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Can you really 'try on' atheism for a year?
Ryan Bell's "year without God" experiment has drawn a wealth of comments, from scornful to supportive.
January 14th, 2014
01:20 PM ET

Can you really 'try on' atheism for a year?

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor
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(CNN) - Ryan Bell, a one-time Christian pastor, says he didn't expect his yearlong experiment with atheism to get much attention.

"This wasn't intended to be an international journey that was done in public," he told CNN's Brooke Baldwin last Wednesday.

But what began as Bell's personal project has now been covered by NPR, the BBC, Religion News Service, and, of course, here at CNN.

READ MORE: Pastor tries atheism, loses jobs, gains $19,000

It's not just the mainstream media that are along for the ride, either. Dozens of blogs and columnists have weighed in on Bell's "Year Without God," with responses ranging from support to skepticism to scorn.

Sikivu Hutchinson, a writer who has criticized the lack of racial diversity in the the atheist community, called Bell's foray into atheism "secular tourism."

"Bell joins a jam-packed, largely white, mostly Christian cottage industry of religious leaders who are capitalizing off of untapped reserves of atheist dollars, adulation and publicity by jumping onto the 'maverick ex-pastor' bandwagon," Hutchinson wrote in a recent blog post.

PZ Myers, an American scientist and prolific blogger on atheism, echoed Hutchinson's comments, and called Bell's experiment "simply ridiculous."

"It’s not a set of superficial practices, it’s a mindset," Myers said of atheism. "What’s he going to do at the end of the year, erase his brain?"

Since the responses have been so varied - and so interesting - we wanted to know what other thinkers and scholars have to say about Bell's experiment with atheism.

In short, we asked a whole bunch of smart folks if it's really possible to "try" atheism for a year. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we got a wide variety of answers (The old adage about "three rabbis, four opinions" seems to apply to atheists as well.)

Some of these submissions have been edited for length and clarity.

Catherine Dunphy, executive director of The Clergy Project 

It would be accurate to say that some of our members tried similar experiments, though in a much less public fashion and for a shorter period of time before leaving their faith.

For myself, it was in stages. First, I decided to just stop praying and see what would happen.  Then I stopped going to church, and finally I decided that the idea of God just didn't make sense.

It was like learning to swim with "water wings." Eventually I realized I could float all by myself.

Testing the atheism waters, is in many ways an intellectual process but it is also intrinsically linked to emotion. God is often seen as a surrogate parent, a protector, a supporter. Untangling oneself from this type of over arching narrative is never easy.

Bell should be applauded for his attempt to ask the hard questions. Whether he'll be a theist or atheist on the other side of this journey, I don't know. But it is a good thing that he is wondering.

Penny Edgell, sociology professor, University of Minnesota 

What Bell is doing makes a sense if you remember that it is through daily practice that we become the people we are.  Meditation, daily prayers and devotions ... these are how people become Christian, Muslim, a believer of any kind.

And it's not just religion; there are all kinds of practical, self-help guides to being a better mom, a better husband, a more passionate lover, etc., all of which focus on doing the things that a better mom, husband, or lover would do until you a) feel more momly, husbandly, loverly feelings and b) it becomes a habit to act in the appropriate role-enhancing way.

So there is no reason to be skeptical about Bell's experiment.  Quite the opposite - it may work, and more profoundly than he anticipates.  A year is a long time, and if he really spends that year doing the things an atheist would do, he may not only act like an atheist, but feel like one, and in that union of action and feeling, find that he has become one.

Paul Fidalgo, spokesman, Center for Inquiry 

I think there is at least potential for profound personal and political implications to the discoveries Bell may make in his experiment.

Many people in times of crisis put a great deal of hope in the idea that God will come through, or execute a plan that makes sense of it all. But what happens when the mental and emotional energy that goes into prayer and wishing were put toward something more concrete?

Bell’s experiment won’t settle the religion-versus-nonreligion debate by any stretch of the imagination.

But he might help us to understand what powers we sacrifice when we spend less of ourselves on entreaties to an unknowable being, and direct those energies toward dealing with the real world, as it is, right now.

