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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. Robin Burns

    If this pastor is so willing to "not pray, . . .read the Bible for inspiration, trust in divine providence or hope in things unseen" he must not have had faith in the first place! It's too easy to relate one's spiritual journey to one doctrine or leader and, becoming disenchanted with that, throw out God with the bathwater so to speak. True faith comes from within, recognizing that we are nourished spiritually and not from the world around us.

    January 8, 2014 at 10:22 pm |
    • Saraswati

      He's not "throwing out" anything. He's conducting a personal psychological experiment.

      January 8, 2014 at 10:33 pm |
  2. JohnClark

    Most self-described Christians don't believe in the God described in the Gospels who preached spirituality, sacrifice, forgiveness, and service to others. Instead most Christians pray for and expect wealth and health, they judge others, and they look forward to eventually going to the big mansion in the sky to continue there self-centered existence. Of course, any Atheist can argue with that dim-witted concept, but the actual spirituality described in the Gospels is entirely another matter. In any case, I think the real question to be addressed is: Are people nothing more than "smart" animals that live in a universe with no such thing as good and evil?

    January 8, 2014 at 10:20 pm |
    • PaleBlueDot

      "Are people nothing more than "smart" animals that live in a universe with no such thing as good and evil?"

      Isn't it obvious? Was the universe being 'evil' when it hurls a meteor to earth and wiped out the dinosaurs? Was it being 'good' when a random sperm out of millions fertilized an egg which became you?

      January 8, 2014 at 10:46 pm |
  3. Ben

    Clearly this pastor isn't a true believer…the fact that he was a pastor shows the problem with American churches

    January 8, 2014 at 10:19 pm |
    • skarphace

      Even the greatest spiritual leader will question his faith from time to time. In fact, questing your faith is exactly what makes it stronger. That is, if your faith can withstand the questioning itself.

      January 8, 2014 at 10:55 pm |
  4. Robert Raulerson

    I was born
    To a Virgin in a Stable
    Went in the Temple
    Knocked over the Money Changers table

    But I'm Hoooo-lyyyyy
    It's the End Times now I guess
    Yeah I'm Hoooo-lyyyy
    I'm Jumpin Jayzus Krist
    And yer bless bless blessed!

    January 8, 2014 at 10:17 pm |
  5. Robert Raulerson

    Stuck around the Vatican
    When I saw that the Big Ratz was lame
    Hugged this guy
    Who had leprosy
    Sarah Palin screamed in vain!

    Pleased to Serve you
    I don't like Capitalism!
    I hope my left-wing reforms
    Don't cause another Protestant Schism!

    January 8, 2014 at 10:07 pm |
    • You hate Jesus because of a Beast KIRKE?? Not smart, Sherlock?

      ******************** 🙂 ******************** $$$

      January 8, 2014 at 10:17 pm |
      • lol??

        That's my new name. it's really schmart.

        January 8, 2014 at 10:20 pm |
  6. SoMuchFail

    Wow, so he says he is agnostic, which is fine, but are you an agnostic theist or an agnostic atheist? He says he can just "take it off like a hat" which is patently false, you have to open your mind and question your faith to a deep extent to truly understand that it is full of contradictions and holes. He sounds like he could do that, but his statements are hard to believe when he doesn't know what atheism even is.

    January 8, 2014 at 10:06 pm |
    • skarphace

      True. You cannot merely say, "I am an Atheist", and viola, become an Atheist. Being an Atheist requires a lack of faith in God, which contradicts Bell's claim that he is an Atheist. Clearly, he has faith. He is merely questioning his faith.

      January 8, 2014 at 10:58 pm |
  7. Colin

    Can you imagine if every Christian's IQ suddenly jumped 20 points. Wouldn't that be a great world. Fewer televangalists, fewer churches, fewer believers in general.

    January 8, 2014 at 10:05 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Really smart Creationists too – what you're asking for may be like hyper-virulent flu.

      January 8, 2014 at 10:11 pm |
      • Tomato Bob

        "Really smart creationists" . . . BWA-HA-HA-HA ! ! ! ! !

        Good one.

        January 8, 2014 at 10:19 pm |
    • Bob

      I'm sure everyone would start writing up atheistic tests that prove they are smarter than everyone else.

