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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. silverbuttons

    How did he make $19,000 off this? Nobody has given ME any money in the 20-something years that I've been an atheist, just because I no longer believe in God. If he really wants to live like an atheist, he should shut up about it and just do it. Most of us don't announce it to the world, make a blog about it, and accept donations as a sort of consolation prize; we just give up religion (some all at once, others in stages), deal with the consequences (loss of friendship, rejection by family, etc.) and go on about our lives.

    Anyway, if he still believes in God, then he isn't really an atheist, and will never know what it's like to truly be one, since that is what atheism means–having no belief in any kind of god. Plenty of Christians don't go to church, pray, or read the Bible very much. He could be just another of them, for all we know.

    January 10, 2014 at 7:13 pm |
    • svetlana

      @silverbuttons – the man who organized this fundraising fest is a friend of mine, and as an atheist too I unfortunately think that he has lost his marbles. $19,000 is about what I took home this year after a patchwork of consulting and part time jobs (I went full time in November – yay!). The donations really make me sick. My friend's charity case, this "pastor," lives in Los Feliz – not example Hush Puppyville – has published five books, and makes money at speaking engagements. He's not hurting for dough. This is all about atheists joining a "movement" and trying to out-Christ the Christians. I'm not out to be "better" than anyone. It's a mistake.

      January 10, 2014 at 9:31 pm |
  2. Robert Raulerson

    Okay, the 'water stain Jayzus' in Iowa has been revealed as a hoax. This homeless wino has admitted to 'painting' Jayzus on walls all over town whenever he drinks beer. Hard to find a good miracle these days.

    January 10, 2014 at 5:52 pm |
  3. Jake

    Fair Warning: Don't expect Topher to directly answer any questions. He will speak (write) in circles, always avoiding the actual point at hand, until he's gotten so off topic that you almost forget the original point. It isn't an effective technique for proving your point, but it sure is entertaining!

    January 10, 2014 at 5:51 pm |
    • Science Works

      Topher DOES NOT like or think evolution works .

      Scientists Unlock Evolution of Cholera, Identify Strain Responsible for Early Pandemics That Killed Millions

      Jan. 9, 2014 — Working with a nearly 200-year-old sample of preserved intestine, researchers at McMaster University and the University of Sydney have traced the bacterium behind a global cholera pandemic that killed millions - a version of the same bug that continues to strike vulnerable populations in the world's poorest regions.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140109003802.htm

      January 10, 2014 at 7:02 pm |
    • sam stone

      topher/gopher is a coward

      his entire belief system is based on avoiding hell

      he claims that his god is just, then does everything he can to avoid that justice

      i do not seek to argue with him. it is pointless

      however, when he posts his drivel on here, i WILL ridicule it and him

      January 11, 2014 at 8:49 am |
  4. Robert Raulerson

    Hey! I just heard they found a water stain that looks like Jayzus on the wall of a homeless shelter in Podunk, Iowa! Hold it – okay, it's not a water stain, but it does look like Jayzus.

    January 10, 2014 at 5:48 pm |
  5. Robert Raulerson

    Bout time for a new article ain't it? Hasn't somebody found a water stain that looks like Jayzus or something?

    January 10, 2014 at 5:43 pm |
  6. Veritas

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFI6m6Icav4&w=640&h=390]

    January 10, 2014 at 4:00 pm |
    • Rob

      This is a lengthy video but debunks comparison of Jesus to other mythological figures very well in great detail.

      Thanks for posting this again.

      January 10, 2014 at 4:06 pm |
    • Pete

      Zeitgeist was about as accurate as Ancient Aliens, and likely written for the same audience. It doesn't take away from the fact that Christianity borrowed heavily from pagan religions, however.

      January 10, 2014 at 4:06 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      you can deny it as loudly and as often as you like, but the facts remain that much of Christianity is copied from earlier civilizations.

      What a joke!.

      January 10, 2014 at 8:51 pm |
  7. Observer

    Can ANY Christian answer this question? No answers yet.

    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 10, 2014 at 3:56 pm |
    • Alias

      Because they are cowardly bigots who wanted to hide behind church leadership.

      But can you tell me why they need google if jesus has all the answers?

      January 10, 2014 at 4:38 pm |
      • Russell

        Seriously?
        Who wants to ask jesus for a link to midget porn?

        //I admit, that was stolen from another site

        January 10, 2014 at 4:43 pm |
        • Lars

          D'oh!!

          January 10, 2014 at 5:14 pm |
        • David

          But He answeredme. Ecusae me imtypying with one hand,

          January 10, 2014 at 5:21 pm |
    • AE

      I can't answer for those people. My church allows Christians who happen to be gay to serve and lead. So I think it is safe to as.sume that there are a significant number of Christians that disagree with the actions of this man's church/employer.

      January 10, 2014 at 7:24 pm |
      • Analizer

        @Observer..Listen to AE, dude! And don't just "observe", 'analize'! So the next time you would not anymore ask a very shallow question and whine like you hit the lottery jackpot.

        January 12, 2014 at 2:25 am |
  8. Reality # 2

    Bell's fund continues: Raised: $26,062.00 as of 1/10/2104, 3:40 PM

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

    Would someone start a fund for me?? 🙂 Easy money to say the least !!

    January 10, 2014 at 3:41 pm |
    • CommonSensed

      Anyone can do it – no one's stopping you.

      A fool and his money and all that.

      January 10, 2014 at 3:43 pm |
    • Michael66

      its sad really, there are tons and tons of people with gofundme accounts that are really in need and this pastor is getting a ton of money so he can continue to live high and mighty beyond his means.

      January 10, 2014 at 4:12 pm |
      • doobzz

        And you know that he's "living beyond his means" how?

        January 10, 2014 at 10:48 pm |
  9. Topher

    "But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee:" Luke 12:20

    None of us are promised another day. PLEASE don't let another day go by without considering what God has offered you.

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

    January 10, 2014 at 3:32 pm |
    • CommonSensed

      Abuse reported, proselytizer.

      January 10, 2014 at 3:39 pm |
      • Russell

        So you are the spineless wonder who reports abuse on everthing you don't agree with.

        January 10, 2014 at 5:05 pm |
        • David

          Abuse reported.

          January 10, 2014 at 5:22 pm |
        • Russell

          Ditto.

          January 10, 2014 at 5:33 pm |
        • David

          But you committed self – abuse. Nasty.

          January 10, 2014 at 5:36 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

      What god has offered us? Hmmm – a world where an omniscient, omnipotent being allows unspeakable evil to happen on an ongoing basis to people? No thanks. For example, any god who has the foreknowledge of, and the ability to stop, child se-xual abuse, and yet fails to do so, because to do so would interfere with the child ra-pist's Free Will is a horrible immoral monster.

      January 10, 2014 at 3:39 pm |
      • Dash Vader

        You have the best name ever.

        January 10, 2014 at 5:12 pm |
      • Russell

        You have an error in your logic.
        You are assuming god doesn't exist to prove he doesn't exist.
        If the bible were right about everything, then pain and suffering in this life would not matter.