Dale McGowan, author of "Parenting Beyond Belief" and "Atheism for Dummies"

Trying atheism is not only possible, it’s a very common step out of religious belief. The comedian and author Julia Sweeney called it “putting on the No-God glasses” to see what the world looks like when you stop assuming a god is running things.

A lot depends on how serious and honest someone is in the experiment. There’s a tendency to scramble back to old explanations at the first snap of a twig or the first feeling of wonder.

But those whose will to know is stronger than the will to believe usually find their way out. And when they do, the most common emotion they describe isn’t the anguish and despair they were told to expect — it’s freedom and relief.

Dave Muscato, spokesman, American Atheists 

I think what Ryan Bell is doing is a great thing. It's important to try to see other points of view so that you can have a better understanding of why other people don't believe the same things that you do. I don't think it's quite possible to try on the absence of belief the way he's intending to, though.

If Bell has made the choice to drop faith in superstition in favor of what the evidence shows, then he can understand the atheist experience. If he is holding on, he's not doing what an atheist does. He's simply not practicing his religion. I would say that a better name for this would be a lapsed Christian, not an atheist.

An atheist is an active role, not a passive one. We don't simply stop reading the Bible and stop praying and stop going to church. We love the process of learning and exploring answers.

Instead of resorting to "God did it," atheists are comfortable saying "I don't know, but I'm going to find out." That's where the fun starts; it means we're on the right path to finding the real answers to our questions.

David Myers, professor of psychology, Hope College 

In my book, "A Friendly Letter to Skeptics and Atheists," I quote the Christian author C. S. Lewis:

"Believe in God and you will have to face hours when it seems obvious that this material world is the only reality; disbelieve in Him and you must face hours when this material world seems to shout at you that it is not all. No conviction, religious or irreligious, will, of itself, end once and for all [these doubts] in the soul. Only the practice of Faith resulting in the habit of Faith will gradually do that.”

Indeed, psychological science confirms that attitudes and beliefs tend to follow behavior.  Act as if you believe—or don’t—and in time your beliefs may shift toward your actions.

Mitchell Stephens, author, "Imagine There’s No Heaven: How Atheism Helped Create the Modern World"

I admit to being uncomfortable with the notion of “trying” atheism.

Can you try to have a conviction? And atheism, unlike religion, is not something that is simply accepted on faith. It presumes to be the result of reasoning and investigation. Limiting the experiment to a year also seems a bit artificial: that reasoning and investigation should never end.

Perhaps by “trying,” however, Bell means allowing yourself to be open to arguments that challenge your convictions. That certainly is noble. And the reading list of atheists and some of the West’s great questioners Bell has assigned himself is impressive. I would hope that nonbelievers would be as eager to confront the ideas of Kierkegaard or Dostoevsky.

Doubt, too, is noble. Surely, there is enough of it recorded in the gospels. Bell deserves credit for exploring rather than suppressing his doubts. He seems a thoughtful and courageous man. It is easy to imagine this being a rich and rewarding year – or lifetime.

It is a shame that some of Bell’s co-religionists are not better able to tolerate this exercise in openness and doubt. Perhaps that is one of the limitations of resting convictions upon faith rather than reasoning and investigation.

Merold Westphal, philosophy professor, Fordham University 

I think it is possible to "try" either atheistic unbelief or theistic belief to see if it "fits" in the sense of doing the practices that go with the position - praying or not praying, going to church or not going to church, reading the Bible or not reading the Bible, etc.

But I very much doubt that it is possible to suspend belief in the sense Bell suggested.

We do get caught up in the world of a movie and feel, for example, real anxiety. But then someone coughs or talks and we remember that what we are watching and hearing is fiction and the real world is the one where I'm sitting in a theater. We haven't ceased to believe, and the sense in which we have temporarily suspended belief (for an hour or two, not for a year) depends on powerful external  aids.  I'm not sure ceasing the practices of faith can have the same result, especially over so long a time.

Lauren Anderson Youngblood, spokesperson, Secular Coalition for America  

I'm not exactly sure how you would "try" it, because atheism is not a religion with rituals and obligations (attending church, fasting, not eating pork, etc).

