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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. Gawd

    Give reasoning a chance.

    January 8, 2014 at 4:55 pm |
  2. Dana

    The "price" of atheism is the ability to reason and form your own thoughts.

    January 8, 2014 at 4:53 pm |
    • QS

      Worth every penny! 🙂

      January 8, 2014 at 4:57 pm |
    • Rob-Texas

      Then why are there so many ignorant atheists that cannot us reason to form their own thoughts? I think Dennis Rodmen is an atheist and you can watch a video of him trying for form his own thoughts on CNN.
      You statement also suggests that you have to be an atheist to use reason to form your own thoughts. There are scientists that are Christians. How could that be, based on your statement?

      January 8, 2014 at 5:16 pm |
      • Rob-Texas

        Sorry I typed so fast and didn't proof read my post. Yes, I know there are spelling and grammatical errors. So the spelling/grammatical internet police don't need to waste their time.

        January 8, 2014 at 5:19 pm |
      • sam stone

        What makes you think Rodman is an atheist?

        In terms of forming our own thoughts, we are not the ones running to a book of iron age (or older) stories for "truth"

        January 8, 2014 at 5:42 pm |
      • truthprevails1

        So relying on an outdated 2000+ year old is thinking for yourself???
        Only approximately 8% of the world's scientists believe in a god and a belief in a god by brilliant men doesn't prove a thing.

        January 12, 2014 at 12:44 pm |
  3. Science confused him. It must be repeatable and peer reviewed.

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

    January 8, 2014 at 4:50 pm |
    • InFormed

      That's how the Church sees its congregation. At one point in history the Catholic Church was the riches organization in the world. Now, of course we have Corporations.

      January 8, 2014 at 4:58 pm |
  4. skarphace

    Atheism does not require much of you. It does not require that you do not go to Church or Pray (I do both as an Atheist). It does not require that you get together with other Atheists to discuss your "nonbelief". It does not require that you study any past works of prominent Atheists. In that respect, this pastor is going about it all the wrong way. He is making it way too complicated.

    There is only one thing that Atheism requires of you. It requires that you live your life as you would want to live your life if there were no God. That is it. You want to attend religious ceremonies? Fine. You want to go to Church and pray? Fine. Nothing is prohibited as Atheism has no doctrine. It really is that simple.

    January 8, 2014 at 4:45 pm |
    • QS

      Religion and morality are not synonymous.

      January 8, 2014 at 4:58 pm |
  5. Jorge Martinez

    If this man is willing to walk away from his religious beliefs for an "experiment". Then you have to wonder if he was ever walking in faith to begin with.
    Someone that has known and walked with God would never want to live without Him. Even for an "experiment".

    January 8, 2014 at 4:39 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      New era walked with him personally. But I think we shared a urinal once. I guess it wasn't enough.

      January 8, 2014 at 4:43 pm |
    • Gawd

      Keep up that false hope Jorge!

      January 8, 2014 at 4:43 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      Never typo above

      January 8, 2014 at 4:44 pm |
    • InFormed

      Those who never questioned what they believe in are just slaves to their own blind arrogance. Open your eyes.

      January 8, 2014 at 4:49 pm |
      • cavepainter

        Is your view that people with faith have never questioned it or doubted? Please read the article- "There is no honest person of faith who doesn’t have doubts"

        Examining one's own beliefs does not require abandoning them, and abandoning your beliefs may not open your eyes to what you thought you would see. Eve was told her eyes would be opened too, and what did she see?

        January 8, 2014 at 5:02 pm |
    • Joe Face

      The flash of blinding light and smoke have cleared to reveal it was all an illusion. Sadly, some accept the controlling, cruel, hateful illusion as fact.

      January 8, 2014 at 4:53 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      What a convenient way of keeping "defections" to a minimum .. deny they ever were!

      January 8, 2014 at 4:58 pm |
    • cavepainter

      I agree. If someone wants to see what a life would look like without faith in God, just look around. Plenty of other people provide the examples for us in full detail.

      January 8, 2014 at 4:58 pm |
      • Snafu

        You can tell if a person is a Christian or not just by looking at them?