        January 10, 2014 at 5:19 pm |
        • ME II

          @Russell,
          If pain and suffering in this life does not matter, then why doesn't your God stop it?

          January 10, 2014 at 5:27 pm |
        • ME II

          p.s.
          In other words, if there is no point to it. Then why does it exist?

          January 10, 2014 at 5:28 pm |
        • David

          Not quite – that person is stating IF (notice the big if) a god exists, it's either evil or impotent, not saying it doesn't exist.

          January 10, 2014 at 5:28 pm |
        • Alias

          Why would he step in and stop pain if it didn't matter?
          If the purpose of this life is to determine where we spend eternity, than it DOES NOT MATTER if we suffer for the few decades we are here.
          Again, I keep saying 'if'.

          January 11, 2014 at 1:18 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      Considered it, thrown it out due to lack of reliable evidence.

      January 10, 2014 at 3:41 pm |
    • bostontola

      Valhalla does sound tempting.

      January 10, 2014 at 3:53 pm |
    • Ben

      Topher
      So, "Act now; quant_ities are limited!", eh?

      January 10, 2014 at 3:57 pm |
      • Topher

        Time certainly is.

        January 10, 2014 at 4:09 pm |
        • Ben

          And so are supplies of Snuggies, if you believe the infomercials, but I suspect that they could manage to scrounge up one if I happen to call after 10 minutes.

          January 10, 2014 at 4:16 pm |
        • Topher

          Congratulations! That's probably the BIGGEST rabbit trail I've ever read on this blog. 😉

          January 10, 2014 at 4:23 pm |
        • sam stone

          "time certainly is" – gopher

          "the sky is falling! the sky is falling!" – chicken little

          i suspect even gopher can see the connection

          can you, punk?

          January 10, 2014 at 4:49 pm |
        • Russell

          South Park covered this in their first movie.
          I consider the topic closed.

          January 10, 2014 at 5:08 pm |
        • Ben

          What do you mean by "rabbit trail"?

          January 10, 2014 at 5:22 pm |
      • David

        "Pity you don't believe, I mean it'd be a shame 'f something should happen to ya, like ya might be walking down the street oneday and WHAM! – a truck runs ov'r your kneecaps. So, you might want to worship me, know what I mean?"

        January 10, 2014 at 5:34 pm |
    • Madtown

      "But God said unto him..........." Luke 12:20
      ---–
      Since God didn't write the Gospel of Luke, or any other book in the bible, we can't say for certain "God said" this. What we can say, is that if God really did write this, our next question has to be "why didn't you give it to everyone"?

      January 10, 2014 at 3:58 pm |
  10. Dale

    I was searching for the truth and was fortunate enough to find it, or rather to have it revealed to me by the Lord. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. I have no need to "try" anything else now, as I am completly content in Christ. PTL

    January 10, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Who is to say that Angus, Belenos, Brigid, dana, Lugh, Dagda, Epona, Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Atehna, Demeter, Dionysus, Eris, Eos, Gaia, Hades, Hekate, Helios, Hephaestus, Hera, hermes, Hestia, Pan, Poseidon, Selene, Uranus, Zeus, Mathilde, Elves, Eostre, Frigg, Hretha, Saxnot, Shef, Thuno, Tir, Weyland, Woden, Alfar, Balder, Beyla, Bil, Bragi, Byggvir, Dagr, Disir, Eir, Forseti, Freya, Freyr, Frigga, Heimdall, Hel, Hoenir, Idunn, Jord, Lofn, Loki, Mon, Njord, Norns, Nott, Odin, Ran, saga, Sif, Siofn, Skadi, Snotra, Sol, Syn, Ull, Thor, Tyr, Var, Vali, Vidar, Vor, Black Shuck, Herne, Jack in the Green, Holda, Nehalennia, Nerthus, endovelicus, Ataegina, Runesocesius, Apollo, Bacchus, Ceres, Cupid, Diana, Janus, Juno, Jupiter, Maia, Mars, Mercury, Minerva, Neptune, Pluto, Plutus, Proserpina, Venus, Vesta, Vulcan, Attis, Cybele, El-Gabal, Isis, Mithras, Sol Invictus, Endovelicus, Anubis, Aten, Atum, Bast, Bes, Geb, Hapi, Hathor, Heget, Horus, Imhotep, Isis, Khepry, Khnum, Maahes, Ma’at, Menhit, Mont, Naunet, Neith, Nephthys, Nut, Osiris, Ptah, ra, Sekhmnet, Sobek, Set, Tefnut, Thoth, An, Anshar, Anu, Apsu, Ashur, Damkina, Ea, Enki, Enlil, Ereshkigal, Nunurta, Hadad, Inanna, Ishtar, Kingu, Kishar, Marduk, Mummu, Nabu, Nammu, Nanna, Nergal, Ninhursag, Ninlil, Nintu, Shamash, Sin, Tiamat, Utu, Mitra, Amaterasu, Susanoo, Tsukiyomi, Inari, Tengu, Izanami, Izanagi, Daikoku, Ebisu, Benzaiten, Bishamonten, Fu.kurokuju, Jurojin, Hotei, Quetzalcoatl, Tlaloc, Inti, Kon, Mama Cocha, Mama Quilla, Manco Capac, Pachacamac, Viracoc.ha, or Zaramama aren't true gods?

      How can the Tanakh, Talmud, Midrash, New Testament, Quran, Sunnah, Nahjul Balagha, Avesta, Vedas, Upanisahds, Bhagavad Gita, Puranas, Tantras, Sutras, Vachanas, Adi Granth, Purvas, Samayasara, Niyamasara, Pravacanasara, and Pancastikaya; Anupreksa; Samadhishataka of Pujyapada; Tattvarthasutra of Umasvati, Tattvarthasutra, Pali Tripitaka, Jataka,, Visuddimagga, Tripitaka, Lotus Sutra, Garland Sutra, Analects; the Great Learning; the Doctrine of the Mean; the Mencius, Tao Te Ching, Chuang-tzu, Kojiki, Nihon Shoki, K-oki, Ofudesaki, Mikagura-uta, Michi-no-Shiori, Johrei, Goseigen, Netarean Shower of Holy Doctrines, Chun Boo Kyung, Kitab-i-Iqan, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Book of Mormon, Dianetics, or Revelation X be dismissed as Holy Books since they all claim to be The Truth?

      If you're a Bible adherent, how do you know whether Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, oriental Orthodox, As.syrian, Byzantine, Lutheran, Anglican, Presbyterian, Anabaptism, Brethren, Methodist, Pietism, Apostolic, Pentocostal, Charismatic, African Initiated, United, Quakers, Couthcotti.tism, Millerism, British-Isrealism, Latter Day Saints, Mennonite, 7th day Adventism, Kelleyism, Co.oneyism, Shakers, Methernitha, Strigolniki, Yehowism, Christadelphians, Christian Science, doukhobors, Iglesia ni Cristo, Makuya, Molokans, Subbotniks, Ebionism, Martinism, Rosicrucians, Rastafarianism, Santo Daime, or Umbanda is the REAL interpretation of your God's words?

