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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. Christians owe the mob. You can lighten up now. Bride's father will pay.

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    January 8, 2014 at 9:10 pm |
    • midwest rail

      As the clinically insane lol?? drones on...and on...

      January 8, 2014 at 9:15 pm |
      • Wilmington, Delaware tracker

        It's not lol??, although he's insane. Just ignore this person.

        January 8, 2014 at 10:09 pm |
    • The Son agrees. Party on.

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      January 8, 2014 at 9:24 pm |
    • Wilmington, Delaware

      Stop trolling. You're making us look bad.

      January 8, 2014 at 10:02 pm |
  2. Dave

    I've had some experiences that makes me believe that there'r something....but I don't know what it is, and I am not going to label it as anything but something.

    January 8, 2014 at 8:59 pm |
  3. Colin

    What is the only thing capable of making 40% of the country utterly stupid enough to think the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake:

    (a) a horrid mental disease

    (b) a failed education system

    (c) a successful Al Qaeda plot to undermine the future of the country; or

    (d) Christianity?

    January 8, 2014 at 8:52 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      I know, I know!

      January 8, 2014 at 8:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Still, Christianity was invented. The best efforts of some of our brightest sadists came up with a self-replicating idea that we still can't keep from infecting millions.

      January 8, 2014 at 9:01 pm |
      • Sawsan

        True; I heard Christianity was invented by Christian Dior.

        January 8, 2014 at 9:08 pm |
      • Adolf

        Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure

        January 8, 2014 at 9:20 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. ...Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed his blood upon the Cross. ...

          – Adolf Hitler, speech on April 12, 1922

          January 8, 2014 at 9:29 pm |
        • George Bush

          "Read my lips, no new taxes."

          January 8, 2014 at 9:37 pm |
        • politicians

          lie. especially in
          a speech

          January 8, 2014 at 9:48 pm |
        • counterww

          And , Cap. Obvious, you will know Christians by their fruits, and Hitler had rotten fruit , as he obviously did not love his neighbor.

          Nice example... NOT....

          January 8, 2014 at 9:52 pm |
  4. Joshua

    Only the fool says in his heart there is no God

    January 8, 2014 at 8:45 pm |
    • Billy

      then there's something about calling people fools... it's just one big contradiction..

      January 8, 2014 at 8:47 pm |
    • Colin

      Well, what did you expect the Bible to say, "A wise man in his brain knows that God is implausible." ?

      January 8, 2014 at 8:50 pm |
    • sam stone

      No, the fools are the ones who purport to speak for god.

      January 8, 2014 at 9:28 pm |
    • Melissa

      There a lot of fools commenting who will be weeping when Jesus comes back!

      January 8, 2014 at 9:37 pm |
  5. Eis

    Atheism is not "not reading the bible, not praying, not going to church," etc.

    Atheism means to believe in "nothing." Thus this pastor is not practicing atheism. He still believes there is a God; he is just not practicising a religion. That is entirely different from Atheism. It is actually surprisingly difficult for anyone to truly attest to being an Atheist. Most people while not practicing a religion still believe even i.e. in karma, faith or luck!

    January 8, 2014 at 8:45 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "Atheism means to believe in "nothing."

      No, that's nihilism and is something else entirely. Atheism is simply disbelief in God(s).

      January 8, 2014 at 8:48 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "He still believes there is a God; he is just not practicising a religion.

      You make an assumption there. The article actually says: "For the record, Bell describes his current theological views as agnostic – somewhere between belief and atheism."

      That makes it sound like he's really not sure if he believes in God. His faith is shaken and may disappear altogether.

      January 8, 2014 at 8:50 pm |
  6. Why don't the PROUD atheists stop the slaughter in Venezuela?

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz 🙂 zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz $$?

    January 8, 2014 at 8:42 pm |
    • timmy

      What slaughter?

      January 8, 2014 at 8:46 pm |
    • Colin

      we're kind of waiting until they get to you.

      January 8, 2014 at 8:58 pm |
    • Imagine No Religion

      Why didn't the PROUD xians stop their own reign of terror and slaughter commonly known as "the crusades"?

      -–
      "God is a concept by which we measure our pain" - John Lennon

      January 8, 2014 at 9:03 pm |
  7. OrygunDuck

    Well, I guess there is no real reason to believe in God in our modern world, but the basic viewpoints of mainstream atheism is also a bit hard to swallow - 1) Universe from a grand explosion for no particular reason. 2) Amino acids stewed together for extended periods created basic life 3) Your distance relatives to the nth power were tide pool amoebas. 4) Science and reason are the ultimate hope of the human race, despite that the 20th Century with so much advancement was the bloodiest century in history.

    January 8, 2014 at 8:40 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      I have no idea how the universe got to be here, and nobody does. I certainly don't think that a big invisible and undetectable sky wizard chanted magic spells for six days only to wind up with a universe so fragile that one twist of one woman's wrist threw the whole thing into nuclear meltdown.

      January 8, 2014 at 8:45 pm |
      • Jamie

        There are so many "logical" things to respond to, but this one was the most striking attempt at "logical" that is flat-out wrong, whether you believe in an Intelligent Design or the creation of life from one magnanimous galactic fart. And that is, the universe is not fragile at all. We're pretty stinking tough, and the temporal world is self-regulating and self-healing. Even we, as creative and self-destructive as we are, will not destroy the world before it destroys us.