        January 8, 2014 at 5:04 pm |
        • cavepainter

          Usually not, as most interactions people have are brief and superficial. Do I know anything about the guy at the bakery who sold me a muffin today? Not a clue.

          However, "Christian" means follower of Christ, and there's no small amount of people who make an open show, such as in the news, of doing all the things that Christ said not to do. Should I think they're his followers? The bible says only God knows the heart, and I believe this, but if someone really is his follower then they'd follow him.

          January 8, 2014 at 5:23 pm |
      • Joey

        and if you want to see what life is like with a belief in god just look at Westboro Baptist.

        January 9, 2014 at 12:45 pm |
        • cavepainter

          They follow God now? From the news reports I've read I thought their hatred was their God, but that's about all I know about them.

          I know my original post was poorly worded, and can possibly be read as condemning. It's not intended to be. I am simply stating as a fact that plenty of people provide examples. Life without God is hopelessness for a future. Look at celebrities and the obsession with material wealth, which can't be brought with you into the grave. If trust is placed in such things, what hope is there?

          Personally, I don't need the examples. I wasn't always a Christian and I know what life without God looks like. I don't want that anymore.

          January 9, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
    • Larz

      RIGHT ON!

      January 8, 2014 at 4:59 pm |
  6. blknight

    I don't understand why he expected to stay employed in a job that requires faith when he admits that he has none. That's like being a surgion afraid of blood or a police officer that avoids confrontation. It's part of the job... if you don't want to do it find another job. I mean it's like being an athiest that beleives in God.

    January 8, 2014 at 4:37 pm |
    • Dan

      Exactly. It was a pointless experiment from the very beginning.

      January 8, 2014 at 4:39 pm |
      • CaseyT

        Are you really not able to comprehend what he's doing? I think its fantastic. In fact, as an agnostic, it has me considering doing the opposite for a year to see if/how my stance is affected. Its all about seeking the truth after all and how better to do so than seeing how the other half lives. Kudos to this man for being so bold.

        January 8, 2014 at 4:51 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Disagree. A woman can be a urologist, and a vegetarian can still cook meat. Obviously.

      January 8, 2014 at 4:45 pm |
      • Dan

        I'm pretty sure that girls pee too.

        January 8, 2014 at 4:49 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          I'm pretty sure you got the point.

          January 8, 2014 at 4:58 pm |
      • skarphace

        Exactly. He is living as if Atheism requires him to be honest about his faith. It does not. If he had filled out a statement saying that he was still Christian, then he could have and it would not be a sin as Atheism does not define sin. Would it be unethical? Probably. However, ethics is for the individual to decide. He made his bed. He must now lie in it.

        January 8, 2014 at 4:49 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Ethics are not defined by the individual, and neither is morality. They are both defined by society as Foucault demonstrated. He's still a believer and a christian, so perhaps his telling the truth is indicative of reality rather than a consequence of his experiment, but I can see why a christian would leap to judgment in such a case as this.

          January 8, 2014 at 5:00 pm |
  7. Dana

    For the next year, I'm going to give away 10% of my money to the child molesters at my local church. I'm going to pretend that there is an invisible magician in the sky that will do whatever I ask if I concentrate really hard. I can stop working and start wishing! I can also be a complete jerk to people and then go to confession every week and all we be forgiven. I will also start talking to snakes since they can talk too apparently. This sounds like fun except for the part about losing money ... and my mind.

    January 8, 2014 at 4:36 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      Want some yummy apple. Then we can blame you for all the woes of the world. And if anyone asks it was a snake that gave it to you not me your god.

      January 8, 2014 at 4:47 pm |
      • Dana

        I will believe anything this year because I was brain-washed.

        January 8, 2014 at 4:50 pm |
        • Lamb of dog

          Perfect. Bwah haha. (evil laugh)

          January 8, 2014 at 4:55 pm |
    • Rob-Texas

      Or you could just generalize about people in a post on the internet. 🙂

      January 8, 2014 at 4:59 pm |
    • joe

      I get the sentiment, but the problem is a true christian doesn't believe in any of those things or act that way. They don't believe they can get whatever they want through prayer, nor do they feel absolved of responsibility for their actions because of confession. I'm not anymore but I come from a christian background. And while I'm an atheist now, I wish people could have a more respectful conversation about these things. Statements like yours are exaggerated and stereotypical, which is just as disrespectful as using them for other reasons, be it political beliefs or racial background

      January 8, 2014 at 5:03 pm |
  8. bill

    turn the other cheek huh. Organized religion is a cult. Thier hypocrisy knows no bounds. Pathetic sheep. Disgusting.