      If the One True Deity, shaper of The Universe, wishes their words to be transmitted and adhered to, they should have been a bit less ambiguous. Expecting people to select The Truth out of limitless possibilities on faith alone seems a sloppy way to run things - especially if the punishment for a wrong choice is eternal torment.

      January 10, 2014 at 3:03 pm |
      • Dale

        Well Doc, you can set aside all your confusion and rest in Him. God made it real simple for us by raising Jesus from the dead as verification that He is set apart from all others. He is the Promised One, there is NO OTHER!

        January 10, 2014 at 3:08 pm |
        • tallulah13

          Of courses, there's no contemporary accounts of the life of Jesus, just stuff written well after his death, and there's certainly no evidence that he was raised from the dead, but if believing a myth makes you happy, then good for you. I'll be sticking with reality, thanks.

          January 10, 2014 at 3:13 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          You can't make an informed decision unless you're willing to explore all the data.

          January 10, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
        • ME II

          @Dale,
          Ancient accounts tell of an important figure whose birth would be heralded by a star in the heavens, a god who would later judge the dead. He would be murdered in a betrayal by one close to him, his body hidden away — though not for long, as he would return in a miraculous resurrection to begin an eternal reign in heaven.

          To his legions of followers, he (and his resurrection) came to symbolize the promise of eternal life.

          The figure, Osiris, was the supreme god in ancient Egypt, only one of many pagan gods worshipped thousands of years before the birth of Jesus. Indeed, though Jesus is currently the best-known example of a resurrected figure, he is far from the only one.

          – See more at: http://www.livescience.com/3479-resurrection-history-myths.html#sthash.zpXpD0eD.dpuf

          January 10, 2014 at 3:17 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Martyrdom and resurrections are mythological archetypes, neither unique to nor originating from Christianity.

          January 10, 2014 at 3:21 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Continuing to re-state your religious claim is not eveidence your are right.

          January 10, 2014 at 3:22 pm |
        • Dale

          ME II, just one litte flaw in your comment there. Jesus is the ONLY ONE who actually took on human form and rose from the dead. Just a little point you may want to consider.

          January 10, 2014 at 3:24 pm |
        • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

          @ Dale – just one little flaw in your claim: there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Jesus was God, or a god, and there is no evidence that someone named Jesus came back to life after being dead for three days.

          No evidence whatsoever.

          January 10, 2014 at 3:29 pm |
        • Observer

          Dale,

          Could you answer even ONE of Doc's questions?

          January 10, 2014 at 3:31 pm |
        • Jake

          Dale, what makes you believe a man rose from the dead over 2,000 years ago? I am assuming you are an adult and most adults don't believe in magic, so why would you think that actually happened when there is no evidence that it happened other than a book that is equally old, has been revised many times and is filled with fiction.

          Again, why would you possibly believe that happened? Can you give me a decent reason?

          January 10, 2014 at 3:31 pm |
        • ME II

          @Dale
          "just one litte flaw in your comment there. Jesus is the ONLY ONE who actually took on human form and rose from the dead. Just a little point you may want to consider."

          What are you talking about? Prove that Osiris didn't actually take on human form and rise from the dead.

          January 10, 2014 at 3:32 pm |
        • Johnny

          So the story goes Dale, so the story goes.

          January 10, 2014 at 3:36 pm |
        • Dale

          You guys are right. Other than the 500 witnesses to the resurrected Jesus (I Corinthians 15), there is no evidence. What was I thinking?

          January 10, 2014 at 3:36 pm |
        • ME II

          @Dale,
          Funny how the only guy that claims 500 witnesses, Saul/Paul, wasn't even one of them. Odd that.

          January 10, 2014 at 3:40 pm |
        • CommonSensed

          @Dale – you continue to site evidence from your bible. One could say the same of other religions since their books say so, too.

          January 10, 2014 at 3:42 pm |
        • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

          @ Dale: there are many, many errors in the Bible. How do you know which parts of the Bible are true and which parts are false?

          January 10, 2014 at 3:44 pm |
        • Observer

          Dale,

          Corinthians (I 11:6) also says “For if a woman does not cover her head (while praying), let her also have her hair cut off”.

          Do you BELIEVE and SUPPORT EVERYTHING from Corinthians?

          January 10, 2014 at 3:47 pm |
        • Bob

          Dale, the root of your specious claims, and of your crazy religious delusion, is this crazy Jesus sacrifice nonsense that you have been spouting off about. So, how is it that your omnipotent being couldn't do his saving bit without the whole silly Jesus hoopla? And how was Jesus' death a "sacrifice", when an omnipotent being could just pop up a replacement son any time with less than a snap of his fingers? Pretty pathetic "god" 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 3:59 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          What were the names of the 500? What was to name of ONE of the 500?

          I can see why you think stating a claim is evidence...

          January 10, 2014 at 4:05 pm |
        • Dale

          Well Cheesy, if you had bothered to read the reference given in my post, you would know some of the names.

          January 12, 2014 at 9:26 pm |
      • Lars

        Well, Dale, maybe you can tell me this: if all babies are born guilty of original sin, it follows that Jesus was, also...correct?

        January 10, 2014 at 3:44 pm |
        • Dale

          Sure Lars, good question. It is true that we are all sinners and are all born into sin. Most theologians agree that sin is passed by the seed of the Father not the mother (though she is certainly not without sin). In the case of Jesus, He did not have a human father. So Jesus was born without sin, and He of course, never sinned. This allowed for His atonement on our behalf, as God always required a Lamb without spot or blemish as a sacrifice for sin. Jesus is indeed the Lamb of God.

          January 10, 2014 at 3:53 pm |
        • Bob

          Dale, the root of your specious claims, and of your crazy religious delusion, is this crazy Jesus sacrifice nonsense that you have been pathetically spouting off about. So, how is it that your omnipotent being couldn't do his saving bit without the whole silly Jesus hoopla? And how was Jesus' death a "sacrifice", when an omnipotent being could just pop up a replacement son any time with less than a snap of his fingers? Pretty pathetic "god" 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 4:01 pm |
        • Observer

          "Most theologians agree that sin is passed by the seed of the Father"

          Classic! Guess there's a "sin" gene.

          Get serious.

          January 10, 2014 at 4:04 pm |
      • aldewacs2

        Thanks, Doc.
        I've printed this out and it's on my wall.

        January 12, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
    • Ben

      Dale
      You mean that you've found an answer that you're more than willing to accept as the "truth", right?

      As your mother may have asked you at some time, how can you know that there isn't anything better unless you try it? You're refusal is a clear case of closed-mindedness on your part, isn't it?

      January 10, 2014 at 3:30 pm |
      • Dale

        No Ben, what I mean my friend is that before I received Jesus as my Savior I was discontent and anxious and searching for more. After I received Christ I was at peace, content and full of joy. I have "been found" by the Lord. Stop searhing where there are no answers and turn to the Lord, there you will find rest for your soul. God Bless

        January 10, 2014 at 3:45 pm |
      • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

        @ Dale: I'm pleased to hear that you are content and full of joy. Ever consider the possibility, however, that your concept of your god is in fact like an amulet that you can focus on, and that the real source of your change is you. People DO have the capacity to change, and turn their lives around, without external assistance.

