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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. adrifter

    A "freefall into the depths of religious doubt." Wow, that's completely unbiased reporting. As for Christians complaining about a fake War on Christmas, looks like there is a real War on Atheists. Imagine the outcry if someone had lost a job because he or she was a Christian. This story makes me even happier that I'm an atheist. Best of luck, Ryan Bell. Enjoy your time free from the clutches of organized religion.

    January 9, 2014 at 1:39 am |
  2. stef1

    My friend have you considered where will you spend eternity if your wrong. Consider this, if I'm wrong and God doesn't exist, and there is no judgement then I no longer exist. But If Im correct your fate will far worse than you can imagine. Repent before its to late.

    January 9, 2014 at 1:39 am |
    • adrifter

      Pascal's Wager. No one believes that silly argument. Anyone who believes in hell, should seek professional help. Try again.

      January 9, 2014 at 1:43 am |
    • FreeFromTheism

      amazing, simply amazing
      thanks for the Pascal's Wager.
      next!

      January 9, 2014 at 1:43 am |
    • Im James Also

      I don't get why this simple little fact is so hard for people. Consider what you have to give up to accept Jesus... wait for it.. Love your others as yourself. Have patience, be kind to one another. But even if your not perfect and fail if you believe your sins will be forgiven from your past and future. Just believe and let God in.. He takes care of the rest

      January 9, 2014 at 1:44 am |
      • FreeFromTheism

        Try making the same argument for Santa Claus.
        Do you believe in Santa now? No? Why not? All you have to do is let him in!

        January 9, 2014 at 1:52 am |
      • BrotherCavil

        I don't get why this simple little fact is so hard for people. Consider what you have to give up to accept Jesus... wait for it...
        logic, empirical observation, and rational thought.

        If you want to follow the golden rule, then follow it. You don't need a magical being in the sky for that. What kind of horrible person needs the fear of eternal damnation in hellfire just to be encouraged to do the right thing?

        January 9, 2014 at 1:54 am |
      • HalS

        You don't need to accept Jesus to be kind to others. Anyone who needs Jesus or any other outside influence just to be kind to others, is a malevolent human being who takes no responsibility to one's own actions. By your definition, Christians are the most sinful people. Oh don't worry, as long as you accept Jesus you can commit as many sins as you want – past and future. It'll be forgiven! It's what he died for anyway....good ole Jesus! Yeah, great way to evangelize Christianity!

        January 9, 2014 at 2:34 am |
    • BrotherCavil

      So basically, you're believing in god because on the off chance that he exists, you'll burn in hell when you die? Do you really think that an omnipotent being wouldn't be able to see through that ridiculous ruse?

      January 9, 2014 at 1:48 am |
    • Dave

      Consider this...if your "god" actually exists, and is as omniscient as you think it is, then it will know that your "just in case" belief is phony, and then you're toast.

      January 9, 2014 at 1:49 am |
      • stef1

        The fear of the lord is wisdom. God loves you, accept his son and you will avoid eternal punishment after death.

        January 9, 2014 at 8:25 am |
        • Dave

          The fear of a figment is cowardice. Your impotent imaginary friend is meaningless.

          January 9, 2014 at 10:59 am |
    • JP

      You say your god loves humanity, but then say he commands you to worship or burn in hell forever. If a person told you that they loved you and if you didn't love them back they'd torture you for eternity, I think you could quite confidently say they didn't really love you. Yet, you can't be bothered to apply the same clear logic to your religion. You can't really love someone under penalty of eternal suffering, and you certainly can't convince anyone else to love them using that logic.

      January 9, 2014 at 1:54 am |
    • tallulah13

      Humans have worshiped literally thousands of gods throughout history. There is no proof for any of them, even yours. If there is a god, the odds that it will be the one you worship are very bad, indeed.

      To make your statement valid, you must worship every god. Otherwise, you're most likely wasting your time, or even making your chances worse by offending the real god every time you worship the wrong one.

      January 9, 2014 at 1:55 am |
    • HalS

      Why is it so imperative (to you) that others believe what you believe? Do you get a door prize for making others repent? Even if you are right and everyone else is wrong, it really doesn't matter – especially to everyone else. You'll have your everlasting life. So what do you plan to do for an ETERNITY?? What have you done every single day of your life thus far? Do you intend to continue doing the SAME THING day in, day out – FOREVER?? Good luck with that madness!!!

      January 9, 2014 at 2:13 am |
  3. Harry Cline

    Interesting, has the good and devout 'religious' pastor ever simply thanked God for what he does have, or even prayed for those Christians in the world who go unnoticed and for God's glory not their own ?

    Hello Revered,

    Your atheism will only prove one thing, you never trusted in God to begin with. And now you dare to challenge God !

    January 9, 2014 at 1:35 am |
    • Stephen Kliewer

      Boy are you spiritually arrogant... you are the kind of Pharisaical person who would drive me away from the faith, if my faith were shaky.

      January 9, 2014 at 1:39 am |
      • Harry Cline

        You have no faith, you only have what sounds good to you. That warm and fuzzy feeling. You only want a God on your terms.

        January 9, 2014 at 1:41 am |
    • tallulah13

      Honest people question their faith. People who fear the truth - whatever truth they may discover - will never question. I suspect that this man will happily return to his faith, but he will do so with a greater understanding of his fellow humans, and a greater respect for others. And people like you will resent him for having more courage about his faith than you ever will.

      January 9, 2014 at 1:41 am |
      • Harry Cline

        I have a life time of living outside the realm of Gods blessings.