    January 8, 2014 at 4:34 pm |
    • Gawd

      You must mean turn the other butt cheek since you are talking about the church.

      January 8, 2014 at 4:42 pm |
    • steelerguin

      Bill, are you a member of the cult of atheism. Are you a sheep grazing in the pasture of unbelief? Pathetic. Disgusting.

      January 8, 2014 at 4:51 pm |
  9. Dan

    This has to be the dumbest story ever written on CNN.

    January 8, 2014 at 4:30 pm |
    • JJ

      No, their racial manipulation stories are much worse. I miss CNN back when they were a trusted news source.....back in the Ted Turner days.

      January 8, 2014 at 4:33 pm |
      • Heddy

        That haven't been that way for a long time. Really, none of the "news" channels really are about news...

        January 8, 2014 at 4:39 pm |
        • Rob-Texas

          BBC comes close, Deutsche Welle, nothing from the US. 😦

          January 8, 2014 at 5:03 pm |
    • Rob-Texas

      Hardly. It doesn't even come close.

      January 8, 2014 at 5:00 pm |
  10. str

    There are plenty of examples of the "Israelites in the Bible OT" experimenting, intentional or not, apart from the one true God YHWH.
    Read the story of Nebuchadnezzar who ended up living as an animal until he came to his senses and acknowledged God.
    What this guy is doing is foolish.
    If he really believed in the Bible he would see the examples in the Bible for what they are and therefore does not need to experiment in this way.
    I think there is more to the motivation or incentive of this guy than what he is disclosing.

    January 8, 2014 at 4:28 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      You just wrote that some guy lived as an animal. And you really believe that he did. And this guy is silly?
      Wake up.

      January 8, 2014 at 4:31 pm |
      • sly

        Good catch there Lamb!

        Seems some of these godsters are now so full of themselves they no longer consider humans to be animals.

        That's right .... "all scientists are all always wrong". I forgot.

        January 8, 2014 at 4:49 pm |
    • InFormed

      Blind faith is just blind ignorance.

      January 8, 2014 at 4:50 pm |
  11. Chris Sadler

    I think the atheistic ranks have grown by 1 more. Almost reminds me of Mother Teresa and her letters showing she did not really believe either. Love it.

    January 8, 2014 at 4:27 pm |
  12. Jesus was a Space Alien

    Just because you don't believe in God does not mean you can't live like a good Christian. Be kind to others, give to those less fortunate, and follow the golden rule. It is very liberating to the mind once free from religion. You can open yourself up to all of the possbilities in the universe and realize just how mysterious and strange life really is. There is more evidence that god was an extra terrertrial than some devine being.

    January 8, 2014 at 4:25 pm |
    • Topher

      Have you ever told a lie?

      January 8, 2014 at 4:30 pm |
      • Jac

        How does that address what he wrote, Topher??

        January 8, 2014 at 4:34 pm |
        • Topher

          The point is that we've all told a lie, even if it was only once. The Bible teaches that NONE are good. And so you'll stand before God guilty.

          January 8, 2014 at 4:36 pm |
        • Jac

          Do you typically change the subject completely when replying to someone?

          January 8, 2014 at 4:41 pm |
        • sam stone

          The point is, Gopher, that you are doing nothing but bloviating empty proxy threats

          If you feel you are guilty and deserve punishment, why don't you stand up and take it rather than hiding like a snivelling weasel behind the supposed sacrifice of jeebus?

          January 8, 2014 at 5:46 pm |
    • JJ

      The golden rule and other good qualities were not invented or owned by Christians, that's just being a decent human being.

      January 8, 2014 at 4:31 pm |
    • Madtown

      Be kind to others, give to those less fortunate, and follow the golden rule
      ---
      That doesn't sound like christianity!

      January 8, 2014 at 4:46 pm |
    • Howard Markowitz

      I agree with what you say except for the ending of the first sentence, 'like a good Christian'. It should read 'like a good PERSON'.