        January 10, 2014 at 4:00 pm |
      • Ben

        Dale
        There are people who claim to be "at peace, content and full of joy" for the first time in their lives because they've discovered Yoga. The Self Help shelves at your local bookstore are full of programs that have clients who claim this exact same thing. Surely, then, Jesus is not the only Way.

        January 10, 2014 at 4:12 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      Dale, if that's what floats your boat and makes you happy, good for you.

      On the other hand, it didn't work for me.

      January 10, 2014 at 3:35 pm |
  11. Happy Atheist

    @Topher – "I'm sure this isn't what you meant, but to say there is NO evidence for a young earth is either a lie or you are misinformed. There's quite a bit, actually. Also, science rejects evolution, so please don't also state it's fact."

    This was a few pages back but I just read it and it pretty much exposes the problem I have with your arguments. You claim evidence for a young earth but present none and then claim science rejects evolution which is like claiming water isn't wet. I mean, to even have to say "You are wrong! Water is wet!" just ends up giving your blatantly false claim a platform for discussion that it doesn't deserve.

    If you believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis along with a young earth and Adam and Eve and a global flood you have to reject all the actual science and geology that has been researched, studied, peer reviewed and tested for validity. You have to reject every known method for dating fosils such as potassium-argon or rubidium-strontium dating along with the suspect radiocarbon dating. Just because radiocarbon dating has flaws does not mean the dozen other methods for dating objects are automatically bogus which is why the scientific community believes the 4.5 billion year age of the earth, it's because they did not use just a single method of testing to estimate that age, they used several different methods which all confirmed the same approximate age.

    I know there is nothing that can make you give up your security blanket theology if you do not want to. It makes you feel safe and secure living in your own little magical world in your head, but none of that makes anything you believe true, and may just harm you and many others around you when you reject reality.

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

      Hey Happy, just one thing. How does man measure something that was created with the appearance of age?

      January 10, 2014 at 3:17 pm |
      • ME II

        @Dale,
        Are you saying that God is intentionally deceiving humanity by creating things that appear older than they are?
        Why would he lie like that?

        January 10, 2014 at 3:20 pm |
        • Dale

          Me II, wow. You seem to want to lash out at God. What He did was create a functioning universe, which of course had the appearance of age. For ex. Adam appeared to be about 30 years of age when he was one day old. He created them Man and woman, not babies.

          January 10, 2014 at 4:00 pm |
        • Jen

          Dale, your "creator" created the universe to make it look like he didn't do so, at least as seen by sincere people looking honestly at the evidence. So he shouldn't condemn any of us for thinking that he doesn't exist, unless he's quite the ass hole. Given the hell/eternal torture thing, he sure does sound like a vicious ass hole to me. Therefore, as far as I'm concerned, you can keep your disgusting stories about your awful guy in the sky.

          January 10, 2014 at 4:09 pm |
        • ME II

          @Dale,
          "... wow. You seem to want to lash out at God."

          One cannot lash that which does not exist.

          "What He did was create a functioning universe, which of course had the appearance of age."

          So you claim.
          Are you saying that God created light, 'en route', from stars that never existed?
          Daughter elements from radioactive parent elements that never existed?
          That hardly seems honest to me.

          January 10, 2014 at 4:58 pm |
      • Jake

        Here's another question: Where did your god come from? Even in the extremely far-fetched version of reality that is religion, it doen't answer the fundamental question of how did everything come to be. Inserting a god doesn't explain who inserted him or where they came from.

        January 10, 2014 at 3:22 pm |
      • Ben

        Dale
        What if God was created with the appearance of being eternal? He could have been created 10 minutes ago with the memories of always having been. How would he know that he wasn't being deceived?

        January 10, 2014 at 4:21 pm |
  12. Dale

    Jesus said that those who receive Him and abide in Him will know the truth and the truth will set them free. Its obvios that this man did not know the truth and was never free. He continues searching because he has not 'been found".

    January 10, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
    • G to the T

      Sigh... "No True Scotsman"...

      January 10, 2014 at 3:05 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Diogenes is still looking too.

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

      Jesus said that those who receive Him and abide in Him
      ---–
      To receive or abide, you first need to be aware of his existence. What of the many humans on earth at this very moment with no concept of Christ of christianity? Are they doomed? They are God's creation, equal to you.

      January 10, 2014 at 4:05 pm |
      • Dale

        Madtown, Christianity is not a secret that has been kept from the world. Usually when someone brings this up it is because they do not wish to deal with their own accountability. You have been made aware of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You are now accountable for that knowledge. How God deals with others is not your concern, that is His business. Just be sure you are ready to meet God when your time is up.

        January 11, 2014 at 7:29 pm |
        • G to the T

          "You are now accountable for that knowledge. " Then STOP TELLING people the "good news". Honestly, if I hadn't already been a Christian in the past there's NO WAY I would be one now based on how poor the messengers are. You are actually DAMNING people by not being able to defend your beliefs properly.

          January 13, 2014 at 9:44 am |
  13. Atheism is wrapped up carnality. Want that toasted sir?

    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ 🙂 $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    January 10, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
  14. Michael66

    Scuse me,
    but this is idiotic.
    Getting huge donations doesn't even help matters much and doesn't even make sense.
    You either believe in God or not, it's not an experiment.

    The thing that makes this so stupid is that one is going to pretend a God doesn't exist, a God he wasn't sure of to begin with.
    That is just ridiculous.

    January 10, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      Getting donations will help him pay his bills while he figures out what his next step will be.

      Getting donations will help him keep food on his children's table.

      Getting donations will show him he is not alone.

      Who are you to judge what he did or did not believe before now? Have you really never tried to put yourself in someone else's shoes before you declared them stupid/incompetent/an idiot/a non-believer?

      January 10, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
      • Michael66

        So anyone else can just give up on their job and collect donations for it?

        This guy is obviously well educated and can find work, which is what makes this so absurd.

        January 10, 2014 at 2:28 pm |
        • myweightinwords

          Have you ever had a crisis of faith?

          This man's entire life was created around his faith, both personally and professionally. When his faith vanishes, it takes with him his identity.

          I'm betting the change was gradual, and he probably wasn't even fully aware of it for a while. But when it culminated in doubt, in serious, faith destroying doubt, it was likely devastating.

          I'm sure he'll land on his feet. As you said, he's well educated. He can probably get another teaching job somewhere. But in the meantime, while he's coping with the crisis, he knows he isn't alone and that people care and support him.

          That isn't absurd.

          January 10, 2014 at 2:38 pm |
        • tallulah13

          It seems like the concept of simple human compassion is lost on Michael.

          January 10, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
        • myweightinwords

          tallulah13, so it would seem.

          Sad really. Why is it so baffling to so many that people help other people when they're in crisis?