Either you believe or don't believe. If you're on the fence, I would say you're an agnostic, not "trying" atheism.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Faith • Lost faith • Nones • Spirituality

soundoff (3,260 Responses)
  1. If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

    It's funny that someone thinks they can spend a year without God ... we spend every year without a gods.

    January 15, 2014 at 10:26 am |
  2. AverageJoe76

    If you're genuine in the pursuit of truth, then questioning your faith should happen...... all the time. Taking things for 'face-value' is a lazy approach. And it leaves you vulnerable to the manipulation of humans. Which is a story that plays out over and over again.

    January 15, 2014 at 10:21 am |
  3. Brad

    The only thing I ask is that people of faith stop looking down their noses at people who lack faith, as though they "just haven't figured it out yet."

    January 15, 2014 at 10:21 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      I agree. But I'd also like to see people stop using the wording that people who are atheist "lack faith", faith is a word used for many things, not just religions. You can't really lack something that doesn't exist. Atheists do not lack faith, we simply don't believe in gods. One could also use the wording .. stop looking down your noses at those who don't believe myth and fairy tales are true. Two very different ways to say the same thing .. but implying substantially different things.

      January 15, 2014 at 10:31 am |
      • igaftr

        I lack faith the same way I lack cancer.

        January 15, 2014 at 10:41 am |
        • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

          Cancer is real, gods are not.
          You lack faith about as much as you lack a belief in unicorns .. we "lack faith" in an infinite number of infinite things, so it's a bit absurd to use the term "lack faith" for such things.

          January 15, 2014 at 10:56 am |
        • igaftr

          Exactly...I do not have cancer...I do not lack it.
          I do not have faith in gods...I do not lack it.

          January 15, 2014 at 12:48 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      Shameful to say but, I hold that thought in the back of my mind about theists. To clarify, it's not that I see me in a postion superior to them, but I feel like they haven't been looking at it from the outside, and they don't want to. They seem to remain complacent even when there are glaring contridictions to point out. It's upsetting because I thought they wanted the truth no matter what. But they just want the truth that makes them feel comfortable. I'll take the truth, no matter how horrible it could turn out to be. And the reason why is because I can't grow (truely grow) from lies.

      January 15, 2014 at 10:33 am |
  4. Phil

    My main issue with atheism is that it limits the mind to the possibility of science. I think most people interchange atheism with agnosticism. I've hear long rants from atheist friends about theories scientist are contemplating such as multiple universe etc. When I question the theory of an alternate universe/realm that contains properties, not like this one that, with a “being” that designed this realm they get defensive (since it would be theism). It is impossible to argue theism because everything in theism is based off a spiritual realm with different properties/characteristics to architect this one; everything we find out in science here is limited to this physical realm.

    January 15, 2014 at 10:19 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      " everything we find out in science here is limited to this physical realm"

      Not exactly. Science is all about what is measurable and repeatable. If there was actual evidence of God beyond the concept, "science" would determine that God is real.

      January 15, 2014 at 10:27 am |
    • Tevii

      That SAME arguement is the problem with religion. it limits you. Science doesnt limit someone, unless the scientist is closed-minded to new discoveries and facts.... and if they were then they wouldnt be a scientist worth anything.
      Science is the pursuit of truth. Religion is, "we already know its because of god, no sense looking further into it"

      January 15, 2014 at 10:29 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Being atheist has absolutely nothing to do with science ... where do you people keep coming up with this stuff?

      January 15, 2014 at 10:32 am |
    • Damocles

      Spiritual realm is thought run wild, flights of fancy. It's fun to let your mind go and imagine all sorts of things, but you have to come back to a more concrete base at some point. It's also a defense mechanism, i.e. 'you can't understand what I believe because it's 'spiritual'.

      January 15, 2014 at 10:34 am |
  5. Jason

    Last year Pope Francis said that atheists would not be denied the kingdom of heaven as long as they live a good life. So belief or non-belief, just be good.

    January 15, 2014 at 10:15 am |
    • Science Works

      And there is a hell that froze over – but where is heaven ?

      January 15, 2014 at 10:20 am |
    • Tom

      Awseome comment! I agree 100%. Be good for goodness sake. It's as simple as that. Why does there have to be more to it?

