The Cost of Atheism (or just asking questions)

We still love you!

So many of my closest friends and colleagues have said this to me in the past few days. My initial, unspoken reaction was, “Well, I certainly hope so.” Now I understand that this is not a forgone conclusion. 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. I have to say that anyone who knows me personally, while they may not agree with what I’m doing or fully understand it, has expressed their support for me personally. I deeply appreciate that because the organizations that I have been affiliated with have not been able to do the same.

It began on the evening of January 1—the very first day of my year without god. First text messages, then email saying, “We need to talk.” By noon on Friday I had been let go from all the jobs that I had. Since leaving my position with the Seventh-day Adventist Church—and even before—I was an adjunct professor at Azusa Pacific University (APU) teaching Intercultural Communication to undergrads, and Fuller Theological Seminary, coaching doctoral candidates in the writing of their dissertation proposals. Both are Christian institutions of higher learning that have a requirement that their instructors and staff be committed followers of Jesus and, obviously, believers in God. They simply feel they cannot have me as a part of the faculty while I’m am in this year long process. Both APU and Fuller welcomed a conversation with me at the end of the year to see about my future work with their institutions. The Deans of both schools encouraged me and said they felt my project was bold and even important and necessary.

The other work I do is consulting with congregations. One congregation in particular—the Glendale City Seventh-day Adventist Church in Glendale, California, had recently asked me to start a non-profit organization that would network the faith communities in Glendale and Northeast Los Angeles to build social fabric and work for the common good of the city. We were just in the infancy stages of that project when I embarked publicly on this journey. I have long admired the Glendale City Church, partnering with them on many projects through the years when I was a pastor in Hollywood. They are strong advocates for the full inclusion of the LBGT community in the church. While shouldering that important justice burden against much opposition from around the Adventist Church, the fact that I was embarking on a year without god was just too much for them.

So, while I understand and appreciate where these three organizations are coming from, I have a few observations about what has transpired in the last day.

1. Religions institutions (Christian, in my case) are not able to endure these probing questions from their public leaders. My process for the next year does not square with official faith statements and creates untenable discomfort among members. Donors, it is feared, will pull back their donations. My inquiry is the beginning of a slippery slope and they simply can’t risk it.

2. Christian educational institutions are not serving their students by eliminating professors that are on an honest intellectual and spiritual journey, just because it doesn’t line up with the official statement of faith. My guess is that many professors at APU, Fuller Seminary and other Christian universities, have a wide range of opinions about the official faith statement. The difference with me is that I publicly declared my disagreement, or at least uncertainty.

3. Those who “come out” as atheist face serious consequences in our society. They are among the marginalized groups that get the least attention. I know this now from personal experience. Many people who have commented here or sent me private messages have told me heartbreaking stories of the suffering and estragement they have endured. Others have said they are still closeted because their family, friends and employers could not bear the news.

So I find myself, on Day 4, without any employment. My savings will run out in about two weeks and I’m scrambling to find immediate work doing, well…anything—manual labor, waiting tables, other teaching and consulting, or whatever I can find.

I understand so much better now why dozens of people spoke to me and about me as though I was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Some aspects of my life did receive a terminal diagnose because of this journey. My hope is that I will find work to support myself and my family as I continue down this road, and my heart goes out to those who have suffered similar consequences as a result of following their conscience.

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About Ryan Bell

For 19 years Ryan Bell was a pastor, most recently the senior pastor of the Hollywood Seventh-day Adventist Church. In March 2013 he resigned his position due to theological and practical differences. As an adjunct professor he has taught subjects ranging from intercultural communication to bioethics.
Currently he is a researcher, writer and speaker on the topic of religion and irreligion in America. In January 2014, Ryan began a yearlong journey exploring the limits of theism and the atheist landscape in the United States and blogs about that experience here at Year Without God.

  • https://www.facebook.com/nempie.blues Caroline Kaugher

    Incredible. Positively incredible. Or not. The hypocrisy does not really surprise me at all, what does surprise me is that these religious institutions do things like this and then wonder why more people aren’t religious, or why more and more are losing their religion. Gee. I just don’t know.

    Have faith in yourself. You are an intelligent being, with skills. I daresay after this blog post, you’ll start to receive some job offers. I think too, that this year will not be just a journey without God, but a journey to get to know yourself, and if you seize the opportunities that arise, you’ll not regret one bit of it. Carpe Diem! You’ve been released and you have an entire world in front of you!

    • https://www.facebook.com/shirley.hinote Shirley Hinote

      Hey, wait a minute. I thought he said he was not an atheist yet?

      Are we assuming that he will be an atheist at the end of the experiment?

      • https://www.facebook.com/nempie.blues Caroline Kaugher

        No…Pretty sure nothing I said suggests that?

  • https://www.facebook.com/peter.veitch Peter Veitch

    Scary stuff! Argghh as best I can tell you have not decided that you are or will be an atheist. It seems the SDA church has sacked you for even questioning them (?). Shouldn’t the one year exercise be of interest to them? Isn’t it possible that you could find that you think that atheism isn’t true ? Have they, ironically judged the outcome of your journey ? How does being sacked for going on this quest … Help them? No job , arghh this is heartbreaking , although, with respect, IMO predictable.

    • RC

      Very well put, Peter.

    • quine001

      He is making the noises we have heard so often before in pastors who are trying to talk themselves into continuing to believe, while in their guts they know it’s nuts. Now that he has experienced the receiving end of the hypocrisy, there is no going back.

  • http://gravatar.com/maryannwatkins maryannwatkins

    Bless your heart, Ryan … you are learning what many of us already know – and have experienced.

    You wrote: “Donors, it is feared, will pull back their donations. My inquiry is the beginning of a slippery slope and they simply can’t risk it.”

    But I don’t think that’s it. The slippery slope doesn’t have as much to do with money as it does with their own personal faith – or lack thereof. Your inquiry scares the dickens out of them. They don’t want their faith questioned because that means THEY are questioned.

    I’m hoping the best for you. And the best is that you find YOUR truth. There is no one great truth, only the truth we create for ourselves.

    Now … somebody help this man get a job!!

    • http://raythaw.wordpress.com axepilot

      Many donations from atheists are rejected by certain “institutions”…yes, many of “us” already know.

  • Ben

    having spent over half my life completely immersed in the church, their reaction is not surprising in the least. i’ve seen pastors fired or forced into resignation for much, much less. lucky for you, your blog has quite the following now, and i have no doubt someone will feel for you and offer you a job. just like christians like to take care of their own (until they do something they don’t like), atheists do as well. there’s a certain bond that comes with being on the fringes of (american) society. you’ll land on your feet. i’ll be praying for you! haha, just kidding.

    • https://www.facebook.com/steve.kane.330 Steve Kane

      “just like christians like to take care of their own (until they do something they don’t like), atheists do as well.”

      Please just help him if he needs it, do not make it even implicitly conditional on him becoming “one of us/you”. He needs to learn that one does not need to be “one of” anything in order to merit love.

  • http://maryannwatkins.wordpress.com maryannwatkins

    Bless your heart, Ryan … you’re learning what many of us already know – and have experienced. Religions – generally – are not tolerant of anyone who doesn’t tow the line.

    You wrote: “Donors, it is feared, will pull back their donations. My inquiry is the beginning of a slippery slope and they simply can’t risk it.”

    I’m not so sure that’s it. Sure, the money is important to organized religion, but in this case, I think your inquiry bothers them because it makes them look at their own faith. It actually scares the dickens out of them!

    Carry on! I wish you the best. And the “best” is that you find YOUR truth. There is no one great truth – only the truth we create for ourselves.

    Now, folks … let’s help this man find a job!

  • converttheatheist

    I am extremely sorry for what has happened. That said, if you didn’t realize going in to this enterprise that this was going to happen, then you were exceptionally naive. My assumption reading your earlier posts, an assumption that I now obviously question, was that you had enough practical sense to have saved up money for living expenses for the duration of your experiment.

    Atheism, in today’s American society, is where homosexuality was 30-40 years ago. Being publicly homosexual then meant that, outside of a few select areas of the country, you lost everything. It was not something anyone publicly “flirted with,” because even the most committed risked their livelihood and even their lives upon coming out. For those committed few, it was often worth it to take the risk, and millions that followed benefitted from their bravery. But for the most part, they understood the risks, because they lived with them while in the closet.

    If you didn’t see the dangers, if you didn’t see the parallels, if you were’t prepared for this, then I’m sorry… but I can’t help but wonder what the hell you think you are doing.

    What you seemed to be doing was very brave. But that “seeming” doesn’t make it so. Are you really ready to be vilified? You think you have been, based on your history, but frankly you haven’t seen anything yet. If you aren’t ready for what’s coming, you should end this enterprise now.

    • Ben

      spot on! never thought about atheism being compared to homosexuality 30-40 years ago, and i honestly don’t agree with you, but it’s an interesting parallel. i haven’t lost anything personally by coming out as atheist, but i suppose i had warmed my friends and family up to the idea by being “agnostic” for a decade or so. i guess abruptly “coming out” as mr. bell has here, is a bit more shocking.

    • http://gravatar.com/disfrutaalfredo disfrutaalfredoAlfredo

      I think we should be careful comparing the experience of being an atheist and homosexual. I can speak to both, and I mean the experience of being ostracized is similar but they are lived differently. I just don’t want to reduce the challenges lgbtq people live to being the same as declaring ones nonbelief. Atheism and homosexuality are so different I think In how we discover we are gay or atheist, how we process it, and how we develop an identity as queer or atheist.

      First there is a certain privilege to discover and explore theism/atheism. Not to say that you have to be privileged to explore atheism, but more that atheism is a choice and intentional exploration while being gay is more an exploration of ones true self. To put it in plain language, if you’re flaming kid or a trans person, you are labeled on sight and then you figure out what it means later. Atheists get to craft their identities themselves and negotiate their realities as they process what it means.

      In processing being gay and atheist, I’ve found so many differences. As a gay man I most feared rejection from my family and friends. There is nothing I can control about how people will react when I tell them I’m gay, I could not tell them but if I’m dating men, I mean come on. As an atheist, I wasn’t as worried because I can control what I share and how. Totally different way to process externally.

      Internally, I still struggle with internalized homophobia, accepting all parts of myself. As an atheist, I feel bad that my family thinks my soul will be damned, but they’re not sure yet if gay people will get to heaven anyway. I think they think atheists will return to Jesus on their deathbed, who knows.

      Outside of religious persecutions, being trans or queer identified is a death sentence in some countries and even if you’re a queer person of color in the US you are more likely to be poor, and let’s not talk about the increasing rates of HIV. I don’t think identity as an atheist is related to health outcomes, but I’d be interested to see the study. :p

      I think it’s great that “coming out” as atheist can help create understanding of a queer experience but just want to make sure lgbtq experiences are not reduced to an analogy for some other purpose. There are similarities, but there are many more differences.

      • converttheatheist

        I agree there are many differences, and agree that we need to be very careful to avoid equating the two. However, consider one of the main criticisms that Ryan has faced… That “living a year as an atheist” isn’t really possible without actually removing the belief in God. I would say that this criticism is quite analogous to one that could be made of someone who decided to “live a year as a homosexual.” It’s not really meaningful unless you add in an attraction to the same gender. And just like you can’t just decide to change your orientation, I don’t think you can decide to change your beliefs (though for very different reasons; biology in the orientation case, but consideration of evidence in the belief case).

        I said I agreed that we have to be careful about drawing the comparison… And I mean that. But that doesn’t mean that we should ignore the limited comparisons that CAN be made.

        Atheists are among the least trusted people in America. Look at the Gallup data here (http://theprogressreport.co.nz/2011/12/16/would-you-vote-for-an-atheist/). And there is at least one study that claimed to show that atheists were trusted less than rapists in some circumstances (http://ww2.nationalpost.com/m/wp/blog.html?b=life.nationalpost.com/2011/11/30/religious-people-do-not-believe-in-atheists-study).

      • converttheatheist

        Let me also add that you have raised some excellent, valid concerns, and I agree with everything you said. I just want to make sure that we don’t swing to the other extreme of avoiding comparisons in those cases where they ARE meaningful. If we can learn from history, and all that.

    • quine001

      I agree with others that it is not exactly the same, but do think you make a good point with the parallels.

  • http://scribedom.wordpress.com nrpiece

    You will find work or work will find you…stay the course!

  • Marciana

    This is sad, yet not surprising: all these, besides being religious institutions, are organizations that abide by some precise rules, that are seen as essential for their survival (be it for funding purposes or otherwise). It is largely common for most organizations to set requirements for their employees – and when these requirements are ideologically-based, it is much more difficult to go around them. And herein comes the religious nature of these institutions: they are founded on the premise of God’s existence – so it makes sense, from that point of view, to recruit/maintain employees that follow this same premise. Unfortunately, yes, this approach might/does lead to a narrow selection of employees, and at times to downright abuse of power. But, on the other hand, they have to be seen as organizations/workplaces that abide by standards not always under their direct/unique control. I surely do hope you will find employment, and soon… The academia (outside the religious spectrum) might be an option.

  • Danny Linehan

    I wish you well on your journey, but I wonder if you’re asking the right question. Atheist say, “There is no God,” okay, so try that on for a while, but then ask yourself, “What is God?” Is the God of the Bible the only God? Is God even a being? Or is it something else, something more? Is there a ‘higher power,’ a higher level of being, or is everything God? So many questions to ask; you have your work cut out for you, but if you’re truly honest with yourself you will have an amazing journey.

    • http://gravatar.com/fillyfill Philip Buxton

      No, we say: ‘You say there IS a god/gods. And we don’t believe you. ‘

  • http://kstantonlee.wordpress.com kstantonlee

    I still wish you were just not drinking coffee for a year (smile). But, of course, that’s only to make myself feel better. And I have to imagine it’s parallel with your former employers. It’s not you, it’s they–questions are perceived as a threat, more as an opportunity to engage, deepen. I’ll add to the pile of “We still love yous.” I just wish you were drinking more herbal tea (another smile).

  • Elizabeth

    I am deeply sorry to hear this has happened and I completely agree that the only differene between you and everyone else is your “coming out” about what you are doing. This is exactly why I remain closeted about my atheism. in my state of Texas, an atheist cannot even legally run for public office. To declare my atheism tends to say, “I have no morality.” to the world. It is often awkward and infringes on my sense of security at work so I really relate to what you are experiencing.

    • Alan

      Despite the Texas constitution, you can run for public office there. This was decided in 1961 in the case Torcaso v. Watkins, in which the U.S. Supreme Court found that it was unconstitutional for any state to have any religious test for any public office. So, you can run. Getting elected still seems like a practical impossibility, though.

  • http://www.eastmountainunity.org Fancy

    There are plenty of New Thought or Liberal (for lack of a better collective adjective) churches, congregations, and religious learning institutions where your skills and experience are needed and your probing questions would be welcome. Some use familiar religious language, but with atheistic (non-theistic) meanings (like Unity), and some use religious language sparingly if at all (like Unitarian Universalism and Centers for Spiritual Living). And there are many varieties in between. Here’s my affirmative prayer for you: I see you in your perfect employment, using your gifts for the highest good of others, yourself and your family. And so it is.

    • JT Hawk

      That was my thought as well. I’m a Unitarian Universalist, and we desperately need ordained ministers like you. For us, to question is the journey. We are on this marble to reach out and help one another, and no person is less for their particular belief and spiritual journey. You certainly can do good without God, please don’t ever let that slow you down. I wish you much love and prosperity.

  • http://myatheistlife.wordpress.com myatheistlife

    In less than a week you have shown what was commonly known but is marginalized in the public view by the very people and institutions that ‘punish’ those that do not believe as they do.
    I hope that you find work, suitable work for someone with as much to offer as you have.

    It’s interesting to note that if you made duck calls for a living, people would support your journey, grouping together to bring pressure to bear on your employer. It’s Christian love (as I know it) at its finest.

    I hope that this year turns out to be a good thing for yourself. I’m fairly sure that it will be different than you imagined if you are not immersed in faith related work.

    I’m looking forward to reading more as the days go on.

  • Cemetery Sins

    I’m sorry for what has happened to you Ryan, but I know yer a strong person and can make it through just fine! Don’t give up hope, just realize that you have control over your life, YOUR will be done.
    I stumbled across a great ‘poster’ that I quickly posted to my little space on the internet, maybe it can give you a boost in spirit and solidify how some of us (if not most/all) of us baby-eating Atheists feel ::winks:: http://img8.joyreactor.com/pics/post/funny-pictures-atheism-auto-844138.jpeg

  • http://thetaoofreason.blogspot.com/p/posts.html Richard Edmonds

    Literally sounds like every story I’ve heard from someone in the Clergy Project. I feel like you’re a bit masochistic with this project you’ve taken on. As an atheist, I’m happy you’re opening your mind. However, as a human, I’m worried that you may be harming yourself and your family in the process. Did you plan for this? I feel like if I was in your situation, I’d get my ducks in a row before I burned my bridges.

    • http://denimanddorkyhats.blogspot.ca remi

      I don’t think he quite realized that he’d be burning those bridges, to be honest. He didn’t declare himself an atheist with this, he simply decided to experiment for a year before going any further. I dare say he didn’t expect to lose his jobs, since he wasn’t officially breaking off from the church. They instead decided to break off from him.

      • http://thetaoofreason.blogspot.com/p/posts.html Richard Edmonds

        I believe you may be right, though, this does add drama to his situation to fill his book about his experience. Thus, it could be something he may have expected. If he had looked into any of the stories from the Clergy Project, the potential result of his actions would have been quite clear.

  • Rondy

    Here are three links you might enjoy.

    The first is to a Canadian radio program featuring pastors who don’t believe in God.

    http://www.cbc.ca/andthewinneris/mobile/touch/2013/08/21/preachers-who-dont-believe-in-god/

    The second is a link to the page for Westhill United Church (of Canada). Their minister, Gretta Vosper, is a proclaimed atheist.

    http://www.westhill.net/minister-and-staff/

    The third is her home page.
    http://www.grettavosper.ca/

  • Jay

    You are finding out the painful reality of various religions. While many say they are tolerant, their actions say otherwise. Even of you are of their faith, you may be persecuted because you are faithful enough or you have a minor disagreement. In the Protestant religions, look at how many different viewpoints there are. Good lck on your journey.

  • Alan

    I’ll try to put a silver lining on your hardship: this will more realistically help you try living life as an atheist this year. In religious parts of the United States (i.e., rural areas, the south, the midwest, and the Great Plains), atheists are routinely harassed, fired from their jobs, evicted, and abandoned by their families for admitting that they don’t believe. This is something many of us have had to deal with. It really sucks, but at least you’re getting a more realistic impression of what atheism is like.

  • https://plus.google.com/+JeremeHoliman Jereme Holiman

    Hi Ryan,

    I follow your story with great intrigue. Like you, I grew up in an SDA household, and for the most of my upbringing from within an SDA community as well. I won’t get into my journey towards agnosticism, or becoming an atheist (which I will call myself only when the point isn’t getting across), but I just wanted to sympathize with your “coming out” phase. It was particularly difficult for me to finally come out to my family and certain friends about it. For many were terrified about what my status would be on their judgment day. “Jereme, don’t you know that you will go to hell if you don’t believe in God”. That statement was common. The mental gymnastics that people would go through to reconcile what I was telling them was a bit confusing – but maybe not so much if consider the whole premise of faith. But from their side, I was telling them I wouldn’t be joining them in heaven. It may have been in poor taste for me to say, “Not a real concern, I am content with this finite existence. I am content knowing that we are a product of the stars, rather than conjured. I am content not having all the answers, and always being on a path towards discovery”. So I let it be. Many saw it as if I forced them into a game of chicken, where they had to seriously consider that if they really believed what they believed someone they loved would be going to the hell they believed in. Though, I am not sure if that form of sympathy bothered me more than the vitriol I received from others. I lost a few old friends, the ones who I could not have a productive conversation about faith with, and the ones that could not come to terms with my admission. Everything I said to them was an affront on their belief system, or worse, they felt I was being condescending. Fortunately, there have been a great deal of love and understanding from others these past few years and have never felt more honest at my core. Good luck with the year. I am in LA area often and would love to pick your brain sometime.

    Talk soon,

    Jereme

  • Tawny Puma

    I’ve known Ryan since we were in seminary at the same time in Michigan. I’m a little split on this because I wouldn’t want anyone with questions to feel like they can’t ask them or seek for answers. However, what the SDA Church and these two universities did is what almost any institution – Christian or not – would have done. Ryan, I hope you find peace with yourself wherever the road of life takes you.

    • http://raythaw.wordpress.com axepilot

      Nonsense…only christian or other religious institutions would have done what was done.

    • https://www.facebook.com/chas.swedberg Chas Swedberg

      Can you help me understand what situations you are referring to when you indicate that any non-Christian institution would have done the same?

      • http://gravatar.com/hellyesitschicken hellyesitschicken

        At a guess, Chas, Ms. Puma, meant that many secular institutions would terminate the employment of an individual who made public a document indicating that individual no longer met terms of employment explicit in their contract. As a failBonus, it seems possible Mr. Bell did not give any advance notice of his project, creating a difficult PR situation for his employers.

      • http://hellyesitschicken.wordpress.com hellyesitschicken

        Chas, I would guess that Ms. Puma is saying that Mr. Bell’s publishing this blog revealed that he no longer met the terms of employment at these universities, a circumstance likely to result in being discharged at many secular institutions. Additionally, it appears that these institutions had little advance warning of this blog becoming public, potentially creating extremely difficult PR situations.

  • http://justgiblets.com Scot

    Yes, the other commenters are right about atheism and gayness both being marginalized groups. And I think Ryan even made a similar comment in one of the recent articles written about him.

    As a gay atheist, well, I can see the similarity of coming out as either. And for those who haven’t had the experience, let me note that it’s not a one-time proposition. It’s something we do continually and will do for the rest of our lives. There is typically a presumption that your invisible qualities are in line with the majority, so every time you meet a new person, you have a question to answer: Is there a reason for me to bring up my orientation/belief system?

    Sometimes, too, you have to weigh the potential bother. If I’m seated next to a nun for a seven-hour plane ride, I’m not likely to mention my gayness/atheism to her. But I might do so if she sees the ring on my finger and asks about my wife. Or if, I dunno, she asked what church I attended. Kind of an extreme example, I guess.

    And I’ve never really thought about it in these terms before, but the fact that my husband asks me not to talk about my atheism with my mother-in-law is a little like the “I’m fine with it. Just don’t tell Grandma.” request many parents give their newly-out gay kids. She’s a very observant Catholic and doesn’t see the separation of religion and morality.

    So, yes. When you come out in a pretty big way like Ryan has done, some really big stuff is going to happen. Doesn’t make it any less distressing though. I do hope you find work — fulfilling, suitable work — soon, Ryan.

  • jaynee

    As I read your post today I was reminded of a quote, “People who surrender their former religious beliefs have got to be some of the smartest and bravest people in the world, because they set out to find truth even while under the threat of ‘eternal damnations.’” But as you have discovered, it is under the threat of so much more. Right now it may feel as though you are losing a lot in your life, but there will come a time when you can look back and see how much you have gained.

    • http://ignosticatheist.wordpress.com Ignostic Atheist

      I don’t suppose you know the name behind that quote. It’s delightful.

  • http://leftdesign.wordpress.com leftdesign

    Sadly, this turn of events isn’t surprising. Atheists are considered to be second class citizens, at best. Black like me…

  • DH

    Very unchristian like. I guess the rules of tolerance, understanding, cause no harm to others, and love only applies if you are a member of the club.

  • Justin Brand

    You act as if you are victimized because you were now terminated by three separate religious organizations because you now stand against what they want to achieve. Incredibly selfish and naive to think they must somehow respect you even as you piss on their shoes.

    I’m an atheist and if I belonged to an organization of likeminded people, I would expect them to respond the same way if I took on a faith. I supported you at first, but now I’m embarrassed for you. You’re just another whiney overprivileged brat who expects the world on a platter and thinks that people care about your feelings.

    Grow up and write after the year is over. Get a job at Starbucks like most unhireable PhDs with a degree in a subject that you don’t even believe in.

    • http://raythaw.wordpress.com axepilot

      So if you worked at StarBucks but drank CoffeeTime you’d expect to be fired?? I think you must have religious tendancies. lol.

      • Tiva

        If you worked at Starbucks and brought your CoffeeTime drink to work with you, left it sitting on the back counter, wore a CoffeeTime t-shirt, and told customers all about the CoffeeTime specials of the day and how you think they are better than Starbucks…yes, you should expect to get fired.

      • MikeWoah

        To challenge what Tiva said, its not like Ryan was walking around his former places of employment touting the amazingness of atheism as he has newly discovered it. If you wanted to make a Starbucks analogy to this, I would think it would be more like:

        Ryan is an employee of Starbucks. While he thinks the coffee is good, he is beginning to doubt whether its actually the best. So he decides to try many different brands of coffee to see which is the best.

        Just because he is trying other coffee, doesnt mean he is going to push that other coffee at Starbucks. Ryan still knows that there are tons of his “customers” that still depend on Starbucks, and he would serve these customers as well as he had in the past.

        The difference now is, Ryan is no longer drinking Starbucks. He is trying different brands. He is trying Caribou, or Dunkin’ Donuts, or Folgers. He can still speak and help his customers with their Starbucks while he’s exploring.

        Actually, it would probably be even MORE analagous to Ryan working at Starbucks, but deciding to not drink coffee for a year. He can still provide coffee to other customers as an “advisor.” He can still lead them in their study of Starbucks coffee. And as long as he’s not standing in front of all the customers, speaking about how its better without Starbucks coffee, he should be allowed to stay.

        TL;DR: It’s like Starbucks hired Ryan, but then fired him because he gave up drinking coffee for a yar.

    • GeeEl

      Seeking a deeper understanding and asking questions is “pissing on their shoes”? Seems a bit judgmental of someone who is seeking answers. And was all the derogatory namecalling necessary as well?

      Being part of an organization of “like-minded” people doesn’t have to mean that those people have to agree on all things all the time. And I wouldn’t expect a group of people I was affiliated with to take the same path or even the same journey as I take for the entire duration of our affiliation. And remember, for many in the church that means an entire lifetime.

  • JO

    My heart bleed for you and the family because they are having to endure because of your decisions. I hope and pray earnestly that this will be worth the journey. I am not surprise at what you have disclosed because I recognized long ago that the majority of people do not read what is written you did not and have not said that you are an Atheist, you have expressed your desire to experiment for a year, the outcome is unknown, but as per usual the status quo is more important that one man, the institution is always more important. just remember Jesus life and you will understand why. Your position is ambivalent, because you are not atheist, but the Christians are not able to deal with you. Well u are qualified to teach for the state I hope at universities which are not religious.

    • Zondervrees

      “…because they are having to endure because of your decisions.”

      Why am I not surprised you put the responsibility on Ryans shoulders and not on the shoulders of those that expelled him from his jobs?

    • http://raythaw.wordpress.com axepilot

      Although he may not know what he believes…he will discover it…you can only behave as you believe.

  • http://gravatar.com/htyler1 htyler1

    It is sad to me that these schools and churches that claim the moral high ground took less than a week to abandon somebody who has spent his life working for their betterment. The Atheist community is very accepting, and I hope we will act better if/when at the end of the year you decide to go back to pretending to know things you don’t (faith).

    • https://www.facebook.com/steve.kane.330 Steve Kane

      “The Atheist community is very accepting”

      Justin above demonstrates that this “ain’t necessarily so” just like “those things that you’re liable to read in the bible”.

    • quine001

      Some individuals are accepting and some are not. The same would be true for the community of people who do not collect stamps, if that community were also demonized by the general public.

      • http://tylerhitchcock.wordpress.com htyler1

        Quine001 – you might be right… But I don’t see your point. Is it that Atheists are not part of a community? Or that it doesn’t matter that they are. Either way, what is the point of your comment?

        • Dave Anderson

          This seems to refer to the common response to the accusation that atheism is “Just another religion” that goes “Atheism is a religion in the same sense that not collecting stamps is a hobby”

          I quite like it :-)

        • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com quine001

          Either way, what is the point of your comment?

          Thanks, Htyler1, I will try to do a better job of explaining. Atheists are people who don’t believe in deities. As such, they are defined by what they don’t do, not by what they do, as contrasted with, say, stamp collectors. The part of the population who do not collect stamps does not get together once a week to discuss the ins and outs of not collecting stamps (or compare clothing, as George Carlin might observe). Now, in this country there is no discrimination against those who don’t collect stamps (that I know of) just as there is little discrimination against those who don’t practice religion in most of northern Europe. But there is discrimination against non-believers in parts of the U.S. (as Ryan is finding out). That discrimination is a force that does make pockets of community out of some atheists. But even that is not universal (see Not All Atheists are Pro Atheism).

          Some of us are actively trying to get the American people to have a better understanding of the non-believers among them, and are using blogs, and twitter, and web sites and YouTube videos to do that, especially as directed to younger people who are on new media and have more open minds. Still, organizing atheists has been compared to herding cats exactly because we are not united by what we believe (other than not being discriminated against) but rather by what we don’t. That was my point.

  • barney12

    I understand your situation well. Only recently have I acknowledged my atheism to friends with mixed reactions. I must admit the first time I said it I was a bit anxious but at the same time relieved by my honesty. Some friends looked at me as if I had suddenly contracted the plague, others questioned me about how I came to this stage in life. I live in a very “church” town with a lot of the social activities revolving around the church. But I’ve felt this way since I was about 4 or 5 – looking around at the congregation in church and wondering how they could all believe what was being said. I look forward to hearing about your adventures this year!

  • Bob

    Ryan,

    One cannot be a mechanic while refusing to use tools. It seems to me that your New Year project renounced the use of the very tools you needed to do all the jobs you described you had. While I greatly sympathize with your resulting plight, I find it hard to blame your employers/clients for it as some would like to do.

    I think there may be better ways to go about this if you are honestly wanting to live in integrity and find what’s right for you and help others who may be starting or on a similar journey of their own. If you have other ambitions, however, as some have suggested, perhaps you are going the right way. Either way is costly, though. Integrity does not come cheap, that’s why it’s so highly valued. Fame and fortune have their price, too, and you may just be discovering that.

    I’m gathering from your blog and the articles about you that your journey is a response to pain in your life that you haven’t reconciled with your concept of god. This is a common wakeup call that most of us experience in various ways, not just in our religious matters, but in many other types of things. It hurts, and we often respond in ways that don’t work so well. Emotions overcome wisdom. Often corrections occur along the way, and good things eventually result, but not before unnecessary damage is done. With this in mind, I would suggest finding a good counselor to help you sort through all this and work out a wiser, healthier course of action.

    I don’t doubt that your god concept will get revised. It may get revised to the point that you would no longer recognize it, and you might then find that, for practical purposes, you are an atheist relative to most religious thought in your current society, i.e., you don’t believe in god as your society frames or defines god. You may decide to accept that that means you don’t believe in god so you can meaningfully claim to be an atheist, or you may decide that you do have some concept that you would claim should be a valid god idea, a sort of AA “higher power,” if you will, or pantheism or panentheism or deism or naturalism or humanism, which are all considered by some to be atheism in different forms, but maybe should not be.

    In my comments on your earlier blog posts, I suggested that, if you are really searching, not grandstanding and licking wounds, but searching for what works for you, you will grapple along the way with some very deep issues of metaphysics and epistemology. Questions that might begin with “What is god? and, hence, “What is atheism?” to you, and what is religion, and “Who or what am I?” and the meanings of concepts like existence or being and reality and time and space and how we might know any of these things. As you do, you will begin to realize some of the naivete in your plan that has many people questioning it. Well, you had to start somewhere, I guess, but maybe it’s time to back off, deal with some wounds, and re-plot your course. I hear that a military maxim is that “no plan survives the initial battle.”

    Please forgive my presumption in being so direct with you. These are my opinions from my current and recent experiences. Each of us is different, and our journeys are each unique. I don’t expect yours to be like mine. I’m not sure yet what is common and what is unique. I just share with you the my very limited perspective on what you’ve shared and invited the world to share.

    I will make one other comment at this time. Beware of trolls. I think a Web search may help you find some good advice on understanding and dealing with them. It might be worth a little effort before you have to deal with them to be prepared. 1/4/14, 23:33 CST

    • Mary

      Very well said, Bob. Lots of wisdom there.

      • https://www.facebook.com/steve.kane.330 Steve Kane

        The quote is “no plan survives contact with the enemy”

        Ryan may find that evil exists – long before he finds an answer to his questions about god. If God is Love. Then he may only find love as a verb. Metaphysics is little use in the wilderness I have found, but you are right in implying that an experienced professional ear might be, once he can afford one. In the meantime he may find that the ordinary slobs he meets along the way have a cloak to share.

    • Mortlach

      I respectfully disagree with your opening statement. How would a lack of faith in a specific deity make Ryan a worse Thesis coach, exactly? How would he not be able to teach his course material on communication?

      I always find it funny when schools have faith demands for their teaching staff. To me, that would only make sense if christian math was somehow different from secular math.

      • http://raythaw.wordpress.com axepilot

        Well said, saves me an effort to reply…

      • Tiva

        It is rather disingenuous of you to completely disregard the potential a professor has to impact the life of a student in ways that go beyond academia. People who attend a religious institution often pay a great deal more money because there is an implicit understanding that the professors possess a certain theological belief. One who doesn’t care about theology could save money and attend a state university (where they will find many wonderful professors – atheist, agnostic, whatever).

        People should stop vilifying the institutions for discontinuing his employment – they are only responding as their ‘shareholders’ (those who pay the tuition for the students) have the reasonable right to expect them to.

    • https://www.facebook.com/roxie.deaton Roxie Deaton

      Bull.

      You can be an expert theologian and still be an atheist.
      You can give an inspirational speech and still be an atheist.
      You can organize a non-profit and still be an atheist.

      These organizations are afraid of anyone who questions them, period.

    • Dave Anderson

      Well said! All of it.

  • Julie Critten

    I truly hope things work out for you to continue your blog. I admire you for scrambling for any kind of work so you can continue. You sound like the kind of person who will do what you need to do when something is important to you.

  • Mary

    As to points 1 & 2 – Christian churches and schools rely on the Bible to guide them in all things, and the Bible warns time and again of what will happen when men are allowed to “go their own way.” The Bible describes all men, when left to their own devices (not following God), as totally untrustworthy and hopeless. You know the words that are used – depraved, lost, proud, deceitful and deceived. Why would any Christian organization want to employ someone the Bible describes in that way? Could they trust you to treat students well, to tell the truth, not to steal from the company or sabotage God’s work with your own foolishness? The Bible says that men must constantly engage in prayer, Bible reading, church attendance, tithing, etc, in order to stay on the right path. When you openly avoid those things, you become something dark and sinister, something scary and “other.” Your honesty about doubts (or this experiment) is irrelevant. Saying, “I am honestly godless or considering godlessness” doesn’t earn you any points for truthfulness. It’s the godless part they want nothing to do with.

    I am really surprised if you didn’t consider the loss of these jobs as a part of the cost of your experiment. Now that I’m an atheist, it goes without saying that I would not be welcomed to teach anything at a religious school…I wouldn’t even expect to be hired to take out their trash! Did you expect to continue those jobs? Really?

    You will find something else. You are a talented writer and could easily do online editing/publishing. As someone stated above, losing work at religious institutions is just the beginning. These are the simplest and most obvious losses. You might find they are some of the best losses too – I agree that you’ve been freed and are open to a whole new world now, at least on the job front. I hope you find something even better, something that fits your needs at this point in time.

    Please make sure that this doesn’t turn into a year of playing the victim. Yes, being an atheist in this culture is hard…especially when you aren’t just “trying it on.” Loss of work with a religious organization fades in comparison to the losses that so many atheists have known…like loss of love and respect from spouses, parents, mentors, etc, etc.

    • CHope

      Mary, you made some really great points here.

      • https://www.facebook.com/steve.kane.330 Steve Kane

        CHope. ..it seems we get punished by the great narcissistic personality disorder in the sky, or our minds… :-/

        Face down the bully and it will retreat.

        Now if there is a truly loving divinity, rather than your abusive monster…… there is all year for its love to find Ryan, or not.

        • CHope

          Steve Kane,

          I can so relate to your comment. I was “saved” for three dozen years, I spent at least TWO DECADES of that time seeking for answers through fasting, praying and diligently studying the Bible. My conclusion? I’d rather believe in no god than the sadist presented to me in the Bible.

          • https://www.facebook.com/steve.kane.330 Steve Kane

            Yes I need no “saving” I was not in peril.

            I don’t need a ticket home – I live here, and if “This World” belongs to “The Devil” then I’m with him, but frankly I find the horned god to be something far different, that part of (our?)nature that both frightens and fascinates city folk. ;-) . All religion is designed by city folk to control country folk, mainly persuading them that suffering is their lot, and feeding the city is their privilege. “Pagan” and “heathen” both mean “country folk”. Sometimes City folk “flee the city to the country” and try and “evangelise” country folk, which generally means killing them until they agree. That is the history of America.

            But none of this answers the question of whether there is a god. Does it matter? Your answer is the answer. There is no objective truth to be found here. Its validity is not dependent on your ability to convince me – only yourself.

  • Al

    Im so sorry man. Ive heard of a program – not the clergy project – which helps find new jobs for former religious leaders. I heard about it on TheThinkingAtheist podcast. Seth interviewed the founder. I’ll see if I can dig it up and drop a post about it.

  • DJ

    I have to agree with others that it would have been wise to take a sabbatical year from your employment in Christian Leadership positions. According to the Fuller website: “As faculty, administrators, and trustees of Fuller Theological Seminary, we are disciples of Christ before we are Christian educators”. Most, if not all, Christian organizations have a statement of faith or mission statement that is part of their contractual agreement. It is impossible for anyone to know your heart, and it is assumed that if you have a Masters in Theology, and are/were a Pastor, and say you are a Christian, that you are probably a Christian…but in reality,it seems, that is often not the case as is evidenced in our cultural churches. They have a responsibility to their seminary students. Every Christian at some point in their life, has a “wilderness experience” and often more than one spiritual crisis.”Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all”(Ps.34:10)…these take us to the end of ourselves, these are the refining fires spoken about in the Bible. When Moses sent the spies to check out the promise land, 10 returned with negative reports, and they discouraged the people and they cried out “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness!” Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” (Numbers 13/14) Negativity is far more infectious than positivity, and discouragement is negativity.

    Your students and other followers have their own share of desert experiences and tribulations. Someone who doesn’t dig deeper and trust God, but turns their back and heads back to Egypt, should not be leading seminary students. I disagree that atheists are marginalized, with the exception being if they happen to be Instructors in a Christian Seminary or a Pastor of a supposed Christian church…then it only stands to reason. I am sorry that you find yourself unemployed, but as others noted, I’m certain that you will find employment in any number of educational institutes…most are not Christian by any means. I am curious as to what put you in this spiritual crisis. Most of what I’ve read, had to do with your church, not God.

  • quine001

    Well I expected you to find out how the religious generally treat us, but not quite this soon. If you listen to the stories of other preachers who start turning to reason, you will hear much of the same. I have written more here:

    http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/2013/11/review-caught-in-pulpit-leaving-belief.html

  • Kerri

    First: I’m sorry that you’ve lost your current mode of employment. Knowing that your savings is going to run out in a few short days must put an incredible amount of stress on you and your family, and I don’t envy you in any form or fashion. I hope that you will find a sustainable income again in the coming days. (I do wonder if you thought this all the way through or not, but that’s neither here nor there.)

    Second: this is precisely why no one asks these kinds of questions. It’s incredibly painful: the loss of income, the increased stress in your relationships (and often the loss of those relationships), and the losing of one’s own faith.

    You’ve been lucky, to an extent, in that you say that your closest relationships have not turned their back on you, even if they don’t understand what you are going through. That’s not something a lot of atheists get to hold on to: there are many stories where the individual has been cut off by their own friends and even family (as if doing so would prevent the spread of an “unbelief” virus). The difficulty is often that relationships can often be initially supporting, and then change drastically later on. I hope this doesn’t occur to you, but treasure the relationships now, because there’s no guarantee they will be there later.

    Employers are another huge issue. You’d like to think that it shouldn’t matter what your personal beliefs are in order to hold down a job, but many atheists find horrible discrimination in the workplace because of their lack of belief even in non-religious institutions. I understand, to some degree, why the organizations mentioned did so: they are Christian institutions dedicated to the spread of the religion. That said, I think it would be incredibly nice for these institutions to at least have some sort of program in place (even if it is a sabbatical) where the employment isn’t immediately terminated when beliefs are called into question or when they change.

    In a college environment, especially, this should be a possibility. After all, it’s entirely possible to teach theology without holding any such belief personally. I also think it would be fantastic for students to see that it is not only acceptable to have these questions, but that it is also supported (if not encouraged). How else does one strengthen their own faith (especially if the institution assumes that faith is truth)? (They may lose it, but if they don’t, what emerges will be the product of the individual, not their courses or their upbringing.)

    In churches, I’d like to see the same thing in denominations. For example, a paster who is having difficulty with their faith, beliefs, etc., should be able to take a short(-ish) paid sabbatical while they work through their issues. This would also provide time for the pastor to make any plans should they feel the need to leave the ministry (instead of the current situation where the pastor and family is left high-and-dry). If the pastor decided to return to the church, great — their faith should be all the more strengthened for the experience, and if the pastor exists, also great — because they’ve been able to do so in a controlled manner (and hopefully without much animosity).

    Unfortunately for the church and most believers, I don’t think this will ever be an option. The church is predicated upon regular reinforcement of belief, and often operates under the assumption that questions destroy faith. There are ample verses in the Bible that one can even use to make this claim, and many church leaders latch on to them and spout them to their congregations, never thinking that they’re hurting some questioning believer out there (and making them feel guilty in the process — for simply having questions!).

    Now, in my case, questioning has been the antithesis of my faith. For a very long time, it wasn’t that way: I proceeded through most of my nearly 35 years as a Christian, raised in a fundamentalist home (though more loving than most I’ve read about and encountered). It wasn’t until college that I ever had the temerity to ask some of these questions, but only ever privately, and always answered in the direction of faith (because I couldn’t bear to eliminate God from the equation). Even after college and through various issues in my own life (having undergone a transition from male to female, having various health problems, etc) my faith was still hugely important, but it was slowly being deconstructed by all the questions I had. My belief was (I see now) largely based on confirmation bias — that is, when things were good, God got all the glory. When things were bad, I was the one at fault. (I mean, really? How insane is this notion?)

    Through the years, my faith changed severely. I considered myself a Christian, and would still argue that all this questioning was done while still in the faith. All this continued up through a few months ago, when I suddenly started to realize that even with all the changes in my faith, the God I believed in didn’t actually *fit* the universe I saw around me. An all-loving God who wants to heal his children should be able to heal amputees, for example, and that’s never happened! This world, at least, should be a very different place than what it currently is if the God of the Bible really does exist.

    And then, suddenly, one day in October, I didn’t believe in this God anymore. (Or any god, but I had long ago dismissed all the others, so that wasn’t an issue.) If there /was/ any god out there, I could only claim it was a deistic, non-interventionist god (which would require tossing Jesus, Biblical inspiration, the Holy Spirit, prayer, afterlife, etc.) out the window. Since such a god is unknowable and has never revealed itself, it makes no difference if I believe in such a god or not — and the cognitive load is frankly easier to handle when operating under the default assumption that there are no gods.

    All this to say that I do think religion has a point when it strives to prevent questioning in its ranks: it’s to keep the individual from questioning themselves right out of the faith. While I was a Christian for 99.9% of the journey, the very last bit took me out of the faith entirely.

    I’ve come to this conclusion: all truth can be questioned without risk of losing the truth. Probably a deepism, but consider it — I can question whether 2+2=4 all I want, and I’ll always come back to the conclusion that the answer should be 4 (if only through simple experimentation: two apples and two more apples is four apples). And yet religion fails this test: questioning one’s faith has the risk of losing that faith, especially when the experiential evidence doesn’t correlate with the evidence the faith indicates should exist. This indicates to me that religion is inherently false, even if there are kernels of truth embedded in it. In other words, if one must continue to be indoctrinated (through continued exposure via services, etc.) in order to maintain a belief in something, then that something is not truth. I don’t need to be told, over and over and over again, that 2+2=4 in order to continue to know the truth that this is so. And yet religion insists on telling us, over and over and over again, that God exists because it fears that without this continual indoctrination, we would all begin to question and eventually lose our faith.

    So I understand, even though it’s painful, why people and organizations would rather cut questioning believers and unbelievers off from the fold: it’s not for the individual’s benefit, it’s for the benefit of the host (church, congregation, etc.). It’s an immune response: eradicate the disease before it has a chance to infect the host. And it works extremely well — so much so that every believer knows very quickly /not to ask the questions/ or they risk being cut off from those they know and love.

    So in all of this, I’ll be thinking of you and your family. (This is where, not long ago, I’d have said a little prayer. No more; that doesn’t do anything.) I wish there was more I could do, since sending that thought really doesn’t do anything tangible for you. Even so, I wish the best for you and your family, that your relationships remain strong, and that you will be able to find gainful employment soon. And ultimately that you will be able to come to a well-reasoned decision about your faith (or, perhaps, lack there-of). It won’t be an easy process, as you’ve already discovered, but the person who comes out of it at the end will be a stronger individual for it, and that’s a good thing.

    • Barb

      Kerri, I think this was well said. One of the questions I kept asking myself through my process is “Why is it that if there is a god who wants very much for us to believe in him, it takes so much careful indoctrination to keep us believing?” Of course the more conservative denominations blame the devil, but it always bothered me that, if that were the case, this god was so blasé about it. If someone was trying to believe, why would this god even tolerate the devil misleading them?

      Your realization was similar to mine; the world simply does not look like one in which there is a loving, intervening deity. I read a question that was finally fatal to my faith. “Given the evidence, what is the most likely situation?” For me, it was clear that the most likely situation was there is no god.

  • CHope

    Now you’re getting just a sliver of how women are treated when they ask their preachers, cell group leaders, Bible College professors and Sunday School teachers a few questions in Christiandom. It’s funny though, most of the said men won’t always confront the women for their questioning doctrine, the Bible and leadership’s behavior, but they’ll send their wives to do their dirty work. I’d feel sorry for you, but won’t because you MUST learn this about Christianity. It goes beyond rules and regulations in Church as a whole, it’s Biblically sound.

    I do wish you the best for this year ahead. I’m not going to lie, I think it would be great for you to end up in your current experiment for good. Then again, I’m not you and I have no clue as to what makes you, you and what you need to be your authentic self. Just be your authentic self.

    Sundays without Church are AWESOME. Spend your morning sleeping in or with your family, out to eat, at Lowes, Wal-mart or at a park or a zoo. All those things are so calm and peaceful while everyone else is at Church. Then again, you did Church on Saturdays, I guess it doesn’t apply to you after all. :)

  • http://patrickslemish.wordpress.com Patrick Slemish

    I’m so sorry that you are facing the difficulty of unemployment and the feelings of rejection. That’s not a fun place to be.

    But, I’m surprised that these terminations were a surprise to you. In fact, I’m surprised that you didn’t terminate them yourself… for integrity’s sake. APU, Fuller & the rest hired you to drive a mission, and we both know that mission isn’t, “to help the faculty discover what they believe.” Do you think that Apple would retain Tim Cook of he decided that he wasn’t sure if technology was a good thing or whether innovation could truly improve people’s lives?

    Their decisions were fair, right, and reasonable, and I think you know that. I think it just hurts, and you’re crying out. But even though it hurts, don’t let yourself fall into the trap of thinking that they were donor-driven or close-minded or evil. They weren’t. And while its good and right that you go on this journey, it wouldn’t have been fair for you to have retained these roles as a biblical instructor while you are on it.

    One more thing: you framed these decisions as the opposite of love. It reminds me of my son telling me that if I loved him, I wouldn’t make him eat his vegetables. I encourage you to guard against faulty thinking like this. Difficult decisions, bad news, hard conversations, hurt, disagreement… just because they exist doesn’t (necessarily) mean that there is no love.

  • radar pangaean

    Please note that atheism is NOT a religion and has no dogma/doctrines. It’s simply a LACK of those things.

    I’m an atheist. I have read the bible and refer to it from time to time myself to ensure i’m quoting it correctly. I recommend that instead of NOT looking at a bible for the year, attempt to look at it FRESH. Skip the things you were taught in seminary, skip the study guides, and just read it as it is. You might also take a course at a secular university on the history of the book and how it evolved.

    When you are able to recognize some of its internal inconsistencies without thinking that’s the end of the world OR that it means you cant still look at the value that it does hold, then you will be more like an atheist than just some theist who is ‘fasting’.

  • CuriousAtheist

    I follow Friendly Atheist from time to time. Clicked here out of curiosity and see that you’ve lost employment. Ouch! Over the next few weeks I hope that you find something before your savings runs out. Maybe a book deal, something like A.J. Jacobs author of My Year Following the Bible. See you around the internets.

  • Vini Marques

    Truly brave, what you’re doing. Now prepare for the shock of totally being able to pull it off despite these hardships solely because you are a capable and smart human being — no god required. ;-)

  • Charles Cohen

    I am very sorry to hear of your predicament. I wish I could offer some comfort, but words fail me.

    You might like to read “A Long Way from Tipperary”, by John Dominic Crossan. Crossan was a Catholic monk, and priest, and an important academic. When he was released from his priestly vows (and married a woman), he suddenly found that all his papers were refused by Catholic academic journals. He became a “non-person” within the Church. The “non-denominational” journals were happy to have the papers, though..

    If I remember right, he kept his university teaching job.

    I wish I could say “God must be testing you”, but _my_ faith doesn’t run that deep. And I never found the ending of the Book of Job completely convincing.

    I wish you well, and I’ll follow your journey.

    . Charles Cohen

  • C.J.R.H

    I would like to just quickly say I admire what you are doing. Whatever the end result may be, I think it is unique and remarkable that you are testing your faith this way. I stopped believing in god as a child. My family are all devout evangelicals, and it has always been tough to relate. They sort of speak to me as though I am on my death bed (since they see me as already damned). I am certain you will face backlash and negative responses, however I encourage you to explore. In my experiences so far, I have never seen a person of faith willingly try to live without. I believe that this will be a great and important journey for you, and I hope that you learn a lot about yourself and the world. Don’t let the jerks (believers or not) get to you.

    Good luck

  • https://www.facebook.com/steve.kane.330 Steve Kane

    As I implied earlier, you are on a hero’s quest. Only in this wilderness will you find what you seek. Your only danger is that having been a “professional believer” (i.e. earned your bread from your faith) you will be seduced into a swift transfer by becoming a “professional atheist/agnostic” (i.e. earn your bread from your disbelief/doubt). You will only really find the truth “out there” or “in your heart” when there is no money in it. All the rest is a kind of Simony. You must I am afraid, find the state of being of a “slob like one of us”

    It is alright to feel angry, even to fail to offer the other cheek, I for one will judge you by your concrete deeds, nothing else. In the matter of your thoughts you might need to play open house for a while, note and observe.

    I “pray for you”, not in that I call upon a third party to assist you on my behalf, rather as I might dial 911, no I picture myself as you, I walk with you. I am available, not to “sell” you my position, because in matters of “faith/no faith” I am homeless, a mendicant, as maybe we should all be.

    May that which has always provided my needs to me, at such times, and there have been several, provide also for you. Parsimony in material things – and intellectual. Thus I feel wealthy in both.

    There will be feast days ahead if you hang on, what they may honour or celebrate, that will be exiting to find, but time and patience alone will guarantee a harvest – but perhaps not a career as a “minister” of “belief” or its self described opposite. You are finding that first distinction – the difference between “belief” and “religion” – you are being spat out by the latter, now you have all year to resist any other, and pursue your stated quest.

    May I suggest you read the life of Alan Watts (not the cherry picked writings) – it is both an inspiration, and a terrible warning.

    There is no dishonour in trade.

  • Evan

    I may not be praying. But I really hope you’re alright. This is a large part of why I remain secretive about my beliefs.

  • http://mediaquake.wordpress.com Philip Buxton

    Science is often put up as the antithesis to religion so let’s see – you say to the scientific organizations of which you’ve long been a part that you want to investigate other points of view. In science you would be told ‘Er, that’s what science is you idiot. Off you go, here’s a grant. Oh, by the way, if you find good evidence our views are wrong, we’ll change them.’ In religion it got you fired.

    • Bob

      One might think that, but, actually, there are pretty strong sanctions on what scientists are allowed to pursue, as well. They need money to do their work, and that’s hard to get if they’re not following currently popular research lines. I’m talking about research on alternative ideas in very active research fields, not just research fields that are not favored by society. Certain ideas and scientists have prominence. Scientists who think “outside the box” or challenge the influential scientists in their field find it difficult to even find a position in a research organization or to get any of their work published. 1/5/14, 13:34 CST

      • https://www.facebook.com/roxie.deaton Roxie Deaton

        [citation needed]

  • plsuseyourbrain

    Welcome to the dark side Mr Bell. I hope you enjoy your stay. I hope even more that you decide to stay.

  • Hans G. Koornstra

    Your brave move immediately shows consequences Christian people make. Hell brakes loose… If christianity cannot cope with this, out of what strength is it formed???
    I am still a convinced, born again, christian, but have a lot of questions. Why is generally speaking, christianity so hostile towards fair questions, esspecially if they are purt to them by a christian???

  • Amy

    Just imagine if you were doing this in the South. A whole different level of marginalization. And outright disgust, in a lot of cases.

  • Michelle C.

    Many people above said such very important things. The church does not want us to question and never has because if we question, then we realize their teachings just don’t make sense. You have done the ultimate in questioning and in their eyes, you were one of them who did so.

    Honestly, when I first read about your journey, I kind of scoffed at the whole thing, believing that one could not “try it on” for a year as I feel so strongly in my beliefs that it almost seemed a mockery. Something about it still does not sit real well with me as I don’t believe you can turn beliefs on and off like lights, and the fact that your blog the other day said that you woke up thinking of a prayer you had written shows that the beliefs are very present in your mind constantly. That is not the case when one is a true atheist. I have to say I never think of prayer except to thank my friends who say they will pray for me or to describe how terrifying I thought the bedtime ones were as a child.

    By losing your employment you have proven a seriousness with this project that is extremely admirable though and I believe that you will get employment soon. Religion is such a conflicted area these days and one in which I believe people have a lot of interest. If someone is not wanting to hear about your journey, I’m sure your experiences or the reason you are feeling you need this journey will be reason for somebody to pick you up as a writer.

    You also have experienced head on the discrimination that atheists feel daily. For whatever reason, Atheist has become a term pretty much synonymous with hate. Today I hear so much about our country being a Christian country and based on Christian values which is simply untrue. Throwing out there that you are an Atheist, to many people is like saying you worship Satan or bite the heads off bats. Although I am typically very outspoken, I advise my friends (I have been a non-believer for as long as I can remember due to personal issues and many of them came to it only as adults) that in mixed company they should say something like, “I am not Christian,” rather than, “I am Atheist,” just to avoid the hateful looks and comments that almost always follow this declaration. Although it’s funny when people pronounce, “I’m a Christian,” they want you to assume that means they do good and have morals and values that are intact which is not always the case.

