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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. If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

    Austin, while we're on the subject of "gifts" from gods.
    My ex-wife once experienced a miracle from God. A photograph came back and she had a brilliant "halo" near the top of her head. I came home and she had a number of friends (from her church of course) milling around praising God. I suggested to her that the "halo" was a reflection of the flash in the mirror (that was behind her head in the photo) and it was a ring due to the spherical camera lens, further more it was "near" her head because that was were the camera was pointed at the time.
    The firestorm of angry looks & comments from the group was astonishing .. especially after I offered to bring her, the camera and the photo to the local university (University of Wisconsin) for study. After all, if she had proof of the divine she owed it to the world to share this gift. She, too, choose to decline further scrutiny.

    Just goes to show you, people believe what they want to believe.
    btw .. this wasn't the first, only or last incident of God's divine power that shown down upon her. She also speaks directly to God at will AND receives direct specific responses ... none of which have yet been a cure for cancer coincidentally.

    January 11, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
    • Austin

      that is interesting . In all of my experiences, I feel that they are proof to me, but not proof to any one else because none of you actually had the dream, and then observed the result in reality. I can only explain to you that the scripture promise that to all there is a gift of faith by the same spirit, and that there truly are other spiritual gifts that not everyone will experience.

      I realize that many people who have the gift of faith from the same Spirit, will not have the gift of prophecy.

      Peace to you , through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is a promise and the New Covenant .

      January 11, 2014 at 2:38 pm |
      • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

        Austin, I wasn't discussing your "gift", I gave another example of a person's "gift" and was curious what your thoughts were on that incident. Is she crazy or "gifted"?

        January 11, 2014 at 2:43 pm |
        • Austin

          well, my thoughts shifted to once there was a picture taken at my place out in the corn field, because the sun was bursting forth rays down out of some clouds, but what the camera picked up, was a red cloud in the corn field with a bright round orb glowing in the middle of a red cloud. It was shocking and startling.

          I have no clue about your picture really. It could have been a demonic revelation just like some of my dreams are spiritual..

          I don't know. I cant' tell you that it was not something paranormal but we could guess that it may have been a glitch.

          did it happen 30 times? were there rational parallels between the halo and some other message? my dreams have rational messages, are future content revealed that was truly experienced.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:57 pm |
        • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

          Basically Austin, I was trying to determine where you consider the line between crazy and gifted to. My ex is delusional and if your abilities are real, there is a difference. I wanted to gauge your ability to differentiate delusion from reality to see if you truly believe your gift is unique or if you're the type who believes anyone's thoughts, dreams, interpretations and beliefs are real.

          January 11, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
        • Austin

          yes well. What i know from experience and study, is that God works in unpredictable ways and places. i.e. Moses in a river who was prophet and still didn't get to enter the promised land, Daniel adulterer and murderer , Joseph sold into slavery, Daniel in a lions Den, Jeremiah in a well, Paul a persecutor of Christians, Mary, and unwed teen, Jesus from the line of Tamar, and through the sinful incapability of Israel. Jesus , born in a stable.

          I am one successor of the apostle Paul of the Lord Jesus Christ by faith, in spirit and truth.

          January 11, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
        • Henry

          Ever notice that Austin's favorite tune is me me me me?

          January 11, 2014 at 3:27 pm |
        • It's a Sign!

          A – Amos
          U – Urijah (Jeremiah)
          S – Solomon
          T – Two Witnesses of Revelation
          I – Isaiah
          N – Nahum

          Unless you are Dale...
          Then, I guess, it's:
          D - David
          A - Amos
          L - Lucius of Cyrene
          E - Ezekial

          January 11, 2014 at 3:40 pm |
        • Squish Kitty

          I was flattened just for you Austin....Meow.

          January 11, 2014 at 11:07 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        Austin

        your miracles are not spelled G O D, they are spelled L S D.

        January 11, 2014 at 4:31 pm |
        • truthprevails1

          lol...although Austin much prefers alcohol, it is after all what brought him to his God...hitting that church in drunken stupor was a sure sign.

          January 11, 2014 at 4:39 pm |
        • sam stone

          G O D or L S D, a drug is a drug

          At least with LSD, after 8 hours or so, you are over it

          January 11, 2014 at 8:58 pm |
        • sam stone

          Hit a church? Must have bumped his head and saw jeebus when he was out.

          Blunt force trauma would explain his hallucinations

          January 11, 2014 at 9:00 pm |
        • Dandintac

          Clever. You know, every time a Christian tries to convert me I feel the same as I felt when the drug pushers came up to me in school.

          January 11, 2014 at 9:25 pm |
      • Alias

        Austn,
        you have no proof of god. You have a strong insecurities.
        You see what you want to see, not necessarily reality.
        There are many people of different faiths who have the same visions and dreams that you do. You can't all be right.

        January 11, 2014 at 10:47 pm |
      • aldewacs2

        Ausin
        Several posters above are too kind to tell you what you need to hear: you are a nutcase and need to lay off the sauce.

        January 12, 2014 at 8:02 pm |
        • aldewacs2

          Ausin = Austin

          January 12, 2014 at 8:06 pm |
  2. JB

    Corrected:
    In the seemingly straightforward "scientific principle" of testing to verify information by some form of experimentation before it can be believed, lie a formula that leads to the way of death. Logic and Subtlety are the chief weapons that the Devil uses against those who consider themselves wise.
    Do Not try to experiment upon the word of God. You either believe it or you choose not to believe it. And once you choose not to believe it you will simple open yourself up to be destroyed by the master of corrupt logic.

    January 11, 2014 at 2:09 pm |
    • Austin

      JB
      do you think i should just stick to the gospel. I am worried that i am trying to add ingredients to the kettle, but what about my honest testimony?

      January 11, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
      • JB

        I believe dreams and visions are still today, and are just as relevant now as they were then. You're not adding to the Gospel, by having dreams.. they are messages communicated to you.
        If you can interpret the dreams, good. If not, seek a son of God who can wisely interpret them for you.
        Even the persons mocking you, they have dreams too. If they sought to find out what the Lord was/is trying to communicate to them perhaps they themselves would no longer be in doubt.
        But see... one actually has to have the dreams interpreted before they can get the full message.

        January 11, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
        • Observer

          JB,

          Austin has the chance to prove God exists by ACCURATELY predicting the future.

          He could become almost a famous as Jesus. He could win $1 million for his church. He could save BILLIONS of souls.

          Instead, he'd rather come up with EXCUSES for not doing it.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:25 pm |
        • ME II

          @JB,
          Interesting. Are you saying that all dreams are divine communication?

          January 11, 2014 at 2:28 pm |
        • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

          I'm with Observer (& others) on this one. You claim to have the power to "convert" billions of Muslims, Hindus, Wiccas, atheists, etc .. this atheist included. Surely you can't seriously believe your god would look upon your gift of mass conversions with displeasure?

          January 11, 2014 at 2:30 pm |
        • JB

          Observer-
          Everyday you mock Austin and his beliefs. Why would anything he does prove God to you, when you have all the evidence or proof that you need and you choose to ignore them.

          Austin is not seeking reward from man... and a believer doesn't seek to gain from the work of the Holy Spirit within them.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:35 pm |
        • Observer

          JB

          "Austin is not seeking reward from man... and a believer doesn't seek to gain from the work of the Holy Spirit within them."

          I have repeatedly said he could give that to his CHURCH. Are you saying he shouldn't get ONE MILLION DOLLARS for his church?