      January 15, 2014 at 10:28 am |
    • ME II

      I think it was a bit more than that.

      January 15, 2014 at 10:28 am |
  6. Biggins

    I commend the pastor for trying to live the atheist lifestyle for a year, to see what it's like to take the training wheels off and live in the scary real world where you have to think and figure things out on your own instead of just blindly believing that God will take care of my problems for me just because a pastor says so. I personally vascillate between agnostic and atheist. As an engineer I know that the universe and all the natural laws (i.e. physics) could not have possibly just poofed into existence without alot of methodical planning and preparation. Have you ever seen a building or bridge just appear out of nowhere perfectly intact and ready to use?

    On the other hand, when you see the atrocities that continue to plague humankind...starvation, fighting, disease, etc it makes it incredibly hard for me to think that there is a God. What God that is fair and just and loving takes a little child away from their parents? Or allows needless and endless suffering of citizens so that a handful of corrupt leaders can live high on the hog? I know that religion tries to explain this away with the notion of free will and such but I don't buy it for a second. As a parent (and not a very pious person at all), if I saw that my child or someone else's child was suffering and needed help I would step in and help, not stand off in the distance and claim that all of this is the result of eating an apple in the garden of eden or free will or whatever the excuse is. The way I reconcile my aethist and agnostic views is the thought that maybe God put together the natural laws of the universe and then went on permanent vacation...

    January 15, 2014 at 10:05 am |
    • JJ

      "As an engineer I know that the universe and all the natural laws (i.e. physics) could not have possibly just poofed into existence without alot of methodical planning and preparation."

      You know this? But you have no problem with a god/creator just poofing into existence?

      January 15, 2014 at 10:12 am |
      • King of Darkness

        Good ol' appeals to authority. Being an engineer has nothing to do with the origin of the universe and its laws nor does it give the guy any authority on the subject, so it's really a double fallacy. 😆

        January 15, 2014 at 12:17 pm |
    • Giddy up

      As a superst itious individual, I know that the universe and all the natural laws (i.e. physics) could not have possibly just poofed into existence without alot of methodical planning and preparation.

      January 15, 2014 at 10:20 am |
    • Damocles

      The laws of physics didn't just pop into being, they are merely our way of describing what we see. I'd say they really don't exist in a way.

      January 15, 2014 at 10:22 am |
    • Russell

      You are proof that religion can infect the mind of someone with the ability to earn an engineering degree.
      Your first point assumes that there was nothing and then suddenly all these laws of phtsics just happened. Why? How is it so difficult to think that there to be a structure and organization to nature? Why does there have to be one god to think of it all in advance?
      Secondly, and this has been said on this blog before, IF the bible is the truth and IF there is an eternal part of us, then people really need to get over the pain they suffer here. IF this life is nothing more than a test to determine is we get bliss or torture for eternity, then hunger, disease, and the temporary injustice we see here will all be corrected soon enough. IF the biblical god did all of this with a plan we need to do our part in this plan. This does not prove there is no god.

      January 15, 2014 at 10:28 am |
    • igaftr

      Biggins
      " The way I reconcile my aethist and agnostic views is the thought that maybe God put together the natural laws of the universe and then went on permanent vacation"

      That is neither atheist nor agnostic...that is Deist.

      January 15, 2014 at 10:36 am |
      • nev

        yes He is in vacation,but He brought with Him all His communication equipments including his computers,and still is in charge of the universe.only that biggins think that God is ordinary being ,just what I and you think He is vacationing.but He is not,His will calls for a total education of humans to the true realities of human life to prepare us for the future challenges,like a paradigm shift in cosciousness through a new emergent religion,i will not mention it here because the editors dont like it.

        January 15, 2014 at 11:20 am |
        • nev

          that new future religion is PANTHROTHEISM

          January 15, 2014 at 11:24 am |
  7. carlsberg24

    He is most likely an atheist already. One can't change his opinion on matters like this like flipping a light switch. He was just hoping to soften the blow and not become an outcast in his social circle. Obviously it didn't work as he lost jobs and "friends".