      All it takes to fix many of the world's problems is for people to act decently to one another. Being an atheist does not preclude one to gain wisdom from religious scripture. There is wisdom to be learned from many different kinds of writings and one would be foolish not to benefit by them all. Atheists just don't believe that the source of religious texts, or anything for that matter, comes from god. As an atheist myself, I know that there is no god. There is no shred of evidence. On the other hand there is plenty of evidence that higher intelligence did roam the Earth.

      January 8, 2014 at 5:07 pm |
  13. CommonSensed

    This is so silly as to be beyond belief. But there it is.

    January 8, 2014 at 4:25 pm |
  14. Dorian Gordon

    So, you have to go to chrch or read the bible to believe in god?
    I would say if you pray you really don't believe in god, because if you are so sure you wouldn't need to ask him. He already knows.

    January 8, 2014 at 4:24 pm |
    • Live4Him

      @Dorian Gordon : So, you have to go to chrch or read the bible to believe in god? I would say if you pray you really don't believe in god

      This is why one must read the Bible. The Bible specifically commands us to know the Bible so that we can follow it.

      Joshua 1:8a Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.

      1 Thessalonians 5:17 pray continually

      <><

      January 8, 2014 at 4:28 pm |
      • Madtown

        This is why one must read the Bible.
        ---–
        Which is why it's curious why God continues to create human beings, and place them in areas of the world where christianity does not exist, and they will never hear the word bible, much less read it.

        January 8, 2014 at 4:49 pm |
        • Howard Markowitz

          Excellent!

          Unfortunately, devout religious types will be able to rationalize anything away. One of my best friends is a Russian Orthodox priest and I am an atheist. We respect each other's beliefs and have some great conversations. I asked him a similar question to the one you raised.....how can good people in China be 'saved' when they are never exposed to Jesus. His reply is that if someone has no chance to 'know' Jesus' then whatever they worship is their 'Jesus' and will be judged accordingly. /Heavy sigh/

          January 8, 2014 at 5:15 pm |
      • Snafu

        < (Darwin)

        January 8, 2014 at 4:53 pm |
  15. Lamb of dog

    It's funny how people look at others beliefs and see them for what they are. I mean come on a god with an elephant head or 4 arms. It sounds ridiculous. But if it's about a snake getting a woman to eat an apple and burning bushes that's not silly?

    January 8, 2014 at 4:24 pm |
    • CommonSensed

      Religion does not rely on logic to succeed.

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

        No, but it DOES rely on fear.

        January 8, 2014 at 4:51 pm |
        • Howard Markowitz

          Absolutely!

          Religions and most followers are insecure. They pray on people's insecurities and use fear to keep them as believers.

          January 8, 2014 at 5:19 pm |
        • Howard Markowitz

          Hah! 'Pray' should be 'prey'. But don't you love the double entendre. 🙂

          January 8, 2014 at 5:21 pm |
  16. bostontola

    "He had advocated for the church to allow gay and lesbian leaders, campaigned against California’s same-se.x marriage ban"

    This man drew apart from Christianity for exactly the right reason, it is unjust and immoral. It discriminates against gays, women, and people that didn't get exposed to its God. It finds all people guilty of a crime they didn't commit. It imposes penalties far out of proportion to the transgressions.

    This man just woke up from his spell, it is rare but it does happen.

    January 8, 2014 at 4:22 pm |
    • CommonSensed

      He's just trying it for a year to see if it sticks.

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

        He may not become an atheist, but it is not likely he will return to 7th day. His beliefs are opposed to their beliefs.

        January 8, 2014 at 4:32 pm |
  17. coco

    The devil will fund anything for your soul dummy!

    January 8, 2014 at 4:21 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      Scary devil oh my. Sounds ridiculous to me.

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

      absolutely anything

      January 8, 2014 at 4:26 pm |
    • Chris Sadler

      The devil is imaginary. Time to grow up!

      January 8, 2014 at 4:28 pm |
    • Yakobi

      Including funding a satanic monument to be erected in the Oklahoma Statehouse. Woo-hoo!