          He supposedly could save BILLIONS of souls. Obviously, you don't care about them.

          I am agnostic. If someone can PROVE God exists, I'll believe it.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:40 pm |
        • Austin

          just this morning I was fanticizing about taking myself to a prison in Iran. I don't have any reason not to . I want to spread the gospel in the middle east, in the most dangerous area of the world!

          January 11, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
        • Observer

          Austin

          "just this morning I was fanticizing about taking myself to a prison in Iran"

          With the exposure here from CNN, you could make a FAR GREATER impact. I know you'd rather FANTACIZE instead.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:43 pm |
        • Austin

          ok how about this, you give me an email adress, and i will start posting every dream down there, and i will have to get a computer back in my house so i can promptly get them posted in the morning. i don't see why this would be a problem.

          get this, a about 3 weeks ago, i sent my friend a text, who i think is fbi or something he has always hidden, that I told him "i I think there is going to be a train attack" because I was really picking up such a vibe and it scared me.
          and there was 2 weeks later in russia.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:50 pm |
        • Austin

          this though was not a vision or dream, and this could easily be a coincodence, none the less, i made a prediction and it hit.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:51 pm |
        • Observer

          Austin,

          How about this: You go to James Randi and prove everything to him and the world and get ONE MILLION DOLLARS for your church and save BILLIONS of souls?

          January 11, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
        • Austin

          and save BILLIONS of souls?

          Observer, shame on you.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:59 pm |
        • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

          Austin .. instead of an e-mail address (conveniently private), why don't you start a daily blog and post publicly all of your dreams/visions/predictions for the world to see? It shouldn't take long for the world to see the truth of your abilities .. and you don't need to prophet from them (pun intended). Seems pretty simple.
          Maybe you're the next Edgar Cayce?

          January 11, 2014 at 2:59 pm |
        • Observer

          Austin

          "and save BILLIONS of souls?"

          Come back when you CARE about getting ONE MILLION DOLLARS for your church AND can PROVE that God exists AND save BILLIONS of souls which you COULD do if you are right.

          Good luck.

          January 11, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
        • Austin

          observer, this gift that i have is not salvation.
          salvation is faith and trust, for forgiveness, ans repentance that bears fruit.

          proof is not salvation. you can have proof and still not trust Jesus with your sin and trials.
          29 “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’

          30 “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’

          31 “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.’”

          January 11, 2014 at 3:06 pm |
        • Fan2C

          Austin,
          "‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.’”

          Is this "God" character of yours so weak and stupid that it can't come up with a good idea about convincing *everyone*?

          Or is it so devious and evil as to leave ambiguous trails of breadcrumbs, some of which lead right off a cliff, for hapless humans, however sincere they may be?

          January 11, 2014 at 3:26 pm |
        • JB

          ME:
          All dreams are not divine communication. It takes discernment to know when a dream is spiritual and from God.
          Life is a journey and as one grows, so does their ability to discern the real from the counterfeit-whatever the source maybe.

          January 11, 2014 at 4:02 pm |
        • Observer

          Austin

          "this gift that i have is not salvation. salvation is faith and trust, for forgiveness, ans repentance that bears fruit. proof is not salvation."

          You CLAIM that your "gift" is from God and you can see the future.

          PROVING that you are telling the truth would convince BILLIONS of people of God's existence and therefore SAVE BILLIONS of souls.

          I know. It's too much work for you to win a MILLION DOLLARS and save BILLIONS of souls.

          Keep fantasizing. Just don't claim that you are WILLING to PROVE anything.

          January 11, 2014 at 5:18 pm |
        • ME II

          @JB,
          "All dreams are not divine communication. It takes discernment to know when a dream is spiritual and from God."

          Ridiculous... that basically means that it is subjective, what the individual chooses to believe is from God.

          January 11, 2014 at 6:29 pm |
        • sam stone

          Austin: go get yourself thrown in prison in iran. Then you can demonstrate for the world all your gifts

          until then, you are everybit the delusional coward gopher is

          January 11, 2014 at 7:13 pm |
        • Alias

          If you make enough vague and general predictions some of them will come true.
          It doesn't take anything divine for that to happen.

          January 11, 2014 at 10:57 pm |
    • OTOH

      JB,

      Yet, it seems as if you think yourself wise to believe that.

      It's turtles all the way down...

      January 11, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
  3. JB

    In the seemingly straightforward "scientific principle" of testing to verify information before it can be believed, lie a formula that leads to the way of death. Logic and Subtlety are the chief weapons that the Devil uses against those who consider themselves wise.
    Do Not try to experiment upon the word of God. You either believe it or you choose not to believe it. And once you choose not to believe it you will simple open yourself up to be destroyed by the master of corrupt logic.

    January 11, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
    • Observer

      JB,

      Yep. Avoid all TESTING and LOGIC.

      January 11, 2014 at 2:09 pm |
      • JB

        There is no harm in trying to understand the forces that make our physical world function; as long as we keep in mind that we are studying the handiwork of our Creator.

        January 11, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
        • Observer

          JB,

          "as long as we keep in mind that we are studying the handiwork of our Creator."

          Nope. Learning new things is most productive with an OPEN MIND and not one looking for EXCUSES for contradictions and errors in a 2,000-year-old book.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
        • ME II

          @JB,
          And if such studying leads to the realization that the supposed "handiwork" is not true, then what?

          January 11, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
        • JB

          Why do you keep repeating that there are errors and contradictions in the Bible. I can understand if you say you don't understand everything... neither do I.
          But my lack of understanding is not due to errors and contradictions,... as I grow spiritually I know I will learn more.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
        • JB

          ME:
          There is only one truth. There are things that may be true, however the truth is unchanging.

          Ex. It may be true that a person has a certain disease... however the truth is by His stripes you are healed. This is a truth that cannot be changed.
          Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

          So coming to a conclusion that does not line up with the Word of God is not truth and must be rejected. 🙂

          January 11, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
        • Observer

          JB

          "Why do you keep repeating that there are errors and contradictions in the Bible"

          I repeat it because it is TRUE, but mostly to remind Christians that it is THAT erroneous book that they use to hypocritically trash gays, pro-choice supporters and non-believers.

          As long as Christians PICK-and-CHOOSE from the Bible, why not CHOOSE the GOLDEN RULE?

          January 11, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
        • JWT

          My creator was my parents. Please remember that while you may choose to believe in one of the great many gods that not every one does so and your beliefs do not apply to other people. They do not have your version of a creator.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
        • ME II

          @JB,
          "So coming to a conclusion that does not line up with the Word of God is not truth and must be rejected. :)"

          Such is a statement of faith, not logic or evidence. Just because you want it to be so, does not make it so. 🙂

          January 11, 2014 at 3:05 pm |
        • JB

          Logic is just human reasoning.
          The Word of God, which is Truth, which is God Himself (John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.) cannot be confined to the logic of man, who is himself a created being.

          I agree that the Word is accepted by Faith, but it doesn't stop there. Faith opens up the reality of the spirit realm to the believer, which is why we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Wisdom) to lead us into all truths and bring back all things into our memory. These are things in the spirit realm that we have forgotten once we were birthed into the earth.
          You and I are just spirits clothed in flesh.

          January 11, 2014 at 3:52 pm |
        • ME II

          @JB,
          A lot of words there but you really are not saying anything are you.
          If human reason is not to be trusted then your reasons for believing are not to be trusted.