        January 9, 2014 at 1:44 am |
        • tallulah13

          So many people turn to religion when they fail in life. It's the only place they'll find "absolution" without actually making an effort.

          January 9, 2014 at 1:50 am |
    • Harry Cline

      When you can understand that God is not about religion you might then understand spirituality.
      Religion along with rehab are truly the last bastions of refuge for a scoundrel in modern times.
      And those afraid of faith do atheism.

      January 9, 2014 at 10:35 am |
    • Randy

      No "us vs. them" xenophobia here!

      January 9, 2014 at 11:00 am |
  4. James A.

    I had a Geology professor once who candidly stated that the subject of Evolution would come up frequently during the semester, that if anyone felt uncomfortable it, to remember one thing: You “are not” required to “believe” any of the theories discussed in this class; however, you “are” required to “know” the materiel well enough to pass the written tests”. I believe a lot of the anxiety religious people feel toward some secular ideas is that they will have to completely abandon all their current beliefs at once (like this pastor) before they can embrace new ideas. I think this would be very hard and unnecessary for most anybody. All you need to do is keep your eyes and your ears and your mind open, and you will learn new truths.

    January 9, 2014 at 1:30 am |
    • zulu

      If I beleive in God....I get everything?? If I'm atheist.. I loose everything....Not fair....and Iam atheist..

      January 9, 2014 at 1:43 am |
      • HalS

        You will loose everything, except your sanity – if your employer is religious.

        January 9, 2014 at 2:38 am |
    • BrotherCavil

      Yeah, but see the problem with that is that religion explicitly tells you to be close minded- blessed are those who believe without having seen (or something along those lines). It discourages people from asking questions because it is terrified that they'll find out that it doesn't have any answers

      January 9, 2014 at 2:01 am |
  5. Im James Also

    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 plain 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 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 a watch or car discovered one. There would be a whole bunch 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 9, 2014 at 1:21 am |
    • Guest

      It isn't looking at the evidence whatsoever because there IS no evidence there's someone outside the end of the universe. Zero. Zilch. Nada. None. And by that logic, something created God, so he's not even your ultimate power.

      January 9, 2014 at 1:26 am |
      • Im James Also

        huh? That doesn't even make sense.. You are doing what is called a category error. You are only looking at it from your own field of experience. God is not a created being... He is an eternal being meaning he see's all space and time at the same time. The first day of the big bang is still in his mind as fresh as what i'm tying at the moment and also your death in the future. God created time and space. Keep asking questions. Good one though.

        January 9, 2014 at 1:57 am |
        • Guest

          No. I'm not basing it on my own personal experience. I'm basing it on logic and science. You literally have zero evidence that there is any being anywhere other than some manmade book.

          January 9, 2014 at 2:18 am |
        • sam stone

          God IS a created being, created by man.

          There may or may not be a creator out there, but to make the leap from creator to God is entirely a human exercise,

          Which god it is is merely cultural

          January 9, 2014 at 6:03 am |
    • stef1

      Well said...

      January 9, 2014 at 1:32 am |
    • Stef

      I wish I could 'like' this post, instead of being forced to type this reply to show my support.

      January 9, 2014 at 1:36 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "It is plain and easy to see that a being with intelligence who is outside of time created time and space."

      Please explain how you can claim anything "exists" outside of time and space? Should be easy...making unverifiable claims seems to be really easy....and unimpressive.

      January 9, 2014 at 1:36 am |
      • stef1

        When you breath your last your choice will materialize into absolute horror. While the blood is running warm in your body repent and receive Gods gift to mankind.

        January 9, 2014 at 1:46 am |
        • Im James Also

          lololol that was great... im dying

          January 9, 2014 at 2:16 am |
        • sam stone

          your implied threats are dumb, stef.

          January 9, 2014 at 5:59 am |
        • Chikkipop

          "When you breath your last your choice will materialize into absolute horror. While the blood is running warm in your body repent and receive Gods gift to mankind."

          Wow, stef! That sounds exciting!

          Oh, by the way; could you tell us how you know?

          January 10, 2014 at 6:42 pm |
        • Observer

          stef1,

          Yep. If Hitler did that, he's happily in heaven with God. Christians will be SOOO PROUD.

          January 10, 2014 at 6:46 pm |
      • Im James Also

        No your asking some questions.. Its actual not that Hard. So many people think you have to have so much faith when its plain and easy to see. Well... If I gave you lottery numbers and said Hey "blessed are the cheesemakers" in 2,000 years from now on this day and month Pass these numbers down and your descent will win the lottery. And it happened... 2,000 years later than you might think hmm. that guy back 2,000 year ago... how did he do that magic trick? Or maybe he had a time machine?

        But here is a start. 1. God describes Himself thousands of year ago.. as being outside of time and space. Even before Albert's great mind revealed to us his theory of relativity, God revealed his characteristics. He is described as timeless. Rev 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,”33 says the Lord God—the one who is, and who was, and who is still to come—the All-Powerful –
        Job 36:26 –
        Yes, God is great—beyond our knowledge!43
        The number of his years is unsearchable.

        Exodus 3:14God said to Moses, “I AM that I AM.” And he said, “You must say this to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.

        I AM– Can you even understand that? He is in a state that just IS.

        John 1:3-4 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

        1 Cor 8:6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

        he study of physics tells us that matter and time and space must all occur together: if there is no matter, there can be no space or time either. Thus, before God created the universe, there was no “time,” at least not in the sense of a succession of moments one after another. Therefore, when God created the universe, he also created time. When God began to create the universe, time began, and there began to be a succession of moments and events one after another. But before there was a universe, and before there was time, God always existed, without beginning, and without being influenced by time. And time, therefore, does not have existence in itself, but, like the rest of creation, depends on God’s eternal being and power to keep it existing.