      January 8, 2014 at 4:30 pm |
    • InFormed

      Most people grow up

      January 8, 2014 at 4:52 pm |
    • sly

      That is sooooo cool!

      Hey, Satan, fund me a big fat joint, a 21 year old gorgeous chick, and another (6) Niner Super Bowl ring.

      Ya, I'll feel really guilty ... but I'll get over it fast.

      January 8, 2014 at 5:15 pm |
  18. bluedolphin53

    If he thinks the atheist community is rallying around him due to any "kindness of heart" on their parts, he's either very naive or delusional. Safe guess is that 90% of them are doing this as an "up yours" to the christians they see as their enemy in this battle.

    January 8, 2014 at 4:20 pm |
    • Lamb of dog

      I think a majority have experienced ill will we have received for our lack of belief and feel sorry for him.

      January 8, 2014 at 4:27 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      So, what's your point? BTW, your comment doesn't seem biased at all...

      January 8, 2014 at 4:29 pm |
    • TomInDallas

      The fact that you are the one who thinks of this as a "battle" with atheists speaks volumes.

      January 8, 2014 at 4:56 pm |
    • sly

      "enemy"?

      Some of y'all godsters are seriously deranged. Do you really think any non-godster spends 2 minutes worrying what a bunch of airport book salesmen think?

      Y'all can chant 'Hari Hari Hari' all day long, and frankly, the rest of us just glance at you and roll our eyes.

      January 8, 2014 at 5:13 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Funny .. atheists rally to his aide (for any reason) and it's BAD. His christian brethren deny he was ever a true christian and fire him is GOOD. Can you be more ridiculous?!

      January 8, 2014 at 5:21 pm |
  19. Dyslexic doG

    christians claim that the bible is THE WORD of their omnipotent, perfect god.

    So based on the contradictory, ambiguous, brutal, misogynistic, scientifically historically and factually incorrect content of the bible, it amazes me that christians would actually worship such an incoherent, raving, nasty, petulant, sad.istic, confused, lying deity.

    If it was the word of a perfect god then the whole book would be PERFECT! Flawless. There would be absolutely no errors! There would be absolutely no contradictions. There would be absolutely no lines that could be ignored by christians or taken as optional and not command. There would be no need for translation or interpretation or explanation or apology because it would be perfect.

    Instead, you have a book that either is not the word of an omnipotent perfect god, or if these ARE his words, he is far from omnipotent and perfect.

    So why would you follow this book, and/or why would you worship this god?

    January 8, 2014 at 4:19 pm |
    • bluedolphin53

      Wow. What original thoughts. Clearly you will now shake the faith of millions and end chrisitanity as we know it.

      January 8, 2014 at 4:22 pm |
      • Jonah

        And that's exactly how Christians act these days - as though they are under siege every moment of every day by the secular nonbelievers.

        January 8, 2014 at 4:51 pm |
    • Topher

      You don't hate God at all. (sarcasm)

      January 8, 2014 at 4:25 pm |
      • Chris Sadler

        The god of the bible is one of the most evil characters in all fiction!

        January 8, 2014 at 4:29 pm |
        • Topher

          So you hate Him, too?

          January 8, 2014 at 4:31 pm |
      • Yakobi

        Hey, Topher–my cat has toe fur, too!

        January 8, 2014 at 4:31 pm |
    • Doctorf

      A question I have always had. To me the bible is NOT Gods word but that of humans and expression of their experiences and of their belief. I agree their God seems to be an ogre or merciful at other times. From my reading of the bible and those interpreting it, they "invent" the God they want to believe in. In terms of "worship" I agree, what has this God done that makes it worthy of being worshipped?

      January 8, 2014 at 4:33 pm |
      • Topher

        He walked away from His throne, came to earth where He was hated, falsely accused, tortured and murdered so that He could take the punishment you deserve. We've all sinned and thus He'd be just in giving you punishment. But what He did on the cross was a legal transaction in which He who was without sin, took on sin so that on Judgment Day, God will see you as innocent. And why did He do that? Because He loves you!

        January 8, 2014 at 4:41 pm |
        • JJ

          Thanks for demonstrating the insanity of Christianity. You just described a most repulsive evil disgusting creature and anyone who would worship such a beast is most delusional or are themselves evil.