          January 11, 2014 at 5:51 pm |
    • aldewacs2

      @JB
      "Why do you keep repeating that there are errors and contradictions in the Bible."

      Is there a sanctioned list from the pope (or whoever) as to which paragraphs may be ignored, and which are cherry-picked, absolute 'must-follows'? If there were such a list, I'd suggest it better be flexible since science keeps ripping away some of the silly claims.

      January 12, 2014 at 3:05 pm |
  4. Science Works

    Nope sort of like how to park the talking donkey at the curb ?

    January 11, 2014 at 1:59 pm |
    • Nope

      What are you talking about? Shrek? See, you make no sense.

      January 11, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
      • Science Works

        Nope and the talking snake must be cold cause HELL froze over the arctic vortex was to much for HELL to overcome.

        January 11, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
        • Nope

          Ok. Have a good day.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
        • Science Works

          Nope – and the anti-christ is coming to a theater near you this Friday. (rated r) Comedy Gold !

          January 11, 2014 at 5:05 pm |
        • Science Works

          Hey Nope the belly of the beast !

          A whale of a myth/story the RCC has but together over the years.

          The Jonah mentioned in II Kings 14:25 lived during the reign of Jeroboam II .... concerning Jonah, who is said to have been three days in a whale's belly?

          International science news !

          'Walking Whale' Fossil Discovered In Peru: 40-Million-Year-Old Specimen May Be Link Between Aquatic and Land Mammals

          http://www.isciencetimes.com/articles/6094/20130920/walking-whale-fossil-ocucaje-peru-40-million-years.htm

          READ MORE:

          15-Million-Year-Old, 1000-Pound Baleen Whale Skull Unearthed Along The Potomac River In Virginia [VIDEO]

          January 12, 2014 at 1:14 pm |
  5. bostontola

    Christians and atheists populate the intelligence spectrum roughly the same. The difference I tend to see is Christians have stronger compartmentalization ability. They can be highly intelligent in their jobs and in most facets of life, using fact based decision making and critical thinking. Then they can suspend that critical thinking and accept the premise of supernatural being(s) with no objective evidence. If a person came to them in their job and said another employee is not pulling their weight, they would demand objective evidence.

    The interesting thing about accepting the premise of supernatural being(s), is that you can apply perfect logic to a false premise and the conclusions will almost always be false. So they can be logical and still come to false conclusions. That makes it harder to self-detect. I'm not saying God is a false premise, no one can prove that in the general case. I'm saying the premise should be supported by objective evidence. The Christian God is not only without objective evidence to support its truth, there is much objective evidence that it is false.

    In addition to the intelligent, logical Christians (and atheists, Jews, etc), there are the illogical below average intelligence Christians (atheists, Jews, etc., roughly half of the population). They can take false premises and apply faulty logic. I don't have to explain where that leads.

    January 11, 2014 at 1:09 pm |
    • Austin

      after my friends funeral there was a get together at an upper classmen's house from h.s. they were 4 years older than me. this was two nights ago . we were sitting around and they were proceeding to get wasted. It was 11:30 and they started slurring so i took off, as this was the funeral for my friend who lost his liver from too much vodka.

      that night i dreamed that Russ, who was at the get together, was talking about a sunset a few days ago as it was along the mountains in oregon.
      I have the spiritual gift, as i have told you before so i took a chance and told my fried Garza about it and asked him......"was anyone talking about a sunset" and he answered me ....."wow, amazing, yes"

      Bostontola, how many times do I have to tell you that you are lying about us not having evidence? I have data, evidence and proof.
      4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

      7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits

      January 11, 2014 at 1:22 pm |
      • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

        Anecdotes, coincidences and interpretation are not evidence.

        January 11, 2014 at 1:26 pm |
        • Austin

          my gift has been demonstrated in truth and repeated over 30 times now.

          January 11, 2014 at 1:28 pm |
        • bostontola

          Austin,
          I recommend you research Pareidolia and apophenia.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
        • Austin

          ok i will do that fair enough , i want to comply with your requests for reason.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:18 pm |
        • No Evidence

          Austin, there you go again with your lies about "truth".

          January 13, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
      • Observer

        Austin has a "gift" that could get $1,000,000 for him or his church, he SAYS..

        He chooses NOT to try for the money to prove he knows what he is talking about.

        All we need to know.

        January 11, 2014 at 1:28 pm |
        • Austin

          that is a worthless reply. what i am telling you is no more than James Randi can tell you. the simple truth is what you do not want. the truth is right here right now, explained to you in simple terms.

          The Holy Spirit is God.

          January 11, 2014 at 1:31 pm |
        • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

          Very convenient for Austin that his virtue overrides his desire for testable proof that could change the world in a very positive way.

          January 11, 2014 at 1:37 pm |
        • Austin

          i want to go to a jail cell in Iran and show them the power of God within me. I simply will not cater to James Randii.. I would be willing to do some other arrangement for free though. because i am telling you the truth, and this is observable.

          Just as my friend observed yester morning and my friends dad observed in the hospital when i had been delivered a bible verse via a vision, and it was the same verse that my friends dad was studying the same night.

          God is soveriegn, and He is a miraculous orchestrator.

          January 11, 2014 at 1:46 pm |
        • Observer

          Austin

          "what i am telling you is no more than James Randi can tell you. the simple truth is what you do not want."

          James Randi says any supernatural claims are NONSENSE. He offers ONE MILLION DOLLARS if people can prove it.

          You are just AFRAID to have to offer proof. Obviously, you don't care about getting ONE MILLION DOLLARS for your church. So much for your church.

          I WANT the TRUTH and you are too scared to try to show it.

          If you can PROVE it, I will accept it. So far: just a lot of TALK from you and NOTHING ELSE.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:08 pm |
        • Austin

          So far: just a lot of TALK from you and NOTHING ELSE.

          that is true, but my talk is true also. I am not lying to you.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
      • JB

        Austin,
        When I didn't see you around I figured it was either Dan or the snow. Sorry to hear.
        How are you?
        I had left several messages in response to your post.

        January 11, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
        • Austin

          JB I am struggling.. I have been trying to control my anger because i had another contractor go bankrupt and I lost $6,000, its up to 40,000 in bankruptcy losses now over 5 years, esgrow loans, and the bank and the builder go scott free. Its absolute robbery enforced by the Government. this is a rampant problem.

          January 11, 2014 at 1:35 pm |
        • OTOH

          Austin,

          Too bad that you didn't have a dream or a visit from the HS to steer you away from those loser contractors...

          (Condolences to you on the loss of your friend. It hurts, I know)

          January 11, 2014 at 1:40 pm |
        • Austin

          thanks OTOH. I appreciate that.

          January 11, 2014 at 1:48 pm |
        • JB

          I am posting after I've read OTOH's comment.
          I just want to as.sure you that all things may not be good, but all things will work together for your good. That's a promise and one that will not be broken.

          I understand how you feel right now, and usually when one is in the midst of a trial, and cannot see ahead, it's easy to feel discouraged. Remember Joseph, the same could be said of him. He was indeed a dreamer and was scoffed at by his brothers... so pay no attention to the spirits behind those hope is not the Lord. They themselves cannot help you, however they'll try to ridicule the source of all you are.

          Stay Blessed and remember fiery trials are there for refining and you will emerge polished.

          January 11, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
        • Austin

          JB., I had not been to the blog or the library for a while because it was snowing twice, and and there was company in town. i will get to the other cite, can you refresh me on the web url please my friend?

