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.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
It would be very wise for all non-atheists to report every single atheists who posts here. Maybe it make them leave? Report all atheist trolls and this site will be 10x times better.
Are you that afraid of questions ? Are you genuinely that childish ?
step one in making America a theocracy.
How typical of a believer, Alcoholism is a Religion.
You do what most true believers do when someone questions your sky fairy.
I guess all us atheists should count our blessings as this is 2014 and not 1014 as you and your ilk would have us rounded up and stoned to death instead of just getting deleted from some stu pid blog.
Is your god so weak that it can't take anyone questioning it's existence?
Or 1918 during the Soviets anti-religious ma$$acre.
No, that was atheists attacking Christians.
Atheists have caused the most deaths and damage in the past century alone. In fact, almost all atheist leaders ended up murdering the religious in high numbers and that was just a couple of decades ago. Most atheist leaders banned religion but murdered over 100 million people combined. And atheists claim that religion makes good people do evil things! Ha! Atheist fairy tale debunked!
Atheism is a "religion":
You hit on the key word: leaders. None if those deaths were done in the name of atheism; but done to gain absolute power.
I suspect you know this; but in your desperation to paint atheists in a negative light, you choose to use a tired talking point that has been soundly debunked repeatedly.
Well done. Your check from your handler is in the mail.
Post something to support your argument. Few of those people were killed to promote "an atheist belief" or whatever you're suggesting; priests were treated poorly in Stalin's time and a lot died of starvation and maybe a few were killed resisting, but basically you're talking about totalitarianist regimes that killed for power. Many died in Stalin's time because of failed agricultural policy not because they were targeted.
Can you butthurt atheists read? I said it disproves the atheist fairy tale that it takes a religious person to commit evil acts. Learn to better troll.
"I said it disproves the atheist fairy tale that it takes a religious person to commit evil acts."
I've never read anyone say that only religious people commit evil acts.
@Atheism is a religion
By your logic, all atheists are mass murderers, and all theists are not mass murders. Is this what you're suggesting?
Like most religious folks, you've completely confused correlation with causation. How do you explain Christians like Hitler literally exterminating millions of people? How about the Crusades? The wars between England, Ireland, and Scotland? The wars between Jews and Muslims? What about the systematic displacement and killing of american indians? I could go on for another hour listing all the cases where theist leaders killed large numbers of people. Your point is moot.
I reported you. You are a troll, and you are here soley to sow discord.
That weapon cuts both ways. Mutually assured destruction is the result if cry babies hit report abuse on posts they don't agree with. I've lost count of the number of my posts that have been deleted on past articles.
On the flip side I have never reported abuse on any Christians post. Better to let it shine bright in all its ugliness for everyone to see.
Thank you for confirming you are a fascist unable to withstand any criticism or debate.
Well, TruthPrevails... I guess you have to change your handle for awhile, since some doofus is intent on deleting every comment you make...
This is insane... my posts are getting disconnected and flying all over the place...
What is going on here today? Whole conversations are disappearing!
It's typically atheists who act like children and get mad over a comment they can control.
Um, no; I noticed posts by atheist posters are disappearing as well.
I would call your response mature by any means.
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
Oh wise one, please provide the evidence for your claims! Seems ironic that you and your buddy Christopher disappeared at the same time that all my posts were being deleted...perhaps it is good ole christian you...is that any more of a fair assumption than the one you're making?
January 9, 2014 at 3:55 pm
It has been going on all day. Xtian posts disappeared. Then everyone's posts disappeared. Not TP1's posts are disappearing.
NOW! I didn't mean to say "not"
**This is getting ridiculous...gotta love the children using their parents computers unsupervised.**
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
Pathetic as that is, you may be right. It's infantile behavior on the trolls behalf. I can't imagine being so hateful but some people get cheap thrills from that.
January 9, 2014 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
...........and your not hateful?
January 9, 2014 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
I haven't noticed that tp1's are any more hateful than yours, Fred. Both of you seem respectful.
January 9, 2014 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
fred: How is what I just posted hateful? My posts are being moderated...it is seemingly infantile to do such a thing. Hate is a much too powerful, negative feeling and thus I tend not to hate anyone or anything.
January 9, 2014 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
Lucifer's Evil Twin
TP1 is not a noob on here... and as far as I can recall is not usually hateful or particularly mean for that matter
January 9, 2014 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
I guess I have to ask, since no one has yet.
How does one "try" atheism anyway?
This is not a diet.
Or a pair of jeans.
There is nothing to 'try."
An open minded person, with critical thinking skills looks at the facts that support the god hypothesis and concludes there to be no merit to that conclusion.
It is an unproven claim, and therefore not worthy of any more attention.
I cannot speak for all atheists, but I never once consider god(s) in anything that happens, good or bad.
That is not something you "try" on.
Do you believers "try" on Zeus?
Do you think of him and think he has some hand in anything happening, good or bad?
Now you know how us atheists feel about your myth.
agreed. even as a child getting indoctrinated at church and at sunday school I kept looking around puzzled, wondering if all the other children actually believed this nonsense they were telling us. I sort of thought it was all something we pretended to keep the adults happy. Sort of an inverse santa claus.
The more I have studied the bible, and believe me I have spent years studying it and other religious books, the more I see this as a hangover from primitive days when our ancestors had no scientific knowledge and had to imagine gods to explain things. The human mind and its weakness for cognitive dissonance are all that keeps religion alive.
In the words of Isaac Asimov: "Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived."