    January 15, 2014 at 10:01 am |
  8. JJ

    As others have said, you can't give atheism a shot for a year and see how it goes. But, perhaps he's really pretending to be an atheist for a year to see how those around him respond and the persecution he will suffer as a result. If he's doing it as a social experiment then it should be eye opening for him. And...I smell a book deal about it all telling how he felt empty and was filled with hate and despair until he came back to Jesus.

    January 15, 2014 at 10:00 am |
    • Damocles

      Yeah, I have a hard time shaking the notion about a book deal as well. Just seems too... scripted almost.

      January 15, 2014 at 10:11 am |
  9. Ruthann Adamsky

    Wonderful! Now maybe there is hope that the rest of the believers can be cured. I myself quit the worship of G*d several years ago. You can do it people, you can change if you try hard; just try repeating – two plus two equals four, rationality is real.

    January 15, 2014 at 9:58 am |
    • TankJr

      There is just too much coincidence in our existence, e.g., the perfect distance from the sun / moon / stars, the carbon cycle, variety of foods directly from the earth, the perfect amount of gravity, love, consciousness, the human anatomy, etc...

      There is a GOD! There MUST be. No way could all of this "just happen". I hope you come back before the end.

      January 15, 2014 at 10:10 am |
      • Dyslexic doG

        given the myriad galaxies and stars and planets, it is entirely probable that what we call life would happen ... and in fact has happened.

        Tank, please ponder on this for a while:

        “This is rather as if you imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' - Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

        you are thinking like the water in the puddle.

        rather than being made to fit, we have evolved to fit this place over tens of millions of years.

        January 15, 2014 at 10:14 am |
      • Russell

        It used to be lightning that was proof of gods. It couldn't just happen, Zues or Thor was doing it. 2,000 years later it is gravity carbon cycles.
        yes Tank, anything you don't understand MUST be done by a god.

        January 15, 2014 at 10:15 am |
      • Damocles

        None of that speaks of a deity. Life took hold where it was able to. Since you brought up the topic of food, what does it say about a supposed deity when many things are poisonous? What silly whim was a deity fulfilling when it allowed animals to find out what was bad for them by trial and error?

        January 15, 2014 at 10:15 am |
        • Dyslexic doG

          well said!

          January 15, 2014 at 10:18 am |
      • igaftr

        Tank
        Look at the data from the Hershell observatory. It studied many stars looking for planets. It found planets on average in half of the star systems, planets were found.

        Of those planets found, 1/6 of them were found in the temperate zone where liquid water was possible.
        If you then extrapolate out the numbers you will find that in The Milky way alone, it works out to approximately 2 billion planets where life could exist. That is just in the Millky Way alone.

        Considering that the four most common elements in the universe are also the four elements needed for life, it is very highly likley that life exists elsewhere.

        It is only your belief that things are tuned in for us...the reality is, that life evolves to fit the planet, not the other way around.

        January 15, 2014 at 10:24 am |
      • marypatric

        there IS too much coincidence for there to be nothing, but does that mean there is a guy in the sky? there are infinite possibilities.
        I am not a pure atheist and i don't believe in religion. but as Shakespeare wrote "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

        January 15, 2014 at 10:25 am |
      • GeorgeH

        Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, "This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!"
        Douglas Adams

        January 15, 2014 at 10:27 am |
      • Fallacy Spotting 101

        Post by TankJr is an instance of the Argument from Ignorance fallacy.

        http://fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

        January 15, 2014 at 10:33 am |
      • Ken

        Earth-like planets in the Goldilocks Zone appear to be pretty common, so that argument doesn't hold much weight anymore. At this moment, a thousand intelligent species could all be arrogantly assuming that the whole universe was design just form them, like you are.

        January 15, 2014 at 10:36 am |
  10. HoldtheGodPlease

    I think it's completely practical to try atheism for a year. Our first step as atheists was a choice to disbelieve, and we make that choice every time religious beliefs are presented to us. It doesn't take any effort anymore to make that choice, it's automatic, but for someone steeped in belief that choice has to be made consciously.

    He's simply decided to consciously make that choice for a year. My bet is that he will continue to make that choice, as it quickly becomes a satisfying habit.

    January 15, 2014 at 9:56 am |
    • JJ

      I didn't choose to be an atheist. I had no choice. The same as I haven't made a choice to have a lack of belief in fairies.