          January 10, 2014 at 3:22 pm |
        • ME II

          @myweightinwords,
          Generally, I'd agree with you, however this guy is just "trying it out". He's not seriously doubting, as far as he's said anyway, he's just living 'as if', he didn't believe.

          If nothing else his "experiment" is invalid due to sample size and selection criteria, i.e. 1 and a pastor at that.

          January 10, 2014 at 3:48 pm |
        • myweightinwords

          ME II,

          We don't know the whole story. It might well be that he's just saying that, easing himself into it. Or it could be he's full of crap and will recant and what have you. We just don't know.

          I choose to believe the vest of people most of the time.

          January 10, 2014 at 4:27 pm |
        • myweightinwords

          ME II,

          We don't know the whole story. It might well be that he's just saying that, easing himself into it. Or it could be he's full of crap and will recant and what have you. We just don't know.

          I choose to believe the best of people most of the time. (sorry for the double post, had to fix the typo or it was going to bug me)

          January 10, 2014 at 4:28 pm |
      • Michael66

        Yes it is absurd, no other professional employee could just give up their jobs and then complain their finances are in ruins and get 10's of thousands in donations.

        He should have lined up another job before purposefully getting himself fired.

        January 10, 2014 at 3:14 pm |
      • Michael66

        I am a very compassionate person, this guy isn't any any crisis worthy of 10's of thousands in donations.

        Plus, in all reality that money could help those really in crisis.

        January 10, 2014 at 4:08 pm |
        • myweightinwords

          You have clearly never had the very fabric of who you believed you were torn in two.

          I have. I have been in a similar position. I can empathize with him.

          January 10, 2014 at 4:25 pm |
  15. Dyslexic doG

    Apple Bush, where are you?

    January 10, 2014 at 2:03 pm |
    • midwest rail

      He's been busy posting as Opposing View and several others.

      January 11, 2014 at 4:26 pm |
  16. Jake

    Here is perhaps a more productive question for the believers:

    What would it take for you to NOT believe in a god?

    It would be pretty easy for me to believe in a god if I saw any evidence of its existence. It seems like no reasoning or logic can convince believers to disbelieve. That's the power and danger of teaching children that "faith" is not only ok, it's a virtue.

    January 10, 2014 at 1:48 pm |
    • Simple Truths

      Plastic Surgery looks creepy on everyone and faith is not a virtue.

      January 10, 2014 at 1:53 pm |
    • Jake

      Crickets...my point exactly.

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

      It's a hard question to answer for most people. Belief is such a personal, intimate thing and the euphoric feelings that it can create in a person make it difficult to think about that euphoria ending.

      Speaking for myself personally, I didn't think it was possible to ever stop believing in the Christian god. It was years of study, doubt, exploration, desperate clinging, more study and ultimately coming to terms with disbelief that led me away from Christianity. There wasn't an "AHA" moment.

      And, I didn't become an atheist, so mine isn't really the testimony you're looking for.

      January 10, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
      • Jake

        Thanks for the input. In a way though, you're the perfect one to answer the question. You were able to get over the Christian brain-washing, which clearly isn't as easy as I think it should be, considering so many continue to live in denial. However, you still believe in a god of some sort. Are you one of the people who redefines god to essentially mean whatever explains the universe, which is such a broad definition that it ceases to really have any meaning? Or if you do still believe in more conventional version of a god, can you explain why?

        January 10, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
        • myweightinwords

          My understanding of Divinity is complex. I believe that all deities reflect a measure of the divine, but also a measure of those who create it. Which kind of means I believe all gods are "real" and yet none of them are.

          I think of life as a learning process (and lean more toward a form of reincarnation as an afterlife than any heaven/hell scenario, but that's a different conversation), and there are no "right" answers, just lessons to learn on the way. Those lessons shape us, and what we believe.

          So no, I don't have a conventional vision of a god, and yet I think all gods have something we can learn from. And no, I don't think god is the Universe and thus loses all meaning. Somewhere in the middle is where I think the truth lies (as is true of so many things).

          I am currently still using the term Pagan to define my general orientation to religion, though even to most Pagans, what I believe is a little fringe. And that's okay. I don't mind.

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

          Well, thanks for sharing. I agree your views are complex because I don't get it! 🙂 I don't understand how you can believe that "all deities can reflect a measure of the divine" unless you believe all deities exist in the first place. Then again, no belief I've heard of that involves deities makes any sense to me.

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

          Jake,

          Well, like I said, I do...and I don't. It isn't necessarily something I expect anyone else to believe. I don't talk about it a lot because rather than exploring belief and how I came to believe it, I generally just get bombarded by both atheists and Christians (primarily, though other theists have bashed me too) for being irrational and stupid and other less interesting insulting things.

          I am in no way an uneducated woman. I am a perpetual student of science and philosophy, religion and humanity, history and life in general. I love talking to people of all faiths and no faith and collecting stories about their lives. And all of it informs and effects what I believe.

          January 10, 2014 at 3:27 pm |
        • Jake

          Well, I am curious as to how you came to believe...and not believe, in all deities at the same time and how that makes any sense to you, but I have to run for now.

          January 10, 2014 at 3:38 pm |
        • Russell

          @myweightinwords
          Please at least acknowledge that you have a fairly unique view of religion, and you must be very special to be the one in a Billion to have it figured out.

          January 10, 2014 at 5:31 pm |
    • bostontola

      I am astonished at how scrupulously the Christian God (or any other God for that matter) hasn't left any objective evidence for centuries. While humans were ignorant of science this same God was quite flamboyant; floods, plagues, parting of the sea, virgin births, resurrections, etc. Then nothing, immaculate.

      January 10, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
      • JB

        Hi bostonola,

        I disagree that humans were ignorant of science back then. How was Nimrod able to build such a tower, without the understanding of science, also how did he know to use a water-resistant material (forgot the spelling at this moment), so as to thwart damage from another possible flood?
        One of the things to consider was that the magicians in Pharaoh's court were able to replicate some of the demonstration of Power that Moses and Aaron did with the backing of the Yahweh behind them.
        So the question would be how were the magicians able to do this...? – Because they understood spiritual laws.
        The next question, where did they gain this knowledge?

        January 10, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          JB, There is no consensus on where that tower is so it's not even clear that it was waterproof; that could have been a later adornment of the text. A tower in those days would have had openings where water you enter. Presuming it was waterproof, that just means they had building skills learned over the years – almost all early settlements were near water so it's something they'd need to learn quickly. The "need" for a god comes from needing an explanation for earthquakes, lightning, eclipses, etc. as well as how did we get here.

          January 10, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
        • bostontola

          JB,
          Engineering is not the same as science. Today, engineering is almost exclusively founded in science (but still not the same as), but back then, engineering was mostly trial and error. Look at the Step Pyramid. They built it with too steep an angle and it would have collapsed so they had to step it. They learned from that and built later pyramids with the proper angle. There was the beginnings of math and there was natural observation but scientific knowledge didn't explode until the scientific method was refined.