    Keep on keeping on and good luck to you.

  • Justin Brand

    So let me get this straight. You want your year off from religion, where you aren’t going to pray, read religious books, saying the hokey pokey, etc. to be sponsored by religious institutions? And you didn’t put in a request for a sabbatical or study grant to address your quest in any type of academic manner (to the extent your employers are “academic”) but instead either want to teach religion(?) or get paid for sitting around doing nothing? And you try to guilt them into writing you paychecks, or shame them, in the name of tolerance? You expected them to pay you?

    The only upside to your poor me ranting is that it’s clear you’re sincere. If you were paid by the religious nuts to study atheism like you are supposedly doing and at the end determined that some deity existed, the conflict of interest between your paychecks and conclusions would be an issue.

    But again, I think you’re an embarrassment to atheism if you really want little old church ladies to cover your costs.

    • Hans G. Koornstra

      Now you see that even atheïsts start screaming at you. They don’t trust you either and are sure you are going to say at the end of this period: there is a God… and that -of course- they don’t like…
      So, the first results are: you lose christian “friends” and you get already enemies among the atheïsts…
      I wish you Gods blessing for 2014….

      • http://twitter.com/katiehippie Katie S (@katiehippie)

        I wouldn’t call that an enemy. Just a difference of opinion. It’s really nothing compared to the level of nastiness that “Christians” can dish out. You’re hyperbole is not warranted.

    • https://plus.google.com/+AdamKoncz Adam Koncz

      I don’t think he said he is an atheist. He said that he is a Christian who has doubt and want to live a year “without god” see where this gets hum and share his experiences.
      Loosing his jobs is one of his experience so he shared it. Even if it was expected IMO.

  • Tamra

    My family and some close friends began treating me differently when I left the church and began asking questions. I have not been to church in almost 3 years. I see no need to go to a building to find God or be in touch with him. I am, however, being prayed for because, “I am lost.” I was even told by my grandmother that she hoped my sister (a non-believer for many years) was not leading me astray, as if I don’t have a mind of my own to lead me. My path has taken me away from the confines of organized religion and Christian lines of thought and theology. I’m happy and feel freer than I ever felt in church.

    I appreciate what Ryan is trying to do here and for sharing his experience with the masses. I am learning from his posts and the comments being left, as well. I enjoy reading the comments for the intelligent and civil conversation taking place.

  • http://www.churchcrimes.org The Iniquitous: Church Crimes

    Reblogged this on The Iniquitous Church Crimes.

  • S. Paul

    I am sorry this happened to you, but as many have noted, it was inevitable. The church as a whole cannot tolerate serious questioning from a neutral perspective.

    Have you ever looked at the Christian scriptures from such a viewpoint? If not, I suggest you do, particularly at a few major points to begin with: the two accounts of the creation narrative, Matthew and Luke’s accounts of the nativity, and the disparities between the original and replacement sets of the ten commandments in Exodus. Pay particular note to the differences both intertextually and compared to what the church teaches. This alone should show you why the church, particularly denominations that claim biblical infallibility, refuse to tolerate scrutiny from outside the Christian framework of believers.

    That being said, the public nature of your plight should provide some opportunities from those of us who understand what you are going through.

    I can offer nothing more than the knowledge that you are not alone in this.

  • http://btcdomain.wordpress.com salinasseller

    It is very nice to see so many of us here. Almost all of us on the same journey. Some starting or in the middle, some at the end or like myself, over the hump. I was raised strictly Catholic and grew up in the church. A head altar boy, President of the Youth Group, and a World Youth Day 1994 attendee with 6 million other Catholics in the Phillipines to see Pope. I have been a lector, and a Eucharistic Minister. I have been an altar server at over 100 funerals and 100 weddings. My first job was in the rectory of the church, I became good friends with priests and in fact, my godfather is himself, a BIshop.

    My Mom is the Director of Liturgy at the local Catholic Church, I went to Catholic Junior High, and graduated from a Jesuit run and Jesuit taught all boys Catholic High School. I was baptized, received my First Holy Eucharist, my First Reconciliation, and I received Confirmation at 16. If you wanted to find me Sunday morning, look down the center aisle for the tall kid wearing an alb (a dress with a rope tied around my waist) walking slowly in procession (to some song Catholics would call upbeat) while holding a 7 foot tall wooden cross with Jesus Christ, “The Savior” hanging, dead and crucified, for us all to bow our heads to. Even though I hear in the first reading from Leviticus to make no graven image or take up, worship or bow to any image made by the hands of men. So, I get to carry his cross high above my head, my dead savior. But risen. Accended.

    If you haven’t had enough fun yet with Jesus or Joshua or Iesus or Yeshua, the one we don’t even know his real birthdate. Or birthplace. The Savior and then turned Judge, who will come from the clouds, the God incarnate, the water-walker, the fig tree curser (who walks up to a fig tree with leaves because it wasn’t the season for figs, and curses it and it withers away). No, we are not done with this third part of the Trinity, the sinless one, the baby born of Mary and a spirit angel.

    Yes the God born as human to save humanity from the errors of the first humans, who fell for a trap by knowing only good inherantly, as perfect creatures, in God’s image, good by design. But left unattended and with a devious Devil who knows deceit and knows the two humans can’t understand the meaning of a lie and so he tempts Eve by telling her to eat the apple and that she won’t die

    …..So, who would see this plot twist coming? Not me, I was shocked! With three persons or creations in the garden, the two perfect creatures, made in Gods image are tragically fooled by the third. He causes the first two to error, and sin and pain during childbirth are born. Pun intended.

    But have no fear! 4,000 years later this God returns to complete the divine plan, in the form of this our slain Messiah. Not done with Jesus yet. No, we are Catholic, we go all out. Now we get to watch the mystery of our faith. (As if there were one mystery) the transubstantiation. This is where the “change” is made by the pedofile priest, not always, but one time is enough for me. I stop eating at that restaurant chain. The priest will pray over the bread and wine, and then the miracle… as the normal food and drink are magically changed into the physical body and blood of our savior.

    ****Please stay away from dangerous cults and the saying of satanic spells. That’s all hogwash. You’re much better here in the Catholic Church. We go through rituals, wearing vestments, in procession. We do rituals ans sing hymms and then line up to partake in the former bread and wine, but the physical body and blood of Jesus. You might think it’s a symbol, but Catholics don’t. Now sit and digest your savior and pay no attention to its later defecation from your anus, this is a divine plan. And that’s not all, later the pass the basket campaign begins where we put money in the basket so the priests can eat better than 95% of families and drive nice cars. It pays electric and gas and employees. Then they buy a bunch of gift cards for the homeless and provide them dinner a few nights a week.

    Don’t get me wrong, I knew only great priests. I’ve known a ton and never once was I so much as talked to inappropriately. I saw some drink, and some cranky and rude to the homeless, saw some curse, but overall they are good people, falling for a good trick. That trick is to put the fear of God into you, and the threat of burning for eternity into your mind at a young age so it becomes a prison. Much like what you will experience as you go through your journey. It’s like what we do to Parrots when we catch a bird, born to fly, with the ability to soar high above the ground and we stick it in a cage. We make him feel as comfortable as we can in the hopes that Mr. Parrot can forget he could ever fly, and is happy when he gets a new chew stick.

    You’ll see that we are that parrot meant to fly and we were placed in a cage. This year will be the best year of your life because that cage door has been opened. When you take off, search and read. You’ll discover the atrocities caused by religious groups and the hierarchy. The widespread deception and untaxed fraudulent factions. The entire cage was a scheme, one that is tough to see when you’re taught very young and mocked for even considering the alternative.

    I got lucky and met my wife. We dated and she was a Christian, very learned in scripture and I was a Catholic, but by this time, not attending church regularly. And we did exactly as you are about to undertake. We prayed to God (the ceiling) that we wanted one year to search for truth. Leave no stone unturned. Our beliefs and families were conflicting, so we were married in a neutral location, not a church and by one of my friends who got a one-day license. The night before our wedding, my wife’s brother in law, a Pastor of a “Christian Movement” in a state where kids, teens and their parents have little to do and peoples hard earned money has bought him a nice three story house and an iPhone and iPad 1,2,3,4, and 50. He proceeds to tell us that if my friend marries us, our marriage isn’t seen in the eyes of God. These people are mostly sick. And as Mark Twain said, “If Christ were here today, there is one thing he would not be… a Christian”. Good thing we have books. Great people have left great truths in books, and not so great people have created lies and rules for their benefit and passed them off as God’s book.

    So with my wife, a then word-for-word bible believer and myself, a seasoned Catholic, we questioned our faith and opened our cage door. It was almost easy because I never once felt God’s approval or satisfaction with me. I’m a sinner, I’m nothing to him. I don’t even know what animals to burn up as a sacrifice (since he loves the sweet savory smell of them.) I didn’t feel him because that God is primitave man’s idea of God. We don’t still believe in slavery as they did, or that a woman is unclean for 7 days, or that we should stone people. We don’t believe or practice that anymore because those are ramblings and were the customs and beliefs of primitave man attempting to set rules and find inspiration. Why then do we latch onto these people’s perception of God and his workings in their barbaric and insane raids of neighboring tribes. Why do we believe in their God who leads them on their path of morder, rape and destruction to their promised land.

    Thia story needs a savior… Poof here comes the “copycat” birth of the great and powerful half-human but all-human and half God and all God… plus a Holy Spirit, born of a virgin. These are fairy tales and they are myth. They are from an area of the world about the size of a piece of gum on a normal size globe. They are some peoples perception of who they might have thought was this God. They wrote it down and then in the name of God protected those writings and those pages of perception and forced them on people across the land. If you questioned your Lord and Savior you would be shunned and excommunicated. “You believe in this book, or else.” So sure enough those papers became wide spread and taught to my grandparents and believed, felt and witnessed by many… in America, 76% of people believe Jesus was God. Yet nobody has ever risen from the dead. Nobody has ever floated above the earth or walked on water but these are 2000 year old stories, embelished, distorted and altered.

    I send you good luck and even though prayers may go unanswered, energy can be transferred. Think positively and do only things to others as you would want done to you. Enjoy your journey. I think at the end of your one year you’ll find what I found: That all man made religions have been tainted by man. They are stories, ritual and legend that are impossible to decipher. They are changed and translated and some mis translated. Religion has become rich, gone corrupt and even been covered up. They are all just businesses that try and make money. They are exploiters, deceivers and are trapping people as babies and that makes it difficult to “come out alive”. I think you will, finally be alive. if there is one positive you’ll get out of this is you’ll realize that your God may exist but he is not the God you have been taught. Good Luck.

    • tobdncng

      Thank you for such an eloquent comment. I am a spiritual person today because of my search. It is sooooooo much more fulfilling than what I was reared with.

      I believe that all organized religion is the same, they just call their popes by a different name.

    • http://gravatar.com/brefazio Brenda

      Thank you so much for this! I come from Kansas (the Bible Belt). My parents and sisters are all thumpers. I, however, am the most educated (literally) and coincidentally or not, I have always kind of felt doubt. Over the last five years (I am now 45 and living in NYC), I have explored a lot about faith and now consider myself Agnostic. I practice Wicca. BUT I feel I cannot tell my family back home because they will feel the need to pray for me. I strongly disagree with organized religion and have made that much known but that’s about it. I have decided that in 2014, I will push others to explore and question their own beliefs. Please send me positive energy to accomplish my goal! :)

    • Suzanne Tate

      Wondrous commentary! Traces my path and my feelings to the letter. Bravo!

    • Hans G. Koornstra

      I think the remark that if Christ came to us today, he would not be a christian, is something to think about. I am a christian and have to ask myself why christians can be so harsh to people that walk away from the faith they once had. The parable, told by Jesus, that the prodical son went away from the father is a good example: the father never cursed his son, but look out for him and when he came back had a welcome, a new life, a party. How do we as christians act when people wander off??

      • WW

        Because that’s what cult members do.

    • https://www.facebook.com/Danilus Danny

      Please please please please please please and please write a book or a blog or a longer article. You have an incredible way with words and I would love to read about your experiences too.

  • Cat

    I am so sorry this has happened. Things like this are exactly why I am afraid to come out. You deserve better. I hope you find a job soon.

    And when people wonder why atheists are angry, they should look at things like this, and especially the comments blaming you instead of the bigots who fired you, and reflect that members of despised minorities, like anyone else, become angry when they are treated unfairly.

    • https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004147506309 Heather Rose

      Really? In my social cycle, I am the minority as a Christian & I often feel stereotyped & misunderstood by others. Sometimes, I don’t want to tell others that I am a Christian because of the negative stereotypes that people associate with Christians. But, I do, because I don’t want to be ashamed of the gospel. The problem is, a lot of these so called Christians don’t follow the teachings of Jesus. They are judgmental & unmerciful. I am not homophobic. I am a Libertarian Socialist. (Noam Chompsky is my hero!) You may say that as an atheist you are marginalized, but as a liberal Christian, I feel the same. I don’t quite fit into either group. To many, I’m not “Christian” enough, & to an atheist or agnostic, I’m too religious!

      • https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004147506309 Heather Rose

        *circle

      • Shawna Elise

        It is true of any minority. Most of the time, Christians are not the minority so they never experience it. Since you are, in fact, a minority (in your social circle, at least) you got a taste of the discrimination. It can be experienced by all, even those who are technically in the majority, and should be experienced by all, to give the perspective to those people who otherwise would never understand what it is like. Empathy is the beginning of all of human goodness.

      • Janine

        Ah, the “No True Scotsman” fallacy.

  • Chilling in Canada

    Ryan,

    You seem like such an innocent, dropped into this new reality about the intolerance and fear that feeds all religious INSTITUTIONS. It is so ironic, yet to me totally unsurprising that the same groups that on the surface so fiercely embrace so called Christian values can no longer have you in their midst and have no issue with your financial struggles because of their narrow minded view of the world.
    They are hoping you will return resolute with your faith restored (or at least willing to be mute like your colleagues) having sewed your ungodly wild oats. Think of the financial rewards that would reap for the flock!
    You are well educated and your skills would be welcome at any University or college that embraces free expression and higher thinking.
    You are embarking on an honest, thoughtful discovery – apply that same dynamic and brave thinking to your career. You choose to make this journey honest and public – maybe that is the bigger question that requires some reflection?

    Pax

  • mnb0

    “Those who “come out” as atheist face serious consequences in our society.”

    American society indeed. I’m a Dutch atheist living in Suriname and I never suffered any consequence. Some Americans should wonder to what extent the USA is the land of the free indeed.

    • bob.

      We can’t go to Cuba either but our Canadian neighbors have flights there every day. We are not the freest country.

    • Hans G. Koornstra

      Your remark concerning the so-called land of the free is good, essential and necesssary. You are O.K. as long as you agree, but who unto you if you dare to really question things….

  • http://essentialsaltes.livejournal.com Essential Saltes

    “2. Christian educational institutions are not serving their students by eliminating professors that are on an honest intellectual and spiritual journey, just because it doesn’t line up with the official statement of faith.”

    Christian schools of this sort exist precisely because they cater to students (and their parents!) who want to be sheltered from ‘the world’ – differing views and open inquiry. I agree that this does not serve their students in the long run, but it does serve the raison d’être of these institutions.

  • http://www.cleftangels.co.xa Barry Schulman

    I am so excited to find this story and your blog. I really hope you do read this.

    Firstly I want to not only congratualte you but tell you how much I admire you for doing this. I am an openly Athiest person and today of all days was the first time in my 38yrs of existence that I felt someone who didnt know me pass thier judgment on me and say I was an unfit parent due to being Athiest.

    Until this comment was passed I thought americans were over reacting to the problems Athiests face.

    This person who judged me, who claimed to be a christian, blew my mind apart. I was busy commenting on a law in South Africa that allows one parent to send another to prison. I do not agree with the law. I was there saying how we must teach our children to be good, how we must teach them to accept differences and be kind. And then I get told because I do not believe in any god I am unfit to be a parent. They didnt think to look that I own and run a childrens foundation to help children with cleft lips and palates. They didnt bother to find out what I do out of my own time to help fellow humans regardless of race, belief or social standing.

    Which now brings me to you.

    As you go through this year, you are going to find yourself more and more ex-communicated with a few who you considered were your friends. But you will also find there will be a few who are going to stick by your side no matter what. I want you to remember who sticks by you. They are your true friends who do not judge you, do not care what your religious belief is.

    But most importantly you are going to find that we Athiests will welcome you with more open arms, hearts and minds than you have ever seen in your life. We are all firm believers of not judging humans, we are all just trying our best to get through the daily grind of life. You are going to find that no matter what your questions we will answer them to the best of our abilities and 9 times out of 10 we will give those answers with some form of tangeble evidence to back it up.

    I look forward with great anticipation to following you over this year and welcome any questions you may have for me. You are welcome to contact me any time.

  • bob.

    I have had to hide my atheism from my wife’s church. She is unpaid but believes in the hope aspect of religion, and is a lay leader. I have to stay closeted so as not to embarrass her. I feel a hypocrite every time I enter the church.

    I didn’t realize, when I started reading this days ago, that you were dependent on religious financing. If you are paid by the theist, you can’t go a year without theism. Just as I can’t go a year without computers as a computer repairman.

    Best wishes,

  • James

    Ryan, as an now Atheist son of an SDA minister I really respect what you are doing. I guarantee that things will never be the same again. Even IF you continue to believe, it will not be the god you left on 31st December. Well done and thanks to Sophie Heawood for bringing your remarkable adventure to Twitter.

  • http://gravatar.com/cooeerup cooeerup

    Welcome to reality. Sometimes reality sucks, but it can be really awesome too. The world looks completly different when then blinkers come off. I don’t know if you’ll be blinker-less by the end of your journey, but I hope you will. Why? Because living as an atheist without actually being one means you’ll get exposed to all the sucky stuff without realizing all the awesome stuff.

  • Arizona

    Yep

    • Arizona

      Sorry, accidentally submitted.

      Yes, as an atheist in a state run institution, there is NO WAY I could ever come out about it. I am totally closeted as an atheist — in a professional sense. No one at work, no one in my broader professional networks would know, but then again, in a secular state institution, it just doesn’t come up.

      But again, I am careful also never to actually affiliate with any atheist organizations. I have never joined any atheist anything, not on the web, not in person, all because I will never leave atheist affiliation for employers or my professional contacts to find. Living in the South — it’s just too risky.

      Closest I do is affirm that I’m Unitarian Universalist, and that’s ok.

      Do I feel “untrue” to myself or lacking integrity to stay closeted? No. Lets me live my life safely with secure employment. I know who I am. All my friends and family and church know. That’s my intimate circle, and that’s enough. For me, at least.

      • skinnercitycyclist

        Arizona, as a fellow public employee (HS teacher) I cannot fault you for keeping your lack of belief secret. I have the luxury of living and teaching in a pretty secular state, Oregon, and can only shake my head at the horror stories I hear from the south. I wouldn’t tell the Gestapo I was Jewish if I were living in the Third Reich, either.

  • Kelly

    I’ve lost so many friends since coming out as Atheist. It’s so hard sometimes. Most of my friends who still talk to me look at me differently. I’ve lost their respect. There are some that I can tell are afraid because I make them think harder about the things they themselves are questioning and it scares them. I get it. It is a scary place to be. You have to be willing to lose people along the way. It’s going to happen.

  • http://johandp.wordpress.com johandp

    I admire your willingness to both admit your uncertainty and take a bold step to do something about it. However, you should perhaps have notified all your employers before taking this radical step (it seems you did not, let me know if I’m wrong). And you certainly should have thought about how to support your family – they’re probably more important than this experiment. That said, I understand that it is very important to you to uphold your integrity and for doing so (which means admitting uncertainty) I commend you.

    • stuartcoyle

      Why should someone have to notify their employers of a change in what they believe? Is that not a totally personal choice?

      Here in Australia we have laws against firing people based on their religion, I pity those in countries that do not have that protection.

      • skinnercitycyclist

        stuartcoyle, are you saying that churches in Australia are bound to keep ministers and priests who no longer adhere to their faith?

      • http://johandp.wordpress.com johandp

        If you’re hired BASED on what you believe, then I think this should not apply. For all other jobs, obviously religion is irrelevant.

  • aesthete2

    I’m sorry to hear of this, but unsurprised. The point of religious groups is to prop each other up with the facade of total agreement. You said you felt lonely without your fellow believers to prop you up, well you just failed them the same way.

    You might ask among the atheist groups in Glendale, and the Unitarian churches for help in finding another job.

    By the way, a Unitarian Church is uniquely equipped to give you fellowship and acceptance. You should look into them. Atheists and to the point – self exploration are valued there.

  • https://www.facebook.com/chas.swedberg Chas Swedberg

    What was point of view before you made your announcement about your jobs? How did you think your employers would react? Looking from hindsight, it appears obvious that it was a tactical mistake, but I wonder if you didn’t anticipate they’d fire you. Did you have contingencies plan as perhaps one but not all might have let you go?

  • http://gravatar.com/zeljkoporobija zeljkoporobija

    Well, that sounds pretty familiar to me. Almost the same experience.

  • http://www.clancyblog.com David

    Wow, I’m sorry you have to go through this. With regards to your opening statement… no matter how long you’re an atheist when you tell new people that the response is almost always “But you’re so nice” (or something similar).

  • https://plus.google.com/102116396816249100539 Marshall Davis

    Ryan:

    I am a Baptist pastor who has had a similar journey. Rather than put my thoughts in this comment box, I have written them in my blog in post entitled “A Year With a Temporary Atheist.”

    My blessings to you on your year-long journey. It is worth the price. Here is a link to my blog posting about your blog:

    http://revmdavis.blogspot.com/2014/01/a-year-with-temporary-atheist.html

    Marshall Davis

  • Dave Anderson

    I speak as an almost lifelong atheist (since mid-teens, now in my 60s) who never in all that time suffered anything like what you have gone through in just a few short days. Why? Well, mainly, I suspect, because I was never far enough “in” to have been considered to have left. I was Church of England in form only; attending only for weddings, funerals and one christening. But also because I was born in a time and place (the UK) where secularism, if not full blown atheism, were already taken as normal in many quarters.
    I got into arguments and discussions with Anglican vicars and curates, was thrown out of a youth club by one. I had a “pet Jehovah’s Witness” for a time who would call regularly and discuss things over coffee at length, but he soon moved on to more fruitful addresses.
    I have come to regard the “teaching” of a single religion to children as if it were undesputed fact the most heinous of crimes, leading as it does to most of the bigotry, superstition and sectarian violence we see in the world. I see no glimpse of a reason even to begin to suspect that there might be ANY kind of god – let alone any particular one.
    So, I wish you well on this journey. At the very least, you should emerge with a better understanding of “alien” beliefs, yourself and many other people. I agree that the approach is not perfect – but it could not be – but I hope you find it worthwhile, despite all the sacrifices.
    If you ever need to ask anything of (or bounce anything off) a deep-rooted but untrained (“theologically” that is), non-US resident (I’m in Canada these days) atheist, please be my guest. I trust you can see my email address.

  • https://www.facebook.com/steve.kane.330 Steve Kane

    Just wanted to say. We drove more than an hour to the city to lunch with friends, while I was there my attention was on them. In the car there and back, for most of the time, my thoughts unavoidably turned to you in your situation, as far as I can picture it. Just saying.

  • http://dyanne78.wordpress.com dyanne78

    Reblogged this on dyanne78's Blog and commented:
    The vilifying and punishment of those who question the authoritative & power structure of organized religion goes on and on …You are in good company..Galileo, Copernicus, Salem “witches”…

  • http://dyanne78.wordpress.com dyanne78

    The vilifying and punishment of those who question the authoritative & power structure of organized religion goes on and on …You are in good company..Galileo, Copernicus, Salem “witches”…

  • Mike S.

    Ryan, as I mentioned in my reply to your original post, I empathize with you. You are right in that the institutional church doesn’t tolerate deep questions and tends to alienate those who are honest inquirers. I am sorry for the difficult situation you are in and I hope you can find gainful employment and a new sense of direction for your life. I am in a very similar situation and have to start all over again in a new career myself after being pressured to resign from pastoral ministry because I admitted to being human.

    But as someone who was formerly an atheist myself who came to believe in God after reaching the end of myself, I want to encourage you to not close the door to the possibility of His existence or His love for you. I have many, many questions about God, religion, and life which still remain unanswered to this day. But one thing I cannot do is deny that the God whose existence I once denied and refused to believe in is, in fact, real. I have had too many inexplicable and undeniable encounters and experiences with Him to go back to the atheist worldview, although I know if I were to let it, the pain I’ve experienced and my anger and frustration could very well drive me to at least no longer have a relationship with Him.

    Rational thought (or at least what is purported to be rational thought) alone cannot bring you to the end you are seeking. I’ve been down that road, and it is an empty and barren wilderness. You may find logical appeal and seemingly sensible lines of reason in the philosophers and writers who have chosen not to believe. But remember, even the most horrific of ideas and ideologies are based on logic and reason. Nietzsche’s concepts and logical appeals eventually became the philosophical foundation and rationalization for the Holocaust. As distasteful and ugly as it may seem, one can follow the train of “reason” straight to the crematoriums of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. It was all impeccably logical, reasonable, methodical, and even legal, yet it was the lowest point to which humanity could sink.

    I’m not suggesting that your journey will take you to that point. Most atheists are very moral, conscientious and even philanthropic people as I was. But I brought up this extreme to highlight the fallacy of empiricism and “rational” thought, which is nothing more than another form of “blind” faith, only in a different set of unprovable presuppositions, that follows a certain train of thought and arrives at conclusions which seem as certain and as reasonable as the sunshine on a cold winter day.

    Talk to God, Ryan. He knows you and loves you. Give Him your doubts, your anger and pain. Don’t shut Him out. You can choose not to believe in Him, and He will honor that choice. But from my experience, He wants so much more for you. Peace and blessings to you, my friend!

    • Hans G. Koornstra

      So glad to read your thoughts, Mike. In the midst of all of this you encourage Ryan not to close the door to God. I too have many questions, but i have experienced Gods power and presence, I have witnessed His miracles of healing and deliverance.

      Questions are not wrong, questions are not forbidden; read the Gospels!

    • tsig

      Here’s our first Godwin.

    • skinnercitycyclist

      The usual Nietzsche-libel. You may as well continue and assert that nearly 2000 years of Christian thought made the Shoah happen, and at least then you would be closer to the truth. Let me help:

      Christianity “eventually became the philosophical foundation and rationalization for the Holocaust. As distasteful and ugly as it may seem, one can follow the train of “faith” straight to the crematoriums of Auschwitz and Buchenwald.

      Hey, that is an easy game to play!

  • Niki

    My husband and I are both atheists. He is currently getting his bachelors in Religious Studies. We both know that even though he wants to teach religion someday that he will not be accepted by any religious organization because he is an atheist. I myself would love to run for public office and really make a difference in my community. However, atheists do not get elected very often. It’s eye opening to see the limitations that a lack of faith can put on your dreams.

    I’m sorry you lost your jobs. But it would also be very hard to really live a year as an atheist and still be employed by a religious institution.

    I support everything you are trying to do and look forward to reading your blogs over the next year. Good luck and I hope you find employment soon!

  • http://jfinite.blogspot.com/ Justin Bonaparte

    Wow, so sorry you lost your jobs, hope you can find work quickly. I think you’ve embarked on an interesting journey. As an atheist, I think you will learn much in your year.

  • https://twitter.com/mbhumanist Terry Plank

    Ryan,

    I actually have an M.Div from Fuller, so you can understand why I’m not surprised, frustrated and sad, but not surprised. I applaud your commitment to this year of exploring. I’ve been out for several decades and, even though you probably intend to do it, I add my encouragement to explore broadly and not just the specifically atheist proclaiming groups and writings. I am an atheist, but my identity is more as a Humanist and Freethinker, so Skeptic Society, American Humanist Society, CFI are places I go for thinking through life in this world dominated by religious thought and influences. There is a partial list of organizations, podcasts etc. at http://www.semconsultation.com/ under Humanist Resources However, since I’ve been heavily involved in The Clergy Project and the Humanist Society along with my two businesses, I haven’t had time to keep those lists date.

  • quine001

    I wonder if we are starting to see the end of the era of the full time pastor? Continuing trends indicate a progressive drop in church attendance, which one would expect to manifest as less work and funding for clergy. Perhaps doing clergy work will become a typical part time job, with clergy doing some other profession with the rest of the lay workforce. In that kind of future, loss of faith will not usually land a person in the current position of having no marketable job skills.

  • Guy Barritt

    Ryan, Greetings from the UK. I was a Baptist for 25 years before I started to address the many questions I had been asking continually, but feared pursuing them. I was thrown out of my church for “not reflecting the gospel”, and at that point I finally went public. The people I had embraced as family, and had a deep love for, instantly turned their back on me – which was hugely traumatic, and left me grieving for a long time. Buddy I wish you all the best for your journey – you are a very brave and compassionate man. I am an employment adviser, and would love to help you get back into work if I was able. You will no doubt have many transferable skills which should get you a new start with a new job.

  • http://gravatar.com/ddublee gman

    Hey Ryan,

    It’s a tough thing, when I began exploring atheism and freethinking, I was tempted to write up a big public post about it, but held back until I calmed down a bit and sorted out what my world view was.

    I remain an agnostic and don’t believe the SDA’s core teachings, although I am an admirer of the health message and the humanitarian work. My wife and some friends know but I am yet to tell my immediate family. I will eventually have to come out.

    I wish you the best of luck, I would love to see a progressive SDA church, focusing on helping others, and taking a ‘realistic’ approach to the bible..ie. non fundamentalist.

    I will continue to follow your story.

  • https://www.facebook.com/denis.winkle Denis Winkle

    We both know the Heavens are watching over “all of us”! As we journey the realm of an Abusive Caretaker. They just can’t intervene upon journey, on principal. Everything you are doing is not a test of “your love”! Mush less who we truly are to one anothe as a safe and supportive caretaker. It’s a test of love for the ways of Ethnocentrism and Existentialism set as the Ruling Class. And your journey will never be any other way for any Devout Christian or Atheist.

  • http://atheisthomesteader.wordpress.com atheisthomesteader

    It can be very lonely as an atheist, no matter where you live. It doesn’t matter how good of an impression you’ve made on people, or how upstanding of a person you are… as soon as you even hint that you might not believe in a sky daddy, a switch flips and suddenly you are not the person they thought you were. I’ve had this happen so often that it is now affecting how I interact with others. I’m afraid to be open, while simultaneously feeling like I need to out myself before I get in too deep with someone and they reject me.

    Prepare to have your heart torn to pieces. Over and over. It never stops.

    Best of luck. You’re smart to start a blog for this, because at times it might be your only way of coping. Ask me how I know. ;)

    • Dave Anderson

      I have to respond to “no matter where you live”. In the English speaking world, this is now almost purely a US problem, I know that, from the inside, that feels like “everywhere” but it’s not. The Bible Belt is the exception, an intellectual ghetto, not the rule, and the rest of us really cannot imagine how it must feel to have to comform to a religiosity we do not feel, on pain of all the (so UNChristian) retribution that simple honesty provokes.

      There ARE sane societies. Good luck one and all.

      • http://atheisthomesteader.wordpress.com atheisthomesteader

        I actually wrote that from a purely ethnocentric position. I meant, no matter where you live in the US. I’ve lived all over thanks to my hippies-with-wanderlust parents and a husband who contracts for the government. The *best* places have been further north, even though it still wasn’t great. The south, I hate to say it, was abominable.

        Sorry about my bias. I forget sometimes that there’s a big world outside of the US. :)

  • http://www.meetup.com/atheists-531/ Ben Dreidel

    Has anyone pointed out William Lobdell’s story yet? I always found that one interesting….I was one of the atheists who wrote him a supportive email after he wrote his article in 2007.

    http://articles.latimes.com/2007/jul/21/local/me-lostfaith21
    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2009/02/guest-post-by-william-lobdell-without.html

  • Terrazzo80

    Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking. -Ayn Rand

  • http://mycatsaremygods.com EllenBeth Wachs
  • http://en.wordpress.com Odious Repeater

    Depressing stuff.

    Hey, would you consider putting up a “Donate” button on the blog, making it compatible with PayPal and Amazon and stuff? I could understand if you didn’t (after all, most atheists don’t have that luxury, so maybe it’d be bad to leverage such an advantage), but if I could sponsor you with a case of beer or a meal or something I would.

    Best of luck brother.

  • https://www.facebook.com/melody.hartwell Melody Wahl

    I will buy your book when its done if you answer a question for me. How hard is it for you to stop the habit of talking to your invisible entity? How often did you talk to him and how does it feel not to have an invisible friend to talk to? Thank you! I’m serious.

  • http://gravatar.com/cgironside Chris Ironside

    I’ve just heard about this “experiment” and have caught up on the blog posts. One thing concerns me. You seem to have set this time limit on your experiment without even knowing the outcome. It may be you’ve addressed this in another comment (I haven’t waded through all 2000+ comments to see), but I have to wonder if you aren’t already admitting “defeat” by doing so.

    What happens when (if), at the end of the year you realize that your life is not only failing to suffer for your atheism, but that you are also in fact a much improved person? If you discover this to be the case, will you adopt the mantle of faith again regardless, or will you commit to a fully atheistic life? Are you genuinely interested in living as an atheist for a year? There are few to none of us who “mourn our lack of faith.” Given that you intend to return to faith, how are you going to reconcile that with the fact that, as an atheist, you feel no lack for not speaking to (or being spoken to) a god of any kind?

    I wish you the best in this undertaking. It’s one that more theists of all stripes should undertake, in my opinion. As Penn Jilette says, “we need more atheists.” I just hope that you are undertaking it with a proper commitment to honest ends. I’ll be watching.

  • Earold Gunter

    Ryan, I’ve been watching, and reading about your journey. One person who I haven’t seen mentioned that is worth the read, or on Youtubeyou can listen to, is Robert Green Ingersoll. I think he was the Christopher Hitchens of his time. Like Hitchens he was a master at making what at times can be complex, easy to understand. Also like Hitchens he was a master speaker, although he may have the edge on Hitchens in this area.

    Have a good trip my brother in humanity!

  • Don Winett

    My favorite saying which I came up with is, “Just because something is different doesn’t make it wrong just different”. But so many people think their way is the only and right way. They have no flexibility. Personally I’m an agnostic. My wife says it only makes sense to be an agnostic and not an atheist because how can anyone know for sure. I’ll go with that. I’m glad you’re doing what you’re doing and I think at the end of this you will not go back to the church. With all the fighting, killing, cheating, lying etc along with all the helping, caring, doing good works etc, people are people. We have brains and we make decisions. Some good some bad. Hopefully the good people will help people that don’t have good role models learn to be good citizens and help others and pass it on. You get my drift. PS. wish you had put 6 months of money away before starting this so you wouldn’t be in the situation because those supposedly caring people have shut you out of a way to make a living. Good luck.

  • https://www.facebook.com/erwinmoralez Erwin Morales

    “These serious, excellent, upright, deeply sensitive people who are still Christian from the very heart: they owe it to themselves to try for once the experiment of living for some length of time without Christianity; they owe it to their faith in this way for once to sojourn ‘in the wilderness’ — if only to win for themselves the right to a voice on the question whether Christianity is necessary.” — Friedrich Nietzsche, Daybreak: Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality (Cambridge University Press, 1997), 61.

  • Kris

    Ryan, I agree with your observations. As an atheist, I especially agree with number three. I volunteer preparing meals for the homeless and working poor at a local church, and on the few occasions when someone asks me why they haven’t seen me in the church services and I tell hem why, they first express disbelief and then pat me on the shoulder, telling me that I’m a Christian but just don’t know it yet. The assumption that I can only be kind and care for others if I’m a Christian makes me extremely frustrated and sad. Yes, atheists face discrimination every day in ways big and small. I’m glad that you are on this journey, as whatever your conclusions at the end of the year, you will become a more compassionate, understanding person in this process. Thank you, from an atheist who simply strives to do good on earth.

    • Hans G. Koornstra

      By the way, Kris, Jesus never taught that you can only do good when you are a christian. He took sometimes unconverted people as an example for doing the right thing.

  • Markus Laumann

    I’m an out atheist in a small south Georgia town. I don’t bring it up with people because I worry about affecting my wife’s business, even though she’s not an atheist.

    If you set up a donation button I’ll gladly throw some money your way. Use it to stay afloat while you find new employment or attend some atheist conventions. I know you didn’t start this blog to get handouts but us skeptics/atheists have to help each other out when things get tough.

    Good luck on your journey.

    • Arizona

      Donation Button. Great idea Marcus Laumann. I would donate some bridge funds too.

      So Ryan, what do you think about making available donation link.

      • http://yearwithoutgod.wordpress.com Ryan Bell

        Thank you. I just added a donation button to the left side of the blog.

    • http://yearwithoutgod.wordpress.com Ryan Bell

      I’ve just added a donation button. Thank you for the idea.

      • https://plus.google.com/+MarkusLaumann Markus Laumann

        Donated. Good luck.

        • Arizona

          Ditto, I just donated too.

  • http://gravatar.com/chucklepuppy akismet-7011c6f106f78bac8e7ca87ab183f2e6

    I don’t want to appear unsympathetic, but what the hell were you expecting? What led you to expect otherwise? That you’re experiment with atheism would be accepted, tolerated, welcomed by a fringe group of fundamentalist christians? Even the mainstream has difficulty with independent thought, let alone a cult that came out of a failed prediction of the end times. Funny how a cult will justify its existence with a very small selection of obscure bible verses (e.g., SDA, snake handlers, xtian “scientists”), and yet will wholeheartedly ignore the golden rule, the prodigal son parable, and other “obscure” verses such as Matthew 6:5.

  • aloha

    You seem to be sincere about this so best of luck to you. Here is a guy who documents a similar journey that he went through, maybe it will help you through your journey. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlnnWbkMlbg

    Remember, keep going at the hard questions that go to the foundation of your faith, the arguments of Nietzsche and other philosophers should help you get at it.

  • gogoody

    The penalty for being.., the protruding nail, trying to make a difference, going against the grain, experimentation, new theories. Christ was crucified for daring to challenge the Pharisees and suggest a loving way of being alive, within the context of Judaism…, they perceived him as being a threat to the establishment. Anyone who challenges the conventions of society run the risk of being ostracized or worse. Occupy Wall Street, Ghandi, Mandela, MLK, Lincoln. It takes uncommon courage to try and make a difference. Heck, Galileo was threatened with excommunication for suggesting the Earth was not the center of the universe. He recanted. Darwin was petrified to release his book explaining his theory of Natural Selection, amongst the diehard theists of the English Church. So, Ryan.., you are in good company. Something better will bloom from your courage to investigate and seek the ‘truth’, even if it only impacts you.

    However, I believe you’ve attracted thousands of other souls these past several days and ignited a vital discussion. If Deists and Theists feel threatened or perhaps some feel the call to save your soul, then you provoke them to shudder within their comfort zones and awaken them from their slumber of contented dreams. If the Atheists feel they can explain themselves, because they choose to, then it opens dialogue amongst them which helps us all strengthen our convictions just by becoming aware of our community. I, as an Atheist, have no desire to challenge anyone. I have no need to defend my thoughts.., I am content with accepting the fact that I am alone with my soul, which will return to the quantum existence of the Universe. There is comfort in that. I will be in good company. It would be nice to be aware of all this. But, when I fall asleep, I am in another state of consciousness, and my biological, neuronal bio-chemistry is still alive and functioning. When death occurs, all the ‘life’ chemistry ceases, the electrons stop flowing and we assume the neuronal patterns disappear, like wiping a hard drive clean of all data bits of information. Thus, I cease to exist.

    Ryan, were you so naive to expect anything else from your former compatriots? I hope there are those amongst us who can help you find work and sustenance. Most of us are not surprised by the actions of the so-called Christians in your former life.

  • Tom Chatt

    Perhaps you have found your new calling, as a pastor of the “nones”. Wishing you the best on your journey.

  • Caroline

    Heartbreaking. You have more courage than I. I too wish you and your family well on your journey.

  • Danielle

    I’m sorry you are going through this. It is so painful to lose things as a result to your questioning. I read the article by the Friendly Atheist. I understand what he is saying, but I also understand what you are going through. One of the first thoughts that came into my head that caused me to question in the first place was “what would happen if I just stopped trying so hard? Would God still show himself or is it all in my head?” I knew the answer already. I did read some atheist books and I still research things while telling myself I hadn’t given up on God yet – but the truth is I was already an atheist. Maybe you are too. Maybe not. Good luck and know that you have many supporters.

  • Steve

    If you’ll look back at my previous post, I warned you that this would happen. What you’re learning is that religion is a powerful socializing tool. You have to pretend to believe if you want to be part of the group. When you step outside that belief, you find yourself very alone. What you’re learning is that belief is a more powerful organizing tool than non-belief.

    • https://www.facebook.com/Danilus Danny

      But what you say is true only in a community where faith is placed before all else, even family. Any shared belief is an organizing tool; I am in many Atheist organisations and everyone gets along brilliantly.

    • Clay

      Men’s wisdom is foolishness unto God. Either way, why not error on the side of safety . Believe and obtain eternity or deny and lose eternity. At least believing you have a 50/50 chance? Non believers are really not very bright from any reasonable perspective!

      • formerbeliever

        You think a god couldn’t tell a person is faking belief just to hedge their bet? Why not be true to yourself instead of a hypocrate. I’d say a god would prefer that. Didn’t the Christian god say “better to be hot or cold rather than lukewarm”?

      • Ray

        /// Non believers are really not very bright from any reasonable perspective!/// Right, that’s why it’s a scientifically proven fact that atheists are on average more intelligent than theists. And your stupid comment doesn’t address the fact that he’s a former Pastor. So what? Are you saying that his IQ dropped when he started questioning his faith? LMAO What a joke. It’s now public knowledge that willful ignorance is a pre-requisite for religious beliefs. That’s why the more someone studies the bible for themselves, they usually tend to become atheists. (just like he did and just like I did since I was a born again Christian for 30 years and an Evangelist for over 12 years) I find it quite ironic that most atheists know the bible better then those that claim to follow it.

      • Patricia Villetta

        What you are referring to is “Pascal’s Wager” – a well-documented fallacy in logic due to cognitive dissonance.
        http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pascal-wager/

        Not only does it assume that the Christian deity is the only god (out of hundreds of other gods in human history – there’s a quote by Stephen Roberts “I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do.”), but it also assumes that the god will reward genuine salvation for people who would only believe out of fear.

      • Ray

        Oh yeah, and your “why not err on the side of safety” argument is called Pascal’s Wager and just helps prove the claim that religious “faith” is based upon fear and superstition. (but mostly on geography and family history…or did you think you became a Christian because your privy to some great truth that only Christians are aware of)

      • Jesus

        This argument is the weakest argument I have heard a theist make. You know there are multiple religions that believe in a supernatural God and in an afterlife, right? So your “50/50″ goes right out the window there. Are you going to follow Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or one of the many other faiths from around the world?
        If you base your belief system on “better safe than sorry” you are already lost.

      • Dave Anderson

        This is just a variation on “Pascal’s Wager”, the proposition that believing in God is a good idea because you have everything to gain if right and nothing to lose if wrong.

        Apart from the obvious fallacy that there is nothing lost by believing something false (there is a LOT lost, particularly, clarity of thought), it assumes that to believe something or not is a CHOICE.

        I know many theists often talk of “choosing faith” etc. but really, to an atheist, there is NO choice. We believe what makes sense and cannot just CHOOSE to do otherwise.

        • dfrat64

          A few years ago, I had an exchange with a real believer. He spouted the “If you’re wrong you’ve lost everything, if I’m wrong I’ve lost nothing” variant if Pascal’s wager. I retorted that if he was wrong then he lived his entire life based on a lie, and that every decision and sacrifice he made in the name of his faith was completely in vain. That is a loss I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

        • https://www.facebook.com/steve.kane.330 Steve Kane

          Not only that – but most of these groups, if not all, require not only belief, but obedience to laws and paradigms with no justification but that they are supposedly “god given”.

          When all that is asked for is “trust”, maybe we have a deal.

          Brahman – the (arguably) highest definition of divinity in the Hindu pantheon, has no qualities, not even “believability”, and requires nothing of humanity. Sadly all the rest come with lots of small print.

          Pascal proposed his wager on the Catholic faith, adherence to which comes at significant cost in freedom of conscience and action, and the sacrifice of much common sense.

          Personally I feel no need to place my bet, to spend my trust. I can just have trust – leaving myself as the subject of that verb, firmly attached, but in no hurry to identify and object, just because the croupier spins that wheel, does not mean I even have to be in his casino. With “informed optimism” I just step forth with belief in my fist, no hand of an anthropomorphic “other”.

          The only rule I need is my own modification of the Golden one.

          The “Platinum Rule”

          “I will treat others according the best of my empathy”.

          That is a fine rule because it is a “sport” that one can improve at. Not an “exam” that I am either bound to fail, or that I will fail myself and others by passing. It also honours the right of others to differ from me.

      • Daniel Peters

        A chosen belief is, necessarily, a dishonest belief.

      • aesthete2

        Clay – you error even more – are you sure you are believing in the right God – because there are millions of possibilities and you just picked one.

        No, it’s not a 50/50 chance, it’s more like a billion billion to one that your personal God is the correct choice.

      • https://www.facebook.com/kenny.luong Kenny Luong

        Clay,
        To add to Dave’s argument, I’d say that the atheist position is the favorable one even in the face of Pascal’s Wager. Keeping in mind that Atheism is NOT the belief that there is no god, rather the lack of belief that a god exists.
        Atheism is an honest stance of uncertainty, and in keeping with that honesty, we are open to being convinced that there is in fact a god. Surely, any god – or entity qualified of being worshipped as a god – would understand this logic and grant me salvation when I encounter him in the afterlife and have no choice but to admit that I was wrong.
        Furthermore, how many gods are there that claim that they are the one and only creator of this universe? How convinced are you that you’ve gone all in with the right one? And if you’re wrong, isn’t the punishment for worshipping the wrong god far worse than reserving your belief until your – for lack of a better term – day of judgement?
        As Dave pointed out, the choice atheists make with respect to their beliefs is to have as many true beliefs and as few false beliefs as possible. By that logic, we do not have a choice in what we believe.

      • https://www.facebook.com/steve.kane.330 Steve Kane

        “identify *an* object”

    • https://www.facebook.com/barbara.barrett.982 Barbara Barrett

      Steve: Ryan is not completely alone. The atheist community is small, and perhaps not very well organized (it pains me to admit this, but then, atheists are independant thinkers, and not necessarily conformists, thus do not go to others to find a “connection”.) there is a small collection being taken (per the Friendly Atheist) for Ryan, and we hope the message he gets is that this is a courages step he is taking, but with real and sometimes petty and spiteful consequences. Know that we have been through this, and there are many people who have come out as atheist and have had to face some serious spitefulness from their “friends” and family. Keep up your journey. Retain your integrity and self respect, because in the worst case, thats all that you can walk away with. In some circumstances we get to keep our family and friends, (although they may occasionaly make snarky remarks to you). Keep asking questions, keep studying, keep reading, and be open to everything. Good luck Ryan.

      • Dave Anderson

        Well said! But believe me (that word again!), the atheist “community” may be small and our numbers may seem small in some places but, globally, they are not. As I said in a previous post, I have been fortunate never to have had to live in a place where my beliefs cause any problems at all – and I have been an atheist all my adult life.

        Increasingly, too, we ARE forming “communities” of sorts – they don’t erect nice buildings with big signs outside but as frustration with the arrogance of many theist organizations using ever more desperate arguments to defend their activities (to say nothing of their beliefs) increases, many feel the need to organise to push back effectively.

    • https://www.facebook.com/Ruth1940 Ruth Walker

      Although you might be required to actually lose your faith to qualify, it might be worth your while to contact Dan Barker’s The Clergy Project to gain insight to the real problems of former clergy who are trained to do nothing else. I suggest you read Barker’s “Losing Faith in Faith” as well. If anyone was a true believer, he was.

  • Jerry Nelson

    Ryan,
    I have tasted and seen that the LORD is good. May your journey lead you to something as beautiful and satisfying.
    I love you,
    Jerry

  • http://gravatar.com/badgersdaughter badgersdaughter

    Well, it doesn’t require Christianity to love people who are honest and truth-seeking. I’m sorry that your Christian community has opted to treat you as they should treat a liar and fraud, instead. Only one way of thinking trusts a person to follow their own good-faith reasoning and to make up their own mind about the facts, and that way of thinking is unfortunately not Christianity. Humanists are not threatened if you decide in good faith and of your own free will and reason that you’d rather be religious, because we respect the integrity and thought that went into that decision. Why must Christianity be so defensive?

    As a deconvert who isn’t hostile to any reasonable person seeking wisdom, I’m happy to offer my time to talk to you if you need it. I’ll contribute to your expenses too, because it drives me crazy to see you punished for the very integrity that makes you a better person.

    • http://kellogs22.wordpress.com Ciarán Kelleher

      Check out the reaction to Anthony Flew when he made it public he believed in a god.

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  • lacalaca

    A rude awakening, definitely. Love thy neighbor unless he/she’s LGBT, of a different faith, of a different church, or, the biggest sin of all, questioning God. But you have been warned: don’t be curious, all you need to know about the world is what your pastor tells you about it:

    “The spirit of curiosity distances us from the Spirit of wisdom because all that interests us is the details, the news, the little stories of the day,” – Pope Francis. Not a statement you’d put next to his TIME cover picture!…

  • Sven

    You are asking questions and exercising some thoughtful discovery.
    If that bothers your (former) employers, that says a lot about them, none of which is positive.

  • Carol

    The “Friendly Atheist,” Hemant Mehta ( http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/01/06/remember-the-pastor-trying-out-atheism-for-a-year-he-just-got-fired-by-his-christian-employers-lets-help-him-out/ ) has been updating others in the atheist community about your trials and has opened a “Go Fund Me” ( http://www.gofundme.com/62mb6o ) account to accept donations to tide you ver while you find employment.

    I’m sorry you have lost your job(s), but not surprised at all. This is a perfect example of the fundamental falsehoods and hypocrisy of religion.

    There is freedom in loss. I never felt so free, so fulfilled, or so happy as when I let go of religion. It was a confusing quagmire; a burden. What is right, moral, and/or ethical is much clearer and simpler to see now.

    Best wishes to you.

  • dfrat64

    Whatever fruits your bold experiment may bear, please do your best to avoid bitterness towards those who have seemingly turned their backs on you. It is human nature to keep at arm’s length that which frightens or offends you. Forgive them, and press on with your journey. Full disclosure: I am an atheist, and I hope this experiment enriches your life. If you reach the end as a more well-informed man if faith, it will have been worth it.

  • http://robinlionheart.blogspot.com/ Robin Lionheart

    Only a couple days of ‘trying it on’, and you already got a harsh lesson about the atheophobia and job discrimination that atheists face. These things should not happen in a society built on freedom of religion, but alas it does.

  • https://www.facebook.com/robert.madewell Robert Madewell

    Hate to say it, but you just got your first dose of reality. I’ve been fired because I’m an atheist. They can do it and don’t usually have to give a reason. Some atheists have it much harder. They get divorced, family disowns them, they get disallowed to see neices and nephews. I suggest that unless you are an atheist, you get back to your job and stop this experiment. I’m still an atheist because I am honest with myself and my beliefs. If you are doing this for any other reason, there’s only hate and hurt down this road.

  • Jeremiah

    Just a note to say that based on your history, you HAVE been living without God for quite some time, so your experiment is no experiment at all, but an excuse to live the way you want while artificially quelling your conscience with an “experiment.”

  • John Montgomery

    This type of mentality always makes me question the validity of god. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that if god was real and the bible is true , that one could ask any question, and one would easily be able to discover that it is true. I’ve read many stories just like yours. The fact that churches and other institutions always seem to react this way makes me wonder if they already know it can’t withstand critism.

    It is very good that at least your social circle seem yo be trying to be supportive. I have been that lucky with my wife and close friends , but as much with my immediate family. Don’t get me wrong , they are still supportive and caring in every other way. However ,I don’t feel like I can even talk about it anymore with my mom or my younger sister.

    Ironically , even though my wife is christian, we ended up getting serious over helping each other through hurtful phone calls with our respective siblings.

    . I should mention I was raised Baptist. I was even baptized at roughly 12 and rededicated a few years later. When I was roughly 20, I began to question if god really was good after a conversation with my grandad just before he died. He mentioned how spiteful and vengeful god is depicted; especially in the old testament.

    Now , my grandfather was always someone I looked up to. He was more my dad once my actual father left.He was there for me when I needed him and was my main male role model for years. He was the type that while he sometimes said something hurtful , he never intended harm. He was just blunt. So when he mentioned that about god it gave me great pause.

    I started reevaluating many of my long held beliefs to that point over the next years. I came to realize both my initial baptism and my rededication were the result of peer pressure. The baptism was a result of my sister saying she had accepted christ while talking with friends. I went up that next Sunday so I wouldn’t feel left behind. Ironically she doesn’t remember the friends incident and sites my going up that encouraged her. With the rededication it was more that right after it happened I was walking back ,it was at a church camp , and I realized I wasn’t any different than I was before. I called that feeling Satan then. I now know I likely never actually believed in the first place.

    Sorry that was a bit of an aside. One of the things I really began to question around the time I started dating my wife , was the concept of heaven. I had just watched “The God that wasn’t. There” on netflix. It talked about how one christian belief is that everyone in heaven can see everyone in hell. The point was made that it would be hard to enjoy heaven if one knew there were so many suffering in hell. That made me think of it on a more personal level. I was always taught that heaven was a place of all joy and no sorrow. I wondered how joy would be possible if there was a loved one in hell. I came up with the idea that if god was all powerful he could either make one forget their loved ones or create a convincing duplicate of that lived one there in heaven. I didn’t like that idea because it seemed like that change who I was and essentially not be real.

    I talked about that with my sister , and all I got from her was “I don’t want you to have to be a duplicate”. It upset me because it didn’t address the issue. My now wife came over and consoled me. The following day she got a call where her sister accused her of becoming an atheist just because at that time we were just friends.

    I was able to talk yo my mom once or twice about my doubts. She would either say “you have a good heart and that’s Jesus” or “Don’t break my heart” anytime I tried to say I don’t believe anymore. The worst part with her was about six months before I got married. She had agreed to pay for it since my wife’s parents didn’t have much money and neither did my wife and I. She was going bavk yo school to become a teacher , and I was barely making ends meet with my job. So , anyway; we had just gotten back from looking at the church and talkung with the church’s wedding planner on how we wanted things and a few ideas. When we got back to my appartment, mom dropped the bombshell that there could be nothing atheist related in the wedding. Now we hadn’t planned on much being in there. We chose a church because it was easier than other plans, and it was the church I went to when I was still a believer. It was also the church my sister had gotten married in only a year or two earlier. It had sentimental value for me. The thing my mom didn’t like was essentially one line in our vows(we wrote our own viw btw) where I was going to say “I don’t believe in any gods , but I will always believe in you.” I mentioned it was important to me and asked mom if she wanted me to lie. She said yes. I was able yo reword the vows so I wouldn’t be lying , and I used symbols for my beliefs that she didn’t recognize. We did a star trek themed wedding complete with a klingon honor gaurd so any communicator or arrowhead symbolized my atheism and I wrote atheist in Klingon on the mek’leth I used when we did a mock battle to leave the reception. Even though I was still able to get the wedding I wanted , it hurt that my own mother would ask me to lie.

