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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. Bruce

    We live 50-80 years if we're lucky. During this short time, we don't have the apparatus to fully understand God, but many of us see the fallacy of believing in things like the 'big bang' theory where ordered things come from nothingness. Just as we couldn't do many sub-atomic experiments before the Hadron super colider, we have to wait until we can see God until we have the apparatus.
    Depending on how old you are, in 20-50 years you'll have more empirical evidence than you can possibly handle.

    January 9, 2014 at 5:01 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      A claim from someone who admits they don't have the apparatus to understand. Contradict yourself much?

      January 9, 2014 at 5:38 am |
      • Bruce

        Actually, I didn't say that. Christians do have the capacity to understand what will happen. It's written in the Bible. I said we don't have the apparatus to empirically prove God.

        January 9, 2014 at 5:44 am |
        • AtheistSteve

          Men wrote the Bible. You're a sheep following myth creators.

          January 9, 2014 at 5:46 am |
        • Chikkipop

          "Christians do have the capacity to understand what will happen. It’s written in the Bible."

          This, coming from a guy who says he has a science degree.

          January 10, 2014 at 8:12 pm |
    • atomD21

      What I have never understood Bruce, is why it has to be one way or the other. Why couldn't God have initiated the Big Bang to create the universe? The Genesis narrative was a way to explain to a very primitive tribe just how we got here. If they had gone into explanations of billions of years, particles expanding and gathering together to form stars and planets, and all the other wonderful discoveries we are now making, they would have killed the person telling the story. There is a supreme arrogance in our assertions that taking texts written thousands of years ago can be taken completely literally outside of the context and climate in which they were written. You wouldn't read a victorian era novel and then insist that life must continue to function in that way.

      January 9, 2014 at 5:52 am |
  2. dennis

    There is POWER in the name of JESUS
    BIBLE PROPHECY IS COMING TRUE
    people are being healed from disease, and I am one of them
    According to bible prophecy, we are in the very last stages of the end times
    Now that only means, the end of mans/government control of the earth, and people by guns.
    All signs are being seen
    THE MYSTERY OF GOD IS ABOUT TO BE REVEALED TO ALL
    The earth will remain forever
    laugh, mock, joke, or whatever.
    GOD/JESUS WILL HAVE THE LAST LAUGH

    January 9, 2014 at 4:51 am |
    • midwest rail

      "... we are in the very last stages of the end times."
      Men have been predicting the end of days since roughly 40 A.D. They have al been wrong. So are you.

      January 9, 2014 at 5:01 am |
      • midwest rail

        " all been"

        January 9, 2014 at 5:06 am |
        • Bruce

          Mark 13:32
          But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

          Nope, we don't get to know when the time comes. Christians are encouraged to live life as if the end time could come in their lifetime.

          January 9, 2014 at 5:11 am |
        • AtheistSteve

          First a cut and paste(something you admonished fidel for doing) and then a spin to cover the fail of end times prophesy.

          January 9, 2014 at 5:36 am |
      • guest

        …2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles. 3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation."… 2 Peter 3:2-4

        January 9, 2014 at 7:37 am |
        • G to the T

          Books of Peter = forgeries.

          January 10, 2014 at 9:30 am |
    • LakeRat2

      dennis and Bruce:
      All your silly notions come from man. Yes, science also comes from man. However, at least the Hadron Collider and other scientific tools are attempts to produce evidence of real truth.
      Do you drive a car? Do you watch TV? I see you are using a computer to read this article and type your message.
      They are produced, only because of the use of science to search for truth.

      January 9, 2014 at 6:09 am |
  3. Rose

    Good grief, it sounds like this guy had already walked away from his faith and found a gimmick for attention.

    January 9, 2014 at 4:35 am |
    • Bruce

      Yes, faith involves a spiritual change. It's not just an intellectual exercise. This is a publicity stunt by a person that never actually was saved.

      January 9, 2014 at 4:41 am |
      • joe

        "Yes, faith involves a spiritual change. It's not just an intellectual exercise. This is a publicity stunt by a person that never actually was saved."
        ------
        This guy was a pastor and went to seminary school! The things cult members will say when one of them leaves the cult. Amazing.