          January 10, 2014 at 3:19 pm |
        • Fan2C

          boston,

          I was just last night reading an article about Sir Francis Bacon (one of Thomas Jefferson's favs, btw), who was largely responsible for the shift in using science for practical purposes. It seems as if for a long time "science" was more of a somewhat idle pastime of gathering knowledge for its own sake.

          The "science" that Paul of Tarsus referred to (disparagingly), for example, was not what we consider science to be today.

          January 10, 2014 at 4:25 pm |
        • bostontola

          Great point Fan, and Bacon is one of my favorites as well (the man and the food).

          January 10, 2014 at 4:37 pm |
        • Fan2C

          p.s. Then I read some stuff about New Age Baconian cults and Rosacrucians and other airy-fairy beliefs that folks have concocted and just smh, "aaaaarrrrgh!".

          January 10, 2014 at 4:38 pm |
      • JB

        Regarding the last part...
        Back before the flood, God would visit people... in dreams (King Abimelec etc), in person (Abraham).
        After the flood, the Holy Spirit- the Spirit of God would come, and go... it never dwelt with mankind.
        At the day of Pentecost, there was an "in-part" impartation of the Holy Spirit.
        Jesus said it was better for Him to go back to His Father, because by doing so the Holy Spirit would be sent to us.
        So now in the last days, there is the fullness of the Holy Spirit that has been sent. So for the believer who is baptized in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit now lives on the inside of that person.

        John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

        January 10, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
      • RB

        Bostontola,

        The Evidence:

        Design

        •Evidence for the fine-tuning of the Universe
        •Extreme fine-tuning – Dark Energy or the Cosmological Constant
        •The Incredible Design of the Earth
        • From the Beginning to Man – How God declares His love to us through the design of the universe
        •Quotes from Scientists Regarding Design of the Universe – Why do scientists believe in God?
        •The Hope of Atheism and Humanism: The Ultimate Fate of Life, the Universe, and Everything
        •One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest? – Antony Flew Renounces Atheism – After actively promoting atheism for decades, Prof. Flew embraces deism, saying he "had to go where the evidence leads."
        •If God Created Everything, Who Created God?
        •Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?
        •Size of the Universe: Isn't it Too Large to Have Been Created by God for Humanity?
        •God of the Gaps – Do All Christian Apologetics Fall Into This Kind of Argument? – A survey of arguments reported to support the existence of God and whether they are just due to a lack of scientific knowledge.

        Supernatural
        Evidence

        •Scientific Evidence for Answered Prayer
        •Prayer for Healing: What Does Science Say?
        •Scientific Studies that Show a Positive Effect of Religion on Health
        •Mind-Body Dualism – Is the Mind Purely a Function of the Brain?

        Evolution/
        Design

        •Origin of Life Theories: Metabolism First vs. Replicator First Hypotheses
        •Is the Chemical Origin of Life (Abiogenesis) a Realistic Scenario?
        •Problems with the Origin of Biological Membranes in an Early Earth Environment
        •Man, Created in the Image of God- How Man is Unique Among All Other Creatures on Earth

        http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/is_god_real.html

        January 10, 2014 at 3:32 pm |
        • bostontola

          RB,
          This is a problem for us in a discussion if you allow questions to considered evidence, things that have perfectly good natural explanations as evidence of supernatural things, etc. Your criteria for objective evidence is too broad for you and I to have a productive conversation on this subject.

          January 10, 2014 at 4:01 pm |
        • RB

          Bostontola,

          Ok, here is the detail on the first one;

          Fine Tuning Parameters for the Universe
          1.strong nuclear force constant
          if larger: no hydrogen would form; atomic nuclei for most life-essential elements would be unstable; thus, no life chemistry
          if smaller: no elements heavier than hydrogen would form: again, no life chemistry
          http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/designun.html

          January 10, 2014 at 4:16 pm |
        • RB

          2.weak nuclear force constant
          if larger: too much hydrogen would convert to helium in big bang; hence, stars would convert too much matter into heavy elements making life chemistry impossible
          if smaller: too little helium would be produced from big bang; hence, stars would convert too little matter into heavy elements making life chemistry impossible

          January 10, 2014 at 4:17 pm |
        • redzoa

          This list of "evidence" does not logically conclude with a designer/creator, let alone the Biblical deity. The fine-tuning arguments boil down to: "if things were different, then they wouldn't be as they are." Fine-tuning is akin to arguing a pot-hole was specially designed because it holds some precise shape/volume of rain water. Intelligent design inversely argues that the rain water must be specially designed because it so perfectly fits the pot hole. Regardless of precisely how life actually arose, the progressive order of the fossil record contradicts the Genesis narrative of creation and numerous geological features contradict the flood myth, e.g. the Coconino sandstone. A god or gods may have been responsible for the expansion of the known universe and the origin and diversification of life on this planet; however, as these are supernatural mechanisms, there is no way to test the propositions. They offer no positive supporting empirical physical evidence, only negative arguments of incredulity. Furthermore, the explanations offer no utility beyond apologetics because they cannot be falsified. An explanation which can explain any and all possible observations (i.e. God just did it that way), effectively explains nothing.

          January 10, 2014 at 4:18 pm |
        • RB

          There are 34 of them at the site referenced above if you are interested.

          January 10, 2014 at 4:20 pm |
        • bostontola

          RB,
          I am well aware of the universe's sensitivity to various constants. It is not evidence of design or an intelligent creator. It is evidence that if these parameters (that humans created) were different, no humans would have evolved to ponder them. There may be another theoretical construct that eliminates and/or explains this, there may be many universes, etc.

          Today, the Theory of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics are not compatible. Both theories have been validated to human experimental accuracy. Quantum Mechanics to much more accuracy and in many more ways. Is that evidence that Gravity doesn't exist? No. It means that we haven't figured it all out yet.

          January 10, 2014 at 4:50 pm |
        • Fan2C

          RB,

          Larger amounts of this and that? Smaller? How much?

          Guess what, if things were tweaked a bit, perhaps we (and all life and the universe) would be even *better* off - no stuff crashing into other stuff out there and being destroyed - better, stronger, disease-resistant bodies for us, with much longer life spans and larger brains with which to be able to figure things out... or a huge array of better scenarios than what we have.

          Your "designer" would barely get a passing grade.

          January 10, 2014 at 4:57 pm |
  17. Science Works

    And latest news out of HELL – still frozen over arctic vortex was to much for HELL.

    January 10, 2014 at 1:45 pm |
    • Løki

      In English – Hel is a cold place... cast off your christ! The Valkyries will not come for you christians! Valhalla will forever be out of your reach... The All-Father knows all and sees all... Huginn and Muninn watch and see and tell all to him! You cannot escape Ragnarok...

      January 10, 2014 at 1:49 pm |
      • Science Works

        It will thaw out this spring – fact !

        January 10, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
        • Løki

          Vielleicht wird und vielleicht wird es nicht

          January 10, 2014 at 1:56 pm |
        • Science Works

          Maybe not early – but it will thaw out as the new life begins.