      January 8, 2014 at 10:53 pm |
      • doobzz

        What is an atheistic test?

        January 8, 2014 at 11:00 pm |
        • Bob

          https://www.google.com/#q=cnn+belief+colin+%22(d)+christianity%22

          January 8, 2014 at 11:07 pm |
        • doobzz

          Which of the articles are you referring to?

          January 8, 2014 at 11:10 pm |
        • Bob

          The c/p by Colin. He has probably posted teh same thing 1,000 times on here.

          January 8, 2014 at 11:29 pm |
        • doobzz

          Ah, that one. I stopped reading Colin's c/p posts after the first dozen times I saw them.

          January 8, 2014 at 11:32 pm |
  8. Guess W Homeis

    My first reaction after reading the article was to write a scathing comment about the ex-pastor and atheist posting here but after prayer and reflection I decided to take a different route. As a Christian, I feel sorry for people blinded to the presence of God. atheism is an extension of mankind's rebellion against God. God gave us free will and we can chose our own path. I chose to believe in God and His Son Jesus. Most of the people commenting here here have chosen not to. We each will face the consequences of our choices. The immediate consequence for me is condemnation on this site and 99% of the people posting comments here will disrespect my beliefs and genuine concern for lost souls. As a sinner saved by the grace of God (not better or worse than anyone else) my prayer is that God may open your eyes to His presence, mercy, and love.

    January 8, 2014 at 10:04 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

      How do you know?

      January 8, 2014 at 10:07 pm |
      • Guess W Homeis

        My belief is based on faith – believing that which cannot be seen. It is somewhat like those that believed germs existed before they could prove it; or that a heart could be transplanted; or man could walk on the moon. The logic of the day said these things were impossible but the faith of a few, that kept searching were proven right. The whole known world thought Columbus would sail off the face of the earth but he discovered a new world. My faith gives me the courage to sail into the next dimension believing there is more.

        January 9, 2014 at 8:17 am |
    • Rusty Yates

      I feel sorry for someone so frightened of death that they will believe anything.

      January 8, 2014 at 10:13 pm |
      • Guess W Homeis

        To the contrary, I have no fear of death. I know where I am going. On the other hand, it seems to me that you fear life.

        January 9, 2014 at 8:21 am |
    • skarphace

      You cannot merely choose to believe in God. That is not enough. You have to truly believe in God to be saved. Merely saying it enough times until you actually believe that you believe it does not make you a true believer. Likewise, you cannot merely say, as Bell is attempting, that you no longer believe. Either you believe in something or you don't believe in something.

      For example, could you "choose" to believe in Santa Claus? You have to believe it in your heart for it to be true to you.

      January 8, 2014 at 11:01 pm |
      • Guess W Homeis

        You are correct, just believing doesn't do it. I am taught that to be saved, I must believe that Jesus was the Son of God. He was crucified and rose from death on the 3rd day. He died for the forgiveness of my sin. I believe this and have asked him to forgive me of my sins and be my savior. Afterward, the spirit does its work in preparing people to witness to a lost and dying world.

        January 8, 2014 at 11:28 pm |
        • skarphace

          That is fine, and I respect you for your faith. What I cannot do is believe in something just because somebody else says that they believe in it. I may someday believe in God. Right now I do not. It will take divine intervention for me to change. It will not, can not, merely be by choice.

          January 8, 2014 at 11:55 pm |
  9. Robert Raulerson

    Now when you slide down
    Occam's Razor
    You might as well jump in the ring
    With Smokin Joe Frazier
    It's gonna mess yer head
    When you shake that thang
    You know Gawd is dead
    From the Big Big Bang
    Break it down yall!

    January 8, 2014 at 9:55 pm |
  10. WhatDidYouSay

    There are two different types of Atheist. The comfortable Atheist who do not become upset or involved in something they do not believe in, and then there are the uncomfortable Atheist. The uncomfortable Atheist become upset at words like "Christ", "God", or "Christmas". At root of their discomfort, and unbeknownst to them, there is a internal conflict taking place. They know they should not be afraid, but yet they are afraid. They experience a fear in something their brain is telling them does not exist. Deep down inside they are evaluating that maybe there is a God and someday they will be held accountable for their mistake. So as the internal conflict begins to grow, their brain attempts to mask the conflict by transforming it into anger. And to justify their anger without acknowledging their fear, they ridicule God or spew out statements like: Christians are forcing their way of life on me, religion is dangerous, or Christians are holding humanity back. They will place themselves into a victim role. An uncomfortable Atheist will never really find solace until they understand the root of their fear. see Proverbs 1:7.