        January 9, 2014 at 4:50 am |
        • Bruce

          You can go to any kind of school you want, and still not be saved.

          I'm not against this man, but call it for what it is. If he was a Republican, and switched to being a Democrat, I think his Republican friends would drop him, don't you? Would you call the Republicans a 'cult' ?

          January 9, 2014 at 4:57 am |
        • Johnny

          The Republicans that exist today are pretty close to being a cult. They are certainly all crazy as hell.

          January 9, 2014 at 3:29 pm |
    • LakeRat2

      No, it is unusual for religious nutballs to actually desire and search for truth.
      This will, and should get some attention.

      January 9, 2014 at 6:16 am |
  4. mainepotter

    Leave a cult and they turn on you. Shocking.

    January 9, 2014 at 4:30 am |
    • Bruce

      Let's be honest... Leave any group, whether it's political, religious, intellectual, etc and you cannot expect your peers to support you.

      January 9, 2014 at 4:43 am |
      • Johnny

        You may want to find a new group of friends if they wouldn't support you in those things.

        January 9, 2014 at 3:30 pm |
  5. fidel

    Top Ten Signs You're a Christian in Name Only

    10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.

    9 – You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.

    8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.

    7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Al lah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!

    6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.

    5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.

    4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs – though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."

    3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some id iot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.

    2 – You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.

    1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, catholicism and church history – but still call yourself a Christian

    January 9, 2014 at 4:22 am |
    • Bruce

      Nice cut and paste, but almost all of these are 'straw man' arguments that don't represent a Christian's beliefs.

      January 9, 2014 at 4:44 am |
      • truthprevails1

        Most are right and how is this any different than christians copying and pasting scripture to try to make their crazy point???

        January 9, 2014 at 5:18 am |
    • Atul C

      Good BS. I can disprove all your points but that wouldn't make you a Christian. Christianity, follower of Christ is different than just calling yourself a Christian. As far as science is concerned, science is an evolution, not a fact. Everyday, we learn something new; mostly coming out with new theories invalidating old ones.

      January 9, 2014 at 5:13 am |
      • AtheistSteve

        150 years of research hasn't invalidated Darwin's theory of evolution. I guess that confirms it by your criteria.

        January 9, 2014 at 5:30 am |
      • Mr Gross

        "Everyday, we learn something new; mostly coming out with new theories invalidating old ones" Oh the Irony in this statement

        January 9, 2014 at 5:38 am |
  6. the dude

    I find it interesting that some christians are defending his termination from his jobs. Isn't it odd that being a religious leader is a paid job? If one truly believes in what they are preaching, should they be making a career out of it? Plenty of people work full time and then volunteer their free time for causes that they believe in. If you attend church and give an "offering" you are paying for that religious leader to tell you how to live your life. How can this structure be seen as anything other than a business?

    January 9, 2014 at 4:05 am |
    • Bruce

      Do you want a family doctor that gives up medical science suddenly, and decides to take up herbal medicine ? Would you trust that that person has stayed trained in his/her field ? Do you want that person treating your family ?

      Would you vote for a politician, that dumps all of party convictions and closely held positions, and does a 180 reverse ?

      Why would a person be surprised that he loses the support of his peers ?

      January 9, 2014 at 4:24 am |
      • the dude

        The question I'm asking is why would you need to pay someone to tell you what to believe or how to live your life? A religious leader is nothing more than a businessman if they make a living by preaching. A religious leader is not on the same level as a medical doctor. A medical doctor studies medicine which is comprised of facts. A religious leader studies their brand of mythology which is not fact but belief. A medical doctor spends many years and a small fortune to gain the knowledge they need to provide a very important service to the public. A religious leader's "education" in no way compares to that of a medical doctor.

        January 9, 2014 at 4:43 am |
        • Bruce

          Your first two sentences pre-suppose things that most Christians would not hold as true. Re-read how you are trying to frame it. We don't 'pay people to tell us how to think'. That's actually offensive to us, but I think what you are not understanding is that the Bible has cross-references and is deep. To really understand Christianity you need to study. You can try to read it, and you'll get the basics, but you dont get the context. You might not understand the exodus of the Jews, or why certain things happened in the context of that history for example. We hire people that have studied this, and can explain it.