        January 8, 2014 at 9:46 pm |
    • AE

      "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." said some scientist once.

      January 8, 2014 at 8:46 pm |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        That scientist was Albert Einstein who also said that the god he believed in did not interfere in humanity or the universe, did not ever judge any humans, and does not ever grant any human eternal life....in heaven or in hell.

        Nice catch, AE

        January 8, 2014 at 8:54 pm |
        • AE

          I was very aware of that about him. Doesn't mean I can't appreciate a good quote by him.

          January 8, 2014 at 8:59 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Agreed. Perhaps you should put your quotes in perspective by being less biased with your selections. Einstein didn't believe in your god, and in practical terms, there's no difference in atheism and a god like Einstein believed in. So perhaps there's need for a bit more honesty on this issue.

          January 8, 2014 at 9:05 pm |
        • AE

          In practical terms you have no idea what you are talking about. Einstein's quote was relevant. I'm not against atheism or people having different concepts of God. I certainly know Einstein did take offense at being called an atheist.

          January 8, 2014 at 9:11 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Don't lie. It makes baby Jesus cry. You NEVER provide quotes about the TYPE of god Einstein believed in; you ONLY provide quotes that, in your context, make it seem like he believed in the sort of god usually being discussed here. It's dishonest, and you know it. You can lie to me all you want, but are you sure you want to lie to yourself and your god (oh wait, I think that's the same thing.....)

          January 8, 2014 at 9:17 pm |
        • AE

          Actually I have.

          Somebody insisted I didn't know that much about Einstein, so I posted some other quotes. But generally I provide quotes from famous scientists that demonstrate logic, reason and science do not always lead to atheism. Some people don't seem to realize or accpet this. Like the poster QS earlier this evening.

          Your idea that somebody has to believe in God the same way as me is whack. That is not what I believe, and that is not what my church or God asks me to believe.

          January 8, 2014 at 9:23 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Ah, I see you've chosen to lie to yourself and your god. Good choice, I guess, for you, anyway. (A record of your posts proves your "justification" completely bunk).

          January 8, 2014 at 9:27 pm |
        • AE

          A record of my posts? That wouldn't work very well on this site.

          How do you imagine I am lying to myself and God?

          January 8, 2014 at 9:30 pm |
    • Colin

      Wow, you really are scientifically ignorant aren't you?

      1) Universe from a grand explosion for no particular reason.

      No atheist I know thinks this. The OBSERVABLE Universe began in the BB. Big difference. The current iteration of the Universe may be one of an infinite number stretching back in time with no temporal beginning and/or one of an infinite number in a multiverse. We just don't know.

      2) Amino acids stewed together for extended periods created basic life

      Sort of, but over a 500 year period in a planet wide organic soup, this is not mathematically unfeasible.

      3) Your distance relatives to the nth power were tide pool amoebas.

      Yes. As opposed to a magic act by a Bronze Age Jewish sky-fairy in six days, complete with a talking snake.

      4) Science and reason are the ultimate hope of the human race, despite that the 20th Century with so much advancement was the bloodiest century in history.

      Well, it was actually the least deadly and most successful in terms of curing disease, extending life enabling travel and modern communication. None of which primitive sky-fairy beliefs deliver

      January 8, 2014 at 8:48 pm |
      • AE

        "...curing disease..."

        In primitive sky-fairy believing funded and operated hospitals, at the hands of primitive sky-fairy believing doctors and surgeons.

        January 8, 2014 at 8:58 pm |
        • Colin

          I don't take issue with morality or generosity, to the extent a religious organization displays it. I just oppose childish supernatural beliefs.

          January 8, 2014 at 9:00 pm |
        • AE

          Actions speak louder than words. I've seen the actions of sky-fairy believers and childish super-natural believers actually accomplishing things greater than any evidence I've seen from you.

          January 8, 2014 at 9:17 pm |
        • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

          @ AE – yes, actions DO speak louder than words. For example, in parts of Africa, good Christians are burning people alive for being witches – all in the name of their god. There are horrifying videos of this online – just another example in a long line of atrocities committed in the name of various religions.

          January 8, 2014 at 9:33 pm |
        • AE

          Evil is real. Yes. Even without religion, it exists. It is more of a human problem than a religious one. Atheistic regimes have done some horrible things.

          January 8, 2014 at 9:51 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          You're conflating atheism with totalitarianism of the communist persuasion. Not accurate, but I suspect you already know that as you've been reading this blog for many months.

          January 8, 2014 at 9:58 pm |
        • AE

          A bunch of atheists organized and lead a regime that brutally murdered thousands of people. Did all atheists do that? No. Just like a bunch of Christians did the same type of things. Did all Christians do that? No.

          Were there other factors involved in these wars and crimes. YES!

          January 8, 2014 at 10:35 pm |
      • OrygunDuck

        Thanks for your rather predictable response. You call me ignorant, yet have no answers in return beyond mere speculation. We don't know how the universe began, but take God out of it and it is a meaningless random event. The 'talking snake' is a cliché. Medical advances grew out of a university system in the Western world built almost entirely by Christians.

        January 8, 2014 at 9:00 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          HOnest people say "I don't know." Afraid people who were raised in a largely christian society sometimes claim that some big invisble sky wizard chanted magic spells for six days.