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

      Straw man argument. fail.

      January 8, 2014 at 9:56 pm |
    • Colin

      There are two different types of Christian. The comfortable Christian who do not become upset or involved in something they do not believe in, and then there are the uncomfortable Christian. The uncomfortable Christian become upset at words like "Gay", "Evolution", or "Science". At root of their discomfort, and unbeknownst to them, there is a internal conflict taking place. They know they should not be afraid, but yet they are afraid. They experience a fear in something their brain is telling them does not exist. Deep down inside they are evaluating that maybe there is no God and someday they will realize their mistake. So as the internal conflict begins to grow, their brain attempts to mask the conflict by transforming it into anger. And to justify their anger without acknowledging their fear, they ridicule science or spew out statements like: Atheists are forcing their way of life on me, knowledge is dangerous, or atheists are holding humanity back. They will place themselves into a victim role. An uncomfortable Christian will never really find solace until they understand the root of their fear.

      every bit as inane as your post....

      January 8, 2014 at 9:57 pm |
      • Dexter

        Perfect.

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

      There are as many different kinds of Atheists as there are Atheists. Likewise, there are as many different kinds of Christians as there are Christians. Every single person on this planet is a unique individual human being. Only when everybody realizes this will there be no more discrimination and bigotry.

      January 8, 2014 at 11:03 pm |
  11. Robert Raulerson

    Nail me to a beam and I'll bless you
    Stick me with a spear and I'll bless you

    I got the moves like Jayzus
    Got the moves like Jayzus
    I got the moo-oo-oo-hoo-ooves
    Like Jayzus.

    January 8, 2014 at 9:46 pm |
  12. RhubarbMan

    I respect atheists for their beliefs, but in every conversation I have never gotten a good explanation of life without a creator. You can break it down to the Big Bang and say that everything started with particles or anti-matter. The question is where did that come from? Whatever you believe there it has to start with something coming from nothing. Occam's razor says that something is God.

    January 8, 2014 at 9:43 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

      No, the answer to, if not the Big Bang, then what? is not God. The answer is "I don't know".

      January 8, 2014 at 9:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      No such thing. Even the argument for a first cause fails at the starting gate. Even if it did not, how could you hope to get from there to the anthropomorphic God?

      January 8, 2014 at 9:47 pm |
      • RhubarbMan

        My only point is that you have to have a creator for life of any (all) kind to begin. Perhaps its the concept of forever or the inability to belief, but there is not other explanation.

        January 8, 2014 at 9:51 pm |
        • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

          There is no other explanation THAT YOU KNOW OF. This s an argument from ignorance: I don;t know what the answer is, so it must be god. Sorry – major logical fail on your part.

          January 8, 2014 at 9:57 pm |
        • Landon

          Maybe there's no other explanation you can think of, but that doesn't mean there's no other explanation.

          January 8, 2014 at 10:02 pm |
    • Imagine No Religion

      Sorry, something coming from nothing, therefore there is a god, is not Occam's Razor. It is the fallacy called "god of the gaps".

      If (as you propose) the universe must have a creator, then that creator must also have a creator. Ad infinitum.

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

      January 8, 2014 at 9:57 pm |
    • Tomato Bob

      Ockham's Razor doesn't "say" anything on the subject, but the technique would not lead one to say " magic invisible superbuddy did it."

      January 8, 2014 at 9:59 pm |
    • Rusty Yates

      Occam's Razor is wrong. Many answers are very complex and still correct. A simple explaination is a good place to start but the real world is the test. When the answer fails against the real world it fails. The bible is biblically wrong. Almost everything in it that can be tested aside from a few names and places is wrong. Why would you believe a book that is mostly wrong about something as impossible as God?