          January 9, 2014 at 4:49 am |
  7. mdell27

    Typical typical typical. Of you holier than thou, judgmental Christians. You all love to play the poor me victim we are so persecuted card, when its you guys that are judging anyone who doesn't believe exactly what you believe. If they believe in God, thats not enough, you have to believe in Jesus too. If you are a democrat well sorry you have to be a republican. If you believe in global warming, sorry you have to disbelieve global warming.

    January 9, 2014 at 3:56 am |
    • mary

      I find your comment very judgmental and kind of mean spirited..
      How does calling Christians names and judging them, make you any different??

      January 9, 2014 at 4:20 am |
  8. Fladabosco

    Mr. Bell will find out that the problem with atheism is the same as the problem with religion; it claims to know what is not knowable. It gives answers on the nature of god as if the people were smart enough or special enough to know what no one else does.

    Agnostics like myself admit that we don't know. We are not denying the existence of god or even the good that having religion does. We are simply not claiming to know what god is, what god wants or to think that humans are moral and good because they follow some ancient scripture – or not.

    "God does not speak to us, god screams at us. God screams at us in the form of blue jays, hydrocarbons, dog biscuits and even the beneficial bacteria that live in your lower digestive tract. You may not think those bacteria are holy but if you didn't have them you'd pray for them."

    The Incredibly Reverend Sal Fladabosco

    January 9, 2014 at 3:41 am |
    • skytag

      Agnostics are just atheists who lack the courage to take a stand. I don't believe in God, leprechauns, vampires, or Santa Claus, all for the exact same reason. The idea that there is a being one could justifiably call God but fails to manifest himself in any way and does none of the things believers claim he does is just silly.

      January 9, 2014 at 3:58 am |
    • Bruce

      Fladabosco, I'm a Christian, but I see your Agnostic viewpoint as honest. Saying "I don't know" is the start. Aethists declare there is no God, and all of this highly ordered universe came from no where. They have no basis to say that. A student with basic training in the sciences knows not to accept something like the 'big bang theory', or other science lore. The very explanations are ludicrous. At least, as an Agnostic, you are not pushing an anti-Christian message, when you don't know.

      January 9, 2014 at 4:03 am |
      • Rich

        Atheists do not declare "there is no god". Atheists just reject the assertion that there is a god. We are quite fine with "I don't know" as an answer. Want us to believe in god then prove it.

        January 9, 2014 at 4:14 am |
        • Bruce

          Well Rich, the only Aethists I've seen or heard of on boards rant against God and Christians.

          January 9, 2014 at 4:27 am |
        • saggyroy

          Bruce – At least it is on these board and mostly harmless. The problem comes in everyday life when religious groups (aka the "Christian Right") act to influence legislation and diplomacy for everyone else.

          January 9, 2014 at 5:42 am |
      • truthprevails1

        Bruce: What you see is disbelief in all gods not just your special one and largely due to the complete lack of evidence for any of them. The reason christians seem to be focused on is that they are the ones in your face. No-one can say for sure there is no god and no-one can say for certain there is one. Christians attack ATHEISTS (note the spelling) also, so don't pull the persecution card here. It is christians who are out attempting to impose their views (ie: denial of gay rights b/c their book apparently says so; denial of women's rights; using the threat of hell; teaching dis-proven creationism to innocent children) on the public. You're well entitled to your beliefs, what you're also entitled is being called on them.

        January 9, 2014 at 5:14 am |
      • sam stone

        Bruce: Most atheists do not declare there is no god. Rather, we do not see any reason to believe in one. Would you consider a person making a declaration of certainty one way to be more or less honest than one making a declaration of certainty the other?

        January 9, 2014 at 5:54 am |
    • joe

      Agnostics like myself admit that we don't know.
      ------
      Rather than refusing to think and just sticking your head in the sand you can try and think. God would be all knowing and all powerful. Why would an all knowing and all powerful God make anything let alone humans? Remember, it already knows everything. And it wants for nothing. The very fact of making something indicates the God had wants which is contrary to an all knowing all powerful being. "Hmmm. I think I'll make earth with humans on it. Wonder how they'll turn out? Wonder if they'll love? Wonder if they'll war?" Nope. The all knowing God has to invent earth and humans and love and war and every aspect of each etc. etc. and It already knows how the game will be played and end before starting because It is the Inventor so no reason to run through the idle act of playing the game in the first place.