I grew up in such indoctrination. Before I could think critically. When all my authority figures espoused religion. I did not escape easily. It took many hours of reading and contemplation. Religion is like a warm blanket for believers. But it takes real determination to see the fire of truth. Do not malign those on the journey, embrace and support such efforts.
Let me play agnostic for a moment.
If there is a God powerful enough to create our universe and everything in it, is there anything he couldn’t do?
the god described in the Christian bible can do anything and everything.
but the gods described in many other religions' books can also do anything and everything. when you imagine up a god and write him into a book, that's the way you make it.
Based on your own testimony you never had the inclination to love or seek Jesus and simply went along with the crowd. Are you currently impressing a non believing crowd just as you did then? Reason I ask is that I have seen few change their basic character achieved in an early age. I have seen complete transformations upon conversion however that lasts a lifetime.
Why would someone what to seek the love of someone who never existed?
And even if he did exist, has been dead for over 2000 years?
You believers make so little sense.
But keep wasting your time, I guess it is yours to waste.
Not sure how it is a waste of time. If the purpose of existence was something other than what God established by creation then you and I are in the same boat it does not happen to be the Ark. In short we both fulfilled our hearts desire if we so wanted and then we reach the same end.
Problem is ReadyFreddy, you have zero proof any god created anything.
Your particular myth is no different than any of the other myths spouted. Yours is just packaged better since it was pieced together from the remains of the previous myths in that region.
But you are right, we are the same.
I just happen to believe in one less god than you do.
Are you sure about that? If we look at God to be the creator I believe God spoke creation into being where God said let it be and it was so. If this is a creation then there must be creator and thus we exist for the creators purpose. Tell me why do we exist? On an individual basis why do you exist?
This is getting tiring ReadyFreddy.
You have zero facts to back up your belief that a god(s) spoke into being our universe etc.
You choose to believe that based on nothing but faith.
That is why it is called faith, and not fact.
And every other religion has their own faith based facts, just like yours.
Not one shred of evidence to prove any of them right.
Every year science keeps proving you wrong and your believers have to redraw your god-line in the sand.
Where is that line now?
Oh year, all the way back to the big bang.
Face it bro, you have bought into a big lie.
I would give up if science could prove one thing just one thing wrong about anything Jesus did or said. Don't say man cannot walk on water because to do that you must assume Jesus was not who he said he was or who the witnesses claim he was. Given that 10,000 years science has yet to turn over one truth concerning God it is you and science that keeps pushing that line back in time. Last I heard you were all the way past the big bang into pre big bang cosmology where quantum mechanics actually points to materialism being a false foundation not God.
How very Christian of his employers! The guy is having a little doubt about the whole religion thing and decides to take some time to explore the strength of his own faith, and they punish him for it immediately?! Wow! Talk about hypocrisy!
At least they could have said, "we'll give you a year to explore and see if you still believe, and at the end of that period, if you decide to become an atheist you will have to look for employment elsewhere." That would have the "Christian" thing to do. However, we all know most Christians lack compassion and tolerance. They are just bullies armed with a fiction book.
You should know the answer to that RickyRichardo.
Religion is an activity for sheep.
One must follow and never question.
To question is to be cast out.
Look at any cult, and you will see this same thing.
Try leaving Scientology.
Xtianinty is no different.
They need each other to keep reinforcing their own belief.
If everyone believes that 2 plus 2 equals 5, than that becomes "true."
This guy leaving threatens that "truth."
I know some of you guys have already been talking about this... but who is the schmuck who keeps hitting the Report Abuse button for no valid reason? Topher and I had a civil discussion thread going and now *poof* it's gone... I guess someone's a coward who can't stand contrary opinions...
Yeah, I have seen wholesale threads just disappear.
Maybe it is god......
well he does work in mysterious ways apparently ...
Come on, seriously? TruthPrevails' comment just got schwacked... that's just childish... someone is getting off on being a jerk
DOH! I hate it when I forget to change my handle back
Jesus loved slavery ,
first Timothy 6:1
first Peter 3:18
And the "loving" god loved itself some killing.
Too many passages for me to put down.
Stan: We want our money back.
Ticket Guy: Huh?
Stan: That movie sucked ass. We want our money back.
Ticket Guy: I can't refund your money. You sat through the whole movie.
Stan: That wasn't a movie! It was a snuff film! You should not charge people to watch a guy getting tortured for two hours!
Ticket Guy: That "guy" happens to be Jesus. And he went through all of that to pay for your sins!
Stan: We go to church to learn that stuff! We go to movies to be entertained! We weren't entertained so we want our money back!
Ticket Guy: I'm no allowed to give your money back after you sat through the whole movie! You'd have to take your complaints up with the film's producer's.
Stan: What, Mel Gibson? You're saying we should get our money back from Mel Gibson?
Ticket Guy: Yeah, I'd like to see you try.
Stan: Oh, we will! This is America. And in America, if something sucks, you're supposed to be able to get your money back! Come on, Kenny!
DOH! I hate it when I forget to change my handle back...
That shouldn't have posted here...