    I’m sorry that ended up being do verbose. I do want to say thank you for going on your journey and trying to gain more understanding for yourself. It seems at times like not many religious people do.

  • http://theoffensivatheist.wordpress.com theoffensivatheist

    This is a wonderful thing you are doing & i honestly believe it will be of benefit to others as well as your self. At first i wasn’t sure it was such a good idea (maybe i suspected your motives) but it now appears you are sincere & i wish you all the best on your journey.

  • http://twitter.com/iwvnews Scott Leahy (@iwvnews)

    Sorry that you lost your jobs, but it was for the best, I am sure. You need a clean break from the cognitive dissonance and being away from church duties will provide you the time you need to experience a life unhaunted by spectral beings of the imagination. Embrace your own mind and consciousness and you will understand that belief in such things *gives your own mind permission* to deceive itself. I was lucky that I came to the conclusion that it was a game going on in my own mind back in young adulthood. The deeper in you go with religion, the harder it is to get out.

    In any case, fresh break; get out the want ads and find a job, and keep writing. I am looking forward to following along with your journey.

    A few more things before I go. Although I am an atheist, a happy one, I do have many friends online who have religious faith. The distinguishing characteristic they share is that they are not biblical literalists. It is quite possible to be a Christian believer and still hold moral principles of freedom and equality for all in dear regard. I would be more than happy to introduce you to them if you wish, Ryan. Best wishes from SoCal.

  • http://gravatar.com/mariajordanoreilly Maria

    Doesn’t it say so much for ‘christian’ theology, that a man who is honest and up-front about his journey through life and faith is rejected, and yet those who abuse their ‘god given’ powers to abuse children and who lie about the extent of their faith and belief are still embraced within many, so called, christian churches!

    • Geoff

      The guy was a Christian leader paid to lead the flock. He can do what he wants, but he should be paid for being a non-Christian Christian leader? Let’s get real.

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  • Samantha

    Just came here to say I’m so sorry you lost your jobs, support network in this spiritual journey. I hope you find what you’re looking for – with or without God.

  • Andes

    I encourage you on your journey and hope that when you reach the end of it you have not lost sight of God. I am a believer and a Christian and hope that Christians the world over would follow your journey and learn how not to treat their neighbour. I hope they read the comments and see how their actions can turn people from God and not toward God. Personal testimony. I only started attending church at age 40 and was filled with doubt and searching for God. I was filled with criticism of all of mankind and especially if they were Christian. My final deciding moment came when I saw the leaders stand up for one of their members (pastor) and support him after he had fornicated. He was kept on in the team in a smaller role but still maintained his income and was able to marry have a child and build a home, counselled and restored to his former position. How the hell can you turn your back on your brother and even more so if he is your brother in Christ. The Bible says we should be evenly yoked but it doesn’t say we should be turning to Jesus and firing non believers or divorcing them or not having relationships (friends, family and stranger alike) with them. It states the opposite. You are meant to be a shining light an example. Yes believe, I believe but I still love my Buddhist brother, drug addict nephew, atheist boss, etc etc. I am kind, loving, patient, merciful, forgiving etc. Eish sorry guys that you are exposed to zealots who take the very message of Jesus and distort it in their very lives and interpretations and practices. Jesus hung out with the lepers, prostitutes, tax-collectors etc they were drawn to him and through His display of love were encouraged by Him. He challenged the religious leaders of the day and was tortured and murdered. Apparently nothing much has changed.

  • Minerva

    Hang in there. For all the intolerant places in the world, you will also find places where tolerance is the norm. And don’t be deceived by the narrowness of the two labels, Christian and atheist. The Christian belief system is caught up in black & white dichotomies, but there’s an entire rainbow out here, and you’re more likely to find your truth if you take time to explore the whole of it. (Me, I’m not so arrogant as to believe it’s possible to find “the” truth, in some objective sense, but still there’s an inner compass that guides us if we pay attention to what makes sense instead of deferring to an outside authority.)

  • Michael

    I hate to say it, but there’s lesson #1: Atheists are discriminated against. I hope you find alternative employment soon. Best wishes.

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  • Diana Orr

    I could be wrong here but I don’t think it is your questioning or the uncertainty of God’s existence but the pushing away and refusing to recognize Him for one year.

    • Hans G. Koornstra

      Diana Orr it is an experiment and I am uncertain if this is possible. One believes in God through Christ and that can hardly be put aside for a year. However we still have to believe the sincerity of Ryan Bell, otherwise who is fooling who?

      • http://dianaorr53.wordpress.com dianaorr53

        I agree, Hans, I am not sure it is possible. I do believe in Ryan’s sincerity.

  • http://lovestopicnic.com Richard Young

    The first thing I thought when I read this post (I haven’t read the comments so I don’t know if someone has made this point yet) is what I would do when faced with your situation of losing all of your income. This last year I had a baby girl and it really scared me. What I was scared about was how I would handle things if something went wrong. What would I do? Would I be smart enough to be able to fix it? Through this last year I have understood that worrying about it won’t help at all. And the more I trusted myself the more I needed to be scared. Because I am not close to smart enough to be able to deal with life’s issues. I decided to trust myself less and trust God more. If that sound’s cliche and corny well it might be if you don’t actually believe it with your heart. Because you are not believing that there is a God right now this is all on you. It’s up to you and how smart you are and how hard you work to figure this situation out. So you can think your way through this. You can work your way through this, or you can be lucky. Do atheists believe in Luck? I could not do what you are doing because I am not smart enough. Good luck with being able to provide for yourself and your family.

  • http://TheAtheistTeenager.wordpress.com theatheistteenager
  • http://gravatar.com/benanov Benanov

    As someone who completed that journey from confused Catholic to outspoken atheist 18 years ago, I’ll leave you with this reference to an old bit of pop culture popular years ago:

    “You are lucky, Ed Gruberman. Few novices experience so much of Tai Kwon Leep so soon.”

    • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com quine001

      Oh, good choice of reference.

  • http://seanasbury.wordpress.com seanasbury

    Ryan,

    An interesting experiment – I plan to follow your daily travails and look forward to your insights.

    Alas, I can’t help but think that your premise is a bit flawed from the start. It has the feel of a man who wants to feel like it would be to be a woman for a year. You set off wearing skirts and blouses, etc., but when the year is up, you’re still a man.

    I also get the sense, when you speak of reading the holy books of atheism, that you might be looking for something to believe in. That old adage of “you have to believe in something,” seems to be in play. Why is that? Why is there an expectation that we need to believe in anything?

    For us apostates, those of us that once believed whole-heartedly in Christianity, you should be aware that the process of losing our belief was, at least for those that I know, excruciating. So you experiment is analogous to say, pretending for a year that your father is dead. Only in a year’s time, you’ll be able to reconnect with your father and have a grand story to tell. For us, our father remains dead. For better or worse, it has an air of cheapness about it…

    If you care to, I’m providing links that detail my own deconversion, along with an account of my wife. Maybe these stories will give you some insight, possible empathy and understanding.

    http://seanasbury.wordpress.com/2011/05/24/why-im-an-atheist/

    http://seanasbury.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/does-it-make-me-a-bad-person/

    All that said – I wish you luck on your journey. I hope you’re able to approach this with sincerity and healthy skepticism and not sneak a prayer or two on the sly ;)

    • Dave Anderson

      That little word “in” keeps getting in the way. We ARE often told we must “believe in something” but my standard reply for decades has been “I believe lots of things, some big, many small, but I don’t know what you mean by “believe in”. I cannot believe something that doesn’t make any sense and for which there is no suggestion of real evidence. If believing “in” something of that sort is different in some way please explain.” No satisfactory answers yet – though lots of platitudes and Bible quotes.

      • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com quine001

        When accused of “believing in” I reply, “I have reasonable expectations based on prior evidence.” (more here)

  • Benanov

    (Repost; if so delete).

    I took the same journey 18 years ago. I had a lot less to lose, though. I’ll leave you with this:

    “You are lucky, Ed Gruberman. Few novices experience so much of Tai Kwon Leep so soon.”

  • http://Www.compartmentallyhappy.blogspot.com Heather

    I didn’t have a chance to read through all of the comments to see if someone else already suggested this but I would suggest you check this site out: http://www.clergyproject.org/

    I’m sorry that you are experiencing this and I hope you’re able to find support and other employment soon. Don’t give up!

    • quine001

      Yes, Heather, it has been mentioned a few times, and you are right that it is on target. The originators of the project have just released a book about it, about which, I have written a blog piece here.

      • https://www.facebook.com/Ruth1940 Ruth Walker

        I didn’t see this when I suggested it too. The religious establishment doesn’t want anyone to see how Christianity resembles prior religions either: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4G-gA79TQY

  • Freethinker

    Why would ANYONE believe in fairy tales?

    This is 2014.

    Get with it you stupid fucks.

    • http://www.bobhutton1.blogspot.com Bob Hutton

      This is typical of the abusive language and attitude of atheists.

      • WW

        Actually, no, it isn’t typical – as evidenced by the fact that of all the atheists here, Freethinker is the only one who has used that type of language or exhibited that attitude.

        By the same token, while I’d love to say that your annoying preaching and ridiculous threats are “typical” of Christians, they’re not. There are plenty of Christians on here who are open-minded, kind, and pleasant. The annoying and preachy ones – well, that’s just you.

        • http://disfrutaalfredo.wordpress.com disfrutaalfredo

          I agree with WW, I know plenty of Christians who speak in violent language.

          Sent from my iPad

          >

  • Jason Eden

    Thanks for this. I’ve been a closeted atheist for years and had just started to come out to family and friends a few months ago. Seeing this made me realize how important it is to live in a society where questions can be asked without fear. I’ve donated to your fundraiser, and have gone public myself in response to this. I know you’re not an atheist yet, but as an apologist for more than two decades, I can tell you that if you’re honest in your inquiry like I was, this is where you’ll end up. Sorry about this part of the journey. I know it sucks, but perhaps it will prove enlightening. Best of luck!

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  • http://simply30daysofslr.wordpress.com Faith Raider

    This isn’t just about asking questions. This is about publishing them in the Huffington Post. When I read this post I was like “duh” – if you were going to go public you should have secured a secular position first. You can’t work at a Religious Institution and publish atheist-adjacent blog posts and especially not somewhere as public as the Huffington Post. You can only do one or the other – keep your job and do your investigation into atheism quietly – like a normal person, or do it publicly. You can’t have it both ways. When you have a position of influence within a religious institution, like a theological seminary or even just a small group leader at a church there are lines you can’t cross publicly and still keep your position of influence. If you are going to “go there” you can’t do it on a blog or on Facebook or Twitter and certainly not on National News! You have to do it privately. I don’t think anyone can blame Fuller for firing you. That was a forgone conclusion the minute you hit publish. You should have known better.

  • Greg L

    Mr. Bell, I don’t know much about your project, but I did make a donation to the GoFundMe fund that was started for you, because I appreciate the effort and sacrifice that you are making. As someone who is clearly a “thinker” and not simply a bible-thumper, I suspect your path on the curvy and wide path of atheism will be harder that it would be for the average Christian making such a transition. I seriously suggest you try meditation to help clear your mind of the inevitable prayers, non-secular musings, and random conversations with God that are bound to arise. I’m not being sarcastic.

  • http://twitter.com/Percysperson Eileen (@Percysperson)

    Welcome to being an atheist. I’m very sorry you got fired. This is one of the reasons some of us have, at best, lukewarm enthusiasm for the Christians in our lives. Now you know. I hope you find new, and better, employment right away. Best of luck!

  • Helen

    I’m sorry to hear that you are in trouble for trying out something new.
    To be honest, I am puzzled both by your “experiment” and your employers’ reaction: both of you seem to believe that if you “pretend” to live as an atheist lives (according to your stereotypes), then this is will really change your identity and your presumably deeply held beliefs at once.
    By trying to live without, let’s say, “Christian gestures” (both intellectual such as referring to the will of god or praying and social practices such as going to church) you may of course gradually find out that you actually don’t need them (similarly as a person who is converting and finds out these gestures give them security and comes to depend on them). Deeply held beliefs are not just a piece of clothing you can put on and off, although clothes can change your behaviour a little. If you keep wearing shoes that are too small, your feet will be eventually crippled for life. But that takes time. Do you and your employers (ex-employers) seriously believe that just not making these gestures in itself instantly makes you a non-believer?

    Or do your employers actually believe that if you were a believer, you wouldn’t embark on such a journey, because you wouldn’t want to live without these gestures? So maybe it’s not the gestures and your experiment that hurts them, but the realisation that you already must be an atheist: do they consider the project as a proof that you are actually a non-believer?

    Do they know you better than yourself?

    • Geoff

      Good points Helen, it sounds like Ryan has been questioning his faith for some time even if he wasn’t ready to admit it to himself.

      I actually think his employer has done him a favour, they have showed they are absolutely no better than non-religious organisations by turning their back on him instantly. Although I don’t really blame them (if you worked at a toy manufacturer and one day said you were going to make crossbows for a year, they would fire you too!).

      Nevertheless, they are motivated by greed (donation money) and unwilling to have their beliefs questioned. It’s very much “get rid of the bad egg before the infection spreads”. One wonders how confident they are of their own faith that it couldn’t stand up to a single nay-sayer in their midst!

      Added to that, they may on an immature level be trying to make Ryan suffer so his “year without God” is miserable and if his year is miserable then they get self-assurance from it.

      On Ryan’s part, the challenge is to have enough belief in self to know that he can overcome this hurdle and continue his experiment. As opposed to “faith in God” to provide somethingorother to make things easier, or that God is “testing” him in some way (these are both popular catchphrases!). Ryan, this is where you prove that YOU can do it.

      The biggest thing you will miss, Ryan, is the social aspect afforded by a weekly meeting in a large group. Let’s break down what happens in church. Socialising makes you feel good, music makes you feel happy and singing releases endorphins. What’s not to like? Find a normal interest group that meets weekly and gives you enjoyment.

      The last time I was in a church was for a baptism, I endured 45 minutes of bland repetitive song and then witnessed several babies have cold water flung at them (they all cried, funny about that!). “Welcome to God’s house, here’s something you don’t enjoy”. I’ll pass, thanks. Don’t even get me started on ritual circumcision! (so glad I wasn’t butchered as an infant).

  • Kathy

    I’m very sorry this happened to you, but this reaction is a typical one of Christians towards atheists. I’m a semi-closeted atheist and have been my entire life (41 years). I’m looking forward to following your yearlong journey. Good luck to you, sir.

  • Coco Smith

    I commend you on your experiment, though I’m not too keen on your methodology. I think you might want to focus a bit more on people who have experienced what you have (http://infidels.org/library/modern/ken_daniels/why.html), rather than assume you can read “atheist books” and figure out what we millions of unique individuals are experiencing. I will suggest you check out The Secular Web and ExChristian.Net. I do hope you find work, or people will help you support your family through what will be an incredibly rough road for you. At present, I will follow your journey and determine if indeed a donation is merited. I support many causes, but I do require they are straightforward and have no ulterior motives. From your posts, at the moment, I’m not entirely sure that is the case here. Best of luck.

  • https://www.facebook.com/michael.e.brooks Michael E. Brooks

    I am a Christian of more than thirty years, with Master’s degrees in Divinity and Theology. My youngest son is an atheist, not out of rebellion against parental or societal authority but because he has concluded that there is no God. In our discussions he has confirmed to me that his conclusion is an honest one and not just a cover for getting out of going to church. I brought up Jesus’ words in John 8 about one’s knowing the truth and that the truth would set one free. I then told him that if his atheism is his honest conclusion in his integrity on the matter of God, then his being an atheist is indeed the most “Christian” thing he can do.

  • Chris

    A quick request: I’d like to donate to your blog, but PayPal is a crappy company. Would you consider setting up Bitcoin donations? A company like BitPay or Coinbase can do this very easily and you get US Dollars straight into your bank account…
    Thanks and best of luck! The world needs more like you.

  • Larry Wolcott

    I have a few different thoughts about this. First, thoughts and prayers to Ryan. I am sorry he and his family are going through a rough time. I will try to donate to the fund started by the Friendly Atheist.

    I don’t deny that there are terrible problems with organized religion using its power to persecute people. And I agree that many Christians, sadly, seem to think horrible things about Atheists.

    At the same time, I can understand Christian groups not wanting to employ Mr. Bell as a spokesman. Honest questioning is one thing ( and it is sad that many Christians discourage this), but surely there is a point where one goes beyond this, and can no longer be called a Christian. However honestly and sincerely his journey has been, this seems to be where Mr. Bell is now at. I don’t fault, condemn, or doubt him, but I can understand why Christian groups would not want someone purposely living in an un-Christian way to be a leader and spokesperson for their group. (Would many Atheist groups want, say, Richard Carrier to remain in a leadership/educational role if his honest enquiry led him to convert to Deism?)

    As sad as it is to find oneself outside of a family community due to honestly held beliefs (I’ve been there too), what is saddest to me is that the Christian community didnt respond by loving finding a place where an honest seeker could still work and support his family, without being in a leadership position where their mission and beliefs would be compromised. This shouldn’t have been hard to do. I’ll pitch in where I can, and pass this on to my friends.

    • Larry Wolcott

      I wanted to say I don’t mean”un-Christian” in a bad way, just as something opposed to Christian teachings. If that’s where someone’s search leads, then that’s where they have to go.

  • ND

    If you have a chance…please give a serious listen to to album “We Are All Where We Belong” by the band Quiet Company. I would describe it as a praise album to non-belief. Few albums have had a deeper impact on me…

    • ND

      If you’re strapped for time…and can only listen to one track…make it “Everything Louder Than Everything Else”

  • Justin Turk

    May I suggest seeking employment with an atheist organization? Explain your “experiment”, and I am sure that they would be more than willing to help you experience what it means to live a secular life, or perhaps even an atheistic life (which is what it sounds like you are seeking). There are plenty of atheist organizations where you can find work, not to mention atheist charity organizations where you can experience charity from a secular (or even an atheistic) position.

    I think if you involved more atheists in your endeavor you would find a strong support network, willing to help you along your path.

  • http://chandlerklebs.wordpress.com chandlerklebs

    Dude, I think it is great what you are doing. Asking questions will always get you into trouble with ignorant people, but I am convinced that it is the only way to live. Also glad that you chose to document it with a blog.

  • http://noblogherenow.wordpress.com n0w0rr1es

    If you wish to live as an atheist; perhaps the most important thing is not what you read, many atheists are very familiar with religious texts. It is instead the realization that life and nature present themselves just as they are and this is it.

    The beauty of the universe isn’t not that some super natural agent has to be behind the scenes keeping it on track, tinkering with a flawed creation.

    The beauty of the universe is that it doesn’t need that at all. It is complete as an organic infinitely complex and natural whole.

    It is easily apparent then that human concepts of gods and creation, of heaven and hell, are so petty in scope, morality and quality that they can only be the retread imaginings of bronze age shepherds with too much time on their hands.

    • satsu

      I’d add a bit to this.

      I’m not atheist but i lean that way pretty heavily. Religion, in and of itself, never appealed to me.

      But anyway, the things I would add would be that you don’t just read books or listen to Richard Dawkins or something like that. You need none of that to be an atheist. Try this instead, walk around your every day and thank a higher power for none of it, earn everything, believe in blind chance and respect the rarity of it, look at the people around you and don’t question their morality or pre-judge based on appearances or behaviors (just talk or interact, respecting them as people.. the product of thousands of generations working, trying, striving for a better life) and seek answers where none are present. Don’t fill the gaps with religion, don’t leave voids in your knowledge that are unnecessary, and examine your life for the quality you bring to it and to the people around you. Because at the end of the day, do you better the world with your presence or dim it.

  • Geoff

    So before you get too deep in this experiment can you do a self-assessment? Was there some sort of sin you were struggling with?

    How many deconversions are really about giving up struggling with sin or wanting to have sex…

  • https://www.facebook.com/vcletkeman Valerie Chisholm Letkeman

    I think you are extremely selfish to enter this endeavor with out any preplanning. You say you are going to run out of money and therefore making everybody feel sorry for you. That certainly is a TV evangelist approach if I ever saw one. I am all for testing one’s personal beliefs or the system, but to whine about your personal expenses and make people who may not have much money of their own feel that they have to support you is not good karma in my opinion.

  • John Moriarty

    @GregL: yes. It was important to me. I invented my own similar technique for recurring intrusions of my former believing self, it did help quite a bit to reinforce the finality of the moral judgement I made concerning my old beliefs: that they were morally corrupt.

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  • Steve

    Isnt it sad that these religious groups feel the need to so quickly abandon you and dissociate themselves from you and doesn’t it also just show how fragile their foundations are when they feel that one man such as yourself can be such a threat for just wanting to ask questions and explore the nature of religion, belief outsid the confines of religious doctrines? Sad.

  • Tyler Leavitt

    Good Luck. I’m sure there are atheist “brethren” that will not turn their backs on you as quickly as your Christian bro’s did. We welcome questioning and people of every creed, color, sex, age. We welcome all with open arms…. Wait, maybe we are more “Christian” than the Christians? Aww man, my head’s gonna explode. Best Wishes from an Ex Mormon Missionary Atheist.

  • Greg

    Some are wondering why Ryan didn’t seek other employment before going public with his experiment. The answer seems obvious. Headlines. This is a publicity stunt. He’s certainly going to write a book, and the theatrics of getting fired by Christian organizations will help the story to be more engaging. If Ryan had integrity, he would have resigned from his pastoral position long ago when he stopped believing in the basic teachings of his church. Instead, he continued to draw a paycheck until he was fired or “asked to resign.” Likewise, a man of integrity would have discussed his plans with his Christian employers and offered to resign before publicly conducting his atheism experiment. Is it surprising that some Christians are angry? Imagine how unhappy atheists would be if Ryan had continued to take a paycheck from an atheist organization for months or years after secretly giving up atheism – working from the inside to change it. Would he be fired for publicly announcing his decision to live for a year as a Christian? For anyone – Christian or atheist – thinking about donating online to support Ryan’s year without God, consider the fact that for a long time Ryan was taking money from his church members even though he didn’t agree with the church’s teachings. He’ll be happy to take your money, too, even though he likely doesn’t agree with you. Your $$ will just be another chapter in his book, probably marketed to everybody and nobody in particular, about how he took a year off from God and rediscovered his “faith” – whatever that means. In the end, you probably won’t know what he actually believes, but he’ll be glad you bought the book – hook, line, and sinker.

    • http://yearwithoutgod.wordpress.com Ryan Bell

      Greg, I resigned from my church in March 2013.

      • Greg

        At what point did you stop believing the teachings of your church? I got the impression from your HuffPost article that it was long before your March resignation. “When I felt that I couldn’t do it anymore I was convinced, by myself and others, that I could make my best contribution from inside rather than outside the church. So I stayed.” Perhaps I’m wrong. If so, my apologies. Guess I’m a skeptic.

    • Allie

      Greg, why is it so unlikely that Ryan is being genuine? Your comment is rude, hateful, and unnecessary.

      Ryan, I don’t personally know you but as someone who has embraced atheism and was a former student at APU and a former wife to a Fuller student, I empathize with your journey. The journey and the questions are difficult, wrecking, and completely life changing, and I applaud you for the courage it takes to doubt what you held so dearly. Good luck on your journey. I’m excited to read about it in your blog.

      • Allie

        Also, a quote that hit home for me on my journey from Christianity to atheism:

        “Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith.”

    • J. M. Green

      @Greg, who are you make pronouncements about someone else’s motives and how they should have conducted their journey? Armchair theoretical quarterbacking is easy. Any idiot can do it. Walking through a life-altering transition yourself, in real life, is completely different.

  • ottotellick

    Wow – just… wow. I salute you, Mr. Bell. I learned some time ago that SDA tends to run an especially “closed shop” – only the faithful need apply. It’s not only sad, but when it applies to schools of “higher learning”, it’s downright oxymoronic. (Is it the case that SDA colleges/universities cannot offer accredited degrees in biology, geology or astronomy, given that these sciences all confirm billions of years of natural history, whereas SDA only accepts and espouses young-earth creationism?)

    • Karnal

      That is not entirely true. I am an Andrews University alum and now atheist and their science programs are accredited. There were many a discussion back when I attended between the science and religion departments over various differences between what we know about the world and universe and what the Bible stated. I’m sure that hasn’t changed. There’s quite a few of what I would call SDAtheist around and it was a hard transition going from being SDA to and atheist but I see you learned that. Anyways, I just did want to point out that Andrews is accredited in all its science programs.

      • http://gravatar.com/silvawebdev chrisnfolsom

        So do the science programs at the schools teach “real” science there? Is it taught in the abstract? How do they teach geology, cosmology, physics? So is it their contention that God just started all the physics of the entire universe 6000 years ago, but encoded like it was 14.billion years into the process – all for his pet humans here? Many other questions obviously, but from a purely scientific viewpoint how do they work through that?

  • skinskan

    There are going to be people who agree and people who disagree with what you are doing but you are the one undertaking the journey so be discerning in whose opinions you take on board. People are unsettled, afraid even by your decision because possibly deep down inside they have the same questions which they can’t allow to surface. It takes courage to admit that you are having an issue with God, your faith and your religion and at least you are facing it and trying to do something about it. What gives me the right to even comment on what you are doing?

    Well, I say this from a position of having been brought up to believe in God and I did, wholeheartedly (at least I thought I did) then I too made the decision to be an atheist (my plan was forever not just a year) and so I became an atheist for over 15 years. I wasn’t struck down by lightening and in fact I had the time of my life during that period when I did what I wanted, how I wanted and when I wanted all the while thinking that I was free. I didn’t regret my decision at all, I still don’t. If I hadn’t gone through what I now call my ‘wilderness period’ then I wouldn’t be where I am now. Where is that? Well, after 15 years that all too familiar yearning for ‘more’ came right back at me with a vengeance, so I dared to ask that question we all do. What is the meaning of me? Is there more than this? Thankfully, God answered. Did I go running back with open arms? No I did not! I resisted with all my might God’s call as I had invested too much in my atheist life to give it up. Eventually, after another couple of years I relented and allowed God to work in my life. Was it easy? No…and it still isn’t. I told God (yes I did actually tell him) that he was going to have to really go some to convince me. He did. However, for my own part, I have had to work very hard to regain lost ground (all the atheist baggage I brought with me). You may wonder why bother, if it’s such hard work? Well, there is no easy answer to that. The easiest option would be just to give up but I can’t. All I know is that my life is definitely better knowing God than not and I take it each day but the benefits are that my relationship with God now is far more genuine. I’ve grown up.

    Remember, God is smart, way smarter than us (thankfully).

    Look on this as an opportunity. Either you will find you no longer want God in your life or at the end of this year you will find yourself with a better God relationship than ever. God is not the story that we tell ourselves and Isaiah 55:8 reminds us of this.

    Good luck and I will follow your blog with interest.

    • Rev. Run

      Well said.

    • Blanche Quizno

      “Remember, God is smart, way smarter than us (thankfully).”

      skinsan, I find it intellectually dishonest, at best (and quite possibly intentionally deceitful) to declare the characteristics of something that cannot even be demonstrated to exist in the first place.

      “Well, I say this from a position of having been brought up to believe in God and I did, wholeheartedly (at least I thought I did) then I too made the decision to be an atheist (my plan was forever not just a year) and so I became an atheist for over 15 years. I wasn’t struck down by lightening and in fact I had the time of my life during that period when I did what I wanted, how I wanted and when I wanted all the while thinking that I was free. I didn’t regret my decision at all, I still don’t. If I hadn’t gone through what I now call my ‘wilderness period’ then I wouldn’t be where I am now. Where is that? Well, after 15 years that all too familiar yearning for ‘more’ came right back at me with a vengeance, so I dared to ask that question we all do. What is the meaning of me? Is there more than this? Thankfully, God answered. Did I go running back with open arms? No I did not! I resisted with all my might God’s call as I had invested too much in my atheist life to give it up.”

      Oh barf. Yet another Christian making the point that atheists are believers who just want to sin their asses off.

      You still believed! That makes you NOT an atheist! Here, let me clarify:

      - Did you EVER consider that it was Zeus or perhaps Vishnu that was answering you and not God?

      - Did you ever consider that God wanted you to be a Buddhist or perhaps even a REAL atheist?

      Let me guess…when “God” answered, it turned out that “God” wanted you to do something very much like what you had been raised in – something familiar that you were in effect going BACK to. Just as if “God” was really your own human parents…

    • Blanche Quizno

      skinsan, because you were raised in a Christian family, within a Christianity-dominated culture, your wallpaper, so to speak, was Christianity. Though you weren’t looking at it for a while, when the time came that you wanted religion back, you went right back to what was most familiar – the wallpaper – which, of course, was no doubt a welcome development from your family’s perspective. Imagine if you’d gone Hindu instead!

      It’s similar within Islam – in the non-Muslim-theocracies (where they won’t be killed for it, in other words), young people often go about their lives, never attending synagogue, never saying prayers or fasting or any of that. However, they still have positive regard for Islam (THEIR wallpaper), and, if they decide THEY want religion, that’s what THEY’ll go back to. Because it’s most familiar to them and because it is the most acceptable option to their families as well.

      Similarly, when I was in my 20s, I was investigating different religions, because I was still of a mindset that one needs a faith-based community or one will have a terrible and lonely life. When I found a sect of Buddhism that had familiar characteristics to the Evangelical Christianity I’d been raised in (MY wallpaper, to whatever degree), it felt like a perfect fit – it had intolerance, proselytizing, “we’re the only one TRUE religion”, etc. At the time, I didn’t see it that way, of course, but when the organization changed toward Dear Leader worship, I finally got out. And I’m now out-out. No religions for me, no organizations, and DEFINITELY no gods!

      Atheists have painted over their wallpaper, you see – that’s the difference. There is no wallpaper any more. There’s nothing left to go back to.

  • http://www.bobhutton1.blogspot.com Bob Hutton

    I have to ask the question: were you truly converted in the first place?

    In 1st John 2 v 19 we read that those who “went away” were not truly “with us” to start with. If they had been truly saved they would persevere in the faith.

    That the Christian faith is the truth has been attested by millions of truly born-again believers over the last 20 centuries.

    • ericmycue

      Really Bob? This is what you’re going with…the “not truly converted” argument. Spoken like a true Reformed automaton! Calvin would be proud! How do you know you’re preserved Bob? Is it because you simply buy into all the milk-toast answers that the church provides? Give the guy a break. He at least desires something deeper than the five pillars of Calvinism.

    • Guy Barritt

      Don’t tell me Bob – you’re a Baptist right?

    • Dave Anderson

      “In 1st John 2 v 19 we read that those who “went away” were not truly “with us” to start with. If they had been truly saved they would persevere in the faith.

      That the Christian faith is the truth has been attested by millions of truly born-again believers over the last 20 centuries.”

      No, YOU read that verse and think it means something more than just words on a page. Do NOT assume it means anything to anyone else without checking.

      To you, “Converted”, I presume, means that somebody used to believe something you think is wrong but now they agree with you.

      That involves changing one’s mind and, strange though it may seem, it happens all the time in all kinds of directions on all kinds of subjects.

      Others have said here that there are a good many people in churches who only pay lip-service to the “faith”, either for the social benefits they perceive or, disturbingly often, because their livelihoods and general well-being depend on them doing so (as Ryan is finding out). In those cases, when one leaves, you might be right that some were “never truly with you” but I would suggest there are many more who just saw the superstition for what it was; superstition, and I would add that it is a dangerous superstition which systematically lies to its children (claiming to be undisputed “truth” when even the largest religions are, in fact, followed only by small minorities of global population) and depends on such treachery for its continued existence.

      Please remember that to many who will read your posts here, “Truly born again” is an oxymoron that deserves an Oscar.

      • http://www.bobhutton1.blogspot.com Bob Hutton

        It is quite clear that the devil has blinded you. I do hope, for your sake, that God opens your eyes and implants the gift of faith in your heart.

        • Hans G. Koornstra

          I am sure this kind of reaction does not help. Even if you are right it does not help Mr Bell. He wants to take this experiment. The point is if he is a born again christian or not. Religion can be set aside, salvation and being born again cannot be disposed of for a year.

          • http://www.bobhutton1.blogspot.com Bob Hutton

            I don’t care whether it is “helpful” or not. All I’m concerned about is declaring the truth of God’s inerrant word – the Bible, and then God draws the elect.

          • Hans G. Koornstra

            Gods inerrant word… I know what you want to say, but have you ever considered that “Gods Word”say we should not make images of “things in the water under the earth”? I would calmly state that the world is NOT floating on water. Inerrant?

          • http://www.bobhutton1.blogspot.com Bob Hutton

            You have been blinded by the devil

          • Hans G. Koornstra

            I am a christian, but refuse to be blind.

          • DJ

            where in the Bible did you find “under the water” linked with graven images? I don’t recall ever stumbling into that scripture and I’ve studied the Bible for over 30 years. Reference please.

          • Hans G. Koornstra

            Gen 20:4

          • DJ

            I think you are mistaken about your reference…Gen.20:4 says….”But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?” but that’s ok, I found the Scripture I believe you meant in Dueteronomy.

          • Hans G. Koornstra

            Sorry, I mentioned the wrong book: it should be Ex 20:4.

          • DJ

            Addendum…unless you are referring to that we are not supposed to make images of thing that are in/under the water of the earth(ie…oceans and lakes)…such as that fish sign we see all over the place

      • Geoff

        Bob you’ve been blinded by your faith. You have convinced yourself of something so thoroughly that you are not willing to question a single thing about it or to accept anyone else may have a different point of view. I feel sorry for you.

        • Bob Hutton

          I feel sorry for you as you are heading for Hellfire

      • Jerry Nelson

        Bob, Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Share with conviction but always in love and in loving ways. I’m not feeling it. Your comments remind me that I need to grow in love myself.

      • DJ

        Dt.5:8/ depending on the version, uses language that you shared, Hans, but having well water and living above multiple aqueducts, never stuck out to me as an unreasonable Scripture. I’m assuming this is the scripture you are referring to? I can understand the confusion if you have your water from the city.

        • Hans G. Koornstra

          It says “the wateren under the earth”, because people believed the earth was flat and floating on water. You could even drop of the disk the earth was if you sailed too far out. And… under the earth just means under the earth, and not under the surface of the soil.

          • DJ

            I understand that the leaders of the Roman Catholic church believed the world was flat, and they prohibited the general population from reading the Scriptures for themselves, however, Isaiah 40:33 states “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth…” and elsewhere in Psalms, it speaks of the “…sun rising from one end of heaven, to the circuit there-of….”.so it was the finite mind of men that could not understand the Scripture, not the Scripture itself. Thank God we are able to prayerfully study the Word for ourselves because today, as in times past, the leaders and teachers were not always full of the Spirit of God, and were not rightly dividing the Word.

          • Hans G. Koornstra

            This expression is used in Ex 20:4. The waters under the earth, which shows that the believe was that the disc of the earth floated on water.

            I am a christian and know what the baptism in the Spirit is, but I am not blind when I read the Bible…

      • silvawebdev

        Why do christians or anyone always use numbers of followers as evidence of their beliefs – even when they are in the minority? Really, as if belief is a democratic process…and as if the masses have never made a bad decision… Also, which Christian bible version is the inerrant word or god? The only Bible we have no direct evidence of an evolution or multiple conflicting translations is the Book of Mormon although few would really consider it that way.

        • Blanche Quizno

          I’ll go ahead and hit two posts with one reply, if no one minds.

          ““In 1st John 2 v 19 we read that those who “went away” were not truly “with us” to start with. If they had been truly saved they would persevere in the faith. ”

          um…if you read the previous verse (1 John 2:18), in the interest of context, you see this interesting wording:

          “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.”

          Oh, dear – such a shame for the Rapture-ready contingent! It was supposedly the “last time” almost 2,000 years ago and STILL no “Second Coming”!

          This most vile of Christian epithets, “antichrist”, was being applied to apostates, as Dave Anderson pointed out when he made the comment quoted above. Apostates are the ones who can destroy the church, you see – they know its secrets, having been “insiders.” No wonder so much vitriol is aimed at them!

          The fact that so much calumny is heaped upon apostates also betrays what a huge problem apostasy was in the early church. Same as now – Christianity is hemorrhaging members, as are the rest of the organized religions. Only “non religious” is actually GROWING. Until Christianity gained the political power to banish, arrest, torture, and murder, it did not spread widely within populations. But once Christianity had achieved theocracy, it forced everybody to be members – or else!

          Now that secular law protects our fundamental human right (a concept not to be found anywhere in the Bible) to NOT be bullied by the church, Christianity is in decline. Huh – imagine that O_O

          “Why do christians or anyone always use numbers of followers as evidence of their beliefs – even when they are in the minority? Really, as if belief is a democratic process…and as if the masses have never made a bad decision…”

          silvawebdev, I’ve often remarked on this – on the one hand, Christians proudly crow that their religion has the most followers worldwide, and then in the next breath, they’re denouncing everybody who doesn’t agree with them as “not REAL Christians”! You can see it happening on this site – it’s extremely commonplace. No, Christians, you CAN’T have it both ways!

          Also, the totals come from…wait for it…the World Christian Encyclopedia (WCE) whose Evangelical Christian editors not only know which side their bread is buttered on (so they’d BETTER come up with Christianity being #1!) but also that, as social animals, we often seek safety in numbers, which ends up translating into wanting to be on the “winning side.” And which side is “winning”? The one with the most members, right?? In order to arrive at this conclusion, they ignore most of China. Almost 1/7 of the world’s population – excluded from the calculations. They HAVE to be, because as overwhelmingly Buddhist-Taoist-Confucian adherents, they just might push Buddhism into first place! That’s another thing – since Christianity is intolerant, the WCE constructs its analysis to only allow ONE religion per person, even though syncretism is commonplace worldwide. For example, at one point, I was a Universal Unitarian Buddhist atheists. If I were forced to identify as only ONE, that would undercount the other two – see how this works?

          Hey – John Shores! Yeah, I’m talking to YOU!! How do you do that indent/italics thingie???

          • https://plus.google.com/104625445636003591597 John Shores

            Hey blanch – you have to put the content between brackets called “blockquotes.” It looks like:

            <blockquote> HERE”S MY QUOTE </blockquote>

    • Blanche Quizno

      “That the Christian faith is the truth has been attested by millions of truly born-again believers over the last 20 centuries.”

      Scientology has millions of followers – so that makes it the truth, apparently. Hail Xenu! Or something *eye roll*

  • http://www.skepticalseeker.com Mikel

    Reblogged this on The Skeptical Seeker and commented:
    Looks like the “year without a god” guy has been let go from all of his jobs with religious organizations and schools because of his openly questioning religion. Apparently, he has made some people very uncomfortable. The Friendly Atheist has started a fundraiser to help him make ends meet while he lands another job.

    And, as his blog post puts very well, he is really learning the costs that being atheists have for some members of our society.

    • Guy Barritt

      Why the fundraiser? – I’m sure Ryan is clever enough to look for a job like the rest of us has to – nobody raises money for me when I am unemployed, or the millions of others who have to get by on benefits. This is the real world for many people – much as I support Ryan.

      • Miguel Pierce

        Why not a fundraiser? Since when is it a crime or immoral or whatever to help someone financially?

      • Guy Barritt

        Don’t be obtuse Miguel – you know what I mean. Criminality or morality is not the issue here. If you’re that keen to dish your cash out, can you send me a couple of quid, as I’m saving up for a new car. Thanks.

      • Cher

        Fundraising is used in many “circles” Christian or otherwise. Athiests can use it, too.

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  • https://www.facebook.com/nora.parkman Nora Schattke Parkman

    I worked at a Catholic school. In 1993 when I was hired I asked if I could ever have a classroom position in the school, the nun who hired me and was in charge of such things said yes, as long as I did catechism class and someone else taught religion in my room. Great, I’ll take the job with the hope that is what would happen. By January they had made my part time art teacher position into a full time position by adding in reading specialist, math teacher for the lowest kids, gifted teacher for the highest kids and more. I had 21 different “classes” to plan for each week. I was given the highest review I could get and was given a contract for the 94-95 school year to continue what I was doing. I went on my honeymoon that fall and they didn’t get a sub despite me writing out exact lesson plans for one because after they saw the lesson plans they decided no sub could do as much as I was doing. By March every kid that had been low was testing at grade level. Some had been two or three grade levels behind. A third grade classroom position was opening up. And I was fired. Because they knew I wanted a classroom and since I was not Catholic they couldn’t give it to me. I told my Principal what the Nun had said to me, gave her suggestions of how I could be kept on staff in other full time ways that would benefit the school. But nope, not Catholic, two years of great service, good bye, we will give you a good reference, good luck. So, I totally get how you feel about losing all your jobs.

    • http://www.baconwizard.co.uk Jasper Aykroyd

      As an atheist, I dp not need to look into people’s behaviour in particular, my views come from something else. However, what is clear to anyone looking into the Christian world from without, is that a huge number of believers are wholly un-christian and a long way from the spirit of Christ’s teachings in their actions.

      These things tie-up: Having already once accepted as true one unsubstantiated claim: that of a existent God, it’s very easy to accept whatever else is required to re-enforce that World view, inlcuding “I am a good Christian” while destroying someone’s life or casuing someone deap personal injury or insult.

      The fact of the matter is that you don’t have to be Christian or anything else to be a good person, just as being of any one faith doesn’t automatically make you a good person (or bad, either!) and ultimately, while I don’t believe in God, I don’t suppose he will mind if am making a mistake: I am a good person.

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  • theGerman

    Dear Ryan, we live in Germany and are about to reisgn from our churches this year. As you most certainly know in Germany the government collects fees for the two big christian churches. Our resignement will “save” us some money and we are going to donate this money for institution and purpose of our choice. I would like to support you and your family, since it seams that coming out as an atheist in the US is way from a trivial undertaking – other than it is in Germany. So if you should decide to publish a way we can donate for you, you will receive an anonymous gift. Good luck on your quest and best wishes from Germany.

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  • http://herlanderwalking.wordpress.com syrbal-labrys

    I admit, I’ve been flailing a bit in this 21st century — every time I see allegedly ‘modern’ folk acting more like it is the 12th century. I feel rather sad for all brands of Christians and other monotheists since they seem so incredibly insecure that they cannot abide the idea of doubt or questioning…let alone actual disbelief. That’s one pretty puny “God” they’ve got there!

    • Dave Anderson

      Amen Surbal! Well said.

  • Todd Kinley

    You have too many people commenting on this blog for my comments to have any real meaning. However, I would like to offer my insights to you anyhow, mostly because I have been living the life you are attempting to live for decades and have learned so very much, and I can’t keep my mouth shut.

    I was raised a seventh-day-adventist in Pennsylvania. I was baptised and became a member in 1979, the same year I went off to Southern Missionary College in Tennessee. I witnessed the Desmond Ford phenomenon and the resignation of half the religion department while I was there. That religious educatoin is what I credit for my current position as an atheist. That and a lifetime of work as a research level mathematiciian working in the missile defense industry in Huntsville Alabama.

    My outspoken nature has alienated me from virtually all of my friends who are still believers. We simply no longer have religion in common and so we have drifted apart.

    I think that the special nature of adventism makes those of us who have rejected it rare and those of us who have rejected it and also the very notion of god even rarer.

    I can see that you are paying a very high cost for your endeavor and it is fascinating to see this happen to you.

    Please contact me if you are interested in discussing atheism in the context of rejecting adventism.

  • http://gravatar.com/kbollmann56 Konrad Bollmann

    “Du sollst GOTT nicht versuchen!”

    “GOTT läßt SICH nicht spotten!”

    Glaubst du nur, daß Feuer brennt, wenn Du es am eigenen Leib ausprobierst?

    “Wenn Du einmal geschmeckt hast, wie freundlich der HERR ist u. doch wieder

    abfällig wirst, wirst Du forthin nicht mehr zur Buße finden können.”

    Dadurch würdest Du nur JESUS zum 2. mal kreuzigen! Wenn es GOTT soviel gekostet hat, Dich zu erretten u. Du trotzdem wieder abfällig wirst, wird es kein

    2. Opfer für Deine Sünden geben!

    GOTT ist kein Spielzeug, mit dem Du machen kannst, was Du willst, sondern halte SEINE Gebote!

    Dann hast Du sozusagen “kein hochzeitlich Kleid an” u. wirst in d. Finsternis hinausgestoßen werden.

    “Du glaubst an GOTT? Siehe! Die Teufel glauben auch an IHN u. doch gibt es für

    sie kein “Raum zur Buße!”

    Denke an Judas Iskarioth. Er wollte JESUS provozieren! Das will d. Teufel auch!

    Aber JESUS tut nur, was ER SEINEN Vater tun sieht! Als Petrus, der JESUS lieb hatte, IHN vor SEINEM Leiden schützen wollte, fuhr ihn JESUS an:

    “Geh fort von MIR, Satan!” Es mußte alle Gerechtigkeit GOTT-es erfüllt werden.

    JESUS, DER ohne Sünde war, fand es für notwendig, SICH SELBST taufen zu lassen!

    Ein Rückfall in d. Unglauben ist wie ein Ehebruch u. Ehebrecher haben kein Teil im Reich GOTT-es!

    Wenn Du keine Frucht bringst, wirst Du abgeschnitten werden u. in das Feuer geworfen!

    Darum fürchte GOTT u. stell IHN nicht auf die Probe!

    • Hans G. Koornstra

      Konrad he did not put God to a test: he is testing what it is to live without religion. You are very sincere and serious in what you say and I understand. I believe the question is this: is Ryan Bell a real born again Christian or is he just trying to see if he can live without religious believes.

      I trust you understand the difference.

  • Pingback: A Year Without God : Explore Truth

  • http://needsmetchurch.com Phillip Dacus

    I find your experiment to be very interesting. I also find it interesting that according to reports, the atheist community is donating to you. Would you be willing to share just how much financial support you have received? While I support you getting some finances to see you through, you need to find work so you can support your family. I would not rely on financial donations. While I do agree with the Christian community not being able to have a non-believer in its Churches and teaching positions, If I was in their position, I would have offered you a financial cushion to keep you afloat while searching for a job. An experiment to try on Atheism for a year, is a very hard line move. Atheism by definition is a total abandonment in the belief in God. So how can you possibly blame any of the Christian community? Why not try something a bit less abrasive like Agnosticism or something like that? Totally abandoning God is a huge slap in the face. And Im not sure I can agree with “Trying it on for a year”. In the words of Yoda; “Do or Do Not, there is no try”.

    I have to agree with some of the comments here. It sounds to me like a publicity stunt aimed at getting financial support. What was the point is going public with this Try thing if not to obtain support? Why not just keep it to yourself?

    • Peter

      > Why not try something a bit less abrasive like Agnosticism or something like that?

      You do realize that agnosticism isn’t a ‘middle-ground’ between belief and non-belief, don’t you?

      theism – belief there is a god

      a-theism – no belief in a god

      gnostic – to know

      agnostic – not know(ing)

      Many people consider themselves agnostic theists – they believe but do not claim to knowledge.

      Many consider themselves agnostic atheists – they don’t believe but also do not claim to know.

      Why do you find atheism ‘abrasive’?

      • Dave Anderson

        As an atheist, this unwillingness among theists to acknowledge the difference between believing and knowing has always been troubling. They have no more trouble with it than I do on any other subject:- They believe it will rain tomorrow but KNOW if it rained yesterday.

        I cannot prove the non-existence of anything, so I have to say I “believe” there are no gods. But I CAN prove that certain claims and statements made about INDIVIDUAL proposed gods are false, thereby making the existence of any god with those particular mutually contradictory attributes impossible – for example, any god supposed to have created the universe 6000 years ago does NOT exist, any omnipotent and omnibenevolent god cannot cannot preside over the world we know to exist, and so on – ad nauseum.

        I can extrapolate from there to a position in which any entity which would satisfy the basic requirements of any reasonable definition of the word “god” must contain some of these contradictions and, therefore, does not exist.

        That is enough for me to claim atheism.

        An agnostic might use a more slippery, less precisely documented minimum definition of the requirements for “godhood” and then stand a tiny chance of being right about the existence of such a thing – as long as he’s not too specific about its nature. About those, I must remain agnostic but would not accept that such a thing is a “god” as most people use the term. So, atheist it is.

        Anyway, “seeking agnosticism” is a tricky concept. How would we go about “trying not to know”?

    • aesthete2

      How do you abandon a belief? You don’t decide to believe or not believe, you either feel there’s enough reason or proof, or you don’t.

      If you had to decide to believe – you don’t really believe, you are just pretending for some reason.

      • Dave Anderson

        And that would be why they call it “faith”, I suppose.You abandon a belief by discovering that it was wrong – the balance of evidence shifts, but I agree, “choosing” to believe is a very strange concept and confined ONLY to this issue and ONLY by people on one side of it.

        • John Moriarty

          On reflection, I think I did something similar as I moved away from faith many years ago. I moved away because of the strain of cognitive dissonance I would say; I could not continue to juggle and rotate the multitude of contradictions. I didn’t call it an actual experiment; if I had called it anything, it was struggling with life’e purposes and meanings and responsibilities. Eventually, I recognised nonbelief as less of a mental burden than faith.

          However than was relatively recently, and a big reason for that was the wealth of discussion and debate online. That is a large part of why I think I have what clarity of thought, such as it is. Certainty about everything is beyond our grasp. However in practical terms I reckon I have enough groundedness to calmly carry on with life and with learning,

      • Jerry Nelson

        When you said, “you…feel there’s enough reason or proof” you are describing what it means to choose to believe. Whatever you believe it is because you have some basis for that belief. You didn’t come out of your mother’s womb believing in gravity. At some point, someone explained it to you or you read about it, and you considered whether it seems like dependable information and then you “chose to believe” in gravity. All beliefs are chosen–either consciously or unconsciously. All beliefs involve decisions.

        • aesthete2

          Ah, so you can think you can just choose to stop believing in gravity? I don’t know how you can do that unless you pretend. Can you leap off a bridge and feel certain you won’t fall? Just choose to feel that way?

          I don’t believe you. I certainly couldn’t. I don’t know of an honest person that could.

      • Jerry Nelson

        Why would I choose to stop believing in gravity? There is too much evidence in support of it. In fact, science can describe it and prove it but not fully understand it. Yet, how could you stop believing in this thing that you don’t fully understand but experience every day of your life. It would be foolish to not believe.

        My point is that when you were young you didn’t know that gravity existed. When you learned about it you chose belief because it made so much sense.

        Assuming that you are a believer in evolution I would say this: You didn’t know about evolution when you were born and didn’t come up with the theory yourself. But when you learned about it it made sense to you and at some point you chose to believe that it was the best explanation of origins. You chose to believe in it based on the evidence that you considered. All beliefs involve decisions.

      • Blanche Quizno

        Jerry Nelson, about this gravity thing, you really seem inordinately confused. As a child, you didn’t have a name for gravity, but you still understood, and from VERY young, that things fall when they’re dropped and that it hurts when you land. The fact that later you learned that there is a word for this – “gravity” – changed *nothing*. You still understood gravity’s effects as you had the days, months, and years before you realized there was a name for that phenomenon. You simply now had a name to use in describing it. Nothing else changed.

        There’s no “belief” involved, and I’m quite astonished you can’t see this.

      • Jerry Nelson

        Blanche, I agree with everything you are saying but the last sentence. The issue may be that you are meaning belief in a narrower sense than I am. You might be talking about belief in something without proof. I don’t recommend that kind of belief. What I am discussing is “belief” from an epistemological sense: “Epistemology is…concerned with belief in a broad sense where ‘belief’ simply means the acceptance as true of any cognitive content.” To believe is to accept as true. Check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belief

        and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemology#Belief

        “You learned from VERY young, that things fall when they’re dropped…” You learned (knowledge) and then therefore you believed that there was a force that later came to be known to you as gravity. You chose not to jump off of a high limb because you believed that this effect that had not even been identified would do what it does and you would be hurt. You believed this as yet unnamed force. You accepted it as true. We’re talking about epistemology here.

      • IDontKnow

        I did not take his example of belief in gravity to mean that a child had to be made to believe in the *evidence* of gravity – that things fall to earth – but rather that at some point someone explained the *theory* of gravity – that objects of very large mass attract other smaller ones. That is not something we are born understanding, but that, once explained, seems to make sense and so we believe it. Or as a child someone we trust tells us so we believe it, and at some point later we can intellectually affirm that belief.

        Perhaps evolution better illustrates his point. For many of us, evolution seems as immediately right as the theory of gravity, and we trust the people teaching us, and so we choose to believe. But many people do not have this trust in the teachers, or trusted adults tell them differently, or it just doesn’t seem right to them, and they choose not to believe.

        I do think belief in god is a lot like this. It is a choice some people are able to make, some because they grew up with it and they never lost that faith, and some because experience or reasoning led them to believe. Some have the opposite journey and grow up atheist or come to that belief later. But at some point, certainly if you grow to adulthood with normal mental faculties, you will question your belief in god or that there is not a god. And you will decide whether to keep it.

        I grew up atheist, later chose to believe in god, and later chose to set aside Christian belief because it seemed to me to be inherently inconsistent with other beliefs I have about the world. I lived as a Christian long enough for the belief to become an instinctual reaction to and filter for every other piece of information that came alone, but at some point the cognitive dissonance became too much and I had to choose between belief in god and belief in other more fundamental (to me) beliefs. The Christian filter fell away. Now, at a gut level, I am an atheist – nothing that remotely fits any un-watered down definition of god seems possible to me. But intellectually, I choose to label myself an agnostic, because I believe human capacity for understanding is severely limited and biased. I choose that belief. I maintain it through continued internal debate and by regularly challenging myself when I feel that I am reacting too quickly out of my more visceral belief that there is no god. I think Christians, or anyone whose chosen belief ever varies from their gut level belief, goes through this. I have seen gut level racists who intellectually reject racism do the same. They choose to believe that race is irrelevant to a person’s character, intellect, and so on, but they sometimes still have a gut level reaction that is different than that.

        Maybe Jerry Nelson’s point didn’t make sense to you because he was talking about our philosophical beliefs – the ones we reach through reasoning and ultimately by choice – as opposed to our unthinking beliefs – the first reactions that are often driven by emotion, upbringing, and self-interest.

        I am not yet clear (haven’t read enough) on how the pastor is approaching this. Is he attempting to discipline his mind to avoid faith-based thinking (not to believe), or is he simply trying to live a life outside of the habits of faith (prayer, a church community, etc)? I look forward to hearing the results.

        • aesthete2

          No, if you don’t trust the source enough – you don’t ~choose~ not to believe – you don’t believe. If you can choose to believe, you can choose not to believe – if it’s a choice, you need no reasons at all – it’s not dependent on reasons. If it is, then it’s not a choice.

          I’m not sure what people are doing choosing to believe something – it’s not a belief then, it’s a pretense. You are just acting like that’s what you believe if you can sincerely suddenly choose to not believe. Personally, I think they don’t choose, I think they just imagine that everyone is just like them and will always actually feel the same way, but for some horrible evil bad motive of their own, insist on acting like they feel differently.

