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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. Divine Diva

    This is only truly possible if you never actually believed in God. There are some agnostics/atheists who seem more angry/disappointed with God because the world isn't as they think it should be or they simply want to live in the world and do as they please. There probably are some people who have genuinely never felt a connection with God.

    If this man really never believed, he is a liar and a conartist.

    January 10, 2014 at 11:56 am |
    • Jake

      You're just plain wrong. We don't know what the truth is with this guy, but it's certainly possible that he used to believe in a god and now doesn't. I do agree that he can't choose to change his belief – it's something that happens over time with knowledge.

      We are all born atheists, so if some people can go from not believing to believing, as all believers have done, there's no reason it can't go in the other direction.

      January 10, 2014 at 12:05 pm |
    • sybaris

      "There are some agnostics/atheists who seem more angry/disappointed with God.........."

      What is it with this mantra that atheists hate/are disappointed with a god?

      Do religionists just not comprehend that it is illogical and irrational to hate or be disappointed in something that you do not think exists?

      Are you mad at Zeus?

      January 10, 2014 at 12:11 pm |
      • Hey, Topher

        These types of people are the ones who listen to their preachers spout the same thing about atheists: agnostics and swallow it as truth...

        January 10, 2014 at 12:18 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          You haven't figured out, by the believers who post on here, that most of them are not that bright?

          January 10, 2014 at 12:28 pm |
        • sybaris

          Right, so they shouldn't wonder why these topics insight such lively debate...............

          It's like your 8 year old came home from school and said, "My teacher taught us today that 2+2= Fish"

          January 10, 2014 at 12:31 pm |
    • niknak

      How could anyone be disappointed with something that does not exist?

      January 10, 2014 at 12:19 pm |
    • Sungrazer

      Calling an atheist "angry" or "disappointed" is ad hominem. It may not be true, and probably isn't. But more importantly, it is irrelevant. It says nothing about the existence or non existence of god.

      January 10, 2014 at 12:24 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      I am not dissappointed with god, I am dissappointed in the character and mythology of god espoused by Christianity as being real and loving.

      January 10, 2014 at 12:25 pm |
    • ME II

      @Divine Diva,
      "There are some agnostics/atheists who seem more angry/disappointed with God ..."

      There are some theists who seem more afraid of being alone without a god, so they claim to believe in order to salve their lonlines.

      January 10, 2014 at 12:27 pm |
    • JB

      I would tell Mr. Bell while he has "left God" for a year, God has not left him and will never leave him. These are serious times and he needs to be on guard, so choosing to walk out of the Lord's presence and declaring it to the world is not the wisest of decisions.

      One of the first questions Mr. Bell should ask himself is: Why as a believer his life is no different than an unbeliever?

      Living like an unbeliever doesn't mean God stops blessing him. The rain doesn't just fall on the righteous. Jeremiah 17:5-8 Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. 6 For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. 7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. 8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it

      So the person living without God is also blessed, however the good that comes to him, he gives God no thanks for; matter of fact when good comes, he doesn't even see it as good.
      When a person continues in this manner, they become like Pharaoh and declare "my river is my own, and I have made it for myself"

      January 10, 2014 at 12:29 pm |
      • niknak

        Just like all believer's you have zero proof that god did not leave him.
        Maybe it did.
        Maybe it didn't.
        Maybe it does not exist.
        I will go with the last option until there is concrete proof to the contrary.

        Sorry you still need to have a security blanket to get thru your life.

        January 10, 2014 at 12:38 pm |
        • Ben

          Like the popular Christian explanation for God apparently not answering all prayers.

          God will answer all prayers, they say. He'll say either "yes" or "no" right away, or he'll wait until later to say "yes". So, if you pray for something to come true it either
          a) will, right away
          b) will, later on
          or
          c) won't, at all.

          Funny how believers don't realize that they'd get the exact same range of results after flicking a dime into a well.

          January 10, 2014 at 12:48 pm |
        • JB

          Hi Niknak,

          There's no need to be sorry. I'm perfectly happy and delighted to declare, He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. 3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. 4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. 5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; 6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. 7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. 9 Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; 10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. 11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. 12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. 13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. 14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. 15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

          Do you see the great privilege and honor I am bestowed with to be blanketed in Father. I'd not have it any other way.

          January 10, 2014 at 12:50 pm |
        • niknak

          You have no proof of that statement.
          Just like the muslims or hindus or any other religion who profess the same thing about their god(s).

          I could care less if you waste your time on some imaginary creature, it's yours to waste.
          What I care about is you believers trying to force your various myths on the rest of us.
          If you would kindly stay out of our government, our courts, our school, our medicine and our bedrooms then you would never hear from us atheists again.
          Oh, and if you could get your houses of myth to start paying their fair share of local taxes that would be good too.
          We non believers are tired of footing the bill for that too.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:00 pm |
      • Ben

        JB
        " for; matter of fact when good comes, he doesn't even see it as good."
        Can you give a real-world example of a godly good that someone might not recognize as such?

        January 10, 2014 at 12:41 pm |
        • JB

          Hi, sure.
          Your health. The food you eat. The water you drink. The air you breathe. The love of others. The clothes you wear. The rain that falls. The forgiveness of your sins. The ability to see, hear, feel, taste, speak.
          The possessions you have. The shelter you have.

          January 10, 2014 at 12:56 pm |
        • niknak

          You know JB, phuck you and your self righteous bull about sin.
          I don't have any sin, neither do you or anyone else.
          That is some made up cr ap that you bought into, so don't foist it on us.
          Phuck your god while we are at it.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:02 pm |
        • JB

          Niknak,
          I always say it speaks volumes when one is reduced to name calling.

          Your anger is unwarranted. Sin is a settled issue, in that Jesus was already judged and punished for all our sins, so all our sins -past, present, and future sins are already forgiven. I live in that forgiveness of sin, so I don't walk around with a sin-conscious nature daily. I suggest you do the same.

          righteousness means right believing, not right doing as many mistakenly think. Right believing will always lead to right living.
          So don't condemn yourself, because as John 3:17 says For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

          Blessings

          January 10, 2014 at 1:10 pm |
        • niknak

          Oh goodie, more quotes from the babble.
          Not only do us atheists not believe in it, but the vast majority of the world does not believe in it either.
          As they have their own book of magic spells to recite.

          It is pointless trying to talk to a believer, as they will never let go of their myth regardless of how little evidence they have to back up it veracity.

          A mind is a terrible thing to lose, to religion.......

          January 10, 2014 at 1:15 pm |
        • JB

          Let me just say that because sin is already judged and punished in the body of Christ, doesn't mean one should continue sinning.
          The person who does this is keeping himself in bondage. It's the devil that condemns and uses the sin of an individual to keep them in bondage and separate from God. The devil continues to deceive mankind by having them question the authority of Almighty God.. "did God say"
          That is why it's important to know the Word of God, so you won't be deceived by the wiles of the devil.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:17 pm |
        • JB

          Christianity is not a religion. It's a relationship with Father, His Son Jesus, and His Holy Spirit.

          I agree, the mind is a terrible thing to waste on the things of this world.

          And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Ro 12:2

          I know the things I say are foolishness to you because you only perceive with your carnal mind – only the 5 senses. However you were created a spiritual being.
          Research the difference between the creation of man in the image of God in Gen 1:26 and the formation of Adam in Gen 2:7

          January 10, 2014 at 1:27 pm |
        • James

          Evidence, please?

          January 10, 2014 at 10:12 pm |
        • niknak

          Again, JB, you bought into that sin bull, not me.
          Only your book of magic spells has that in it, and I for the life of me can't understand why you or anyone else would follow it.
          But for some reason you do, fine.
          We just wish you believers would leave us out of your little fantasy land.