          January 11, 2014 at 2:03 pm |
        • Observer

          Austin,

          I'm sorry about your financial problems.

          Looks like you sure could use ONE MILLION DOLLARS.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
        • Austin

          ahaha that did make me laugh out loud. Observer with a humorous break through. Ya know, I really do want one million dollars don't get me wrong, and I would not keep it, but I have not ever allowed my self to test God in that format.
          I have simply received and observed. I don't know what else to say, let me ask you this observer......

          have you not read or been informed about the many many verses in the bible, the new testament about the serious error in putting God to the test? or seeking a sign? do you agree that this is forbidden directly in the written word of God?

          This is why I will not sleep on a platform or for money or personal gain. God does not honor such motivation as far as I know. I believer that the sign He gave you was the resurrection,and that what you need is the personal baptism of the Holy Spirit who bears the truth. I cant subst.itute for the Holy Spirit that is heresy. I can't be the giver of faith. I can give my testimony though.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
        • Observer

          Austin,

          Yep. Your church probably doesn't need the MILLION DOLLARS or the good work it could do with it. And saving BILLIONS of souls isn't important.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:36 pm |
      • bostontola

        Austin,
        It's not nice to call someone a liar when you didn't read the post closely enough. I said OBJECTIVE evidence.

        January 11, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
        • Austin

          Information based on facts that can be proved through analysis, measurement, observation, and other such means of research.

          fact, i have these dreams. they can be analysided. they can be observed. and then so can the reality that entails.

          I have always given you objective evidence. you cant accept truth.

          January 11, 2014 at 1:38 pm |
        • bostontola

          Austin,
          Your evidence is subjective.

          January 11, 2014 at 1:39 pm |
        • ME II

          @Austin,
          How can your dreams be analyzed or observed by anyone but you?

          January 11, 2014 at 1:42 pm |
        • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

          Austin .. I noticed one interesting thing about your response. You keep saying "can be" and not "have been" analyzed. Why is that? Why have you not submitted your "gifts" to scientific analysis when it could "prove" once and for all?

          January 11, 2014 at 1:43 pm |
        • Austin

          yes to you both, ok. all i do is receive a dream, and write it down. all of the other actions as well as the fact of the dream, are all observable . If you go to the book of Matthew, and this is what frightenes me, this happened.
          5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

          “‘He will command his angels concerning you,
          and they will lift you up in their hands,
          so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[c]

          What we have here is Satan trying to twist the meaning of trusting God, into testing God. There is an example of a sound off With Elijah the prophet, and the prophets of Baal, and the thing about me is I am not a prophet. I simply have a gift that is only receiving what God allows, wither it be from Satan, or a ministering spirit, or the Holy Spirit.

          I do not have the authority to test God.

          January 11, 2014 at 1:53 pm |
        • bostontola

          Austin,
          Please don't take this as an insult, I am concerned that you are displaying delusions of grandeur.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:01 pm |
        • ME II

          @Austin,
          Ah, so you are claiming to have prescient dreams, fine. Provide a specific measurable time dependent and non-obvious prediction here online and let's see how accurate you are.
          Better yet provide more than one and we'll compare your accuracy against random hits.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:01 pm |
    • Nope

      It is funny to watch atheists criticize religious people for being irrational and illogical... and then turn around and do irrational and illogical things. Christopher Hitchens was a good example of that. Richard Dawkins is today.

      January 11, 2014 at 1:22 pm |
      • bostontola

        1. Did you read the first sentence of my OP.

        2. What does any particular atheist have to do with my point? No particular atheist speaks for atheists or is representative of atheists. Are you trying to identify yourself as a member of the set I mentioned in the last paragraph of my OP?

        January 11, 2014 at 1:27 pm |
        • Nope

          I don't have enough faith to be a Christian or an atheist. I'm saying there are a lot of people who describe themselves as atheists that hypocritically attack people who describe themselves as religious.

          January 11, 2014 at 1:38 pm |
        • bostontola

          I said there are below average intelligence, illogical atheists in the first sentence of the third paragraph.

          January 11, 2014 at 1:42 pm |
        • Nope

          There are atheists with a very high intelligence, like Dawkins, that treat atheism like a religion and act incredibly hypocritical.

          January 11, 2014 at 1:47 pm |
        • bostontola

          Please explain to me how Dawkins treats atheism like a religion. He espouses no creed, he has established no rules of how to live, no traditions or ritual. He only exposes weak critical thinking. Do you think that a requirement to apply critical thinking is a religion? In that case, I will self identify in that religion. Dawkins can be strident and rough, but I don't see religiosity.

          January 11, 2014 at 1:54 pm |
        • Nope

          It would be nice if Dawkins could demonstrate critical thinking, not just talk about it.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
        • bostontola

          Nope,
          I guess you accept that Dawkins doesn't treat atheism like a religion since you passed over the point. With respect to your latest assertion, that Dawkins doesn't think critically, I suggest you research his many accomplishments and fundamental science books. He is many things, but lacking in critical thinking isn't one of them. No one thinks critically every moment, but Dawkins must be in the 99.99th percentile of critical thinking in the human population.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:18 pm |
        • Nope

          Have you read "The God Delusion"? It is embaras$ing! Maybe he is not so bad, but he has inspired a neo-atheist movement that treats atheism like a religion.

          http://www.newstatesman.com/religion/2013/08/atheism-maturing-and-it-will-leave-richard-dawkins-behind

          January 11, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
      • ME II

        Not that everyone doesn't do irrational things occasionally, but what are you saying that Hitchens did that was irrational or illogical?

        January 11, 2014 at 1:55 pm |
        • bostontola

          He did smoke himself to death.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
        • Nope

          He talked the logic talk, but didn't walk the logic walk. I though he drank himself to death. That or the smoking, are incredibly idiotic and illogical.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
        • ME II

          Drinking or smoking oneself to death may be stupid in most people's view, but if one values the experience that those activities provide over the extra life span, then it is not necessarily illogical or irrational.
          You may not agree with his priorities, but that is a subjective judgement.

          Consider this the next time you ask "what's for dessert?"

          January 11, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
        • bostontola

          Nope,
          Besides his lifestyle choices, please provide an example of idiocy.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
        • Nope

          Yea, getting addicted to a drug that poisons the body is just like having a piece of cobbler. Hitchens literature on religion was pretty ignorant. He hated religion and women, and rationalized his arrogant and crude behavior toward both groups. Just like he rationalized smoking and drinking as enjoyable, even though it made him appear bloated, sick and miserable.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:25 pm |
        • bostontola

          Why is hating religion idiocy? I bet the some of the kids that were abused by priests hate religion too.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:38 pm |
        • Nope

          I think "religion" is such a broad concept. I can't imagine a child harmed by a religious person can blame "religion", anymore than a child harmed by an Indian person can blame "India".
          The religion didn't harm the child. A person did.
          Anyway, I see a lot of wiser atheists refuting ol' Hitchens and Dawkins, they way John Stewart refutes Glen Beck. It is awesome. And the wiser atheists aren't acting like bigots to everything religion.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
        • ME II

          @Nope
          "Yea, getting addicted to a drug that poisons the body is just like having a piece of cobbler."

          To a certain extent, yes. They are both personal choices. If you claim Hitchens was irrational in choosing to smoke/drink then you are also irrational in choosing unhealthy food.