          Imagining people can choose to believe is just silly self centeredness.

          I cannot choose to believe any more than I can choose to love someone. I can act like I love someone, but it’s not real if I’m not feeling it – same thing.

      • Jerry Nelson

        IDONTKNOW, I feel very understood by your comments. You are grasping what I have been attempting to say. I think that aesthete2 is having semantical difficulties with the word choose. What I mean by choose is what he may be saying when he mentioned “you don’t trust the source enough” you don’t believe. In the moment that you realize you don’t trust the source you conclude that you don’t believe what they are teaching. I am simply saying that it is a rational decision based on evidence or lack of evidence. Some would call a rational decision based on evidence/nonevidence another way of saying “choice”. I would be one of those people. Epistemology is what I’m talking about which is to say that ‘belief’ simply means the acceptance as true of any cognitive content. To believe means to accept as truth. This involves a rational decision based on evidence that I call a choice.

        IDONTKNOW, you sound like a fascinating person that weighs words and decisions very carefully. I wish you all the best as you continue your journey of discovery and growth. I would love to spend eternity bouncing ideas off the likes of you. I hope I will get that chance. :)

        • aesthete2

          The word choose means it doesn’t matter whether you trust the source enough, you capriciously go either way no matter what the evidence.

          Theists constantly accuse atheists of simply choosing to not believe, no matter what the evidence. So obviously none of them think evidence matters a jot.

      • Jerry Nelson

        Maybe this is why we are having troubles understanding one another. I don’t mean choosing against the evidence. If you read what I have written you will see that I consistently use the word choose in connection to where the evidence leads–not in opposition to the evidence.

        I am not amongst those theists that accuse atheists of choosing not to believe no matter the evidence. I believe that atheists in general (every group has exceptions) are very honest hearted and follow where they believe the evidence is leading them.

        • aesthete2

          Then you don’t abandon a belief, you find evidence that sways you to a different opinion. It’s not something done willfully, unless it’s to open yourself up to research that you might on purpose not do.

          And that was my point. Belief is not about choosing willfully, it’s about having understood enough evidence to make an opinion of what is likely true.

      • Jerry Nelson

        Yes, I’m finally grasping what you were meaning when you used the word belief. I agree with you–you don’t abandon a belief willfully against the evidence that you have found. But when the evidence leads you in a new direction by influencing your opinion you exercise the will in accepting this as truth for you. We are defining words like belief, choose, will, etc. a bit differently but it does seem that we have come quite close to understanding each other. Whew! :)

      • Blanche Quizno

        “Theists constantly accuse atheists of simply choosing to not believe, no matter what the evidence. So obviously none of them think evidence matters a jot.”

        That is correct, aesthete2. Let’s all open our Bibles and take a look at Hebrews 11:1 now – “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

        As you can see, not only is no evidence required, it’s not even ALLOWED!

        For the record, this is what atheists tend to call “wishful thinking” or even “fantasizing.” And what do we think about people who believe that their fantasies and imaginings are true, despite there being no evidence to confirm or refute them? Deluded.

        If all we’re doing here in Faithland is seeing who has the most convincing opinion, we must honestly acknowledge that we have no use whatsoever for reality or facts or evidence. It’s just a matter of us *liking* what we hear, regardless of the content.

      • Jerry Nelson

        Blanche,

        Being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see is not saying that there is no evidence. We have much evidence for things that we do not see. I can’t see oxygen but I believe that it is there. Christians have confidence in God because of the ways he has revealed himself in the astounding complexity in nature, the historical congruence between the Bible and historical/archaelogical artifacts, amazing prophetic fulfilment, Jesus, and the congruence between personal transformation experienced and that which is promised in the Bible. However, we cannot see our God, but there are reasons for this that make sense to us. So we have confidence in the one we cannot see here and now. I know it seems like fantasizing to you. I understand how it would seem that way from your vantage point. But, the evidences are plentiful and powerful to us. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts about the lack of evidence for the resurrection.

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  • AnotherPhil

    “Keep it to yourself.” How many times have we non-believers heard that? All the while, believers insist on placing their ten commandments and nativity scenes on our government’s property despite this violating our Founders’ intended separation of church and state. If Yoda’s words speak so resonantly to you, then perhaps this quote would be appropriately considered: “Always pass on what you have learned.” Regardless of how you feel about Ryan Bell’s “abandonment” of faith, he is indeed passing on what he is learning along the way. I doubt he expects to make a living with this blog, but how would you feel about this if he had been fired from multiple jobs simultaneously simply for saying he intended to go to church for a year. Yes, I’ll give Ryan Bell a few bucks. How is that different from a Christian putting money in the offering plate? In fact, it appears to me that he needs money precisely BECAUSE of his bosses’ fear of losing donations.

  • http://gravatar.com/indigo2crystal indigo2crystal

    Ryan the level of acceptance and tolerance (Christian love) you have received is reflective of how far almost all of Christendom and perhaps most faiths in the world have gotten away from the divine edicts they profess to follow and uphold. This same has caused many a thinking person to find other paths. I am still excited for you and find it so interesting that the atheists out there are more tolerant than the Christians.

    • Marygrace Coneff

      I am not surprised at all at the generosity of atheists. The ones I know are very kind, thoughtful and loving people. In fact, I tell all of them that they are more Christian in how they treat people than many (Bible thumping) Christians.

      I believe there is something out there bigger than us. I just don’t find what I need in organized religion. I have a theology degree from the same denomination as Ryan, but because I am a woman, wasn’t hired (in 1981) to a position of pastor. However, two fellow students who did drugs, womanized and one was caught plagarizing not once, but twice, were hired because of their gender.

      Ordination should not be based on gender. However, it is in that denomination and when all that happened, I knew I was in the wrong place. I found other ways to make the world a better place. And in doing so, found so many other wonderful people to associate with. Ironically, I am now around a lot of Adventists because I am on the Board of Directors for Kinship, the community for LGBTI Adventists. It is so refreshing to be around these people. They have suffered and have still found God and want Him/Her to be a part of their lives. The treatment they have received has been horrific, all in the name of Christianity. I don’t know why they want to stay sometimes, but it is a unique community to grow up in.

      I only wish Ryan well. I know my exploration brought me great joy! It isn’t bad to question things in our lives at all. It does upset those in authority though, which doesn’t bother me at all.

      • https://www.facebook.com/mnaskovski Martin Naskovski

        “Marygrace” – when you do not perform at your job, do you expect your employer to continue to keep you just because you feel you should stay there?

  • Jerry Nelson

    I am a Christian and I am not abandoning Ryan. He has hundreds of Christians friends on facebook who are not abandoning him. If you take the time to read what most of Ryan’s Christian friends are saying you will find words of compassion and support. I would encourage all atheists reading this to consider this: How many of you would be writing to offer your undying support to someone who was leaving atheism to be a Christian? Would you be speaking strongly against the atheists who were criticizing that choice? One of the reasons Ryan is receiving so much support by atheists is because Ryan, for a year, is casting his lot in with atheism. Will you love him and financially support him if he chooses Christ and Christianity on 1/1/2015?

    • tobdncng

      They have said they would in fact. Because they want to support him in his quest, even if he goes back to Christianity. Like I said earlier, the ones I know are more “Christian” than many I know who go to church.

      • Jerry Nelson

        I wonder how many atheists would jump at the opportunity to fundraise and financially support someone who was setting aside their atheism for a year to experiment with being a Christian?

        I am not surprised that you know many atheists that are more “Christian” than church goers. It is embarrassing because our founder is generous beyond measure and all of His followers are called to be such. I hope that someday all Christians will be known to be generous.

      • aesthete2

        Why would someone have to fundraise to support someone giving up atheism and taking up Christianity? Nobody gets fired for giving up atheism.

        • DJ

          Christians are not only being fired, but in many countries, they are being imprisoned and killed. USA Navy Chaplains are being ordered not to talk about God….(huh?) most employers will “tolerate” Christians, if they keep their mouth shut. I suppose Ryan would still have his contract if he had done the same. I read in the Huffington post that Ryan made over $16,000 in just the couple of days he had the donation option…so he looks like he’ll be ok for a little while.

          Some links FYI:

          http://www.persecution.com/

          http://sunandshield.wordpress.com/2009/03/22/chaplains-told-to-shut-up-about-god/

          http://defendchristians.org/news/christian-fired-over-co-workers-bible-study-attendance/

          http://defendchristians.org/news/imprisoned-pastors-health-severely-deteriorat

          • aesthete2

            Quoting DJ

            Christians are not only being fired, but in many countries, they are being imprisoned and killed. USA Navy Chaplains are being ordered not to talk about God….(huh?) most employers will “tolerate” Christians, if they keep their mouth shut. I suppose Ryan would still have his contract if he had done the same. I read in the Huffington post that Ryan made over $16,000 in just the couple of days he had the donation option…so he looks like he’ll be ok for a little while.

            Some links FYI:

            http://www.persecution.com/

            http://sunandshield.wordpress.com/2009/03/22/chaplains-told-to-shut-up-about-god/

            http://defendchristians.org/news/christian-fired-over-co-workers-bible-study-attendance/

            http://defendchristians.org/news/imprisoned-pastors-health-severely-deteriorat

            end quote

            Yes, Christians get killed by other theists when they are in the minority. Religion is a rather violent pass time.

            Uh, it’s extremely unprofessional to bring up religion and outright bad form to proselytize at work. My goodness… What on earth made you think that was OK? It’s not Christians that are being tolerated there, it’s idiots who don’t know how to behave professionally. I don’t bring up atheism at work and I sure don’t argue it. That’s a sure way to create a bad work environment for everyone. I would never do such a thing.

            The Navy Chaplains – you mean they were pushing god at Government functions? That’s not their job. That’s against the constitution. I suspect someone was getting a bit too big for his britches and was trying to imply that the Navy was all about Christianity. Guess what – that goes for any religion, and atheism too. You don’t get to push your religion at government functions. The military has been having some huge problems with Christian fundamentalists running wild and forcing Christianity on the men. Not cool.

            The work thing was just silly – sounded like someone was caught at leading prayer meetings during work hours and got caught – and lied about it. Sorry – no points on that one.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            Atheist loose jobs too – I was working a contract with a family of young earth christins and had to endure not only stories of their religious views and them insult other religions (many Christian versions), but also had to endure talks about the age of the earth and all the crazy “science” they pump out… I slipped up talking as they were crazy on too many subjects and it became an issue when that creation museum opened up and I started laughing and they caught me…so that was double reverse secret inverted bias there.

            I must admit I cry every day for all the poor misunderstood Christians who feel “the world” is against them as their view come under increasing attack… reality is a bitch if your reality is a fantasy. Carl Sagan said it best “You can have your own “truth”; you cannot have your own facts.”

      • Jerry Nelson

        Good point. :) However, someone could get fired at a secular university if they became a Christian creationist and began to teach these concepts.

        • aesthete2

          Teaching Creationist concepts is changing your job to fit your beliefs and that’s what would get you fired, not teaching as you normally would and simply stating that you believe something else.

          I haven’t heard that Ryan was attempting to change his curriculum (and it sounded like a class that didn’t have anything to with religion as far as I could tell), so that’s not a good analogy.

          Certainly if I were teaching religion, I would quit if I quit believing in it. It wouldn’t be moral to continue.

      • Blanche Quizno

        So let’s see, DJ. We’ve all heard the stories about Christian missionaries sneaking into Islamic theocracies under the pretense of being there for some actual work or something, knowing full well that proselytizing is against the law, and then they get caught and tossed into prison. Are we supposed to cry for them? For their stupidity and scofflaw antisocial behavior?

        No, your precious belief doesn’t put you above the law, and if you break it, expect to pay the price.

        Christians have such a jones for persecution. That time I was at lunch with the elderly retired Christians, one lady tried to bring up “There are Christians being persecuted in China.”

        I said, “Really? What are their names? What is ONE person’s name?”

        No answer.

        Me: “Well, then can you give me the name of a city or town where this is going on?”

        No answer.

        Me: “All I can say, then, is that this sounds like one of those urban legends, the sorts of things that people tell each other (heard it from a friend of a friend’s wife’s cousin etc.) or the stories in the supermarket tabloids, you know, ‘Woman’s head falls off in her sleep’ and ‘Batboy is engaged!’ All of these involve nameless people (or perhaps just a first name) and either just a country name or it’s some obscure town nobody’s ever heard of and no way to check on the details.”

        They were NOT happy with me! But that tells you something, when Christians can only point to vague stories about other countries and persecution over THERE in order to claim the persecution they’re supposed to be experiencing. If they’re REAL Christians, according to Jesus.

        • DJ

          Blanche, you are talking to yourself…asking questions and answering them, a sort of private conversation….may I interrupt? If you’d like, I can give you names and places…

          We can start with “Saeed Abedini”. For your convenience, I included a link to wikipedia. You can google his name as well….let me know when you’re ready for another.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saeed_Abedini

        • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

          I know this will piss off many, but no one pays the persecution card more then the Jews and Israel – they have a right in MANY ways, but I don’t think it gives them the right to do what they are doing to the Palestinians…. I understand the problems, but a democracy is a democracy – when you change the rules to isolate groups and consolidate your minority control you are not a true, or perhaps “righteous” democracy anymore. The US is having the same situation, or pangs of it with the religious right in America although they have much less of a lock on power and in the end – perhaps even this next election – unless they change their message drastically will be numerically irrelevant as black voters increase and Hispanic voters overwhelm the diminishing “white” vote as they have already skewed the vote legally through gerrymandering and exclusion about as much as they can.

          The true sign of and advanced civilization to me is how they handle changes – through war or not – it’s easy to exist ( and be “exceptional”) when there is plenty, and the status quo are supported. It will be interesting to see how many of the democracies of the world handle the demographic changes coming forward to us in the future and we see populations shift and perhaps with climate change see large scale shifts of perhaps billions of people – we will see how truly civilized we are, and how inspired our religions truly are.

      • Blanche Quizno

        “Certainly if I were teaching religion, I would quit if I quit believing in it. It wouldn’t be moral to continue.”

        aesthete2, there is a surprising number of pastors/preachers/ministers/priests who have lost their faith and become atheist. Yet they continue to “do the job”, because, especially once you become a bit older, where can you get a different job? What other skills do you have? None, that’s what! And these people often have families to support. So they put on a convincing front and go through the motions they already know so well.

        Who can fault them? It’s not like they’ve got a lot of options. Over at Freedom From Religion Foundation (ffrf.org I think) there’s a project to fund support for such former “men of god”, I think, but it’s a really difficult problem. Honesty’s great, but people still need to eat.

        • aesthete2

          Exactly what are you trying to say? That it would be moral to continue to teach something you don’t believe in because it’s hard to find a new job?

          What are you just arguing to argue?

      • Blanche

        “Exactly what are you trying to say? That it would be moral to continue to teach something you don’t believe in because it’s hard to find a new job?

        What are you just arguing to argue?”

        aesthete2, It’s me, Blanche, in case this comment posts with a different name – I’m out of town with only sporadic access to an unfamiliar computer.

        Anyhow, imagine we’ve got a professional organ player who happens to be an atheist. A church wants to hire him (or her) to play for the church’s major services. Should our organ player refuse the job?

        What if a professional singer is hired to sing a Christian song at a wedding or funeral? If the singer is atheist, is s/he required to refuse the job? What if it is an atheist friend of the family who is asked to sing a Christian song at a wedding or funeral? Must this friend of the family refuse – and hurt lots of feelings – just because s/he is an atheist?

        Béla Bartók, the Hungarian composer whose books are familiar to all piano students, was an atheist. Must a Christian student refuse to play his works? If an orchestra is playing a work by atheist Sergei Prokofiev, must all the Christian musicians sit that one out? When a concert band plays atheist Camille Saint-Saëns’s “Danse Macabre” for their October concert, should the Christians in the band stand up and walk out until that piece is concluded? Must the Christian driving on the highway who hears a song by atheist Billy Joel come on the radio switch the station?

        Christian muscians sing and play non-Christian songs. They work for non-Christian companies and for non-Christian bosses. Who is requiring that THEY turn down jobs or quit because the work is not Christian in nature?

        We have loads of people working for bosses they hate – it’s to the point of being a meme by now. We have loads of people who do not respect the companies they work for. We have people who feel their companies ethical boundaries are far too loose and who feel they are compromising their integrity by working there (think lawyers). But they still do. Why? Because people are counting on them to keep food on the table. And in the end, being practical trumps being concerned solely with one’s integrity and whatnot. How many people have a perfect work environment where they feel inspired and uplifted by their coworkers and their company’s noble enterprise??

        If an atheist preacherman (or woman) can deliver what his/her customers (the congregation) want, then s/he can do the job. That’s what matters. An accountant in the Department of Defense does not have to approve of US policy toward Iraq or Syria or Iran to do the accounting, right? Thus, a person who can do the job of a minister can do that job even if s/he doesn’t believe that religion’s theology (doesn’t agree with the basic principles of the company s/he works for). We see this sort of thing all-the-time in society, and it affects Christians and atheists alike. Why single out church work for especially stringent treatment? No one checks the congregation members’ Christian credentials before they’re allowed into the church, after all.

        Otherwise, you’re holding atheists to a far higher standard than you’re holding Christians. Who is requiring that Christians ONLY work for companies that are Christian in nature, that make no bones about that fact, and that have promoting Christianity per se as part of their business plan and corporate vision? If Christians can work for companies with a non-Christian orientation, then non-Christians can work for companies with a Christian orientation. Fair’s fair.

        • aesthete2

          I know this is a hard forum to follow, but my point was – if I don’t believe something, I’m not going to teach it – not if I don’t believe something I wouldn’t work for someone who did.

          Those are two different things. I’m not going to preach if I don’t believe in the god and I’m not going to teach science if I don’t believe in it. I also was not making rules for atheists – I’m telling you my ethics.

          • DJ

            A2, I like that you are consistant with your ethics, which makes you a person of integrity. I do wish that all unbelieving pastors or seminary teachers would follow your lead, and withdraw from their position(s) should they find themselves at odds with the subject matter. The fact that many don’t, contributes to the problem in the cultural church.

    • aesthete2

      I don’t think anyone here offered their undying support – they gave money to help him find a new job when the Christians dumped him. I don’t think anyone would ask for their money back.

      That said – if you give ‘undying support’ to this atheist, where is your undying support of other atheists? Like most people, you support someone you know and have a relationship with. I don’t think anyone here has established a relationship yet with him.

      Most atheists give money to theist charities, if they feel the charity isn’t just an excuse to pressure people into the church. How many of you give money to atheist charities? How many of you feel that charity must come with a string?

      Be honest please.

      • Jerry Nelson

        Great question. I honestly don’t know of any atheistic charities. No doubt there are many, but I am not aware of them. And I do give to many charities but most of them go to organizations that include sharing the “gospel” as part of their work. It has been such good news to me, and I want others to have an opportunity to see God as I have come to know Him as opposed to the way He is often misrepresented and misportrayed.

        • Hans G. Koornstra

          Thanks for a great comment! Halleluja.

        • aesthete2

          You are right, there are few if any atheistic charities, unless you count secular ones – the Red Cross, Doctors without borders, Meals on Wheels, the Humane Society are some.

          But you don’t see it as oppressive and immoral to push people to have to lie about getting God in order to get food or shelter when they are desperate? Or to make those who don’t believe uncomfortable?

          Supposedly the point is to help the poor, not to push religion. At least that’s what I understood Jesus to say.

      • Jerry Nelson

        I totally agree with you. I like your understanding of what Jesus had to say. Jesus did not heal people that first promised to follow him. He helped everyone that needed help. We should be no less altruistic. Yet, Jesus was concerned with more than the physical health of people. He cared about every facet of their makeup and wanted them to have lasting life at the resurrection. If Jesus is right about their being a lasting kind of life after resurrection then it only makes sense that he would offer this as well as physical healing.

        • Hans G. Koornstra

          You make the right remark!

      • aesthete2

        Those are two separate issues and if you truly are interested in helping the poor, you wouldn’t put pressure on them in any way in order to accept your help.

      • Jerry Nelson

        I agree–you shouldn’t put any pressure on people in any way in order to accept help.

      • Blanche Quizno

        “I totally agree with you. I like your understanding of what Jesus had to say. Jesus did not heal people that first promised to follow him. He helped everyone that needed help. We should be no less altruistic. Yet, Jesus was concerned with more than the physical health of people. He cared about every facet of their makeup and wanted them to have lasting life at the resurrection. If Jesus is right about their being a lasting kind of life after resurrection then it only makes sense that he would offer this as well as physical healing.” – Jerry Nelson

        If Jesus “helped everyone that needed help,” then why didn’t he wipe out leprosy? Paralysis? Blindness? Withered hands? No, I’m afraid the Gospels are quite clear – Jesus only supposedly helped one or two people, here and there, even though I’m sure you’d agree that Jesus could have easily wiped leprosy off the face of the earth – amirite? Also, it’s peculiar that the Christian scriptures outside of the Gospels show no awareness with ANY of these “healing miracles” – it’s as if they’d never happened!

        And don’t fool yourself about the generous altruism of Jesus – we see in several places how, if the few people he met from a city weren’t impressed with his preaching, he wished upon them a fate worse than Sodom! See Matthew 11:20-24 for an example. Jesus was incredibly petty and vindictive! Then as now, far better to blame the unimpressed than to face up to the fact that you did a terrible job of presenting the goods, though, isn’t it? It’s not that you’re trying to sell something nobody wants, it’s that there’s something wrong with THEM!!

        I see you realize that Jesus healed people without requiring anything from them up front. That’s fine. So do you believe that the supposed Jesus’s supposed death on the cross “healed” ALL “sin” or only those who make some sort of promise up front? I realize that the goal of “heaven” isn’t nearly as sweet if there isn’t a “hell” awaiting those who don’t think your beliefs are special, though…

        • Hans G. Koornstra

          Jesus promised “these signs will follow them that believe” and He mentions healing the sick.

          Paul healed people and that was not inside the gospels. It seems you have very “selective” knowledge.

          • Blanche Quizno

            “Jesus promised “these signs will follow them that believe” and He mentions healing the sick.”

            Why has the Christian power of healing stopped, Hans? Why is it that we are supposed to accept all these magical, “miraculous” healings were the “power” that magically and automatically accrued to Jesus’s followers, their share of divine power to wield? Why is it that, now that we understand the human body and how it works, and we have the germ theory of infection (yeah, it’s just a theory and Jesus had no idea that microorganisms cause most disease) and doctors and hospitals and labs to diagnose ills, and medicine to heal those ills, we don’t see Christians healing people. Instead, we see Christian parents withholding medical treatment from their ill children and watching their children die as they pray. From easily treatable illnesses. What’s happened? What’s gone wrong?

            Remember, Jesus supposedly said:

            “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)

            Let’s hear from the Christians who’ve walked on water. Oh, can’t – they’re drowned.

            Let’s hear from the Christians who have raised the dead! *silence*

            Let’s hear from the Christians who have magically multiplied a bowl of food into a full meal for thousands. *nothing*

            Let’s hear from the Christians who have done EVEN GREATER WORKS than any Jesus supposedly did! *crickets*

            And we all know that prayers routinely are NOT answered, despite Jesus’s assurances above. That’s why Christians go out of their way to explain that all prayers are answered, it’s just that the answer might be “No” or “Wait”. How is “No” or “Wait” any different from it not being answered at all?

            And how can “No” or “Wait” be considered consistent with “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I WILL DO IT”??

            “Paul healed people and that was not inside the gospels. It seems you have very “selective” knowledge.”

            We were talking about Jesus – remember?? Why are you trying to change the subject?

          • DJ

            Blanche, most everyone commenting have been respectful. Every post that I’ve read that you’ve written, has been saturated with sarcasm and vitriol which is entirely unnecessary. But in response to your questions…the god that they preach about in many of the western churches in this generation, is not the God of the Bible. Many of those who call themselves Christian, live a divided life. They have not “died to self”, but rather think that God should just accept them, even if they bring their sins with them and remain impenitent. They harden their heart and quench the Holy Spirit and remained stiff-necked and unyielding to His sanctifying work. The cultural christianity of this generation, is a counterfeit christianity. There is a remnant of true Christians in the world, and also in the USA, but generally scattered…not in any one particular church… and miracles are still happening, but on a more personal level. Christian scientists (those who don’t take their sick kids to doctors) despite the name, are not Christians. They would be considered a cult in Christian circles. Jesus did not perform miracles like a side show, He was fulfilling Scripture and demonstrating His authority over every situation.

            Christianity is a lifelong journey and many in America particularly, simply use their faith like “fire insurance”. By all means in this case, an atheist is happier in this world, than a half hearted/double minded Christian. In order to be a person of integrity, one must either be whole-hearted/single-minded in the world, or whole-hearted/single minded in Christ. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8) You may have felt liberated going the worldly route, but likewise, had you chosen the God side, you would be feeling that same sense of liberation, its that “half here/half there” position that generates the tension. I respect the choice you made, you are happier in the world than in Christ. I am happier in Christ, than in the world.

          • Hans G. Koornstra

            Of course I would disagree with parents that don’t go to a physician with their sick children. However I have seen under my ministry different people receive a miracle of healing. It may be un wise to talk about with you, but I have seen the crippled walk and the blijd receive their sight. I have always seen that as signs following the preaching of the Word.

            No, I do not have all the answers. Just wanted to share the above with you.

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com quine001

            How do you know “healing” is supernatural when our natural powers to heal ourselves are not fully known? Aren’t you just falling into the fallacy of personal evidence?

          • Hans G. Koornstra

            I did what Jesus said I should do and this was the result. I do thank God!

            And why don’t you start a course to heal as you seemingly try to explain any miracle… “our own powers to heal” is a marvellous escape…. You want me to believe that????

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com quine001

            But you are asking us to accept a supernatural explanation for a healing event simply because you don’t know the natural cause. If such cures really happened, the impact of prayer and other religious intercession would show up in the overall epidemiological statistics, which is not the case. If it were the case, insurance companies would pay churches to save them money throughout the population. You can’t really expect us to accept your word on “miracles” when you admit it is based on what you don’t know through post hoc ergo propter hoc.

          • Hans G. Koornstra

            I did not want anyone to accept anything. I related what has happened under my ministry and say again: I just did what Jesus said. I am not claiming nor do have any healing powers. I believe in Christ and His message and have acted upon it. I just told you what happened, no, a few things that happened. Things that have been documented.

            You have the liberty to reject that. O.K. do what you want to do. I just testifies to what has happened.

        • DJ

          You strongly make the case that the Scriptures cannot be rightly divided but by the Spirit of God. The OT is filled with miracles including healing, too many to list in fact. For the sake of brevity, a list an be found at Jesus did heal “all who came to Him”, and all who “called out to Him”…not everyone in the vicinity. He also followed many of these healings with this instruction “go and sin no more”. Jesus death on the cross never “healed sin” as you assert, that is not the gospel. The fact that sin remains in the world, is why sickness remains in the world, as well as many other evils. There will be an age where there will be neither, but the Lord is drawing His people (those who hear Him) to Himself and is patient with this generation as with previous generations, so that they do not perish along with the corrupted world we live in. To think Jesus was “petty”, demonstrates your complete lack of spiritual discernment regarding the Scripture. Even those who do not follow Him, would not characterize Him as “petty”. God is Holy. He stretched forth His arm to draw sinful man to Himself. No man can see God and live (being corrupted by sin) so He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to bear upon His body, the sins of His people, and to suffer the condemnation of that sin declared by God Himself “The soul that sins, dies”. He reconciles mankind to Himself, through Jesus Christ. His shed blood is the everlasting testimony that the sins of His people, have been atoned for, and through Christ, we are able to fellowship with God. Atonement was made understood to the Jews throughout the OT, which ensured that the crucifixion of Jesus Christ would be understood. That invitation is for all of mankind, and those who live in the world and do not grab onto that outstretched arm (God’s arm reaching into the material world, is Jesus Christ), will be without excuse. Jesus suffered and died for the sins of His people…what more could God do for you? You can choose to not believe that, and bear upon your own body your sins, but woe is coming to the world to rid it of sin, and to those who didn’t come to Jesus, or call out to Jesus, can expect to be balled up in that judgment. That was the woe He was pronouncing…the woe was pre-exisiting…the woe is coming regardless…and they didn’t grab on to the only salvation offered them despite having seen Him with their own eyes. He wasn’t throwing a tantrum, just so you understand.

      • Jerry Nelson

        Blanche, You have a set of beliefs about Jesus and the Bible that is based on your understanding of them. I have studied the Bible and come up with totally different conclusions. I believe that Jesus never intended for leprosy and disease to exist in the first place. Because choices were made by our ancestors at the beginning of mankind’s time on earth it has led to a battle between good and evil where God is allowing people to make up their minds about what God is like. He sent Jesus, his son, to demonstrate the depth of his love. He will remove all disease from this world.

        By the way, there is much support among secular scholars that Jesus was known as a healer:

        http://www.probe.org/site/c.fdKEIMNsEoG/b.4227257/k.3E6C/Did_Jesus_Really_Perform_Miracles.htm

        Jesus death on the cross was for everyone. Most will not accept this gift. I don’t believe in an everlasting hell so I can say that the options are life eternal in relationships of love in a place prepared by the God of the Bible or non-existence. One does seem much sweeter to me. But the Bible is clear that perfect love casts out all fear. God is not wanting fear to motivate people to accept him. He is wanting people to be drawn to his deep love.

        • Hans G. Koornstra

          I do like your comments. However the Bible speaks of eternal punishment and not “non existance”. At the same time I agree that eternal punishment seems to have very little profit or result.

        • aesthete2

          The Bible is just a book, written by groups of men and then translated multiple times into thousands of different versions. Even if it was important, which Bible are you talking about and why is it more right than all the others?

          A book is not evidence, it’s someone’s opinion of some committee’s opinion that was printed for political gain. Why are bronze age people’s stories more important than what we have learned and proved and discovered since then?

      • Jerry Nelson

        Hans, I agree. The Bible speaks of eternal punishment. That I agree with. However, the Bible doesn’t speak of eternal punishing. The wages of sin is death and that will be the eternal punishment–death. Not eternal life in hell. Death is the cessation of life. That fate will be eternal for those that experience the wages of sin.

        • Hans G. Koornstra

          Second death, a term from the Bible, is what you believe. But out of existance is not taught, I thought, in Scripture. The “smoke” , as mentioned in Revelation, comes up through the ages. Don’t ask me if I do fully understand….

      • Jerry Nelson

        What is smoke? It is evidence that something is being consumed/destroyed. The smoke ascends until the age of ages (translated as forever and ever). Psalm 37:20 is a clear expression of this and is consistent with the other verses on this topic. “But the wicked will perish: Though the LORD’s enemies are like the flowers of the field, they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke.”

        • Hans G. Koornstra

          Thanks for your comments. Over and out.

      • Blanche Quizno

        blockquote I honestly don’t know of any atheistic charities. No doubt there are many, but I am not aware of them.* /blockquote

        Why would we expect there to be atheist charities? Atheism is a negative position – we simply don’t believe in gods. Would we expect to see charities founded by people who don’t collect stamps or people who aren’t pedophiles?

        There are nonreligious charities such as Doctors Without Borders and the Red Cross (no, Christians, it’s NOT a Christian organization), along with many other excellent options. In fact, the Red Cross uses 91% of its receipts for charitable aid. Religious “charities” typically have very low percentages, and it is unfortunate that so many count preaching at the needy as of the most value, compared to providing the needy with actual necessities.

        blockquote Given the context of Christians’ past and current treatment of those with contrary religious opinions, it is outrageous for anyone to point to Christian educational and charitable organizations as “proof” that Christianity excels at promoting compassion and humanitarianism. Those who make such fraudulent claims are like those who said, a century ago and more, that the absence of blacks and women in political office or other positions of responsibility “proved” that they lacked the character and intellect to vote or pursue professional careers. Then, as now, faith-blinded Christian apologists who are unwilling or unable to think excel in circular reasoning and question-begging, not in generosity or human feeling.

        If Christianity were so spectacularly marked by the urge to give to others without asking anything in return, Christian institutions would have done far more than they have. As it is, almost all religious hospitals, clinics, schools, and colleges charge and collect fees that are the same as, or very little different than, similar non-religious organizations. Those associated with religious groups may receive modest or token subsidies, either in the form of cash from generous believers (and unbelievers!) or in the form of free labor provided by an order of monks, nuns, priests, and other volunteers. But the secular organizations engaged in the same activities manage not only to survive without such help but pay taxes to the state and dividends to their shareholders as well. A reasonable person would conclude that the religiously-affiliated schools and hospitals, far from being praiseworthy examples of altruism, are, in fact, inefficient and wasteful of money and resources. http://www.positiveatheism.org/mail/eml9553.htm

        /blockquote

        (* Thanks, John Shores)

      • Blanche Quizno

        Hey! The blockquote isn’t working!! Anyhow, this topic – charitable giving – is deeply misunderstood and worthy of some investigation.

        From one of our favorite sources: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/08/22/are-atheists-being-stingy-when-it-comes-to-charity/

        “Don’t let anybody tell you religious people are more charitable than atheists. It’s just not true.

        All of that is misleading. “Religious states give more money to churches” would be more accurate… but then no one would care.

        Set aside those “charitable” donations to local churches, and the study shows that the churchier regions are generally stingier toward “secular” charities. You know, like those secular categories of the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and the imprisoned.”

        http://radiofreethinker.com/2011/11/30/black-hole-of-charity/

        “The prime and over-riding purpose of churches is to save souls…to do this they must ‘convert’ people to the faith. That is, from a moral stand point, secular charities are doing their good deed to make the world a better place…to relieve suffering… Churches do this as a side-effect. Why do I not donate to the Salvation Army? The church soup kitchen? Not because I think they don’t do anything good for the community but when I give to them I am helping them do their primary purpose… proselytize to the needy and downtrodden.

        A hundred billion a year is wasted on church charities to allow them to take advantage of the poor in need of a meal, the addicted recover (well, recover by replacing one addition for another) or in any number of other ways using human suffering to promote their theocratic agenda. I think most religious people think they are doing good, but if you crunch the numbers, you are better off giving to the local BC food bank, OXFAM Canada, Amnesty international, doctors without borders…there are a lot.”

        And with regard to the government programs that help the poor, which are a different form of charity:

        http://www.defshepherd.com/2011/08/jesus-anti-welfare-randian-capitalist.html

        Notice that the prominent societal welfare programs – Social Security, aid to families with dependent children (aka “welfare”), and nutritional programs – were started by the government in response to crushing levels of human suffering. And this at a time when virtually the entire population was Christian and when the Christian church was still the hub of local social activities. We had all this suffering, surrounded by Christians. Thus, we can abundantly demonstrate that Christian charity is simply a myth.

        Don’t believe me? Ask an old person if she’s willing to give up her Social Security check in exchange for letting her church support her.

      • Goblinman

        On the topic of atheist charities:

        For one, there is the Foundation Beyond Belief: http://foundationbeyondbelief.org/

        As for why there are fewer, there are several obvious reasons. First, there really aren’t very many atheists compared to believers. While the overall number of non-religious types has grown significantly, only a tiny percentage of the population actually identifies as atheists. We simply don’t have the numbers to support a lot of non-profits.

        Second: modern, organized atheism is a new phenomenon. We’ve only been around for maybe a few decades at most, while many of the older theistic belief systems have had centuries or more to establish themselves.

        Third: Atheism is a much more loosely-knit community that is scattered across the globe rather than concentrated in smaller regions or families. We don’t have central meeting places on par with churches, or community organizers on par with priests. It’s not nearly as easy for us to get all the local atheists rounded up in the same place so they can be reminded of what charities are available to them.

    • Geoff

      I wonder how many of his Christian friends will offer “undying support” if he continues as an athiest after his experiment? After all, this atheism experiment has a “time limit” at the present time.

      Hopefully most of them remain his friends. There will be a few who fall by the wayside. Those are the ones that care more about “Christian Ryan” than “Ryan Ryan”.

      I’m following this experiment with interest, and have donated to help get him through this period without a job. Whether he chooses atheism or Christianity afterwards is irrelevant to me, that choice is his to make and it won’t change my beliefs. I think questioning things you take for granted and exploring new ideas is an important thing to do, hence my support.

      • Jerry Nelson

        You have a great perspective and open mind. I wish you all the best.

      • Clay

        Really?, maybe he should experiment with Devil worship or Heroin just to be sure God is real. The deceived do not realize they are deceived. Pray for those who doubt, they won’t doubt when he comes in the clouds of glory, but by then it will be too late as all decisions will have been made for eternity.

        • http://needsmetchurch.com Phillip Dacus

          I will likely not post again. As unless I hear anything to change my mind, this smells of a publicity stunt to get attention and money. I would advise everyone to stop replying to this blog as I do not see any good fruit potential here. There is no reason to cast pearls ya know.

          But one last thing I will say is that God has not given up on you. God will not give up on you either. But I very much recommend that you do you turn your back on him. The outcome will not be pleasant.

          Go With God my friend

    • https://www.facebook.com/michael.e.brooks Michael E. Brooks

      I and my wife are Christians to one degree or another; at least three of our college-aged and high-school-aged children are atheists. The differences in world views have nothing to do with our loving and financially supporting them.

      • aesthete2

        As would be expected. Many many many atheists go to church every Sunday to support a theist spouse and pretend they are theist.

        The sad part is when people cut off communication to a family member for merely changing religion, let alone stopping believing.

        That said, there is nothing that being theist or atheist that makes a person caring or uncaring – it’s not something that is follows. The only thing that makes a person atheist is not having the belief, that is all. It says nothing more about them.

  • https://plus.google.com/+PushkaGiben Pushka Gib’en

    I heard about you on Reddit, where /r/Atheism was trying to fundraise money or help out in some way, but I didn’t know that you were a Seventh-day Adventist,,

    I was doing Bible Work for a year, and then a year later, I came out to everyone, which was weird, and then lost my faith completely, rather suddenly..

    (Letter of de-membership http://Pushka.co/LxqSI )

    I found a few times while I was a Christian that my faith in God could be shaken just by taking a few days “without God” or questioning/ probing/ listening to YouTube videos/ reading articles.. so I wish you best of luck for this year ~ may your experiences be more enlightening than mine ~

    • Jerry Nelson

      Thanks for sharing your experience. May your experiences be more enlightening in the future as you follow truth wherever it leads you.

    • Dave Anderson

      I read your letter, Pushka, and the church’s reply and, for what it’s worth, you make your case much better than they do – but then, you would, because you are correct!

      “Global reach” is evidence? Yes, it’s evidence of missionaries with superior technology – like guns; nothing more.

    • Blanche Quizno

      Hey, Pushka, I just read your letter. Well done, sir! Their response – classic.

      1) No, the theory of evolution does not account for life origins, because that’s not covered or included in the theory of evolution! That’s like condemning the theory of gravitation because it does not account for the colors in light spectra!

      The astonishing ignorance of Christians who purport to tell others what “truth” is. Here this preacherperson is trying to claim to be informed on the subject, when he proves he doesn’t even understand the basic definition of the theory he purports to refute!

      “Evolution: Change in gene frequency in a population over time.” That’s the short version, and this process is a fact.

      2) “You mentioned that topics such as prophecy and archaeology do not prove the existence of God and again i would agree with you. However, what human being can accurately predict an event that is going to take place 500 years or more in advance. The Bible does that on many occasions and those predictions have come true. Would that not indicate there is something operating outside the sphere of human influence?”

      No, it indicates that people were writing at a later date about events that had already happened and writing as if they were an earlier famous person to get more cred. But what of the numerous prophecies that failed? Damascus was supposed to be an abandoned ruin, never to be inhabited again forever, yet Damascus is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Also, if a prophecy fails, that’s evidence it’s a false prophet and grounds to execute him! Do these people even realize what they’re saying??

      3) Argument from design: “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!” This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for. We all know that at some point in the future the Universe will come to an end and at some other point, considerably in advance from that but still not immediately pressing, the sun will explode. We feel there’s plenty of time to worry about that, but on the other hand that’s a very dangerous thing to say.” – Douglas Adams (author – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe)

      4) “Every human being on the planet struggles with issues of sin and temptation. It is only by God’s grace and the victory of Jesus that we overcome.”

      “You can only become acceptable by becoming someone else.” So much for Christian love.

      I now realize this isn’t the best place to put it, so I’ll put it over there, too, and if a mod wants to delete it from here, that’s fine :)

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  • Guy Barritt

    Ryan, I support your journey wholeheartedly – but you are tapping people up for money, which undermines your whole argument. This is turning into a “scrounge-fest”. You should stand up on your own two feet – like I had to when I was kicked out of the church, and like I had to when I was unemployed for 18 months. No-one gave me a penny.

    • Cher

      Hello Guy,

      No one has heard of me or you or the millions who have taken this same journey. The reason , IMHO, that Ryan is getting money is because of the publicity which serves a sort of “cause” that people like to support. So he’s doing something that those taking the journey in obscurity aren’t doing. I mean, look, I read about this on mainstream media. You and I have never been mentioned on mainstream.

      • Cher

        Another thought…also, who knows how this particular publicized journey will end. Ryan says he is “experimenting” with “suspending belief” only temporarily. In the end he may decide he’s more comfy in Christian circles and say something like, well, ‘God was there all along whether my ego thought so or not ..etc etc…or maybe he’ll feel more comfy in his new circles etc. I think this “experiment” is as psychological as intellectual.

      • Cher

        p.s. I don’t think his public monetary support undermines his journey…it’s just a part of his particular journey. I mean , who says that “raising money” can’t be part of the atheist journey too.

      • Cher

        I got to thinking, Guy…I didn’t mean to discount your response to this guy’s “journey”…it may , indeed, be a “scroungefest” as you say. Mainly I find it “interesting “how “scroungefesting” can be part of some people’s journey. I mean, I do usually think of “fundraising” as a Christian activity having been one such fundraising person in one of my past lives….but this points out the scroungefesting nature of life that crosses religious lines, …also seeing as how this dialogue made it to “mainstream” media I am somewhat suspect of the origin of the publicity of this whole “experiement”…especially since this guy’s church was in Hollywood. So, this does all serve to open up dialogue and your comment about it being a scroungefest has some truth. Well, he’s just better connected for whatever reasons and so is scrounging “successfully”.

      • Guy Barritt

        Hi Cher. I don’t know what the benefit system is like in the States (I am from the UK, where we have “Jobseekers Allowance” at £72 a week. If you have children this goes up considerably). We all have our journeys and hardships – I had a terrible, traumatic exit from my Baptist church, and for the most part I struggled pretty much alone. There were no networks of people like me that I was aware of. I was on a journey of leaving God behind, and the exit from the church represented closure, after years of questioning, and finally realising that God never spoke to me – it was all in my imagination. It is true that my career didn’t suffer for it, but that’s what you get when your income is in religion. Surely Ryan could have planned ahead – and realised that his jobs might be untenable. I’m uncomfortable with the idea that he is now profiting from a journey that an awful lot of people have each day. It just takes different forms, and most people don’t put out a blog about it.

    • Blanche Quizno

      Guy, I understand your perspective. Mine is that it is an important service to get the interests of atheists promoted in a positive light, as we are so maligned in society here in the US. Some people make a living being writers, and if you value this writer’s contributions, there’s no shame or shakedown in donating. I’ve donated online before to various sites I appreciated. And I don’t believe he actually asked for money – just shared his difficulties. If you’d had an online presence where you could have been publicized sharing YOUR difficulties, you might well have gotten donations as well. And wouldn’t that have made YOUR journey easier?

      Perhaps we can all make our journey through life a little easier…especially with the realization, as you pointed out, that there are so many people struggling in this way. If leaving Christianity comes at such a devastating cost socially, how can anyone promote it as “good”?

  • Alex

    I am a closet Atheist. I have to stay in the closet because my family would feel the need to “save” me. It would be their mission to find out what is “wrong” with me and get me back to being “right with God”. I enjoy their company too much to have every interaction with them overshadowed by their compulsion to save my soul.

    Another reason that I will not come out of the closet is the “Santa Claus” conundrum. Children enjoy Santa Claus and the fun and imagination that comes with good ‘ole St. Nick. Who wants to be the one to spoil the child’s innocence and wonder by being the Scrooge who lets the cat out of the bag? With Christianity, there is a huge comfort in the delusion that we will be reunited with our deceased love ones in the afterlife. That is one of many things I miss about being a Christian. It was nice to have this belief and I miss it. I miss the delusion that I will live in eternal happiness with those I love and miss. Sadly, I can’t go back to those deluded days. I don’t want to be the one to tell a child that Santa isn’t real and I don’t want to be the one responsible for removing this source of comfort of eternal life from those I love.

    So I chose to play along. Sing the hymns. Attend the services. Play the game.

    I do miss the delusion…

    • DJ

      Alex, no one, not even God, expects anyone to ride on the coattails of the beliefs of another person. I was just curious if you ever had a conversation in prayer asking earnestly that you want to believe, but are not satisfied with the status quo of playing church? Have you “ask, seek and knocked?” or just decide to dismiss what you’ve been taught. There is a “deeper” Christian life that goes beyond philosophy, but there must be a hunger and thirst for it. You can actually even ask God to give you a hunger and thirst for Him, if you don’t have it. God is looking for a genuine relationship with you…He isn’t interested in those who are “close to the lips, but far from the heart”.(Mt.15:8) and He doesn’t expect you to fake it. He does in fact, draw near to those who draw near to Him.(James4:8)

      • Blanche Quizno

        DJ, I can’t speak for Alex, but I can speak for myself. I did everything you suggest, and more. The outcome? Nothing. Nothing at all. And no, I have not observed any “deeper Christian life” aside from crippling delusion, though I’ve seen plenty of that. Treat yourself to “Poor, Dumb, and Pentecostal” for an example of what I’m talking about: http://signposts02.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/poor-dumb-and-pentecostal/

        If God is looking for a genuine relationship with me, why does he expect ME to do all the work? For all I can see, God may well have died, for all the initiative he (doesn’t) take. In fact, his silence on all fronts is completely consistent with something that doesn’t even exist.

      • Barb

        DJ, I know that is a common Christian belief – that your god wouldn’t abandon someone who really wanted to believe and asked for help. So if I am trying to believe, but it’s not working, it must be because I didn’t try hard enough, pray the right prayer, or whatever. After all, if I really wanted to believe and asked your god for faith, why would he not give it? Good question.

        I can assure you that many of us tried very hard. Still didn’t work. So you might want to listen, really listen to our stories, and then rethink some aspects of your god.

      • Blanche Quizno

        “Alex, no one, not even God, expects anyone to ride on the coattails of the beliefs of another person. ”

        Funny you should bring that up, DJ. Because it sounds like the Bible is saying that – precisely:

        1 Corinthians 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband.

        Acts 16:31 Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

        Romans 11:26-32 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father’s sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

        um…yeaaah…

        Luke 16:9 Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

        You know, I think I just saw some mammon of unrighteousness there on the “Quick Sale” shelves at the grocery store!

        • DJ

          Again, Blanche, you demonstrate the error when interpreting scripture by the carnal mind. The Bible must be taken in whole, not pick and choose to try to win an argument. The husband being sanctified by the wife, does not mean “salvation” for his soul, it is for the sake of the marriage union…so that their children would not be a “contaminated” product of their union, for lack of a better word…For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?(1 Cor.7:16) and the Scripture you quote for the children, are an encouragement that salvation has come to the household and a lifeline for those who pray for their children’s salvation. We see Scriptural evidence of many a wayward child even in David’s own family. All Israel will be saved is a reference to both Jew and Gentile if you read that in context…not all the country of Israel, but the Israel of God, the people of God. Nice try, but you don’t know what you are talking about.

          You are complete in the world, and I am complete in Christ. Why don’t we just leave it at that? You enjoy your liberty in the world, and I enjoy my liberty in Christ.

          • Dave Anderson

            Oh dear. We do have a long way to go, don’t we?

          • aesthete2

            LOL, you have no humility at all, do you? You are actually telling people that you of all the people in the world know better than anyone else what their God means.

          • DJ

            No, I just was pointing out that Blanche does not know how to spiritually discern scripture. That has nothing to do with whether or not I am humble. But I would be the first to admit that pride is the greatest obstacle of all mankind and so we all are infected with it. Even you, Aesthete2.

          • aesthete2

            You spoke for your God. That’s way beyond anything an atheist could do. You hardly get off saying – Oh everybody does it.

            You have no idea what was supposed to meant by anything supposedly written by a God – no one should, unless he’s something you made up.

          • DJ

            For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor 2:16)

          • aesthete2

            Are you implying that you can interpret a scripture to give you personally sole decision over what the rest of them mean?

            Because that’s what just came across.

            And may I remind you that your English bit of scripture there, was translated and re-translated and rewritten by men over and over? Those are not the original words, if they even existed. They were decided by groups of men over a period of many years, not a god.

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com quine001

            DJ, over the years certain conventions have evolved over the Internet for discussions between believers and non-believers, mostly to keep the process at a useful level of discourse. One of those conventions is that quotes from scripture carry no authority without background on how those came to be written, by whom and when, and what objective evidence is in support.

            Got evidence?

          • https://plus.google.com/104625445636003591597 John Shores

            we have the mind of Christ.

            Just because you claim it doesn’t make it so. When you start raising the dead, you’ll have my attention.

          • Hans G. Koornstra

            And if it would happen you would not believe it….

          • https://plus.google.com/104625445636003591597 John Shores

            Try me.

          • Hans G. Koornstra

            A miracle would not help you. You have chosen NOT to believe. In Jesus’ time many miracles are recorded but not everyone believed…

          • Blanche Quizno

            Let me see if I understood – if I could “spiritually discern scripture,” I’d be a Christian and I’d insist that the Bible is “truth” and all the other blah blah blah. But the fact that I’m NOT a Christian and I DON’T regard the bible as “truth” or anything even close means that I “do not know how to spiritually discern scripture.” Got it O_O

            Ever consider that YOU might be deluded and/or brainwashed?

          • https://plus.google.com/104625445636003591597 John Shores

            I just was pointing out that Blanche does not know how to spiritually discern scripture.

            Judging by the 30,000+ Christian denominations floating around, neither does anyone else. Y’all can’t agree on much of anything, except that each of you know what the Bible really means and why everyone else has it wrong.

      • Blanche Quizno

        “Just because you claim it doesn’t make it so. When you start raising the dead, you’ll have my attention.”

        “And if it would happen you would not believe it….”

        “Try me.”

        “A miracle would not help you. You have chosen NOT to believe. In Jesus’ time many miracles are recorded but not everyone believed…”

        I *love* this! It reminds me of this:

        ARGUMENT FROM UNSEEN MIRACLES

        (1) Atheists wouldn’t believe in God even if He showed up and performed a miracle for them.

        (2) See! There was a miracle right over there! Didn’t you see it?

        (3) No?

        (4) You must be an atheist. Therefore, you cannot see miracles.

        (5) But miracles happen. You just can’t see them.

        (6) Likewise, God exists. You just can’t see Him, because you are so determined not to.

        (7) Therefore, God exists. (from http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/GodProof.htm )

        Can you please explain to us, Hans, why GOD HIMSELF couldn’t manage to do a “miracle” that would cause EVERYONE to believe? What was wrong with Jesus that he couldn’t manage this? We read in 1 Kings 18 how Elijah set up a prayer challenge with the priests of Baal (several hundred of them!) and the resulting God-sits-on-command-good-boy “miracle” convinced EVERYONE who saw it! In fact, the text specifically states that they believed BECAUSE they saw it! The key passages:

        18:21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.

        18:24 And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.

        18:37-39 Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.

        They then slaughtered all 450 of the priests of Baal, which in those days was pretty much the equivalent of a church potluck or something O_O

        • Hans G. Koornstra

          I think I answered you fairly.

          My statements were facts that happened.

          That is all there is to it.

          Your choice to believe or not is yours.

        • silvawebdev

          This forum is not good us – discus or something like that with better threading!!

      • Blanche Quizno

        [blockquote] Trial post [/blockquote]

      • Blanche Quizno

        Ugh – can’t get the blockquote function to work >:(

        Anyhow, moving on…

        ‘I think I answered you fairly.

        My statements were facts that happened.

        That is all there is to it.

        Your choice to believe or not is yours.’

        Hans, I don’t require anything from you. However, you refer to “facts that happened,” and I can’t remember seeing such a post – would you please be so kind as to link me to where you made statements that were facts that happened?

        In the end, why should your experiences, “facts that happened”, convince me? Why shouldn’t I wait for my OWN experiences? Especially on such a vitally important topic!

        And how can you choose to believe something that you just don’t believe?

      • Blanche Quizno

        “I think I answered you fairly.

        My statements were facts that happened.

        That is all there is to it.

        Your choice to believe or not is yours.”

        Hans, I’m reminded of that time I was discussing Christianity with that retired Evangelical Christian preacher. He told me about all the “healings” in his church, all the people who were miraculously “healed” because his church prayed for them. He told me about one woman who was on the brink of death in the hospital – she called him and asked him to have the church pray for her.

        He set the time for the congregational prayer for 10 PM – BECAUSE HE HAD A TV SHOW HE LIKED THAT RAN FROM 9-10 AND HE DIDN’T WANT TO MISS IT! He even *chuckled* as he made that point – I was horrified! A TV show was more important than a woman’s LIFE??

        But anyhow, they all prayed and at exactly 10 she started getting better and by morning, she was good to go.

        I told him, “Sorry, I’m not convinced of anything. Even if it happened as you say, and I have no confidence in that, people unexpectedly get better from various maladies all the time, even cancer, and this ‘spontaneous remission’ happens to all demographic groups – atheists, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. If Christians were experiencing higher rates of spontaneous remission and/or even cure from such ills as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, the numerous and ongoing studies would reveal this! Yet they don’t. In fact, Christians are no healthier than the population at large, and often have shorter lifespans.”

        He got very grumpy about that – I guess he felt he had a slam-dunk there.

        Oh, and before you try and bring up the “People who attend church are healthier” study conclusion, notice the facts in just that title: People who ATTEND church. That means their sample of Christians was limited to the ones who were already healthy enough to attend church. They didn’t bother with the crippled Christians, or the homebound Christians, or the bedridden Christians. But the averages they compared their church attendees to DID include all those sick and infirm people, so that’s just an example of dishonest, “cherry-picking” study design.

        That’s like taking a study of people who go on cruises and saying, “People who go on cruises are healthier!” Well, you have to be in pretty good shape to handle all the travel associated with getting to the cruise ship dock, and all that standing in line, and all the walking on board. My dad and mom used to go on cruises, until he had to go on oxygen 24/7. Now cruises are out of the question – he’s not healthy enough to go any more.

        See how this works?

        • Hans G. Koornstra

          A blind person receiving immediate sight when I laid hands on that person. Not gradually getting better: instantaniously and totally healed. After the preaching of the gospel and proclaiming Christ… that is what happened.

          I could recal a long line of healings that took place, but this was an instant undeniable fact.

          Three months later the person that was healed of blindnes traced me back to the country where I lived at the time and wrote me a letter about her salvation and that thrirteen of her relatives had come to Christ.