      Now please quote God from Psalm 14:1 and tell me I am a fool. Then check out this chart of biblical contradictions that the fool god made in his bible: http://www.project-reason.org/gallery3/image/105/

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

      There will never be a time in history and it will never be duplicated for the rest of time, something coming about from nothing. It is not ignorance or simply using "God" to bridge the gap. Rather it is look at the evidence. It is plan and easy to see that a being with intelligence who is outside of time created time and space. You don't have to have faith you simply need to know what your looking at. For example how do I know something is man made? If I find a watch in the middle of no where what initial makes me think obviously a person made that watch? I don't have to see it being built to actually know a person with a brain designed this gadget that is sitting in the middle of the forest. You know its man made because it actually serves a purpose. From a window in a house or a brush. Everything Man makes has a purpose behind it. If all the engineers on earth died and all the engineering schools and libraries burned. If all electronic data on engineering zapped away and then we forward time 10,000 years or so and a society that never seen watch or car saw discovered one. There would be a whole blog of people speculating that this watch grew out of nature and/or I just don't know where it comes from. I will choose not to believe a created being must have created this thing with a design to it. It takes more faith not to believe what is plain and easy to see. Its very obvious when you just look at the stars and the complexity of gravity space and time that a conscious decision making being ordered His knowledge and understanding. Just as a simple man can create a watch, an infinitely brilliant being created a universe so big and complex that humanity will never be able to explore it all. It would take an infinite amount of time to master and explore the universe. Its easy and its plain to see. Now I would hope we can be humble and trust that God knows what he is doing and submit ourselves to Him.

      January 8, 2014 at 10:30 pm |
      • Imagine No Religion

        This is the logical fallacy of Argument From Design.

        FAIL

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

        January 8, 2014 at 10:45 pm |
    • skarphace

      My only question to you would be "Why stop with the creator?" Where did the creator come from? Was he always there, or was he created by something greater than himself? How is it that your belief that God has always been here and was not created more valid than an Atheists claim that matter was always here and was not created. If nothing can be created out of nothing, and we now have something, then that is merely proof that there was never nothing. It is not proof in God.

      January 8, 2014 at 11:07 pm |
  13. Cathy

    Would we even be having this conversation if this man had said he was a global warming advocate and science teacher and he publicly announced that he no longer really believed in global warming, refused to teach it to his students, and had every intention of violating his pledge to stick to the required science curriculum? Would people be sending him money? I doubt it. The fact that the article is about "religion" makes everyone lose their ability to think critically. This man should be able to believe anything he wants to believe, but he also has to suffer the consequences of his actions. i.e. He won't be getting any money from me.

    January 8, 2014 at 9:42 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      He would be Elvis to the Tea Party Republicans.

      January 8, 2014 at 9:43 pm |
    • Jeffrey

      Of course he won't be getting any money from you... you're a good Christian.

      January 8, 2014 at 9:57 pm |
  14. innerpull

    oh how revolutionary – people are turning to ask personal questions of doubt who once held a belief based on faith...which has surely not happened to most people with faith? this surely shows just how distracted people have been in their consumerist modern alternate reality – to feed a slanted news observation (amongst many) for the sake of affirming their non-belief in no-thing via the doubt and compromise of religious figures in a characteristic us vs. them angle. do you see? does everyone see that this is picking up speed? LOOK! doubt is sweeping the nation! this is NEW!

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

      Talk about slant... people in glass houses...

      January 8, 2014 at 10:00 pm |
    • Lindy

      Even Mother Theresa questioned there being a god. She couldn't understand how a god would allow all this suffering.

      January 8, 2014 at 10:33 pm |
  15. Dawn M

    I didn't know Al Franken was a pastor.

    January 8, 2014 at 9:39 pm |
    • Lars

      Lmao! I said that a few pages back! I'm glad I'm not the only one that noticed!

      January 8, 2014 at 10:32 pm |
  16. OldSchool

    Clickbait!

    January 8, 2014 at 9:38 pm |
  17. Robert Raulerson

    I got the moves like Jayzus
    Got the moves like Jayzus
    I got the moo-oo-oo-hoo-ooves
    Like Jayzus!

    January 8, 2014 at 9:37 pm |
  18. Colin

    As knowledge expands, God contracts. Would not one expect the opposite, if he were real? As we probed the inner workings of the atom, delved deeply into the human mind and body and set our targets on the distant galaxies, wouldn't we expect to see greater evidence of God.