The difference between an atheist and a believer is that a believer proofs the existence of a creator with the existence of the universe and everything inside. To a believer, this proofs his existence. To an atheist the universe and everything inside in it was created out of nothing. To an atheist this proofs that nothing exists. (no pun intended)
At the end this is all a philosophical perception. The agnostics sits pretty, just watching a the atheist and believer argue pretty much over this unwinable debate. The only truth that is relevant to all is that we all are born and then we die. If a believer finds comfort into believing that there is a creator that judges your behavior and actions at the end your life to grant you ever lasting life then let him/her be. If a atheist chooses not to believe in fairy tales and they so delightfully put it. Let them be. Conclusion: Let the believers believe in what they want to. Let the atheist not to believe. Let the agnostic sit in pretty while the other do all the work. However, live your life respecting and treating others with respect. Treat them, as the bible says it. I will leave you with this "Do to others as you would have them do to you" (Luke 6;31)
(No pun intended 😉 )
Looks like you got the definitions wrong for both "believer" and "atheist".
Enlighten me with your wisdom please
I will speak for myself as an atheist. I, an atheist, lack a belief in a god. That's it. Atheism doesn't mean atheists believe the "universe and everything inside in it was created out of nothing". Perhaps some atheists believe that, but that's not what atheism means.
who created the universe?
There is no "who" in that question for an atheist.
Please go do some research and educate yourself prior to confirming your ignorance on inter web forums.
The word "created" also loads the question.
I agree...I don't postulate WHERE the universe came from because it's an unanswerable question. How does a God get created? If we are in the universe, what is the universe in? Frankly these are pointless questions that should only appeal to philosophy majors. As far as we know, they have no practical meaning to our existence on Earth.
You get lost in the words like a politician. How was the universe created? Answer me that question.
How did it come to be?
The only fact is that it came to be. No one can prove or disprove how it became the universe. From God, From a big bang? what was there before? a creator or nothing?
In the end it either came from nothing or from something. The never ending debate. I choose to believe and live and experiences that this magical book, as you choose to call it. It comforts me and serves as an inspiration. I can appreciate benefits of science and the benefits of spirituality. The problem I have with some atheists is that they think they are correct and everyone else is naive. Some of you seek respect and tolerance but when is time to practice what you preach you fall short. I respect atheists, they have the right and choose to believe what they want. " I " don't impose my beliefs onto you.
"Do to others as you would have them do to you"
What if I'm a masochist and would have them hit me/hurt me? Shall I do that unto others?
What if I love fried guinea pig on a stick? Shall I serve that unto others?
Besides that, The Golden Rule far predates Luke - nothing at all novel in his advice.
Are for for real?
This is your rebuttal?
This is the reason why you don't understand difference between religion and science. If you take things literally out of the bible as you would out of a science book then you don't get it. the bible is a book that is meant to guide you and serve as an inspiration as a poem would do. It is written in metaphors that it can withstand the passing of times. You can not write or prepare a book with the language of a PHD reading course to an infant. this book is made of excerpts that are more than 2000 years ago. The fact that it has lasted this long it is in itself a miracle. Give a try and read it as an inspirational book. Arguments as the one you made are really misleading points to distract the meat of the true debate. Which is: Respect people's beliefs or non-beliefs. I am not condescending to you because you don't believe. Don't be condescending to anyone that believes. Is an endless debate. I can't prove to you that God exists and you can't prove that it does not. Therefore, do, act or believe in what comforts you and make you happy.
The only thing the babble guides anyone to is being a sheep.
Why do you still need to have a big brother watching over you Bill?
Let go of the security blanket and get off your knees.
A mind is a terrible thing to lose, to religion......
no. the bible is the word of god. every word must be obeyed. there are no optional words!
if you choose which parts to obey and which parts may just be guidance then you are ignoring god and his commands. If you are satisfied with ignoring god and his commands, then don't try and tell other people (gay, contraception, abo.rtion) what the bible commands of them. It's obviously optional.
That is all you took out of this paragraph?
Is that how you debate pick and choose?
The believer may claim that but have no evidence of that – the biblical creation myth is incorrect and it is the only thing offered as evidence.
And every single religion has/had a creation story.
In fact, the current Xtian version was mostly ripped off from earlier religion's creation story.
Yet they go around and spout it as their "proof" of their imaginary friend.
And we are supposed to go along with it and not question them.
Which is what I do every chance I get.
Nothing bothers a believer more than to be questioned.
You do not trust me do you? Therefore you will never ever again receive presents and may your cookies burn in hell.
I will repent.
I need my cookies!
All hail Santa!
btw, where do I send the check?
Some comments are deleted and some others are not. Why is that?
can't handle it?
Atheists can't handle the Truth neither CNN! That in and by itself is proof that atheism is Total stupidity; and that is THE TRUTH!!
OK Solernocookie, but don't let us catching you going to a doctor when you get sick.
We would really lose respect for you if you used that atheist false truth those doctors had to heal you.
I am sure you god will take care of it if you just prayed to be healed.
“If a believer finds comfort into believing that there is a creator that judges your behavior and actions at the end your life to grant you ever lasting life then let him/her be.”
If we are judged on our behavior and actions, we are guilty. Now what?
Let the agnostic sit in pretty while the other do all the work.
Cute. In my opinion, the agnostic position is the "truest", closest to reality, of any of them. Despite what anyone believes, from the passionate theist to the passionate athiest, no one really knows the answers to any questions debated here. We're all agnostic, no matter how we label ourselves.
Testing. 1. 2. 3.
Get a new schtick. This one is overused.
Faith in yourself is a must. Faith in an external being is an option.
um why would the moderator delete what I wrote? It wasnt offensive or anything.
Because there isn't a moderator.
its not a person. if u used a word with certain letter combinations like ti.t or cu.m it will automatically block you. Separate them with a period like I just did.