        Good questions.... Keep asking... Im here to educate

        January 9, 2014 at 2:16 am |
    • JP

      You know that a watch was designed because you've seen things similar to watches and know they were designed so you made a logical conclusion. Watch Lawrence Krauss' talk on "A Universe From Nothing" to understand current theories. Deciding that you can't be bothered to look for non-magical answers doesn't mean they aren't out there.

      January 9, 2014 at 1:40 am |
    • tallulah13

      Actually there isn't a single shred of evidence of any god. You have simply chosen the most simple route for your own reasons. You are no different than the ancient Greeks who saw lightning and didn't know what caused it, so invented a god called Zeus to explain.

      January 9, 2014 at 1:44 am |
      • stef1

        Consider this, if it turns out God doesn't exist, and there is no judgement that the bible promises will happen after one is deceased. Then I no longer exist. But if I'm correct then absolute horror, and darkness awaits you.

        January 9, 2014 at 1:53 am |
        • JP

          Oh good, Pascal's wager yet again. It is utterly ludicrous to say, "love my God, or else!" There have been thousands of religions in human history and most of them believed that by following them you got some kind of reward and by ignoring them you got some kind of punishment. I fear your hell as much as you fear the Hades of Greek mythology. And there is just as much chance the Greek's were right as that you are – namely, almost no chance at all.

          January 9, 2014 at 1:59 am |
        • tallulah13

          Which god, stef? There are thousands. That's the point. You have no more proof of your god than any other follower of any other god. If it's Osiris that greets us after death, you have spent your entire life ignoring him and worshiping a false god. You may end up with your soul devoured and lost forever. If it's Zeus, you will be cast into Hades for not offering the proper sacrifices.

          Every true believer of every one of those thousands of gods has felt the same conviction that you do. Every one of them. So why in the world do you think your feeble threats are supposed to scare anyone?

          January 9, 2014 at 2:01 am |
        • sam stone

          what if both of us are wrong, stef?

          what if it is a different god who is ever bit as petty and vindictive as the bible god?

          will you not be in deep trouble, also?

          pascal's wager is foolish.

          as such, it only convinces fools

          January 9, 2014 at 6:06 am |
  6. sam

    '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.”'

    The problem with Christians in the U.S. is they tend to do nothing except pray in this situation. What part of their religion tells them to not do something tangible. I, an atheist, have read the Bible and my understanding is that you should do what you can for your fellow man and then pray when you have the time. The act is more important than the prayer.

    January 9, 2014 at 1:18 am |
    • Michael

      You must life in Colorado, because you are obviously stoned. Religious organizations have been the largest supplier of assistance to the needy for centuries, and continue to be today. As an atheist even I have to admit that.
      Your kind of ignorance is making atheism look like anti-Christian. There is a difference.

      January 9, 2014 at 1:50 am |
    • J. S.

      Just like everything else in the world, there are those that claim to be something but do not follow the actual teachings of that religion. That is the case for some "Christians", "Muslims", and even "Atheists." Christianity teaches faith without works is dead. So if you know a Christian that prays all day, but doesn't do what they can to help a situation is foolish. Don't judge a group of people due to the ignorance of some. It sounds like this Pastor may have been a teacher but he has a lot to learn. We all believe in different things, but the core of all teachings is for us to love one another and to have respect for each other. Why don't we try working on that instead of trying to proclaim our belief as superior.

      January 9, 2014 at 1:51 am |
    • Reg

      I don't know what community you live in, but where I am from its the Christian folks in the community that are the most proactive about making things happen for people in need. Helping to repair a widowers home after a storm, or raise money for someone who is with out medical insurance and needs a life saving procedure. Our church has been there, whether its for someone who is part of the Church or not.

      January 9, 2014 at 1:51 am |
  7. oddly enough

    Why do we have articles like this which really bear no good or bad to society when Obamacare has mysteriously vanished off the face of the earth.........

    January 9, 2014 at 1:17 am |
  8. Guest

    You can't "try out" Atheism. All Atheism is, is a lack of belief in a religion or higher power. You either belief in a God or you don't. There is no set "Atheist lifestyle". So he basically just lost his job for no reason whatsoever.

    January 9, 2014 at 1:13 am |
  9. Mayaka

    When somebody starts to question the teachings from the Bible they usually end up where he is now. He is not the first.
    The only difference is that he is a pastor and has come out to say so. the teachings he advocates are un biblical,Gay lifestyle and Christianity do not agree. The Bible is clear about that no matter what the lying teachers tell you.

    January 9, 2014 at 12:57 am |
    • Adam

      "...gay lifestyle and the bible do not agree."

      Makes sense. Being gay is a part of peoples' lives. The bible is nonsense.

      January 9, 2014 at 1:07 am |
  10. Ex-Christian

    As an ex Seventh-Day Adventist, I commend this man 🙂 I hope he finds the truth on his journey and joins the atheist community for good.

    January 9, 2014 at 12:56 am |
  11. Rolph

    They all wanted to fire him for thinking gays were human beings, but knew the PR would suck . He blew it and gave them an easy out.

    January 9, 2014 at 12:35 am |
  12. James

    I would point out, that what he is doing IS actually consistent with the Bible. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 states "Test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good."

    This is simply his way of testing.

    January 9, 2014 at 12:33 am |
    • Bob

      Sounds iffy to me. How can one suspend a deeply held belief? It'd be like me trying to believe there was no gravity for a year – I simply could not believe that no matter how hard I tried.