          If you want to go out and howl at the moon, go ahead.
          But stop trying to force the rest of us to go out and howl along with you.

          Is that too much to ask?

          January 10, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
        • Ben

          JB
          Why should I accept the claim that your God gives us all these things and not someone's claim that their god is responsible? Why should I even assume that any god is responsible? I work, I get paid, I buy healthy food, shelter and good health insurance. What's so mysterious about that?

          January 10, 2014 at 1:38 pm |
        • Ben

          JB
          Come to think of it, why is it that anyone who seems to have an abundance of good fortune is often said to have "Made a deal with the Devil"? Does the Devil offer better deals, or does God only provide the basic necessities that one could otherwise provide for themselves with basic competence?

          If Christianity is a relationship with it's gods then every other religion can be describes the same way. I think that I've used the example of Mars on this very page. How is your believed closeness to Jesus any different?

          "I agree, the mind is a terrible thing to waste on the things of this world."
          Generally, when people don't spend their time addressing the challenges of this world, like paying the bills, we call them dreamers with their heads in the clouds, right?

          I'm not sure how you judge my mind to be more carnal than yours. Also, most humans all have the same five working senses, and minds to process what those senses are showing us. Are you saying that you have more?

          January 10, 2014 at 1:56 pm |
    • doobzz

      "This is only truly possible if you never actually believed in God."

      Yet another version of the Scotsman fallacy. I grew up in a very religious home and was a devout Christian for over fifty years. There were things that bothered me, but I accepted the explanations that were given me in school and in church. It wasn't until I had studied the bible for a few decades that I realized it couldn't possibly be true. It took a long time and a lot of bible study to become an atheist.

      By the way, it was my bible prof who told me "Never accept anyone's word about the bible at face value, not even mine. Always read and confirm it yourself."

      January 10, 2014 at 1:00 pm |
    • James K

      Divine Diva
      "This is only truly possible if you never actually believed in God."

      Is belief in God really that addictive, like Crack cocaine?

      January 10, 2014 at 1:10 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      This is only truly possible if you never actually believed in God.

      So you believe. However, as someone who did once truly, actually, completely believed in the Christian god, and no longer does, trust me, it is truly possible.

      There are some agnostics/atheists who seem more angry/disappointed with God because the world isn't as they think it should be or they simply want to live in the world and do as they please.

      Technically, anyone who is angry or disappointed with God, isn't an atheist or an agnostic. You can not be angry or disappointed with a being you don't believe in. However, someone can be an atheist or agnostic and be angry with the state of the world. One can also be a Christian or a Jew or a Muslim or a Buddhist or a Pagan and be angry with the state of the world.

      There probably are some people who have genuinely never felt a connection with God.

      And probably some who genuinely believe that they have. Even when that god isn't the god you believe in.

      If this man really never believed, he is a liar and a conartist.

      You can not judge the heart of another man. You can not know what he did or does believe aside from what he tells you. And judging him the way you are, by your own book's rules, means that your god will then judge you by the same measure.

      Are you sure enough of your own heart for that?

      January 10, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
  2. Jake

    As long as we're asking Topher to answer some basic questions...

    He claimed that God appeared. I would like to know when and why this hasn't made the news. I am confident this would be a major news story if it were true.

    January 10, 2014 at 11:50 am |
    • Topher

      It's only the greatest selling book in the history of the world.

      January 10, 2014 at 11:58 am |
      • doobzz

        LOL!

        January 10, 2014 at 12:06 pm |
      • Jake

        Yeah, they made a movie out of it. They have made movies out of best-sellers. But back to the point, would you care to answer the question?

        January 10, 2014 at 12:06 pm |
      • sybaris

        Circular Reasoning

        January 10, 2014 at 12:13 pm |
      • Fan2C

        Topher,

        And the top two best-selling movies (adjusted for ticket price value) of all time are:

        Gone with the Wind
        and
        Star Wars

        One stirring, romantic historical fiction and the other, fantasy/sci-fi - just like your book. It sells!

        January 10, 2014 at 12:17 pm |
        • Jake

          Whoa, that means, if I can borrow Topher's logic for a minute, that Star Wars is also true! I really would have liked to meet Yoda before he died.

          January 10, 2014 at 12:27 pm |
      • Ben

        Topher
        The Bible, the Qur'an and Quotations from Chairman Mao are all claimed to be the top-selling books of all time. No actual data proves any particular claim.

        January 10, 2014 at 12:37 pm |
      • Topher

        Jake
        " But back to the point, would you care to answer the question?"

        Was there a question?

        January 10, 2014 at 12:56 pm |
        • Jake

          Um, yes, there was. Why don't you read the post before you respond and then you won't have to ask me what was in the first post?

          I wrote, "He (Topher) claimed that God appeared. I would like to know when and why this hasn't made the news." Sorry if you didn't recognize the question without a question mark. I will rephrase it: When did this happen and why hasn't it made the news? Please, only actual evidence, nothing from the bible.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:07 pm |
        • Topher

          So your question is when did it make the news? About 2000 years ago.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:15 pm |
        • Fan2C

          Topher,
          "when did it make the news? About 2000 years ago."

          Trouble is, though, it did not make the news then. You had 4 historical fiction/fantasy pieces and a bunch of PR and Op/Ed from Paul of Tarsus. That's all.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:40 pm |
        • Topher

          That's not all, and you blaspheme with your statements.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:56 pm |
        • Ben

          Topher
          Why is it that the Romans, who had actual historians like Josephus recording many events in the Palestine area, never noting such things as what the Gospels record happening after Jesus's death? Are you sashing that Josephus can't be trusted?

          January 10, 2014 at 2:00 pm |
        • Jake

          If you don't want to answer the question, stop wasting everyone's time. Of course, I know you can't answer the question, which is the point. Without using evidence from a fictional book, you can't tell me why anyone should believe this god of yours made an appearance here on earth.

          January 10, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
        • Topher

          I have no reason not to trust Josephus. And mentioned Christ severall times. And you also have Tacitus, a senator and Roman historian. So they did have it recorded.

          January 10, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
        • sam stone

          Oooooh.....blasphemy. How scary

          January 10, 2014 at 2:30 pm |
        • Fan2C

          Topher,

          Josephus and Tacitus reported about what the Christians of their day claimed about their hero.

          They both also reported on Hercules; and Josephus spoke about the gods Saturn, Jupiter and Apollo too, with the same type of allusions and reportage.

          January 10, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
        • Jake

          Topher, Why do you have no reason to question Josephus? You're talking about a character you read about in a book, not a person you actually know. Do you see how it's no different if I were to say, "I have no reason to question Dr. Seuss"?

          The correct statement would be, "I have no reason to believe Josephus".

          January 10, 2014 at 6:00 pm |
      • Rev. Rick

        It is interesting that people make this statement as though it proves something. I have purchased several Bibles during my life, but I bought them for many different reasons. I study the Bible because I believe it is a useful and interesting book. I buy different translations because I like to compare and contrast interpretation, but I do not believe that every word of it is literally true. Some organizations buy Bibles by the hundreds, or even by the thousands, but that proves very little because it does not clarify the intent of the buyer(s), nor does it imply belief and acceptance.

        January 10, 2014 at 1:00 pm |
        • Jake

          Even if every single buyer of every bible ever sold believed every word of it, that would still say nothing about whether or not any of it is true.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:09 pm |
        • James K

          Muslims will typically only ever need one copy of the koran because only the Arabic version is considered accurate. Compare that to the way Christians hand out bibles like they're candy. The numbers really don't count.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:14 pm |
        • Rev. Rick

          Jake – you are correct. Too many people try to use the Bible as a historical book. It is anything but. While contextually, some of the Bible has been proven accurate (mostly in terms of a few archeological and geographical artifacts), it is a book primarily written by dozens of unknown authors, some of them claiming to be people they were not. That alone makes it dubious in terms of historical accuracy.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:29 pm |
      • sam stone

        So what, gopher? What does it's selling a lot have to do with the correctnes of the message?