There are 3 main ways for a post not to appear:
1. You ran into the automatic word filter. Google "CNN Belief Blog WordPress filter hints" and find the list of filtered fragments.
2. Another poster(s) reports Abuse several times.
3. A moderator (rarely) comes in a deletes them.
#2 is rampant today.
* he's #2ing all over the place!
My guess is that some fenatical christian is on this thread hitting the report abuse button anytime someone mentions that they themselves do not believe in God. I have had 5 or 6 comments on this thread for no reason except I said I support this Pastor in his quest for truth and inner harmony. It would be good for a lot of people to take a step back from their lives and question everything. It doesnt mean he has abandoned God, it just means that he would like to see the world from anothers point of view. Unfortunately for a lot of Christians simply trying to understand a non-christian is blasphemy. The religion that teaches acceptance is often the last to follow their own teachings. Its refreshing to see someone at least try to understand a non-believer.
He described himself as somewhere between agnostic and atheist. It doesn't look to me like he's made much of a leap at all. He was not a believer, but just felt that there may be a god out there somewhere. Now he's looking at it as if there is no god anywhere. After years of lying about his faith to get and keep his job, he is now surprised that they don't want to continue paying him. Not only is he a liar and a thief, but he's also an idiot.
Why do you assume he was lying? It is entirely possible that he believed wholeheartedly at some point. He simply doesn't now.
He is no different than you Creekboy, except he is admitting he does not know.
You on the other hand, keep clinging onto the belief that there is a god, but deep down you question because there is not proof.
Why do you assume he is lying? He is a scholar and doing exactly what scholars are supposed to do. Not only that but a lot of people go through tests in their life that shake their beliefs to the core. Many of those people go out in search of a path only to find they were on the right one all along. I think those Christians that take the time to question their beliefs only to strengthen them are better Christians than those who have blind faith. This pastor will be able to come back to the church (if he chooses) knowing that he tested his beliefs and strengthen them in the process. You can only truly know yourself when you put yourself out of your comfort zone.
He might not have lied, but he is saying he was wrong. And if he was "wrong" about Christ, he was never a Christian. Christians have a personal relationship with God. If he can now say he was wrong, he never had that relationship. And second, once saved always saved. If he is thus now not saved, he never was. Also thus, not Christian.
If you read up on his sect's interpretation of The Bible, you'd say it was wrong.
7th Day Adventists are a non-trinitarian Christian sect, to begin with.
Their "prophetess", Ellen G. White, only started getting messages from God after she sufferred massive head trauma.
She said that Jesus doesn't want people to dance, drink alcohol, smoke, play sports, watch movies, read fiction, eat meat, use spi/ces in their cooking, play board games or anything like that.
It was her opinion that if you laugh, you're not living up to Christ's standards because there are plenty of stories about Him weeping, not none of Him laughing.
Wow, that is some pretty messed up stuff that bee atch is spewing.
That she had anyone following her is amazing.
Throw in the whole no s ex thing and you have yourself a Shaker. No wonder they died out.
What's especially mind boggling is that from the very beginning, their religion has been based on falsehoods.
They're an offshoot of the Millerite movement from the mid 1800s.
Miller prophesied the 2nd coming a few times and Christ's failure to keep His appointment became known as "The Great Disappointment". Somehow, the SDAs kept running with it – their rationalization is that Jesus did come back, but not to Earth. No, He returned to his Heavenly Office where He is busily pouring over the Book of LIfe. As soon as He's done passing judgement on everybody, he'll be back to Earth lickety split to start the End Times.
Aaaaaaany day now....
You know Doc, there is a reason they say the truth is stranger than fiction.
Not even Steven King could dream up some rubbish as outlandish as that.
It kind of sounds like the scene from Ghostbusters when they were reading about the history and beliefs of that cult that was causing all the problems.
But that was a movie and was supposed to be outlandish, and it still does not top these morons.
Christians have a personal relationship with God
Can you define this in your own words? What this is like? Do people who favor other religions also have a personal relationship?
You are lying Gopher as you have no personal relationship with god.
Because you have no facts to back up your claim.
Just like the muslims that have no facts to back up their relationship to allah.
Which you don't believe they have, just like I don't believe your claim.
Yes, 7-day-ers are outside of orthodoxy. But that's taking it deeper than we even need to go here. He is already claiming not to be a Christian.
His version of Christianity and thus the nature of his "relationship" with Jesus is very different than yours.
But I doubt this guy would've spent all those years getting a master's degree in order to be an SDA pastor and subsequently devote decades of his life to the religion if he didn't honestly believe in it for a long time.
There are many thousands of different Christian sects and each one defines their relationship to Christ differently – sometimes the difference are subtle and sometimes it is vast!
But since nobody has ever been able to intercept someone else's diving, psychic messages, they must all be treated as equally (in)credible.
"Diving" = DIVINE.
(I wish there was a way to edit our posts)
Just "believing" in it isn't enough. If I believed Jesus was God but I really liked sleeping with my girlfriend and kept doing that, I'd be persisting in sin. That means I wouldn't be saved. The Bible even tells us that the demons believe and they tremble in fear. So he could have been "Christian" in that he thought he believed it (which is basically what he's now admitting to) or he could be a "cultural Christian" ... which means in name only (because parents were Christians, so he claims it to, or even just because most people in the US claim to be one.) But that doesn't mean they were truly Christian, i.e., saved.
Well, if you don't want to sin anymore, then I can take care of your girlfriend for you Gopher.