      An all knowing all powerful God wouldn't do anything. It already has everything. It already knows everything.

      January 9, 2014 at 5:04 am |
      • Pantheism

        What if that's because it already is everything?

        January 9, 2014 at 7:00 am |
  9. mikengermany

    amazing how fast the Christians in his faith abandoned him regarding his employement. All saying, we need to talk.... Even the Catholics i believe would allow monks to take a step back occassionally... And anyone find it iterested that they made him sign a statement of faith? Seems like business practice still takes precidence over faith.... perhaps those saying, we need to talk, really know that he'll realize that with or without faith, life runs its course. With faith though – we likely stay more hopeful

    January 9, 2014 at 3:24 am |
    • Bruce

      Not really, why would you hire a man that claimed to have one set of convictions, then abandons those convictions to pull a publicity stunt. I wouldn't want that person around my kids.

      January 9, 2014 at 4:05 am |
      • truthprevails1

        You shouldn't be around your kids or any kids!! Brainwashing them with the bible, in turn using the threat of hell for not believing and to make them be good is child abuse.

        January 9, 2014 at 6:12 am |
  10. H Keck

    -Im James Also started right off by talking about his "God," as if this being actually exists. No one in the history of the planet has come forth with any evidence to support the claim that any type of a god or gods exist. It is incorrect to talk about unsupported claims as if they actually are true.
    He says, Gid did this, and God did that. No one can describe the actions of something that has no evidence of existence.
    It is estimated that in the history of the world 28 MILLION gods have been claimed to exist: Thor, Odin, Isis, Helios, the FSM, Krishna, and so on. And not one jot of evidence backs up the claims that any one of these gods actually existed. We consider these gods characters in children's stories or myths. So, too, the christian god is a character in a story. Stories and books are written by humans. These books are man-made, and the god characters in these books are man-made. IT's all as simple as that.

    January 9, 2014 at 3:22 am |
    • PaulD

      It is not that simple. Lots of very intelligent people believe in God. Just because they can't prove it to you, doesn't make God unreal. And just because people have different experiences of God, doesn't make God unreal.
      Martin Luther King, JR used to talk about God like He actually existed. Do something as amazing as MLK and then get back to us.

      January 9, 2014 at 3:33 am |
      • Observer

        “The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. … For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish supersti-tions.”

        - Albert Einstein, letter 1/3/1954

        January 9, 2014 at 3:55 am |
      • Chikkipop

        "Martin Luther King, JR used to talk about God like He actually existed. Do something as amazing as MLK and then get back to us."

        You sure are confused about this!

        Someone talked about a god like he actually existed, and he did some good things.........and therefor this god exists!?

        All of these people did some good things too, and they don't find any evidence for such a being: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_atheists_in_science_and_technology

        My experts can beat up your experts, but in the final analysis, what matters is evidence; if you can't provide it, we're justified in doubting fantastic claims.

        January 10, 2014 at 7:56 pm |
    • K

      I think your basic understanding about what God is or isn't is a part of the problem. What you deny (that God is some kind of mystical sky being), I would deny too. God isn't the "highest being" but, rather, the sheer act of "to be" itself (Aquinas put is as "ipsum esse subsistens"). In fact, referring to God as Him isn't strictly correct ... but we don't have sufficient descriptors in our lexicon. As for proof of His existence, you'll never get any. At least, not the kind of firm scientific evidence you're asking for. You won't because you can't. As the prime mover (the reason for why there is something rather than nothing), God created the world. Hence, He can't be a thing "in" the world (i.e., a measurable thing in the world). As a result, there can not be the kind of direct physical scientific evidence of Him. Of course, you can see His fingerprints (so to speak) everywhere if you look for them. It's like looking at a piece of art ... you don't see the artist himself, but you do see some of him in his painting. I doubt this will change your mind regarding God (that wasn't my goal here anyway). But I do hope it provides more common ground on which we could speak.