          January 8, 2014 at 9:02 pm |
        • Colin

          Saying "we don't know" is the only honest answer. Saying "the Judeo-Christian god must have done it because we don't know" is self-serving hubris of the highest order.

          It always makes me laugh when you sky-fairy believers critcize science for not having all the answers – then jump straight to an answer called "God" which has no evidence at all to support it. Look, I know your mommy and daddy taught you some nice stories from late Bronze Age Judea as a little kid, but that is not the answer to the questions of the origins of life and the Universe. Most people get this.

          January 8, 2014 at 9:04 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          "Medical advances grew out of a university system in the Western world built almost entirely by Christians."

          The tradition of hospitals goes back to ancient civilizations in Greece, Rome, India and China. Western medicine is what it is because of Western scientific advances. Eighth century Muslims created hospitals too. Why did Western science succeed more than oriental science? Neil DeGrasse Tyson has an interesting take on that. Google him and 'naming rights'.

          January 8, 2014 at 9:14 pm |
      • counterww

        Amino acids coming together to form life is like shaking clock parts, even for a billion years, and expecting them to form the clock. It won't happen. We are designed. You guys are so moronic.

        January 8, 2014 at 9:55 pm |
        • Colin

          Well, why are we seeing amino acids formed from inorganic matter all the time in nature. In outer space and in early Earth replication experiments all the time. All 20 – and all 5 nuclaic acids

          January 8, 2014 at 10:00 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      (3) Should be inspiring. James Burke (The Day the Universe Changed) points out that it means "Even slime can make it to the top if you give it long enough."

      January 8, 2014 at 8:55 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      to echo Colin's last point.

      "the 20th Century with so much advancement was the bloodiest century in history."

      if that is true, how did the global population grow from less than 2 billion to about 6 billion from 1900 – 2000?

      More people lived and are still living as a result of your 'bloodiest' century.

      January 8, 2014 at 8:55 pm |
    • Zak

      If the formation of primitive life is too hard to believe, then how is the formation of a divine being plausible? That's like saying, "I don't belive I can make $1, but I do believe that I can make $1 trillion, and that by investing it, IT will make $1." By all rational means, the formation of a god is a trillion times less plausible than the formation of an ameba.

      January 8, 2014 at 9:24 pm |
  8. Theodore Hyczko

    Like the prodigal son I hope he returns to Christ Luke 15

    January 8, 2014 at 8:39 pm |
    • carolina

      i hope tha same too..there is nothing outside God's paths

      January 8, 2014 at 9:09 pm |
  9. Theodore Hyczko

    11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:

    12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.

    13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

    14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.

    15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.

    16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

    17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

    18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,

    19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

    20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

    21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

    22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:

    23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:

    24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

    25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.

    26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.

    27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.

    28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.

    29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:

    30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.

    31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.

    32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

    I pray that the holy spirit does not fall him

    January 8, 2014 at 8:37 pm |
    • Billy

      Don't forget to spread some garlic around the door frames too!

      January 8, 2014 at 8:44 pm |
    • GloopyPoop

      You pray that the Holy Spirit doesn't fail him? I would assume that his willingness to try out atheism as an experiment would insinuate that the H.S. failed in it's role as a source of spiritual guidance. Which would mean God and Jesus Christ failed him by extension, seeing as how God, JC, and HS are all the same being, only they aren't the same being, so the HS fails a bit more in it's duties, while God and JC fail slightly less,only it doesn't matter because in the end they're somehow the same and therefore their failure is singular and yet tripled.

      January 8, 2014 at 8:55 pm |
      • Theodore Hyczko

        There is a verse in the bible which this pastor should read. As someone who got mad at God and claimed to be an atheist for 6 months this concerns me too. I said I was an atheist but in my heart I still believed but I can't say I didn't question my faith like this guy. That's why I post the verse on the prodigal son because it effects me too

        Here is the verse

        Hebrews 6 …5and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.

        I hope Jesus Christ will forgive this man and me for lack of faith

        January 8, 2014 at 9:23 pm |
  10. jeb

    Sounds like God was a job for him rather than his Lord. He's not really giving up anything if he never had it to begin with. Good news for him is that God is the same always and will listen if he ever seeks healing for his blindness and emptiness.

    January 8, 2014 at 8:29 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      How is it that you feel perfectly within your rights to judge him as you do? Seems astoundingly arrogant to me. But, then again, very christian.

      January 8, 2014 at 8:34 pm |
      • alexis

        John 7:24
        "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment."

        In our society of so called "tolerance," we are often struck with an opposition of people who cry that we have no right to judge them. In fact, I've even heard some go so far as to claim that "Jesus never judged people; He even taught that we are not to judge!" Strangely enough, they will quote Matthew 7:1 in attempts to convince others that Jesus has condemned all judging.

        quoted from: http://www.bible.ca/ef/expository-matthew-7-1-5.htm

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

          The OP calls into question the sincerity of the pastor's belief in god. I don't see how he has that right because it's something he could not know. Pure assumption. I'm not concerned with your book, I'm concerned about common decency-morality.

          January 8, 2014 at 9:01 pm |
    • LFC

      How do you know? Did god tell you that? NO! You're making up stuff, like the rest of religion is based on made up stuff.

