed to justify any claim that your cult is about LIFE. Just saying that it is and using caps is hardly a reasoned argument. Tell me how gods requiring torture and blood sacrifice of an innocent in order to forgive others' flaws is not primitive and barbaric. How does blood sacrifice of one person have anything whatsoever to do with forgiveness, especially for other completely unrelated persons? Nobody has ever been able to justify this barbarism, and when you ask them about it, they always completely avoid the question by spewing the same tired bumper stickers you used. And, yes, of course, I'm an Atheist. My entire family are scientists, rational thinkers and believers in a human morality that finds the justification and glorification of torture to be repellent, and the linking of torture to salvation to be nonsensical.

        January 8, 2014 at 4:03 pm |
      • Aleatha

        And, Ron, I find it interesting that the only response you can muster is a threat. Thank you for reinforcing my point.

        January 8, 2014 at 4:07 pm |
    • Nirvana

      You owe an apology for bad spelling. Repent!

      January 8, 2014 at 3:06 pm |
  13. Ron

    "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." ...Jesus (Mathew 11:28)

    January 8, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
    • Bob

      Ron, why would anyone follow your sicko "word of god" when it contains such nasty guidances as these, according to your Christian book of nasty AKA the bible?

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      1 Timothy 2:11
      "Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor."

      Revelation 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

      Leviticus 25
      44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
      45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
      46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

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

      January 8, 2014 at 2:54 pm |
    • Robert Raulerson

      "Belly up to the bar boys – the drinks are on me!"

      Good Time Charley

      January 8, 2014 at 2:54 pm |
    • QS

      I need no shepherd for I think and reason...and I am not a sheep;
      I shall want only what serves humanity best.
      I lie down in green pastures because I choose to, not because anything makes me.
      I swim in still waters; I need not be led beside them.
      If a soul exists it is mine and is for me to restore how I see fit.
      Paths of righteousness will never fail to lead a person astray, especially for His name’s sake.

      I will walk through many valleys; it’s called life.
      The shadow of death follows one and all, no matter where we walk.
      I fear evil; evil is created by man, which is to be feared far more than any of the countless versions of god.
      Your rod and your staff do not comfort me as they are herding tools...and I am not a sheep.
      I would be arrogant to think goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, for I am human and we make mistakes.
      I shall not dwell in any house that believes me to be nothing more than an animal which must be told where to go and when.

      January 8, 2014 at 3:06 pm |
      • Ron

        QS, you have clearly stated your position before the Lord, before the Judge of all the universe. You can be assured that your words will follow you past the grave unless you repent, and you will see them again on judgement day.

        January 8, 2014 at 3:13 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          'Judgement Day' LMAO

          January 8, 2014 at 3:17 pm |
        • QS

          I can assure you that your assurances are worth nothing to me other than being a source of amusement while I giggle at your futile attempt at making me feel guilty for not believing as you do.

          January 8, 2014 at 3:33 pm |
        • Scott

          I have to convince Gandaulf to let me pass or Tim the Wizzard or any of other characters?
          Why is any one more likely?

          January 8, 2014 at 3:50 pm |
  14. Ron

    "He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was brusied for our iniquities." ...Isaiah 53:5 The atonement of Jesus was foretold long before He went to the cross. PTL

    January 8, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
    • Bob

      Ron, why would anyone follow your supposed "word of god" when it contains such nasty guidances as these, according to your Christian book of nasty AKA the bible?

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      1 Timothy 2:11
      "Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor."

      Revelation 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

      Leviticus 25
      44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
      45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
      46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

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

      January 8, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
      • Live4Him

        Nice copy-n-paste! Can you have a logical discussion?

        January 8, 2014 at 2:54 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          Irony be thy name

          January 8, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
        • Scott

          Well, Ron cites passages as if they make an argument for belief.
          Bob is asking how these other passages from the same text can be addressed in the same manner? Seems fair, and it has not been addressed as of yet.

          January 8, 2014 at 3:56 pm |
  15. Ron

    "Come now, and let us reason together says the Lord, though your sins be as scarlet, they will be as white as snow..." ...Isaiah 1:18

    January 8, 2014 at 2:50 pm |
    • Bob

      Ron, why would anyone follow your crazy "word of god" when it contains such nasty guidances as these, according to your Christian book of nasty AKA the bible?

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      1 Timothy 2:11
      "Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor."

      Revelation 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

      Leviticus 25
      44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
      45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
      46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

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

      January 8, 2014 at 2:54 pm |
      • Live4Him

        I guess you cannot do more than copy-n-paste.

        <><

        January 8, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
        • Darwin

          L4H, If you can't rebut the points, then shut up, ass hole.

          January 8, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
        • Scott

          Is Ron doing anything different?
          He just changes what passage he cites.