          I do not want to argue: just told you what happened and why.

          God be thanked!

          • silvawebdev

            That is a great story, but there are many great stories – many unexplained events. The events that through evolution create new species and different animals could be called miracles, but to justify a God – your God as true against all the others you have to show SOMETHING to show your God and not the others is THE God. Every culture has a religion, a God and such – what do you say to all the other religions that have miracles, books, history and millions of followers? How can you ignore their “evidence” without nullifying your own? Again, I believe all the societies, religions and history are important, but I will not stone my wife, mutilate the genitals of my daughter or sit in judgement of others because of some superiority I have based on a books steeped in fantasy, fiction, prejudice and ignorance – I will study, learn and respect from them though.

          • aesthete2

            So basically something you have no way of knowing really happened, nor is there any way of proving it, nor do you know that you really had anything to do with the ‘instant sight regeneration’.

            Have you caused any other healings? And what supposedly was the problem with her sight?

          • Hans G. Koornstra

            I am in my late seventies and have ministered since I was 24 yrs of age. I have seen many miracles and the way you approach this means to me I should not mention any more registered healings that took place during or after the preaching. That you do try to nullify all this means you don’t want to be confronted with something you do not WANT to believe. Over and OUT.

          • silvawebdev

            I thank you for your service, and respect your for your beliefs. But that does not mean I have to believe your religion (or any) as I am sure you do not believe the other religions of other religious people. I only hold you to the same standard I hold anyone too as dictated by the scientific method – no belief is “real” until others have corroborated your finding in their own environment although with today’s video capabilities you could make some pretty good arguments in video alone…

            Again, I find GREAT value in religion, and use the New Testament most in how I look at life and such, but I will not use the book to tell me that the earth is 6000 years old, or persecute others because new facts and ideas are coming forth which might conflict with my prior beliefs.

            150 years ago we were learning about the stars, evolution, DNA (just the rules) and even chemistry as there were just 50 elements (and no real knowledge about them) and doctors didn’t even realize that cleaning their hands was important. We now know so much more and have much more to learn and I would rather work with Christianity then against it, but if Christianity is going to work against “reality” then Christianity will be left behind like all the other religions of the past.

          • Hans G. Koornstra

            I cannot remember that I proposed the earth to be 6000 yrs old (+ 6 days) so don’t keep throwing arguments which combat those statements to me…

    • Blanche Quizno

      I think you have realized, Alex, that, for Christians, the most offensive thing about atheists is that we exist at all. How obnoxious of us to exist!

      • Alex

        Blanche – there are probably many Christians that hate atheist for existing. However, most of the people who are my friends and family are more concerned with the eternal soul. I really believe that the Christians who love their fellow man, believe that an Atheist will die and suffer eternal torment and feel it is their mission to make sure that we (the Atheists) become “saved” so that we can avoid that miserable fate. They just can’t understand why we would choose to go to hell and are usually unmoved by appeals to logic on the matter.

        I agree with Pen Jillette when he says he respects people who proselytize. As do I.

        Here is what Pen says –

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owZc3Xq8obk

      • Blanche Quizno

        Alex, of course Penn Jillette is welcome to his own opinion, and I defend his right to express it. I LIKE Penn Jillette! That said, I don’t have to agree with him on every opinion he holds :) I have frequently run into Christians who brandish “An atheist had a near death experience and is now a committed Christian because he saw heaven and Jesus!” or “Some famous atheist nobody’s ever heard of (insert name here) has decided he now believes in God!” – as if their declaration of someone else’s opinion somehow obligates me to…something. As if those other people are somehow the Popes of atheism and thereby the boss of me. That’s not how atheism works, folks. If you want top-down rulership and obey and submit, look to Christianity.

        However, in a Christianity-dominated culture, no one raised in this Christianity-conscious milieu DOESN’T know about the basics of Christianity – Jesus, God, saving, blah blah blah. So asking people about it, or telling people about it, or persisting in telling people about it even after they have explained they aren’t interested – that’s not concern, that’s masturbating with someone else’s hand. If people in the population were interested in Christianity, they would scurry into any of the many churches within a 10-mile radius, wouldn’t they?

        And more disturbing, this behavior demonstrates an invincible and unmistakable position that no one is acceptable as a person unless they are a member of your religion – this is no small issue, either. In a family setting, it demonstrates conditional love and each repeated effort to convince the target to convert illustrates that the Christians have defined the entire person on the basis of this ONE characteristic, and, on the definition of that characteristic, cannot accept or love the person for who he is. Their attempts to change the person – because that’s what a “conversion” is, after all – betray shocking levels of selfishness and xenophobia, if not outright boorishness. If they have a problem with their god sending perfectly nice people to eternal punishment because these people looked at Christianity with the brains this same god gave them and found it unconvincing, well, shouldn’t they take that up with their god?? If it’s a stupid and messed up system, the right course of action isn’t to try to convince more people to go along with it!

        Psalm 139:16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

        Obviously, according to the Bible, the Christians’ god made me as I am. How could I possibly go against my programming? And furthermore, who are THEY to declare that their own god’s handiwork is unacceptable and must be changed to THEIR specifications, to THEIR satisfaction?

        How many Christians have wanted to tell me about their beliefs? Many. How many of these asked me about MY beliefs first? None.

      • silvawebdev

        Alex you missed the point of Penn – he those who proselytize – that does not mean he likes it, or agrees with them. Also, most Atheists would LOVE to think their soul could live forever – I would, and it makes me profoundly sad to think there is just an end – although with today’s technology you can almost live forever… I just am not going to pledge to beliefs because they sound good, or I would like their outcome – they I might become a hedonist, or satanist, or who know what – but I don’t as I find my beliefs are very much in line which what I have learned from the Bible and other books and I truly believe in myself, family and community.

    • Alex

      DJ – I have prayed earnestly. Not once but many time over many years. I have asked God to open my eyes, fill me with faith, and lead me. If God exists, he has abandoned me. He has given me no outward proof or inward sense of his existence. He has not spoken to me in a “still small voice” or with the booming trumpet that can be heard from the east to the west.

      Science has given me good explanations for many of the things we observe in the universe. There are many areas where we still have no answers, partial answers, or conflicting answers. However, logic, science, and self improvement books have answered far more for me than can be found in the Bible.

      I wish that the promise of the wondrous afterlife was true. I also wish that Santa was real. Wishing it doesn’t make is so – not matter how wonderful the wish.

      • DJ

        Thank you for sharing, Alex. I have no answer for that. Between you and Barb, I’m at a loss, though admittedly not knowing either of you, puts me at a disadvantage. I do know we have an enemy that will do all he can to keep you from God…but never having an inward stir in the soul and spirit is not anything I can identify with. I will have to pray about this and study on the subject. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.

      • Goblinman

        DJ,

        You’ll find that it’s a common thing for atheists, myself included. When theists speak of an “inward call to God”, or something of the like, it is not something we experience in ourselves. Those words fall hollow.

        At the very least, you should be aware that arguments that accuse atheists of pride or selfishness simply don’t connect. We’re not rebelling against God–we’ve found ourselves alone, and have nothing but ourselves to rely on if we want to survive.

        • DJ

          Thankyou for validating that experience. I have non-believing relatives, but they frankly have never searched for God, or dismiss Him outright without ever having weighed the matter. I do find it a bit baffling that a person who cried out to God in search of Him, did not experience God in some way. there is an inner witness and fellowship with God that sincere believers experience that makes that “fairy tale” comparison non-applicable . God is so very real in experience for us, not only by an inner witness, but in many circumstances. So, I’m finding that not everyone can identify with that “life” in the spirit when they seek God, and I’m wondering why that is. I do appreciate knowing that…I’m serious when I say that I am praying about that and studying as to why one person’s experience is so different from another who genuinely seek God. Not knowing all the variables makes it difficult, but taking it at face value, it does make me wonder.

          • aesthete2

            Have you sought out every single other god in your heart? Really really tried?

            If you haven’t then you have nothing over your relatives.

          • DJ

            Fortunately, I haven’t had to look any further than Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life. Having a relationship with God in Christ, has made your suggestion foolishness to me. Why would i cast aside God, and keep looking for Him? What I am discovering is that many sincere Christians have a subjective experience that others have not been able to identify with, and therein lies the disconnect. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts..we sense His abiding presence and His word brings joy to our soul and spirit. I don’t know why that is not everyone’s experience, but I do know that this has historically been the experience of many, as I’ve been studying the subject. It’s a curious finding that some here have search and cried out to Him, and seemingly never had that experience. No answer for that one, but I am investigating.

          • Hans G. Koornstra

            Your reaction is christian, honest and fair. Those three do not always come together…!

            The ‘feeling’ in the christian experience is one of the mysteries and also for an outsider difficult to understand. Any atheïst will push that aside as subjective feelings and no proof at all of the existance of a god.

            The history of god (an interesting youtube) is even more on the side of the atheïst as it is a very doubtful path how the human race came to idea of one God. Even our fathers in the faith, Abraham, Isaäc and Jacob believed in the existence of several gods. It took time to come to the concept of one God, to monotheïsm.

            Yet, I am a believer in Christ. I was changed by Him..

          • DJ

            Agreed, Hans. I had my first experience of the life of God in the spirit as a child as I prayed to Him, before I truly understood the gospel. In my later years, He revealed more of Himself and the truth of salvation in Christ. He accepted my limited understanding as a child, and confirmed His presence. Indeed, His Spirit creates a hunger and thirst for more of Him and I can truly relate to the Psalmist “…as a deer panteth for the watersprings, so my soul panteth after You…” Perhaps having had such a profound and indisputable experience of the reality of God as a child, left me the impression that if people turned away from sin and searched for Him with all their heart, that He would also, in His grace, grant this taste of His divine Spirit. I am discovering that for many people, this is a foreign concept so I am earnestly praying and studying to see why this is. I do see that the “gospel” they offer in many contemporary churches, is not the true gospel nor are many of the Pastor’s full of the Holy Spirit, and perhaps that has something to do with it. Assuming all things being equal…ie…meeting the terms of repentance and truly seeking Him…I’m at a bit of a loss to explain this phenomena. I do not want to jump to any conclusions or presume to know something that I can’t possibly know about any one of these individuals…so I am seeking the Lord about this very issue because only He can speak life into existence. Perhaps its this lack of spiritual experience that discourages people like Ryan. I can’t imagine anyone who has tasted the Life of Christ would ever put it on a shelf. It would be comparable to refuse drinking water for a year, but even that is preferable! ..but if a person didn’t have that experience, I can understand how their own efforts and belief system would not be able to carry them through life’s tribulations nor would much make sense to them.

          • silvawebdev

            The only problem I have with the “feeling” is that people from every religion have the same feeling – yet different gods. So that is not a definitive feeling to make me believe in one religion or another. IF there was some definitive real world solutions – predictions, extra health – something, I might give religions more credence than one religion give to another… I believe the “believing” is important to humans, but don’t believe that there is anything divine, or how one religion can claim to be more diving because they have a book or books – many religions do, or millions of followers – many religions do, or thousands of years of history – again, many religions do.

            Every society has religions for a reason we can all see, but we can all see that religion has been used incorrectly by either the religion itself, or the powers that be too. I am pro religion as a spiritual process to figuring out what is going on, and especially in youth to allow them to believe beyond themselves and keep a society together, but I don’t believe you need to use age old deities that conflict with each other and cannot be definitively show to be real.

            As we can see, when pressed repressive beliefs tend to isolate themselves and attack those that threaten them as the religious right in the USA have done against science, education and “reality”. I would be much more tolerant of religious beliefs if they did not attack those pillars of society that have allowed America and humanity to thrive in the 20th century and would rather wind back the clock then admit perhaps some of their beliefs might not be 100% correct.

          • DJ

            I agree with you Silvawebdev. The inherent problem with subjective inner experience, is that others may have a similar inner “light” so to speak, or describe something similar and who knows whether they are experiencing God or some other spiritual counterfiet. Its a big problem in many Pentecostal churches, and there are many excesses and decidedly unscriptural behavior in these churches as a result. Jesus warns over and over that we are to test the spirits to see whether they are of God, and sadly so many are simply overwhelmed by the supernatural, that they assume it must be God. From a Christian worldview, for every gift from God, there is a satanic counterfiet (that would sound foolish to someone who is not a Christian, but bear with me) and so the Scriptures are vital as is prayer for discernment. There are many examples in the Old Testament that demonstrate this principal, and Jesus warns of it as well, as do the Apostles. I certainly understand your caution, yet, the Holy Spirit’s work is to sanctify us, conforming us more and more into the image of Christ. It is a work of regeneration, and He changes us from the inside out, not from the outside in, as ” religion” attempts to do. The change becomes evident over time. Many churches in this generation demonstrate a lack of the presence of the Holy Spirit..I believe much of that is due to sin, compartmentalized faith,a failure to fully surrender to God, compromise with the world, manmade religion and traditions that muddy the water, and the push to evangelize…they pressure believers to the “great commission” while they commit what I call, the Great Ommission…which is union with God in Christ…and abiding in Christ daily. Even Jesus told the Apostles to “tarry” until they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Today, as soon as you make a confession of faith, the leaders pressure the congregants to go out and “witness” even before they themselves have been established in Christ. Many Christians remain carnal and never seek a deeper life, and many in the congregations are not Christians at all. I’ve certainly seen first hand pastors and teachers that were not. The cultural church, while they call themselves Christain, is horribly corrupted. generally speaking, I wouldn’t look for God there…very dissappointing. There are a few good Pastors and Teachers who are after the heart of God, but believe me, there is a famine in the land, just as Scripture described.

          • Hans G. Koornstra

            I completely agree with you that sometimes christianity refuses or refrains from science if it does not fit “the book”.

            On the other hand there have been and are many christians that are scientists.

            The world is 6000 (sorry + 6 days) old according to some, waving with their bibles…

            It is their faltering interpretation of the bible.

            I have no problem with the facts (I trust) that the earth is -may be- billions of years old.

          • silvawebdev

            One of the problems with today’s society and written press is that you cannot create a bible narrative that cannot be challenged. For millennia a pastor or a preacher, or shaman, or whatever was in complete control of their narrative and even a modest intellect could weave a story that followers could believe and in general would help that society to survive by following rules.

            Now that the populace can read, question, and remember what is said they can see the conflict that come up in any narrative – the Bible, the interpretations of the Bible and such – and question. In the past a great drought that the priests could not stop through sacrifice and praying may have toppled a society, or a war, or some other cataclysm.

            Today we can just see the contradictions in the Bible itself and we know the history of using the bible to justify slavery, class systems, killing and now apparent to become wealth (you can’t resist the gifts of God!!).

            The REAL power of religion is to bind a society together and make norms the things that make a society strong and grow. The power for a person to believe and act beyond themselves even if it doesn’t always make sense.

            Unfortunately the problem with religion is the power corrupts even those with the best intention and through their corruption they start to make rules that go against the benefits of the society and when something comes along – like loosing WWII for the Japanese, a drought for the Mayans (perhaps), or an enemy they can’t understand or beat then usually the powers that be say MORE religion is needed and make harsher rules to solidify their power as the religions right is doing in America today – this is a pattern of man not God. If there was one supreme God then why has every religions grown and shrank. The Catholics have the Christian God, but are not dominant – is the the Evangelical belief better, more pure, did all the Catholics that have existed before NOT go to heaven because their God, or their belief was wrong? That just makes no sense.

          • Hans G. Koornstra

            I appreciate your sincerity. I also see that you are a christian. Calvinistic theology, which I do disagree with, solves the problem that people don’t feel anything like we did. They are people that were not preelected by God to be saved…

            The whole theology is a bit more complicated that that, but this shows at any rate that people have puzzled about the fact that some don’t experience anything.

            Spirit filled christians are a great answer (see Acts chapter 2) as the diciples were suddenly very forth-coming, sure and strong in their proclamation of the gospel and the risen Christ.

            At the same time I have become more understanding how people have become atheïsts, and don’t look at them as “the doomed”, but love them, like Jesus told us.

          • silvawebdev

            Again, most Atheists have NO problem with religions as long as you don’t use that belief to shape public policy like attacking science because it does not fit your biblical interpretations of “reality”. Especially when trying to undercut scientist and education to protect your beliefs – then we have a problem – and NOW we have a problem in looking at the current rhetoric by the born agains and faux news. Yes some scientists are over paid, lie, cheat and steal – but has any religion not had scandal, or any business? Ideology is great as long as there is not hypocrisy as once you don’t even allow self evaluation (and actually actively ban those who question) corruption can and will happen – that is just the human condition.

          • Hans G. Koornstra

            That christianity wants to shape the world is obvious and in itself there is nothing wrong with that. There is plenty of scope in christianity, in all kinds of principles, that are good for everyone.

            That there are, according to several kinds of christianity, a lot of rules that do not seem to fit the world outside is true and we do not want any legalistic christianity that tries to put the world into a certain mold. Even Jesus never did that. We do not want to be “killed by the letter.”

            Chrstianity is based on an INWARD change, which can be life changing.

            Religion only presents rules, puts a yoke upon people, prisons people, kills.

          • silvawebdev

            If religion is so inward then why are people using the Bible to define the outward world, physics, biology and politics? I understand people want to be comfortable, but then they only seem to be concerned with their own comfort by co-opting the founding fathers and saying “they were christian” so then when that said all the stuff about freedom of religion it must have meant for Christianity, and not all those other religions…… Christianity has changed drastically over the years – and will continue to – so which version do you believe?

          • aesthete2

            For the same reason you challenge others to ‘seek out’ your God with your heart. If you think that no one can truly know the truth without doing that for your god, well, you have a lot of work ahead of you to honestly explore every other possibility to find out if you missed out.

            If you don’t agree, then you must admit, it’s damn silly to expect from anyone else. Your God has nothing over any other god, goddesses, gods, or what have you. No evidence, no consistent reaction from people, nothing.

          • DJ

            A-2, I don’t recall challenging anyone to seek My God. All I was doing was correcting the misconception that God can be found by the intellect…there were two trees in the Garden, the tree of knowledge and the tree of Life. Those who have the Holy Spirit within them, have tasted of the tree of life…you are free to sit and rummage around your limited intellect all you want. Once a person has tasted of the tree of life, there is no going back…and many contemporary professing Christians, as it turns out, have not. Those who have, have engage our intellect, but now have a broader worldview due to the element of the spirit. The fact is that not all who claim to be Christians, are truly born again Christians..so when people generalize, as you and Blanche do, they are prejudiced based on their narrow perceptions of their limited experience and maintain an “us” vs “them” mentality. People who make generalizations about any group of people, discriminate against that group of people based on stereotypes. I don’t challenge you to seek My God, I challenge you to stop being so closed minded about judging others based on stereotypes. I’ve mentioned more than once that the contemporary churches do not represent true Christianity, but you and Blanche cannot seem to let go of your generalizations. You are free to maintain your prejudices, which apparently, is your preference. That would be you declining my challenge to learn a little something about individuality. I am thankful to Alex/Barb and Goblinman for giving me insight into the fact that some atheists have search for God with all their heart…that helps me understand that I should not fall into that same trap of categorizing and dismissing a group of people, and their honesty challenges me to dig and investigate why their experience is so very different from mine. We have a great opportunity to learn from each other.

      • Blanche Quizno

        Goblinman, you commented that “we have nothing but ourselves to rely on if we want to survive.” Well, given that all the studies and polls show that atheists are more intelligent (on average), more educated (on average), and more wealthy (on average) than Christians are (on average), I’d say it’s working out quite well for us!

        However, given how much the less intelligent, less educated, and less wealthy Christians *hate* us and how they’ve managed to spread their calumny of atheists throughout society, I’m reminded of the 3.5 years I spent living on St. Thomas, USVI. My husband and I were attending the university there (my 3rd degree, his first) and I was waitressing to support us (the only job available that was compatible a day class schedule). We’re white – this is important because, although white people (mostly from the mainland US) are a distinct minority there on St. Thomas, they tend to be far more wealthy and privileged than the local black people. I as a white person could get hired at pretty much any restaurant I applied to, whereas black servers were uncommon. There were certain areas, *nicer* areas, where mostly white people lived, and other areas where mostly black people lived, and it was understood that white people should not go there. There’s a similar dynamic in Natchez, MS – where the white people live and “brown town”, as some white locals refer to it.

        So anyhow, given that the white minority was so much more privileged in terms of education and wealth, they were often the targets of black crime. The mostly black police force would preferentially cite whites – whereas some areas of the US have “Driving While Black” as an understood offense, there it was “Driving While White.” And, of course, all the black people were Christians, naturally (descendants of slaves). The difference is that people generally didn’t hate white people the way Christians have managed to spread their hatred of atheists throughout the population – whites were not rumored to be “evil” or “wicked” or “immoral” or “depraved” on St. Thomas, despite how much the black people resented whites’ privileged status. While we whites were far more likely to be targets of crime and selective law enforcement, our reputation was not attacked the way Christians attack atheists’ respectability.

        Anyhow, I don’t know where I was going with that – just a few thoughts…

      • Goblinman

        Blanche, I’m wary of saying atheist are simply smarter than Christians. It’s important to remember that many people who can afford to be well-educated can also afford to take greater social risks in regard to their religious beliefs. There may be a large number of poorer, less-educated atheists who do not feel safe enough to be open about it.

        Personally, I consider myself fortunate to be an atheist, but not smarter or better than Christians because of it.

      • Jerry Nelson

        aesthete2, Why would you need to seek out every other god? Show me any other god that claims to be the creator, and reveals himself in writings that show congruence with the world we live in? I am a logical person and will search out any god like this. I will not waste my time studying mythological gods that are not serious contenders. The Bible has a self authenticating quality–not because I say so or believe it to be but because the Bible shows a congruence with history, archaeology, psychology, etc. in extraordinary ways that at least warrants careful consideration. Show me any other god that has this grounding in reality and I will spend time considering his claims.

        • aesthete2

          Pretty much all gods claim to be the creator. I don’t have to do your research for you – Roman gods, Norse Gods, Native American Gods, Hindu Gods, Egyptian gods – the list goes on and on

          I don’t know you mean by congruent. There’s nothing more congruent in a Bronze age god then any other. I think you just don’t want to do the work you expect from everyone else to do to prove you right. Step up Dude.

      • Blanche Quizno

        “Jesus warns over and over that we are to test the spirits to see whether they are of God, and sadly so many are simply overwhelmed by the supernatural, that they assume it must be God.”

        Okay, DJ – why don’t you go ahead and tell us exactly *HOW* to “test the spirits”. Please explain to us what a “spirit” that is “of God” looks like and what a “spirit” that is “NOT of God” looks like, and how, in detail, specifically, precisely, how one is to tell the difference.

        • DJ

          Blanche, I think it’s safe to say that no one here is trying to convert you or anyone else here. We were all drawn to this former Pastor’s announcement, and the discussion otherwise has been in response to another’s inquiry or in response to information and revelations regarding another’s experience or lack there-of. You’re a bit over the top with the hostility towards someone you don’t even know, who happens to have faith in God. Why don’t you simply choose to ignore me? I wasn’t talking to you in the first place. This is just a comment section on this Pastor’s blog, not an atheist discussion list. why are you so intolerant of another point of view?

          • aesthete2

            You made a claim – back it up or admit you don’t know what you are talking about. It’s not rocket science and you don’t get a pass in real life just because you don’t want to be challenged.

          • DJ

            A-2, The short answer is this…people who are spiritually dead, or have not a single experience with the things of the spirit, would not have a clue as to what I was talking about. You are carnal and cannot receive the things of the spirit. As to whether or not I get a free pass, as you called it…what in the world are you talking about?

          • aesthete2

            DJ You said:

            “Fortunately, I haven’t had to look any further than Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life. Having a relationship with God in Christ, has made your suggestion foolishness to me. Why would i cast aside God, and keep looking for Him? What I am discovering is that many sincere Christians have a subjective experience that others have not been able to identify with, and therein lies the disconnect. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts..we sense His abiding presence and His word brings joy to our soul and spirit. I don’t know why that is not everyone’s experience, but I do know that this has historically been the experience of many, as I’ve been studying the subject. It’s a curious finding that some here have search and cried out to Him, and seemingly never had that experience. No answer for that one, but I am investigating.”

            I’m saying, you don’t get a free pass just because you are Christian. Did you ever consider you might be ‘spiritually dead’ to other gods? To other experiences?

            I have all kinds of levels of awareness, that I experience that have absolutely nothing to do with religion. I suspect that what you think is god sent, is merely much the same thing, you just jumped to the feel good conclusion.

          • DJ

            A2, this is a relationship thing, not a ” religion” thing. It would be similar to compare falling in love, for example, with indigestion. Although admittedly, the comparison lacks on so many levels. You are certainly free to theorize as you please.

      • Blanche Quizno

        “Show me any other god that claims to be the creator, and reveals himself in writings that show congruence with the world we live in?”

        I don’t need to, Jerry Nelson – two facts will suffice. From beginning to end, the Bible presents slavery as acceptable – it is even commanded on several occasions. In no place does the Bible declare slavery to be a crime against basic human rights (another concept not to be found anywhere in the Bible – I guess that makes the next one #3).

        And the Bible, from beginning to end, presents monarchy as the ideal, in fact, the ONLY form of government. Monarchy is presented in such positive terms that “heaven” itself is declared to be a “divine monarchy”! Yet we’ve outgrown monarchy, due to its obvious and many human rights abuses (there’s that nasty concept that your “god” couldn’t seem to come up with, again). We now understand democracy and voting and electing representatives and all these OTHER concepts that are to be found NOWHERE in the Bible.

        So the Bible does NOT show congruence with the world WE live in. It is outdated, primitive, barbaric, and ignorant – just like the people who wrote it so many centuries ago. Why, again, are you looking to people who didn’t understand even basic sanitation to tell you how to live your life???

        And Goblinman? I’m simply summarizing the many studies that have shown the results I mentioned :) It’s not that I or you are smarter than him or her, it’s that, on average, atheists have higher IQs, higher educational attainment, and are better off financially than Christians on average. The Bible Belt is home to the highest proportions of both low levels of education completed and poverty as well as the highest proportions of Christianity, you know.

        • Jerry Nelson

          Blanche, we are both wonderfully free to hold our own opinion of the Bible. However, as an intelligent person with three degrees I would encourage you to deal with the facts fairly. You have a tendency towards straw man thinking and tactics. You create a straw man or a false representation of Christianity and then easily refute it. But in doing this you are only refuting your own false understanding of Christianity not the real thing.

          If you are truly interested in understanding what the Bible teaches about slavery and the reasons why, a little more research might prove helpful. You seem content to hold on to your current view of things so you may not want to consider ideas that might jeopardize your paradigm of belief. If interested there is a lot of good information on the web including this site: http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/slavery_bible.html

          I also call into question this comment: “And the Bible, from beginning to end, presents monarchy as the ideal, in fact, the ONLY form of government.”

          1. The Bible actually warns against kings but in favor of morally good leaders: Ex. 18:21, Dt. 1:13, Jud. 8:22-23, 1 Sam. 8, Pr. 11:14, 24:61.

          2. The Hebrew people wanted kings to be like everyone else. God warned against it but was willing to flexibly work with these people that rejected Him as their sovereign benevolent ruler.

          3. Many of the principles of our representative democratic republic are advocated in Scripture: http://www.faithfacts.org/christ-and-the-culture/the-bible-and-government

          Thanks for dialoguing,

          Jerry

      • Blanche Quizno

        “Fortunately, I haven’t had to look any further than Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life.”

        Oh, this sort of thing again. This is one of those phrases that Christians simply repeat as if they were parrots or tape recorders, without the slightest idea what they’re saying. It’s more like a magic spell or incantation, or perhaps a password to get into a club, than it is like anything meaningful.

        But I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, DJ. Please explain:

        1) HOW is “Jesus Christ”, who doesn’t even exist, “the way”? What does that even mean – “the way”? WHAT “way”? What is “way” and how could a *person* (if “Jesus Christ” were even that) be it?

        2) HOW is “Jesus Christ,” who doesn’t even exist, “the truth”? Does “truth” have any meaning at all to you? Because a *person* can’t be “truth”. That is simply impossible. Or, at best, it renders the word “truth” nothing but meaningless gibberish. Are we just stringing words together in word salad fashion now?

        3) HOW is “Jesus Christ,” who doesn’t even exist, “the life”? WHOSE “life”? “Life” in what meaningful sense of the definition of “life” – which, I’ll note, your “Jesus Christ” doesn’t have? Because things that have life can be demonstrated to be alive – we can *see* them, we can *photograph* them, we can *test* for the qualities we have defined as “life”, and we can *measure* various aspects of “life” that organisms that are alive display. Your “Jesus Christ” doesn’t even come CLOSE to qualifying, since it’s imaginary, so how is your imaginary friend “the life”? WHAT “life”? What does “life” even MEAN in this context?? Anything??

        • Hans G. Koornstra

          Your questions show a lack of investigation.

          Jesus is the way: it means through Him we can come to the Father. He payed to make the way.

          Jesus is the truth: the bible says the truth makes you free.

          Jesus is the life; through Him one can receive eternal life, which is not just enduring but rather a tremendous quality of life: Gods life.

          I think you know these things: you just have a tendency to make things look ridiculous. So be it. Over and OUT.

          • Dave Anderson

            No, he doesn`t have to `make them look ridiculous“, they ARE ridiculous. Platitudes with intrinsic meaning. Words used in ways that are totally outside their understood meanings, `The Bible says the truth makes you free“ might be true, it probably does say that, but the writers of the Bible didn`t KNOW any significant truth.

          • Hans G. Koornstra

            I did not expect you to react any different.

            God bless you…. and I mean that.

            Over and OUT.

      • Blanche Quizno

        “A2, this is a relationship thing, not a ” religion” thing. It would be similar to compare falling in love, for example, with indigestion. Although admittedly, the comparison lacks on so many levels. You are certainly free to theorize as you please.”

        I’ll accept you at your word, DJ. Now, if you might indulge me in a thought experiment, let’s suppose that God and Jesus notify the world, in a way that is understood completely and without fail by everyone, that he/they have now changed the rules (again). Christians are now the only ones that will go to “hell”.

        So now that we’ve ruled out any opportunity for selfish personal gain and removed that possibility from the equation, do you still love God/Jesus? Will you still be a Christian under these circumstances?

        • DJ

          Blanche, you’re ridiculous.

      • Goblinman

        DJ,

        It’s not entirely ridiculous, actually:

        I’ve felt for a long while now that even if it could be proven to me that God exists and also created an eternal hell I would be unable to worship him. An eternal hell is literally the most evil construct imaginable, and could not exist without God also being evil. It could only be created by a being of such insatiable sadism that even the death of wayward mortals does not satisfy it. Even a Calvinistic argument don’t work here, because that suggests God created some people wicked in order to torture them.

        It would therefore be morally superior to allow ones-self to be damned rather than accept salvation from such a monster.

        But surely the idea of God being evil is ridiculous, right?

        Well…

        God is a supposedly omnipotent being who, for reasons we can’t entirely understand, allows bad things to happen. Believers are assured that such incidents are all part of a greater plan. And they believe it–why? Because of a feeling of faith and trust, felt deep inside, that God is good.

        Here’s the problem:

        If God is such a superior being, certainly he’s capable of making mere mortals believe he is wholly good–even if he is not. It should, in fact, be incredibly easy for him to implant false sensations of love and goodwill in human minds–feelings which, to them, would feel deep and authentic. Certainly, he would also be able to throw in a few miracles and revelations to further assure those he had deceived.

        What better tool for an evil God than faith? What better way to convince someone to obey you without question than a close, personal relationship flooded with assurances of “love”? It’s the same tactic used successfully by cults and abusive lovers.

        Certainly, the intellect is limited. But we are limited creatures: our “other ways of knowing” are limited, too. Why is only intellect singled out? Why should anything we think we know–however we come to know it–be considered absolute?

        • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

          Omnipotence is the ultimate folly of idealism. If you were omnipotent you would do nothing – you know and can do everything in your mind, you can live forever – have probably already done everything – why would you try? The same reason a person would consider that in heaven you would know everything, do everything, or have 72 virgins – it’s just crazy, unrealistic, simplistic and a great “ideal”, but a terrible idea. The fact that those ideas are “sold” tells you more about the salesman and less about the product.

        • DJ

          Evil is in the world, because mankind rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden. They were deceived by the devil, and believed a lie over the truth of God’s word. God told Adam that once he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good & evil, they would die. They did die “spiritually” and the communion they had with their creator, was severed. Their position to rule over the world was usurped by Satan, and as a result, what was created perfect and in the image of God, was now corrupted, and mankind, having rebelled against God was brought into bondage, and became “self centered” instead of God centered. There is an isolation and shame that persists, to this day, for many who desire to approach a Holy God and do not fully understand the true Gospel. From Genesis to Revelation, there is an unfolding of the plan of redemption, with Jesus Christ having fulfilled the Scriptures and reconciling man to God. This is what makes Blanche’s proposal ridiculous. It is nonsensical and out of sinc with all of Scripture. Jesus is described as the “New man” or “Last Adam”. Those who have not been redeemed, remain in the old man, Adam, which is corrupted by sin, those who have repented of their sins and receive Christ, have been fully atoned for and enjoy fellowship with God. The message of grace and God’s kingdom, will not make any sense for a person who cannot or refuses to believe the entire counsel of God, including the book of Genesis. This generation has been cultured to believe a lie, and if the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? Today, Mockers and scoffers ridicule the Bible’s account of history…and even many people who call themselves “Christian” will set aside the book of Genesis…but in doing so, nothing of the 2 spiritual kingdoms can be rightly understood. The question of evil, and why a sovereign God would allow it, is very complex. Every situation is unique…but we look forward to the day when evil will altogether be cast out. There is a liberty for those who are in Christ, in the deeper abiding, as the Holy Spirit sanctifies the regenerate soul. The pilgrimage of the Jews in their 40 years of wandering, demonstrate that what they experienced in the physical world, we experience in the spiritual. The pilgrimage of a Christian is not an easy one…there are many trials and tribulations which God allows to refine us and bring us to the end of ourselves. Some will never venture beyond that wide road of cultural superficial Christianity, some press on and their faith is strengthened and the union with God made stronger…Jesus described this part of the journey as “narrow and difficult, and few there be who find it”. There is nothing that can satisfy a mocker or scoffer, like Blanche appears to be, and I suppose this is why Jesus did not open His mouth in response to the mockers of His day. I appreciate an honest inquiry, and so I hope that this helps you better understand why suggestions that God flippantly changes His mind demonstrates a lack of understanding regarding the two spiritual kingdoms that exist at this time, and the whole counsel of God and His plan of redemption. All of Scripture testifies of the new creation, a new man in which the Spirit of God dwells. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and always…He is unchangeable and I have found Him to be faithful even in my most difficult trials.

          • Dave Anderson

            To dismiss those who cannot accept this story as “scoffers and mockers” is to demonstrate that you have not read/listened to the arguments.

            Here’s one I like to use – please read it, then comment if you will – or not.

            A being, “God”, creates a universe and puts a planet in it. “He” populates this planet with all manner of animals, plants and two people to whom he gives instructions. He only tells these people about a handful of the animals and plants he has put there (no kangaroos etc.) and gives them no sense of the size or shape of the place – only that they are in a “garden”.

            He made these two people the way he WANTED to and, being an omnipotent creator of at least one universe, we can assume he got it right; any flaws they contained were of HIS making.

            He puts a tree in the garden and tells them not to eat from it. They do anyway. He acts surprised (How does one go about trying to surprise a god?) and punishes them massively. He also punishes all their offspring for all eternity; he punishes them for being what he made.

            Some generations later, he reveals to one such descendant Ten Commandments by which they all must live. Fully FOUR of the ten, 40% of the entire process, are aimed at making sure that they know (or at least pretend) that HE is the real one (thereby implying the existence of others) and they must show him the utmost respect, not even THINK about worshipping any of the others.

            Wait a minute? An entity capable of creating universes is so disproportionately concerned that he might not be sufficiently WORSHIPPED (and by the flawed inhabitants of HIS creation, on one little obscure rock in an obscure corner of his MASSIVELY larger universe, at that) that he devotes 40% of the penal code to threatening them into obedience????? I’m starting to feel a scoff coming on. Sorry, I digress.

            Later still, but still in a primitive corner of this little world; one which most of the humans then on this planet had never heard of and would never visit, he impregnates a virgin so that his son – who is himself – can get himself executed so as to die-but-not-die to “save” them all.

            All they have to do, in a nutshell, is BELIEVE. At the time, to most people, this would have gone unnoticed – no Messiah in China, India, the Americas, Europe – JUST the Middle East, and not all of even THAT.

            “If you swallow all this you will be saved”.

            Can you HONESTLY say that you are surpsrised that, now that we know rather more about this rock and all the others, have heard all the OTHER “one true” stories put about by every stripe of primitive society since the dawn of civilization (from Atahualpa to Zeus, via Ganesh, Pan, Thor, Venus and thousands of others) than was known by those who wrote your stories – can you HONESTLY say that, when you say you actually BELIEVE it and want us to do the same, some of us do not mock and scoff.

            If so, how?

            We have looked at it – quite a lot in some cases – and we see nothing even remotely worthy of belief, faith or even attention. The only reason it gets attention is because so many people not only persist in believing it but want to run the world as if it were true! We’d expect to be scoffed at if we didn’t stand up and scream NO – VERY LOUDLY!

            Longer than I intended. Hope you get this far.

          • DJ

            Dave Anderson, I do not place every non-believer in the category of scoffer or mocker. People are free to believe or not believe. They can even “scoff” at the notion of believing, but remain polite and civil. I do categorize Blanche as a mocker/scoffer because her tone in response to every Christian comment is, as one atheist here called it “combative”. I have maintained from the outset that I am not here to try to convert anyone…I could not if I wanted to, that grace is a gift of God alone. It is impossible to explain Christian spiritual principals to carnal people. If you find it preposterous to believe,then simply go on your merry way. Jesus did not spend a minute trying to make believers out of unbelievers, nor to pull anyone away from the love of the world to a relationship with God. If you love your life without God, then enjoy your life without God. I use Scriptural examples in response to certain comments or questions that are directed towards me, in order to provide insight into the worldview that I hold, not to try to convince anyone of anything. I’m truly not interested in debating with you, or anyone else. I think we can both agree that that would be a waste of time.

          • Dave Anderson

            Well said (for the most part – I think you can work out where the exceptions are). And I certainly agree that you and I debating over this is never likely to get us anywhere,

            I must make one point a little more strongly than I did before though – then you can feel free to go on your merry way and I will do the same :-) .

            We are often asked WHY we get involved in debates and discussions with people we regard as hopelessly deluded when there is no chance of changing their minds. It IS a frustrating exercise most of the time (the rare exceptions sometimes making the rest worthwhile) but the reason is rather simple and very important.

            Christians – and Muslims, Jews, theists in general (and I really make no distiction between any of them) – believe, in varying degrees, that they have the right – often defended in law – to do any or all of the following:-

            - “Teach” their superstition to their children as if it were undisputed fact when, in fact, even the largest religions only make up a small minority of global popular opinion.

            - Expect their superstition to be “respected” and given special treatment in places where they “happen” to make up a major part of the population. “Happen” is in quotes because, of course, it is no accident but the direct result of my first point.

            - In more extreme cases, get the legal system to enforce their “morality” on the entire population (Sharia Law, gay marriage, abortion, contraception, Sabbath observance, etc.)

            - In milder cases (Anglicans are good at this one), in defence of their own freedoms, argue for the same freedoms for all the REALLY whacky ones and any Tom, Dick or Harry who starts a cult and calls it a “church”.

            I could go on for hours but I think my point is clear. ANY theist who sticks his/her head up above the surface of the sand MUST be told (they don’t have to believe what they hear, but they MUST hear it) that there is opposition and it will not live under the yoke of superstition, allow its kids to, or allow anyone else “Get Out of Common Sense Free” card when it comes to messing with the minds of the young.

            Done. Mission accomplished if you get this far.

            I leave in peace :-)

          • aesthete2

            How dare someone feel combative when Theists step up first, with false victimization, lies and blatant dishonesty? How tolerant must we be of the intolerant when their words, actions and tone push abuse, dishonesty and insanity on the world and our government.

            No, I’m strictly ethical and I won’t stand aside and pretend you are being good just because you are foolish and confused. That doesn’t help any of us, it certainly doesn’t help you. Pretending that religion was good is what has probably destroyed this world.

            The climate change will eventually whittle mankind down to a few, you only have yourselves to thank.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            Wow, you have been watching too much Fox “News” – I agree… Back in the early 70′s the Baptists decided to back Roe vs Wade as their idea was that they didn’t want to put their beliefs into politics or perhaps politics might want to have a say in what they believed….. That was then, now we have a different situation where they want to have us dictate science policy based off of 1% of scientists they pick and ignore the other 99% and common sense – the blow back of this will hurt them much more then if they would have just stuck to preaching in their Churches. You screw with me, I screw with you – THAT is the law of the land, and unless they can get resurrected, or have God throw a few plagues (although nature is fully capable of that itself) reality might be a bitch for organized religion. I want to play nice, but I don’t feel my positions are getting as much respect as I have given religion in the past and they are trying to screw with my kids futures and our species future – you have no idea what nature itself can do, and has done to the earth as you haven’t studied it – reality is worse then hell as there could be no life on this Earth rather easily.

          • DJ

            A2, again with the generalizations and broad brush prejudice. I’m not pro-religion, I’m pro-personal relationship with God. I am not affiliated with a denomination. This “us vs them” mentality is unproductive, I don’t know how many different ways I can say that.

          • aesthete2

            I wasn’t saying that the combative attitude was towards you – you condemned an atheist combative attitude in general, so I was responding to that.

            And yes, when you condemn people for responding in kind as if they alone are responsible for the emotions flaring up, then you too are pushing the Us vs Them.

            You have more emotional disdain in this discussion than you give yourself credit for.

          • DJ

            A2, go back and read that post again where you referenced “combative”. I used a term that another atheist (Silvawebdev) remarked to Blanche. He said he agreed with her points, but was not as combative as she was…I was very specific with to whom I agreed fit that description. There was no broad stroke on my end. You misread..

          • aesthete2

            “I do categorize Blanche as a mocker/scoffer because her tone in response to every Christian comment is, as one atheist here called it “combative”.”

            I was responding to this comment. And my point was, she has every right to be combative – many of the comments from the Christians were so in the first place.

            I find you to be combative too. I’m just not going to put you down for it.

          • DJ

            A2, I can assure you that I hold no feelings of animosity towards you, or anyone else commenting here, not even Blanche. I was just agreeing with that assessment of her by Silvawebdev, a person of kindred spirit, and remarking how pointless it was to exchange thoughts with someone who “mocks” the Bible. This, she openly does, and it is not a derogatory term, its a descriptive term. I don’t believe I was combative in any of my comments, however I will take extra care to re-read and edit my comments so as to not give that impression. I apologize to you if I came across that way to you.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            It is hard to discuss these issues with stepping on toes… as really you are telling a person they are NOT going to heaven , and however nice you might dress it you are basically saying their beliefs are crap….especially if they have no room for any change to their narrative – as most Evangelicals have boxed themselves into. Even the Catholics allow some fudge room as they have been around long enough to realize what you need to do to be able to survive. Either the “New Christians” will change, or they will fade away as they cannot keep saying “facts” that cannot be verified and in many cases can be proved wrong – no matter how much they wish it.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            It’s always nice when discussion degrade to attacks on verbiage ;) Hopefully we can all read between a few lines without getting too lost. We all are here to discuss, learn and enhance our understanding and we all have different techniques of doing so – the beauty of life, humans and communication ;)

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            An interesting conversation to me is getting different Christian faiths in a room and having them talk – they all seem to be going to hell one way or another…it’s a really tricky situation when you make rules on interpretations and then try to defend them to those who are similar, but decidedly different in their view. Sure you can say an atheist is going to hell, but what about a Catholic vs Baptist or a Unitarian vs a Mormon etc… I hate to find levity in others distress, but it really creates some interesting and strange (and disturbing) situations.

          • Dave Anderson

            AND, rather than pick one???? “-)

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            It’s almost like a Gay Republican – sure you like calling yourself a conservative, but do you hate yourself, or get of on everyone else hating you? The mix of politics and religion/idealism has really caused some problems, although really, if the Republican had not co-opted all the previously democratic pro Union Catholics by going anti-abortion then they would loose 10 million plus few voters and no elections….

        • Jerry Nelson

          Goblinman, I could hardly agree more with this statement that you made:

          “An eternal hell is literally the most evil construct imaginable, and could not exist without God also being evil. It could only be created by a being of such insatiable sadism that even the death of wayward mortals does not satisfy it.”

          Interpreting the Bible to say that God will destroy the wicked eternally in hellfire or darkness is a tragic misunderstanding that has greatly misrepresented the God who is found in the Bible. Those that are destroyed by fire, the Bible consistently teaches, will vanish as smoke. Yes, the consequences or punishment is eternal–that means that the death will not end. The Bible doesn’t speak of eternal punishing (something ongoing eternally) but rather punishment (an event that ends when the task is completed). According to the Bible, God’s intent for hellfire was to end Satan, his cohorts and their reign of evil and death on this planet. It is not intended for humans, but sadly, many by linking themselves to the side that remains linked with evil will be included. God is love. He wants to freely draw people to his side.

          So, why do most Christians hold to the idea that hell is an eternally burning place to punish the wicked? Because they have wrongly understood the nature of man. The Bible doesn’t teach that man is immortal. When you die–you die. Your breath or spark of life returns to God who is the life giver. There is no conscience existence after death…..Until the resurrection. The Bible is very clear about this. The resurrection will restore life in bodily form. No existence or consciousness outside of the body. But at the resurrection life eternal is granted as a gift to those that have received it. It is not an inherent quality within humanity. The concept of humans being intrinsically immortal is taught in most religions of the world–except in the Bible. Satan is the one that says “you will not surely die”. God says the wages of sin is death–not eternal life in hellfire.

      • Blanche Quizno

        Another insightful post, silvawebdev – especially this part:

        “I … don’t believe that there is anything divine, or how one religion can claim to be more diving because they have a book or books – many religions do, or millions of followers – many religions do, or thousands of years of history – again, many religions do.”

        Let’s take Christianity as an example here. If you examine the Bible, you find that it was written with civilization firmly established. Upon leaving the Garden of Eden, A&E have two sons, one of whom kills the other. So the murderer is banished. He walks for a bit. What’s the first thing he does? Builds a city!

        Everything in the Bible revolves around civilization’s rulers’ needs, so the populace at large must be exhorted to be obedient, submissive, and cooperative. That, after all, is what enables kleptocrat classes (Jared Diamond’s designation, from “Guns, Germs, and Steel”) such as nobility and clergy to survive and prosper. Clergy gain official sanction and support by providing the supernatural justification for the rulers’ existence and policies. One hand washes the other.

        Notice that, in the French Revolution, when the starving populace had finally had enough of being taken advantage of, they slaughtered nobility AND clergy. These “men of god” (and women of god) had consistently and persistently betrayed them, selling them out so that the nobility could take everything they wanted.

        If we look around us at some of the non-industrial tribal societies that still exist, we see entirely different social and religious structures. Equality runs rampant through hunter/gatherer groups. If there’s a “big man”, it’s just for certain official functions; he works and lives exactly as everyone else. The Piraha of Brazil are absolutely atheist – they have no god-concept at all http://ffrf.org/publications/freethought-today/item/13492-the-pirahae-people-who-define-happiness-without-god. Where peoples have god-belief of some sort, it’s typically more a pantheon or animism – they live in a world immersed and steeped in spirit, yet while these spirit-beings have different powers than people do, they can be reasoned with, bargained with, and even punished by people when the spirit-beings fail to keep their end of the deal.

        I believe that, now that we have secular laws to protect people from religious persecution, we are finding people wandering back to the animist beliefs of the hunter/gatherers, which, after all, was the social environment we “grew up” in. Civilization is a quite modern development, and it has brought so many ills to humankind that Jared Diamond has referred to it as “humanity’s biggest mistake.”

        The religions that have sprung from the civilization milieu should obviously be skeptically and intensively scrutinized to see just WHO they are organized to benefit – you won’t find a single one, I’ll wager, whose purpose is to actually help real individual people in tangible ways. No, monies collected go toward paying for and promoting the religion, not the people. And because religions are exempted by tradition from paying taxes, every family in the US has to pay on average $1000 more in taxes to make up for the parasite churches. If these BUSINESSES – because that’s what churches are – can’t succeed without all sorts of government handouts, they deserve to fail.

        • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

          There are few examples of true altruism in history – as in reality we are all helping each other out either socially, or through some kind of feedback, or just to feel good. The New Testament is a good example as it is about rebirth and hope and let’s those imaging they can be more then they are currently – I would say that (out of left field) that one of the biggest gifts ever give by a ruler was the gift of the writing (Hangul) given to all the Koreans in 1443 when the king developed the simple alphabet based on phonetics so all of his people could read – I know of few instances in which a king has given more to his subjects. Before they used a version similar to Chinese which very few could read and took years to master.

      • Goblinman

        Jerry Nelson,

        I’m glad you take that viewpoint. I wish more Christians did.

        DJ,

        I mean no offense by this, but I view the Bible as essentially a work of fiction (I don’t single it out–I feel the same way about all religious texts). From my own studies of it, it’s clear that even if parts of it were divinely inspired (something I don’t believe could happen in a literal sense, of course), the text has been significantly changed by human hands later on. Even before the various translations there were insertions and alterations, and, we can assume, removals (there were a number of gospels that were rejected by the early Christians, for instance, and never made it into public knowledge).

        I mention this because your stance–that even the possibility of God being evil is absurd–only makes sense if you also believe the Bible is 100% true. Within the Bible, as you detail, God’s plan regarding humanity is revealed, showing God to be integral not only to the working of the universe, but to morality. Indeed, it’s a common refrain heard by atheists that all morality flows from God.

        The problem here is that, by your own beliefs, the Bible was written by (or at least revealed by) God himself. In short: the evidence we have for God’s goodness is God’s own word. How can we know the Bible, too, was not fabricated to deceive us? God would certainly be skilled enough to do so.

        It also follows that, if anyone could change their own rules on a whim, it would be God. This is especially the case if God is not bound by the rules of reality and logic (I have encountered some people who seem to believe this): he could simultaneously break and uphold his own laws without causing contradiction. Thus, he could simultaneously be wholly good and wholly evil. He could also do what Blanche proposed without it conflicting with his earlier actions.

        This isn’t just a game of semantics, though. Take the Koran, for instance. Since you are Christian, you must not believe it was written by God. Devout Muslims do, however–and just as fervently as you believe in the Bible. How is it that they, with all their faith and certainty, are the ones who are deceived and you are not? Most importantly: how do you know that the same force that deceived them is not also at work deceiving you? They have been led away from God by the same instincts which led you to him. How, then, can any set of beliefs based on those instincts be trusted?

        My point isn’t in regards to whether Christianity or Islam is better: all major religions are built on the same foundation faith, and each one claims a different truth. You are not the only one who I have heard say they feel God in their heart–and yet each one feels a different God. I believe that you believe what you say you do, but I cannot trust any of you to speak the truth.

        • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

          The question to the religious needs to be – you explain to me how your feelings of belief are any stronger or more valid then other religions, how you number of believers is more important then the other billion who believe something else, how your books (old or new) are more valid then the books and teachings of other religions. It really is up to the believer of a religion to prove their religion is real, not up to non-believers of their faith (atheists and those of other faiths which at a minimum is 4 billion people…) to prove that their religion is not true. How can the nonbelievers prove anything as we are not the experts – you are?

          And again to the religious I do not mock you, or belittle you – to a certain degree I envy you as eternal life (in some religions) or instant healing, or living another reincarnation would be a great thing. I do not want to rock your faith, but in investigating your faith – if it is the true faith – investigation should only strengthen your belief as your learn the truth.

          Also, do not fear for me as I would love to live forever, or be reincarnated, but there is so much wonder in the world and Universe – the more you see the more you wonder that it is incredible in itself – so incredible, and what we know of it now – the sheer scale of the universe is beyond anything our ancestors could even imagine – we can see it now and still really can’t comprehend. The fact that every element in our body was forged in a star, a supernova millions of light years away and ago is just mind boggling. Even though some may think it is belittling to think we are just little specs of finite life on a ball of rock – we now know the world is not just the Earth, but part of the Universe itself – as we are too.

        • DJ

          Goblinman, I appreciate your viewpoint. If all we had of the Bible was the book of Isaiah, we would have all that we needed to learn of God’s plan of redemption. the book of Isaiah is a condensed version of the entire Bible. A scroll containing the book of Isaiah was discovered in the Dead Sea scrolls, and dated to be from~ 100bc. they compared the text of the more contemporary Hebrew translation, and with the exception of a few grammatical changes, the integrity of Isaiah has been remarkedly maintained. I see the rest of the Bible as an expansion of this condensed book. For me, the Scriptures have always rung “true”. I have studied other belief systems, but none of them spoke to me, like the Holy Scriptures do. What else can I say about that? The Scriptures speak to some, and not to others. I believe that is also the work of the Holy Spirit.

      • Blanche Quizno

        DJ, I see you won’t even entertain the scenario for the sake of a thought experiment. The reason I thought it up is because so many Christians insist that they aren’t just in it for the “eternity of bliss”, but because God, as their creator, is just so very worthy of worship and love, for the fact of their being created, that no matter what happened, they could simply not help but love and worship.

        My thought experiment rather explodes that notion – for all the Christian claims I’ve run across over the years about how they love God simply because they feel such a deep and inexhaustible appreciation for being alive, not a one has deigned to answer whether that font of appreciation would remain overflowing if they knew for a fact that their creator was only marking time until it could begin torturing them for all eternity.

        “If God is such a superior being, certainly he’s capable of making mere mortals believe he is wholly good–even if he is not.”

        And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 2 Corinthians 11:14

      • Blanche Quizno

        “carnal people”

        If I’m a “mocker and a scoffer”, DJ, then you’re a maligner and a pompous, self-important insulter.

      • Blanche Quizno

        “Your questions show a lack of investigation.”

        Thank you, Hans, for attempting to answer, but as you will see, your answers are not in the least clear. I still don’t understand what you mean, and from the obliqueness of your answers, I don’t think you do, either. It’s like you expect people to accept the phrase without question, as so many Christians do, and just nod sagely as if it’s obvious. It’s not. These are phrases Christians are trained to react in specific ways to, that are repeated so often that they are learned by rote – no comprehension required.

        “Jesus is the way: it means through Him we can come to the Father. He payed to make the way.”

        What does “way” mean here? If it means “Follow Jesus’s teachings,” then virtually all Christians fail. They don’t wander about preaching, not worrying about where they’ll sleep or where their next meal will come from because “god will provide” (Matthew 5). They are judgmental, against Jesus’s very clear orders not to be (Matthew 7) AND they pray in public, against Jesus’s very clear prohibition of that practice (Matthew 6).

        So, no, you have not explained what “the way” means. It’s still incomprehensible. What would a person have to do to “come to the Father”? What does “through Him” even mean? Do we have to cut him open and climb through? It’s not at all clear, and I’m starting to suspect Christians have *no idea* what any of this means, just that they’re supposed to keep repeating it as if it’s deeply meaningful and everybody knows better than to say they don’t understand. I’m not subject to that groupthink pressure, though – I DO NOT UNDERSTAND. And it looks like NO ONE is able to explain.