        January 10, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
  3. Hey, Topher

    I want Topher to answer this question from Doc Vestibule:

    Did Christ carry the stain of Original Sin, or was He he as pure as Adam before The Fall?
    As the fleshly incarnation of God, was Jesus perfectly sinless by nature?

    (no need for any “Jesus was fictional” replies – its just a conversational topic)

    January 10, 2014 at 11:32 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Me too!

      January 10, 2014 at 11:35 am |
      • Charm Quark

        Where do you think Topher will get the courage to answer a direct question? It would be one hell of a surprise if he can formulate an honest answer.

        January 10, 2014 at 11:47 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      me three.

      January 10, 2014 at 11:44 am |
    • Science Works

      And three makes a quor-um – but will Topher show up ?

      January 10, 2014 at 11:52 am |
    • Doris

      Me four.

      January 10, 2014 at 11:54 am |
    • Hey, Topher

      He seems to be dodging the question. I'm shocked, I tell you, shocked!!

      January 10, 2014 at 11:57 am |
    • Topher

      Not sure. And ultimately I don't see how it matters. He didn't sin. So was the spotless lamb we needed Him to be.

      January 10, 2014 at 11:57 am |
      • Hey, Topher

        In other words, original sin is a lie.

        January 10, 2014 at 12:08 pm |
      • doobzz

        You didn't answer the question. The question wasn't did Jesus sin, but was Jesus born with Original Sin? Do you believe the Catholic version that Mary was conceived without Original Sin so that Jesus would be born without Original Sin? If Jesus didn't carry the stain of OS, how did that happen? More of God's magic?

        January 10, 2014 at 12:13 pm |
      • Charm Quark

        Right again, he couldn't give an honest answer, another dodge.

        January 10, 2014 at 12:17 pm |
      • QuestionEverything

        So killing a little boy for running into him is not considered a sin?

        January 10, 2014 at 12:28 pm |
      • Ben

        Topher
        So, it's possible for a human to overcome the tarnish of original sin and be guiltless? Unless, you're arguing that Jesus wasn't as human as the rest of us?

        January 10, 2014 at 12:29 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        I thought no one actually has to sin to be guilty of sin. Christianity is confusing.

        January 10, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
      • Topher

        doobzz

        "You didn't answer the question. The question wasn't did Jesus sin, but was Jesus born with Original Sin?"

        I did answer it. I said I didn't know.

        "Do you believe the Catholic version that Mary was conceived without Original Sin so that Jesus would be born without Original Sin?"

        No. Mary sinned. She was not perfect.

        January 10, 2014 at 12:57 pm |
        • doobzz

          I don't know is a perfectly good answer.

          If Jesus didn't carry the stain of OS, then he wasn't fully human.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:09 pm |
        • doobzz

          Getting back to Mary, did she carry OS, and if so, how did she not pass it to her (fully human) son, Jesus?

          January 10, 2014 at 1:11 pm |
        • Topher

          doobzz

          "Getting back to Mary, did she carry OS, and if so, how did she not pass it to her (fully human) son, Jesus?"

          Yes, she would have. But as.suming Jesus didn't have it, the theory is that sin nature could be passed down from your father. And since Jesus had no earthly father, He didn't have it. But it's only a theory and we don't know if He had a sin nature or not. I'm guessing He did, since He was tempted and was fully man. But I don't know and I don't think it mattered.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:20 pm |
        • bushgirlsgonewild

          Well, as an Atheist, I feel compelled through my instinctual nature as a social primate to clarify this: according to Christians, Mary was supposedly born without sin (the "immaculate conception"), otherwise god wouldn't have 'gotten it on' with her.

          January 10, 2014 at 10:02 pm |
        • doobzz

          But it does matter, Topher. Maybe not to you, but it matters to anyone who really thinks through the whole human sacrifice aspect of Christianity.

          So for the sake of argument, let's say OS is inherited through the father as is referred to in Romans 5:12, and therefore Jesus didn't have OS. Then he isn't fully human. He's still a god, not god/man. You can't argue that he is fully human, except for the part that his father has a huge problem with and will send everyone to hell for.

          If he was fully human, then he had OS, and wasn't a god or a perfect sacrifice, at least not according to the bible.

          This contradiction is why the RCC came up with the Immaculate Conception, which is not biblical. In it, Mary was conceived in her mother's womb without OS, despite having fully human parents. She was then able to bear a child without OS after having been "artificially inseminated" by God.

          January 10, 2014 at 5:41 pm |
      • sam stone

        sure, gopher. why face up to justice when you can avoid it?

        coward

        January 10, 2014 at 3:22 pm |
    • Double R

      God's very nature prevents Him from having any kind of sin. God hates sin, and since Jesus is God incarnate, so by His very nature, Jesus was born sinless. Catholics believe that Mary was also kept sinless so that Jesus would be sinless, it's called the immaculate conception, I'm sure you've heard of it. That, unfortunately is not a biblical teaching and therefore incorrect to assume so. God wouldn't need anything but his divine grace to cause Jesus to be sinless. And he remained sinless even though he was fully human, as proven by the Devil's temptation of Christ in the desert. Jesus was, is, and always will be perfect.

      January 10, 2014 at 12:02 pm |
      • Topher

        Amen!

        January 10, 2014 at 12:03 pm |
      • Jake

        That's quite a story! Not a very good or interesting one unfortunately. One day I would like to understand how grown adults actually think that ridiculous fiction is TRUE! It really makes you think about what they're teaching children in the bible belt.

        January 10, 2014 at 12:09 pm |
        • sybaris

          Yeah, that's why VBS should be banned. Actually religion should get an X rating.

          January 10, 2014 at 12:20 pm |
      • Hey, Topher

        Nope. If every baby is born of original sin, it follows that Jesus was, too.
        Can't have it both ways.

        January 10, 2014 at 12:11 pm |
      • Charm Quark

        DoubleR
        Are you saying Joseph died a cuckold? I thought jesus had a brother, did god knock up Mary again? How do you figure she was a virgin, after all jesus was the spitting image of the local goat milker.

        January 10, 2014 at 12:15 pm |
        • Hey, Topher

          Jesus is doc umented as having several brothers and sisters.

          January 10, 2014 at 12:22 pm |
        • Peregrine

          Jesus had to have been born with original sin as he was mortal. What are the wages of sin? Death

          January 10, 2014 at 12:28 pm |
      • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

        I love it when theological arguments devolve to "God can do anything".

        Why not just be honest and answer every question that way? Could it be that if you did most people would be able to see through the BS?

        January 10, 2014 at 12:20 pm |
      • sybaris

        Are you not aware that this whole sinless being and immaculate conception thing is found in other religions that predate the NT?

        January 10, 2014 at 12:23 pm |
      • Ben

        Then Jesus wasn't really human like the rest of us, right?

        January 10, 2014 at 12:30 pm |
        • sybaris

          Winner!!

          ergo, no sacrifice.

          What does a god need with flesh?

          January 10, 2014 at 12:36 pm |
        • Joey

          yeah, that has never made any sense to me either. Either Jesus was born with original sin and therefore not fully god, or he was not born with original sin and was therefore not fully human. There is no way he could be both fully god and fully human as Christians claim.

          January 10, 2014 at 12:50 pm |
        • Ben

          Don't feel bad. Greater minds than ours couldn't make sense of it either.

          Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.
          - Thomas Jefferson

          January 10, 2014 at 1:23 pm |
      • ME II

        @Double R,
        "God's very nature prevents Him from having any kind of sin. God hates sin, and since Jesus is God incarnate, so by His very nature, Jesus was born sinless. ...And he remained sinless even though he was fully human,..."