      January 9, 2014 at 12:44 am |
    • Ben

      When I believed in Christ I couldn't "choose" to not believe for any time, and now that I'm an atheist there's no way that I could ever force myself to believe that stuff anymore. I can't see how anyone can make themselves believe anything. That's why Pascal's Wager fails so badly.

      January 9, 2014 at 12:49 am |
      • stef1

        How do you come to terms with belief that "nothing" created the entire universe, were just coincidences. How could any rational mind accept as that truth. That's way to many coincidences for it to be random chance.

        January 9, 2014 at 1:20 am |
        • Observer

          stef1

          "How do you come to terms with belief that "nothing" created the entire universe"

          Beats me, but Christians still say it happened. Supposedly, God came from nothing and then created everything from nothing.

          January 9, 2014 at 1:32 am |
        • BrotherCavil

          Atheists do not say that nothing created the universe. They say that we don't *know* what created the universe, but let's keep exploring, and one day we will know. Theists say "it was god" and then go home. That is why religion never leads to anything and science leads to countless discoveries and inventions that are now surpassing the "miracles" in the bible. You know how jesus let the blind see? Go look up "retinal prosthesis"

          January 9, 2014 at 1:36 am |
        • JP

          A rational mind can stop believing in the fairy tale fed to it from childhood and start actually learning. There are good theories on how the universe came about that have nothing to do with magic. It is far easier for me to believe that this universe – that is almost entirely inimical to life, even on the little tiny piece of it that we evolved on – was an accident. To believe this vast universe mostly filled with utter nothingness was somehow "made for mankind" is the ultimate nonsense.

          January 9, 2014 at 1:49 am |
    • fsmgroupie

      if he dies in the next ten months whilst on his intellectual experiment does that mean that he automatically burns in hell forever?

      January 9, 2014 at 12:58 am |
  13. Reality # 2

    $19,000 for declaring himself an atheist? I do declare so where is my check?

    Before Mr. Bell, I am 🙂

    January 9, 2014 at 12:32 am |
    • Rolph

      Okay, first lose all your jobs and income. Now, does $19,000 still sound like a lot to a guy with kids and bills in a divorce?

      January 9, 2014 at 12:38 am |
      • Reality # 2

        "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.”

        Doing the math: $19,000/day X 365 days = $6,935,000.

        January 9, 2014 at 9:08 am |
        • Reality # 2

          Today's total:

          $24,584.00

          http://www.gofundme.com/62mb6o
          +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

          January 9, 2014 at 9:17 am |
  14. TopCat

    The divisive nature of believing in gods is disgusting.

    January 9, 2014 at 12:23 am |
  15. Yo

    They wouldn't call it faith unless it required it. The question is how much evidence you require to have it. Paradox. So shut up already!

    January 9, 2014 at 12:22 am |
  16. C P

    The "canon of skeptics"? This is a completely contradictory statement, and even if skeptics had uniform canonical principals, Nietzsche and Dawkens would be poor choices.

    My suggestion to get into the mind of a skeptic would be to watch The Character of Physical Law, a series of lectures by Richard Feynman and read some David Hume.

    January 9, 2014 at 12:18 am |
    • Reality # 2

      "David O'Connor writes that Hume "did not believe in the God of standard theism. ... but he did not rule out all concepts of deity". Also, "ambiguity suited his purposes, and this creates difficulty in definitively pinning down his final position on religion".

      Going the next and final steps without ambiguity:

      Only for the new members of this blog:

      Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

      • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

      • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

      • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

      • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

      • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

      • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

      • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

      • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

      Added details available upon written request.

      A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

      e.g. Taoism

      "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

      Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

      January 9, 2014 at 12:39 am |
      • David

        Let's see...no scientific proof of RNA to DNA, no scientific proof of macro-evolution, no scientific explanation for how the "Big Bang" occurred. Mountains of "theories" that are unproven but for some reason accepted as scientific fact, that are then the basis for more theories...I've always said, atheists have WAY more faith then Christians LOL

        January 9, 2014 at 1:55 am |
        • JP

          There is no such thing as "macro evolution." All evolution happens by mutations which produce changes which may be more or less advantageous to the bearer. You have probably been fed all kinds of lies about what the theory says. You should try learning about evolution, cosmology and physics before dismissing them. It doesn't take faith to study the facts, you just have to drop the barrier you've put up that blocks out anything that might prove your "faith" wrong. Open your mind.

          January 9, 2014 at 2:06 am |
        • David

          Oh ok cool, so you can tell me how RNA mutated to DNA? Because no scientist ever has. And yes, macro evolution is a thing. The excuse "it happened over a REALLY LONG TIME" is the common reply that atheists give when they realize they are cornered. But I'm waiting for your explanation about DNA though, as are the people who hand out the Nobel prize for science lol.

          January 9, 2014 at 2:22 am |
        • Randy

          Your ignorance of how science works does not change the fact that science works. You don't know what theories are in a scientific context, you make an argument equivalent to "people can't take strides greater than ten feet, therefore it's impossible to run a marathon," and you think that the lack of a full understanding about a particular hypothetical explanation is some kind of demonstration that science is an abject failure. To quote Aron Ra, "science doesn't know everything; religion doesn't know ANYTHING."

          January 9, 2014 at 10:45 am |
        • Reality # 2

          o More details from National Geographic's Genographic project: https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/

          "Our spe-cies is an African one: Africa is where we first ev-olved, and where we have spent the majority of our time on Earth. The earliest fos-sils of recognizably modern Ho-mo sapiens appear in the fossil record at Omo Kibish in Ethiopia, around 200,000 years ago. Although earlier fossils may be found over the coming years, this is our best understanding of when and approximately where we originated.