      January 15, 2014 at 10:07 am |
  11. Dave Green

    You can no more "try" atheism than you can "try" theism. Belief is not a choice. You don't wake up one morning and decide "Gee, ya know, I've been a Christian for 20 years, I think I'll be a Hindu today," and *poof* suddenly your whole world view changes. It's not reality.

    You can pretend to try it, but no, this is silly.

    January 15, 2014 at 9:55 am |
  12. TDJ

    Sorry, But I can't live like Homer Simpson for five minutes, much less for an entire year.

    January 15, 2014 at 9:51 am |
    • Chikkipop

      How does Homer Simpson live?

      January 15, 2014 at 10:01 am |
    • GeorgeH

      Homer as had actual conversations with God on the Simpsons. God appears with his head above screen level and is the only Simpsons character with five fingers. Homer either has to accept that he's a theist, or that he's crazy for thinking he has talked to God.

      January 15, 2014 at 10:11 am |
    • marypatric

      i loved when homer didn't want to go to church anymore and he rationalized it like this- he said 'what if we are going to the wrong church and every week we are just making god madder and madder every week?"

      January 15, 2014 at 10:29 am |
  13. No atheism please

    Atheism has been proven to be false. See how I can act like atheists do and say something is false but it's my opinion which I think is a fact. Your atheism is false. Get over it.

    January 15, 2014 at 9:44 am |
    • tallulah13

      I bet that made sense in your head.

      January 15, 2014 at 9:47 am |
      • No atheism please

        Atheism is false. Fact.

        January 15, 2014 at 9:51 am |
        • Not You

          Evidence, please.

          January 15, 2014 at 9:53 am |
        • No atheism please

          Don't need any since it's a fact.

          January 15, 2014 at 9:54 am |
        • Science Works

          Hunter Gatherers are NOT false – fact !

          January 15, 2014 at 9:57 am |
        • Not You

          Ah, I see. How can I resist such astounding reasoning. It's been before me the whole time, I must "renounce" my atheism immediately. Clearly it's true that we must all worship Quetzalcoatl as 'No Atheism Please' demands we do based on the clear facts.

          January 15, 2014 at 9:58 am |
        • tallulah13

          The crazy thing about facts is that they are supported by evidence. So when you declare that your personal opinion is a fact, you had best be prepared to present your evidence. So go for it. Let's see your proof.

          January 15, 2014 at 10:00 am |
        • No atheism please

          If atheist can state something is false but it's actually just their opinion, by logic of atheists, I can call atheism false. LOL!!!

          January 15, 2014 at 10:00 am |
        • tallulah13

          Oh, I see. You're just another liar for Jesus. I guess the the whole "thou shalt not bear false witness" thing doesn't apply to you.

          January 15, 2014 at 10:07 am |
        • ajerman

          It isn't possible for atheism to be false. Even IF a God existed, it still wouldn't make atheism false for the same reason why you can't "try" atheism for a year.

          January 15, 2014 at 10:09 am |
        • steve

          Do you believe you can prove God exists?

          January 15, 2014 at 10:12 am |
        • No atheism please

          Atheists can't admit that "God doesn't exist" isn't a fact. It's their opinion and belief NOTHING MORE. The last part is what most atheists are stuck on.

          January 15, 2014 at 10:19 am |
        • Free Post-Holiday Nuts

          The troll: "Atheists can't admit that "God doesn't exist" isn't a fact. "

          Most atheists don't claim that "God doesn't exist" is a fact. That's your problem – you simply don't understand atheism.

          January 15, 2014 at 10:26 am |
      • No atheism please

        Liar for Jesus? Why do you assume I'm a Christian? Lying for atheism huh?

        January 15, 2014 at 10:12 am |
        • Free Post-Holiday Nuts

          Who cares if you're a Christian or not.

          Everyone who has been to the blog recently understands you are a troll first. Whatever comes after is inconsequential.

          January 15, 2014 at 10:28 am |
        • tallulah13

          My bad. So basically, you're just a troll. Sorry I wasted my time.

          January 15, 2014 at 11:02 am |
    • Free Post-Holiday Nuts

       

      January 15, 2014 at 9:50 am |
    • Not You

      That doesn't even make sense.