        I'm sorry, but how can a being be "fully human" while also being a god? If every other human being is born with sin, then being born without sin seems like it would disqualify one from being "fully" human.

        January 10, 2014 at 12:36 pm |
  4. Dyslexic doG

    instead of countless people from different religions and unaware of the christian god being sent to hell, can someone explain why god doesn't appear to the world and then he could have everyone adoring him?

    He seems to be narcissistic enough and vain enough and insecure enough to want more adoration and more worship. Your book which you keep bleating is the "word of god", certainly sees god commanding you endlessly to adore him and worship him and bow before him and idolize him and praise him.

    It would be effortless for him to show himself, like he seemed to do pretty regularly back in the bronze age, and he wouldn't have to send so many people to eternal fire and pain and torment. Surely, if he is the loving god that you claim, he would be anxious to save all these people rather than damn them?

    I am shaking my head as I write this, in amazement at the pure infantile foolishness that enables you to believe in something so patently false.

    It's amazing. Simply amazing.

    January 10, 2014 at 10:51 am |
    • Topher

      "why god doesn't appear to the world and then he could have everyone adoring him?"

      Again, He already did that. Why aren't you adoring him?

      January 10, 2014 at 11:20 am |
      • Madtown

        How did he "do that"?

        January 10, 2014 at 11:25 am |
        • Topher

          You know exactly what I'm talking about.

          January 10, 2014 at 11:29 am |
        • Madtown

          Right, and you also know that Jesus did not visit North America, and many other regions and cultures throughout the world at that time. Those regions and cultures contained God's human creation. So, when someone asked you why God didn't appear(as they have several times), you can't answer "he already did".

          January 10, 2014 at 11:39 am |
        • Topher

          He didn't visit the Greeks, either, but they believed. And every other Christian nation around the world. It's the largest "religion" in the world. It didn't take Him appearing to them. Besides His Word, He gave you the Creation and a conscience to know He exists. You will be without excuse.

          January 10, 2014 at 11:46 am |
        • Madtown

          He gave you the Creation and a conscience to know He exists
          ----
          We're not talking about me. We're talking about the human beings right now, at this very moment, in different parts of this world with no concept of the existence of Christ and christianity. If Greeks believed, it's simply because they had access to the message over time, and bought in. Many more others had(and continue to have) NO ACCESS to the message. An omnipotent God as you describe, could remedy this but chooses not to. In the face of this fact, very simple logic and rationale dictates that the notions you subscribe to are the religious creations of the human mind, and not absolute truth.

          January 10, 2014 at 12:00 pm |
        • Topher

          Madtown

          "In the face of this fact, very simple logic and rationale dictates that the notions you subscribe to are the religious creations of the human mind, and not absolute truth."

          We are talking about you. You've been given so much evidence and still you reject Him. You will be held accountable to that standard. Read Romans Chapter 2.

          And just because someone hasn't heard of Christ that renders it untrue, unrational and illogical? Umm ... how? Not even my belief changes fact. So neither does knowledge.

          January 10, 2014 at 12:06 pm |
        • Madtown

          We are talking about you.
          ---–
          Dance and dodge, dodge and dance.

          January 10, 2014 at 12:13 pm |
        • Topher

          Madtown

          "Dance and dodge, dodge and dance."

          The only one dancing is you. You know He exists and yet you continue to tell yourself He doesn't. You suppress the truth in unrighteousness. C'mon, dude. I'm not pleading with you to be mean. I care about you and where you spend eternity.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:22 pm |
        • Joey

          The only problem with that Topher, is that people in Saudi Arabia use their conscience and it screams to them that Allah is god, and Mohammed is his prophet. Basically your entire argument nonsense.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:29 pm |
        • Topher

          At least they acknowledge they know there is a god.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:38 pm |
        • Joey

          They don't believe in Jesus as the savior though so they go to hell all because they were born to Muslim parents instead of Christian parents.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:47 pm |
        • Joey

          Why would god give Muslims a conscience that informs them that Jesus is not the way to heaven, when according to god belief in Jesus is the only way to heaven?

          January 10, 2014 at 1:54 pm |
        • Topher

          They will go to hell because they've broken the laws.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:55 pm |
        • Ben

          Topher
          "He didn't visit the Greeks, either, but they believed."
          And millions of Buddhists around the world never met the Buddha, or even been to India. Are you seriously trying to argue that Christianity spread differently than any other ideology?

          January 10, 2014 at 2:05 pm |
        • Madtown

          The only one dancing is you. You know He exists and yet you continue to tell yourself He doesn't.
          ---
          You hilarious court jester. No......we are not talking about me, and I've never said a thing about whether or not God exists, I happen to believe he does. We are talking about christiantiy, and how many humans in the world, throughout history and still today, have no knowledge of your preferred RELIGION, christianity. It's quite simple, any religion that claims to be the correct and only way, has to be available to everyone. Since no religion is, no religion is "correct" for everyone. You say "at least muslims believe in God"? Well sure, that proves the point. Of the humans who believe in God, if they follow a religion it will likely be the dominant religion wherever they grow up. If God exists, it could be that everyone who believes in God is actually thinking about the same ent.ity, it's just the details and practices of how people "worship" that are different. And, humans in different cultures do a mult.itude of things differently.

          January 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm |
        • sam stone

          I like that whole "you will be without excuse" tripe

          more empty proxy threats from our cowardly gopher

          January 10, 2014 at 3:11 pm |
        • sam stone

          gopher remains a coward who cannot tell the difference between belief and knowledge

          i am glad he doesn't respond to my posts, because i can see through his response to others that it will be the same old bafflegab.

          he likes to issue proxy threats of hell, because it makes him feel omnipotent. i wonder if he knocked up his wife when she was 13. maybe he will be like levon (of the elton john song) and call his child jeebus

          January 10, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        that's a dodge Topher, and you know it.

        We have to discount the stories written in an old book, which can't be verified. I am speaking about today. much of the world does not believe in your god or has never heard of your god. If he is as good and as loving as you like to say he is, he could save every soul on the planet just by appearing. Then everyone would believe.

        and don't speak of "free will". that's a crock.

        January 10, 2014 at 11:29 am |
        • Topher

          Dyslexic doG

          "that's a dodge Topher, and you know it."

          How is that a dodge?

          "We have to discount the stories written in an old book, which can't be verified."

          WHY do you have to discount them? Because they're old? Ridiculous. And they are verified, even by secular sources at the time. Not to mention they were written by eyewitnesses during the life of other eyewitnesses.

          "I am speaking about today. much of the world does not believe in your god or has never heard of your god. If he is as good and as loving as you like to say he is, he could save every soul on the planet just by appearing. Then everyone would believe."

          So if He appeared you'd bow your knee and worship Him? Face it, dude, even if He did appear to everyone there'd be plenty of atheists who would say they didn't believe it was really Him, would still call Him viscious names or some other excuse. He gave you the Creation and a conscience to know He exists. You have no excuse.

          January 10, 2014 at 11:36 am |
        • Charm Quark

          I find it quite amazing that Topher's god is dumber than Topher. Topher can use a computer, can email and probably tweet his god can't, it is still stuck in the first century.

          January 10, 2014 at 11:41 am |
        • Bob

          So Topher, you have directly there stated that your "god" isn't capable of communicating effectively to a large set of people, and is not capable of getting his message through to them.

          As usual, that's a pretty poor "omnipotent" creature that you've made for yourself there.

          Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
          Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
          http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

          January 10, 2014 at 11:43 am |
        • Madtown

          they were written by eyewitnesses
          ---–
          As you've been told before, eyewitness testimony is often not dependable and often inaccurate. If you want to continue to put your faith in eyewitness testimony, how was Genesis written? No eyewitnesses there.