          According to the genetic and paleontological record, we only started to leave Africa between 60,000 and 70,000 years ago. What set this in motion is uncertain, but we think it has something to do with major climatic shifts that were happening around that time—a sudden cooling in the Earth’s climate driven by the onset of one of the worst parts of the last Ice Age. This cold snap would have made life difficult for our African ancestors, and the genetic evidence points to a sharp reduction in population size around this time. In fact, the human population likely dropped to fewer than 10,000. We were holding on by a thread.

          Once the climate started to improve, after 70,000 years ago, we came back from this near-extinction event. The population expanded, and some intrepid explorers ventured beyond Africa. The earliest people to colonize the Eurasian landma-ss likely did so across the Bab-al-Mandab Strait separating present-day Yemen from Djibouti. These early beachcombers expanded rapidly along the coast to India, and reached Southeast Asia and Australia by 50,000 years ago. The first great foray of our species beyond Africa had led us all the way across the globe."

          January 9, 2014 at 9:19 am |
        • Reality # 2

          These references should help you understand:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RNA-based_evolution

          http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIE2bDetailsoforigin.shtml

          http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/mutations_01

          January 9, 2014 at 11:40 am |
  17. HalS

    Pastor pretending to be an atheist for a year.....that's pretty asinine!!!! Abstaining from church or prayer does not make you anything near being an atheist. Belief or disbelief in a deity isn't a light switch you can turn on and off. It's not a diet fad!

    The best way to understand an atheist is to stop trying to convert and impose your doctrine upon them. You don't earn brownie points in heaven for snagging one! You only earn their (atheists) intolerance and hostility towards you, on earth. Besides – just for argument sake; if there really is a heaven, I doubt any non-believer wants to go to heaven. It's bad enough they have to deal with constant proselytizing in life. Who wants to spend an eternity in the after-life with the very same people who will supposedly be in heaven? Certainly not me!!! In that case, I'd rather go to H4LL!!

    As for the Pastor's former employers – shame on those narrow-minded fools!! As a fellow human being and parent, I hope his fortune changes for the better and he's able to provide for his family.

    January 9, 2014 at 12:11 am |
    • elenessa2002

      THANK YOU! I was going to write essentially what you said in your first few sentences. You don't "try out" atheism anymore than you "try out" Christianity. You believe or you don't, sometimes those beliefs evolve and change over time, but you don't get to decide, you just get to pretend. Frankly, this pastor sounds like he's basically a closet atheist finally coming to his senses in a none-too-graceful manner.

      January 9, 2014 at 12:23 am |
      • HalS

        @elenessa2002: You are very welcome 🙂

        It isn't unheard of; many people of faith at one point or another do question the strength of their belief. I have friends of all faiths and of no faith at all. In the Christian category; one couple – a Baptist Minister and his wife whom I consider adopted parents, are the most unimposing of all my Christian friends. Despite my non-belief, they have never preached to or condemned me and have always shown the utmost respect for my choice and opinion – extending that same respect to my children (their adopted grandchildren). If only all Christians could be like them! I too have the utmost respect for them and their beliefs. Although we've never been to their church or prayed with them in the 15 years they've been a part of our lives, we do celebrate Christmas with them. The same way we celebrate Diwali with our Hindu friends, Eid al-Fitr with our Muslim friends and Passover with our Jewish friends. I feel no offense when they pray and they are not offended when we do not pray. Must say though, Diwali is my kids' favorite of all celebrations.

        For my Baptist adopted parents; I do hope they find the heaven they desire when it's all said and done. If anyone deserves not to be disappointed, it would be them. They don't just talk the talk, they are genuinely decent and kind people. But however much I love and respect them, it still does not change my belief – or rather, lack there of.

        January 9, 2014 at 1:43 am |
    • Knowledge w/o understanding

      You really think it is close minded for a religious employer to suspend the employment of someone who is going to take the view that there is no God? How do you expect him to do his job and keep to his experiment?

      January 9, 2014 at 3:52 pm |
  18. mrhapiguy

    Not a brilliant career move for a pastor.

    January 9, 2014 at 12:11 am |
  19. bp

    Just another example of why religion has been one of greatest causes of hate and intolerance in history.

    “I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord’s work.” – Adolf Hitler, speech to the Reichstag, 1936

    {I know, no "Christian" could ever do such things! Only because he was an atheist would it be possible!!")

    January 9, 2014 at 12:03 am |
    • Chuckled

      It's really strange to see people come to the conclusion that religion starts wars, and then consider that to be deductive reasoning.

      By this logic, the holocaust can be blamed on science. I mean, Hitler cited Francis Galton's findings in his branch of eugenics as an inspiration to the final solution. So, science caused the holocaust. Science also killed between 100,000 – 200,000 people in J@pan when we dropped the atom bombs. Science also supported the sterilization of human beings up until the 1980s. Science also justified slavery and segregation before Lincoln and the Civil Rights Movement (respectively).

      Realize I don't ACTUALLY blame science. I study science; I'm studying to be a neuroscientist. My point is simply this: it's not fair to conclude that religion is evil based on human action. If you do, then you had better be ready to point a finger at science.

      January 9, 2014 at 12:09 am |
      • Bill

        Religion exacerbates the grotesqueness of warfare because it deals in in-groups and out-groups along line of good and evil respectively.
        With this thinking you now have a reason to put babies to the sword for they are Devil's spawn.