      January 8, 2014 at 8:46 pm |
  11. SouthernFriedInfidel

    Sigh... too bad this guy didn't talk this idea over with me. I'm an atheist, and I go to church with my wife every week, the pastor is one of my best friends, and I discuss theology with him all the time. There's more ways to disbelieve than might occur to someone who only thinks of disbelief as an intellectual experiment. Ho hum...

    January 8, 2014 at 8:24 pm |
    • skarphace

      Exactly. If he had discussed his plan with me, I would have recommended that he start his own Church and convince those in his pulpit that agree with his more liberal views to come along for the ride. I know of many churches that started this way, and some are very successful. Just because somebody has a different view of faith than you do is no reason to abandon your faith. By the way, this is also coming from an atheist who attends church occasionally and even prays (although to me prayer is more of a meditation).

      January 8, 2014 at 8:34 pm |
      • Christians are too dumb to kick out the CRASHERS.

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        January 8, 2014 at 8:46 pm |
        • timmy

          I think someone faking a smile is PANICKING and hardly knows what to say!

          January 8, 2014 at 8:54 pm |
  12. Buglebutt

    "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." That's ridiculous! What's shameful about being an atheist? I can't think of anyone I know at work or personally who would discriminate against someone of disbelief. Society is becoming much more progressive and embracing views that may be in the minority. (Except maybe in the deep South). The only reason Bell's colleagues discriminated was because THAT WAS HIS LINE OF WORK. I can't imagine any other type of career that would discriminate against a person's belief or disbelief.

    January 8, 2014 at 8:18 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      You must not have much experience in the bible belt or in some of the more fundamentalist pockets of US society.

      January 8, 2014 at 8:20 pm |
      • AE

        But he lives in LA.

        I did not face any discrimination in the workplace for being agnostic or non-Christian, and I live in the Bible Belt. My public school education, public college life and career in a mainstream industry has been pretty secular.

        January 8, 2014 at 8:27 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          When and if you ever "come out of the closet" as an atheist, you'll see what we mean. Until then, you'll continue to believe that such undercurrents of discrimination don't exist. You'd have to experience it to know what we're referring to.

          January 8, 2014 at 8:30 pm |
        • Buglebutt

          @ Capt. Obvious: where the hell do you live, because in California I have not seen any discrimination in the workplace or in general concerning atheists. Maybe it IS fortunate that I have no experience living in the Bible Belt, if what you say is true. I am assuming you have personal experience of discrimination against yourself for "coming out". (Can't even believe I have to use that phrase–it's so ludicrous)

          January 8, 2014 at 8:38 pm |
        • skarphace

          Cpt.: Well, I "came out of the atheist closet" about 30 years ago. Since then, the only real flack I got was from my grandpa, who was a Baptist preacher (very "hell and brimstone"). However, I live in the Pacific Northwest, and we are very liberal in terms of judging others based on their personal faiths up here (ok, at least as far as I have seen).

          January 8, 2014 at 8:38 pm |
        • AE

          I'm not an atheist. I lived as one in the past. Yes, some religious people were judgmental. But for the most part it wasn't a problem. Some family members made snarky comments about it. And guess, what? They still do. And now atheists make snarky comments about me.

          January 8, 2014 at 8:38 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          California or Oregon would be so much better, I think.

          January 8, 2014 at 8:43 pm |
        • GloopyPoop

          But he was a Seventh-Day Adventist. They're an offshoot of standard protestantism with a close knit commmunity, and very strict conservative rules. Hell, they were so isloated from other Christians that some people labeled the a cult, and still do. Even if he lived in LA, he was a part of an insulatory community.

          January 8, 2014 at 8:51 pm |
        • Buglebutt

          @Cpt Obvious: Oregon is preferable to California, because when the time comes for you to "kick the bucket", euthanasia is legal. (A little off-topic here, I realize)

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

          Good to know. I'm an advocate of such freedoms.

          January 8, 2014 at 8:57 pm |
    • QS

      You obviously have a very poor understanding of religion and its followers in regards to what they are capable of.

      January 8, 2014 at 8:21 pm |
    • jkflipflop

      Maybe he'll finally see how stupid it is to keep throwing your religion in someone's face and how hateful christians really are when they know you don't follow the same pattern of brainwash as the rest. It's started already. He's been fired from two christian school jobs because of a "thought experiment".

      January 8, 2014 at 8:24 pm |
    • Eis

      Sorry to report that it is certainly of great risk professionally and personally to not be "of a church" in the United States.

      I am not an Atheist. I do not belong to a church or declare any religion to be mine. I no longer state this or anything that relates to my standings of religious nature publicly. I have lost work, colleagues, friends and family support because I have questioned or discussed religion / they are of the believe I am an Atheist. Which I should say has been "thrown at me as I was therefor garbage" numerous times.

      January 8, 2014 at 8:50 pm |
      • Buglebutt

        Eis: If you have lost work over expressing your views–that is illegal. And as far as losing friends, colleagues and family, well, they were not worthy human beings in the first place so no great loss on your part. I guess you must live in the same hellish "state" in which Cpt. Obvious resides. I can assure you what you have experienced is not typical of our entire nation. In general, for everyone concerned, it is best to keep your "religious views" out of the workplace.

        January 8, 2014 at 8:59 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      To openly profess atheism in the United States today is to make yourself a pariah.

      But religion has no place in the workplace anyway, so in theory there's no need to discuss it and people can stay happily in 'the closet'. Bringing it up however can have very negative consequences and people will ask what you believe in.