          January 11, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
    • Austin

      willful ignorance , as described in 1st Peter, is on of four reasons a person will not be saved. you willfully subject a spiritual God, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the testimony of the Holy Spirit who is God , and the spiritual seed , to your own physical demands.

      you blatantly reject God's way of salvation.
      7 But when he(John) saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.

      January 11, 2014 at 1:27 pm |
      • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

        Pretty sure you're confused on the whole "willful ignorance" thing.

        “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”
        ― Søren Kierkegaard

        January 11, 2014 at 1:34 pm |
      • bostontola

        Austin,
        How concerned are you that you will be sentenced to eternity in Tartarus for not following Zeus' rules?

        Now you know exactly how concerned I am about not following Jesus' rules.

        January 11, 2014 at 1:34 pm |
        • JB

          The only command Jesus gave you to follow is to love your fellow men as you love yourself.

          Zeus didn't die for your sins and has nothing to offer you.

          Jesus died for your sins. He went and got the keys of hell so the devil is totally defeated. He restored all power and authority back to you, so that you can once again dominate the earth that His Father gave you.
          It's a great inheritance. Read the will, and see all that's left to you.

          January 11, 2014 at 1:44 pm |
        • bostontola

          JB,
          I am happy that you are fulfilled by your beliefs and I don't have any desire to deprive you of that. Please don't assume that I never explored those precepts. I have studied the bible for years. That is why I am an atheist.

          January 11, 2014 at 1:49 pm |
        • tallulah13

          Of course, there's no more proof of the whole Jesus thing than there is proof of Zeus allowing the destruction of Troy, but what the heck. If it makes you happy to think that you are the center of attention of a being that is powerful enough to create the universe and that you will get to live forever in paradise if you say you like that god the best, then I say go for it. Kind of delusional, but if it makes you happy, then why should I complain.

          Unless, of course, you try to force your beliefs on others. Then I'm gonna get loud.

          January 11, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
        • OTOH

          tallulah,
          "Unless, of course, you try to force your beliefs on others. Then I'm gonna get loud."

          Of course flat-out compulsion is the worst threat, but the deception of presenting unverifiable supernatural fantasies as 'facts' rankles realists too.

          January 11, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
  6. If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

    Is God going to hell to burn for all eternity for impregnating someone else's wife? or Will believing Jesus is Gods lord and savior save God from an eternity in hell? Just curious.

    January 11, 2014 at 12:47 pm |
  7. Let's try atheism

    Tries atheism.

    Fails.

    Atheism is false.

    January 11, 2014 at 12:06 pm |
    • Lawrence of Arabia

      That's false.

      January 11, 2014 at 12:12 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      christians sure hate facts and logic...

      January 11, 2014 at 12:15 pm |
      • Nope

        If you decided to enter an university to study a discipline that relies on knowledge logic and facts, there is a good chance you would have a professor that happens to be Christian (who is paid good money to teach people like you).

        January 11, 2014 at 1:25 pm |
    • bostontola

      I doubt Mr. Bell is trying atheism as much as he is choosing to live without prayer to God for a while. Doubt is a long way from disbelief. His hiatus could drift him towards disbelief, or it could strengthen his belief. Only time will tell.

      The certain tone of your prediction suggests that you feel you have special powers to see the future, do you believe that?

      January 11, 2014 at 12:20 pm |
    • Henry

      Troll is obvious troll.

      January 11, 2014 at 12:45 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Here's your problem: You just said words. You didn't actually try to do anything. I suspect you like christianity because you don't have to make the effort to think or ask questions.

      January 11, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
  8. Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

    I suppose that a fish, hatched into water, surrounded by water all of its life, and seeing water as the only reality, believes that water is all there is to life, and does not even start to contemplate that there might be some existence other than water.

    Similarly, people born into any given religious faith – Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc, etc, etc – and who are immersed in that faith, and surrounded by people of that faith, all of their lives – and especially their childhood – can't be expected to suddenly cast off such total indoctrination when an atheist such as myself presents them with certain facts which conflict with their world view. Beliefs that are not based on logic and rational thought are not easily changed by arguments based on logic and rational thought.

    But, we'll just keep putting logic and facts up there, and eventually, through knowledge and education, religion will erode away.

    January 11, 2014 at 7:48 am |
    • Science Works

      There is even cool fossils from millions of years ago .

      Skull of 'Nutcra-cker Man' or Paranthropus boisei. The image is of Olduvai Hominid 5 (OH 5), the most famous of the early human fossils, which was found at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. (Credit: Courtesy of Donald C Johanson)

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140109003949.htm

      January 11, 2014 at 8:29 am |
      • Nope

        People born into any given religious faith – Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc, etc, etc – have probably actually contributed to the scientific research and understanding than you that led to that science journal you copied and pasted from.

        January 11, 2014 at 11:52 am |
        • Science Works

          Hi nope you will never know .

          January 11, 2014 at 12:01 pm |
      • Nope

        Unfortunately I am afraid I will never know what you are talking about. You don't really make much sense. Sorry, I try to follow along, but I think you need to work on your communication skills.

        January 11, 2014 at 1:41 pm |
    • Reality # 2

      Added details:

      “John Hick, a noted British philosopher of religion, estimates that 95 percent of the people of the world owe their religious affiliation to an accident (the randomness) of birth. The faith of the vast majority of believers depends upon where they were born and when. Those born in Saudi Arabia will almost certainly be Moslems, and those born and raised in India will for the most part be Hindus. Nevertheless, the religion of millions of people can sometimes change abruptly in the face of major political and social upheavals. In the middle of the sixth century ce, virtually all the people of the Near East and Northern Africa, including Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt were Christian. By the end of the following century, the people in these lands were largely Moslem, as a result of the militant spread of Islam.

      The Situation Today

      Barring military conquest, conversion to a faith other than that of one’s birth is rare. Some Jews, Moslems, and Hindus do convert to Christianity, but not often. Similarly, it is not common for Christians to become Moslems or Jews. Most people are satisfied that their own faith is the true one or at least good enough to satisfy their religious and emotional needs. Had St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas been born in Mecca at the start of the present century, the chances are that they would not have been Christians but loyal followers of the prophet Mohammed. “ J. Somerville

      It is very disturbing that religious narrow- mindedness, intolerance, violence and hatred continues unabated due to randomness of birth. Maybe, just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of all religions.

      January 11, 2014 at 8:35 am |
      • You should quote your sources (even when they are from an online OPINION pieceO

        http://www.theosophical.org/publications/1488

        January 11, 2014 at 11:13 am |
        • Reality # 2

          I put the information in quotes and added the professor's name i.e. J. Sommerville. The problem with the web address is that it is periodically changed or removed all together.

          January 11, 2014 at 1:02 pm |
        • Reality # 2

          From (Religious) Exclusivism to Convergence Part 1

          By James M. Somerville

          "Professor James M. Somerville taught philosophy for many years at Fordham University,
          where he was chair of the department and co-founder of the journal International Philosophical Quarterly.
          He is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy from Xavier University in Cincinnati and a Quest Book author
          (contributing to The Goddess Re-Awakening, 1989). His most recent book is The Mystical Sense of the Gospels
          Crossroad, 1997)."

          The complete article is worth reading. And there is a Part 2 also worth reading

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

          He is a member of a religion, Christianity, right?

          January 11, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
      • Nope

        There is absolutely nothing in atheism or not following a religion that makes one free of mindedness, intolerance, violence and hatred.
        Just like you can be good without God, you can also be completely horrible without God.
        The article you quoted from states there are different approaches a religion can take. You ignored the other approaches and insisted there was only 1 approach and, using broad strokes, condemned all of religion.