      January 15, 2014 at 9:52 am |
    • JJ

      Y'all, don't feed this troll. He gets off on the responses he gets and masterbates in the dark in his mother's basement while reading them.

      January 15, 2014 at 9:53 am |
      • No atheism please

        Me a troll? Ha! Try fighting off atheist oppressors.

        January 15, 2014 at 10:06 am |
        • Free Post-Holiday Nuts

          Atheist oppressors? Sorry, but in this day and age, theists are the champs at oppression and disenfranchisement. Have you read the news lately? Quirky thing is, they mostly oppress each other.

          January 15, 2014 at 10:21 am |
        • No atheism please

          How about teaching kids the wrong idea about evolution? Most atheists want evolution taught because in their minds, the theory disproves God. First sign of atheistic oppression. Far more worse than what Texas schools have done.

          January 15, 2014 at 10:39 am |
    • Dave Green

      The very statement "Theism has been proven false," is silly. Theism is the belief in a god or gods. Of course it exists. What you seem to be wanting to say is that "It's proven there is or is not a god." Not the same thing.

      With regards to THAT claim by either side, BS. There is no way to prove that something does or does not exist that doesn't have set parameters or even said to exist in time and space. It's a foolish argument either way.

      January 15, 2014 at 9:59 am |
    • DaGuest

      The difference: atheists understand you cannot "prove" something doesn't exist. The burden lies in proving something does exist.

      January 15, 2014 at 10:06 am |
      • No atheism please

        Claiming there is "No God" is still a powerful claim because it lacks evidence. Why should I believe atheists if you have no evidence? I should blindly accept what you believe because you think religion is dumb? Ha! Atheist fundies are so funny.

        January 15, 2014 at 10:09 am |
        • Free Post-Holiday Nuts

          Why is evidence needed? Theists are those that made the initial claim and have yet to be able to support it.

          January 15, 2014 at 10:24 am |
        • No atheism please

          So atheists are cowards who can't support their faith?! LOL!!!!! Priceless!!

          January 15, 2014 at 10:25 am |
        • Free Post-Holiday Nuts

          Once again you prove that you don't understand atheism. Otherwise, you would not call it a faith.

          January 15, 2014 at 10:31 am |
        • alphabatt1

          Science deals with unanswered questions, while religion deals with unanswered questions

          January 15, 2014 at 10:31 am |
    • GeorgeH

      Why should anyone listen to your opinion?

      January 15, 2014 at 10:08 am |
      • No atheism please

        Why should anyone listen to internet "know it all" atheists?

        January 15, 2014 at 10:16 am |
        • Free Post-Holiday Nuts

          If I didn't have time I know I certainly wouldn't entertain internet trolls. Here's lookin at you, kid!

          January 15, 2014 at 10:22 am |
    • marypatric

      you cannot prove that something does not exist. you can only prove that a thing exists. it is a simple logic puzzle. in such an argument, the burden of proof is actually upon the person making the claim in the first place. if you make the claim that a being exists and someone challenges you, it is entirely upon you to either be able to prove it or say 'well, i can't but i will still believe.' there is no burden upon the other person at all. to insist that there is illogical, irrational and a false argument.

      January 15, 2014 at 10:36 am |
      • No atheism please

        By your logic, atheists can't be proven correct. Thus atheism is false.

        January 15, 2014 at 10:42 am |
  14. DHARMARAJAN

    See THENEILRIVER channel in youtube to see 1000 videos of gods and goddesses appearing in sky.

    January 15, 2014 at 9:34 am |
    • tallulah13

      Because you can't fake a video.

      January 15, 2014 at 9:39 am |
    • GeorgeH

      Funny, all I see are bunnies in those clouds.

      January 15, 2014 at 10:06 am |
  15. Lawrence of Arabia

    Short answer? No. If someone believes, you cannot force unbelief. Likewise, if someone doesn't believe, you cannot force belief. One can try the "lifestyle" of the other side, but unless one already holds the position to be tried out, they are only pretending at best.

    January 15, 2014 at 8:25 am |
    • Ken

      Kinda makes Pascal's Wager a really stupid argument, right?