          January 10, 2014 at 11:44 am |
        • Bob

          Good one, Charm Quark. I've stated similar in the past. Our messages crossed.

          Cheers,
          Bob

          January 10, 2014 at 11:44 am |
        • Dyslexic doG

          if he appeared, I would believe. There would be no atheists left on the planet. There would be no other religions on the planet. he could save us all from eternal fire and torment.

          Is he a loving god or not? Does he choose to damn so many of us when he could effortlessly save us?

          January 10, 2014 at 11:49 am |
        • Topher

          Genesis was written in its current form by Moses likely though about 5 eyewitness accounts. Not to mention inspiration of God who would have witnessed the whole thing. But when I say it was written by eyewitnesses, I suppose I should have added the qualifier of that's true of the NT. But since Christ taught the OT as true, we get those books thrown in, too.

          January 10, 2014 at 11:49 am |
        • Topher

          Dyslexic doG

          "if he appeared, I would believe."

          Good to hear ... to a point. He is coming again, but it will be too late for you by then.

          "There would be no atheists left on the planet. There would be no other religions on the planet. he could save us all from eternal fire and torment."

          How can you make this argument? Many rejected Him when they got to speak face-to-face with Him before.

          "Is he a loving god or not? Does he choose to damn so many of us when he could effortlessly save us?"

          Of course He's loving. He doesn't want even of you to be damned. I think He demonstrated that by showing up in the first place. He lived the life we should and then took the punishment we deserve. Then even defeated death for us. He has given you enough to believe and even KNOW He exists. If you reject those things, it's on you, not Him.

          January 10, 2014 at 11:54 am |
        • Madtown

          Genesis was written in its current form by Moses likely though about 5 eyewitness accounts
          ----–
          So, God created 5 human beings before he created them a world to live in? Interesting. Never heard that one! Not that I'd give any credence to it, but is there scripture to support this?

          January 10, 2014 at 12:06 pm |
        • Madtown

          He doesn't want even of you to be damned. I think He demonstrated that by showing up in the first place
          ----
          "Are you dense? We just reminded you that he didn't show up for us. I guess he does want us damned."

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

          January 10, 2014 at 12:08 pm |
        • Topher

          Madtown

          "So, God created 5 human beings before he created them a world to live in? Interesting."

          What? I never said that at all. Man was created on Day 6. So you're only missing 5 days. And again, God was physically speaking with people at the time. Clearly He told them about the first 5 days. Your argument is fallacious.

          January 10, 2014 at 12:10 pm |
        • Madtown

          What? I never said that at all. Man was created on Day 6.
          ----
          You're getting yourself all confused again, a little early today as it's not even noon CST. You said Genesis was "written through 5 eyewitness accounts", which would mean humans were eyewitnesses to the creation of the world. If man was created on day 6, he wasn't around to serve as an eyewitness on day 1. So, how could Genesis be written as an eyewitness account, when Genesis describes the creation of the world?

          January 10, 2014 at 12:18 pm |
        • Jake

          Madtown, you're trying to use logic to argue with a guy who thinks the bible is logical. Clearly his definition of logical thinking is not the same as ours. You must be an Olympic-level Mental Gymnast to convince yourself that the bible even approaches a logical story and if you can do that, you can convince yourself to believe anything you choose.

          January 10, 2014 at 12:24 pm |
        • Madtown

          Right on Jake. It's all good entertainment! 😉

          January 10, 2014 at 12:27 pm |
        • Jake

          It is entertaining, but it is also seriously disturbing to know that there are lots of voters out there that "think" like he does. Disturbing and mind-boggling.

          January 10, 2014 at 12:30 pm |
        • Topher

          Madtown

          You said Genesis was "written through 5 eyewitness accounts", which would mean humans were eyewitnesses to the creation of the world. If man was created on day 6, he wasn't around to serve as an eyewitness on day 1."

          Do you always bark and complain without reading my answers? I already said that.

          "So, how could Genesis be written as an eyewitness account, when Genesis describes the creation of the world?"

          Again, I already said there wasn't a human witness to the Creation account. But you've clearly not read Genesis. Creation only involves a chapter. There's a LOT after that.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:05 pm |
        • sam stone

          it's obvious that gopher's subservience is primarily, if not entirely, motivated by his fear of "hell"

          that is why he warns us all of judgement, including the classic "hey, dude, i'm just trying to keep you out of hell"

          he is a clown

          January 10, 2014 at 2:51 pm |
        • sam stone

          Yeah, Jake, gopher wants to deny gays equal rights because allowin them to marry would be allowing them to "continue in their sin"

          When asked what other sinners he wants to deny equal rights, he is mysteriously evasive

          I know, I know it is a shock that our sweet little ground dwelling rodent would be evasive

          Now, he is going to indocrinate his innocent child (of course, gopher will quote his comic book and say no one is innocent) in his self loathing nonsense

          it's child abuse

          January 10, 2014 at 2:57 pm |
        • Madtown

          Creation only involves a chapter. There's a LOT after that.
          ---
          No kidding keystone cop. I thought you might be at least bright enough to discern that we were referencing creation, since that's where my comments centered. Who's qualified to write the creation story without eyewitness testimony, since this is what you feel gives the bible it's believability?

          January 10, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
      • Doris

        Even if the Abrahamic God were real, how do we would know that he didn't cook the books so to speak. If he was real, maybe he was more transparent than anyone gives him credit for. Maybe the people before the flood discovered some dirty laundry involving a past universe.

        January 10, 2014 at 11:47 am |
        • Topher

          What evidence do you have that "the books were cooked?" It's a good thought for your position, but what evidence do you have to support it? None.

          January 10, 2014 at 11:55 am |
        • Hey, Topher

          Answer Doc Vestibules question, Topher. Stop dodging.

          January 10, 2014 at 11:59 am |
        • Doris

          Well Topher, I'm not claiming any evidence to the idea. I'm simply saying that if we start at a supposition that the God of Abraham did create this universe, and that the flood story might be true, then what evidence do we have in any direction about his possible past dealings or ethics that can be verified?

          January 10, 2014 at 12:00 pm |
      • Jake

        What are you talking about? God appeared? I would have expected this to be on the news somewhere. Surely Fox News would have coverage on this?

        January 10, 2014 at 11:48 am |
        • Ben

          If Jesus's image appeared in the clouds before a million people on the Capital Mall and Fox filmed it many more millions of Americans would believe it was actually him without question, but if Ganesh appeared to the same crowd instead almost everyone would just assume that it was some kind of holographic trick.

          January 10, 2014 at 12:20 pm |
        • Joey

          I would have to see it somewhere other than Fox News before I would believe it.

          January 10, 2014 at 12:37 pm |
        • Ben

          Jake
          You're not a typical Fox News fan then?

          January 10, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
      • Ben

        Let's just look at the Exodus story, shall we? Is there another part in the Bible where God supposedly manifest himself to mult_itudes of people so dramatically? Yet, even after all the plagues, the pillars of fire, manna from heaven, parting of the seas, and death of Egyptian first born, 99% of them apparently forgot all about YHWH shortly after Moses went up the mountain to receive the Law.

        Compared to the tizzy some Christians get into over burned toast YHWH's demonstration to those Hebrews should have kept them in line for more than that. So, either they were not very much impressed by YHWH (which makes you wonder what the Egyptian gods were showing them beforehand), or this just isn't a story that happened as literally as some people would like to believe, right?

        January 10, 2014 at 12:01 pm |
        • Joey

          If the Exodus story happened as described in the bible everyone living in Egypt would have died or moved out of the country. Since Egypt kept right on going like nothing happened it is safe to assume that the Exodus never happened.