          January 10, 2014 at 2:03 pm |
      • ME II

        @Loki,
        I thought one just had to die in combat for a 50/50 chance at getting into ValHalla with your pops.

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

          And the Valkyrie rides and there's Death at her side / her visage is graven in black /
          For when Odin decides and the Valkyrie rides / you know she will never turn back.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:59 pm |
      • Ben

        The Valkyries are all tall, blonde, Nordic supermodels, right?

        Count me in!! 🙂

        January 10, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
  18. Charm Quark

    So lets do a poll. Topher and his wife are soon to have a child, congratulations. The first word spoken by his baby will be...
    1. Mama
    2. Dada
    3. Jesus
    4. God
    5. Crap
    Please vote.

    January 10, 2014 at 12:42 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      other

      January 10, 2014 at 12:48 pm |
    • James K

      Two words

      "Why me?"

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

        That is exactly what I was thinking.
        Poor kid has to grow up with Gopher telling it what to believer and how to live it's life to be just like Gopher.
        Hope it gets to escape that horrible situation as soon as it can.

        January 10, 2014 at 1:05 pm |
    • Marce

      Help.

      January 10, 2014 at 12:51 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      That's not very nice

      January 10, 2014 at 12:52 pm |
      • Pete

        That's four words. 😉

        January 10, 2014 at 1:03 pm |
    • bostontola

      4. Belichick

      January 10, 2014 at 12:54 pm |
      • Charm Quark

        bostontola
        Should cruise past the Colts unless they get Luck'y. Go Pats.

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

          2 weak defenses, I expect a lot of points. Turnovers could be key. Can't see the Pats losing at home to the Colts though. Enjoy!

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

      A baby's first word might be a perfectly good word, but not recognized.
      Or it might be uttered with no one to hear.
      But for the first "understood" word, I'd have to go with mama.
      Of course it would get extra points for "mama k"

      January 10, 2014 at 1:13 pm |
      • Science Works

        No no no it has to be pa..pa.....popcorn !

        January 10, 2014 at 1:23 pm |
        • Fred

          pa..pa..predestination!

          January 10, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
        • Science Works

          The Catholic dogma – ?
          .

          January 10, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
      • Marce

        Doris: like!

        January 10, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
    • Jake

      I wonder if Topher will keep the child considering it will be born an atheist.

      January 10, 2014 at 1:21 pm |
      • Charm Quark

        Jake
        and a sinner, strange belief.

        January 10, 2014 at 1:26 pm |
      • Topher

        False. No one is born an atheist. He won't have the knowledge of that foolish argument.

        January 10, 2014 at 1:34 pm |
        • Jake

          Topher, now you're going to argue with the dictionary?! An atheist is one without a belief in a god or gods. No baby is born believing in a god or gods. All babies are born atheists and that's not remotely debatable.

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

          Babies wouldn't have knowledge of either side, making them agnostic at best. And who can know how atheists define themselves these days. The historical def. is they claim there is no God. But I've heard about a dozen variations on this from people on Belief Blog. Of course, for that to be the definition, it isn't completely honest since they'd have to have all-knowledge.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:46 pm |
        • Joey

          For me saying I don't know if a god exists is the same as saying that I don't believe in a god. So as far as I am concerned all agnostics are actually atheists because they currently don't believe in god.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:51 pm |
        • Jake

          You are incorrect again. Atheists don't claim to know there is no god. They simply don't have a belief in a god, just as a baby doesn't have a belief in a god. You don't have to know about something to not believe it exists. That's sort of the point of why atheism is the default position and a religious view requires evidence to overturn it. We don't default to believing in anything at all without evidence, or brain-washing.

          Babies are not agnostic. Agnostic would imply they have thought about whether or not there is a god and aren't sure. They're atheists, plain and simple. There're also a-unicornist, a-moonists and a-pretty-much-everything-ists. You aren't born with a belief in god and that's the definition of an atheist.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
        • Alias

          Here is an idea:
          Don't tell it anything about your bible. If you are right about everything, it will know who jesus is anyway.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:59 pm |
        • sam stone

          Come on, Jake. You know very well that gopher only consults dictionaries if they support his foolish arguments

          January 10, 2014 at 2:08 pm |
        • sam stone

          You seriously think you are the one to be blathering on about honesty, gopher?

          go home and get your fvcking shinebox, boy

          January 10, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
      • sam stone

        wrong, gopher. everyone is born an atheist

        January 10, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
    • ME II

      Why do some feel it necessary to attack people instead of ideas?

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

        I'm attacking the idea that it's ok to convert a child from atheism to religion through what can only be described as mental abuse (childhood indoctrination). By all means, if an adult wants to explore a religion, go for it. But warping a childs mind when they're too young to know any better is just plain wrong.

        Topher's child will be born an atheist, just as every child on the planet has always been and always will be born. It will only be through what I expect will be an extensive serious of religious brain-washing that his child could possibly be convinced to believe as Topher does. It is truly disgusting.

        January 10, 2014 at 1:38 pm |
        • ME II

          @Jake,
          Not that I was talking about you specifically, but since you brought it up, why question whether Topher would keep his child, regardless of its "belief". This whole thread is, or verges on, ad hominem.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:42 pm |
        • Jake

          It was perhaps not the nicest way to put it, but he seems to disagree to the extreme with atheists and I wonder if it has occurred to him that his child will naturally be born an atheist. It will only be through his mental manipulation that the child will (I'm assuming) eventually be convinced to believe in a god. I would like him to consider that if he had the courage to let his child come to its own conclusions, his child would almost certainly remain an atheist for its entire life. Perhaps if he loves his atheist baby, he will start to be more open-minded about what atheism really is about.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:58 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Seriously.
        I'm glad Topher has managed to rise above these childish taunts and just ignore them.
        I'd be pretty ticked off if folk started attacking my family...

        January 10, 2014 at 1:39 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          Absolutely

          January 10, 2014 at 1:40 pm |
        • midwest rail

          I agree wholeheartedly. No matter how I feel about Topher's posts, no one deserves this.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:43 pm |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        Sometimes you feel like a nut... sometimes you don't

        January 10, 2014 at 1:39 pm |
    • Jim

      @charm

      Do you make fun of everyone you disagree with?

      January 10, 2014 at 1:49 pm |
      • Charm Quark

        Jim
        No Sir, but of course it depends on the context. As a baseball fan I do not make fun of Whitesox fans, I pity them and often feel empathy. I don't even make fun of the more rational people that believe in one religion or another. But when it comes to creationists and born agains that have to dismiss all reason and logic, it is open season, crazy is.....

        January 10, 2014 at 2:05 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      We can say a lot about Topher and his beliefs but one thing we can't say is that he'll be a bad parent. Him and his wife obviously want this baby and unlike many other babies, I'm sure this one will know love.
      The only worry might be that Topher awhile ago said he thought creationism was taught in schools and his stance on LGBT.

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

        truthprevails1

        Thank you (and the others) for your kind words. I appreciate them.

        But I'm NOT a proponent of creationism being taught in schools.