        January 9, 2014 at 12:11 am |
        • Chuckled

          No. Jesus ( the foundation of Christianity) never told us to go off and kill people unlike us.

          January 9, 2014 at 12:17 am |
        • Observer

          Chuckled,

          Or you could be like God and kill OVER A MILLION people (according to the Bible), too.

          January 9, 2014 at 12:20 am |
        • Chuckled

          If we are God's creation and he is sovereign, he can't murder. We all die. Whether by a flood destroying wicked child molesting women beaters or old age to a nice school teacher who gave all her money to orphans.

          January 9, 2014 at 12:27 am |
        • Observer

          Chuckled

          "Whether by a flood destroying wicked child molesting women beaters"

          Good FANTASY for the most part.

          God actually TORTUROUSLY DROWNED EVERY pregnant woman, child, baby, and fetus ON THE FACE of the EARTH.

          You SKIPPED that part.

          January 9, 2014 at 12:32 am |
        • fred

          Observer
          So do you have evidence the flood story could have happened?

          January 9, 2014 at 12:41 am |
        • Chuckled

          In the story, God warned the people they needed to change. They were so wicked, that the pregnant women and babies were doomed to suffer at the hands of evil. The flood put them out of their misery. The people that didn't listen to God's warning about the flood are to blame.

          And death is not the final outcome with God.

          January 9, 2014 at 12:43 am |
        • Observer

          fred

          "Observer. So do you have evidence the flood story could have happened?"

          Nope, only your Bible which you claim is correct and inspired by God himself.

          January 9, 2014 at 12:45 am |
        • Theology Steve

          Yeah! First God slaughters them, then he tortures them forever! Because he is a loving god!

          January 9, 2014 at 12:46 am |
        • Observer

          Chuckled

          "They were so wicked, that the pregnant women and babies were doomed to suffer at the hands of evil."

          Obviously you don't believe in "free will", but please become apparently the FIRST PERSON in HISTORY, to tell us EXACTLY what sins the babies and fetuses HAD COMMITTED.

          January 9, 2014 at 12:48 am |
        • Chuckled

          The flood killed them. And God destroys evil. He doesn't eternally torture people.

          January 9, 2014 at 12:49 am |
        • Chuckled

          "to tell us EXACTLY what sins the babies and fetuses HAD COMMITTED."

          They committed NO SINS. When babies dies and fetuses are not born, it is not because of a sin they commit. They died because their parents were so evil and wicked there was no hope for them.

          January 9, 2014 at 12:53 am |
        • Observer

          Chuckled

          "The flood killed them. And God destroys evil. He doesn't eternally torture people."

          God MADE the flood. He killed them. God created Satan and hell and sends people there.

          Please read a Bible and study Christianity.

          January 9, 2014 at 12:54 am |
        • fred

          Observer
          So, you have no evidence against God by your own admission. If the Bible is your source and you have discredited that source then you are either a hypocrite, troll or suffer from some mental disorder. Which is it?

          January 9, 2014 at 12:54 am |
        • Observer

          fred,

          lol. Try again.

          EVERYONE just picks and chooses from the Bible.

          January 9, 2014 at 12:56 am |
        • Chuckled

          Observer

          God destroys evil in hell. He doesn't allow it to exist anymore.

          “The wages of sin is death” (not eternal life in hell fire) – from the Bible! Romans 6:23

          January 9, 2014 at 12:59 am |
        • Observer

          Chuckled,

          "They committed NO SINS. When babies dies and fetuses are not born, it is not because of a sin they commit. They died because their parents were so evil and wicked there was no hope for them."

          Do YOU believe that children should be punished or KILLED for the sins of their parents? What did God say about that?

          January 9, 2014 at 1:04 am |
        • Chuckled

          I don't think they should be punished for their parents errors. But, we don't live in a perfect world. If a parent is negligent, the offspring might suffer.
          If I know there is a flash flood warning, and I take my child to a river bank to play and my child gets washed away, it was not the child's fault she died. It was mine. I should have heeded the warning and protected my child.
          Either way, this world has consequences.

          January 9, 2014 at 1:12 am |
        • Observer

          Chuckled

          "I don't think they should be punished for their parents errors"

          So you don't personally agree with God killing EVERY child, baby and fetus on the face of the earth, right?

          January 9, 2014 at 1:16 am |
        • Chuckled

          The story describes that they were so wicked they were beyond help. It looked like they were destined to destroy themselves. But God did offer a plan to save those who would listen to Him.

          January 9, 2014 at 1:22 am |
        • Observer

          Chuckled

          "But God did offer a plan to save those who would listen to Him."

          Please ANSWER the question. Children, babies and fetuses wouldn't know about the "plan".

          January 9, 2014 at 1:29 am |
        • Chuckled

          Can you cite the scripture that states he TORTUROUSLY drowned innocent children, babies and fetuses?

          January 9, 2014 at 1:45 am |
        • Observer

          Chuckled,

          ALL drowning is TORTURE. No one dies instantly. They struggle and worry about their fate. They desperately try for anything that will bring them air. Even SIMULATING drowning is considered TORTURE.

          January 9, 2014 at 1:55 am |
        • Chuckled

          OK, so you are adding the torture twist to the story. Can I add that those people that were so wicked, one of the things they did was eat all the children and perform abortions to kill the fetuses? I mean they were WICKED EVIL.