      January 8, 2014 at 9:00 pm |
  13. Darren

    Why do athiests insult God? Isnt that like insulting Unicorns? Why do you care so much about a being who you dont believe that you will find every opportunity to insult those who do beleive?

    January 8, 2014 at 8:14 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Describing god exactly as the book portrays him is not being "insulting," it's being accurate. Why don't you like the way your god is described in your/his own book? That's the real question.

      January 8, 2014 at 8:17 pm |
      • Darren

        So.. you use a book you dont believe in to insult a being you dont believe in. Of course that makes complete sense..

        January 8, 2014 at 8:34 pm |
        • Darren

          Hey, I have this book on Unicorns. Do you want to borrow it just in case you want to insult Unicorns...??

          January 8, 2014 at 8:39 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Again, moron, (<-insult) it's not an insult to describe a character according to his own book.

          Sorry you don't like how your own myth book describes your god. That must svck for you.

          January 8, 2014 at 8:41 pm |
        • GloopyPoop

          No, they utilize the book that Christians believe in, to point out aspects of the god that Christians worship, aspects that Christians fail to point out or acknowledge. When you point out the flaws in something you have to utilize the source material. Since Christians only acknowledge the bible as the sole source of information concerning god, that's the one that atheists use.

          January 8, 2014 at 8:46 pm |
      • Darren

        So its your goal in Life to seek out and destroy the faith of others? Can't you think of something better to do. So, you see this Christian and he or she loves life and is very happy. Would you rather take that away from them to satisfy your weird sense of meaning? I really don't understand. So, at the end of your life you can list one of your accomplishments that you attempted to destroy the faith of others every chance you got. Do you go into the mall when Santa Claus is there and randomly select kids just to tell them that Santa Claus is not real? I mean, come on man.. You seem like a very intelligent person. There must be something more productive you can do than try to ruin what keeps people from succoming to this cruel world... Something you can be proud of when your old and grey..

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

          Why are you so afraid of what your own book says about your own god?

          January 8, 2014 at 8:58 pm |
        • Darren

          I am not afraid of what my book says about my God. But the point is that you would be happy to tell me all about it. Why?? Would you get a big kick out of telling children at the Mall that the Santa Claus they are waiting in line to see is a joke? I mean lets see, I believe in God. This makes me happy. Now what is so wrong with my God. What has he done that is so bad according to his book?

          January 8, 2014 at 9:08 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Because, if you were to read about your god in another book, with a different name, but with the exact same stories, you'd find him unimaginably disgusting. Your god allows people to be tortured forever in a pit of fire, and he calls it "good," and you do to, but if it was a human or another god, you'd find it just as disgusting as I do. Your god drowned a planet's worth of women, children, fetuses, kittens, and all living things. That's just stupid and sadistic.

          Grow up. Your morality is sooooooooo much better than your god's morality. You wouldn't call eternal torture "good," like your god does; you'd call it "terrorism," because it is--plain and simple. Grow some b@lls and tell your god where he can go. He's a huge hypocrite. "Love your enemies" yeah, right. Aren't you better than this? Really? Aren't you?

          January 8, 2014 at 9:14 pm |
        • Darren

          You know, I think your right.. Ok. I dont believe any more. Now I have to go home and tell my Wife that I cant go to church anymore. She will not like this, but hey I can live without her and my two children, I dont need anyone or anything. Specially no Spagheti Monster in the sky. My sense of morals comes from my religion so I won't be working hard at work any more either. But hey who needs a job... Ok.. Your work is done here. You did good my friend. I am so much better off now..

          January 8, 2014 at 9:20 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Are you realizing that you are responsible for yourself, Darren? I know it can be hard.

          January 8, 2014 at 9:22 pm |
        • Observer

          Darren

          "My sense of morals comes from my religion"

          Only partially. Otherwise, Christians wouldn't know the Bible is wrong about slavery, discriminations, etc.

          January 8, 2014 at 9:23 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Well, you could always lie to your family because of your fear and just know inwardly that your morals are so much better than those of your god? Courage isn't your thing, I guess?

          January 8, 2014 at 9:24 pm |
        • Colin

          Actually Darren, when I lost the last remaining bits of my faith, I felt liberated and alive. It was refreshing to honestly face the uncertainties of life and the certainty of death with emotional and intellectual courage, rather than hiding like a scared child behind some primitive sky-fairy belief that every part of my intellect told me was untenable. I was about 16 from memory.

          January 8, 2014 at 9:26 pm |
        • Darren

          But Colin, that is you. My question is why should we or anyone destroy the faith of others and hope they don't go to burger king and shoot everyone. Lets live and let live.. My faith is at the center of who I am. I cannot unhook this as much as I cannot unhook my arms or legs. Thats me, I am very firm in my belief. I have proof that God exists, and that is whay drives my morality. And what is so wrong with this. I love everyone like my brother and do as much good as I can within the life I have. If I am this type of person but I believe in worhsipping trees, whats the problem?

          January 8, 2014 at 9:32 pm |
        • Darren

          Of course I take responsibility for myself, but I had an experience where I heard the voice of God. No not a still small voice or an impression in my head, I heard his voice as plain as day. This is my proof, but it won't help anyone but me. Funny, how it works that way. Having this experience as well as others makes my faith unbreakable, but others may have not had the experiences I have had and are susceptable to turning away from God. That should be a choice for them, they should not be pushed over the cliff. Have some respect for these childish, brain washed, foolish people.