      I wonder why it's the usual Christian argument against atheism then?

      January 15, 2014 at 10:02 am |
      • ajerman

        I'd say it is. I came to a similar thought process as Pascal's Wager, probably when I was in my very early teens, but I quickly also came to the conclusion that claiming to believe "just in case", doesn't change whether you actually do believe or not. It's just a non-confrontational answer to give to someone. Inside, you either believe, or you don't. Additionally, if such a God existed with the powers described by those theists, pretending to believe wouldn't actually help you in any way.

        January 15, 2014 at 10:21 am |
  16. edwinwnorth

    and any way since denial of god is the unforgivable sin? he can believe again but as far as his bible is concerned he is doomed. There is NO forgiveness.

    January 15, 2014 at 8:22 am |
    • Observer

      So people being "born again" is fake?

      January 15, 2014 at 9:53 am |
  17. Brian Aho

    Atheism is a choice against the existence and government of God. For a Christian pastor to make this choice is spiritual death. It is an act of infidelity that can terminate his eternal relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

    January 15, 2014 at 8:17 am |
    • Judy

      "Atheism is a choice against the existence and government of God." Perhaps for some. But for others, it might simply be to stop going through the motions of believing something that, over time, you've coming to realize isn't there and never has been.

      It may wind up being a very healthy choice for him.

      January 15, 2014 at 9:23 am |
      • loaded

        The experiment will show the for profit pastors they can still claim their 10% to maintain the atheist temples and expenses and not have to put up with memorizing the bible.

        January 15, 2014 at 9:40 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      atheism is sanity.

      January 15, 2014 at 9:40 am |
    • tallulah13

      Honest people question their faith. This gut is just doing it a bit more publicly than most.

      January 15, 2014 at 9:44 am |
    • Fred Evil

      "Atheism is a choice"
      No, atheism is the result if thousands of hours of questioning, and finding hollow answers in religion.
      If I don't believe, would god accept my LIE that I really do believe? Or would I get more respect for being intellectually honest? Despite Xtian encouragement to lie to god, I'll stick to the truth as best I can determine it. If that makes god mad, he's not a particularly just god, and I have no interest in its 'heaven.'

      January 15, 2014 at 10:12 am |
    • ajerman

      I feel compelled to reply and say that atheism isn't the choice AGAINST anything. While some atheists may be against religion, the definition of the word and a large number of atheists do not conform to this wording. Atheism is simply the lack of belief. Perhaps that's nit picky, but theists like to paint atheists as a group threatening their existence when really most could care less and even support people's religious views.

      January 15, 2014 at 10:38 am |
  18. Ken

    We actual atheists live as though there is no God because we don't believe there is one, but this guy is only ignoring God by not praying if he hasn't actually lost faith. For a lot of people, the tremendous guilt and fear that's part of the Christian indoctrination process will eat away at them enough to ensure that they not only return to Christianity, but return to the same sect that they left in the first place. Think of that guilt and fear as like the craving to have a cigarette. Christianity is addictive. Many get tired of it and want to quit, but the addictive parts make that difficult for most.

    January 15, 2014 at 8:11 am |
  19. edwinwnorth

    what an idiot how the hell do you turn off belief? Either you are or you are not. Theists are so damned stupid. unreal...I can't even believe this fool.

    January 15, 2014 at 8:06 am |
    • Ken

      He feels his faith leaving him so he's leaving his church and stopped praying.

      Pretty typical course of events that many atheists should recognize.

      January 15, 2014 at 8:13 am |
      • ajerman

        It is, but no matter how much he tries to deny it, this is just an attention grab. Most atheists have gone through that thought process, and for some it's even a struggle at times, but it's usually a private matter and it's called questioning your religion, not "trying atheism". His saying he's trying atheism is akin to saying you're trying veganism while you're still eating McDonalds. To deny religion or push back against it is one thing, but you're still a theist or at best agnostic until you simply no longer believe and only at that point can you say you're atheist.

        January 15, 2014 at 10:46 am |
  20. tlw3

    "Try"? As in, instantaneously alter your entire set of core beliefs as some kind of experiment?

    No.

    January 15, 2014 at 8:00 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.