          January 9, 2014 at 2:01 am |
        • Observer

          Chuckled

          "OK, so you are adding the torture twist to the story. Can I add that those people that were so wicked, one of the things they did was eat all the children and perform abortions to kill the fetuses?"

          lol. Added a torture twist? That's a good one. What part of "DROWNING IS ALWAYS TORTUROUS" can't you understand?

          Since the Bible NEVER uses the word "abortion", please list the verse and then tell us where it says people were killed for committing abortions and eating their babies. The Bible does seems a little bit into cannibalism like "eating the body" and "drinking the blood" of a person in weekly ceremonies in church.

          January 9, 2014 at 2:08 am |
        • Chuckled

          I'm saying the people were wicked, they killed all the babies and fetuses. None of them drowned, because they were already dead.

          January 9, 2014 at 2:15 am |
        • Observer

          Chuckled,

          No problem. Please give EXACT Bible quotes to show you didn't just make it up. I'm still waiting.

          January 9, 2014 at 11:56 am |
      • Nogods

        Good people do good things. Bad people do bad things. But if you want good people to do bad things, religion really helps.

        January 9, 2014 at 12:11 am |
        • Chuckled

          Or banning religion, like the Soviets did, and then ma$sacring people anyway.

          January 9, 2014 at 12:15 am |
        • Ben

          They suppressed religious meeting, and muzzled pastors who could have criticized the government, which are things that many dictators do.

          January 9, 2014 at 12:20 am |
      • Ben

        Hitler needed to go no further than Martin Luther's own "On The Jews and Their Lies" for Holocaust inspiration. Everything Hitler actually did to the Jews Luther asked the German nobles to do in his own time.

        January 9, 2014 at 12:17 am |
        • Chuckled

          If Luther didn't bow down to the SS, Hitler probably would have had him murdered.

          “Christianity is the worst of the regressions that mankind can ever have undergone, and it’s the Jew who, thanks to this diabolic invention, has thrown him back fifteen centuries.” – Hitler

          January 9, 2014 at 12:23 am |
        • Rolph

          If Luther didn't bow down to Hitler? Which one is the time traveler.

          January 9, 2014 at 12:28 am |
        • Ben

          I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator.
          – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 2

          Anyone who dares to lay hands on the highest image of the Lord commits sacrilege against the benevolent creator of this miracle and contributes to the expulsion from paradise.
          – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf Vol. 2 Chapter 1

          I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so.
          – Adolf Hitler, to General Gerhard Engel, 1941

          And the founder of Christianity made no secret indeed of his estimation of the Jewish people. When He found it necessary, He drove those enemies of the human race out of the Temple of God; because then, as always, they used religion as a means of advancing their commercial interests. But at that time Christ was nailed to the Cross for his att_itude towards the Jews; whereas our modern Christians enter into party politics and when elections are being held they debase themselves to beg for Jewish votes. They even enter into political intrigues with the atheistic Jewish parties against the interests of their own Christian nation.
          – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 11

          The fact that the Curia is now making its peace with Fascism shows that the Vatican trusts the new political realities far more than did the former liberal democracy with which it could not come to terms. ...The fact that the Catholic Church has come to an agreement with Fascist Italy ...proves beyond doubt that the Fascist world of ideas is closer to Christianity than those of Jewish liberalism or even atheistic Marxism...
          – Adolf Hitler in an article in the Völkischer Beobachter, February 29, 1929, on the new Lateran Treaty between Mussolini's fascist government and the Vatican

          January 9, 2014 at 12:45 am |
        • Chuckled

          Right. He said those things. He was lying. He hated Christianity and had a plan to destroy it.
          http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/13/weekinreview/word-for-word-case-against-nazis-hitler-s-forces-planned-destroy-german.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

          January 9, 2014 at 1:03 am |
      • Bill

        Ha. No, I guess he didn't tell anyone to do it. He's going to do it himself someday real soon, right?

        January 9, 2014 at 12:19 am |
      • Rolph

        If religion has a long extensive history of causing war, oppression and what-not, it is safe to say it is a source of evil. The religion itself is the source of the divisiveness. What you are pointing to with science is rather the opposite, that it takes people to misunderstand or misuse it to get an evil outcome. As we see today, the hatred is right in the scriptures, but it takes humans to take scientific things and fly them into buildings.

        January 9, 2014 at 12:21 am |
        • Chuckled

          The evilness comes from within people. They can change religion, science and history to serve their own purposes. A religion that stresses love and peace, yet produces hate and war points to a flaw in the people. Not the religion.

          January 9, 2014 at 12:33 am |
        • Theology Steve

          Yeah, right. God mandates stoning mouthy teenagers to death, but religion isn't evil.

          January 9, 2014 at 12:49 am |
        • Chuckled

          Remember when Jesus went against the law of Moses and picked a prost!tute off the ground and protected her from being stoned to death? As in, went against the laws of the Old Testament? Right

          January 9, 2014 at 1:06 am |
      • Bill

        No neuroscientist should be claiming that science killed anyone. That would be so unintellectual. Science is merely a method of inquiry about and confirmation of things that manifest.

        January 9, 2014 at 12:22 am |
        • Chuckled

          I'm making an analogy. Religion doesn't kill people. People do. And people can manipulate religion, just like science has been manipulated, to harm others.

          January 9, 2014 at 12:29 am |
      • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

        Chuckled,

        Because religious claims are unable to be verified it is uniquely suited as a tool used by the unscrupulous and the deluded.

        January 9, 2014 at 12:30 am |
        • Chuckled

          You are stating the actions of man made religion; not the words of Christ. Jesus preached the exact opposite.

          January 9, 2014 at 12:47 am |
        • Observer

          Chuckled,

          Since Jesus NEVER said anything bad about gays and preached the CRITICAL Golden Rule, do you support gay marriage?