          January 10, 2014 at 12:44 pm |
        • Ben

          Back in my youth, many eons ago, there was the theory that pastoral Hebrews simply did not like having to work at building projects, as was custom during the lean seasons, in exchange for food from Egyptian stores (remember the Joseph story?) So, no organized slavery, just herding Hebrews unaccustomed to hard labor. I'm not sure if anyone is still supporting this idea, but it is interesting, eh?

          January 10, 2014 at 1:29 pm |
  5. Aidan Stewart

    DOUBT YOUR DOUBTS NOT YOUR FAITH.

    January 10, 2014 at 10:48 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      what do I need facts for, I have the bible!

      January 10, 2014 at 10:52 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        "God has no place within these walls, just like facts don't have a place within an organized religion."
        – Supernintendo Chalmers

        January 10, 2014 at 11:08 am |
        • Ben

          Are you Ralph?

          January 10, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaGFPdP0-ug&w=640&h=390]

          January 10, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
    • sybaris

      Exactly

      Religion requires ignorance to perpetuate. Don't question anything just remain ignorant and it will all be good.

      January 10, 2014 at 10:58 am |
    • doobzz

      It's a good thing someone listened to his/her doubts or we'd still be drilling holes in peoples' skulls to let out the bad spirits when we have headaches.

      January 10, 2014 at 11:22 am |
    • Jake

      Doubt your doubts, not your faith? What a dangerous concept. I suppose that's what they told themselves when they had reservations about flying planes into the WTC.

      No one should EVER believe anything or act based on faith. That can only lead to bad things.

      January 10, 2014 at 11:54 am |
    • Ben

      Adam
      Great sales pitch. I'm sure that pretty much every Ponzi Scheme included such advice.

      January 10, 2014 at 12:03 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Those who don't question are just afraid of the answers.

      January 10, 2014 at 3:23 pm |
      • Copycats got their own sin to deal with. Nothing original?

        ^$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ 🙂 $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$^

        January 10, 2014 at 5:29 pm |
  6. panrthotheist

    its understandable how confusing the present state of mind humanity has now experienced on dominant religions we have now,monotheistic,monistics and atheistic religions which we had inherited from the past.We were made to believe that God is a separate being from us with separate distinct agends,After the big bang was unraveled by God to us by scientific revelations last century,we began to understand that we are part of Him ,He is the whole universe and we evolved into humanity ,a being with a conscience that He willed as to have ,so that in the future we will be initially capable of implementing His simple wills.Our human evolution is just so brief a period ,about 200,000 years ago compared to the 13.7 billion since the big bang.at the start of our becoming ae human ,we were so primitive that our only concern was physical survival,but 10,000 years ago we became civilized ,from hunter gatherers we became intellectually oriented beings seeking explainations and reasons for our existence,We founded countless religions after that ,but they have to conform to our state of mind or education in those times of our existence,But history had shown that we evolved intellectually,the progress we had in knowledge especially in science ,had made our traditional beliefs contradict with scientific discoveries, prompting many theologians past and present to develope variations of religions or faith,Today we are again in this threshold of change ,but this are all in comformity to Gods will,How do I know .? its in history.In the future the most convincing proof is scientific using advance computational methods,At the present we have to prepare the future humans for this inevitable change,the future faith will be Panthrotheism,its our Willed responsibility.

    January 10, 2014 at 10:09 am |
    • Ben

      panrthotheist
      Again with the "Atheism is a religion"? It's like with sports: You are either a fan of a sport, or not. If you are a sports fan, you probably follow particular teams. If you are not a sports fan, then you don't follow any teams, right?

      If you believe that some god is real, you are a theist. If you don't believe in any real gods, then you are an atheist. Most theists worship their god(s) in some fashion. That is "religion". How is not worshiping gods that you don't believe in any kind of religion?

      January 10, 2014 at 10:22 am |
      • BenTONG says: atheism is religion

        @Ben...I am not a sports fans and when people tell me anything about sporsts, I will just say: THE HELL I CARE!!!

        But if, you're not a sports fan but you attend rally againsts sports, erect billboards against Olympics, charter a private plane for a flyer advocating a sports less USA, put signages in public places that say: sports is dangerous to your health, go to court against Oath of Sportsmaship, etc.. Then you must re-examine yourself, you might unwarily get yourself into a sports hater club.

        January 12, 2014 at 2:17 am |
    • Doris

      Interesting observations, but I am a bit confused. You say: "this are all in comformity to Gods will", and end with "its our Willed responsibility". A poster named devent previously defined Panrthotheism as "Panthrotheism,the belief that God give to humanity the privilige or responsibilty of charting human history".

      So, obviously you are not claiming that God's will is in fact only our collective will, but that our will is a privilege granted by God, right?

      You go on to ask and answer: "How do I know .? its in history.In the future the most convincing proof is scientific using advance computational methods"

      I don't see how your answer is evidence for a god, the Abrahamic type or any other.

      January 10, 2014 at 10:28 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      Very interesting observations. You have obviously thought a lot about this. Kudos to you. My only problem is that you have absolutely no proof for any of it. As interesting as it sounds, it is really just the basic outline of a fiction story you might write.

      January 10, 2014 at 10:46 am |
  7. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Doesn't this sort of thing, people suspending and assuming religious belief at will, suggest that religious belief is unfounded? That nothing really holds it up? If belief is actually linked to facts by something logically sound, how can the believer make the facts or the arguments from them go away?

    January 10, 2014 at 10:01 am |
    • Ben

      Ah, but the Bible is full of verses teaching people not to trust their common sense when it comes to God.

      For example:
      "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool...." Proverbs 28:26

      "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, 'He catches the wise in their own craftiness'; and again, 'The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.'" 1 Corinthians 3:19-20

      "...the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Corinthians 2:14-15

      Once you break down people's natural skepticism, the indoctrination process can accomplish getting them to believe anything.

      January 10, 2014 at 10:12 am |
      • Dyslexic doG

        well said!

        January 10, 2014 at 10:47 am |
    • Topher

      Part of the problem is Bible compromise.

      January 10, 2014 at 10:19 am |
      • Doris

        I'm pretty sure we are already thinking of "Bible compromise" in very different ways.

        January 10, 2014 at 10:35 am |
        • Topher

          How do you mean?

          January 10, 2014 at 10:37 am |
        • Doris

          Just that I might look at Bible compromise as those few key elements that virtually all Christians agree upon for instance (while there are many areas of disagreement surrounding those key elements). But – and please don't let me put words in your mouth – I can see where you might say Bible compromise is where important elements are ignored when they should not be for the sake of current social harmony between differing Christians for instance. It sounds like those two concepts could be the same, but I think there may be a difference. Especially with regard to time. I guess in my view the focus is on what was agreed upon and if it was agreed upon long ago, what does it say that splintering continues. Whereas your focus might be upon trying to bring more of the elements from your particular brand into some of the other brands.

          January 10, 2014 at 10:49 am |
      • sam stone

        the major part of the problem is trying to rationalize an ancient text in an information age

        January 10, 2014 at 11:07 am |
      • Ben

        Topher
        As opposed to having an uncompromising stance when it comes to the Bible, I suppose?

        Well, wouldn't that be the very thing that drives so many people away? We are 2000 years separated from the culture that produced the Bible to address it's problems and norms. So, aren't people trying a little to hard to force outdated solutions upon modern problems?

        January 10, 2014 at 11:49 am |
  8. Lizeth

    When you really know, the fountain of all the wisdom, why do you care for anything else!
    Sounds like it was only a job for him...

    January 10, 2014 at 9:54 am |
    • Ben

      People call God the fountain of all wisdom, but so does every religion with their own gods and holy books. It seems pretty standard procedure to claim to have all The answers. A bigger question is why you aren't skeptical of this claim?

      January 10, 2014 at 10:01 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      You can't make a truly informed decision until you've examined all the angles.
      Exploring other perspectives should be lauded! Should one's faith be sincere and true, it cannot be harmed by contemplating other viewpoints.