          January 8, 2014 at 9:51 pm |
        • Colin

          If you truly heard a voice, I would seek help – and I am not being pejorative, I am quite serious.

          January 8, 2014 at 10:02 pm |
        • Darren

          It was only that one time, but to be fair I had a Knife in my back at the time, so you can say I heard what I wanted to hear right? There is always a logical explanation for everything.

          January 8, 2014 at 10:08 pm |
    • skarphace

      I am an Atheist and I do not insult any god. Yes, it would be like insulting unicorns or Santa Claus and therefore makes no sense. Why do you as.sume that as an Atheist I insult God? Why would that bother you anyways? Is your God so fragile that a mere insult by a tiny mortal would bother Him?

      January 8, 2014 at 8:17 pm |
      • Darren

        That was hillarious. You totally made my point...

        January 8, 2014 at 8:29 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Ummm.. No.. he didn't. Are you always this poor at logic?

          January 8, 2014 at 8:31 pm |
        • skarphace

          I did not call your God "fragile". I asked you if your version of God was so fragile that he would care what I think of him. If I did believe in a God that was so powerful and omnipotent that he created everything we think of as reality, then I definitely would not think that he would be bothered if somebody who didn't believe in him insulted him.

          January 8, 2014 at 8:43 pm |
        • Darren

          Yeah, So why bother? Go down to the mall when Santa Claus is there and start telling the children that Santa Claus is a fake. Really, why do you care so much?? If I believe in God, why not just say, Good for you and leave it at that? So, a person at your work has cancer and he or she totally believes that God is going to help them before they die in 3 months? Why not allow them to believe in whatever they believe in if that makes them happy. I really dont understand your intentions here. You are going to tell someone dying of cancer that their God is not going to do anything because he doesnt exist? I want you to tell your mother that you would do this. Could you do this?

          January 8, 2014 at 8:59 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          I would be more interested in your questions if you were more interested in mine. I think the reason for most of my posts should be obvious, and I would enjoy explaining the answers to your questions, but you show no willingness to fairly evaluate your statements in reference to your holy book and its associated issues.

          January 8, 2014 at 9:08 pm |
        • Observer

          Darren,

          Your points are mostly valid, but they have to work BOTH ways. For instance:

          Believers tell others that they deserve to spend eternity in hell for not believing all of a book that the believers don't believe all of

          Believers hypocritically pick-and-choose verses to trash gays while IGNORING the more important Golden Rule.

          Believers try to force their beliefs in schools, public buildings, etc.

          Wonder why non-believers get angry?

          January 8, 2014 at 9:09 pm |
        • Darren

          But you group all believers into one group. I am a believer and I would never tell you this

          January 8, 2014 at 9:27 pm |
        • Observer

          Darren,

          I never use the word "all" because it would be a lie.

          Everything I mentioned, however, does happen frequently. You talked about spoiling things for sick or dying people, for instance, but I rarely if ever see any condemnation for all the horrible things said to gays by people quoting the Bible.

          January 8, 2014 at 9:32 pm |
        • Darren

          Well, your hearing it now. I heard a story about a person who could not be with his gay lover at his death bed because he was not family. Certain rights seeked after by gay couples just makes sense, but gay marriage does not. Why not seek these rights and apply them to single people also. I don't believe in gay marriage but it is not my place to judge. We should treat everyone with respect no matter what their lifestyle is. And I formally condemn anyone bashing gays for their lifestyle. I will disagree with you but I will never bash you. The God I believe in loves everyone. So, if the intention of gay couples are to get rights like I said above than I am all for it. And apply these to single people. But I do not believe in Gay marriage.

          January 8, 2014 at 9:40 pm |
        • Observer

          Darren,

          Kudos for your (mostly) support of the Golden Rule.

          While you oppose gay marriage, you might keep in mind that there's virtually no chance you support all of the Bible's positions on marriage. The Bible supports FORCING marriage on people like r@pe victims, slaves, men whose brothers died leaving a widow, etc. Women were even considered prizes of war by God's man Moses.

          Why not extend the GOLDEN RULE to gays wanting to marry? How would it HURT you?

          January 8, 2014 at 9:50 pm |
        • Darren

          None of wich is found in the new testament. You might be quite surprised and a little disturbed how much I beleive in the law of moses, but the New Testament changed things, but that does not mean either is better just different for different times. We as wicked people could not handle living the law of moses could we.... The law of moses is very strict and does not work well in todays world. The reason I dont believe in Gay Marriage is the God I believe in does not believe in Gay marriage. God does not give equal benefits to gay couples

          January 8, 2014 at 10:03 pm |
        • Observer

          Darren,

          Jesus NEVER said one word about gays. So how did he oppose gay marriage? He had plenty to say about heteros and much of it was bad.

          Do you oppose ADULTERY by Christians who divorce and remarry? Do you have friends or family who are currently public ADULTERERS?

          January 8, 2014 at 10:12 pm |
        • Darren

          I have family and friends who are adulterers yes. I have family and friends who are gay. The fact that I cannot get passed is that God grants straight couples the ability (without help) to have children. This is a benefit he does not grant gay couples. Jesus did not say one word about gays, but when he was bashing the old laws, he brought up new testament rules for everything but he did not say one word contradicting the old law pertaining to gays. So, while I respect and wont ever bash my gay relatives and friends I cannot agree with them. That is ok, right.... There are many things that I beleive that nobody agrees with..