      January 9, 2014 at 3:59 am |
    • stef1

      And what evidence can you present that proves with certainty that the universe sprung from "nothing". The gist of the matter is your afraid if God exist you'll have to give account for actions, and deeds while alive. So you decieve yourself in believing this fairy tale that no one is responsible for our existence, we just showed up here...bologne!

      January 9, 2014 at 8:14 am |
      • Johnny

        Wrong, I haven't done anything to be worried about.

        January 9, 2014 at 3:37 pm |
  11. George

    the great awakening is coming, ppl are becoming more aware that religion is the biggest scam in human history.

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

      Right, and the biggest scam on earth is CNN.

      January 9, 2014 at 2:37 am |
      • Observer

        qqq,

        lol. Bright.

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

      How has religion scammed me?

      January 9, 2014 at 3:03 am |
  12. Lost

    There is no real correlation between Godliness and the Church, Mosque, Synagogue, or Faith Temple at all.

    January 9, 2014 at 2:26 am |
  13. Im James Also

    The 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 2:23 am |
    • Observer

      Im James Also,

      You really shouldn't mention physics and God in the same sentence. To believe all of the Bible you must believe that all of the laws of physics are OPTIONAL and God temporarily changes them whenever he feels like it. In other words, the laws aren't laws.

      January 9, 2014 at 2:27 am |
      • PaulD

        No way. Physicist Paul Davies is Christian and won a Nobel Prize in physics. He said “A scientific discovery is also a religious discovery. There is no conflict between science and religion. Our knowledge of God is made larger with every discovery we make about the world.”

        January 9, 2014 at 2:31 am |
        • Observer

          PaulD,

          Get serious. How many scientists BELIEVE that the moon and sun SUDDENLY STOPPED in their orbit?

          How many scientists BELIEVE the science fiction of the Noah's ark story? (Were animals teleported in?)

          How many scientists BELIEVE that people can instantly turn into salt?

          Read a Bible.

          January 9, 2014 at 2:36 am |
        • PaulD

          Apparently some NOBLE PRIZE winning PHYSICISTS believe in GOD.
          So, perhaps you are the one that needs to read a Bible. Or perhaps seek an education in the physics field (don't be surprised if you professor is a Christian).
          Can God violate His own laws set to limit the human or physical world? Logically, yes.

          January 9, 2014 at 2:56 am |
        • PaulD

          Another Nobel Prize winning physicist Max Born said this:

          “Those who say that the study of science makes a man an atheist must be rather silly.”.

          Silly Observer

          “Something which is against natural laws seems to me rather out of the question because it would be a depressive idea about God. It would make God smaller than he must be assumed. When he stated that these laws hold, then they hold, and he wouldn’t make exceptions. This is too human an idea. Humans do such things, but not God.”

          January 9, 2014 at 2:59 am |
        • Observer

          PaulD,

          Still WAITING for the answers. ANYONE can get quotes from people about ANYTHING.

          Still STUMPED?

          Read a Bible SOMEDAY.

          January 9, 2014 at 3:52 am |
      • PaulD

        Max Planck, another Nobel Prize winning physicist said: “There can never be any real opposition between religion and science; for the one is the complement of the other. Every serious and reflective person realizes, I think, that the religious element in his nature must be recognized and cultivated if all the powers of the human soul are to act together in perfect balance and harmony. And indeed it was not by accident that the greatest thinkers of all ages were deeply religious souls.”

        January 9, 2014 at 2:33 am |
      • PaulD

        Arthur Compton, another Nobel Prize winner in Physics said: “For myself, faith begins with a realization that a supreme intelligence brought the universe into being and created man. It is not difficult for me to have this faith, for it is incontrovertible that where there is a plan there is intelligence—an orderly, unfolding universe testifies to the truth of the most majestic statement ever uttered—-’In the beginning God.’”