          January 8, 2014 at 4:01 pm |
    • Sea Otter (Leader of Allied Atheist Alliance)

      County official: Stan Marsh is a bright young man. He's got a great family, a promising paper route. Only problem is... [record scratch] ...his bike's been impounded! But now, he's about to find out that getting his bike back isn't so easy!

      January 8, 2014 at 2:57 pm |
  16. Tracy

    He's not "trying" atheism. He's refraining from practicing religion. Big difference.

    January 8, 2014 at 2:50 pm |
    • Tech N9ne

      Nailed it. Belief is something you have inside of you. Whether you practice religion or not, if you still believe in god, you aren't trying atheism. It's more like fasting. You fast and stop eating, but you don't deny its existence or benefits. You abstain from food, so that when you go back you appreciate it more.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
    • herleyberley

      I totally agree! You either are an athiest, or not.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:57 pm |
    • Think for yourself

      Agreed. It sounds like he wanted to leave the church but was afraid to announce that he no longer believed. I understand completely. I think he was already an atheist and this may have been a creative way to leave. (I'm "trying" atheism as an experiment.) I can't fault him because i know how difficult it is.

      January 8, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
    • JS

      Yes.

      January 8, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
    • Scott

      On the surface I agree 100%.
      He does get to witness the intolerance of Christians to those who claim they don't believe.
      Though there is one way he could be be an actual atheist, he would just have had to lost his belief in any deities before the experiment.

      January 8, 2014 at 4:05 pm |
  17. QS

    I believe that most of those who identify as some form of Christian only do so out of obligation, for the sake of appearances.

    This way, even though internally they know they don't actually believe, they can avoid the stigma of being a non-believer in a society or community full of zealots who would turn on them in a heartbeat were they to profess their true feelings.

    Religion creates an environment of such intense intolerance of anything outside that belief structure that detaching oneself from any given sect means you are to be just as hated and shunned for declaring your non-belief as you would be for announcing that you are gay.

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

      Those are the people I try to reach; the ones who want desperately to escape from the fantasy world they've been imprisoned in but don't have a support system to do so.

      This is why we Atheists need to be extremely vigilant in letting others know they are not alone and that it's beyond acceptable to denounce your supersti.tion and begin to live as a human.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:51 pm |
  18. Ron

    "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." ...Jesus (John 10:27)

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

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      1 Timothy 2:11
      "Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor."

      Revelation 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

      Leviticus 25
      44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
      45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
      46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:51 pm |
      • Live4Him

        yep – more copy-n-paste.

        January 8, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
        • Observer

          Live4Him,

          Yep. Copy and paste from him and NO REBUTTAL from you. Nothing changes.

          January 8, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
        • CARTER

          Its not like anyone is engaging him or addressing what he said. So why not copy and paste. If Ron can keep mindlessly quoting the bible then so can he.

          January 8, 2014 at 3:20 pm |
      • shawbrooke

        Ah yes. You forgot the quote a page before concerning women dressing decently when they prophesy in church, there Paul assumed that women would be speaking, but why muddy the waters with reality when you can lift a quote to suit your purposes?

        Jewish people were the only people in those times whose religion placed limits on slavery. And captives taken in battle back then had few alternatives – suicide slavery and death. But why get detailed when you've got a point to make.

        If you live long enough it sounds like you will blame Christians for the presence of abortion in society today, when today you blame Christians because there is opposition to abortion. Get a life and do something positive and let others alone.

        January 8, 2014 at 3:13 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      LET's Religiosity Law #1 – If Jesus came back today he would be shot in the head. That's what you do to put down zombies; otherwise they eat your brains.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
      • JS

        To be accurate, Jesus was a lich—a creature that is the result of a transformation, as a powerful magician or king striving for eternal life uses spells or rituals to bind his intellect to his animated corpse and thereby achieve a form of immortality. Unlike zombies, which are often depicted as mindless, part of a hivemind or under the control of another, a lich retains revenant-like independent thought and is usually at least as intelligent as it was prior to its transformation.

        January 8, 2014 at 3:13 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          I'm not changing Law#1... lich is NOT as funny as zombie...

          January 8, 2014 at 3:19 pm |
  19. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    "I had no shoes, and I felt sorry for myself until I met a man who had no feet. I took his shoes. Now I feel better."

    January 8, 2014 at 2:49 pm |
  20. Ron

    Jesus warned us to be aware of wolves in sheeps clothing. Nothing new here. Just another wolf seeking prey. He clearly was never serving God. His master is the DEVIL! "Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." ...Jesus (John 3:3)

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

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      1 Timothy 2:11
      "Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor."

      Revelation 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

      Leviticus 25
      44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
      45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
      46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      When I read this, my eyes begin to roll into the back of my head. I sigh. Let out a breath. And then... I'm ok. But when I try to read it again.... the same exact thing happens without change.

      January 8, 2014 at 3:06 pm |
    • Obstetrics fact

      One placenta per lifetime, sorry, born again is just simply impossible.

      January 8, 2014 at 3:09 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.