          January 8, 2014 at 10:23 pm |
        • Theology Steve

          Actually, when Jesus said he was to "fulfill" the old laws, by context and many definitions of the original word "plerosai" he actually meant the old laws are still in force and he is making them stricter. Uh oh!

          January 8, 2014 at 10:30 pm |
        • Observer

          Darren,

          "he did not say one word contradicting the old law pertaining to gays"

          Please say where he said that God NOW opposes slavery or OPPOSES FORCING MARRIAGE on people. Exact quotes please.

          January 8, 2014 at 10:34 pm |
        • Darren

          Sorry, gotta run..Hope to see you again on here, we will talk more.. Not sure what it will mean. But I wish God to bless you in the coming year.

          January 8, 2014 at 11:09 pm |
        • Joey

          If the majority of the county believed that Santa was real and wanted me to live by the rules of Santa I would totally tell all the kids that Santa is not real. However, since it is Christians that want everyone to live by their rules and not the kids who believe in Santa I come here instead.

          January 9, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
    • Chikkipop

      January 8th.

      2014

      8:22PM EST

      4,508,003rd time a theist has asked the very same absurd question.

      January 8, 2014 at 8:22 pm |
      • Billy

        I must have miscounted somewhere. I was a few off of your number.

        January 8, 2014 at 8:26 pm |
    • QS

      There's a difference between directly insulting your fictional character and using that fictional character as a means of satirically pointing out the childishness of your beliefs.

      January 8, 2014 at 8:23 pm |
    • SouthernFriedInfidel

      Um... do I insult god? How exactly would you know if I did? Just wondering...

      January 8, 2014 at 8:28 pm |
      • Darren

        Oh , I would know.. Believe me...

        January 8, 2014 at 8:30 pm |
        • skarphace

          God talks to Darren, real personal like, and tells him all of your sins.

          January 8, 2014 at 8:48 pm |
    • Felix Sinclair

      Anyone who is willing to question his beliefs is to be commended.

      January 8, 2014 at 8:35 pm |
      • skarphace

        Therein lies a contradiction. While it is true that your faith is stronger when you question it and still keep your faith, you will find that those who are more willing to question their faith in God are much more likely to lose that faith. This is why most Christian leaders do not want you to question anything they say.

        January 8, 2014 at 8:50 pm |
  14. Snow

    BTW, did you see how all the "good" christians, with their love/acceptance-of-all got crazy mad and pushed him away the moment he "questioned"!!

    January 8, 2014 at 8:10 pm |
    • jkflipflop

      Exactly. That's one of the foundations of brainwashing. Love those that think the same way, and push those away that don't.

      January 8, 2014 at 8:26 pm |
  15. Angelo Cabral

    I am not sure how someone can just turn on and off there religious beliefs, At least that't not how I perceive it to be.

    January 8, 2014 at 8:10 pm |
    • skarphace

      Exactly. You can't. It happens naturally, much the same way a child comes to believe that there is no Santa Claus. A child does not choose to believe in Santa Claus, he does so because those he trusts tell him that Santa is real. When he reaches a certain age, or an adult shares the truth with him, he realizes that Santa Claus is not real. He did not choose to lose his faith in Santa Clause. On the contrary, many children have a very hard time coming to this realization and wish they did not know what they now know.

      Faith is what you believe, not what you choose. You cannot choose to be an Atheist any more than you can choose to believe in God. You either do or you don't. Your faith can change, but you cannot change it merely by choosing to do so. Ryan Bell is not an Atheist because he still believes in God. Maybe he will be a true Atheist someday, but as long as he believes in God, even if he questions his faith, he will not be an Atheist.

      January 8, 2014 at 8:15 pm |
      • Imagine No Religion

        Actually, all living creatures (human and non-human) are born atheists. It is the indoctrination, from birth, of culture and brainwashing, which twists the pure atheist human being into believing in the lie that god exists.

        -–
        "God is a concept by which we measure our pain" – John Lennon

        January 8, 2014 at 9:21 pm |
        • counterww

          You act like John Lennon is some hero. Not. Also we are born with basically a blank slate... and our spirit inside wants to believe in God. You are provided that knowledge or not. Some teach their kids not to believe , others are defaulting to nothing, and others teach their kids to believe. My kids believe, and they are upstanding citizens. They have learned to love God and then love their neighbor. You cannot do one without the other. Atheism? just an excuse to be self centered, and be obvious about it these days.

          January 8, 2014 at 10:04 pm |
        • Imagine No Religion

          @counterww

          Congratulations! You win the "Most Judgmental Post of the Day" award.

          Nobody taught me to believe or not believe. I made up my own mind, based on EVIDENCE. Your assertion that atheists cannot be upstanding citizens proves that xians like you are the self-centered and arrogant ones.

          PS ... John Lennon is both a musical and free-thinking hero of mine, and I'm damned proud of it.

          -–
          "God is a concept by which we measure our pain" – John Lennon

          January 8, 2014 at 10:25 pm |
    • SouthernFriedInfidel

      You don't understand how they can do this... yet it's one of the most common human experience ever known! When you go to see a movie or read a novel, you VOLUNTARILY suspend your natural disbelief and enjoy the story you are being told as if you were in it yourself. Choosing to believe in a religion or not CAN be the same, if you aren't afraid of the consequences - ostracism, loss of employment, idiotic insults from strangers, etc.