          January 9, 2014 at 12:51 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          The claims that Jesus said ANYTHING are equally unverified. The gospels are at best hearsay of the worst kind. Things he was claimed to have said can be twisted to suit the needs of the the unscrupulous and deluded....and have been time and time again. Christianity and Jesus are not the exception you seem to imply. Jesus' "words" are also often terrible advice

          'Take no thought for tomorrow'

          'Put your family behind me in importance'

          Simply awful stuff...

          January 9, 2014 at 1:04 am |
        • Chuckled

          I have no problem with gay marriage.

          January 9, 2014 at 1:15 am |
        • Chuckled

          There are different schools of thoughts about Jesus' teachings. I don't find your understanding to be that compelling. But that is what I would expect from a non-believer. I have a different understanding than what you expressed. Live and let live.

          January 9, 2014 at 1:17 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Chuckled,

          That is exactly my point...your "understanding" of Jesus, and Fred Phelps "understanding" of Jesus are equally valid because it is nothing more than an opinion...except it is framed as objective.

          Same goes for

          Catholic vs. Lutheran
          Baptist VS Protestant
          Methodist VS Presbyterian

          Thay can't all be right...they can however all be wrong.

          January 9, 2014 at 1:31 am |
        • Chuckled

          We are saved through Jesus. Not my understanding of Jesus. Not Fred Phelps understanding of Jesus. Not the Lutheran understanding of Jesus. But the actual Jesus. Some people do the exact opposite of what Jesus commands. Yes.

          January 9, 2014 at 1:35 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Please objectively demonstrate what the "actual Jesus" .....actually is.

          January 9, 2014 at 1:40 am |
        • Chuckled

          Jesus wants us to know Him, not just know about Him. It is all about God in relationship. You are free to seek that relationship, or not.

          January 9, 2014 at 1:48 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          That is an assertion....it is not objective and you did not demonstrate it.

          I really hope you don't practice neuroscience that way.

          January 9, 2014 at 1:55 am |
        • Chuckled

          I'm trying to help you understand. Forgive me. Approaching the material world via science is different than approaching the spiritual world via Jesus. Point is that what Jesus calls us to do is difficult. Not many are willing to do what He asks.

          January 9, 2014 at 2:05 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          I am trying to help you understand that what you are espousing is your opinion and is not objective or demonstrable....same as Fred Phelps. Fred also thinks he has a personal relationship with Jesus. Why should I believe you and not Fred?

          I do agree when you state...

          "Approaching the material world via science is different than approaching the spiritual world via Jesus."

          One is demonstrated....the other is asserted and is incapable of being demonstrated. Just because you have a "feel good" version does not make it true.

          January 9, 2014 at 2:19 am |
        • Chuckled

          **I am trying to help you understand that what you are espousing is your opinion and is not objective or demonstrable....**

          ...by espousing YOUR opinion?

          **same as Fred Phelps. Fred also thinks he has a personal relationship with Jesus. Why should I believe you and not Fred?**

          ...same as Jeffrey Dahmer. Jeffrey also held beliefs that led him to be an atheist. Why should I believe you and not Jeffrey?

          God wants your heart. Your love. Do you know how you demonstrate love? It is not a scientific method. It is beautiful.

          January 9, 2014 at 2:51 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          "...by espousing YOUR opinion?"

          Wow...the dishonesty of trying to put this back on me is a bit ....nausiating. It is not MY opinion you did not objectively demonstrate your version of Jesus is true and correct. Your version of Jesus COULD be the true and correct one. You have decided it is. Now it is YOUR job to demonstrate you are correct and Fred is wrong. This goes back to my original point that religion cannot be verified and are just assertions with no verification....which is what makes them dangerous.

          Your inability to understand this makes me wonder how successful you will be in nueroscience.

          January 9, 2014 at 9:22 am |
        • fred

          Blessed are the Cheesemakers
          Christians do not need to put their brains in the trash can because they believe in God anymore than your brain rises above the trash can because you believe in something other than God.
          Chuckled made a very clear point that yours is an opinion about Jesus just as Fred has an opinion about Jesus. Not so sure why that bothers you. As to Fred's opinion or Chuckled's opinion "the way" made clear by Jesus is not a matter of opinion. Chuckled's opinion and Fred's opinion however reflect who they are and how they related to Jesus. There is no reason to even think they would see the same light given what we know about mankind. When you claim all religions cannot be right your error is in that you confuse opinion and truth.
          As to scientific proof I am glad you agree objective proofs are limited to the material scientific while Jesus speaks to the things of God which are not the things of this world. You cannot accept and understand the limits of science then turn around and demand God conform to what you already agreed God could not conform to.
          All you have is opinion about Jesus and that opinion is without knowledge of Jesus. That would be like me offering my opinion on the color of your eyes.

          January 9, 2014 at 2:40 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          fred,

          "When you claim all religions cannot be right your error is in that you confuse opinion and truth."

          (you need to re-read what I wrote, that is not what I said.)

          I am doing no such thing. Truth is objective and can be demonstrated. Chuckled (and now you) did not even attempt to demonstrate his "truth". Stating something is "true" is not impressive, making such a statement does not rise above a "claim". Anyone can make claims, as you have again shown. You need to do more than "state" you claims are true. Until you demonstrate your religious claims are true they are no different than any other religious claims. THAT IS THE POINT. Your religious claims might be true, but at this point I have no reason to think they are because they do not rise above a "claim".

          January 9, 2014 at 7:44 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.