I mean, you have your right hand relationship with your god an all, so why would you need a girlfriend at all?
Your boy Jeebus did not have one.
Girlfriend that is.
I bet he too had a right hand relationship with his god, just like you.
"Can you define this in your own words? What this is like? Do people who favor other religions also have a personal relationship?"
I don't know that others claim a relationship. For sure Islam doesn't. Buddhists don't.
So they have the relationship they want to? How is yours different? Can you describe it, what it's like and what interactions occur?
I think Gopher's relationship with his god rests in his right palm, Maddy.
And we don't really need him to elaborate on that relationship any further.
To be fair, God doesn't think much of left-handed people.
"A wise man's heart is at his right hand; but a fool's heart at his left."
– Ecclesiastes 10:2
"The right hand of the lord doeth valiantly, the right hand of the lord is exalted."
– Psalm 118 vv15,16
Remember southpaws: You can choose not to act on your wicked left-handedness and live the way God intended.
Yeah lefties, do what Gopher does and beat off with your right.
It is the only way to have a "real and meaningful" relationship with god.
Some people are religious, some people are atheist's. No one's better than anyone else.
Amen, we are all sinners.
That is simply not true.
I am way more humble than any Christian. In fact, I'm more humble than any atheist.
I'm the most humble person I know. If they gave out awards for humility, I'd have three of them.
I'm also far more serene than any Buddhist I've ever met.
The last time I went to a Buddhist temple, I screamed for hours at the top of my lungs just how calm and serene I am, but those guys just kept ignoring me, sitting in the lotus position with their eyes closed.
Even when I jumped up and down right in front of them and screamed in their faces about how much serenity I had right at that moment, they kept ignoring me.
I agree...I don't postulate WHERE the universe came from because it's an unanswerable question. How does a God get created? If we are in the universe, what is the universe in? Frankly these are pointless questions that should only appeal to philosophy majors. As far as we know, they have no practical meaning to our existence on Earth.
Well I hope this guy does not have to hitchhike as the POPE is driving by...may need more than a thumb out
Was it not the Pope who last week talked about loving even those without faith? It would not be very christian to leave someone on the side of the road now would it?
Someone is getting heavy handed in the censorship. The only "ongoing problems" with this blog are with the people reporting the "abuse".
The Editors should be able to fix that "Report Abuse" feature.
And CNN should pony up the money for an actual moderator.
The atheists and Christians can monitor themselves.
NOBODY else cares what happens here. It is all a distraction to keep you guys out of the government.
Report ongoing problems on this blog directly to:
Neither cares what happens here as long as the posts are numerous and the page clicks keep on coming.
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
@Topher re: DNA and population (our thread was deleted)
"In the field of population genetics, it is believed that the distribution of neutral polymorphisms among contemporary humans reflects human demographic history. It has been theorized that humans passed through a population bottleneck before a rapid expansion coinciding with migrations out of Africa leading to an African-Eurasian divergence around 100,000 years ago (ca. 5,000 generations), followed by a European-Asian divergence about 40,000 years ago (ca. 2,000 generations). Richard G. Klein, Nicholas Wade and Spencer Wells, among others, have postulated that modern humans did not leave Africa and successfully colonize the rest of the world until as recently as 60,000 – 50,000 years B.P., pushing back the dates for subsequent population splits as well.
The rapid expansion of a previously small population has two important effects on the distribution of genetic variation. First, the so-called founder effect occurs when founder populations bring only a subset of the genetic variation from their ancestral population. Second, as founders become more geographically separated, the probability that two individuals from different founder populations will mate becomes smaller. The effect of this assortative mating is to reduce gene flow between geographical groups, and to increase the genetic distance between groups. The expansion of humans from Africa affected the distribution of genetic variation in two other ways. First, smaller (founder) populations experience greater genetic drift because of increased fluctuations in neutral polymorphisms. Second, new polymorphisms that arose in one group were less likely to be transmitted to other groups as gene flow was restricted.
Our history as a species also has left genetic signals in regional populations. For example, in addition to having higher levels of genetic diversity, populations in Africa tend to have lower amounts of linkage disequilibrium than do populations outside Africa, partly because of the larger size of human populations in Africa over the course of human history and partly because the number of modern humans who left Africa to colonize the rest of the world appears to have been relatively low (Gabriel et al. 2002). In contrast, populations that have undergone dramatic size reductions or rapid expansions in the past and populations formed by the mixture of previously separate ancestral groups can have unusually high levels of linkage disequilibrium (Nordborg and Tavare 2002).
Many other geographic, climatic, and historical factors have contributed to the patterns of human genetic variation seen in the world today. For example, population processes associated with colonization, periods of geographic isolation, socially reinforced endogamy, and natural selection all have affected allele frequencies in certain populations (Jorde et al. 2000b; Bamshad and Wooding 2003). In general, however, the recency of our common ancestry and continual gene flow among human groups have limited genetic differentiation in our species." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_genetic_variation
It's going to be one of those days I guess where our posts get deleted if they contain information some don't like.
Thanks for the info, dude. The problems I see here is "science" based on faith. For instance, the article uses "believe" and "postulated" to back up their claims. So this means there's obvious presuppositions ... they are going into this already holding that millions of years and evolution are true. This is also backed up their their position on the time frames. I'd like to know precisely which dating method they used to come to these numbers.
Now on the "creationist" side of things, ever looked at a population curve? Notice it actually goes down to nothing right about the time of the flood. In fact, it's been demonstrated that population numbers are well within the limits for the Biblical view of a young earth.