      January 8, 2014 at 8:32 pm |
  16. Snow

    Erm.. so a man whose job is preaching about the unquestionable existence of god, lost his job when he decided to not believe in the existence of god?

    And that is a surprise, how? really, people are so logic deficient, it makes me want to barf.

    January 8, 2014 at 8:07 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Did you read the article.....at all???

      January 8, 2014 at 8:09 pm |
  17. skarphace

    Ryan Bell's next book, "How God saved me from Atheism", is due on shelves early 2015.

    January 8, 2014 at 8:00 pm |
    • Billy

      probably – it would not surprise me

      January 8, 2014 at 8:03 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      It'll be just like Job, too. He'll get seven times as many christian friends as he had before and they'll be prettier and wealthier and healthier and all that.

      January 8, 2014 at 8:07 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.

      January 8, 2014 at 8:14 pm |
  18. Doris

    The Deist God – the one that many of our government's founders believed in, was a Creator God. It was generally believed by Deists that this God did not play an active role in people's lives. Deists also did not generally believe in the divinity of Christ nor any of the magic of the Bible. Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin – even Washington were all heavily influenced by Deism – it's quite evident in their writings. Deism – born from the same age of enlightenment that gave way to the ideas of religious freedom that found their way into Virginia's law via George Mason and a young James Madison; the law that was used to model the U.S. Constitution and eleven of the Amendments that Madison would draft.

    I find the God of today's Christian Bible Thumper is an immoral concept. The alleged god of this type demands belief, when belief is only attained from ancient writings that are easily interpreted in different ways by people. It is an unclear path that has resulted in an estimated 41,000+ sects. Furthermore, a god of this type is allegedly an active god, that intervenes on its own terms and judges people at the end of their lives. If I possessed that type of divinity, I would intervene when a young girl is being raped. That's the difference between me and this type of god.

    January 8, 2014 at 8:00 pm |
    • bostontola

      As an atheist, I would have a very difficult time arguing with facts against a Deist God. It sure is easy with the Abrahamic God(s) though.

      January 8, 2014 at 8:08 pm |
      • skarphace

        As a fellow Atheist, I wouldn't even bother to argue either way. You want to believe in God? Fine. You want to believe in Hinduism? Fine. As long as your faith does not effect me, I could care less.

        Often times, when I debate theocracy with my Christian friends and relatives, they are surprised at my apathy on the subject. They expect me to desire to convert them to Atheism, much like they desire to convert me to their religion. If I never convince a single person that God does not exist, then I am perfectly fine with that.

        January 8, 2014 at 8:24 pm |
        • jkflipflop

          It all comes down to the natural human grouping instinct of wanting to make someone else think the same way you do. It shows you have power and it feels good. The problem here is it's rare to change another person's outlook.

          January 8, 2014 at 8:28 pm |
    • Darren

      But you look at things from a linear perspecitve. God is eternal. Would you rather have a hard life and eternal happiness or an easy life and eternal torture. You have to look at things from an eternal perspective.

      January 8, 2014 at 8:10 pm |
      • Doris

        I supposed I look for evidence and weigh it as I weigh other evidence. I don't try to align it with my hopes, goals or fears.

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

        No, we don't.

        We are finite creatures, not meant to live for eternity.

        The fact that billions from among our population fear this notion so much that they're willing to set aside reason and logic for superst.ition and conjecture is not "proof" of anything other than of how our species is easily manipulated into believing irrational things through our own fear of mortality.

        January 8, 2014 at 8:17 pm |
      • Doris

        "God is eternal. "

        I'm not convinced that there ever has been a God or that if there was one, that it is still here, much less eternal.

        January 8, 2014 at 8:18 pm |
        • Science Works

          But that is the golden hook eternity is it not ?

          January 8, 2014 at 8:24 pm |
        • skarphace

          ScienceWorks: and it is the great catch-22 as well. We are supposed to believe that humans could not have come into existence without being created. However, a much more complex creature that supposedly created everything we believe to be reality merely came into existence and was not created by anything greater than itself.

          If you do not believe that life merely happened, then why do you believe that God just happened? I have asked this to many of my Christian friends and relatives, and they merely say that because of my lack of faith I do not understand.

          January 8, 2014 at 8:27 pm |
        • Science Works

          By the creation story and that is what leads to the pearly gates ?

          January 8, 2014 at 8:35 pm |
  19. mysticyat

    First of all, he was not being atheist, he was being agnostic. He didn't say anything about no longer believing in god, only that he no longer prayed, went to church or followed the other trappings of organized religions.

    And you will please note how quickly his good "Christian" friends turned on him because he wasn't doing what they wanted him to be doing........

    January 8, 2014 at 7:59 pm |
    • Creation and Evolution

      I can appreciate how it looks like everyone is turning on him. But loosing religious jobs based on your religious beliefs is no different than how creationist scientists are marginalized by other scientists or facilities of education. You are ridiculed for have beliefs other than evolution and often held back or fired from positions. You recognize that someone that will not be espousing God at all would have problems being an effective religious leader/teacher, yes?

      January 9, 2014 at 3:33 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.