    Why is the opposite true. Why is he always "around the next corner," "over the next hill," hiding like a furtive pervert in the shadows of uncertainty and ignorance.

    Why does he require faith to believe in him? Why not just stop the hiding game and reveal himself? Is not the easiest, most painfully obvious solution that he exists only in our minds.

    January 8, 2014 at 9:21 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Well, God's a lot like Tinkerbell. He really needs you to believe. And clap your hands real hard every now and then.

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

        No, that would be an idol.

        Tinkerbell is fake whether you believe in her or not.

        God is almighty whether you believe in Him or not.

        January 8, 2014 at 9:36 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Regarding your God, that's not really something you can know, is it, AE?

          January 8, 2014 at 9:39 pm |
        • AE

          Incorrect.

          January 8, 2014 at 9:45 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Then can you demonstrate that it is fact?

          January 8, 2014 at 9:49 pm |
        • AE

          Are you asking how to gain knowledge of God's will for yourself?

          January 8, 2014 at 10:01 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          I'd like you to demonstrate your God's existence to everyone, AE.

          January 8, 2014 at 10:06 pm |
        • AE

          What kind of demonstration would you like?

          January 8, 2014 at 10:13 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Let it be something effective.

          January 8, 2014 at 10:16 pm |
        • AE

          Jesus is my personal lord and savior. And he can be YOUR personal Lord and Savior too if you just choose him. Like a magical puppy in the pound. If you choose him he’ll be yours. And with your personal magical puppy will come all the warm feelings and love and blessings you can imagine.

          January 8, 2014 at 10:28 pm |
    • Voice

      There would be no point in life or free-will if God just came down and said, "I'm real, follow me" Every time someone had doubts. He wants you to choose him willingly, he doesn't force you to believe in Him or regard him as Most-High or honor his existence at all. The only thing he wants is a relationship from you, and he doesn't want to force you into one, he wants you to willing come into his Grace and let his love flow through you. Not knowing means you have to search deep within yourself to find your own truth, it won't be found in an encyclopedia or math book, not even found in the bible. I can only be found within your heart and soul.

      January 8, 2014 at 9:44 pm |
      • AE

        I've experienced this to be true. Nicely put.

        January 8, 2014 at 9:47 pm |
      • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

        @ voice: I think it's sweet that you can claim, with such certainly, to know the mind of the supposed Creator of the universe. That's like a virus claiming to know the mind of Albert Einstein, multiplied by infinity. Please tell us – how do you KNOW what this Creator wants of us?

        January 8, 2014 at 9:49 pm |
      • Colin

        Which, by remarkable coincedence, is EXACTLY what you would say if there is no god.

        January 8, 2014 at 9:53 pm |
    • counterww

      Typical colin atheistic nonsense. The more we see the complexity of the universe , of the human body and the DNA strand,, the more we see a designer that is place. No way this happened without a creator. It's pretty obvious we were designed, and that we are made , and our environment was designed also.

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

        obvious? Why? What evidence do you have for the existence of the Judeo-Christian god?

        January 8, 2014 at 9:52 pm |
      • AE

        Colin just posted an opinion.

        I know actual scientists that have a greater understanding of this universe and how it operates than Colin, and they don't agree with his opinion about God. No big deal.

        January 8, 2014 at 10:05 pm |
      • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

        Why would a designer – especially an omniscient one – create humans with a useless appendix, the remnants of a tailbone, the remnants of nict-itating membranes in the corners of our eyes, wisdom teeth, the remnants of muscles attached to our ears? Why would this designer design our eyes upside down? Why would this designer give the giraffe a laryngeal nerve about 15 feet long, which loops down the animal's neck into the abdomen, and then back up the other side of the neck, instead of just having the nerve traverse across the neck – a few inches?
        Lousy design, if you ask me.

        January 8, 2014 at 10:13 pm |
    • Knowledge w/o understanding

      Knowledge has expanded but why do you think this rules out God or makes him less likely? It just means we understand more fully what he has created. It is hard if not impossible to understand something that is outside our realm of experience/knowledge.

      January 9, 2014 at 3:39 pm |
  19. nobody

    I like the open honest dialog from Kurt Fredrickson regarding his position. I think Mr Bell is well on his way to finding the real god in man. great read thanks!

    January 8, 2014 at 9:13 pm |
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About this blog

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