Science is based on reason, not faith. Faith is the opposite of reason. Faith is a form of belief, but belief is not a form of faith. Faith is believing something contrary to or without evidence or reason. This is unjustified belief. Justified belief is based on reason, as is science. So when a scientist believes something, it's because of evidence and reason, on be rejecting them.
Also, what population curve are you referring to that shows a correlation to the time creationists claim there was a world wide flood?
"In fact, it's been demonstrated that population numbers are well within the limits for the Biblical view of a young earth." ah, no it hasn't, at least not by science. The global flood story requires that only eight people were left alive in 2349 BCE. This does not allow enough time for humans to repopulate the earth. In 2000 BCE only 350 years after the flood the population of the world was 27 million. To go from a population of eight to a population of 27 million in 350 years would require a population growth rate of 136.07%. That is 133% more than the fastest growing portions of the world today.
The Bible also places the date of construction on the Tower of Babel roughly 100 years after the great flood. Saying a population could go from 6 people (Noah and his wife don't count, they didn't have any more children) to enough people to build the Tower of Babel as it is described in the Bible is absurd. This tower was so great that it threatened God, so it must have been greater that the pyramid of Khufu which took 30,000 people to build. Even a growth rate of 500%, which is absurd beyond all imagination, would only produce about half the required people to even begin to think about such a construction project.
It must also be taken into concern how people managed to return to the Western world, an area that at the time, was non-existent to the people of the Eastern Hemisphere, until maybe Lief Erikson. With eight people left in the world, some would have to travel back across the ocean to re-populate the Western Hemisphere. The indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere, having been wiped out at not even having a chance at knowing god, would not have been there at the time of Christopher Columbus' voyage: thus, the cultural revolution that occurred in the Americas would have to have never happened. The only way to re-populate the area was to travel to the Western Hemisphere and start a new culture. This would mean, by logical standards, that the people who did move to the Western Hemisphere would have had to have abandoned their culture, their tools, and even their god, for there is no record of monotheism in the Western Hemisphere.
Some people just can't stand a good discussion or debate.
Just curious, Topher. How do Creationists account for the number of Y-chromosome haplogroups given the number of males that survived the Flood?
Just my guess, but I'm sure there would be enough already present in the genetics considers the length of time before the flood. Though to be honest, I don't know the answer to this specific question because I've never read up on it. ... hope this discussion doesn't get deleted.
Topher for the hell of it I say TIGER NUTS !
Two Million Years Ago, Human Relative 'Nutcra-cker Man' Lived On Tiger Nuts
Jan. 9, 2014 — An Oxford University study has concluded that our ancient ancestors who lived in East Africa between 2.4 million-1.4 million years ago mainly ate tiger nuts (grass bulbs) supplemented with the odd grasshopper and worm.
An Oxford University study has concluded that our ancient ancestors who lived in East Africa between 2.4 million-1.4 million years ago survived mainly on a diet of tiger nuts.
1) What dating method was used?
2) And they know someone's diet how?
Read the article topher !
Do you really believe this stuff? This paragraph right here makes me dismiss the entire thing ... emphasis mine.
"Study author Dr Gabriele Macho examined the diet of Paranthropus boisei, nicknamed "Nutcra.cker Man" because of his big flat molar teeth and powerful jaws, THROUGH STUDYING MODERN-DAY BABOONS IN KENYA.. Her findings help to explain a puzzle that has vexed archaeologists for 50 years."
"The study published in the journal, PLOS ONE, also suggests that these early hominins may have sought additional nourishment from fruits and invertebrates, like worms and grasshoppers."
If we determine they ate these "nuts" because of their jaws and teeth, how in the world did they come to the conclusion they also ate worms and grasshoppers. LOTS of presuppositions here, dude.
I now you do not topher the earth is fricking old !
Neanderthal Genome Shows Early Human Interbreeding, Inbreeding
Dec. 18, 2013 — The most complete sequence to date of the Neanderthal genome, using DNA extracted from a woman's toe bone that dates back 50,000 years, reveals a long history of interbreeding among at least four different types of early humans living in Europe and Asia at that time, according to University of California, Berkeley, scientists.
Non-science words used in this article ... suggests, may have, debated, seemed, suggests, debate, could, assumption, likely, suggesting, believe, debate.
For the sake of argument, if the article (which I didn't read) used only words that left no room for doubt (in a sense saying "We know with 100% certainty that...), would you accept the conclusions?
And hell froze over topher – fact – headline news this morning !
"For the sake of argument, if the article (which I didn't read) used only words that left no room for doubt (in a sense saying "We know with 100% certainty that...), would you accept the conclusions?"
Not necessarily. I have other questions that I posted above that one. I'm just saying those words MEAN THEY DON'T KNOW.
Topher, If only you were this skeptical about the bible. Why accept the largely disproven word of an ancient Bronze Age tribe over science. You use a computer, the internet, presumably drive, have flown, use GPS, watch satellite TV, have had vaccines, etc. All produced via the same scientific method you instantly reject when it contradicts your religious texts.
In Santa we trust
" If only you were this skeptical about the bible. Why accept the largely disproven word of an ancient Bronze Age tribe over science."
I have no reason to NOT believe the Bible. And in fact I don't reject science. I like it very much.
"You use a computer, the internet, presumably drive, have flown, use GPS, watch satellite TV, have had vaccines, etc. All produced via the same scientific method you instantly reject when it contradicts your religious texts."