          January 8, 2014 at 4:46 pm |
        • Topher

          I'm glad so many atheists are willing to admit they hate God.

          January 8, 2014 at 4:47 pm |
        • Madtown

          He walked away from His throne, came to earth
          -----
          "He didn't come and see us. Will God still look upon us as innocent?"

          – signed, humans living in North America at the time of Christ

          January 8, 2014 at 4:53 pm |
        • Jac

          Do you typically read things that weren't written, Topher? He didn't say he hated God at all.

          You need some ice for all the stretches you make to confirm your own biases?

          January 8, 2014 at 4:54 pm |
        • Fan2C

          Topher,

          Scapegoating was an ancient ritual in many Middle Eastern tribes (probably still is in some). They loaded all of the 'evils' and 'sins' of the village onto a goat and then either killed it or abandoned it out in the desert to die. Presto Chango – all's well in the town!

          There is simply not a whit of verified, or even verifiable, evidence that any such transformation from the Jesus-as-scapegoat actually occurred or will occur.

          January 8, 2014 at 4:54 pm |
        • Fan2C

          Topher
          "I'm glad so many atheists are willing to admit they hate God."

          Again, for the umpteenth time, do you hate Lex Luthor or Hannibal Lecter or The Joker.. or for that matter, Zeus, Thor or Ra?

          January 8, 2014 at 5:11 pm |
        • Topher

          Fan2C

          "Again, for the umpteenth time, do you hate Lex Luthor or Hannibal Lecter or The Joker.. or for that matter, Zeus, Thor or Ra?"

          Of course not. And it's pretty obvious since I don't go to comic book message boards and call them all the vile names seen above.

          January 8, 2014 at 5:16 pm |
        • Howard Markowitz

          god has a throne? why?

          There is no god because there is no evidence. That is the definition of faith. Believing in something that has no evidence. One could as easily believe in the Great Pumpkin. The rituals and prayers could be hilarious.

          But seriously, as I have said a few times in these type of articles and in a previous reply, there is wisdom to be found everywhere including religious writings. It doesn't mean a god had anything to do with it.

          January 8, 2014 at 5:30 pm |
        • Fan2C

          Topher,
          "I don't go to comic book message boards and call them all the vile names seen above."

          If Thor believers were rampant in the country and were trying to impose their myths into government, public policy, schools and science, and were continually promising dire eventualities for not believing in him, I'll just bet you would hit up a message board or two about it!

          January 8, 2014 at 5:31 pm |
        • Topher

          When people start taking their theology from comic books — comic books who have no claim of being true — we have bigger problems to deal with.

          And no one is trying to force you to be a Christian.

          January 8, 2014 at 5:37 pm |
        • Fan2C

          Topher,

          Zeus, Thor and Ra are not comic book characters. They were dead-serious gods of yore.

          That's not the point, anyway - the original point is that you don't hate them anymore than atheists hate your "God" character.

          January 8, 2014 at 5:57 pm |
        • Topher

          Fan2C

          "That's not the point, anyway – the original point is that you don't hate them anymore than atheists hate your "God" character."

          True, I don't hate them. Again, I don't go to Zeus, Thor or Ra message boards and call them the names seen above. Dude, you will know them by their fruit. Your actions (words) show where you stand. And those people clearly hate Him.

          January 8, 2014 at 6:01 pm |
        • G to the T

          Topher – you seem to be implying that there was no "god" in heaven while Jesus walked the earth. Is that your understanding?

          January 12, 2014 at 12:29 pm |
  20. Cathy Burke

    @JimBob He didn't get thrown under the bus by Christians, he jumped all by himself. If you went behind your bosses' back and told everyone that you were no longer qualified to do your job, breached your agreement with your boss, and declared to everyone that you had no loyalty to what your job stood for, do you really think you would keep your job? Lots of luck with that...

    January 8, 2014 at 4:17 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      "thrown under the bus" .. "behind your bosses' back" .. "no longer qualified to do your job" .. "breached your agreement" .. "declared to everyone" .. "no loyalty to what your job stood for" !!!

      Wow a lot of strong words for someone who simply questioned the worth of what he was doing and made a choice of conscience.

      January 8, 2014 at 4:50 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.