      January 10, 2014 at 10:01 am |
    • Doris

      "When you really know, the fountain of all the wisdom,"

      An in-home espresso maker is well worth the money.

      January 10, 2014 at 10:38 am |
  9. rpcole57

    if I , as an agnostic, decide to give religion a try, will someone give me money?

    January 10, 2014 at 9:52 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I can think of many, many religions that will gladly take your money, but none that'll give you any.
      The Church of the Subgenius comes close – for $30 they offer eternal salvation or triple your money back...

      January 10, 2014 at 10:16 am |
  10. amir

    i am not gonna even waste my time reading this non event.. shame on you again cnn for reporting such idiocy.

    January 10, 2014 at 8:49 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      You won't read it, but you'll comment on it?

      January 10, 2014 at 8:52 am |
      • adrian

        It was really informative. I love this guy. He was not afraid to challenge his previous hopeless fanatic mindset.

        January 10, 2014 at 10:33 am |
  11. Dyslexic doG

    Why doesn't your god appear to the world and then he could have everyone adoring him?

    He seems to be narcissistic enough and vain enough and insecure enough to want more adoration and more worship. Your book which you keep bleating is the "word of god", certainly sees god commanding you endlessly to adore him and worship him and bow before him and idolize him and praise him.

    It would be effortless for him to show himself, like he seemed to do pretty regularly back in the bronze age, and he wouldn't have to send so many people to eternal fire and pain and torment. Surely, if he is the loving god that you claim, he would be anxious to save all these people rather than damn them?

    I am shaking my head as I write this, in amazement at the pure infantile foolishness that enables you to believe in something so patently false.

    It's amazing. Simply amazing.

    January 10, 2014 at 8:48 am |
    • Roman

      I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn't, then live my life as if there isn't and die to find out there is.

      January 10, 2014 at 9:11 am |
      • sam stone

        what if you live your life believing in god A, and it turns out god B is the correct one?

        aren't you as screwed as you imply those who do not believe in yours?

        January 10, 2014 at 9:21 am |
      • Wendy Pappas

        Amen !!!

        January 10, 2014 at 10:13 am |
      • Ben

        Why not live as though vampires actually do exist, wear a garlic necklace around your neck all the time, just in case? Better to carry a leprechaun trap with you al the time too. You wouldn't want to miss out on all that gold! better carry a virginal maid for unicorns, a magical amulet to ward away wizards and a talesman to keep yourself from being made into a Haitian zombie. When it comes to the other kinds of zombies, well there's several schools of thought, depending on whether they end up being "fast" zombies or slow "walkers". Crossbows, samurai swords, and axes are all good options ...

        January 10, 2014 at 10:31 am |
        • Dyslexic doG

          outstanding Ben!

          January 10, 2014 at 10:54 am |
    • Clay Thomas

      God has "shown" and revealed himself in the form of Jesus! John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

      January 10, 2014 at 9:17 am |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        LOL... what bullshit

        January 10, 2014 at 9:49 am |
        • Brian Buchanan

          Your posted name says it all

          January 10, 2014 at 10:17 am |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          So does yours

          January 10, 2014 at 12:19 pm |
      • sybaris

        So your "omnipotent" god is well, a one trick pony.

        Regardless, the myth goes like this.......... a spirit comes to earth for a while, rents some flesh, rids itself of the flesh and goes back to where it came from.

        Yeah, some sacrifice.

        January 10, 2014 at 10:35 am |
    • Topher

      Dyslexic doG

      "Why doesn't your god appear to the world and then he could have everyone adoring him?"

      He already did that. Why aren't you adoring him?

      January 10, 2014 at 10:22 am |
      • sybaris

        Why does a god need adoration?

        Insecurity?

        January 10, 2014 at 10:38 am |
      • Topher

        He doesn't "need" it. But He does deserve it.

        January 10, 2014 at 10:42 am |
        • sybaris

          Sure it needs it, if it doesn't get it it'll throw you in a pit of fire for eternity.

          Regardless, why would you adore something that "goofed" it's creation and resorted to killing every living thing except good fish and a boatload of dinosaurs and 1 family.

          January 10, 2014 at 10:47 am |
        • Topher

          Fallacious argument. He didn't "goof" the creation.

          January 10, 2014 at 10:52 am |
        • sam stone

          For what? Creating a world where everything is done to praise himself?

          What an insecure little deity you grovel before, gopher

          January 10, 2014 at 11:11 am |
        • exlonghorn

          @Topher, that's a great one

          WHY does he deserve our adoration? Because he created us? NO proof of that. Because of his blessings? No proof those positive outcomes were the result of divine intervention. So tell us...why should we adore this god of yours?

          January 10, 2014 at 12:37 pm |
      • Madtown

        "Why doesn't your god appear to the world and then he could have everyone adoring him?"

        He already did that.
        ------
        "He didn't appear to us, at least not your version of him. We've never heard of your version, we have our own that we believe is correct and inspired."

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

        January 10, 2014 at 10:58 am |
        • Topher

          Maybe not, as far as we know. But they knew enough not to sin. So they are without excuse.

          January 10, 2014 at 11:17 am |
        • Madtown

          You want to have your cake, then eat it too. No, Jesus didn't visit North America. How would he have gotten there? The logical problem still exists, why didn't God send a rep/son/daughter to all regions and cultures on earth? Sorry that this undermines your preferred religion.

          January 10, 2014 at 11:24 am |
  12. JC

    If anyone wants to give me $19k, I'll take it.

    January 10, 2014 at 8:26 am |
  13. Doc Vestibule

    Did Christ carry the stain of Original Sin, or was He he as pure as Adam before The Fall?
    As the fleshly incarnation of God, was Jesus perfectly sinless by nature?

    (no need for any "Jesus was fictional" replies – its just a conversational topic)

    January 10, 2014 at 8:20 am |
    • Ben

      Would that mean that he sacrificed himself to keep himself out of Hell too, or would his own original sin have been a blemish marking him as an unworthy sacrifice to God (himself)?

      January 10, 2014 at 8:24 am |
    • bcs2006

      Well in order for christ to be an incarnation of god, one of the criteria would be for him to be completely sinless in nature. If a human incarnation of god was born a sinner, he could not be god. He would just be an extraordinary person and nothing more.

      January 10, 2014 at 8:26 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        But if He wasn't fully human, doesn't that kind of take the wind out of His sacrificial sail?
        If he was immune to sin and its influence, it means He couldn't truly appreciate what it is to be a "fallen" human, subject to the va/garies of vice and temptation.

        January 10, 2014 at 8:48 am |
      • Ben

        Salvation through faith alone theology states that no human could ever be "good" enough to achieve Heaven on their own merits which makes Jesus' example questionable to say the least.

        January 10, 2014 at 9:32 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      did the parts of lord voldemort that entered harry when the curse backfired help harry ultimately to destroy lord voldemort or was it the goodness of professor dumbledore that saw him triumph?

      January 10, 2014 at 8:40 am |
      • Dyslexic doG

        no need for any "harry potter" is fictional comments ...

        January 10, 2014 at 8:42 am |
        • Dyslexic doG

          sorry Doc, I couldn't help it ...

          January 10, 2014 at 8:49 am |
  14. crusader

    I'm a Christian. I just wanted to express my thoughts on his experiment. I believe our heavenly father speaks to us. We may not hear his voice loud and clear as if he were there in person, but I believe he does. Some of us ignore him, and a few actually turn their heads and question themselves what that voice inside them is. The voice that's calling on them to do something... to make a change in their lives that just doesn't make sense. It's a voice that stirs up fear in them, fear of the unknown. He tries to tell you, he needs you. He needs you to do something for him and be somewhere for him, and it will also be good for you. I believe a lot of times we ignore it because of fear. You fight him. You tell yourself no I cant possibly do that, I'm not qualified, I don't have the means, Im not capable, Im not able, No that's stupid, Im stupid. You just have to stop fighting yourself, stop worrying and just do what he is telling you to do. For those of us that do believe him and do listen to him, they are all on journeys for God. I believe this man is on one of those journeys, and when his journey is over he will come back with much stronger faith in God, and he will bring along others who will begin their new journey as well.