        January 9, 2014 at 2:35 am |
      • HalS

        I think everyone (both sides) is COMPLETELY missing the point of all the great minds who were or were not religious. Scientific discovery weren't made because of religious belief but in spite of religious belief. To have faith, does not hinder one from thinking beyond doctrine or themselves. In other words, being religious does not preclude you from having a scientific mind. I have in the recent past had the great pleasure of meeting Fr. Andrew Pinsent at CERN. He has a first class degree in physics and a PhD in high energy physics. Many Christian scientists believe in evolution. How can they not? Evolution is mutation (to modify/change). If evolution did not exist, we would have had a cure for all diseases. But cells and organisms (bad and good) evolve/mutate.

        Please don't confuse fundamentalism – the literal teaching of the bible with modern Christianity. Whether one chooses to have faith or not, is a personal choice. Calling each other stupid is just plain stupid! Faith is also none other than simply that – faith; it isn't certainty! And God may not be the Christian definition but who is to say there is no God.

        January 9, 2014 at 3:57 am |
        • Bruce

          Science developed and was propagated by people that believed in God. Look up the history, yes you can Google it. Any honest review would should you that nearly all founding scientists were Christian or Jewish. These founding scientists were looking for additional answers, so to say "Science advanced in spite of religion" is a complete falsehood.

          January 9, 2014 at 4:13 am |
        • truthprevails1

          "founding scientists were Christian or Jewish"

          That's not so surprising considering to admit to disbelief usually came with dire consequences. The percentage that actually admit to believing in god is exceptionally low (less than 10%)....google it and attempt not to only refer to christian sites/answers.

          January 9, 2014 at 6:15 am |
    • bjaneyre

      Im James Also, you made some very compelling comments. Thank you.

      January 9, 2014 at 2:40 am |
      • Im James Also

        I'm here to help. I have done the painful task of actually looking at the manuscripts and researching the bible and all world religions. I have about 3,000 on the bible and its historical context. The truth will set you free. Feel free to email me any questions at jamesg1431@gmail.com

        January 9, 2014 at 3:00 am |
        • Im James Also

          3,000 books

          January 9, 2014 at 3:02 am |
        • truthprevails1

          EVERYONE SPAM THIS TOOL!! Only a fool hands out a legit email of an anonymous blog!

          January 9, 2014 at 6:16 am |
        • Observer

          truthprevails1,

          So you want everyone to spam him for being sincere and trying to help people in his own way?

          You just made yourself look bad and him look better. Well done.

          January 9, 2014 at 12:03 pm |
    • skytag

      Fairytales don't educate anyone.

      January 9, 2014 at 4:02 am |
  14. Rob

    Of course he lost his jobs. It's like a pilot tearing his pilots license in half.

    January 9, 2014 at 2:00 am |
    • FreeFromTheism

      actually, the two aren't analogous one bit

      January 9, 2014 at 2:02 am |
    • Ann

      Funny, you don't need a license to fly – it's not like you forget everything once the card is torn...

      January 9, 2014 at 2:13 am |
  15. Im James Also

    Observer – We are all hypocrites including Christians who as the bible says are sinners and God could have perfectly not given Jesus to save anyone of us. That would have been completely fair.

    Its always so sad however that we think people who believe in the bible as Jesus. When I fail Jesus doesn't, When a pastor cheats on his wife or when there is gay bashing that is people Not Jesus. Instead it shows the reason why He came in the first place. And I am a bible scholar who sins everyday but understand I need a savior everyday and feel blessed that I have one.

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

      Are you someone who CHOOSES the Golden Rule when dealing with gays and their rights or are you a hypocrite who CHOOSES negative verses to put them down?

      January 9, 2014 at 2:00 am |
      • Im James Also

        Observer– I am neither those... However I am a hypocrite who knows the truth and teaches the truth yet does not in my everyday life am consistent with my behaviors. In fact I fail in every area. Sometimes I am overcome with lust, other time Greed other time power. However as my walk with God continues, that 3 headed snake has less control in my life. I do everything I can to not allow one of those 3 to become an idol in my life. When its Greed... I want more for myself and I don't help the poor women or man on the street and justify why they don't deserve what I have. When its power, I want to be controlling yet I don't ever want people to control me. When its Lust... well that easy to explain.

        January 9, 2014 at 2:31 am |
        • Observer

          Im James Also,

          Still no real answer.