        January 10, 2014 at 2:37 pm |
        • truthprevails1

          Sorry, my misunderstanding.
          I don't think you deserved your parenting skills attacked when you haven't even had a chance to parent yet and how you raise your child is up to you largely (as long the child isn't being abused). It's an interesting journey to go on, just keep an open mind and an open line of communication.

          January 10, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
        • Jake

          Yes, but based on Topher's position, it seems very likely that he will mentally abuse his child by teaching it to believe in his religion at an age when they don't know any better. I'm not suggesting that Topher will intentionally be a bad parent, I'm suggesting that it is bad parenting to brain-wash your child and teach them to believe things without evidence and I am afraid that's what he'll do. Anyone who does that is doing their child a lifetime of disservice.

          January 10, 2014 at 3:17 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      sorry CQ but that's a bit too personal in my opinion.

      Poor Topher was an atheist once but then his parents and priests got to him and messed up his mind. I'd like to think that anyone can burst the bubble and find the real world again. He may surprise us.

      January 10, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      All parents program their children. That is a parent's job!
      Becuase we are all biased in one way or antoher, we wind up coding our kids' brains with our own biased worldviews.

      If it makes you all feel any better, just remember that we live in the information age.
      It is no longer feasible to keep a child insulated from outside influences forever – and the longer a parent tries to do it, the more likely the kid will question things once they inevitably get access to the oceans of information we have at our disposal.
      The global ubiquity of social media means that kids are able to interact with other kids from all kinds of countries, ethnicities and religions. Prejudice has a much harder time surviving when you can actually converse with someone from a group that your elders have protrayed negatively.

      January 10, 2014 at 2:18 pm |
    • Akira

      I just hope Topher's child is born healthy. All other speculation is kinda nunya.

      January 10, 2014 at 2:38 pm |
    • Charm Quark

      Topher
      Well I do congratulate on your pending child as in my original post. It would seem I owe you an apology if you took offence, so I apologise.

      January 10, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
      • Topher

        Apology accepted. But my child is off limits.

        January 10, 2014 at 3:22 pm |
        • bostontola

          As it should be, best of luck. I rediscovered my youth through my children, have fun!

          January 10, 2014 at 3:30 pm |
      • bostontola

        Charm,
        Respect.

        January 10, 2014 at 3:32 pm |
    • doobzz

      You know, I've typed and erased three responses to this, and can't think of another way to put it than this feels like making fun of a child who has no control over the situation it's born into.

      Topher comes here knowing what kind of response he's likely to receive, but I think the child should be off limits. Can we keep it to asking Topher about himself, his beliefs, and what he will teach his child(ren) and not on the child(ren) themselves?

      Maybe I'm being too sensitive? I know the child will likely never see this, but it still feels wrong to me.

      January 10, 2014 at 4:09 pm |
      • doobzz

        Oops, sorry, looks like the whole thing played out while I was away. Well, I have a nice piece of home smoked bacon to soothe me.

        Carry on.

        January 10, 2014 at 4:16 pm |
  19. Robin

    I honestly believe atheists should stop judging Christians and christians should be judging atheists

    Nuff said

    January 10, 2014 at 12:28 pm |
    • Well...

      That'd be nice.

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

      As soon as you believers stop trying to force us to go along with your myth the sooner we will stop judging you.

      January 10, 2014 at 12:41 pm |
    • Rev. Rick

      Actually, neither should be judging the other. There is only One qualified to judge anyone else and that is God. Any mortal who claims that they know that this person, or that group of people, is going to He!! is a poser and in danger of ending up there as well. God alone knows the heart of another. Nuff said...

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

        So Rev, where is the proof of your judger?
        That is right, you don't have any proof, just some stone age book of fairy tales.
        Look, you want to buy into the scam, go ahead.
        But stop trying to force the rest of us do go along with you.

        And if you are an actual Rev then you are only one of two things;
        A scammer as you make your living off perpetuating the scam in order to fleece your marks out of their money.
        Or a fool in that you really still believe in Santa Claus.

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

        Rev
        Why do you think that so many Christians oppose things like gay marriage, or abortion rights then? If they aren't planning to get gay married, or have an abortion themselves aren't they being "Judgmental" of everyone else by blocking these things?

        January 10, 2014 at 1:07 pm |
        • Rev. Rick

          Ben, having been raised as a fundamentalist (although I am not one) these folks think they are doing everyone a favor by preaching against this or that "sin". I am not qualified to judge what is or is not sinful. Personally, I don't believe we are punished FOR our sins, but we are punished BY them – think of it as Karma if you want. If what you are doing doesn't bring harm to another, nor to yourself, I think you are good-to-go. But that's just my approach to belief.

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

          That's just the basic Golden Rule in action.

          Jesus's version, "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." is problematic. Say that you're really proud and can't stand the idea of being handed charity from somebody else. Does that mean that you shouldn't offer charity to anyone just because you wouldn't take it yourself?

          January 10, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
      • Jake

        So we're not qualified to judge murderers and put them in jail? Sorry, but I am qualified to make those judgements. I am also qualified to judge religious people for mentally abusing their children. It is a terrible and harmful practice that needs to stop.

        January 10, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
        • Rev. Rick

          Jake, Jake, Jake – stop taking everything so literally. You are beginning to sound like an angry fundamentalist... 🙂

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

          Not angry, confused as to when you think it's appropriate to judge and when it isn't. Given what I consider to be the many evils of religion, I feel it's appropriate to judge what those people do to their children.

          January 10, 2014 at 1:45 pm |
        • Rev. Rick

          Jake, sorry you are confused. Even though I am a minister I actually agree with you that some of what I see that's taught in the name of religion I also consider abuse. Especially if the "religion" uses fear as a tool to instill obedience. When used against a child, it is abuse in the extreme since the child has no way to apply reason to certain situations. I am not here to rail against atheists, nor to preach that non-believers are going to hell. In fact it may surprise you to learn that I do not believe in hell, nor in satan. Just sayin....

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

          Rev. Rick

          Ok, dude, I gotta ask. What religion are you?

          January 10, 2014 at 1:58 pm |
        • Rev. Rick

          Topher – although I was raised as a Southern Baptist Christian, I suspect that trying to tie me to a particular "denomination" would prove quite futile. If I were forced to point you to something, then you might take a look at something called New Thought Christianity. It's very non-standard, but it has been around since the early 1800s. If you Google New Though you will find a fairly good (but not very thorough) synopsis in Wikipedia. I also read a lot of books on Buddhism and Hinduism, but I don't consider myself as either one of those.

          January 10, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
        • Topher

          So are you a reverend of New Thought?

          January 10, 2014 at 2:28 pm |
        • Rev. Rick

          Topher – that is correct.

          January 13, 2014 at 12:45 pm |
    • bostontola

      Thanks for being honest.

      January 10, 2014 at 12:55 pm |
    • Pete

      We criticize each other, which is fine, but only Christians wish that bad things happen to people who don't share their opinions. We atheists have nothing even remotely as vile to say about Christians as their statements that we deserve Hell. You're talking about apples and oranges.

      January 10, 2014 at 12:56 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.