        January 11, 2014 at 11:41 am |
        • Bootyfunk

          atheism is not a life philosophy, as religion is. it only says there is no god.

          January 11, 2014 at 12:17 pm |
        • Alias

          Ghandi lived his entire life without believing in your god.
          How evil was he?

          January 11, 2014 at 1:09 pm |
        • Nope

          I don't think of Ghandi as evil. I'm not religious, what are you talking about? I just don't think religion is the anti-science, anti-reason monster responsible for all the ills of society that so many internet atheists try to portray it as. That is a myth.

          January 11, 2014 at 1:50 pm |
      • Reality # 2

        John Hick died a Quaker i.e. a Christian. James Somerville taught at a number of Catholic schools so one assumes he is a Christian. ,

        January 11, 2014 at 3:20 pm |
      • Reality # 2

        John Hick died a Quaker i.e. a Christian. James Somerville taught at a number of Catholic schools so one as-sumes he is a Christian. ,

        January 11, 2014 at 3:22 pm |
    • Nope

      Unfortunately not all atheists have all the facts or knowledge in the world. Many of them have a poor understanding of why a person may be religious and their reasons for choosing to do so. Some might see glaring faults from a guy named "Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear" who seems to think he has the facts on his side, when in reality he is just as small-minded and un-educated as the people he professes to be better than. There are too many religious elite scientists, historians, mathematicians, engineers, and other disciplines that rely on facts and logic to seriously consider your claim. Especially when there is overwhelming evidence of an "internet atheist" movement that is based in arrogance and misunderstandings, not logic and education. Thanks for sharing your opinion (but no facts or logic).

      January 11, 2014 at 11:48 am |
      • Bootyfunk

        "Many of them have a poor understanding of why a person may be religious and their reasons for choosing to do so."
        +++ generally not true. most atheists were raised by religious parents in a religious household in a religious community. so most atheists know very well why people are religious as they were once religious themselves.

        and no, intelligence doesn't make us immune from religious brainwashing. you have more of a chance to break the chains, but being smart doesn't mean you aren't ignorant.

        January 11, 2014 at 12:20 pm |
        • Nope

          Not all religions brainwash. Not all brainwashing is religious.
          I'm living proof of the first sentence.
          If you watch too much tv you might get brainwashed into believing a certain brand of toilet paper is better than another brand.

          January 11, 2014 at 1:44 pm |
  9. saggyroy

    By the time Jesus gets back, we will all be atheists.

    January 11, 2014 at 7:21 am |
  10. Jon Ramstein-Jorge Boriq

    This has nothing to do with atheism, but it is a spectacle.

    Ryan is an okay guy with a grandiose sense of self only outmatched by a desire to stay current.
    I don't know if that is bad. I certainly don't mean it pejoratively.
    In seminary he tried hard to create an elite group of seminarians. As a pastor in Hollywood, he served the community but boldly skirted his employers expectations. He is as good a man as any, but he may be better suited for the stage or garnering publicity somewhere than being a pastor.

    In a denomination which strongly refrains from imbibing Ryan drank freely even turning this (SDA) community's expectation on its head by inquiring after others stance on drink. If anyone thought it inappropriate he thought lesser of them.

    I think it fine that the SDA church has its ideological camps, some more humanistic others less so. Yet, what is disheartening is the colossal hubris with which Ryan-and the influential circle in which he runs-carries himself concern the faith of followers who are not so inclined to embrace all new liberal ideas.

    I opine that Ryan is not in fact concerned with atheism. It seems that he is conflating a rejection of God with the confessor's expression of doubt. The latter is well within a healthy religious practice as evidenced throughout the Judeo-Christian cannon and western Christian practice. He is either not unawares of this distinction or refuses to recognize this same for the sake of fomenting controversy. This reminds me of P.T. Barnum's convenient and professed ignorance to certain facts so as to not lie.

    I hope the best for him. He has been spiraling now for quite some time. None of this comes as any surprise.

    January 11, 2014 at 2:43 am |
    • Observer

      His biggest problem seems to be that he ACTUALLY is following the Golden Rule about gays, which is frowned on by many "Christians".

      January 11, 2014 at 2:48 am |
    • Science Works

      Jon Ramstein-Jorge Boriq – so would you call this healthy religious practice ? (in Texas)

      Pregnant, and Forced to Stay on Life Support

      http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/08/us/pregnant-and-forced-to-stay-on-life-support.html?_r=1

      January 11, 2014 at 6:28 am |
      • truthprevails1

        That's simply the government stepping in where they shouldn't. This woman's wishes were well noted and yet they don't give credence to that, they only care about making her a vessel for this fetus that may not make it and if it does make it, may be severely disabled.

        January 11, 2014 at 7:06 am |
        • Science Works

          There is just a few states like this – but it seems like religion gets in the way .

          Texas Advance Directives Act, Sec. 166.049, signed by George W Bush, 1999.

          Glad I do not live in Texas – who is paying the medical bills – the family did not want to keep the tube in .

          January 11, 2014 at 7:18 am |
    • Gds

      Thanks for sharing. This person's situation was mentioned briefly in a Sabbath school class with no specifics. I thought there must be more behind his firing and I was not mistaken.

      January 11, 2014 at 9:37 am |
    • Henry

      I am glad that he has left the SDA, is they are as big of a self-righteous, judgemental prig as you are.

      Hope he finds his way back to God with a church that actually practices the teachings of Jesus.

      January 11, 2014 at 12:42 pm |
  11. King of Darkness

    They are dead on when they say the bible is metaphorical for an internal battle of good and evil within oneself. The "devil" tempts you, but the devil is really your indulgent urges. It's no surprise that the opposite is called Satanism, which isn't actually devil worship, it's the worship of yourself giving in to all your inhibitions. Ancient civilizations personified everything. It's no surprise that the ancient texts did the same thing with Jehovah vs Satan. It's about having a conscience.

    January 11, 2014 at 1:47 am |
  12. Keith

    If a person has never seriously questioned their faith they do not have any.

    January 10, 2014 at 11:17 pm |
    • saggyroy

      You missed it by that much – "If a person has never seriously questioned their faith they do not have any". Should be read as "If a person has never seriously questioned their faith they WILL not have any." I am speaking about religious faith of course.

      January 11, 2014 at 7:25 am |
      • Keith

        I am not an English professor, I said what I meant to say.

        January 12, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
  13. Apologist

    ASB, NIV, NKJV, ESV, and RSV correctly translated it as "test."
    KJV mistranslated it as "tempt."
    imho

    January 10, 2014 at 11:03 pm |
    • Observer

      Apologist,

      Since we can't trust the words in the world's most popular Bible, the King James Bible, which of the 30 other English versions of the Bible is the ONE CORRECT one since they all disagree with each other?

      Which is the CORRECT Bible to CHOOSE when using the Bible to trash people?

      January 10, 2014 at 11:07 pm |
      • Apologist

        I usually try to read as many different translations as possible. And I try to learn as much as I can about language, customs, traditions and other aspects that can lead to a better understanding of a text. I'm kind of a literary nerd so I probably enjoy that more than others.

        January 10, 2014 at 11:11 pm |
        • Observer

          Apologist,

          That's a fine hobby for you, but few people have the time to research dozens of Bible versions.

          So which is the CORRECT ONE that they can use as an INFALLIBLE source for trashing people?