          Do you choose the CRITICAL Golden Rule in treating gays or do you CHOOSE the negative verses about them? You can't have it BOTH ways.

          January 9, 2014 at 4:04 am |
      • Atul C

        Sin needs to be pointed, sinner needs to be loved.

        January 9, 2014 at 5:21 am |
    • FreeFromTheism

      speak for yourself
      just because you believe that your book tells you how people think or who they are, that doesn't give you the right to project
      cheers

      January 9, 2014 at 2:03 am |
      • Bob

        Says the person who's projecting.

        January 9, 2014 at 2:50 am |
    • tallulah13

      I'm actually a fairly decent person. I'm honest, hard-working, and if I do something wrong or make a mistake, I will always stand up, take the blame, and try to make amends as best I can. As far as I know, I have done nothing so horrible that atonement would require an innocent man be tortured to death. In fact, if I had done something that bad, I wouldn't never allow another person to be punished in my place. That's cowardly and immoral.

      January 9, 2014 at 2:07 am |
      • Mr Gross

        No worries, if you do sin, he will forget about it. Long as you pay your 10% faithfully!

        January 9, 2014 at 5:46 am |
      • Silly argument

        If Christianity is correct then your choosing to suffer on your own would have no impact to the earlier event of someone else already having suffered on your behalf. Your opinion is that it is cowardly, someone else's opinion would be that you are being stubborn and ungrateful. Either way it's just how you look at it. Sky tag's argument below is a better one, the argument of non existence.

        January 9, 2014 at 7:09 am |
        • tallulah13

          I don't believe. Plus it is indeed immoral to allow another person to be punished in your place.

          January 9, 2014 at 10:13 am |
        • Chikkipop

          " stubborn and ungrateful"

          Hilarious!

          Oh, the mental contortions the believer goes through.

          January 10, 2014 at 6:50 pm |
    • skytag

      You're right, your mythical Jesus doesn't do any of those things, because he doesn't exist.

      January 9, 2014 at 4:00 am |
    • Chikkipop

      "And I am a bible scholar who sins everyday "

      If you are a scholar, we're all in trouble. The ideas you spout are truly childish.

      January 10, 2014 at 6:47 pm |
  16. FreeFromTheism

    First off, you don't have to be an atheist to be without a religion, nor is the contrary false: you can be a theist without a religion.
    Secondly, one either believes or doesn't believe in deities. We don't get to pick what we believe (this is one of the reasons that Pascal's wager fails).
    The important thing is to be honest with oneself about such things.

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

      What if a person believes in deities sometimes?

      January 9, 2014 at 7:01 am |
  17. Cynthia Avishegnath

    For the uninformed – Fuller Theological Seminary is the MIT/Yale of Fundamentalist Christianity.

    January 9, 2014 at 1:49 am |
  18. Kevin

    I kind of feel bad for this guy, only because Atheism isn't "about" anything. It's very basically a lack of belief in God. It doesn't make you a better or worse person. It doesn't make you smarter or dumber. The only thing it does do is provide insight regarding the similar mythical natures of different theological schools. That said, it also doesn't mean being cynical, being selfish, or condemning people based on their choices and experiences.

    January 9, 2014 at 1:46 am |
  19. Dave

    Typical "christian" sentiment. "What's that? You're going to try and actually gain understanding of people who are different from us, rather than simply condemning them? You're fired. Good luck feeding your kids."

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

      The guy actually defends their decision on his blog. It was understandable.

      January 9, 2014 at 2:12 am |
    • Knowledge w/o understanding

      Your really going to get mad because he lost jobs that are based on your religious view? These are jobs right? I wouldn't employ a salesman who wanted to take a year off from sales. Not a perfect example, but would you expect an Atheist promotion organization to employ a proselytizing christian?

      January 9, 2014 at 3:56 pm |
  20. Observer

    Can ANY Christian answer this question?

    Why did the Christians in his church get mad at him for ACTUALLY CHOOSING to follow the CRITICAL Golden Rule rather than CHOOSING negative verses about gays?

    ANY answer other than HYPOCRISY?

    January 9, 2014 at 1:40 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.