Not one of those things disproves the Bible. Nor does the Bible reject the scientific method. They agree. The difference is in observational science (the things used here for this list ... ie, testable and repeatable) and historic "science" in which things are not testable or repeatable ... and thus NOT science.
is puzzled topher ?
the talking snake
"is puzzled topher ?"
By what you are contributing to this conversation, yes.
Topher, The point is it is the same underlying scientific method that led to the technology used in those items as is used in evolution, big bang, geology, etc. that do disprove the biblical creation myth. Darwin didn't set out to "disprove god" or whatever you christians believe; he was a believer until that time, in fact he sat on his findings for many years because he knew the furore they would cause and only published when he heard that Wallace was about to publish his similar findings from research in a different part of the world.
You're being dishonest with yourself – your objections make no sense. Evolution can be traced back through fossils, DNA, and all the other things posted for you and others at intervals. Big Bang can be traced back to within a few nanoseconds of the event.
I would note that the Genesis story is not recreatable yet you believe that when Genesis is the only "evidence" for it, yet it is proven to be incorrect by many facets of modern knowledge in various disciplines.
It's MAGIC! No need for complicated explanations.
This video clip explains pretty well.
What do you mean when you say " I am an atheist because so far all the evidence points towards an evolved universe free from interaction with the supernatural which would have real noticable/measurable effects if they were interacting with our universe"
=>what are you expecting to see from a supernatural interaction?
As per National Geographic's Genographic project:
" DNA studies suggest that all humans today descend from a group of African ancestors who about 60,000 years ago began a remarkable journey. Follow the journey from them to you as written in your genes”.
"Adam" is the common male ancestor of every living man. He lived in Africa some 60,000 years ago, which means that all humans lived in Africa at least at that time.
Unlike his Biblical namesake, this Adam was not the only man alive in his era. Rather, he is unique because his descendents are the only ones to survive.
It is important to note that Adam does not literally represent the first human. He is the coalescence point of all the genetic diversity."
o More details from National Geographic's Genographic project: https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/
"Our spe-cies is an African one: Africa is where we first ev-olved, and where we have spent the majority of our time on Earth. The earliest fos-sils of recognizably modern Ho-mo sapiens appear in the fossil record at Omo Kibish in Ethiopia, around 200,000 years ago. Although earlier fossils may be found over the coming years, this is our best understanding of when and approximately where we originated.
According to the genetic and paleontological record, we only started to leave Africa between 60,000 and 70,000 years ago. What set this in motion is uncertain, but we think it has something to do with major climatic shifts that were happening around that time—a sudden cooling in the Earth’s climate driven by the onset of one of the worst parts of the last Ice Age. This cold snap would have made life difficult for our African ancestors, and the genetic evidence points to a sharp reduction in population size around this time. In fact, the human population likely dropped to fewer than 10,000. We were holding on by a thread.
Once the climate started to improve, after 70,000 years ago, we came back from this near-extinction event. The population expanded, and some intrepid explorers ventured beyond Africa. The earliest people to colonize the Eurasian landma-ss likely did so across the Bab-al-Mandab Strait separating present-day Yemen from Djibouti. These early beachcombers expanded rapidly along the coast to India, and reached Southeast Asia and Australia by 50,000 years ago. The first great foray of our species beyond Africa had led us all the way across the globe."
"The scientific consensus, supported by a 2006 statement by 68 national and international science academies, is that it is evidence-based fact derived from observations and experiments in multiple scientific disciplines that the universe has existed for around 13.8 billion years and that the Earth was formed about 4.5 billion years ago, with life first appearing at least 2.5 billion years ago. Although many young Earth creationists (YECs) are active in the development of creation science, an endeavor that holds that the events as-sociated with supernatural creation can be evidenced and modeled through an interpretation of the scientific method, the consensus among scientists is that creation science is unscientific in both conception and methodology."
Human evolution's time line
of years ago
Cells with a nucleus 2,100
Vertebrates and closely related
Mammals that birth live young
Placental mammals (i.e. non-marsupials) 125
Supraprimates, bats, whales, most
, and most carnivorous mammals
Supraprimates (primates, rodents, rabbits,
tree shrews, and colugos) 100
Primates, colugos and tree shrews
Primates and colugos79.6
"Dry-nosed" (literally, "simple-nosed")
primates (a-pes, monkeys, and tarsiers)
"Higher" primates (or Simians)
(a-pes, old-world monkeys, and
"Downward-nosed" primates (a-pes and
old-world monkeys) 30
Great a-pes (
Humans, chimpanzees, bonobos,
gorillas, and orangutans) 15
Humans, chimpanzees, bonobos,
and gorillas 8
Genera H-omo and Australopithecus 5.8
Contains only the Genus H-omo 2.5
Modern humans 0.5
Fully anatomically modern humans 0.2
More cowardice. Hey, Belief Blog editors, why are you allowing this to go on?
I read the reply before it got deleted and the fact is I personally have not done all the research. I have read many studies and research papers that explain the current working theories and all of the evidence points away from a young earth and points to a 4.5 billion year old earth that has evolved complex organisms over hundreds of millions of years of which we are one. The scientific and geological communities are in nearly unanimous support for this theory and the handful who are not I believe are desparately trying to fit their theology with their science and are willing to ignore peer reviewed studies in favor of their personaly held beliefs. Do we know everything yet? Of course not, there is far more that we don't know than there is what we do know. I'm an atheist not because I have faith there are no Gods, I am an atheist because so far all the evidence points towards an evolved universe free from interaction with the supernatural which would have real noticable/measurable effects if they were interacting with our universe. "It is better to light a candle than to curse the dark" which to me means, it is better to go explore and find out what is really out there with no pre-disposed ideologies than to sit here waiting for your imagined God to arrive and fill us in.