          January 10, 2014 at 11:14 pm |
        • Apologist

          None should be used for trashing people.

          January 10, 2014 at 11:15 pm |
        • Observer

          Apologist

          "None should be used for trashing people."

          Please tell that to NoToAtheism and all the Christians who use it to HYPOCRITICALLY pick on gays or pro-choice supporters. Maybe they can learn about the Golden Rule.

          January 10, 2014 at 11:21 pm |
        • Apologist

          You done already told them.

          January 10, 2014 at 11:26 pm |
        • Observer

          Apologist,

          Thanks for your support. Too bad that everyone won't follow the Golden Rule.

          January 10, 2014 at 11:28 pm |
        • Apologist

          Yep. The golden rule is a good rule to follow!

          January 10, 2014 at 11:32 pm |
        • Bill & Ted

          Be excellent to each other!

          January 10, 2014 at 11:35 pm |
        • Apologist

          (whoever has the gold makes the rules) 😦

          January 10, 2014 at 11:40 pm |
        • Reality # 2

          When finished reading all the translations, it is recommended to peruse the following:

          o 1. Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the ti-tles of their over 100 books on the subject.

          2. Early Christian Writings, earlychristianwritings.com/
          – a list of early Christian doc-uments to include the year of publication and good reviews of each-simply click on the gospel/epistle/book of interest to get to the reviews.

          30-60 CE Passion Narrative
          40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q
          50-60 1 Thessalonians
          50-60 Philippians
          50-60 Galatians
          50-60 1 Corinthians
          50-60 2 Corinthians
          50-60 Romans
          50-60 Philemon
          50-80 Colossians
          50-90 Signs Gospel
          50-95 Book of Hebrews
          50-120 Didache
          50-140 Gospel of Thomas
          50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel
          50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ
          65-80 Gospel of Mark
          70-100 Epistle of James
          70-120 Egerton Gospel
          70-160 Gospel of Peter
          70-160 Secret Mark
          70-200 Fayyum Fragment
          70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
          73-200 Mara Bar Serapion
          80-100 2 Thessalonians
          80-100 Ephesians
          80-100 Gospel of Matthew
          80-110 1 Peter
          80-120 Epistle of Barnabas
          80-130 Gospel of Luke
          80-130 Acts of the Apostles
          80-140 1 Clement
          80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians
          80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews
          80-250 Christian Sibyllines
          90-95 Apocalypse of John
          90-120 Gospel of John
          90-120 1 John
          90-120 2 John
          90-120 3 John
          90-120 Epistle of Jude
          93 Flavius Josephus
          100-150 1 Timothy
          100-150 2 Timothy
          100-150 T-itus
          100-150 Apocalypse of Peter
          100-150 Secret Book of James
          100-150 Preaching of Peter
          100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites
          100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans
          100-160 Shepherd of Hermas
          100-160 2 Peter

           4. Jesus Database, http://www.faithfutures.o-rg/JDB/intro.html –"The JESUS DATABASE is an online a-nnotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era. It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to the traditions found within the Christian New Testament."

          January 10, 2014 at 11:48 pm |
        • Apologist

          Thanks (fyi, the first link doesn't work)

          January 10, 2014 at 11:57 pm |
        • Apologist

          No bueno on the last one, either.

          January 10, 2014 at 11:58 pm |
        • faith

          The second one works – you just have to remove the hyphen. Here it is as should be:

          http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/intro.html

          January 11, 2014 at 12:05 am |
        • Reality # 2

          Oops, make that reference: earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

          January 11, 2014 at 8:39 am |
    • Lars

      When in doubt...it was mistranslated.
      Gotcha.

      January 10, 2014 at 11:12 pm |
      • Observer

        Lars,

        But it's only mistranslated for the particular verse and is corrected translated where other verses are usually concerned.

        January 10, 2014 at 11:16 pm |
  14. NoToAtheism

    How can he live under atheism when it doesn't exist? There is no way someone can't believe in something. If you believe there is no God,it's still a BELIEF. Non believers are children of the devil and there is no inbetween, no matter what you think or say. I wish him the best as God cannot be tempted and this is what this man did, that is why he had allowed a curse to fall on his household and it's now divorcing.

    January 10, 2014 at 9:39 pm |
    • Damocles

      Your deity seems to be very human.

      January 10, 2014 at 9:45 pm |
      • NoToAtheism

        In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word became flesh, so yes, my Deity was human and understand our weakness,though He was without sin.

        1John 1

        January 10, 2014 at 9:53 pm |
        • Damocles

          You can't really understand something unless you have experienced it for yourself. Your words of understanding to, say, a person suffering from cancer would ring a bit hollow unless they came from a place of personal knowledge.

          January 10, 2014 at 9:58 pm |
    • Blip

      Absence of belief does not make someone a bad person... Try again.

      January 10, 2014 at 9:45 pm |
      • NoToAtheism

        Where did I say people who don't believe in God are bad people? The word of God says, there has no good person on earth who has not sinned. For ALL have sinned Ames fallen short of the glory of God.

        January 10, 2014 at 9:49 pm |
        • Damocles

          Oh, so 'children of the devil' is the new phrase to describe people you like? 'Man, we really get along, you slimy old child of the devil'.

          January 10, 2014 at 9:52 pm |
        • Blip

          You're right, you didn't say that – I inferred it from you saying that atheists were 'children of the devil'... Which, I took as a negative. Apparently, someone who doesn't believe is on the same 'sin' level as believers then.

          January 10, 2014 at 9:53 pm |
    • Observer

      NoToAtheism,

      Speaking of tempting, take YOUR pick:

      (Gen. 22:1) “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.”

      OR

      (James 1:13) “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, NOR does He Himself tempt anyone.”

      January 10, 2014 at 9:47 pm |
      • NoToAtheism

        I choose both of them. Through Adam, sin fell upon all mankind. Through Christ, salvation came to all mankind.

        January 10, 2014 at 9:55 pm |
        • Observer

          NoToAtheism

          "I choose both of them."

          lol. So does God tempt man? YES or NO?

          January 10, 2014 at 9:58 pm |
        • Apologist

          According to the Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, the word "test" (NASB), "tempt" (KJV) is nacah. It means "1) to test, try, 2) to attempt, assay, try, 3) to test, try, prove, tempt." This is why the KJV translated it as "tempt" and NASB, NIV, NKJV, ESV, and RSV translate it as "test."

          Therefore, it was a test that God offered to Abraham, not a temptation to sin.

          January 10, 2014 at 10:25 pm |
        • NoToAtheism

          Why shouldn't God tempted (test) us? God does NOT tempt men to fall into singing, he puts our faith through fire to are if we are willing to trust Him as He did Job.

          January 10, 2014 at 10:29 pm |
        • Damocles

          Seriously? So, you have no problem with an abuser testing the bonds of a supposed loved one?

          January 10, 2014 at 10:37 pm |
        • Billy

          "he puts our faith through fire to are if we are willing to trust Him . . ."

          Is this what they call speaking in dungs??

          January 10, 2014 at 10:43 pm |
        • Observer

          Apologist,

          That's a RIOT. So "tempt" means "tempt" in one place and doesn't mean "tempt" in another.

          No wonder you are an APOLOGIST.

          January 10, 2014 at 10:49 pm |
        • Observer

          NoToAtheism

          "Why shouldn't God tempted (test) us?"

          Okay. So it was James in the New Testament that was WRONG and said "God cannot be tempted by evil, NOR DOES HE HIMSELF TEMPT ANYONE”

          So much for the "infallibility" of the Bible that you use to trash people.