    January 10, 2014 at 5:05 am |
    • saggyroy

      "...and when his journey is over he will come back with much stronger faith in God..." or not.

      January 10, 2014 at 5:31 am |
    • bcs2006

      So free will is awesome and god's gift to humanity

      but you should really just do what he says.

      Got it. Makes sense

      January 10, 2014 at 7:37 am |
    • shola

      Its very dangerous .No one knows tomorrow.Death doesn't give time and date.His soul is very precious to Jesus and also sort after by satan.What if he dies in this course? There is no repentance in death,he cant tell God that he is experimenting...no escuse whatsoever .He is not rooted in the word of God .His faith is on the fence..He needs to quickly retrace his step bcos the devil is wandering about and looking for a soul to devour/deceive

      January 10, 2014 at 7:49 am |
      • truthprevails1

        You got one thing right but that's about it. Death doesn't give a time or date. After that, as far as ANYONE knows there is nothing...no heaven, no hell-that is strictly a story made up to make you feel all warm and fuzzy, a story made up to make you do good in this world (cause otherwise you'll 'burn' in the non-existent afterlife).
        These are stories that were written by primitive man 2000 plus years ago, do you seriously think. given how far we have advanced our knowledge, that they knew what they were speaking of? Do you have no comprehension as to why man has imagined many a god over the billions of years?
        You're rather gullible if you truly believe a soul exists, even though there is no evidence for one.

        January 10, 2014 at 7:56 am |
        • midwest rail

          "...why man has imagined many a god over the billions of years? "
          You may want to restate that one...

          January 10, 2014 at 7:59 am |
        • truthprevails1

          midwest: Yes, I caught that...so millions would be a better word. 🙂

          January 10, 2014 at 8:20 am |
        • Science Works

          At the Y millions of years it is.

          Study Dispels Theories of Y Chromosome's Demise: Stripped-Down Chromosome Retains Key Genes for Fertility

          Jan. 9, 2014 —

          Y has degraded over past 200 million

          Before about 200 million years ago, when mammals were relatively new on Earth, early versions of the se-x chromosomes, X and Y, were just like other pairs of chromosomes: with each generation, they swapped a few genes so that offspring were a mix of their parents' genes. Fertilized eggs that got two proto-Xs became females and eggs with a proto-X and proto-Y became males.

          http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140109175736.htm

          January 10, 2014 at 9:07 am |
    • Ben

      crusader
      We all self-talk, or think in voices as a natural part of our reasoning process. We're social animals, so it really just natural to "talk" to yourself while processing various problems you need to work through. You were instructed to believe that God is "speaking" to you as one of those voices, right? So, how do you know that it isn't just a deeper part of your own conscious using what you were taught about God voicing what you believe God would say to you at that moment? Praying is like willing that voice to come, after all.

      January 10, 2014 at 8:16 am |
    • sybaris

      The mind seeks to confirm what it wants to believe.

      Outside of facts and evidence claims of the supernatural are inherently dubious

      January 10, 2014 at 10:43 am |
  15. Robin

    .... This pastor lost his job,, and that's why he gained that money... It has nothing to do with spiritualism or belief in God.... You can be in a high-paying job and still believe in God.. Just because he gained a lot of cash by doing this... It's not really linked on whether you believe in God or not... Think about it.

    January 10, 2014 at 3:17 am |
    • Ben

      Lots of Christians would argue that you can indeed have a high-paying job and still be a Christian, as long as you give pretty much all of your money to the poor. Not many wealthy people are willing to live that modestly.

      January 10, 2014 at 8:20 am |
    • Dan

      I don't think that's the point of this article. Here's the moral of the story that I take from this experiment:

      – Even though it's only a week and a half old, in this experiment, those who are deeply religious and claim to be "Good people of God" who should love all their fellow humans have removed the income from this man's life with complete disregard for the well-being of his family members as well. Meanwhile, the "Bad people" who don't believe in God, have donated a large portion of $19,000 to this man (in 10 days) to make sure he can still provide for his family.

      I think that says everything I need to know about the Christian Religion.

      January 10, 2014 at 8:39 am |
      • Brian Buchanan

        I have a job repairing electric motors and teaching electric motor theory. If I decide that I won't repair motors and won't teach theory any longer because I don't believe in it, I daresay I won't retain my position for more than a few days. That's just life...

        January 10, 2014 at 12:21 pm |
  16. SMF

    Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship with Christ. How does one pastor a church or teach at Christian schools without first having that relationship? Did he only go through the motions of being a Christian? Once you have that relationship, you would never give it up. That is why his behavior is so confusing.

    January 10, 2014 at 3:04 am |
    • Elwood P. Dowd

      I know. I feel the same way about my relationship with Harvey, my 6'2" invisible rabbit friend.

      January 10, 2014 at 3:41 am |
      • Dyslexic doG

        LOLOL

        January 10, 2014 at 8:43 am |
    • Over It

      For the first 40+ years of my life I thought I had a 'relationship' with Christ, but I finally had to admit that I was talking to myself and there is no-one up/out/over/around there. Now I guess I have a 'relationship' with reality.

      January 10, 2014 at 3:56 am |
      • Jemper

        good answer.. that's true. I realised that as well.. Once I was the pillar of the church and now I think I was really mad.. We use the word God as an excuse to cover up for our mistakes and have something or someone to blame for it. I definitely believe that at some point in life Jesus did exist... not as the son of God but as a believer who went in and about preaching what he believed.. like so many of them even today.. .. but truly why do we sit here and act like pagans? Atheism is simply believing that there's no super natural power out there.. there's nothing but us and the world was created in a scientific way..

        January 10, 2014 at 5:18 am |
      • saggyroy

        Yes. I had the same delusion for 25 – 30 years before I realized I was an atheist.

        January 10, 2014 at 5:30 am |
    • sam stone

      islam is not a religion, it is a relationship with allah

      buddhism is not a religion, it is a relationship with buddha

      zoroastrianism is not a religion, it is a relationship with zoroastor

      see how easy that is?

      January 10, 2014 at 5:19 am |
    • Ben

      SMF
      Wouldn't every human who ever worshipped a personified deity like Christ not have felt that they were interacting with another being a little like themselves? You still pray to your Christ like the Romans prayed to their Mars. You still sacrifice to Christ through giving money and time just as they sacrificed to him. You "feel" Christ's presence in your time of need just as Roman soldiers felt that Mars was on the battlefield with them, sharing either their victory, or defeat. I really don't see one bit of difference between either of your "relationships" with your gods.

      January 10, 2014 at 8:31 am |
    • sybaris

      Yeah, the old relationship with god/jesus meme

      My sister, I know her
      Hair color
      Eye color
      Height
      Weight
      Birthmark
      Education
      Husband
      Children
      Where she works
      Where she went on vacation
      What makes her happy
      What makes her sad
      Political views
      Religious views
      Car she drives
      Dog and cat's names
      Her temper
      I talk to her once a week and text her all the time

      THAT is a personal relationship

      You couldn't even pick your god or jesus out of a line-up

      Personal relationship with god.............please

      January 10, 2014 at 10:56 am |
    • doobzz

      "Once you have that relationship, you would never give it up."

      Not true. Plenty of people realize that their "relationship" is nothing more than indoctrination and habit, and give it up.

      January 10, 2014 at 11:41 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.