        “Jesus is the truth: the bible says the truth makes you free.”

        Sorry, but “truth” cannot be a person without at the same time losing all meaning. Unless we’re talking Sojourner Truth – that was the name she chose. But it was just a name! It looks like you’re engaging in a bit of circular reasoning here:

        Jesus is the Christian savior. Savior means something like “sets free”. The Bible says the truth makes you free, so, since a savior makes you free and Jesus is the savior, that means Jesus is the truth.

        Sorry, but that’s utterly meaningless twaddle. It has no real meaning.

        “Jesus is the life; through Him one can receive eternal life, which is not just enduring but rather a tremendous quality of life: Gods life.”

        Oh, boy, THAT’s a whopper! Do you recall WHY God supposedly booted Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3? It wasn’t because they’d eaten the fruit and gained understanding of good and evil. No, it was because God had stupidly left the Tree of Eternal Life right there within easy reach, too! And God was afraid that, if A&E scampered on over there and ate of ITS fruit, well, let’s let Genesis 3:22-24 tell us the tale:

        “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”

        Notice that the “cursing” of A&E for eating that fruit had already happened, in Genesis 3:14-19. Being banished from the garden wasn’t part of it. It was only when God had that facepalm moment and realized, “Oh crap, I left the Tree of Life *right there* TOO! What was I thinking???” that A&E got booted.

        I suspect that your saying that any lowly human, a mere creation, could have “God’s life” is quite serious blasphemy. Just sayin’… Oh, and we still haven’t gotten any clarity on the precise mechanisms and details of HOW “eternal life” is “received” “through” someone else (who apparently doesn’t even exist). Some sort of secret handshake?

        BTW, these are all very serious questions. It doesn’t appear that Christians can explain their doctrines in comprehensible terms and must instead rely on rote memorization of catch-phrases and solemn looks.

      • Blanche Quizno

        chrisnfolsom, why is it that the icon picture associated with this ID is the exact same picture as the icon associated with the silvawebdev ID?

        • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

          This forum sucks – I changed my ID in my settings and some are old and some are new – it didn’t update them – yet perhaps… Really should use disqus forums – MUCH better – which really is just a wordpress plugin you can use… same person ;)

      • Blanche Quizno

        Perhaps I was not clear – at the end of Genesis 3, after A&E have been cursed for eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (and thus gained knowledge of good and evil against God’s wishes), God fears that its creations will become its equals if they eat of the Tree of Eternal Life and become immortal, too!

        Genesis 3:22 Later, the LORD God said, “Look! The man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, so he won’t reach out, also take from the tree of life, eat, and then live forever—”

        In the Jewish translation, this fear of the creation being regarded as gods themselves is explicitly acknowledged. God says to itself – “See here, now! We can’t have our creation being our equal!” And then God answers itself and actually has a debate with itself and then maybe gets in an argument with itself and it escalates into a fight, etc. Holy Fight Club, Batman!

        Note that this isn’t the only place in the Old Testament where we find God afraid of its creation – in the Tower of Babel story, the scenario is presented as if people really could make a tall enough towers of rocks and sticks and buffalo dung to reach God! Thus, God has to smite them and that’s why we have so many languages in the world, children.

        Hm. I wonder if that tower of logs and stones was taller than the Sears Tower…or any of those really tall skyscrapers in Dubai and Hong Kong. Those don’t seem to bother God at all – what’s changed? Oh, yeah, we stopped believing God lived on the upside of the clouds. That’s what riding in an airplane will do for you – shows you where God isn’t!

      • Blanche Quizno

        Please notice how the Christian contributors here are routinely offering platitudes, private language, and catch words and phrases, then castigating anyone who asks for an explanation.

        If an explanation is offered, it appears to consist of simply repeating the same slogan, even though it was pointed out that the slogan, as-is, did not communicate anything meaningful.

        Daniel Dennett, in his book “Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon” addresses this:

        “A somewhat less obvious design feature was the inclusion of incomprehensible elements! Why would this help transmission? By obliging the transmitters to fall back on “direct quotation” in circumstances where they might otherwise be tempted to use “indirect quotation” and just transmit the gist of the occasion “in their own words” — a dangerous source of mutation. The underlying idea is familiar enough to us all in the (usually despised, but effective) pedagogical method: rote learning. “Don’t try to understand these formulas! Just memorize them!” If you are simply unable to understand the formulas, or some aspect of them, you don’t need the admonition; you have no recourse but memorization, and that reinforces the reliance on strict rehearsal and the error-correcting genius of alphabets. The admonition, however, may well be there as well, as yet another memory-enhancing feature: Say the formula exactly! Your life depends on it! (If you don’t say the magic word just right, the door won’t open. The devil will get you if you misspeak.) To repeat the refrain that should be familiar by now: nobody had to understand these rationales, or even want to improve the copying fidelity of the rituals in which they participated; it is rather that any rituals that just happened to be favored by these features would have a powerful replicative advantage over competing rituals that lacked them.” p. 150.

        Religion HAS TO BE incomprehensible! That forces people to simply repeat slogans and catch-phrases, and as with the emperor parading about buck naked, no one is going to be the one to point out that he has no clothes. None of them understand what they’re talking about – they have been conditioned, through indoctrination in childhood and too many hours surrounded by other Christians – to feel a certain reaction when one of these slogans or catch-phrases is uttered. It’s Pavlovian – they have been trained to feel a certain emotional response when they hear and especially when they say these strings of words, which don’t actually have any real meaning. Hence the obvious impossibility of explaining what the strings of words mean in any understandable terms. Everything else can be explained, you see, but the most successful religions are full of terminology that defies explanation. “It’s a mystery.” “We cannot know the mind of God.” “This is an expression of God’s perfection and inimitable plan.” Etc. etc.

        Also, Dennett notes that public recitation/repetition is a powerful tool to facilitate and enhance memory. And if you want someone to remember something, make a rhyme and a song out of it – sing the alphabet, anyone? You don’t even have to think about it! Remembered rhyming songs, whether they’re hymns or commercial jingles, are incredibly “sticky” within our memory circuits. It’s not the content that matters, just the form.

        Notice, also, the idea that certain *sounds* have magical power – like the way the magic words “Open Sesame!” cause the door to the treasure cave to open for Aladdin (2001 Arabian Nights version, not Disney). Similarly, religions are full of these “magic spells”. When Christians, at every church service, repeat the “Lord’s Prayer” together, they’re repeating a magical incantation. Likewise closing every prayer “In Jesus name amen”. It’s a magic spell intended to activate God’s obligation to deliver on the prayer just voiced. The fact that it doesn’t work doesn’t change the original motivation.

      • Blanche Quizno

        “For me, the Scriptures have always rung “true”. I have studied other belief systems, but none of them spoke to me, like the Holy Scriptures do. What else can I say about that? The Scriptures speak to some, and not to others. I believe that is also the work of the Holy Spirit.”

        So, DJ, the “Holy Spirit” arranged for you to be born into a family who held that particular book to be “true”, and for you to live immersed within a culture where the perspective that that particular book was “true” was dominant, so that, when you grew up, you naturally gravitated toward what had, for your entire life, been presented to and around you as “true”.

        Yes, that’s truly miraculous. Note that it also explains why most Indians grow up to be Hindus, and most Saudis, Iranians, Pakistanis, Iraqis, and Afghans grow up to be Muslim. Hooray for the work of the Holy Ganesh and the Holy Prophet!

        Oh, hey, here’s a joke: A priest, a rabbi, and an iman walk into a bar. The bartender says, “What’s your poison?” All three reply in unison, “Reason, of course!”

        • DJ

          Blanche, I grew up in a decidedly unchristian dysfunctional and violent home. So violent, in fact, and unloving, that I moved out when I was 16 years old. The Bible was never spoken of, nor were prayers made at the dinner table. You are stuck on stereotypes.

      • Goblinman

        DJ,

        My story is rather similar to yours, with the exception that the Bible doesn’t ring any truer to me than any of the holy scriptures from other faiths. I find that science provides a much more satisfying explanation of the world–with the caveat that it is simply a tool of understanding, not a guide for living a complete life. Science, as a way of knowing, gets results–both good and bad, but undeniably real. Faith only seems to result in people talking past each other about things they can only prove to themselves.

        More than that, though, I find “materialistic” explanations to be more fulfilling than ones involving the supernatural or divine. There is an awe and mystery to witnessing a mindless universe–a sense of both place and much-needed humility in my own insignificance. It’s a reminder that I can never really know anything, and that the small life that I have should be treasured.

        • DJ

          Goblinman, thank you for sharing your experience. Science rendered a different conclusion for me. When I studied physiology, microbiology, chemistry… et al, in college, I was impressed with the delicate balance and intricate relationship contained within the smallest cell, and the grand expand of the universe. It settled any question that might be proposed to my mind as to whether or not there exists a creator. All of these systems follow certain laws designed for these systems and an order that I cannot reconcile apart from an intelligent and creative God. Please understand, I am not in any way discounting or attempting to invalidate your experience, I am merely sharing and comparing. I appreciate your willingness to do so.

          • Dave Anderson

            In the same spirit, if I may, I have never understood this argument. If everything is so complex that it cannot have occurred “naturally”, how can there be something – which must be even MORE complex – already there to create it?

            Either complexity CAN occur naturally (in which case we don’t need a creator) or it can’t (in which case we can’t HAVE one).

            It solves nothing.

          • DJ

            Dave, in response to the comment “…how can there be something – which must be even MORE complex – already there to create it?”… the finite isn’t quite able to grasp the infinite, as Paul the apostle said “we all see through a glass darkly….” in other words, we may see parts of it, but not all of it, and we each may see a different part of it. Some may be dissatisfied with not having every i dotted, or every t crossed, but I’ve long accepted some measure of mystery. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Dt.29:29) What I’ve discovered is that when certain situations develop in my life ,suddenly, a Scripture that seemed obscure to me, would come to mind, bringing with it understanding and enlightenment. Someday I believe we will all understand the hows and whys of most everything, but I am content to be patient and to let the Lord reveal what I need to know, when I need to know it. The idea of an eternal God without beginning or end, is simply too grand to wrap the brain around…but also is the endless sky and innumerable stars. That’s what makes life interesting.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            “…how can there be something – which must be even MORE complex – already there to create it?”… the finite isn’t quite able to grasp the infinite, as Paul the apostle said “we all see through a glass darkly….”

            It’s really not hard to see how this works as it comes down to chance and information – once you can gather and process information you can build on it. Just look at a child – they take information in and build on it. A cell takes in food and through DNA is able to convert it – through trial and error the DNA is changed and the characteristic is modified and successful or not. We can show through chance that you can get to a system where some form of information processing can start – very simple, but once it starts it’s information, it’s there and it builds.

            in other words, we may see parts of it, but not all of it, and we each may see a different part of it. Some may be dissatisfied with not having every i dotted, or every t crossed, but I’ve long accepted some measure of mystery.

            Compare what we can do now and understand now to what was understood and we could do 2000 years ago and we would be Gods. “Knowing” is a bad measurement as we continue to know more and more.

            in other words, we may see parts of it, but not all of it, and we each may see a different part of it. Some may be dissatisfied with not having every i dotted, or every t crossed, but I’ve long accepted some measure of mystery.

            What I’ve discovered is that when certain situations develop in my life ,suddenly, a Scripture that seemed obscure to me, would come to mind, bringing with it understanding and enlightenment.

            The issue atheists have with this is that by nature we are pattern seeking beings and will find patters in nature, or other religions just as easily as through Christianity – so why do Christians feel they are more right? Because they “feel” that way – is there feeling better then other religions? Do they have any special powers as Christians that give them power over other religions or atheists?

            Someday I believe we will all understand the hows and whys of most everything, but I am content to be patient and to let the Lord reveal what I need to know, when I need to know it.

            If that was the case then not much would have been invented and Christianity would have disappeared as there are other religions/civilizations that are willing to not “be patient” and will ask the hard questions and push themselves.

            The idea of an eternal God without beginning or end, is simply too grand to wrap the brain around…but also is the endless sky and innumerable stars. That’s what makes life interesting.

            Indeed

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            As someone who is deeply spiritual through studying science I cannot believe in the Christian God as told through most interpretations – especially if the Bible is to be regarded as and infallible text, or the earth is supposed to be 6,000 years old. The only place I can see for a God is at the Big Bang or beyond which really doesn’t allow for him to be intricately involved in our life through intervention at this point. All the beliefs are the same in all the civilization – to most degrees which have to be based on human sociological needs to live together and be successful. None one culture is more successful based on their deity as far as I can see. Success is based on natural resources, war, or other factors which do not seem to go outside of the bounds of science as we know it. The more we study about animals the more we see that they play, they mock, they have social structures and of course empathy – even between species – as well as homosexuality and other “deviant” behaviors. It really is through the messiness of things, and not the order that you can see through the centuries our penchant to remember the things we like, and forget that which we don’t, and of course through the purging of history by the church and the elites we can see that the reason we don’t have more contradictory evidence is that it has been removed.

            The only issue I have is that I do respect my fathers, and forefathers and history and believe there is a good function for a deity in a society as I am not sure what percentage of people can do good just because it makes rational sense and not because of fear or belief in something beyond themselves. If I could wave my hand and all religions would be destroyed – would I do it? Probably not, but we are at a point where we need to make a transition out of the dark as our ancestors many years ago ventured forth out of the water, the jungle and into the world – wondering what is ahead and what might be makes it all worthwhile.

          • DJ

            Chris, it’s hard to know how much of history has been revised over the years to advance a particular agenda or social thought. I’m thankful for original documents which help to piece together some idea of what really happened…but i find I can indentify with Pontius Pilate who asked Jesus “what is truth?” at least as it pertains to all things historical. Because of revisionists, historical accounts of many events are suspect. But it seems that science has its own dark ages as you are probably aware, particularly in the area of “medicine”. For your enjoyment, here is a link that I think will give you a laugh.

            http://www.cracked.com/article_15669_the-10-most-insane-medical-practices-in-history.html. Enjoy.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            I am amazed the books we have, have survived to today. It’s kind of crazy when we defend arguments with interpretations of the “intentions” of people in the past such as the arguments on the second amendment and such – they had NO idea of the power of personal arms that we have today (would probably scare the hell out of them) and yet we are arguing about the intent of one person or another – screw it, I don’t bring up playground arguments when I was a child the justify present situations I run into – it’s just a mechanism to not think today – the is much wisdom from the past, but do misapply it to justify ridiculous claims today is a pretty juvenile activity – again, what makes you “feel” good is not always what makes sense..

            So much of history in the past “the real” history was never written down, never copied over and over -by hand – so that a fire, storm, war, or whatever made that information lost to time…and so much wisdom was lost by those cultures we have no written record from – and really, can we look at carvings, religious texts and all the other ramblings of the elite and get and idea as to the motivations and “reality” of the people of their time? Could aliens do that today given TV and other media, wars from today (love it when Star Trek does this). We must honor what we see of the past, but we really have to forge our way and use those general principles, but we need to create our own rules moving forward.

          • Dave Anderson

            Point taken , but here’s the difference – and I quote from your link:-

            “Finally in 1910 the New York Times decided the whole narcotic-babysitter concept was probably bad in the long run.”

            Well worked out fellas! No, really, it WAS.

            Two points really:-

            1. Religion and science were both horribly wrong in the distant past. One of them got better with time, the other didn’t. That’s because one insists on learning from its mistakes, the other on repeating them ad nauseum.

            2. These products were marketed by corporations who were using good science for bad purposes (anyone remember splitting the atom? That had similar issues). The NYT finds out and stands up as journalists should. Problem solved. Not without some damaged kids, I grant you, but solved until the next time. If the damage had been coming from a church instead of a corporation, how d’ya suppose that would have played out?

            Oh, wait, we know the answer to that, don’t we? Evidence doesn’t count, it’s (blind) faith that matters.

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com quine001

            Unfortunately, most people don’t know the difference between science and engineering. Science finds out reliable knowledge about the world around us, and then engineering puts that knowledge to use making technology. The technology then gets used as tools to advance science, but it can also be used to make products that damage the world. If you understand this, you stop blaming science for misused technology.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            Unfortunately, most people don’t know the difference between science and engineering.

            Science does allow us to project ourselves more. The one missing aspect here is sociology which of course includes religion. It is not the tool (gun) that kills people, but the person and the environment they grow up in. I think that science/technology is ahead of our sociology, but is it usually that way as you sociology has to adapt to your science – which is a large problem with religions as they don’t change and want to apply old rules to new possibilities – you have to change.

            I always like to thing about life as a triangle with these three corners:

            1. Environment – nature, technology, everything we have under our control, or outside our control that affects us – temperature for instance.

            2. Biology – our bodies, our strength, our brain and it’s capacity to deal with crowds, being and individual. For instance hair allows us to live in colder temperatures – but also overheat in hot ones.

            3. Sociology – The knowledge and behavior we have to deal with both our environment and the limitations and possibilities of our biology.

            All of these have their limits and when you push one the others have to compensate. Of course our biology doesn’t change much, but it has limits and rules that have to be dealt with. STRESS is the result of imbalances in the system. If it’s cold your body fat and hair can compensate to some amount, but your sociology can help you to take advantage of your environment and make clothes. IF you change your environment and you now have cars you can now travel more then 20 miles a day, much quicker, can carry more supplies etc, etc. This changes many other issues – such as spreading diseases… the yin and yang.

            To me when I think of Sociological changes that push the environment, or our biology there is always some compensation – it is a system and nothing is affects just one aspect as there are always repercussions and if the environment changes and we don’t have enough rain and our sociology doesn’t tell us how to save water, or build dams which change our environmental balance then we have stress, we starve, we eat less, we could cease to exist..

            Yes technology changes our ability, but it is really part of our environment that we now can use based our on sociological rules we have – to kill, to heal, to love, to hate, to sacrifice – that is up to the rules we live by and change to create the lease amount of stress, or if we have stress we all know our bodies are less healthier, we can have psychological problems… My 2 cents – hope it makes some sense to you.

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com quine001

            Yes, something that always worries me is that technology is a gain factor that allows us to force our will on the environment, but whereas that gain increases exponentially, our wisdom as to what we “ought” to do, does not. In system theory that is a sure recipe for instability and crash.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            Yes, something that always worries me is that technology is a gain factor that allows us to force our will on the environment

            Yes although – perhaps – homo sapiens/neanderthals in North America might have taken out the larger mammals – with very little technology….I am concerned about issues such as antibiotics, food and such.

            I think you have to look at pressures that we have never dealt with before and realize that we probably had not learned how to deal with those issues socially before – like eliminating entire bio-zones. In the past we would burn forests, take out herds, over graze and grow and pollute mercilessly in our large cities. We could always move those, there were green pastures elsewhere and we were not as all encompassing as we are now – we can essentially devistate environments now – to the ground. There is little feedback from this until it is too late, and allowing companies a hand-off attitude. And “the populace” what can we say – ruin thousands of acres of land and no one cares – accidentally hurt a cute young girl or some other pr nightmare and the people mobilize…. Policy by popularity is one of our toughest problems in my opinion.

          • DJ

            Dave, I appreciate your standing, however corruption has found its way into every corner of this world, including science. Many scientists lament that they are unable to fund their research if it doesn’t satisfy a certain corporate interest or opposes a certain agenda. Often times reports are skewed or misreported to sway public opinion. A contemporary example of this sort of misreporting through the media is how many flu deaths occur each year. The rather large numbers they report (say..~35,000 people die of the flu each year)is a complete misrepresentation. The CDC data that is reported through media and literature is pure propaganda. That number is reflective of P&I….all pneumonias (including bacterial/fungal/other viral sources) in addition to Influenza. Of that rather large number, only a small fraction of deaths is attributable to actual influenza which includes deaths r/t comorbid factors and complications. So of that say 35,000 number you hear tossed around, the actual number of true influenza related deaths might be 450. That’s a relatively small number, and not likely to cause people to line up in a panic for the flu shot, so they put out that big number to scare the public into buying into their science “everyone needs a flu shot every year”. The CDC always combines the two (P&I)In their numbers because that “I” (influenza) number is so darn small. Pharmaceutical companies finance the studies on their own products to control the variables, and FDA officials are often found to have relationships with the pharmaceutical companies that should not exist if they are to be genuinely unbiased. We’ve all read of the practice of pharmaceutical reps “bribing” doctors to prescribe their medications with vacations and kickbacks. This is where the rubber meets the road in the lives of real people who are conditioned to look to the experts, scientists, to reveal the truth about a subject. Because scientific research must find funding, it is confined to serve the best interest of those providing the funding. Some discoveries never make the light of day. I truly don’t want to engage in debates, but let’s all be honest here…if there is money to be made, there is opportunity for corruption in every field of study…whether it be religion, or science or politics. That is not to say that everyone involved is corrupt, but that there is some level of corruption in nearly very field. It requires alot of discernment to get at the truth about anything. I think we’re all bored here because no one knows where Ryan is, so we’re just talking about nothing to pass the time. Hopefully he will post something soon and we can get on with why it is that we are here in the first place, and we can discuss amongst ourselves our impressions of his blog.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            Dave, I appreciate your standing, however corruption has found its way into every corner of this world, including science.

            Yes, and so because there are examples of fraud the whole system is bad. I mean really, what about fraud in Churches and especially horrible crimes against individuals as in the Catholic molestation issues. If we only concentrate on the few issues then we cannot make rational decisions. I mean looking on facebook, the government is out to get us, don’t trust the police, don’t trust scientists…. The problem to me is more the media and not the environment, or the rate of crime or corruption. There are some changes and money is more important then ever which is a systemic change that we need to discuss, but the answer is not to just dismiss all these institutions as beyond any honor or benefit to society. America is here not because of individuals, but because of individuals and a government that let us worry more about school and doing a good job at work then protecting our house, our money, our family or our life. It was the government that was/is the glue to it all – not individuals running around with guns thinking themselves exceptional..

          • DJ

            Chris, you make my case for me. It is difficult to navigate in this world, because it is so very deceptive and the love of money is the root of so many evils. I did include “religion” in my collection of corrupted systems, which is why there are born again believers who have withdrawn from the cultural christiandom/visible churches. Not every scientific institution operate with bias, though many do. Not every so called visible Christian church is corrupted, though many are. Can we at least agree on this?

            As you pointed out, the media is likewise corrupt…misrepresenting facts in order to further an agenda to deceive the public. This being the case, it is a good thing for all of us to let go of stereotypes which were designed to condition our thinking against those who disagree with us simply by categorizing people into groups, and dismissing them as a whole. It was so called science, that has corrupted our whole foods by genetically modifying crops to become their own pesticide, in order to line the pockets of Monsanto. Farmers in India are committing suicide because their farms are failing as a result, and there is accumulating evidence that these sort of modifications are altering human DNA. Europe wisely refuses all GMO crops from the USA, but here, we cannot not even get them to label the fact that a product contains GMO ingredients. Why the effort to keep this from the public if it is not harmful? I do not advocate throwing out the baby with the bath water, I advocate simply looking at the world as a whole. The whole system is corrupt. Skill is required to navigate circumspectly in order to discover the truth in every facet of this life.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            Well the skills we used and learned on the Savannah, jungle, or in modest groups through the millennia are not going to be fine tuned to allow us to work in all situations. We like sugar, salt, fat, and are attracted to moving objects, loud sounds and a pretty face. We are above purely Pavlovian responses, but even the smartest person can be swayed through many different methods to make decisions not in his best interest – especially with the tools and processes we know today, and the media and media distribution we now have.

            The “buyer beware” applies well to a fruit or a horse, but cars, electronics, houses, loans and such which demand expertise well beyond what any non-professional should have to know need to have protections, rules and regulations. We cannot all be expected to be professionals with all things that we see in today’s society – an old west attitude does not directly apply to an urban one.

            The first thing I believe we need to do is to have personal responsibility and professional responsibility…. One of the things that pissed me off 15 years ago was when the Anti Abortionist was shooting doctors. Now all the Christians I talked to said that it was wrong to kill – although the doctors were killers too – I know it’s nice to have the devil do your dirty work perhaps, but it is morally bankrupt to me. IF you are not willing to control your own group whether religious, financial, scholastic or whatever then the system will fail as who really knows a business or activity better then the people doing it. It’s a balance promoting something and policing it at the same time, but we all have to do that in most of our daily activities and we should expect it of our organizations – it should be wired into their existence and a point of pride when they find better ways to do what they do and control the problems that always arise.

          • aesthete2

            Because delicate balances and intricate relationships to your eye have some proof of an intelligent creator?

            So every time you find something intricate, somebody must have done that?

            Perhaps someone arranges the sand on the beach? The snowflakes on the tundra?

            Stuff that happens because of physical law is explainable by the laws. That you don’t know them doesn’t make it likely that someone else placed them in accordance to those laws. It means complexity happens – all the time. The longer the time, the more complex.

            Why would you take your incredulity and try to make it evidence?

          • DJ

            A2, delicate and intricate to my eye? If all we were talking about was sand and snow, you might have a point. How about the anatomy of the eye itself? One glance at the anatomy of the eye, never mind it’s well balanced functions, is enough discredit evolution. or the Ticarboxylic acid cycle of cell metabolism, or the complexity of the coagulation cascade? All by chance? Really? there are a miraid of physiological examples I could pull from. Quantum physics alone casts doubt on the substance of “matter” itself…yet another fascinating discovery. A2, as silly as you think I am for not believing in Darwin’s “theory of evolution”, I think of those who do. We will have to agree to disagree because I have found these sorts of debates to be fruitless and a waste of time for all involved. Its a dogma more than anything else. I think that we can agree that we’re pretty settled in our opinions, and agreeing on something, is at least some progress.

          • WW

            Actually, the human eye is very poorly designed. Do you actually know anything about its anatomy? If it had a creator, that creator was quite incompetent.

          • DJ

            WW…LOL….what else can I say?

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            This is a link to a TED talk that gives the latest info on the Big Band, and evolution – not too technical – even includes a warning.

            It is amazing as we all forget how Religion has backed away from using the word “perfect” in describing the human body, or other processes as we now know there is little perfect, much compromise, and much variety – regarding eyes, if God created eyes then why are there so many types, why do humans miss much of the quality that a shrimp can see (spectrum), or the sharpness of a bird, and of course why is there so much pain, suffering and physical maladies if we are so perfect… The Big Bang and Evolution make sense, Creation is nonsense – sorry, but those are the facts.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom
          • aesthete2

            Except, I’m sorry, it’s not a matter of opinions. You are lying to yourself that your opinion is as legitimate as science and evidence.

            And a bar of sand is far more complex than a single eye.

          • DJ

            A2…my point is that you do not have to look beyond a mirror to find creation’s testimony of a creator. A sandbar is complicated but easily determined by the tide and currents etc…Personally I find honey bees to be fascinating…talk about complicated!

          • aesthete2

            There’s nothing of any ‘testimony’ other than what you assume. You make up a pretty story for what you see because you don’t understand it. Then you expect other people to shore up that story for you.

            That’s not ethical, moral or well sane.

          • Dave Anderson

            DJ: There you go again! You DO have to look beyond a mirror. What things LOOK like, even whether they “look designed” is NOT evidence that they WERE designed.

            My earlier response covers this point with reference to the “eye fallacy” so I won’t repeat myself here. Instead, I’ll explain why we find this “There must be a designer, it’s too complicated otherwise” argument to be dishonest, as well as just wrong.

            Like a lot of theistic thinking, keeping it in a state where it makes any sense at all involves knowing EXACTLY when to stop thinking and proclaim “game over” (again, rather like your quick look at the eye being enough.

            If you want to argue that anything complex MUST have been designed, go ahead, but don’t stop thinking when you reach a point which is convenient to you – that’s CHEATING. KEEP thinking.

            You would have to consider this:-

            IF everything complex was designed and

            IF God is complex (and I would argue “he” would have to be)

            THEN God was designed.

            By whom/what? A god’s god?

            I hope you agree that’s nonsense (it’s called “infinite regress” and it comes up a lot)

            So, either there is or was an infinite succession of ever greater creators, each created by another. yet greater level of deity – ad infinitum – the lowest of them, the junior ones, just making universes and people (Just silly, right?) OR, your claim that complexity only comes from design is false because we have found an exception; data that does not fit. THAT’s called the scientific method, or logic, or, as prefer, the “Don’t stop thinking” approach.

            Suddenly, everything makes sense.

            As someone said before me, we are not atheists because we can’t be bothered to deal with the issue. We are atheists because we didn’t stop thinking.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            In a mirror you really don’t see much, you need a lab, and training to even understand what you are looking at. And really you are missing some of the most impressive, complex, basic parts of your body (and all animals bodies) – the single cell – vastly complex, a city of complexity – we are still learning much, but really, the more we learn the more holes we fill in towards answering the questions we have of Evolution – not the opposite.

            With religion the more we learn of history, earth sciences, sociology and physical history the more questions we have – and the more interpretations are created to bolster a story that in itself is incomplete.

            I believe religion(s) for what they are, and value them immensely as they show so much of humanity, the rules we have and why, but because one holy book is not much different from another, and one religion has not been able to show any superiority in morality, functionality, or survival I find it disingenuous to give any religion any more credence then another, and fear any denomination or sect of that religion which attempts to base public policy against science, freedom and respect in order to try and keep control over it’s populace.

      • Goblinman

        DJ,

        Studying the evolution/creationism debate was one of the main things that brought me to atheism, actually. I noticed that the primary tactic used by creationists was to point to the areas science did not yet understand and say that there was where God was hiding. This, of course, was ignoring the trend that science was gradually filling in those holes, resulting in the creationist God becoming smaller and smaller. Not, I thought, a secure place to hide one’s faith.

        A related assertion appears that God is among the things that science is inherently incapable of knowing. But how can we know that science cannot know something? Science’s entire function is understanding reality, and God must in some way be part of reality. Furthermore, science, as a discipline, has already changed its tactics many times to tackle areas of understanding it previously could not access (the creation of sociology, for instance).

        And, finally, the differences in tactics taken by evolutionists and by creationists: Evolutionary science, like most science, begins from admitting it does not know, and gathers evidence to discern a greater picture. It fits into a broader scientific spectrum, and not only is continually reinforced by new research, but is used as a stable platform for research into other areas of biology. Creationism, on the other hand, starts with a claim of knowledge and an agenda to prove it. Having failed to find evidence for its position, these days it mostly spends its time attacking the theory of evolution rather than doing further research.

        It became quite clear that creationism was not science at all, and had much more in common with propaganda. That creationism is not dead and buried is a testament to the skill of its brand managers, not its significance to science.

        In any case, I saw that the creationists’ literal interpretation of the scriptures had crumpled rather embarrassingly when exposed to scientific scrutiny. But what about its successor, “intelligent design”? The problem I saw immediately with ID was that it continues to use the same tactics as creationism: placing God in the gaps of science’s knowledge, attacking the well-established theory of evolution rather than doing original research, and continuing to ground its understanding of God in the scriptures.

        Keep in mind that, at this point, I still believed in God–albeit a vague deistic one. I reasoned that, if the scriptures could not be taken literally, they were best understood as a narrative on the human condition, rather than a source of facts about the reality we live in. Science performed that role much better. With that in mind, and (again) with the understanding that God must in some way be part of reality, I asked this: What does science–not scripture–say about the nature of God?

        Rather than hiding God in the gaps of knowledge, I looked at creation and sought to infer through it what the mind of its designer must be like. Rather than deny evolution, I asked what it meant that a creator would use such a system. Rather than seeking to prove the scriptures, I let them alone–if they were true, then seeking the truth could only lead me back to them.

        It didn’t. What I saw, instead, was harrowing: an abyss.

        The designer revealed by science is one with a mind utterly alien to ours. Its works are not built with purpose, but arise out of mindless repetition of simple patterns, over and over again across the immensity of time and space, and complex forms arise like crystals in stone. It is perfect order and perfect chaos, and its laws cannot be broken because they encompasses the entirety of possibility. It does not care about humanity, or even seem to be aware we exist. The mind of this god lies in the cycles of galaxies and the nuclear rage of distant suns.

        To witness such a beast makes human religions seem like nothing more than pale candles. What little of my faith that remained died out there. To say that there is no coming back for me is an understatement.

        I survived, of course. I had gone searching for truth, not comfort, so I had been somewhat prepared. And I had, indeed, found God: a God who happened to be compatible with atheism. That’s not something I would give up.

        • Dave Anderson

          Well said, well written and right on the money. Thank you!

        • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

          Thanks Goblinman:

          I survived, of course. I had gone searching for truth, not comfort, so I had been somewhat prepared.

          I had not seen that put that way, but it does really show the difference of searching for truth or comfort – comfort is great, but ultimately a failure…. As with science it has been shown time and time again that when you come into a search with expectations – that is generally what you will find… Thus you need the peer review, the non associated verification or in the end all you have is a new cold fusion debacle, or a new God.

          It is strange to me that today’s evangelical Christian’s God and Bible came directly from/through the Catholics and would probably not exist without them, and yet they distance themselves…. That was one of the things (growing up catholic) that told me it was all a house of cards as to me it was against a commandment – You should respect your father and mother – even if you disagree – you should respect.

        • DJ

          Goblinman, I appreciate you taking the time to share your process in coming to the conclusions that you have derived. It probably wouldn’t surprise you that I am not an evolutionist. I do try to avoid debates of this nature, so I will only say this on the subject . I am not opposed to science, but find it subservient to reality in that it can only accumulate knowledge as it progresses in time and as technologies permit. Therefore as helpful as science can be in understanding the world that we live in, it has severe limitations. I find Quantum physics and quantum entanglement a fascinating curve ball regarding many scientific theories in general. Here again, infancy science. Whether or not this science will yield spiritual insight, remains to be seen, and I’m not quite sure that science has yet the tools to prove a God who is spirit. Science has not yet disproved the existence of God.

          Darwin admitted that: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

          There are staggering evidence of the mathematical impossibilities that destroy the evolutionary model. Michael Behe writes that, “… highly sophisticated molecular machines control every cellular process. Thus the details of life are finely calibrated, and the machinery of life enormously complex.” (Darwin’s Black Box, pg. 5) Darwin’s theory of evolution, as far as I’m concerned, has been invalidated.

          In short, I do see a very complex orderly process on every cellular level as well, and never bought into the theory of evolution. Having said that, I do respect your opinion, and am only sharing my opinion on the matter. I think we’re both fairly convinced of our position.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            I think most Atheists have not problem with anyone’s beliefs as long as they are not used to create policy, or used to persecute people. I understand those with conservative views believe that if “deviants” are given rights theirs are taken away – their right to not give rights to others…. It seems that the idea of most religions is to reduce thoughts and align them which is a bit fascist to me as if you are willing to do that with how you interpret science you can use it to approve slavery, not educating women, or even giving women or children rights, much less homosexuals and such. With the recent persecution complex than many conservatives are feeling we are now rubbing each other the wrong way as we can’t really keep too quite anymore as we have young earth congressmen on science committees – if that is the case then we need to have atheist on a religion committee to even things out. Again, I have to say I have enjoyed this thread and the comments and general cordiality of the statements. To all a good future!

      • Goblinman

        DJ,

        Behe’s “molecular machines” argument is a classic example of how Intelligent Design places God in the gaps of science’s understanding. Note that his argument doesn’t give any specific insight into the nature of a designer which could be further explored: it simply says that we do not know how it happened, and God is assumed. As I mentioned earlier, the problem with this kind of argument is that science regularly fills such gaps–a trend which suggests this one will eventually be filled too.

        A second problem with God-of-the-gaps arguments for intelligent design is “aliens”: Because those arguments only point out what is not known, they cannot say anything about the nature of the proposed designer. Said designer could just as easily be aliens–or literally any sufficiently powerful intelligent being–rather than God. It therefore cannot be used on its own as proof of God’s existence.

        A third problem arises from our understanding of what constitutes design. That is, IDers are looking for examples of what they think design would look like. In effect, they are assuming that God has a brain similar to a human brain, and would have used the kind of design a human would when creating the universe. But God clearly couldn’t have a mind at all like a human one if he was capable of creating the universe in the first place. For all we know, God’s design would look nothing like what we humans would understand as design.

        The final problem, though, is that creationism, in all its forms, really has been scientifically disproved. The actual scientists, whose livelihood depends on this sort of thing, have been in consensus that evolution is true for decades now, and have moved on (and keep in mind that any scientist who could disprove evolution would win a Nobel Prize–they’d have plenty of incentive to tear evolution down if they thought it feasible). The only area where evolution remains controversial is in religion and politics. That, again, is because the creationism/ID movement is run like a perpetual political campaign with the sole goal being to discredit evolution.

        I know that sounds a little crazy, but you’ve seen enough of my writing to know I’m not the type to make random accusations about people I disagree with. This is one topic I really do suggest you take another look at for the sake of your intellectual integrity–the reality is disturbingly one-sided.

        • DJ

          Goblinman, I get a kick out of the “ancient alien theorists” and how often the history channel uses that phrase ancient “……alien theorists believe….” . Just a side note.

      • Goblinman

        DJ,

        Oy. Something we can both agree on.

      • Blanche Quizno

        Since somebody brought up Mike Behe (author of “Darwin’s Black Box” or something), let’s all keep in mind that he has clearly stated that he supports the concept of “common descent,” which is the basis of the theory of evolution:

        “Scott refers to me as an intelligent design “creationist,” even though I clearly write in my book Darwin’s Black Box (which Scott cites) that I am not a creationist and have no reason to doubt common descent. In fact, my own views fit quite comfortably with the 40% of scientists that Scott acknowledges think “evolution occurred, but was guided by God.” (“Intelligent Design Is Not Creationism Response to ‘Not (Just) in Kansas Anymore’ by Eugenie C. Scott”, Science (May 2000), Michael J. Behe, Science Online,July 7, 2000)

        “Evolution is a controversial topic, so it is necessary to address a few basic questions at the beginning of the book. Many people think that questioning Darwinian evolution must be equivalent to espousing creationism. As commonly understood, creationism involves belief in an earth formed only about ten thousand years ago, an interpretation of the Bible that is still very popular. For the record, I have no reason to doubt that the universe is the billions of years old that physicists say it is. Further, I find the idea of common descent (that all organisms share a common ancestor) fairly convincing, and have no particular reason to doubt it.” (Behe, “Darwin’s Black Box, p. 5)

        “I believe the evidence strongly supports common descent.” (Behe, Darwin’s Black Box, p.176)

        “I dispute the mechanism of natural selection, not common descent.” (Behe, Reply to My Critics, Biology and Philosophy 16, p697, 2001)

        • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com quine001

          Common descent presents the worst problem for most forms of Theism, especially Christianity. From genetic anthropology we find that our human ancestors were never in a breeding group smaller than a few thousand individuals. That means there could never have been a single pair (A&E) from whom we are all descended. Thus no Garden story, no Fall, no Original Sin to pass on, so no need for a Redeemer.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            Especially when we can see genetic pinch points and even gauge their approximate time in our history – all more then 6,000 years ago. We can even see the evolution of other species through human interaction and domestication – all beyond the 6,000 year limit – the only option is that God was fooling us and created the earth with all these processes – in process – and that dinosaurs never actually walked the earth, but were put into layers of the dirt directly all to fool us – if that is the case then either God is the greatest trickster of all, or the Devil is perhaps more powerful then God as he would have shaped the entire universe, every decaying atom, start, galaxy – everything in the physical universe as we see it today.

          • Jerry Nelson
          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com quine001

            Thanks for the link, Jerry. I hope you noticed the part that says:

            Despite their overlap in time, ancient “Adam” and ancient “Eve” probably didn’t even live near each other, let alone mate.

            Yes, the most recent common ancestor of all living men did not live in the time of the most recent common ancestor of all living women. It is really unfortunate that the scientists allowed the names “Adam” and “Eve” to be used for these ancestors who have nothing to do with the biblical mythology. My comment was more about the size of the breeding population which proves that humans could not have originated from a single breeding pair, at ANY possible time in natural history.

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com quine001

            Correction: Where I typed “same time” above, I meant to put “same time and place”

      • Blanche Quizno

        chrisnfolsom, many believe that it is religion’s moderates who enable religion’s extremists and even terrorists to persist. Notice that, when some Christian zealot does something horrible, there’s little response from the Christian mainstream. Certainly nothing to match the Christian outrage and outcry when a zealot from another religion, like Islam, does something comparable! THEN it’s “THROW THE BOOK AT HIM!!”

        If religions were to police themselves, we’d see a lot less bad behavior from them. But as it is, mental illness isn’t usually recognized – most Christians fancy that “God” “talks to them”, even though hearing voices is a well-recognized symptom for serious mental illness. Someone saying “God spoke to me” in the church context is widely praised and encouraged, but never told to go see a mental health professional. A Christian who obsesses over a preacher or something else religious is regarded as being “on fire with faith” or some such. And someone whose behavior trends ever more extreme in its focus on Christianity is described as “passionate about God.” Let’s face it – the religious are rather expected to be bizarre, even odd, but that doesn’t excuse the more moderate religious folks who just sit there in uncomfortable silence when one from their own ranks commits atrocities. Christians are well known for “circling the wagons” and avoiding any and all recriminations of their fellow Christians, however deserved, but that doesn’t endear them to the rest of us. Clannish, intolerant, xenophobic groups that are more racist and more conservative than the populace at large, as well as more hateful toward the poor and more likely to want to see social safety net programs slashed, should not expect society’s respect, much less its admiration.

        One last comment on Mike Behe – he’s said that “intelligent design” doesn’t indicate any specific designer, and that many people might conclude that the “designer” was a space alien. He said that in an interview with the Pittsburg Post Gazette.

        So even “intelligent design” isn’t the the brilliant tactic so many Christians fancy it to be.

        • Dave Anderson

          And that “Alien” would have evolved – maybe very differently than we did, but it WOULD have evolved. That’s the only way we can even imagine intelligence arising. Suggesting that it “just IS” (as seems to be the case with gods) is ridiculous, especially when combined with the argument that demands a god because life, supposedly, could not exist unless created. Circular and self-contradicting “reasoning” at its very worst.

      • Blanche

        Last November, at a school thing, a Christian woman sidled up to my husband (a handsome doctor of microbiology) and asked him if he “believed” in evolution. He answered in the affirmative, of course. She then said she couldn’t accept all this complexity occurring naturally from a single cell – that was too much to expect a reasonable person to accept. So my husband said, “Look at you – you’re an extremely complex individual, but YOU started out as a single cell – a fertilized ovum. What’s the difference?” She was not pleased, but couldn’t say anything to rebut his point. Pretty sad showing for a creationist, eh?

        • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

          Blanche – I agree with your husband – and a great way of putting it although of course it doesn’t mean much for the whole argument…. we need to find ways to describe things to cut through the FUD. Talking points repeated over and over – as the politicians do now – especially the conservatives – To “attack” the public with a pure “scientific” discussion will not work – they need to “feel” it is right. There has to be a more none threatening way to go about it – the USA, the World really needs to cut through the bronze age beliefs that are creating so many of the problems we have, and not allowing discussions to move forward discussing solutions.

      • Blanche

        DJ – you brought up honeybees- complicated. And fascinating! But have you heard that honeybee populations are crashing? Honeybees are in danger of going extinct. Why? One factor is a parasite known as the trachea mite. It’s a microscopic creature that lodges in the kind and complicated honeybee’s windpipe, crippling and ultimately killing the honeybee before the honeybee has a chance to fulfill its honeybee destiny and make lots of honey. There are also beetles that attack the honeycombs, transforming the honeycombs onto black, stinking rot. Oh, that’s nice, isn’t it? Who created the trachea mites? Who created those destructive beetles? Ah, yes – He who created the rose also created the poisonous snake whose bite kills and the poisonous puss caterpillar (look it up). Not at all a flattering scenario for your god. Until you have familiarized yourself with the shocking, lurid, and insanely cruel world of parasites, you should refrain from referencing the natural world in praise of your malign and psychopathic god’s accomplishments. Just saying’…

        • DJ

          Blanche, FYI, I’m a beekeeper and trachea mites are easily manageable with Crisco patties. We once used antibiotics, but found the Crisco works better and strengthens future generations of bees as they learn to manage these mites. Colony collapse disorder has nothing to do with trachea mites. The current thought is that it is related to pesticides. My personal opinion is that it is related to the altered radio frequencies of cell towers/GWEN towers and HAARP as it is common knowledge that honey bees navigate using ultraviolet light and the electromagnet system of the earth. You can not keep honey bees near these towers as they cause disorientation. Now these towers are far reaching so in reality it is mans scientific interference and technology (whether pesticides or radio frequency) that is likely causing the colony collapse disorder. The bees abscond from the hive and do not return.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            DJ, as you bring up radio waves and other “sciency” things as affecting Honeybees, why not allow for the CO2 as another issue and climate change, or GMO’s, etc… I will look up the study on Honeybees – to me we just need to know, and then we can work on solutions. It’s just annoying when politics are mixed with religion, or ideology as many Christians are for environmental controls (my mother), but because the Republican party is against regulation – generally -for business reasons, and because watching Fox, or listening to Rush Limbaugh who constantly attack climate science – and scientists – my mother is confused, and has no way to vote for her beloved pro “green” agenda as long as she wants to save babies, or stop the liberal attack on Christians by supporting the Republicans…

          • DJ

            Chris, did you hear of the ship of global warming scientists who set out to prove diminishing ice formation, only to discover just the opposite, and in fact were stranded in ice so thick and vast, that a ship designed to break the ice, was not able to. they had to use helicopters to rescue them. Their theory that there would be very little ice due to global warming, was ironically disproven, and yet, they now insist that all that unexpected ice, was due to global warming….please….what a win-win for them, huh? Clearly there is an agenda. Clearly there is money to be extorted in the way of “taxes” if they could only get nature to cooperate with their ideas.

            I believe in being good stewards of the earth the Lord has placed us on to live…and so I recycle, reuse, and as environmentally conscious as the next guy…but let’s use some common sense. I’ve known quite a few scientists that were “book smart” but had no common sense what-so-ever. that is true of every group of people, including those who call themselves Christians…so everything has to be examined using the sound mind God has given us.

          • aesthete2

            Aw, you know some scientists that had no common sense, therefore the evidence based science that you don’t want to believe is not based on evidence.

            I’m sorry, but that claim means nothing. So what? You know someone you think is a scientist that you personally think has no common sense. That does not detract from the evidence.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            That is a tough argument as who over history has told more tales, changed their mind more times, “literally” drank the cool-aid, and has more conflicting competitive views regarding their beliefs – scientists, or theologians? Who’s beliefs are generally bolstered by recent evidence and science, and who has to revise their views constantly to fit what we learn as a society? If you look at trends who’s picture is being put together and who’s is fighting and getting defensive and emotional as they have to try and plug the holes of their beliefs? Ultimately, who’s “facts” can be peer reviewed and tested independently, and whose are based on opinions, beliefs and “common sense” which cannot be peer reviewed and tested?

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            First of all – global warming has NOTHING to do with religion, it’s not in the Bible, it has to do with the facts of the earth today. You could say we can just ignore it because we will be “saved”, but the Earth is the Earth, the energy from the sun, the carbon dioxide in the environment (or all the gasses) – everything is a very large test tube and is able to be understood to a greater degree, and much better every year.

            Chris, did you hear of the ship of global warming scientists who set out to prove diminishing ice formation, only to discover just the opposite

            AGAIN, global warming is a GLOBAL term, not a LOCAL term. Some places might get colder, most hotter. There WILL be some areas that will be better – Climate Change is the term to use….are you saying that the extra ice will make up for all the ice that is currently being melted in the north?

            Clearly there is an agenda. Clearly there is money to be extorted in the way of “taxes” if they could only get nature to cooperate with their ideas.

            So you are saying a bunch of “book smart” scientists who don’t have much “common sense” are pulling the wool over the populace? Yes, those damn climate scientists are scamming us all for those lavish lifestyles they live in… When I look at today’s economy I only see one group getting huge increases in income – the corporations which of course put incredible amounts of money into fighting legislation – as they should, but as we should also see and regulate for our own safety, not their corporate profits.

            I believe in being good stewards of the earth the Lord has placed us on to live…and so I recycle, reuse, and as environmentally conscious as the next guy…

            Thank you! This should be “common sense” though some see it as a “slippery slope” to enviro nazi behavior…

            but let’s use some common sense. I’ve known quite a few scientists that were “book smart” but had no common sense what-so-ever. that is true of every group of people, including those who call themselves Christians…so everything has to be examined using the sound mind God has given us.

            So common sense is more important then peer reviewed scientific evidence? Are you saying the “common sense” of constituents with an agenda to protect their comfort level, or businesses wanting to reduce their costs is more important then the vast amount of evidence showing how greenhouse gasses will affect our world?

            Do you put your health care exam up for a vote from the electorate and their “common sense”, or do you go to a doctor? Yes, there are bad doctors, and even the best make mistakes – do you then go to another doctor for a second opinion, or again as for the “common sense” of the masses? Strange that you would trust a medical doctor, or his colleges for your health, but not all the doctor’s of climatology, physiology, or geology to let you know how the Earth has, is, and probably will react to our changing CO2 as well as many other changes the world is going through..

          • DJ

            Chris…the whole system is corrupted. Everything should be scrutinized, including “science”. FYI on the medical front…not looking so good since the pharmaceutical model took over. we dont have healthcare, we have “disease management”. Apply scrutiny here as well.

          • aesthete2

            Just because you don’t like what the ‘system’ is telling you does not mean it’s corrupt.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            One of the horrible problems with attaching religion/idealism to politics is that something is good or evil, and compromise is part of that evil. Most of us know that life is a bunch of grey areas that you have to manage – you need to embrace this as that is really is what life, and being human, is all about.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            I agree, EVERYTHING has to be scrutinized – that is what the scientific process generally does… Part of analysis is how you measure facts and not “common sense” as we all know common sense did not give us computers, atom bombs or medical science – we would still be in the dark ages. There are facts, theories and beliefs and they need to be separated. While you are “analyzing” the peer reviewed scientific papers about different scientific positions please do the same about all religious “facts” – or you really aren’t comparing anything or learning anything and as far as I am concerned should not be making public policy – although it is your right in a democracy.

          • DJ

            Chris, scientific analysis (asumming it is unbiased)..common sense application. We are not a democracy, we’re supposed to be a democratic-republic. A democracy is tyranny of the majority.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            Chris, scientific analysis (asumming it is unbiased)

            It is interesting that conservatives are so distrusting of EVERYTHING these days – the government, the police, scientists, everyone, but don’t seem to question their politicians and leaders, or the litany of lies from Fox news….. You questions peer reviewed “facts” and believe opinions, rants and corporate supplied talking points – and the I get accused of drinking “the cool-aid” – it just blows my mind.

            Yes, I am sorry, a Representative Democracy, sorry. So you don’t even trust the “tyranny of the majority” (I have my reservations too)? What do you trust?

          • DJ

            Chris, I stopped watching mainstream media altogether…CNN/msnbc/Fox etc…they don’t report the news, they spend their whole time speculating and editorializing. I read my local paper, and do my research on whatever is reported on the wire. I’m not a “conservative Republican”… I’ve already told you that I’m a libertarian, and as such, have very little representation. Whoever you think that I am, I’m not. It is true that I’ve become more aware of the corruption of institutions over the years, including the cultural visible church. I would have a little more confidence in the honesty of the gov’t if they were honest and weren’t so entangled in so many scandals. I would have a little more trust in medicine if I hadnt witnessed for myself the incidious take over by pharmaceutical companies bribing and indoctrinating doctors to prescribe their newest and very expensive drug, or if they reported the cures discovered at NIH, rather than file them and approach it from a more profitable angle. I would have more confidence in scientific studies, if they were consistant but the joke we used when they reported in the New England journal of Medicine that such and such intervention did not prove beneficial, we’d say “just until the next month’s issue”, a newer study would be cited that would prove just the opposite. I would trust these institutions if i didnt catch them in a lie so often. trust is earned…surely you recognize that. I am speaking from my experience in this world…….however, speaking of drinking koolaide…people are free to swallow whatever they want. I admit I walk circumspectly and exercise discernment. Experience has taught me this is necessary. I’d advise everyone to do their own research rather than emotionalize the news.

      • Blanche

        I was telling my devout Christian mother once about an invertebrate, a beetle, I think, that had a two-stage parasitic life cycle. First stage was a snail or something; second stage was in an ant. This parasite attacked and hijacked the ant’s nervous system, causing the ant to climb *high*, where it would be more likely to be eaten by a bird, in which it would complete its larval development. My mother said,”How could that possibly develop naturally?” The unsaid answer was “God did it.” But the Christian mind stops there. “God did it.” The Christian lacks either the intellectual curiosity or the creativity or the command of logical reasoning (or all three) to see that the “god” who devised such a complicated system was also a sophisticated sadistic maniac, dooming creatures incapable of conscious thought to short, nightmarish lives of horror, uselessness, and suffering – and for what?? Would such a cosmic psychopath imagine that we’d fawn and worship such displays of abject cruelty? This is the worst and most meaningless kind of bullying. It’s worse than pulling flies’ wings off and setting puppies on fire.

    • Blanche Quizno

      “A blind person receiving immediate sight when I laid hands on that person. Not gradually getting better: instantaniously and totally healed. After the preaching of the gospel and proclaiming Christ… that is what happened.

      I could recal a long line of healings that took place, but this was an instant undeniable fact.”

      Yes, indeedy – that IS amazing, Hans! Now please link us to the news story that explains how her doctors and family members were mystified and overjoyed at her totally unexpected, unprecedented, and undeniably miraculous recovery.

      “Three months later the person that was healed of blindnes traced me back to the country where I lived at the time and wrote me a letter about her salvation and that thrirteen of her relatives had come to Christ.”

      Mmm hmmm. Right. Truly miraculous! Again, the news stories, please? With such power in the hands of devout Christians, it mystifies me that Christianity remains in decline throughout the world and that there is no mass revival of Jesus belief among educated adults. It also astonishes me that there is no recognition or discussion in the medical community about such Christian healing, if, indeed, it is actually going on and isn’t just people on both sides deluding themselves and each other. It is truly a confusing situation, don’t you agree?

      “I do not want to argue: just told you what happened and why.

      God be thanked!”

      And I thank you for sharing.