          January 10, 2014 at 10:55 pm |
        • Apologist

          ASB, NIV, NKJV, ESV, and RSV correctly translated it as "test."
          KJV mistranslated it as "tempt."
          imho 🙂

          January 10, 2014 at 11:04 pm |
        • Billy

          "God does NOT tempt men to fall into singing"

          Is this the verse that Milli Vanilli misunderstood?

          January 10, 2014 at 11:24 pm |
    • Lars

      🙄
      The story explicitly states that the cause of divorce had nothing to do with his decision, a fact you conveniently ignore in your haste to judge, smear, and condemn.

      January 10, 2014 at 9:55 pm |
    • Doris

      OK so let's review. NTA still doesn't understand what atheism and must have misunderstood the article. Also, what does this:
      "that is why he had allowed a curse to fall on his household and it's now divorcing." mean??

      January 10, 2014 at 10:03 pm |
      • Blip

        Doris, NTA is saying that Bell is divorcing because he is exploring atheism which brought a 'curse' (booga booga boo), into his house. Even though, as pointed out below, in the article Bell states this is not the reason for his divorce.

        January 10, 2014 at 10:15 pm |
        • Doris

          Thanks for the clarification, Blip. Also, to correct my first line: ..."what atheism is..."

          January 10, 2014 at 10:39 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      "Non-believer" is a term Christians use to demonize those they don't agree with. And, as you point out, it is inaccurate because everyone believes in something.

      Atheists do not believe in god. Not your god, not my god....not any of the others gods. Doesn't make them non-believers.

      There is no curse here. There is a man who lost his primary job when his contract wasn't renewed, and who is losing his wife for undisclosed reasons and who is clearly undergoing a crisis of faith.

      I find it telling that rather than reaching out to him to offer support and trying to help him, so many people who purport to be "believers" are condemning him out of hand.

      January 10, 2014 at 10:09 pm |
    • tallulah13

      And here's yet another christian who can't understand the extremely simple definition of atheism. It means lack of belief in any god. That's it.

      It exists and atheists exist, no matter how much it frightens you to think that people can live happy, fulfilling lives without your god.

      January 10, 2014 at 10:21 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      @NoToAtheism

      "There is no way someone can't believe in something."

      Do you believe in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy? No? Well, that just proved that there IS a way that someone can't believe in something.

      January 10, 2014 at 10:49 pm |
    • exlonghorn

      @NoToAtheism

      "There is no way someone can't believe in something."

      Do you believe in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy? No? Well, that just proved that there IS a way that someone can't believe in something.

      January 10, 2014 at 10:50 pm |
    • Keith

      Atheism is not a life without belief, morals, etc.

      January 10, 2014 at 11:12 pm |
    • WC

      " If you believe there is no God,it's still a BELIEF."

      So then, to you the non-existence of the flying spaghetti monster is also merely a belief?

      January 11, 2014 at 12:22 am |
    • urnotathinkerareu

      You represent the TYPICAL christian...cannot comprehend what was originally said and have serious serious trouble connecting the dots and serious trouble discerning between what is evidenced and what is been rewritten a hundred times copied in differnt languages...originally written in greek...which wasn't the language of jesus but somehow the scribes met every eye witness and wrote all of it down...actually there are NO eye witness accounts in the bible so how is it that people get conned into believing this? Some serious issues with the believers man...serious...

      January 11, 2014 at 12:48 am |
  15. Gracey

    I give him credit. It takes courage to do what he is doing. I wish him the best in this journey/ experiment.
    I respect everyone's right to believe in God or not believe in God.
    For me I couldn't turn off my belief in God. Sure I get mad at God and you could say I throw a little fit and have my pity party but I repent and deep down I believe in God and that when I have a problem that is out of my control and I don't know what to do – I know God will work things out - and it is usually worked out differently then I thought it would be.

    January 10, 2014 at 9:19 pm |
    • Damocles

      These problems that you had, you took no steps to rectify them yourself?

      January 10, 2014 at 9:41 pm |
    • GiraffeJunk

      I was raised without religion (no Church or religion EVER), for me I couldn't turn ON a belief in God. I've seen religious accuse me of getting (or being) mad at God, but I just can't get mad at something that (to me) couldn't possibly exist and has NEVER existed in my life. I've heard that deep down everyone believes. Deep down I think everyone knows that there is no God. An Wooden Ark the size of Noah's (using the ancient Egyptian cubit) can't float. There's not enough water to flood the Earth on Earth. A rapist being allowed to marry the victim after paying a fine (50 silver shekels) is immoral. God impregnating a virgin so she can give birth to God (Himself) so He can die to pay for the sins that He already knew you would have (He is omnipotent), seems silly at best.

      January 10, 2014 at 9:48 pm |
    • urnotathinkerareu

      What you have when you "give" it over to god to deal with especially about things you cannot deal with is a simple act of psychology. By doing something about many situations you actually screw things up whereas if you left them alone they would work out. BY "giving it to god" you simply excuse yourself from doing or thinking about the situation. You can NEVER know an outcome anyone so saying god usually works it out is of no consequence. It isnt god...its just things resolving themselves in a natural way...eg. two other people arguing will need to work that out not you so if you stay out of it it usually works out...god is psychological security for those who need it....nothing wrong with that but reality will soon come calling...usually on a death bed when people for the first time really see they are alone....or you can beleieve a delusion...whatever makes you feel better.

      January 11, 2014 at 12:38 am |
  16. John J. Kuczma Jr.

    Mr. Bell, and the rest of the public, needs to read the last half of the last verse of Romans 1. This is what God says, not man. We need to understand that we do not get to choose what is sin. As for the Adventist church, he needs to get on exadventist.com.

    January 10, 2014 at 8:39 pm |
    • AE

      Paul wrote Romans.

      January 10, 2014 at 8:48 pm |
      • G to the T

        Sometime I think Paul was the worst thing to happen to Christianity.

        January 11, 2014 at 9:58 am |
        • sam stone

          Perhaps, but he was the best thing that happened to the beatles

          January 11, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
        • G to the T

          LOL... gotta admit you got me there. 🙂

          January 13, 2014 at 10:19 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      so which lines of the bible are the word of god which you must obey and which are just guides or options? I guarantee you do not obey every word of the bible so how do you justify your hypocrisy? How do you choose which lines you can overrule god on? and if you admit that some of the bible was written by primitive men and not your god, then the whole book is flawed. What a fraud you are posting that "we do not get to choose sin" ... you pick and choose from the bible in your arrogance. What a fraud!

      January 10, 2014 at 8:48 pm |
    • Lars

      Seems like the concept if "sin" changes constantly, depending on who is pushing the agenda.

      January 10, 2014 at 9:26 pm |
    • Keith

      Pretty silly to try to prove your beliefs with your own book.

      January 10, 2014 at 11:16 pm |
  17. AE

    He didn't really lose his jobs, as much as he gave them away.

    "I was and continue to be good friends with the people I have worked with. Everyone so far has supported my journey. There are some basic incompatibilities with my self-proclaimed, public journey this year and their insti.tutions. I understand this and do not think they are acting badly." – from his blog

    January 10, 2014 at 8:10 pm |
  18. Samuel

    Reblogged this on Write a blog on a log, Sam I am and commented:
    What an interesting concept. I am going to follow his blog to see how it goes.

    January 10, 2014 at 7:42 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.