Nicely said, HA.
"I have read many studies and research papers that explain the current working theories and all of the evidence points away from a young earth and points to a 4.5 billion year old earth that has evolved complex organisms over hundreds of millions of years of which we are one."
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.
"The scientific and geological communities are in nearly unanimous support for this theory ..."
Has zero bearing on its truth. There's NO evidence for evolution. Makes you wonder why scientists believe it, doesn't it? Can you say "presupposition?"
"and the handful who are not I believe are desparately trying to fit their theology with their science and are willing to ignore peer reviewed studies in favor of their personaly held beliefs."
Could be. In fact, I'm sure it is true for some. But there's plenty who just trust the evidence for a young earth more than the evidence for an old one.
"I'm an atheist not because I have faith there are no Gods, I am an atheist because so far all the evidence points towards an evolved universe free from interaction with the supernatural which would have real noticable/measurable effects if they were interacting with our universe."
So he decided to "Suspend his belief" and his Christian brethren fired him for his non christian idea. Well that's very "Christian" of them. He may not get punished by "GOD" but he very apparently is being punished by "God's" followers. Hopefully "GOD" will serve up some fitting return Karma for them
They are already slaves to their own imaginations.
Up to 25 grand now. The target was 5k.
you cannot CHOOSE to believe anything - you either do or you don't.
for instance, pick something you don't believe in - let's say faeries.
you can't decide to believe in faeries and then an hour later decide not to.
you can't do that with any belief.
try believing you're the king of siam or that you were the first person on the moon.
you either believe something or you don't.
time can change a belief - but it's impossible to change a deeply held belief instantly.
so either this guy has so many doubts he's on his way to atheism and just can't quite let go of religion yet -
or he's not sincere and just wants to show atheism is evil by saying he's tried it and knows.
But imagine if your entire day was consumed by fairies.
You greet the invisible fairy when you wake up, make them breakfast, play with them in the backyard etc.
The rituals involved in pleasing them define your day.
Your thought patterns and behaviours are predicated entirely on doing what the fairies demand of you and you strive to live your life in the image of the Fairy Queen.
For your whole life, you've been bombarded with Fairyisms. So much so that you attend university to get a degree in Fairyology so you can teach others all about them.
Then one day, you decide to stop all the rituals.
No more pancakes for the fairies. No more songs sung to the pixies. No more talking to the invisible Fairy Queen. No more teaching others about their magical powers or leading by example in how to please them.
Even if you still believe in your heart of hearts that they're still out there, fluttering around the garden you live day to day as if they aren't there.
Don't you think it would give a new perspective?
and what brought you to that decision? did you think of it overnight? did the doubts all come inside a 1 minute interval?
no. you had those thoughts for a long time.... time changes viewspoints - they aren't changed in an instant.
That's wonderful, Doc. Except that in the case of an actual God, that actual God actually is able to speak back to his creations in a way that is knowable, that is discernible. Which is one of the proposition Christianity makes to the world.
So you've set up a caricature strawman depiction of Christianity, and I'll gladly push it over with you.
Most persons in this era of history have never spent 24-48 hours without some form of media giving them an opinion, forming their worldview. Many will gladly tell you they have no church, no pastor – and then go home to watch 8 hours of television each night – every night – for the next 40 years.
I support this man's intellectual search – but cultural agnosticism is hardly a neutral ground.
"God actually is able to speak back to his creations in a way that is knowable, that is discernible." I call bullshit...
Sure – God speaks to people all the time.
In 2008, He told Boyce Singleton Jr. to shoot and stab his pregnant girlfriend.
Deanna Laney heard God direct her to bludgeon her three sons, aged 9, 6 and 15 months. Only the youngest survived.
Blair Donnelly received instructions to stab to death his 16 year old daughter, Stephanie.
Christopher Varian was slaughtered with a cheese knife after God spoke with one of his employees.
God told Jennifer Cisowski to dash her infant's head on the rocks, so ""Just like Jesus raised Lazarus, I threw the baby on the stones by the pool."
Khandi Busby got a direct message from God advising her that the only way to save her 6 and 8 year old boys was to toss them off a bridge in Dallas. Fortunately, they survived.
Angel Rico says he received a divine command to strangle his 4 year old son, so he did just that and left him at the side of the highway.
Lashaun Harris threw her 3 young kids into the San Francisco Bay after God let her know that He wanted a human sacrifice.
All of these people have been found legally insane by the judicial system, so if you hear God's voice speaking to you, it's time to check with your local psych ward to see if you need a huggy jacket.
Charicature strawman of Christianity?
The OP is the one who began the fairy metaphor – I merely extended it.
And I tried to do it in a way that is parallel with what this pastor has experienced as a 7th Day Adventist pastor.
He spent years obtaining a master's degree in SDA theology from one of their two accredited colleges.
His job for two decades was to preach his sect's intepretation of The Bible (which very likely differs drastically from yours).
The SDA church is notoriously insular – the majority of them mistrust "the world" (meaning anyone not SDA) to the point of paranoia.
I think the metaphor was apt.
Either you do or you don't. If only the world was so simple. Everything in binary, no grey areas. I prefer the knowledge that is developing than the ridged, unenlightened past.