      • Blanche Quizno

        I’m going to put this here, since the site seems to be glitchy all of a sudden. One more post on Behe, if you’ll indulge me. FOR SCIENCE!! From a review of Behe’s book “Darwin’s Black Box”:

        “Perhaps the single most stunning thing about Darwin’s Black Box, Michael Behe’s “Biochemical Challenge to Evolution,” is the amount of territory that its author concedes to Darwinism. As tempted as they might be to pick up this book in their own defense, “scientific creationists” should think twice about enlisting an ally who has concluded that the Earth is several billion years old, that evolutionary biology has had “much success in accounting for the patterns of life we see around us (1),” that evolution accounts for the appearance of new organisms including antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and who is convinced that all organisms share a “common ancestor.” In plain language, this means that Michael Behe and I share an evolutionary view of the natural history of the Earth and the meaning of the fossil record; namely, that present-day organisms have been produced by a process of descent with modification from their ancient ancestors. Behe is clear, firm, and consistent on this point. For example, when Michael and I engaged in debate at the 1995 meeting of the American Scientific Affiliation, I argued that the 100% match of DNA sequences in the pseudogene region of beta-globin was proof that humans and gorillas shared a recent common ancestor. To my surprise, Behe said that he shared that view, and had no problem with the notion of common ancestry. Creationists who believe that Behe is on their side should proceed with caution – he states very clearly that evolution can produce new species, and that human beings are one of those species.” (Kenneth R Miller, Darwin’s Black Box, Reviewed by Kenneth R. Miller (as published in Creation / Evolution Volume 16: pp, 36-40 [1996])

        I don’t think Christians realize the content of “Darwin’s Black Box.” It’s likely as many Christians read “Darwin’s Black Box” as read the Bible *le wink*

  • Taylor Hawke

    Ryan, you are on the right track, you are growing, evolving, progressing, as we all need to do. In escaping a life of Mormonism, then Christianity, everything changed for me, for the better. A whole new and greater world of possibilities opened up. I highly recommend Michael Dowd’s book “Thank God For Evolution.”

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  • Blanche Quizno

    Hi! I am an atheist, myself – I was raised (intensively) Evangelical Christian in the Southern Baptist tradition, and I outgrew God and Jesus shortly after I outgrew Santa Claus. I am both a strong atheist and a critical atheist – if you weren’t aware of how many different flavors of theism there are, I recommend that you read the article, “The Scope of Atheism” by George H. Smith at http://www.positiveatheism.org/writ/smith.htm. This might help you frame your journey a bit better, in that you’ll be able to recognize facets of your own dissatisfaction and inquisitive nature reflected in some of the various different types of atheism.

    I have an uncle in Glendale – I go visit him from time to time, but less often since I can’t escape the feeling that he’s trying to convert me. He’s a retired minister, you see, and the passive aggressive is strong in this one. But he’s a very nice man. He and his wife attend a United Church of Christ – he makes the joke that its initials “UCC” stand for “Unitarians Considering Christ.” I’m sure it gets belly laughs at church socials!

    So, since I go up to Glendale every few weeks (to visit my aunt and uncle and cousin from the other side of the family – they don’t try to convert me), I would love to take you out to lunch at some point. I tend to come up on Sundays, which might work well for you now that you have an atheist’s religious schedule (none!). Last year, I went up for lunch with my uncle the retired minister, and when I got there, found that they’d invited along his wife’s 2 sisters and the retired Evangelical minister husband of one of them. And the two men GRILLED me about Christianity from the moment the waiter took our menus until the moment we walked out. The old brother-in-law was especially unpleasant – in the end, all he had to fall back on was, “Well, *I* know where I’m going when I die”, and of course, I had to point out that, no, he didn’t *know* in the sense of having facts or experience – he just *hoped* and *fantasized*. I kept telling them, “I really don’t think I’m the right person for you to be having this kind of discussion with,” but they persisted in asking, so I persisted in answering!

    I imagine that you can get my email from this reply somehow, so please feel free to email me if you would like to meet for lunch at some point – I would welcome being your lab rat! Or perhaps your FELLOW lab rat? =^.^=

  • Blanche Quizno

    The first thing in your post on the cost of atheism was the comment “We still love you.” Welcome to Christianity. There are numerous stories around of how people who left a church found that none of their former “friends” wanted anything to do with them any more – even when they were still all Christians! Historically, Christians have hated each other more than they hated the rest of us, as you’ve no doubt observed from all the comments about who “aren’t REAL Christians.”

    The thing about an intolerant religion – and Christianity most definitely is one – is that affiliation is what essentially distinguishes “us” from “them.” I read an interesting analysis recently that “hell” is absolutely essential for there to be anything meaningful (or marketable) about “heaven” and we see in various passages of the Bible you’re not reading (Romans 9:10-23, especially toward the end) this idea being spelled out explicitly.

    When George W. Bush was announcing, re: invading Iraq, “Either you’re with us or you’re against us,” many of us raised Christian recognized that mindset. It’s fascism, in case you weren’t sure. Here is an article by Umberto Eco, “Eternal Fascism:

    Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt”, that will surprise you, I think, in its characterization of the various aspects of fascism – Christianity shares them all: http://www.themodernword.com/eco/eco_blackshirt.html

    Did you read the recent research that found that atheists are the most hated minority in the USA? Or that atheists are the last minority it is still considered socially acceptable to discriminate against? http://atheism.about.com/od/atheistbigotryprejudice/a/AtheitsHated.htm and http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-human-beast/201205/atheists-the-last-minority-get-civil-rights, respectively.

    So we’ve obviously got a huge and glaring conflict between Christian attitudes and behavior, and the Great Commission of Christianity, supposedly Jesus’s marching orders left for his followers. “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Are we to conclude that all Christians hate themselves, then? Jesus told them they had to do that as well – see Luke 14:26 for one example (out of many). Do Christians acknowledge that they have no use for Jesus beyond his supposedly getting them into heaven with that “get out of hell free” card his supposed death supposedly provided for them? They appreciate THAT, of course! But not enough to follow the supposed teachings of the supposed jesus they supposedly love more than life itself – how strange is that?

    An intolerant belief system cannot promote love. Not any love worthy of the definition. At best, it can only promote a self-serving conditional love: “Love only those who are like yourself.” And each Christian defines what “like yourself” variously, but the short answer seems to mean “belongs to my church.” It always astonishes me when Christians think I don’t know anything about Christianity (and that’s why I’m an atheist, you see – it can be the only reason). Strangers will ask me if I’ve heard about Jesus. (How could ANYONE living in the USA *not* have heard about Jesus and Christianity??) They’ll tell me to read a Bible (as if that will fix me right up). I have – and likely more than THEY have. They’ll want to share their faith with me – often at my front door at an inconvenient time. Not ONCE has any of these “good Christians” ever asked me FIRST what MY beliefs are. They simply aren’t interested – they know that I’m not a member of their church, and that fact alone tells them that they don’t need to know anything else about me – I need to hear about THEIR faith. And they expect me to drop my own beliefs, regardless of what they are, and adopt theirs in their place! How presumptuous and rude! No, these Christians want an audience for their views and they clearly feel so superior and so righteous that the idea that this should be a two-way street, that the other person should be granted an audience for HIS views, either never occurs to them or is immediately dismissed. If you wish someone to listen to YOU, you must be willing to listen to HIM – first. That’s why “good conversationalists” are typically the ones who ask the most questions – and listen. So many Christians just want to preach, and somehow WE’re the bad guys if we aren’t interested in their selfish and self-righteous rudeness!

    Even the Christians’ God is only capable of conditional love – believe in me OR ELSE! The Universalists have an uphill climb in getting anyone to believe that the Christian scriptures promote that perspective – there’s just too much punishment and hatred and shunning and damnation and “antichrists” for everyone else to get past. If you love me, you want to protect me from harm, right? So how could you send me to “hell” – for any reason? I certainly couldn’t do that to a fellow human being, and I’m a mere common mortal! I would certainly not do that to my own children – I’d go there myself first and hold the doors shut so they would not be able to get in. THAT is what Jesus should be doing if he’s any sort of REAL “savior” in that twisted cosmology. Better a Prometheus than a Jesus.

  • Blanche Quizno

    ‘When you said, “you…feel there’s enough reason or proof” you are describing what it means to choose to believe. Whatever you believe it is because you have some basis for that belief. You didn’t come out of your mother’s womb believing in gravity. At some point, someone explained it to you or you read about it, and you considered whether it seems like dependable information and then you “chose to believe” in gravity. All beliefs are chosen–either consciously or unconsciously. All beliefs involve decisions’. – Jerry Nelson

    Jerry, are you suggesting that, until we heard or read about the theory of gravity, we were floating helplessly above the earth?

    If we chose NOT to believe in the theory of gravitation, would we suddenly start to float?

    Gravity exists. God does not. Please don’t confuse those issues – one is testable, the other isn’t. And “belief” is based on opinion and wishful thinking – “knowledge” is based on facts and reality. It’s a BIG difference”

    • Jerry Nelson

      Blanche, Nope. That is not what I was saying. Belief doesn’t make something so. Believing in gravity doesn’t make it work. Because gravity happens I believe in it.

      I have never seen an oxygen molecule but I believe they exist because I previously chose to believe what I have learned about oxygen molecules.

      I was using gravity as a simple undeniable example of something that we all believe to be true–atheists and Christians alike. Knowledge about something leads to belief/acceptance as truth (or to disbelief/rejection as truth).

      As we are exposed to shared knowledge we all have to evaluate it to determine whether we accept it as truth. You look at the fossil record and choose to accept or believe certain things to be true about it based on your analysis of information shared or your confidence in the person sharing it. I do the same thing. Neither of us was there when the fossils were laid down and so we must decide what to believe about it.

      You shared an opinion that God does not exist. That is your belief that you have chosen on this topic. You have your data that has led you to that conclusion. I believe that God does exist–based on the data that I have examined. It is true that gravity is much easier to prove than God’s existence or nonexistence but that doesn’t change the fact that your conclusions on the matter–about God or gravity–come down to your decision of what to believe.

      Was JFK killed by a single gunman? I have my opinion based on my examination of facts that he was. Others form a different opinion based on thier reading of the facts. Beliefs are best when they are based on knowledge (facts). And gravity is easy to accept/believe in. While believing or disbelieving in God is much more difficult to evaluate. At the end of the day your conclusion and my conclusion on this point is based on what we believe the data to prove.

      Beliefs involve choices. That’s what I was trying to say. I fully acknowledge my insufficiencies in communicating my throughts.

      • Hans G. Koornstra

        This time you did well. Good points you made.

        Also that believing is a choice: accept or reject.

        And I am still very thankful that I chose to believe in God and Christ.

      • aesthete2

        LOL, well you just said you could choose not to believe in something or not despite what you learned about it (otherwise it’s not a choice) – so you just told us you personally could decide to not believe in gravity, despite all that you learned about what happens if you jump off a cliff.

        So you don’t apparently understand choice. Choice is something you can do or not do as you wish. If I have evidence that molecules exist – people I respect saying so, experiments that always work, logical results that follow in my experience – I’m going to believe – I have no choice. I can pretend not to believe, but it’s not real, it’s me acting like I don’t. Yes, the less obvious the evidence makes that easier to do, since I don’t experience the immediate result if I don’t (such as smacking face down in the dirt), but it’s still not choice.

        If you have no evidence that someone is guilty of a crime, but you choose to act as if they are, then that IMO is an immoral act.

        If you have no evidence that the moon is made of cheese, but you choose to tell children that it is, then that IMO is an immoral act.

        If you have no evidence that there is such a thing as heaven and hell, but you choose to tell your children otherwise, then that IMO is an immoral act.

        You have the choice about how you act. If you can actually convince yourself so well that something is true, no matter what the lack of evidence, well, IMO you do not have a moral structure to your life, because you have put your desires as a greater priority than reality.

      • Blanche Quizno

        “Because gravity happens I believe in it.”

        So far, so good. Of course, we’ll note here that gravity happens equally and observably for every single person, without a single exception. There is not a single person who is exempt from “gravity happens”. And the theory of gravitation does not demand or even ask for you to “believe in it.” It is simply a model that represents reality. Full stop.

        “I have never seen an oxygen molecule but I believe they exist because I previously chose to believe what I have learned about oxygen molecules.”

        Here’s the difference between us. I have conducted experiments where I was able to see FOR MYSELF how oxygen works; I have conducted chemical reactions and measured the results FOR MYSELF. So I don’t have to settle for “belief” – I have seen for myself. That is why I trust the sciences – I have, MYSELF, investigated the theory of gravity via several different experiments, as well as principles of physics, magnetism, and, in the biological sciences, everything from genetic crossing over to dominant/recessive alleles and their expression within populations to the response of bacteria to various compounds including antibiotics – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. THAT’s what you get with a science degree from an accredited university, NOT a second-rate Christian “college” whose purpose is to advance Christianity at all costs and perhaps to prepare preachers for churches, but nothing, really, beyond that.

        So, no. I don’t “believe”. Where it’s a topic that I don’t care enough to get involved to the point that I’m doing my own research, I can accept what the various experts, who have devoted careers and lifetimes to the subject, with multiple peer-reviewed research papers to their credit, say on the subject. But it doesn’t bother me if they turn out to be wrong – I really don’t care that much. I just find it of passing interest (like astronomy).

        • silvawebdev

          Regarding belief – the more we learn about the sciences and history the more the pieces fit together – we are actually able to predict things based on science that we have not seen before – planets, sub atomic particles, the creation of every atom in our body and even now dark matter.

          Juxtaposed against Religion, the more we study the more holes we find in the old explanations and the more reinterpreting we have to do. I know of nothing specifically mentioned in the Bible that was not observable before that we can now measure that has come true – quite the opposite. I am sure I have missed some explanation, and I am more tolerant of the Bible then many Christians are of other books of warship and belief systems and strive to study and learn (and respect) our elders/predecessors and what they have learned and believed.

          Also, I have learned when people start making excuses and start radicalizing their positions that I give them even less credence as at that point they rely more on isolation, rhetoric and increasingly extreme views which in the end come crashing down under their own weight.

      • Blanche

        Hans, does anyone need to accept or reject that sidewalks exist? What about lakes or hills? Does anyone need to accept or reject that they exist? Of course not. To reject the fact that real things exist would be asinine! It would make people think you’re insane!

        But we hear of Christians having to “choose” to believe in “god” or Christians telling the rest of us that we must “choose to believe” in “god” – when they don’t have to “choose” to believe in anything that actually really exists – and we can all see that. It is only with respect to this imaginary construct that “choose to believe” comes into play.

        This demonstrates that Christians choose to be delusional. That’s mental illness. The truth hurts.

  • http://faithrocksproductions.com Adele Terzis

    You decided to be an atheist before you lost your Christian jobs. You are like a modern day Judas. You betrayed THE LORD for thousands of dollars. You made Christians look bad in front of atheists who lives to do that. Shame on you because you will give an account for your actions to JESUS. I am sad that your beliefs in GOD mean so little to you, lots of people are homeless, or have virtually no income in this country America. To deny JESUS is a very serious action even for just a year. Whatever wrong you teach others, will be your lost rewards in heaven, you will be the least in HIS kingdom, if you make it there at all.

    • aesthete2

      You are accusing him of “betraying the lord for thousands of dollars”? Many many thousands less than keeping his job and pretending to believe?

      Why are you lying about it? Does it make you feel good?

    • Guy Barritt

      Hey Adele, good to see Christian love in action. For God’s sake, have a warm bath and some chocolate before you haemorrhage all over the place.

    • Blanche Quizno

      Adele:

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA!!

      And who are YOU to speak for “THE LORD”? How presumptuous and even hypocritical, yea verily!

      And how is him identifying as a Christian going to help the all the people who are homeless or have very little income?? It’s Christians who hate the poor the most and are most likely to want to see government aid programs for the poor slashed.

      One time, this Mormon woman sent out a broadcast email that got to me (long story), but she was asking everybody to “pray and fast” so that this Mormon old guy with some typical old-guy ailment would get better. Hmm, I thought to myself. How is my NOT eating a cheeseburger going to help some old fella I’ve never even met?? But that’s just Christianity for you – you shouldn’t expect it to make sense. Just pray and obey, right?

    • https://plus.google.com/104625445636003591597 John Shores

      Adele – your comments fill me with sorrow. Have you ever investigated the truth for yourself? Have you ever read anything by anyone who has real concerns or issues with the Christian doctrine? Proverbs says that the first to present his case seems right, until another comes along to examine him.

      If the Christian teaching was true, it would stand up to scrutiny. However, it fails at this in quite an abysmal way.

      Let me simply ask you if you believe that there is such a thing as morality? Is killing humans for the sake of killing them wrong? Is lying wrong? IIs cheating wrong? If these things are in fact wrong, then morality should apply to god as well as mankind, shouldn’t it? Otherwise, he is simply Hitler who does as he pleases with no consequences to himself.

      There is not a definition of the word “moral” that applies to the god of the Bible. There is no definition of the word “good” that applies to the god of the Bible. If you take the sum of that god’s actions and apply those actions to any human who ever lived, you would call that person criminally insane.

      But god gets a pass because he’s bigger than everyone else? Yikes! What a horrible place his heaven must be.

      • Dave Anderson

        Oh now, that is well said, Sir. I’ve tried to make the same point many times but never captured it as well as you do here. Qudos!!! :-)

  • https://plus.google.com/100023107901060398000 Michael Huggins

    To show that I’m not indifferent to your plight, I’m 61, have not worked for the better part of a year, and am also about to run out of money, in about the same length of time as you. In my case, it has nothing to do with religion, though many would say that I have partly contributed to my plight by saying things over the years that others in organizations would rather not hear.

    Having said that, such naiveté on your part is truly breathtaking.

    When I was half your age, I was sent, by my parents, to an extremely conservative Christian college whose president was the father of John Ashcroft. A chapel speaker, a prominent figure in our denomination, appeared on campus and, having seen a poster advertising a peace protest (this was the Vietnam era), ranted from the chapel pulpit to the effect that peace protests were the work of the devil. I went to him privately and said I thought his comments were wrong and shortsighted. I came very near to being expelled for my trouble.

    At no point did I think “How amazing that these people can’t even tolerate a 20-year-old confronting a prominent 50-something missionary to his face and telling him he’s wrong! Who would ever have thought such a thing?”

    Are you really serious in what you say in this post? You are right to take exception to your fellow Christian friends saying they still love you, since of course Christians are supposed to “love the lost” anyway. But to act surprised that formally constituted Christian organizations no longer care to be affiliated with one who announces publicly that he is exploring atheism suggests an absurd sense of entitlement on your part. If an editor at “The Nation” one day spoke up to his colleagues and said that for the next year, his editorials would reflect the viewpoint of “National Review,” should anyone be surprised that his present employer asked him to write under another masthead?

    You also make a very basic mistake, when you write

    “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.”

    That is an inane and pusillanimous evasion. Atheism is not “open inquiry into the question of God’s existence,” but the conclusion that one reaches after the inquiry: that there is no God, or at least no good reason to believe in one.

    So at this point, on the strength of this post, you don’t seem to understand what you’re doing, you think that organizations should employ you whether your proposed position furthers their charter or not, and you act surprised that they decline to pay you to dissent.

    Are you quite sure you’re up to this?

    • Guy Barritt

      Well said, young man!

      • https://plus.google.com/100023107901060398000 Michael Huggins

        Thank you. As an atheist, I welcome both the serious inquiries of committed Christians who want to know more about their philosophical opponents’ point of view, as well as the clear-sighted recognition by others that there is no reason to live one’s life by a myth and their resolve to seriously consider a different course.

        But it’s hard to respect what looks like a tendency to want to have it both ways. If someone at Reason magazine suddenly started wearing a prominent cross around his neck and put up a banner over his desk saying “Jesus is the reason for the season,” I imagine the editors would want to have a quiet chat with him, as well.

        I met a man a few years ago in his 50s who had taught at an evangelical college and had converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity. It was as obvious to him as to everyone else that he could no longer remain at his previous post. In his case, he took a truly radical step and, at his stage of life, went to work as a freight handler at the FedEx hub.

    • https://plus.google.com/104625445636003591597 John Shores

      Hey Michael – I think it is right to take him at his word. I was shocked when I learned, after deconverting, that my name was not to be spoken in the house of someone I had once counted as a dear friend. In fact, only one of my old Christian friends remained friends with me. But then, he went Orthodox and I have found the Orthodox to be more thoughtful, human and compassionate than Protestants are. Just my experience.

      You have to accept that people start on this journey with very unique eyes. Is it really so surprising that Ryan has a heart that would not shun someone who is gay or atheist and that he is surprised to learn that his fellow Christians are not like him at all?

      • https://plus.google.com/100023107901060398000 Michael Huggins

        John, I read your other post with interest, sharing your early experiences, and you certainly went through a great deal. I’m glad you shared.

        I find it difficult to have much respect for Ryan in these circumstances.

        You ask if it “really so surprising that Ryan has a heart that would not shun someone who is gay or atheist and that he is surprised to learn that his fellow Christians are not like him at all?” Well yes, obviously, that is surprising on its face, and it is I who am surprised at your question.

        Ryan knew, for years, that in point of openness and tolerance, he and his congregation were outliers in his denomination. That point was reaffirmed to him 10 months ago when he lost his pastorate. Can he be surprised now that his fellow Christians really are as rigid as he already believed them to be, for years? He has nothing to be surprised *about.*

        Despite the views of his denomination overall, it seems individual Christian friends are at least capable of showing some loving concern. Not so the Christian college and other Christian organizations he contracted with. They have reached the logical conclusion that it does not support their mission to be formally affiliated with someone who declares publicly that, for the next year, he is exploring atheism.

        By Ryan’s own showing, it seems never to have occurred to him, as recently as last week, that taking his public stand would imperil his contractual arrangement with these organizations. Such obtuseness in a 42-year-old man is beyond belief.

        He actually seems to think himself ill-used and seems to want to backpedal, as he says when he refers to his proposed course as “an open inquiry” into the existence of God. As I already pointed out, atheism is not an “inquiry”; it is a philosophical position that one reaches after he has made his inquiry and concluded, as you and I have, that there is no reason to believe in God.

        In other words, Ryan wants the reputation of being a sort of martyr–but without the inconvenience, thank you very much. As “Rousseau” pointed out on the Synapse blog that Ryan linked to, the story “Former pastor leaves church” is hardly remarkable. Ryan wants to cast himself as a sort of spiritual pioneer and boldly announces an atheist manqué stance for the coming year. However, when he finds the Christian organizations declining to support him in his dissent, he suddenly changes to saying “Wait…I was only embarking on a course of inquiry,” as though this whole thing amounted to nothing more than widening his reading list.

        If there is one verse of the Bible with which I agree wholeheartedly, it is “Let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no.” It is a lesson that Ryan seems never to have fully absorbed.

      • Jerry Nelson

        What an interesting perspective. Thanks for your sharing your thoughts.

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  • Ken

    I lost the affection of many friends and family members when I finally came out as an atheist. I had had a major accident over 20 years ago, was clinically dead for almost a minute from the injuries, and was comatose/unconscious for several days after. When I told people after this that I did not believe there is anything after death and that there is no God, I got a major shun from many people I considered close family and friends, some of whom I have completely lost contact with.

    I say this because I recognize that there is a feeling of desperation in some ways with what you are going through – what do I do now? I had friends and family who stayed with me and gave me the moral support I needed to rebuild myself and my life, and I’m sure you also have that same kind of anchor in your life, with or without religion being a part of it. Even if your experiment guides you back to religion and the Church, I’m sure you will come out of this experience with your eyes more widely open about what it’s like to be outside the mainstream.

    I don’t know quite what you’re hoping or expecting to find from this experiment, but I have no doubt that if you stay true to your intentions, you will be a smarter and stronger person because of it.

  • http://faithrocksproductions.com Adele Terzis

    Atheism is not “open inquiry into the question of God’s existence,” but the conclusion that one reaches after the inquiry: that there is no God, or at least no good reason to believe in one.

    mumbo jumbo: JESUS said, “Blessed are the peacemakers…..”

    I think there is a good reason to believe there is a GOD! Just look at humanity before Christ and after Christ. All I see is some depraved, barbaric, deceived, unspiritual beast roaming the earth, who can walk, talk and think, and think they actually have a consciousness. All should be wearing diapers, and sucking on baby bottles. To think they used their carnal minds to make weapons to kill to eat; but they went further they made weapons to murder and destroy each other with.

    Mankind is worse than any beast of the field, disgusting, and is getting more beastly even with all their inventions. I would like to puke! Murdering, enslaving, torturing, abandoning, greed, selfishness, it is a human cesspool!

    JESUS CHRIST is the only human example I need.

    All these atheist and intelligent conversations make me quite sick.

    Bye, probably another sick way to drum up support for your atheist cause.

    • Blanche Quizno

      “mumbo jumbo: JESUS said, “Blessed are the peacemakers…..”

      Adele, Jesus also said: “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.”; “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.”; “I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning!”; and “But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them–bring them here and kill them in front of me.” (Matt. 10:34, Luke 12:51, Luke 12:49, Luke 19:27)

      Now, YOU were saying…?

      Jesus also said that you should never presume to correct someone else (thou hypocrite – see Matthew 7:1-5), that you should sell everything you have and give the proceeds to the poor BEFORE you would be qualified to follow him (see Matthew 19:16-24), AND that you should not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth but instead accumulate treasures in heaven. How do you account for all those rich Christians and ostentatious churches?? You obviously are one of those Christians who thinks that you don’t have to worry about anything Jesus supposedly required of his followers, because you’ve got that “get out of hell free” card and that’s all that matters! Jesus said to hate your family members, everyone you know, and yourself as well – looks like you’ve got THAT one down – congrats! (Luke 14:26)

      Oh, and the “coming of Christ” was apparently such a non-event that nobody noticed. Why, it’s as if it never happened at all! Christianity, on the other hand, has proved to be a blight upon humankind – it has held up progress and learning, perpetuated and intensified ignorance and suffering, promoted hatred and division, and is the reason the US is the most unhealthy and dysfunctional of all the developed democracies.

      JESUS said: “By their fruits you shall know them…” Christianity’s fruits are sour, rotten, and poisonous.

      “JESUS CHRIST is the only human example I need.”

      There is no human “jesus christ.” That’s just your imagination – can’t you tell the difference between something that’s real and something that’s only a fantasy?

    • aesthete2

      Uh, no. Atheism is simply the lack of belief in a god, nothing more.

      And how would you have any idea what the difference is between humanity before and after Christ? Especially when there is no evidence that your Christ even lived.

      Most of Christianity’s tenets are based on pre-existing religion, so I’m not sure what exactly you thought changed.

      So, it seems your biggest problem is your lack of knowledge of the word – especially your own religion. You might try some honest research – but beware, the more you learn, the more likely you are to end up atheist as we all have.

    • Blanche Quizno

      “Mankind is worse than any beast of the field, disgusting, and is getting more beastly even with all their inventions. I would like to puke! Murdering, enslaving, torturing, abandoning, greed, selfishness, it is a human cesspool!”

      You’ve certainly got the “hate everybody” mindset of Luke 14:26 down pat. But I’m not seeing the “Love thy neighbor as thyself” or “love they enemies.” I’m also not seeing “Forgive your brother seventy times seven” – why aren’t you forgiving everybody right and left??

      For your information, the Bible both accepts, commands, and condones slavery – nowhere in the bible does it say that slavery is wrong! Nowhere! And God tells people to go murder others, even infants! Jesus ordered – ORDERED! – his followers to abandon their families and responsibilities – and wouldn’t even let them tell their families goodbye! If you’re seeing a cesspool, it’s the result of hundreds of years of Christian pollution.

      Oh, and since you think that humankind’s “inventions” make people “more beastly,” may I politely suggest that you push away from the keyboard. Now. Thou hypocrite.

    • https://plus.google.com/104625445636003591597 John Shores

      Atheism is not “open inquiry into the question of God’s existence,” but the conclusion that one reaches after the inquiry

      This is a false statement. Since the beginning of recorded history, historians have cataloged over 3,700 supernatural beings, of which 2,870 can be considered deities. You put forth exactly zero effort in not believing in 2,869 of those deities. You are, in fact, atheistic to all of them without even making any inquiry whatsoever. We just go the full 2,870.

  • http://faithrocksproductions.com Adele Terzis

    the satan is so clever. How he works his little puppets.

    • Blanche Quizno

      “the satan is so clever. How he works his little puppets.”

      Adele, you are astonishingly superstitious! What would you think if I were to say, “That Ganesh is so clever – how he works his little puppets” or perhaps “The Big Bad Wolf is so clever – how he works his little puppets”? It’s comments like yours that tend to drive sensible, intelligent, and thoughtful people away from Christianity, because identifying themselves in the same group as you is so embarrassing.

    • aesthete2

      Since Satan is a product of your imagination, you would know.

    • Goblinman

      Isn’t it interesting how when certain Christians feel like they’re not doing a good enough job speaking for Jesus, they begin speaking for Satan?

      The fellow’s so useful for the religion. It’s no wonder God kept him around.

      • Jerry Nelson

        Yes, but according to the Bible, only temporarily. God doesn’t keep Satan around to be useful. God has kept him around to allow people to determine for themselves the truth about himself and the one who is questioning his character and motives. At some point God will bring about a fair end for this being that is dedicated to death and destruction.

        • https://plus.google.com/104625445636003591597 John Shores

          God has kept him around to allow people to determine for themselves the truth about himself and the one who is questioning his character and motives.

          Interesting that there is no book “inspired by satan” that makes any attempt to tell his side of the story. You just have to take god’s word for it that the devil is bad.

          Nevermind that Jesus killed babies (if he is god then he was around for the whole Egypt thing, yeah?) or that if god likes you a lot he’ll kill your infant as punishment for your acts of murder and adultery or god couldn’t just, I don’t know, forgive someone without requiring a bloody human sacrifice or that just because Jesus died for your sins doesn’t mean that god’s not going to kill you for lying about your finances…

          Gimme a break. Please.

          I gave up believing in god in large part because I could not possibly be so unkind as to think that a good god could be so horrific. Y’all have some horrible imaginations and warped thinking if you think your Idi Amin/Stalin god is anything but a monster.

      • Goblinman

        Which is why I find it strange that Christianity gives Satan such a bad rap. He’s arguably just as important as Jesus, and is just as much a part of God’s plan. God, at the very least, had to be able to trust Satan enough to allow him to tempt the faithful–rather than just keeping him locked up. It’s also interesting that Satan is doomed to be punished for playing such a vital and necessary role.

        (I bring this up because Judaism approaches the issue differently: instead of having a rebellious Luciver figure, it has a character called the Adversary–who is, in fact, an angel of God’s court. The Adversary’s role is to test the faith of humanity, but it is also a wholly loyal servant of God. This character is the “devil” in the book of Job–which is a pre-Christian text. Jewish demons likewise behave evilly towards humans, as is their duty, but are also shown to be practicing Jews.)

      • https://plus.google.com/104625445636003591597 John Shores

        And since 1.4 million deaths of human beings in the Bible are attributed to god and only 10 are attributed to Satan (on the same day in the allegorical book of Job), I’d say that satan is a far safer person to follow than god.

      • Jerry Nelson

        John and Goblinman, Are you open to a reasonable explanation as to why the children in Egypt died or have you made up your mind that the God of the Bible is a cruel monster? I don’t want to waste your time if you have are determined that this god of the Bible is evil.

      • Goblinman

        I don’t believe God exists, so it would be rather academic.

        As far as his morality in the Old Testament goes, however, it fairly clearly reflects the morality of the people of that time and place. He behaves like a sort of super-king, who murderously advances the power of his own tribe at the expense of others. (The writings of the ancient Jews show they don’t believe Yahweh to be the only god who exists, just the only one whom they will worship.)

        The New Testament God becomes considerably worse thanks to the inclusion of Hell into the cosmos. Not content with simply letting those humans who do not follow him during their brief and foolish mortal lives perish, he sets up an elaborate, impossibly cruel, inescapable torture-prison in which to punish them for all eternity. The level of hatred and sadism required to conceive of such an abominable arrangement is utterly incomprehensible, and dwarfs anything a mere human would be capable of. I’m not sure how you can expect me to view such a being as anything other than pure evil.

      • Jerry Nelson

        I totally agree with your assessment of an eternally burning hellfire. It is the worst distortion of the God of the Bible that has ever been devised. I do believe that there will be a destruction by fire but it will not continue through the ceaseless ages of eternity. The Bible is clear about this to those that are willing to give up the idea that mortal man is actually immortal.

      • Goblinman

        That’s a point on which many Christians disagree with you, but I think you’re better for it.

        I don’t find the salvation doctrine to be compelling at all, to be honest–you may have noticed how much of Christian apologetics revolves around shoring it up. As a form of “ultimate justice”, it fails on every level.

        The problems start with the Garden of Eden: here, God instructs two creatures who, by definition, do not know the difference between right and wrong, to obey a set of rules. He does not even need to be omniscient to know that they will not obey–how could they if they are incapable of understanding why? He also leaves the forbidden tree within easy access for them, and does nothing to curtail a certain overly-helpful snake. The cards are so heavily stacked against Adam and Eve that there is every indication that God was setting them up–and he punishes them anyway.

        Now, on to the punishment itself. Firstly, this is not the punishment of a loving father–Adam and Eve themselves are never given a chance to learn the (alleged) error of their ways and atone. No, this punishment is permanent–they are forsaken and left to die for the crime of, apparently, being tricked into eating an apple.

        Note that while this entire story could be argued to be an allegory for loss of innocence, the idea of “original sin” is the entire reason salvation is necessary. Clearly THAT part, at least, can’t be an allegory.

        And, speaking of which: the other factor of Adam and Eve’s punishment is that in not only applies to them, but to all their descendents. Think about that for a moment: in what way is it conceivably just that children should be punished for a crime their parents committed? Once again, the only logical way out is to assume an allegory: that Adam and Eve and Eden and the apple don’t represent real things, but something inherent to the human condition. That is to say: once innocence is lost, it cannot be regained–and God’s “punishment” is simply the responsibilities of adulthood.

        (It could also be argued, of course, that the Eden story is a warning against being overly curious–but I’ll give most Christians the benefit of the doubt that they don’t believe in something so blatantly anti-intellectual.)

        Whether Eden is real or allegory, however, a major question remains: If God truly cared about saving human souls, why did he wait so long to send Jesus? There’s no indication that even his chosen people, the Jews, could achieve salvation prior to that time–and even if they could, they were a small, highly exclusive tribe. For most people on the planet between the time of Adam and the time of Jesus, salvation was simply impossible. They, too, had been forsaken by their creator.

        Furthermore, the arrival of Jesus–God’s plan for rectifying this situation–is executed in the most impractical way possible. Only a single messiah appears, and he is born into a family so dirt-poor and lacking in influence that they can’t even afford lodging for the night of his birth. Now, obviously, Jesus would not be Jesus without his dedication to helping the downtrodden–but starting so low on the social ladder certainly doesn’t help him gain followers, and leaves him wholly unprotected when the authorities come to execute him.

        But, of course, martyrdom was the plan all along–and here’s another point where this supposed ideal of divine justice does not make moral sense: How, exactly, can one person’s death absolve the sins of a completely different person? Our legal system doesn’t allow friends of death row inmates take their place in the chair.

        I should note that, on a philosophical level, the mythos of Jesus’ sacrifice marks the end of sacrifice as a dominant part of religious practices in the West. It brings the idea of sacrifice to a metaphysical level, which no longer requires the actual spilling of blood and burning of flesh. So, once again, we retreat to allegory.

        Even so: the entire gambit of sacrifice doesn’t exactly make sense. Remember: the entire reason humans need to be saved is as a result of something God imposed on them as a punishment. He is sending a part of himself down to atone to himself on behalf of someone else to rescue that person from a condition he himself inflicted. Why not simply remove the condition without all the fanfare? Why not give Adam and Eve a chance to be saved so that the unwanted condition would not be passed down?

        And then, of course, Jesus fails at his own sacrifice: he doesn’t stay dead. Sure, he conquers death–arguably the real point of salvation–but he also renders his own martyrdom invalid. For human beings, death is permanent. Jesus, on the other hand, gets tortured and spend a few days in a coma before getting better. Most martyr’s don’t “get better”.

        In any case, after said three-day nap, Jesus decides to head back to heaven–leaving the business of saving the entirety of humanity to his small, persecuted band of followers. You would think a miracle-worker on such an important mission would have stuck around a little longer to get the enterprise off the ground, but no. Predictably, it takes a few hundred years for Christianity to get its footing. By the time the major texts are written down, all the accounts of Jesus’ works must be recorded by second-hand sources.

        So, the business of salvation–which is supposedly planned by an omniscient, omnipotent being, remember–is not off to a great start. Because God only chose to reveal himself in one place in the world, his word must compete with a multitude of other faiths. Unfortunately, the followers of those “false” faiths have just as much conviction in their beliefs as the Christians–in fact, many even have their own holy scriptures and messiahs. God was apparently not able to devise a better method of reaching humanity in all corners of the globe, nor even do so in a way that clearly stood out from other kinds of religions.

        This brings about a situation where humans are not “saved” because they are good people, but because they are lucky enough to have been in the right place at the right time. A murderous psychopat could swear his fealty to Jesus on his deathbed and achieve eternal bliss, but a nonbeliever who is a saint in every aspect of his life would be damned. That’s not justice–it’s tribalism, and it’s needlessly arbitrary.

        Some Christians say God’s love is unconditional, but, if the above is true, they are wrong. That kind of “love” is extremely conditional: humans can only be saved on the conditions that they were a live at the right time, were in the right place to be able to learn of Jesus, find the entire story of his sacrifice plausible, and then be willing to devote their entire beings to serving him. God is either appallingly incompetent as a parent, or has once again rigged the game against us for no clear reason.

        Or we could take yet another trip into the realm of allegory: perhaps Jesus’ sacrifice was not a local event, but one that extended across both space and time. Perhaps his death, however temporary, abolished original sin for all humans for all time–even in the past. After all, time would be meaningless to an eternal being.

        This final removal from the realm of the physical removes many of the flaws of a literalist Christian mythos: Now, the tale of sin and salvation exists not as ethically-confusing facts, but as a deeper truth about human nature. Now, the spreading of the gospels serves not to bring mere salvation, but to bring wisdom to humanity–wisdom that should be expected to stand on its own against competing philosophies, and thus have no need to start from a position of strength.

        At this point, you might be wondering why I’m an atheist at all. It’s simple: if all of God’s works are allegories–if his achievements are won through the actions of human beings alone–then he is, in fact, compatible with his own non-existence. It is human deeds that bring about goodness in this world.

      • Blanche Quizno

        Goblinman, you said:

        “It’s also interesting that Satan is doomed to be punished for playing such a vital and necessary role.”

        You could say the same thing about the universally reviled Judas Iscariot, the “betrayer” of the jesus! According to the Gospels, the jesus had to be betrayed for certain prophecies to be fulfilled (see Matt 26:2, where the jesus “prophesies” that he will be “betrayed”; Matt 26:56 – unspecified “prophecies”; and Matt 27:9, the supposed “prophecy” of “Jeremy the prophet” who was actually Zechariah – 11:12-13). So, if we’ve got us some prophecies that need someone to do something to fulfill them, they can’t be fulfilled unless someone does that, right? So, if Judas hadn’t done it, someone else would have had to; otherwise, there could have been no fulfillment of prophecy! Christians should be PRAISING Judas for taking the fall just so that those silly ol’ so-important “prophecies” could be claimed as fulfilled!

        And besides, in Matt 26:25, where Jesus publicly identifies Judas as his betrayer, why did no one take action against him? Certainly the disciples could have taken turns sitting on him to stop him from betraying their lord and master pretty much indefinitely, right? So why does NOBODY do ANYTHING when the person who is going to give their favoritest godman up to be executed is identified?? It is truly a ridiculous scenario.

        One thing – I think it was you who brought up the Adversary earlier. First of all, Hebrew has no capital letters, which leads to frequent confusion. The “adversary” can be a person, a group of people, environmental factors, or even conditions within one’s own mind – ANYTHING that causes one to stumble or to fail to do the right thing. In the book of Job, as stated, this function is being embodied by a member of the god’s court, a minister, so to speak, who is functioning as a prosecuting attorney. What’s important is that this being cannot take ANY action against Job without the explicit and express permission of the god, so when the adversary kills Job’s children to make Job curse God (which would have been the appropriate target for such a curse), it is with God’s full agreement. God has *no* problem with that.

        What I find most scandalous about that nasty bit of work is that Job is supposed to be happyhappyhappy because he gets NEW children – and PRETTIER daughters! As if he’s just going to forget all about his OTHER children, killed for no other reason than for God to win a bet with its butler. It’s obscene and disgusting.

        One more thing, while I’m on a roll – that awful tale of Solomon who orders the disputed baby to be sliced in half and thus supposedly proves his superhuman wisdom? Solomon had HUNDREDS of wives and concubines, and THOUSANDS of children! He probably wouldn’t recognize most of his children if he ran into them in the hallway! So, for Solomon, it truly WAS no big deal to slice that baby in half – Ol’ Sol had PLENTY more, so no worries for Solomon! Horrible!

  • https://plus.google.com/104625445636003591597 John Shores

    Hi Ryan,

    I applaud you for this journey that you are taking. However, I think that you are taking a year off from religion. Escaping god is not a part-time or temporary gig.

    My father was a Baptist then Wesleyan pastor who later in life became an Orthodox Priest. My upbringing included god and Christian doctrine ever hour of every day. I deconverted at the age of 43. That process was marked by almost unbearable emotional and mental torment. I didn’t want to be an atheist. I wanted Christianity to be true. It isn’t.

    Breaking free of the mental processes that god is always there and watching was exceedingly difficult and took a great deal of effort. I don’t think it’s something you can turn off and on again.

    I am actually glad that you are documenting all this and I hope that your Christian friends and family keep up with it. I think that the more educated Christians are regarding how horrible they are to atheists as a whole and to former believers in particular, the better this world will be. “Take up your cross and follow me” means nothing in a country where Christianity is the main religion. Leaving Christianity has a far higher cost than following it. It is a cost worth paying though.

    What you are experiencing is actually quite typical. I belong to an online community of former Christians (exchristian dot net). You may want to pop over and pay us a visit. You’ll find it helpful to have some support system in place and a set of people who understand what you are undertaking. Imagine my surprise to find that atheists are darned nice people too!

    I would be interested to know how this journey is impacting your wife and kids. It was gruelling for us as a family but we made it through intact.

    All the best,

    -John

  • DJ

    Barb, I can understand your frustration and I honestly don’t understand why you have had that experience. I’ve dealt with seasons of dessert experiences/wilderness experiences where I could no longer sense God, but I pressed on in obedience and in time, those dry times passed. I learned that this is a common experience and much has been written about it. I’ve heard some explain that a drought causes the tree’s root to dig deeper…and I think that is a good analogy. His reality is not in my head, its in my spirit and soul, and I felt His life even when I was a young child whenever I heard a Bible story. I did not feel the Lord’s presence during my wayward teen and young adult years…I was not living as I ought and I believe sin hardens the heart to the things of God…but when I returned to Him, and began to seek Him, He drew me closer and I could again sense His nearness. I imagine this is how it is also for all the Christians who have been martyred…who would be tortured and die for a philosophy? He is so very real and active in my life. Have you ever felt that stirring in your soul? I would be interested in knowing, so I can understand how anyone could resist that life. I do want to understand.

    • Goblinman

      DJ, not to sidetrack, but people being willing to die for their beliefs is hardly unique to Christianity or even religion.

      Martyrs may be commended for staying true to their convictions–but be wary of those who exalt martyrdom: they find human beings more valuable dead than alive.

      • Blanche Quizno

        Good points on martyrdom, Goblinman – I would have to say that the most sincere, most moving example of martyrdom is Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc, who deliberately burned himself alive to protest the Vietnam War. I’m not going to post to the video footage, as some find it horrifying and might complain, but just look up his name and you can see stills and an early video of the actual event. It was astonishing.

        By comparison, the Christian “martyrs” were simply killed by someone else, something they apparently could not get out of. Oh, sure, it’s claimed that they “held strong” and “never gave up their faith”, but this makes a lot of important assumptions that are never, ever clarified. The article below elegantly and eloquently analyzes the whole “die for a lie” scenario, which is far more complicated than most people realize. I’ll post an excerpt below – to be clear, this excerpt addresses just ONE aspect of the issue. http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2006/05/die-for-lie-wont-fly.html

        “One of the arguments that Jesus was physically resurrected is that he appeared to his Disciples, and they believed it to the point they died for it. If it were a “hoax” they would not have “died for a lie.” For many Christians, this is the anchor of the argument for a resurrection. We can discuss empty tombs, and swoon theories and wrong tomb theories, but many keep coming back to the fact that the disciples believed it to the point of dying and cannot get around it.

        It is not as strong an argument as Christians believe, and few have actually researched the area. In order to explain why the argument is frail, we must understand what exactly is being claimed first.

        The claim is composed of five elements. It requires:

        1) A group of individuals;

        2) Specifically named;

        3) Who saw a physically resurrected Jesus;

        4) Willingly dying for this belief; (key issue)

        5) And not for any other reason.

        (Addressing point 4, above:) Tacitus recounts Nero blaming Christians for the burning of Rome (64 C.E.) and then persecuting them. Whether the Christians recanted, or did not would not make a whit of difference. They were being the “fall-guy” for the blame of a crime. Traditionally Peter was killed during this persecution. How would that provide him an opportunity to absolve himself, and avoid dying for a lie?

        Imagine Peter leading a church service at that time, and Roman Soldiers bust in:

        Soldier: All right. Who is in charge here?

        *Everyone points to Peter*

        Soldier: You, and your entire group here are charged with the crime of arson. You will be tried, found guilty, and executed, and not necessarily in that order.

        Peter: But it is all a hoax. Jesus wasn’t physically resurrected. I don’t want to die for a lie.

        Now, is the Soldier going to apologize for bothering Peter, and then leave, chuckling how he single-handedly eliminated Christianity? Of course not. He will proceed with his orders, and, regardless what Peter says, Peter will die. Yes, he is a martyr. Yes, he died for being a Christian.

        But that does not address the crux of this argument—did he voluntarily assume a risk that by claiming it was a hoax could be avoided? According to Acts, the Disciples were the first vocal supporters of the new Christian Church. Any persecution that would focus on the leaders would center on these disciples. They could not “avoid” it by recanting. By then it is far too late.

        King Herod, having killed one disciple, arrests Peter because it would please the people. (Acts 12:3) Whether Peter would have died or not at this point was dependant on what the people wanted, not what Peter would or would not say.

        A more modern example would be the Salem Witch Trials. A young woman would be accused of being a witch. After various accusations, cross-examinations and times of imprisonment, she may “confess” to being a witch.

        Does anyone believe this confession would be accurate—they really were a witch? Nope. It would be felt the confession was extracted out of them by violence. According to Christianity’s own claimed history, the methods of torture and persecution would be as bad. If someone even overheard Peter say it was a lie, would they record it as a truth? Not at all, in the same way, they would assume he was coerced into the statement.

        Some of the accused women insisted they were not, nor ever were witches—yet they were still executed! When a persecution cycle begins, what the accused say will neither save them, nor damn them. They will be killed, regardless.

        Some of the accused women offered up others, in the hope of saving themselves. It only brought in more martyrs and saved none. If 10 or 15 people all accused a disciple, regardless of whether that disciple decried it was all a hoax, they would still die.

        According to Acts, the Disciples were at the forefront of the Christian movement. They would be well known, and acknowledged as the leaders of the church. If the persecution was as widespread, and involved literally the death of Christians, the Disciples would be singled out. They would be marked for death, despite any trial, any statements, anything they might claim. The person that argues, “would not die for a lie” forgets that the impetus of persecution, for whatever reason, would not stop simply because the Disciple recanted. That is not what persecution was about! It was about stopping the movement through threat and application of violence.

        In order for this argument to be persuasive, the proponent would need to show how and what manner the named individuals died. We have no facts, no history, no Biblical support. It is here this argument crashes.”

    • Blanche Quizno

      “Dessert experiences”, DJ? What, climbing to the top of a Cherries Jubilee? Lolz!!

      But seriously, DJ, you stated: “…experiences where I could no longer sense God, but I pressed on in obedience and in time, those dry times passed.”

      I can tell you with absolute confidence that there has never been a single moment when I could no longer sense sidewalks, spare tires, trees, clouds, or any other thing that exists. If people had malfunctioning sensory equipment – being struck blind or going deaf or becoming paralyzed, for example – I could see them claiming that they could no longer sense things that exist, but otherwise, this is simply not something that anyone who is grounded in reality ever says. It is only the deluded who sense the fact that their delusion is groundless and who have to put effort into re-fooling themselves.

      You might want to think about that…

    • silvawebdev

      How can being in the dessert or wilderness diminish your “godly” experience? Is there no god in nature, or is it the devil moving in? Do you need to be around others to “sense” God? I personally feel much closer to nature and God and the wonder of it all when I don’t have the “noise” of 6 billion people and who knows how many other good/bad influences when I am with nature. As the Devil influences all – even though who interpreted the bible apparently – nature is the only true test of God and we have a long history of monks going away to the hills, and on sabbaticals. It is only of late that the new American Christians have been at odds with anything experimental or contrarian as is the case with any group feeling persecuted and paranoid – paranoia starts to rule the day as can be seen with the current rhetoric – it is quite sad that those willing to give up so much are being led by those wishing to keep their power over them at any cost even if it means perverting the original message – and it is they who accuse the liberals of drinking the cool-aid..

  • Freeheeler

    You’re only experiencing this “suffering” because you were a pastor in your previous life. Those of us that have been atheists since childood…well, we’ve naturally gravitated toward atheist friends, so we–or at least I–have never felt the sting of religious rejection, which I would laugh at anyway. But I also don’t wear my “religion” on my sleeve, unlike pastors, priests, etc. Whether you realized it or not, Mr. Bell, you put yourself on a pedestal when you became a “man of God.” (And I emphasize MAN of God, since women are generally not allowed in the ranks of human deities–yet another bit of evidence that religion and God are human constructs.) When you’re on a pedestal, you can only fall. As you have done, Mr. Bell. But fear not. God will not catch you, but your built-in humanity will. Keep the faith. I’m pulling for you.

  • Melissa

    I’ve always doubted, even as a child. Growing up in Texas with religious relations (mostly Southern Baptist, with a couple of Catholic step-parents for spice), it was a tough road.

    As an adult, I spent 10 years in AA trying to be “spiritual” and trying desperately to believe in a higher power that would know me and help me.

    None of it ever rang true but I really gave it my best shot. I acted as if it were true for years, I lived as if it were true. But it was hollow, and it never fit. I always ached for the other, for what felt true, what I could really believe in.

    I’m out of the closet now in terms of my ‘religious’ affiliation. Sadly I have lost relationships with certain family members because of it. I was sad to lose them from my life, but it’s a price I had to pay in order to fit in my skin. I had to own who I was – who I am. I felt like a fraud, wearing the skin of a believer when the guts inside were those of a non-theist. I know all too well how difficult it is to live as if you believe one thing when your heart feels the pull of the truth of something else. Now I am able to wear my own skin, scars and all. Hallelujah, and pass the biscuits.

    Whatever you decide, whatever skin fits you, I applaud you for taking the journey.

  • Charmaine

    It seems more like consequences for not fulfilling club requirements rather than spiritual authenticity and accountability. Same issue I have with baptism, they are required to accept Adventist membership requirements in order to be baptized rather than the sole biblical requirement of repentance and acceptance of Jesus’ salvation.

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  • Reeka

    I would really like people on here to stop acting like him being fired from his jobs is so out of control. This man was a Pastor, employed by the denomination he Pastors in. And he has announced he no longer believes what the institutions who are paying him believes.

    Of course he’s going to get fired! Why is this new news? It isn’t even sad, it’s expected. It comes with the territory of announcing to the world you plan to try out atheism.

    • Blanche Quizno

      “Of course he’s going to get fired! Why is this new news? It isn’t even sad, it’s expected. It comes with the territory of announcing to the world you plan to try out atheism.”

      You’re absolutely correct, Reeka. Others on this site have pointed out the same thing.

      Yet we see at least one Christian claiming that the struggles of atheists and of Christians are much the same. Perhaps our poor guinea pig pastor didn’t realize that’s not anything close to accurate. Many Christians don’t realize that it is not uncommon for atheists to be fired or forced out when the Christians around them realize they’re actually atheists. While it’s no longer a torches-and-pitchforks scenario, the mindset is the same – rid our good Christian environment of the evil heathen unbeliever influence no matter what.

      Perhaps Pastor Ryan thought that his position that he was just *trying* atheism while still an absolutely, completely, fully committed Christian would enable him to play both sides. Nope – Christians persecute atheists. That’s a fact. And now Pastor Ryan is seeing it first-hand – I’m sure it came as a shock. But only to him – the rest of us already know what it’s like to be the target of Christian persecution. Losing privilege is a bee-yotch, so to speak, and tends to come as a complete shock to the formerly privileged. Back in the 1980s, there was a movie with Dan Akryoyd, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Eddie Murphy called “Trading Places” – it illustrated this reality (and many others) quite well. If you haven’t seen it – rent it!!

  • Lori

    Ryan Bell, I want to ask you to search out your salvation. By your words it seems you have only been going through the motions of serving God without knowing Him as your Savior. When you are truly saved then you know God is real, you experience HIS presence, and you want to serve HIM. God is real and this thing you are going to try to do is only going to make you more miserable. Accept Jesus as your Savior, admit you are a sinner (as we all are), ask God to forgive you, acknowledge the virgin birth, the dying on the cross, Jesus shedding of HIS blood, and HIS rising again and that HE sits on the right-hand side of God as I type these words to you. If you will truly accept Jesus as your Savior then you will find what you are looking for. If you don’t, they you will continue to wander aimlessly looking for what has already been paid for you by Jesus on the cross.

    • https://plus.google.com/104625445636003591597 John Shores

      it seems you have only been going through the motions of serving God without knowing Him as your Savior.

      Do you have any clue how utterly arrogant and condescending this is?

      When you are truly saved then you know God is real

      Isn’t that like saying, “When you have fully digested your food, then you will taste it”? You have the whole thing backwards. If this god person is so real, why does it require faith at all?

      The word “real” means something.

    • Goblinman

      Ryan,

      One thing you’re going to notice as you do this (if you haven’t already), is that you’ll begin hearing Christians repeating the same arguments to you over and over again.

      Lori’s here is a good example: notice, primarily, that she’s not speaking from her personal experiences with religion, but reciting an edict. She’s also overlooking the fact that you’re not intending, for now, to remain an atheist permanently, but only to explore the option. And yet her response is the same one she would have to any other “wayward soul”. It’s something like a religious form letter.

      Also notice the two appeals to your emotions: the appeal to guilt regarding the sacrifices of Jesus, and the appeal to fear regarding divine punishment if you do not behave. Those are not arguments meant to appeal to logic.

      This is an important part of understanding why so many atheists come across as “angry”. The truth is, we’ve encountered so many of these nearly-identical arguments from believers–arguments which ignore our own personal spiritual paths–that we’ve become frustrated with them.

    • aesthete2

      Ah, a whole lot of presumptuous orders from someone who apparently thinks she’s God herself.

      My goodness, do all theists stand up and announce what people should have to do like they have some authority? I mean this woman has at best read a book, the same book many many others have read and apparently decided she gets to tell everyone else what to do because of it.

      May I ask where your humility is? And by what authority do you have that supersedes this man’s own comprehension of your book? And why you couldn’t possibly stir yourself to find out why he made a different conclusion than you?

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  • Ethan

    i pick up your story on cnn, and i wasn’t so surprised until i noticed that you were Seventh-day Adventist, man you realy are messed up, you had the truth in your hand and you decided to do a publicity stunt to the devil? but thats alright, i get you, your mind is not working straight. Only think that worries me is your 2 daughter, please tell me that you will not speak to them during your ridiculous adventure, please let them be with their mother, because you are not the role model that they need. But in this moment i would like for you be my brother though, because i could beat you up to put some senses into your head!

    • Blanche Quizno

      Wow, Ethan – impugning his ability to parent his own children and even threatening him with physical violence! Christians are truly disgusting, depraved, dangerous individuals – it’s no surprise that most of our prisons are filled with – you guessed it – Christians. Please do us all a favor and move away.

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  • http://davidsonhowards.wordpress.com captaind40

    I am not at offended by your choice to walk away from God – people do it every day and don’t make a big deal about it. I am a follower of Christ and I choose to stay with God. However – I am a bit offended, or better yet, confused, that you would even think that any Christian organization, which by definition, is all about God, would want to have you as an employee. It has nothing to do with whether or not they like you, it’s about the fact that you no longer represent in any way anything they stand for or believe in. Also – as a proclaimed atheist, why would you even consider working for any institution that is fundamentally built on the premise that there is a God and that we are to serve Him? Ask yourself – oh, I don’t know, maybe several years ago, if someone you worked with were to do the same exact thing that you are now doing, would you still have employed them at your church. I think not, It wouldn’t have made any sense, just like it doesn’t make sense now for you. Good luck on your journey and may you find at the end of it that the only thing that feels a God shaped void is God.

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  • http://silverbells2012.wordpress.com silverbells2012

    Thanks for mentioning the hardship atheists might endure… I am an atheist and I think the UK (where I am) is reasonably tolerant but it has to be said you can no more choose not to believe in a deity than you can to believe in one, much like the members of the LGBT community cannot choose their sexual identity. Society needs to develop in its tolerance of difference – celebrate rather than fear it!

    • silvawebdev

      I – as an atheist – beg to differ a little in that there is value in conformity as rules are very important, and believing in rules even more so – the difference is in accepting those who do not, or cannot conform – like getting mad at someone without legs in a wheel chair is ridiculous. Tolerance is important, but society must have rules based on reality, not myth and comfort per se.

      Reg LGBT – We need to stop thinking that things are so rigid to protect people as there are many people who CAN choose one way or the other, or who are a-sexual – we have to allow for that too, and not just radicalize it into discrete camps as a rainbow is not just a bunch of different colors, but also has areas where the colors mix and change and we ALL have to have tolerance for that.

      • aesthete2

        If you can choose to love either men or women, there’s a term for that – bisexual.

      • silvawebdev

        Yes there is aesthete2, but in our political fight to allow one thing or the other it’s usually the extremes that are fought for and the smaller “grey area” that are not discussed which is where we are today as you either believe everything and are a “real christian”, or believe nothing and are a “real atheist” while many of us are in the middle and forced by the two camps to pick sides just as many people who might have “experimented” sexually would be called a homosexual by some even though they are firmly in one camp or the other now. It is easier (and lazy) to not allow for the grey areas.

      • http://silverbells2012.wordpress.com silverbells2012

        I think there might be a misunderstanding about what I meant. I neither feel alone as an atheist (know many people who don’t believe in a deity) nor feel apart from those who do have a faith. Also, calling myself an atheist is something I do in the context of a discussion such as this but it does not mean I negate the rules of the society in which I live. It would however be hypocrisy for me to go to church on Sunday to conform to some arbitary standard, especially when most Christians (in Britain) don’t go to church anyway.

      • Blanche Quizno

        “Also, calling myself an atheist is something I do in the context of a discussion such as this but it does not mean I negate the rules of the society in which I live. ”

        Also, calling myself a minority is something I do in the context of a discussion such as this but it does not mean I negate the rules of the society in which I live.

        Also, calling myself a black person is something I do in the context of a discussion such as this but it does not mean I negate the rules of the society in which I live.

        Also, calling myself a Jew is something I do in the context of a discussion such as this but it does not mean I negate the rules of the society in which I live.

        Also, calling myself a single mother is something I do in the context of a discussion such as this but it does not mean I negate the rules of the society in which I live.

        Also, calling myself a bisexual is something I do in the context of a discussion such as this but it does not mean I negate the rules of the society in which I live.

        See how that sounds? Would you have said “Also, calling myself a Christian is something I do in the context of a discussion such as this but it does not mean I negate the rules of the society in which I live.”? Why or why not?

        Why would anyone connect “atheist” with “negating the rules of the society in which one lives”?? What “rules” and who’s making them?

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  • Blanche Quizno

    “It is easier (and lazy) to not allow for the grey areas.”

    You’re right, silvawebdev. Dualistic thinking, that everything is either *this* or *that*, as in an on/off switch, is the source of much trouble within society and much conflict and suffering within human beings. The reality is that reality comes in shades of gray – there IS NO right/wrong. Everything – and I mean *EVERYTHING* – is context-dependent and, thus, requires wisdom and discernment to figure out.

    Certain religions, like Christianity, promote simplistic dualistic thinking, leading to all sorts of trouble for society. We end up with closed-minded, ignorant Christians who can’t think, who insist that they’re right and everyone else is wrong, and attempt to get their fellow Christians to band with them to forcibly change society’s rules and laws to favor their deluded Christian viewpoints. Christians have demonstrated in the past 50 years that they have *NO PROBLEM* overall with certain groups within society having to exist without the same rights as the Christians enjoy. These Christians are quite happy to see basic human rights denied to certain minorities, because the denial of those rights “proves”, in these Christians’ rotten minds, that these minorities are fundamentally inferior and, to be honest, less than human.

    So I think that we have a vested interest in making sure that groups that promote division, hatred, bigotry, and predjudice against “others”, while promoting favoritism and unjust preferential treatment for members of their OWN group are kept in check. These groups exert a destructive, poisonous effect upon society and cause serious trouble for us all, despite how such groups uniformly insist that they are the respository of everything that is best out of the human condition.

    • silvawebdev

      Blanche have enjoyed your answers although I am not quite a combative as you, I must agree on almost all points…Thank you.

      Everything – and I mean *EVERYTHING* – is context-dependent and, thus, requires wisdom and discernment to figure out.

      It’s strange that so many conservatives will say there are no grey areas or “exceptions” yet when asked about murder, adultery, sin, or whatever they all have context – you can kill in war, or adulterers should be stoned to death – oh, well not anymore… and then when asked about Genesis – well OK, THERE six days means six days…. despite all the physical evidence… If you are going to say that something is 100% correct and try to make me believe that I should be kicking myself because I need to pray harder because I don’t “feel” God then stop playing games.

      Certain religions, like Christianity, promote simplistic dualistic thinking, leading to all sorts of trouble for society. We end up with closed-minded, ignorant Christians who can’t think, who insist that they’re right and everyone else is wrong

      Now this is a problem of democracy – the Church and leaders know that compromise is needed – there was compromise in cobbling the bible together as some books were included and some were not. But the sheep were kept away from this and told of perfection, infallibility and divine inspiration which if you go to Europe you can see after centuries of this there are few “literal” believers as they have seen through time that this was a sham – but the NEW guys now they have the NEW system the NEW rules and distance themselves from all the old bad religions and have the “real Christians” – now we know what to do!!! There are fewer things more human than creating new beliefs from the old and then cutting your ties so that their failures no longer apply to you…. that’s human, not divinely inspired nature as if you were divine you wouldn’t need to do that.

      So I think that we have a vested interest in making sure that groups that promote division, hatred, bigotry, and prejudice against “others”, while promoting favoritism and unjust preferential treatment for members of their OWN group are kept in check. These groups exert a destructive, poisonous effect upon society and cause serious trouble for us all, despite how such groups uniformly insist that they are the repository of everything that is best out of the human condition.

      I agree with you here although I don’t think we need to attack the message of religion as written in the bible, but the messengers that would use religion for their own purposes and pervert the basic intent – as the Republicans have done by co-opting abortion to their pro-business plank in the late ’70′s part genius, and part luck (as most things are) as the middle class was so fat and happy they let all their good union job get sold overseas expecting new jobs (doing what I will never know) to materialize…. So 40 million pro Union, pro Democrat Catholics (along with other pro union Christians) immediately became Republican and started voting against their economic security to save babies in the womb – noble yes, but not a great long term strategy to keep a middle class…. The combination of religion and political party was a master stroke, but will not last as when you base your beliefs on ideals without allowances for compromise you will see failure as nothing is ideal in life – just as a Christian must kill from time to time a tree hugger must cut down a tree..

      To all Christians – I am sorry if I cannot believe in your religion 100% – I agree with many aspects of Christianity and many other religions – but do you feel sorry about all the other religions with billions of hindu’s and Muslims? Are you constantly studying them to see if you “feel” their God? If you do not, then how would you ask more of me?

      • Blanche Quizno

        Silvawebdev, you have made an important post – I hope people take the time to read and think about it. It is indeed more appealing to make a “clean break” and simply dump something that has become “difficult” rather than try and work it out, especially when the working out both appears and will be quite distasteful, for example. And those who are smug and self-satisfied think nothing of requiring significant effort on the part of others, especially when demanding that others understand THEM. There will be no reciprocation, you understand.

        The situation in the US is indeed unique, as is the situation in Australia. Oz was colonized by criminals who were sent there to get rid of the; the US was colonized by crazy Christian zealots determined to set up theocracy. And thus, despite both having nominally European ancestry and the same language, the two cultures have turned out very differently.

        I recently ran across an analysis of what makes US Christianity so different, and it’s quite astonishing – below, an excerpt from a book preview:

        http://tinyurl.com/k5dxszx – “Tocqueville’s Civil Religion: American Christianity and the Prospects for Freedom” By Sanford Kessler

        While America’s republican religion was Christian in name, it was opposed in principle to all forms of traditional Christianity and wholly consistent with the basic premises of the Enlightenment.

        Tocqueville concluded that most Americans vested religious authority neither in God nor the self, but in democratic public opinion. “All the clergy of America are aware of the intellectual domination of the majority,” he observed in the Democracy, “and they treat it with respect.” “They never struggle against it unless the struggle is necessary. They keep aloof from party squabbles, but they freely adopt the general views of their time and country and let themselves go unresistingly with the tide of feeling and opinion which carries everything around them along with it.”

        Tocqueville describes this new sort of religion at various points in the Democracy. Its core beliefs, zealously held, were that the people are sovereign, that they have the right to determine religious truth for themselves, that their capacities for this task are roughly equal, and that truth, therefore, “will be found on the side of the majority.” Its secondary notions include the ideas that happiness can be attained without God, that self-interest is honorable if “properly understood,” and that humanity as a whole is capable of indefinite improvement. These beliefs made Americans, for the most part, thisworldly rather than otherworldly, proud rather than humble, selfish rather than altruistic and rational rather than pious.

        Ironically, Americans paid for their membership in public opinion’s church with true religious freedom, that is the freedom of nonconformity. Eschewing argument and persuasion, the majority compelled belief “by some mighty pressure of the mind of all upon the intelligence of each.” Resistance to this pressure, which entered into the very depths of the soul, was virtually impossible. In democracy, Tocqueville notes, it is “very difficult for a man to believe what the mass rejects and to profess what it condemns.”

        In Tocqueville’s America, however, there was “only one authority, one source of strength and success, and nothing outside it.” Although the majority didn’t banish or burn heretics, it silenced them more effectively by ostracism. Luther himself, Tocqueville notes, probably would have been denied a hearing under these circumstances.

        Despite the high level of religious activity, he found “less independence of mind and true freedom of discussion” here than in any other country familiar to him. Ironically, the same democratic forces which fostered enlightenment rationalism and Protestant sectarianism threatened in the 1830s to “confine the activity of private judgment within limits too narrow for the dignity and happiness of mankind.” Americans also paid a steep price in happiness for their worship of equality. Traditional Christians repressed “a crowd of petty passing desires” for the sake of salvation and could be happy in their faith even if not prosperous, enlightened, or free. Tocqueville’s Americans, in contrast, were prosperous, enlightened, and free, but not really happy. “A cloud habitually hung on their brow,” he observed, “and they seemed serious and almost sad even in their pleasures.” In his mind, this restless melancholy was due largely to a virtual abandonment of otherworldly hopes.

        Tocqueville thought that these changes brought a grievous loss to real Christianity, drastically reducing its power over the American soul. “Religion does not move…[Americans]…deeply,” he noted in his letter to Kergolay. Very few American Protestants made the sacrifices of time, effort, and wealth for the faith that one would expect from the truly pious nor did they seem to fear otherworldly punishment. Rather, they followed their religion “the way our fathers took a medicine in the month of May – if it does not do any good, people seem to say, at least it cannot do any harm.” This indifference made Christians who “follow[ed] their habits rather than their convictions” and hypocrisy was common. Ultimately, Tocqueville could not determine just how many American Protestants sincerely believed, “for who can read the secrets of the heart?”

        “A man who has set his heart on nothing but the good things of this world is always in a hurry, for he has only a limited time in which to find them, get them, and enjoy them. Remembrance of the shortness of life continually goads him on. Apart from the goods he has, he thinks of a thousand others which death will prevent him from tasting if he does not hurry. This thought fills him with distress, fear, and regret and keeps his mind continually in agitation…”

        The Christian spirit of freedom ultimately led Americans unconsciously to worship public opinion when private, rational judgment proved incapable of satisfying their metaphysical needs. While the Christian spirit of religion no longer acted independently on the American soul, its residual influence on public opinion left the country, at least in appearance, the most Christian nation in the world.

      • WW

        “the US was colonized by crazy Christian zealots determined to set up theocracy”

        Blanche, this is absolutely, unequivocally NOT TRUE. The original colonists were theists to be sure, but they were not determined to set up theocracy – they were ESCAPING theocracy. I have no idea how you could screw up that so badly.

        • aesthete2

          Oh my, have you actually read the accounts of the first settlements?

      • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

        @Blanche – thanks for the kind words.

        @WW – You are wrong, the original settlers here were separated into religious groups, taxes went to state Churches – there were not “enlightened” people, they came here to have freedom from persecution, but were not looking to assimilate into anything and fought hard and no problem persecuting using their own rules. There are MANY stories of political oppression in the united states. It took the educated, traveled business class 250 years later to think beyond survival, religion and exclusion – the only way to create the union we have today.

      • Blanche Quizno

        “Blanche, this is absolutely, unequivocally NOT TRUE. The original colonists were theists to be sure, but they were not determined to set up theocracy – they were ESCAPING theocracy. I have no idea how you could screw up that so badly.”

        It sounds like you’ve never heard of the Puritans. That surprises me.

        If you lived in a Puritan town, you were required by law to be a Puritan. If you were, say, a Quaker instead (still a Christian, right?), you were liable to be fined, arrested, tortured, branded on the face, whipped, driven out of town, or murdered – in Boston, four people were hanged by Puritans just for being Quakers, including 2 women. If you did not attend every church service, you would be fined. In fact, in some cases, the police went door to door on Sunday morning, and dragged anyone they found to church. People were FORCED TO ATTEND CHURCH by law enforcement. Here is how the Rev. John Cotton, a big fan of this human rights abuse, excused the practice:

        “But (say you) it doth but make men hypocrites, to compell men to conforme the outward man [in matters of worship] for feare of punishment. If it did so, yet better to be hypocrites than prophane persons. Hypocrites give God part of his due, the outward man, but the prophane person giveth God neither outward nor inward man.” http://tinyurl.com/n2plrf3

        Now, can you explain to me how this does NOT sound like a theocracy?? We unfortunately suffer from their legacy, with Christians continuing to believe that people should be forced by law to obey Christianity’s rules, regardless of whether they are even Christians or not, “for their own good.”

        Christians don’t seem able to grasp the concept that YOUR religion is for YOU to follow and that this is as far as it goes. Just as Christians don’t worry about Judaism’s rules or Hinduism’s rules or Scientology’s rules, Christians should not expect the rest of us to be concerned about Christianity’s rules. It is shockingly selfish and an egregious abuse of basic human rights and freedoms to hijack the legal system in order to force nonChristians to obey Christian rules. You should be glad the Puritans have gone extinct. They were nasty, dangerous Christians, and we’re far better off without them.

        • Jerry Nelson

          Blanche, Great assessment of the need for freedom in and from religion. Separation of church and state is crucial. Puritans left religious persecution and then set up a system where they became the persecutors. I’m thankful for the likes Roger Williams who, early on, helped clarify this issue. I am embarrassed by Christians that want to make this a “Christian nation” through legislation. I am a Christian and will use dialogue and persuasion when welcomed and nothing more.

      • Blanche Quizno

        Thank you for your comment, Jerry Nelson. And thank you for bringing up Roger Williams, himself also a Puritan! Williams went so far as to say, “Forced worship stinks in God’s nostrils.”

        On the other hand, John Cotton’s perspective was, “[Tolerance is] liberty … to tell lies in the name of the Lord.” But aren’t Christians supposed to let GOD be the judge??

        “Roger Williams didn’t believe in forcing others to believe as he did. He thought that killing or punishing in the name of Christianity was sinful. He respected the beliefs of others, including the Native Americans. He said that church members should pay the bills for their church instead of taking the money out of everyone’s general taxes. Then he started preaching that land shouldn’t be forcibly taken from the Indians. He said, “[It is] against the testimony of Christ Jesus for the civil state to impose upon the souls of the people a religion…. Jesus never called for the sword of steel to help the sword of spirit.” http://www.pbs.org/wnet/historyofus/web03/segment2.html

        Unfortunately, it is clear whose viewpoint endured. The wrong side’s. You see, John Cotton felt that even hypocrites could be *useful* and thus, people should be forced to do what he wanted them to do, so as to be “useful.” To him. We still see vestiges of that attitude.

        It always astonishes me when people who have suffered from persecution (as John Cotton did in England) will turn right around and behave WORSE toward those they disagree with!

        “I am embarrassed by Christians that want to make this a “Christian nation” through legislation. I am a Christian and will use dialogue and persuasion when welcomed and nothing more.”

        I appreciate and applaud your sensible and thoughtful stand on this matter.

  • Roger

    Dear Ryan,

    I have just read an article about your quest and throes with faith, and I think I understand what’s going on in your life. If that’s okay with you I’d venture to offer my own insight into the matter.

    For starters, I’d like to introduce you to your new friends: Mr Why, Mr How, Mr Who, Mr Where, Mr When, Mr Who-Benefits and Mr Is-It-By-Chance-Or-By-Design? The friends come in very handy whenever there is a matter or situation you need to dissect and analyze, and, despite the fact many find them at times uncomfortable, the first “friend” and the last one are especially helpful.

    Also, you can view events, things etc. just like certain processes. All processes are manageable, controllable or steerable. E.q. the price of bread isn’t going to increase by itself. There’s always someone behind it. When you think of church – it is also a process. The process, that has a set purpose – what is the real purpose of church? If god is one, why do we have so many different faiths and factions? Who started it? How does it work? How does it affect our brain and our thinking? Who benefits from it? What’s in it for us, the unchurched. When you find answers to all the questions, you’ll see the bigger picture, and only then you can decide whether you really want to be a part of it or not.

    Faith. The synonym for it in my dictionary is trust. Trust, unfortunately, is oftentimes violated or broken. Keeping that in mind, I feel knowledge is still better than trust. It is way safer, if you see what I mean. By the way, prior to Christianity people lived and had connection with their gods based on knowledge, and it worked. They didn’t have a Decalog. They had just one rule – “Live and let live” – simple and all-encompassing. Apparently they used their head when dealing with themselves and their heart when dealing with everyone else.

    Living as an atheist, you don’t get to call on higher powers to get you out of any undesirable situation. You just say “The buck stops here”, and deal with it to the best of your knowledge and ability. Also, no one imposes on your time, money and other resources. The question “what is more important: time or money?” actually is not a question for you. Obviously, it is time – an unreplenishable resource. Time for yourself, for your family, friends, hobbies etc.

    Now that you don’t have god in your life (for now or for good), you may feel a void in your life. If you asked for my advice, I’d recommend replace it with love. Love to yourself, love to your family and love to your nation, and do everything you do out of love. If you still feel the lack of something meaningful in your life, why not contact your own native gods. It makes much more sense, than turning to a god of a distant foreign nation, who needs to be very strongly motivated to prefer you over his own “children”. Again, it’s all very debatable, and I just offer you my personal view on the subject matter, and you can either take it or leave it.

    In any case and by all means I wish you health, wealth and happiness.

    Sincerely,

    Roger

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  • Brandee

    I was raised Lutheran and attended a Catholic high school. I never really identified with religion. It was just something I did because everyone else did. I never internalized it. After high school, I struggled for some years to figure out what my religious identity is. For a while, I considered myself agnostic – and slowly shifted toward atheism. Now, being atheist is not something I am ashamed of or secretive about. However – something about the word atheist still makes me shudder. The lack of belief is not where my issue lies – it is in the stigma that comes along with it. I will openly tell anyone who asks that I do not believe in God, but even I find it hard to say the word atheist because of the reactions I get.

    Whatever the outcome of your journey – I wish you the best. I hope this brings you insight and an open mind at the very least.

  • http://needsmetchurch.com Phillip Dacus

    I have resisted replying to any of these comments. I hope and pray that the person that this blog is for as been able to find a job. But I did want to way one thing. I find the many people (Christians) get disillusioned with Christianity because they are not fulfilled. So many of our people want to do something with their faith, but are not told how or are told that they cant.

    We are given so much faith in Church, but just are not given the opportunity to use it. According to the book of James, Faith without works is a dead faith and useless. So many in our Churches dont feel God and feel used of God cause the Church wont let them and wont give them the tools to work out their faith.

    Real faith has to be used. It must be worked out or just like people that over eat, they are literally overfed and become fat and lazy.

    If you pray for someone that does not have food, you probably have food in your own panty that you can give. If you pray for someone that does not have clothes, you probably have clothes in your own closet that you dont need.

    If you pray for someone to find a job, you need to help them find a job. Just praying for someone and leaving them there is taking the easy way out and is wrong.

    The key is that we need to get out there and help people. If any Church is not meeting the needs of its people and in the community, it has no right to call itself a Church.

    We are the Church, not just buildings. We need to meet needs. This is what is fulfilling and is what will define us as Christians. In the words of Keith Green.

    “Going to Church no more makes you a Christian than going to McDonalds makes you a hamburger.”

    What makes us Christians is doing what God told us to do is Matthew 25:31-46

    • aesthete2

      Why do you think faith is a good thing?

      • http://needsmetchurch.com Phillip Dacus

        You can never please God without faith, without depending on him. Anyone who wants to come to God must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely look for him. Hebrews 11:6

        Everything in this life and this world requires faith. For example, no of us was there to see the beginning of the world, the universe and life.

        If you believe in God, it requires faith. If you believe in the big bang, it requires faith. If you believe that Aliens seeded life, it requires faith. If you believe that Big foot created life, it requires faith. If you believe we came from Monkeys, it requires faith.

        There is no such thing as no faith. Even if you just believe in yourself, it requires faith.

      • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

        Are you talking about faith in Christianity, or faith in general? I think faith is a very important personal and social tool – you need to have faith the fill the gaps as you can’t analyze and “know” everything and you can’t always be paranoid so faith is important – you just have to “not drink the cool-aid”, or have absolutely blind faith. Just thought perhaps this was addressed in Christianity by the introduction of the Devil, or perhaps that was just used as a powerful scapegoat…

        Oh, well..

        • http://needsmetchurch.com Phillip Dacus

          I heard a very good, but very simple, argument the other day on faith. Take the fish symbol, which by the way I dont care for, or the other various symbols that people put on their cars. I was not there to see it created, yet someone did create it. My car did not come with it. Someone had to create it and adhere it to my car.

          Another very cute example I heard is a house. Houses are made, but no one saw it done. We dont go around saying things like; The house just evolved over time, or a bunch of wood molecules came together just right and the house just built itself.” No, we say that someone built it. We cant see them, we did not see them do it, but we believe by faith that an intelligent designer created it.

          So everyone has faith. Even if one was to believe that the house did magically just come together, that requires a huge leap of faith.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            So everyone has faith. Even if one was to believe that the house did magically just come together, that requires a huge leap of faith.

            There is a difference between having faith in something you can measure, and something you cannot. That is why to me if there is a creator, he may have created the universe in a lab, but I have seen nothing beyond that that makes no sense except for stories and books told by people yet of course there are equally compelling stories by different people, some relying on others, an some independent so I have no way of giving one story any more credence then the other.

            NOW, it is in my interest to pick a narrative that works best for myself and family and I have picked my ancestral Catholicism for my children’s youth – they are not children any more and so we have made that transition. WE NEED an alternative, a faith and environment that replaces the needed values of religion, but are not bound by bronze age mysticism and limitations. A narrative that helps people work against their selfish interests and helps them through the times we all have where we need to survive. I was perfectly happy to play the “Christian thing” until they are all going crazy in politics and polarizing themselves and creating “creation museums” – and confusing my children (they actually laugh about it) who are going – what kind of crap is that? There were not dinosaurs on an Ark….. We do need something though to polarize thought, to help those who are not scholars, who can’t or are not able to make sense of the world as it is.

        • aesthete2

          I don’t see it as faith to assume something is not false – I see it as faith to assume something is true.

          Do you see the difference? One is condemning someone for having committed a crime when you don’t know they did, the other is assuming it was possible, but keeping an open mind.

          You can have faith in your spouse as not cheating on you, but how far should that faith go? So far that no matter what he or she does, you always act and feel that they don’t?

          I don’t see faith as a thing to be considered a good quality – I see it as neutral, a judgement as to how one should act in the lack of real evidence – going too far in that judgement merely allows one to used by others, for good or bad and that’s not a good thing.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            What I was trying to say ;) There is the issue of young children and as reason is not really a possibility to them many of the norms we create for the are “just because” and religion does seal the deal a bit there – I have not seen a secular manifesto to raising children (will have to look) as to me there is nothing more important as raising the next generation and any changes we make to our society regarding religion should take child rearing into account first.

            I always thought that I would rather have sheep that believed in something (and could be controlled) then sheep that were running about crazy. The bell curves of probability and effectiveness of education, understanding, good public service and all that what are we creating, and what is the responsible path towards a greater society?

  • JAB

    I went to your church in Hollywood two times and liked it very much. I am a bit troubled by your journey though. Although I think it is fine to pursue religious beliefs and find ones own truth, I question making money on this experiement. I understand that someone else started a donation page in your honor, but now I see you have a donation lilnk on this blog. I fully undestand it being tough to lose three jobs with two kids to take care of, but what did you expect. You were a pastor and Christian teacher who wantted to “try out” athieism, do you think they were going to let you keep your job?? Why should we send you money? You should have contemplated the consequences this decision was going to place on you financially, especially having children to raise.

    You say you are surprised this went public, but now it seems like you are enjoying the attention and now, the money it is bringing your way.

    I have a question for you. Was there ever a time in your life when Jesus made himself real to you? If he never had, then you were never a true believer to begin with and if he had made Himself real, then why don’t you try to go back and remember that time.

    I have another question for all athiests, What if you are wrong??

    • Goblinman

      JAB, “What if you are wrong??”:

      I’d have a lot of questions.

      • JAB

        If I’m wrong, then I am in the same boat as you. No worse for wear.

      • Goblinman

        Yes, yes, I get that you’re passive-aggressively saying that I’m going to burn in hell.

        The God you believe in is a bully, and, if he’s real, he can go fuck himself. Pardon the language. I’ll be here waiting for my lighting strike.

      • JAB

        wow. got under your skin I see. I’m not passive aggressive. I never said you will burn in hell. I never said anyone who does not believe in God will burn in hell. If you read the Bible clearly, there is no eternal hell.

        The God I believe in changed a self conceited ungrateful person, into someone who has learned the joy of giving and loving others.

        I don’t know a God that you describe.

        • aesthete2

          So I gather you’ve never read the bible.

        • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

          This is typical in these arguments – we all have to make assumptions… and when we do please don’t respond with an attack on those assumptions unless they are entirely out of bounds of “normal” beliefs as assumed – unfortunately with this comment system there is no voting and threading is terrible….

      • Goblinman

        Then if I’m wrong nothing changes for me, either. Either I die and cease to exist–as I already believe I will–or everyone is saved, including me.

        Do you want to know why your question “got under my skin”? It’s because you’re suggesting that I don’t really believe what I say I do, and that I treat my beliefs with such carelessness that I could simply discard them based on some vague promise of potential reward or punishment. You’re acting as though I haven’t given this any serious thought, when it is, in fact, an important part of my identity. It’s patronizing and obnoxious.

        Here’s a tip: Most atheists are good people, just like most believers. We find reasons to be moral that do not involve a god. We find ways to lead happy and fulfilling lives on our own terms. We are, in general, not angry people.

        However, when speaking with believers, we are targeted over and over again with the same slew of insensitive tropes and admonitions. We are accused of being immoral or callous. We are told our lives are hopeless and without meaning. Our beliefs are regularly treated without respect–as though we’re just faking them, or didn’t try hard enough. There’s a reason we get pissed off.

        So please, don’t be that guy.

    • WW

      “I have another question for all athiests, What if you are wrong??”

      Odds are, same thing as if you are wrong. If we are wrong that there is no god, there is only a vanishingly small chance that the god that exists (or gods that do exist) is the same god that you believe in. If you believe in the wrong god, you’re as screwed as we are. Maybe even more.

      Please read up on Pascal’s Wager and why I’m laughing that you even brought that up.

      • JAB

        Time will tell who is wrong and who is right. Keep on laughing, it’s good for the soul.

        • Dave Anderson

          To DJ: Who says:- “One glance at the anatomy of the eye, never mind it’s well balanced functions, is enough discredit evolution”

          EXACTLY, I couldn’t have put it better myself. If you just take “one glance”, the eye looks perfectly designed and there’s no way to imagine otherwise. STUDY the eye, genetics, evolution; LEARN what is KNOWN about eyes, how they work and what’s WRONG with them that no designer – especially not an infallible one – would ever have built in, and two things become obvious. Yes, OBVIOUS, IF you do the work. They are.

          1. The eye was NOT designed by any intelligence.

          2. It IS possible (actually, it’s quite simple, but again, it requires more than just a glance) to find the tiny intermediate steps between basic light sensitivity and fully functional eyes.

          You CAN discredit evolution, but only by jumping to conclusions based on near-zero knowledge. This also, quite justifiably, involves getting laughed and/or shouted at.

          You CAN discredit creationism and/or intelligent design by looking rather deeper.

          This involves some work – but it’s very rewarding work. I’m sure you have no interest in doing so but I would direct you to Richard Dawkins’ book, “The Blind Watchmaker”. Then, don’t take his word for it – stop glancing and do some bloody RESEARCH.

          • DJ

            Dave, Darwin said ” to suppose that the eye, with all it’s inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration could have been formed by natural selection seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree possible.” (The Origin of Species by means of natural selection) He likewise said that this was a problem of “organs of extreme perfection and complication.” These were problematic to his theory, and he admitted that it was.

             The human eye has a lens on one side and a light sensitive retina consisting of rods and cones inside the other. The lens itself has a protective covering (cornea) which lies over an iris designed to protect the eye from excessive light. Tear glands continuously flush the outside of the eye clean, eyelashes protect them from dust as does the “blink reflex”, requiring a sound neurological system. The watery substance within the eye is replaced every four hours. Muscles surround the eye for precision and motility and shape the lens in order to focus, so the eye was formed with a myriad other coordinated functions not to mention the cranial nerves. Innumerable impulses are traveling from your eyes through millions of nerve fibers that transmit information to a complex computing center in the brain called the visual cortex. Without this coordinated development of the eye and the brain in a synergistic fashion, the isolated developments themselves would be uninterpretable….”evolutionary biologists have been able to pretend to know how complex biological systems originated only because they treat them as black boxes. Now that biochemists have opened the black boxes and seen what is inside, they know the Darwinian theory is just a story, not a scientific explanation” (Phillup Johnson Defeating Darwinism by opening Minds) ….I do not like engaging in debates of this sort, because it’s just hitting the ball back and forth. You’re not impressed, I’m not impressed…it really is pointless. Atheism relies on Darwin’s theory of evolution, and so you are welcomed to it. I don’t buy into it at all…and it doesn’t end with the “eye”. Let’s be real here…you and I both know this is a waste of time. Let’s find something more productive to talk about.

          • aesthete2

            Only you know if you are open to how things really work. Why are you here if you are not?

          • DJ

            A2, I’m not here to be schooled by atheists. I’m just interested in what led Ryan to his big announcement. So far, what he’s said, only confirms what I’ve suspected, but not wanting to jump to conclusions, I’ll stick around a little while longer to see if he gets any deeper.

            I do appreciate understanding how you and others think, but atheism isn’t a consideration for me. I have an abiding relationship with God, which would be foolish to deny. Although many atheists are here, this is not an atheists discussion list. I’m not trying to convert anyone, and I would appreciate if others would stop trying to “de”convert me. I’m not interested in debating belief systems. Live and let live.

          • aesthete2

            No, I didn’t ask you why you were reading this blog. I asked why you are here – making comments and debating the entire idea if you are not the least bit interested in hearing and understanding what people are telling you?

            I’m all for getting what you think and seeing if there’s anything to it and I’m quite happy to change my mind if you have some evidence that I don’t know about. You pretty much just told us, you have a closed mind and were just what, hoping that you could skate by with not having to actually interact?

          • DJ

            A2, if you go back and review the comments, you will find that I repeatedly have said that I am not interested in debating these things….then comes along someone directing their comment to me specifically with some inaccurate surmisings which beg clarity. I did not jump into this conversation, I was dragged into it. I’m content to leave it as is. There was a comment in a movie which came to mind when I’d see these questions posed to me directly (I don’t remember where I heard it) but it goes like this….”…the minute I finally get away…they suck me back in….” I consider these sort of debates as vain jangling and a waste of time for all of us…

          • aesthete2

            Oh yeah, like someone reached out and physically dragged you into an internet discussion.

            No, you went until you started looking bad, then you tried to cop out with ‘I’m not interested in discussing it’. Lame.

          • DJ

            A2, from the very beginning I stated that I was not interested in debates…i don’t think anyone made me look bad…Darwin’s theory of evolution is an atheist foundational dogma that colors your world and influences your world view, and the Biblical concept of creation, is likewise a foundational dogma that colors my world and influences my world view. These are diametrically opposed and there is no meeting of the minds, so what’s the point of discussing it? If you think you’ve scored points and “made me look bad” then congratulations. It was never a contest for me. People are free to believe what they want…as I’ve maintained from the very beginning.

          • Dave Anderson

            DJ: “Atheism depends on the Theory of Evolution” – no problem.

            Atheism depends on Charles Darwin not having some difficulty with some of the implications of his theory 150 years ago – ABSOBLOODYLUTELY NOT.

            Again, you’ve stopped thinking when you think you’ve got what you want.

            Darwin knew nothing of genetics, and hardly anything about HOW his theory worked. He simply observed in nature that it did. His comments about the tricky bits – eyes, etc. were entirely to be expected. They are an indication that, even though he didn’t understand the “how” of it all. he was STILL THINKING.

            It took later scientists in different disciplines to explain what Darwin could not have known – how mutations occur and why. Once that piece is in place, some lengthy study of (NOT a quick look at) the fossil record, a record of modern species more complete and accurate than anything available in Darwin’s time, gene mapping and, eventually, we KNOW not only THAT it works, but HOW. And eyes are not a problem, in fact they are one of the best examples of the evidence in favour.

            I say again, read the Dawkins. I know he’s probably a liar and a cheat sent by the devil in your superstitious world but really – GET REAL!

          • Dove

            David, I’ve had my share of sciences in college which only confirmed to me that there is a creator. You’ve come to a different conclusion…let’s just leave it at that.

          • Dave Anderson

            Because you STOPPED THINKING. Read trhe book or go away. I’m done here.

            It’s NOT a different conclusion – it’s a cop-out.

          • aesthete2

            Why leave it at that? You don’t want to stretch yourself – you just want people to pretend that your opinion is as legitimate as science.

            Sorry no. You basically just gave up on learning anything and pouted in the corner.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            Darwin said ” to suppose that the eye, with all it’s inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration could have been formed by natural selection seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree possible.”

            Just to say – why are you quoting Darwin to prove modern points? I don’t quote Thomas Edison when talking about computers. We don’t quote Hubble when talking about dark matter… Yes Darwin got the ball rolling, but idea of Evolution has evolved as the word dinosaur was only invented a few years before Darwin, and there was no genetics although they knew “something” was dictating heredity and followed rules.

            Again, I don’t believe most Atheist have ANY problem with people believing what they want – the only issue now is that public policy is being directly affected by these beliefs which are so set in their ideology they they would rather destroy education by labeling teachers as greedy grant seeking liberals they deal with the reality of the science we have – something I will not permit as it’s interesting those same ‘liberals’ and misled scientist are the only think keeping our country afloat through technology and development – if you religious beliefs made people want to learn science and be the best engineers in the world to engineer our future to a better place then I would be all for it – whatever you believe, but alas that is generally not the case – saying you are “exceptional” is pretty empty when you can’t back it up the the commerce of our day – science and technology.

          • DJ

            Chris, this is not the first time you’ve complained that people who have a different world view than you, should just shut up and stay out of contributing to public policy. that sounds reasonable to you, because you believe Christianity to be nothing more than superstition. actually, superstition is antithetical to Christianity. From a Christians perspective, godless men and women should have no more influence, than those who do believe in God. No one even suggests that they should just shut up and let the Christians run this country. We live in a democratic-republic in the USA which, before the whole system was utterly corrupted, was designed to prevent tyranny. The problem with godlessness in public policy, is that there is this arrogant presumption that they know more than everyone else, and that everyone should just do as they are told. We all have to coexist, and in this society, at least at the moment, we all have a responsibility to interject our opinions which may be influenced by a number of factors, including our world view. Martin Luther King’s faith inspired great changes in public policy and opinions…who knows where this country would be had people like him, not spoken up.

          • Dave Anderson

            “Godless” is an interesting word which, like so many others, means something different on this side of the fence. We are ALL “godless”, but some of us just haven’t worked it out yet.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            Chris, this is not the first time you’ve complained that people who have a different world view than you, should just shut up and stay out of contributing to public policy.

            I am not sure why you targeted me to “shut up” as many others have the same opinion. As I have stated I have no problem with Christians and in fact read and agree with much of the Bible – as I do with many other holy books. I find it interesting that you attack me for believing you have “superstitions” instead of fact in a derogatory way – we have different beliefs, and you feel the same about all the other religions you don’t believe in – and most probably many “Christian” believers of different Christian sects.

            Again, the big issue is the change in public policy to attack the people and institutions that have made America great – the schools and teachers, and science itself. I have no problem debating the issues, but try (it’s hard) to not make fun of a bad speaker or ignorant representative – their message is the issue, not if they have a bad “water” moment like Rubio did (I felt sorry for him). I give the benefit of the doubt rather then going for the juggler because I have some moral obligation to destroy non believers at any cost – even reality.

          • DJ

            Chris, I did not tell anyone to “shut up”….go back and reread. My previous comments were directed towards you in particular, because in at leastthree separate posts directed towards me over the past few days, you’ve lamented about Christians being involved in public policy…and in one of them you made reference to religious “superstitions” as a justification for your stance… unless there is someone else posting comments under your name. either way, bottom line, is we all have to coexist. maybe you didn’t realize that you’ve complained about that on at least 3 separate occasions. To me, it appeared to be a theme.This was just the first time I responded to the complaints that you aired.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            YES it is a theme – beyond all the “facts” and the arguments of what is real or not. This is all just a debate that of course few here will learn much from, or change their mind. In reality, where the rubber hits the road is in politics as we see it today. The Southern Baptists voted FOR Roe v. Wade in 1973 as they believed in a woman’s right to choose even though they were against abortion themselves – they believed in separation of their beliefs and the states and a person’s right to choose.

            Religion in America is not just personal beliefs about God and such as it is being used to shape public policy, and has been co-opted by the Republican political party and used relentlessly to divide and conquer, to confuse issues with ideology, and to create Fear Uncertainty and Doubt in order to further their political goals.

            You can’t have it both ways – you can’t be say separation of Church and state, but only on those things I don’t care about and the can of worms has been opened and the “liberals” who generally are liberal about other peoples beliefs – we really don’t care – but now that conservatives have pushed the envelope you will get some kickback, and if that means Christianity has to get uncomfortable with “real” facts then so be it. If you would have followed the Southern Baptists of 1973 we could all live in relative peace – game on.

          • DJ

            Chris, I’d be happy to see both democrat and republican a little less progressive. Personally I’m a libertarian.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            This is where we all get screwed up as “Ideally” I have many libertarian leaning too – although I am a mix and lean democrat as they vote for more of the “other” issues I agree with. I have gone down this road many times in discussions and as long as you will only vote Republican as a libertarian then to all of us you are a Republican – as i am a Democrat. With this two party system we pretty much have to pick one or the other – even on split issues. We can really see some of the limitations of a two party system these last few years in the gridlock – I don’t care how “exceptional” we think we are – in the end we actually have to be effective. I guess that is where we leave it…

          • DJ

            Chris, I see the two party system as the other side of the same coin. It’s the left-right march into tyranny. A little here….a little there….it seems uneven at the first, but eventually we get to the same destination. We’re hardly “of the people, by the people, for the people…” any more. The love of money causes all kind of evils…and our career politicians have sold their souls a long time ago. There are still a few good people within the system, as in all systems…and God bless them for their integrity and courage.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            The love of money is supported by having no regulations, no control of the government or the people – just as with evolution the powerful change to the environment they are given and learn to take advantage of it for their own good that is how we are wired, and why revolutions are as popular as governments.

            Please point me to a libertarian site which defines a government that makes sense, not just one that points fingers and spouts idealism. I am all for a smaller, efficient government, but I believe in public education, public protections and such – and don’t think each state, county, or city has to have independent services and reinvent the wheel for everything.

            I am for strong state militias, I spent 4 years in the Army and 10 in reserves and believe we would all benefit with service – but believe all high power weapons should be kept with the militia and do not need (or have the right) to be at home….

            It would be easier if the states who want to have a public religion, teach creation, teach that the rest of the world has been conned by the devil into believing false narratives that conflicts with their beliefs – we could all move to the state that supports our beliefs – although you do realize that the most creative productive parts of our country have the largest diversity and the most tolerance…..

          • DJ

            Chris, you are aware that all of the Ivy league schools were started by Christians, right? In your circles (generally speaking), I see very little tolerance for people of faith, and we’re a pretty diverse crowd ourselves spanning every skin tone and language. You tolerate what you find “agreeable”, that’s not “tolerance”, that’s “like-mindedness” and “birds of a feather, flocking together”. Truly tolerant people, tolerate even people they disagree with. I live in a world that disagrees with my world view, and I’ve learned to tolerate even those whose world view I vehemently disagree with.

          • aesthete2

            I think you confuse ‘pretending you are right’ with tolerate. Nobody has thrown anyone here out for their opinions or beliefs, only debated the issue. It’s not an intolerant act to challenge your beliefs.

          • DJ

            A2, my impression of the intolerance of the atheists towards people of faith is generally speaking…not to you or anyone else specifically, but it’s interesting that you think you even have the “power” to “throw me off” this comment area. So nice of you to allow me to make comments on Ryan’s blog.

          • aesthete2

            Nice self serving dodge – how do you find it intolerant – because as I pointed out theists aren’t getting thrown out of places, they are simply getting challenged about what they say and do instead of being coddled as they were.

          • DJ

            A2, what ever happened to “live and let live” or “to each his own”? Why do you feel a need to “challenge” a person of faith? What business is it of yours if a person has a relationship with Jesus Christ? Why the antagonism and animosity?

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            DJ – have you not heard one of my statements? WE (generally) have no problems with your beliefs – the rub is that you have integrated them into our politics and exacerbated the right/left polarization we live with today. You always bring up the past as “they were all Christians”, but in reality they were not your, or modern Christians. Our founders demanded the separation of Church and State in an environment where EVERYONE was religious – although Jefferson had some interesting views…

            So “Christians” are more tolerant then Atheists, or secular believers? If you believe that then I guess you will believe Fox news is “fair and balanced” and all Atheists have an agenda to take your religion away – sorry, we really don’t care much what you believe as long as you keep it our of our, and our children’s lives…

          • DJ

            Chris, and yet you think of yourself as tolerant. What you mean to say is that you are tolerant of people of faith, so long as they are censored and are not allowed a place at the table of public policy. Thats not tolerance, that’s discrimination. finger pointing and blaming is just the kind of infighting that this Left-Right paradigm was supposed to fuel. Everyone has a place at the table of ideas…that’s inclusion and tolerance for diversity.

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            Yes, I guess I am intolerant because I want theology taught as a social science and biology taught in a science class. I am a student of and for teaching all religions, all history and all science and letting the chips fall as they may. IF Christians were as concerned about other religions as they are about pushing their own then they can say that they are tolerant. This is generally not the case as Christians are busy painting themselves as attacked by everyone and have little tolerance of anything they don’t believe, or had never though of before, but conflict with their beliefs – they have the right in America, as I have that right to disagree – for now.

          • aesthete2

            You can say anything you want, you just can’t legally put religion into government.

            That’s part of the constitution. Atheism can’t be put into it either.

            So exactly what did you think you aren’t being allowed to do ‘at the table of public policy’?

          • aesthete2

            You mean challenge someone by not agreeing with them or letting them say things that assume their point of view is the accepted one? By being activist against laws that marginalize me and my children? By not accepting that we as a country are supposed do things because that’s what it says in the bible? By standing up for myself?

            No, it’s not OK for you to assume I am Christian, No it’s not OK for you to put proselytizing material out at work. Yes, I will put an atheist sticker on my car. Yes I will put you down if you say something patronizing to me in public about atheists.

            You mean you are so faint-hearted that you can’t handle atheists actually acting like they exist?

            What was it you were saying about tolerance again?

          • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

            Chris, you are aware that all of the Ivy league schools were started by Christians, right?

            What does that mean? Back then we din’t know much scientifically and even Christians distance themselves from many of the conventional beliefs of their Christian ancestors from that time – you do realize that all Christians came from Judaism, Catholicism, Protestants, whatever, yet you do not follow all of their beliefs. A scientist changes his views based on demonstrable evidence while a Christian – with the same book and “divine” guidance for 1500 years has justified stoning people, wars, racism, slavery, demons, the devil….and then dismissed most of those things. Most “modern” Christians keep changing their narrative but say they are still Christian (and get guidance from their communion with God) – it’s confusing to me how such a divinely inspired group can get it wrong so often.

            You use the word “Christian” with quite a wide stroke – over half are Catholics which many US Christians do not include as “real” Christians. My Catholic church raised daughter was told Catholics are not “real” Christians in a mega-church youth group. Again, some of the most interesting conversations I have had is with multiple Christian friends and having them discuss some of the specifics of their beliefs as they conflict about virgin births, young earth, evolution, talking snakes, literal interpretation, angels, Satan, etc…

            Their Christianity would not get them In your circles (generally speaking), I see very little tolerance for people of faith, and we’re a pretty diverse crowd ourselves spanning every skin tone and language.

            Your Christianity would be a problem with most of those historical Christians…. Christians of the 16th, 17th and 18th century – when all those colleges were founded would find little brotherhood in a modern mega-church.

            You tolerate what you find “agreeable”, that’s not “tolerance”, that’s “like-mindedness” and “birds of a feather, flocking together”.

            “flock together” – are there flocks of Atheists running around telling Christians what they need to believe, or others? This is crazy – just because you say you are tolerant does not mean anything. It’s self serving hypocrisy as just because you let me live does not mean you respect what I say, or will give my opinion any merit – even if proven a fact.

            Christians believe being a homosexual is a choice – even though we can show brain and other differences, we can show animals are that way too. Yes, some people choose to be homosexual – there are people in the middle who can choose, but your sexuality is NOT what you do necessarily, but how your brain is set up. Just as being a Christian is not just going to Church, but having that personal relationship with God the difference being I can show you the brain of a homosexual, but I have no way of showing the brain of a Christian being any different then the brain of a Muslim, or other religion praying or enjoying their time with their perceived deity – they are the same psychologically.

      • Goblinman

        This wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_evolutionary_synthesis gives some basic detail on how evolutionary science has itself evolved into its modern form. The key thing to note is that Darwin only began the process, and many of his ideas were modified and even rejected after further research by scientists who came later.

        And, again, DJ, evolution is not just a philosophical position that you can choose whether or not to believe. It’s the backbone of modern biological science. Scientists (the real ones, who actually do science) still bicker like fiends over some of the details, but they agree on the fact that it’s true.

        Let me repeat that: This is a case where the scientists ACTUALLY AGREE ABOUT SOMETHING. That happens about as often as sharks learning ballet.

        • DJ

          Goblinman, i appreciate that you believe what your saying, however there are many creation scientists as well. They tend to be censored and marginalized to keep their views out of the textbooks….but they are out there. Google creation scientists and you will see that is true. There is also a creation research science team dedicated to creation science…. I’m ok with you buying into Darwinism, I just don’t.

          • aesthete2

            Uh, no. There are not creation scientists – there are people who say they are creation scientists.

            You don’t get to just title yourself that, there are rules and standards and creationism doesn’t come up to the standards.

      • Blanche

        Everybody – with regard to the theory of evolution and how the fossil record substantiates it, you MUST read Neil Shubin’s book “Your Inner Fish”. Creationists and laymen in general have *no idea* to what extent embryology and the fossil record affirm the principles of the theory of evolution. Just as DNA sequencing demonstrated the validity of aspects of the theory of evolution that Darwin had inferred but been unable to prove, the fields of paleontology and embryology (so different!) have confirmed basic principles of the theory of evolution in astonishing and mind-blowing ways. People who have not engaged with the facts even to the point of reading “Your Inner Fish” have *no idea* and, worse, don’t even appreciate how abysmally ignorant they are. To argue without even this tiniest aliquot of familiarity with the topic is shameful.

      • Blanche

        Dave and everyone, there is an excellent article on irreducible complexity by a creationist christian, Terry Gray, at http://www.asa3.org/evolution/irred_complete.HTML . Dr. Gray provides a meaty overview of the biochemical precursors and pathways that could have resulted in complex vision as we know it, along with early and intermediate forms. For example, the pineal “eye” of the tuatara. If you have no knowledge of these biochemical precursors and pathways, you should not be attempting to discuss origins of vision. You should at least have enough self-awareness to recognize that you don’t have the minimum amount of knowledge required to participate in any such discussion. You wouldn’t try to tell brain surgeons how to do their jobs, just because you love Jesus so much, would you? You wouldn’t attempt to tell engineers how to design a bridge (just because you love Jesus so much), would you?

      • Blanche

        Christians, a quick question: Do you believe your god to be so stupid/shallow as to reward individuals who profess belief on the premise that they hope to profit via that profession or escape harm thereby?

      • Goblinman

        DJ, again, it’s a ship that has already sailed. That there are creation “scientists” is only to be expected, considering the implications evolution has for literal interpretations of various holy scriptures. Creationism/ID, however, doesn’t even pass muster as a viable scientific hypothesis (it is neither falsifiable, nor is it able to make predictions). It is a pseudoscience, and doesn’t even come close to being a competitor to evolution.

        There’s also good evidence that ID is propaganda created with the intent to attack the basic principles of science. See here: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Wedge_Document

        And that gets to the crux of the matter: ID/Creationism is decidedly unscientific. Is it just evolution that you “don’t buy into”, or do you disagree with the rest of science as well?

        • DJ

          Goblinman, some science is unbiased and valid and profitable, some science is invalid and does not stand up to the scrutiny of statistical analysis…yet for the sake of a particular agenda, will be reported to the public as if it were valid and worthy to be accepted as valid. In short, the field is as corrupt as other fields, and it’s a case by case basis as to what is truly valid and whether the ramifications and recommendations are even relevant.Often reading the small print of disclosures and references in their articles, the “possibility of conflict of interests” are actually “blatant conflict of interests”. The latest ridiculous recommendation is to put “everyone”on a statin, even if they have a normal cholesterol. Statins have serious side effects (rhabdomylosis) which can cause muscle wasting and kidney failure. If we all jump on that bandwagon, we can finish this conversation in a dialysis unit every other day. With medicine in its stranglehold of “standard of practice”, you can bet that will be the new standard and pushed on unsuspecting patients as if it were in their best interest, rather than lining the pockets of the pharmaceutical company that financed that study, and reported the skewed results that coincidently happens to be a pill they manufacture. Or the WHO redefining what an “epidemic” is a year before the outbreak of H1N1 so that they can “scare” people into thinking that H1N1 was a crisis and that they should get a flu shot, which statistically, does absolutely nothing to prevent the flu (never mind the CDC report of P&I deaths as if these deaths were caused by influenza alone). I guess you can say that I’m skepticle about a lot of what is now presented as “science”, in this pharmaceutical model of medicine we have in the US.. I do however, appreciate non-biased science that actually disproves the bogus science…I am a fan of “scientific medicine” which contradicts what is passed off as science these days. It does require individual research…discernment and common sense. But some people just blindly “trust the experts”. The same experts that poured sodium flouride in our limited water supply with the bogus notion that polluting our drinking water would prevent cavities, or by spreading sludge on our crops (human feces contaminated with all kinds of diseases and pharmaceutical by products) is a good thing, when in fact these excreted pharmaceuticals are responsible for an increase in food allergies and a host of other health problems as these products find their way into our vegetables.. The same scientists who developed GMO products that is contaminating many of our crops that our body does not recognize as a source of fuel…really….it’s a mixed bag. I could go on and on… But I think that answers your question.

          • aesthete2

            What you thought a ‘creation scientist’ can ” stand up to the scrutiny of statistical analysis”???

            LOL

      • http://chrisnfolsom.wordpress.com chrisnfolsom

        What if YOU are wrong and Catholics are right, Hindu’s, Muslims? As far as I understand it if I live a good life I can be born again. Would a just God forgive me for using my mind – not for war (as many Christians have no problem doing), but to create a better place for humanity? Remember Christians, you are condemned to hell, or whatever by all the other Religions – and many other Christians who might believe you are not “real” like they are. Being Atheist is not being Satan, you aren’t choosing “the other side” – it’s up to you what you do, how you live irregardless of your religion or beliefs.

      • Goblinman

        DJ,

        It does.

        And the point I have been trying to make is that evolution is far, far from the edges of science. It’s a core part of biology–other theories in the field are expected to conform to IT, not the other way around. If modern biological science were a car, evolution wouldn’t be just, say, a spoiler on the back or a tire that may or may not be flat–it would be the engine that drives the entire thing. Without it, the entire branch of science falls apart. Evolution has proven itself not just in theory, but in practice, as so many later developments in biology rely on it–it’s a load-bearing theory, and it has proven it can handle the weight.

        Creationism, in the car scenario, is basically suggesting that the engine be replaced with a hamster wheel. Creationism is, in fact, an example of “science” that goes so far beyond mere corruption that it can no longer be called science at all. And remember: it, unlike evolution, is decidedly driven by an agenda–the antithesis of good science.

        • aesthete2

          Absolutely – if evolution isn’t the way it’s described, most medicine technology and cures would not work.

          I assume you do patronize doctors and hospitals for your medical needs. So essentially, in practice, you not only believe in evolution, you stake your life on it.

  • Noella

    You should make a kickstarter or some kind of donation pool if you need help supporting yourself through this! I’m sure some followers would be glad to help you along your journey!


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