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.

The courage of Gretta Vosper


In the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Nigeria, religious groups of all types, including Muslim groups, issued statements condemning the violence and attempting to claim the center of their faith for peace. This is an increasingly difficult task.One example of this drew my friend and United Church of Canada minister, Gretta Vosper, newly into the fray.Gretta has written two books in which she calls for a post-theistic expression of church to emerge in our contemporary … [Read more...]

A Conversation with Michael Shermer: The Moral Arc [VIDEO]

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A few days ago I had the opportunity to sit down with Michael Shermer in his home to discuss his new book, The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity Toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom, which comes out tomorrow. When I heard a few months ago that this book was coming out the first thing that caught my attention, of course, was the title. As a Christian pastor I frequently referred to this expression, popularized by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "The arc of the moral universe is l … [Read more...]

Best books I read in 2014


I've been asked by quite a few people what books I would recommend for people going through this exploration. It's a difficult answer to give. Each person's experience is a bit different--their background and starting point, their primary questions and concerns. These are the books that helped me the most this year as I transitioned out of my faith. This is not a list of the best books of 2014. Most of these books were written well before 2014.My list is skewed toward those that have been … [Read more...]

Guest Post: Rebecca speaks about her experience this year

Ryan_Rebecca in Hollywood

My girlfriend, Rebecca Pratt, wrote this today and posted it as a status on her Facebook wall. I asked her permission to share it here because it so beautifully addresses a core part of my past year and answers one of the main questions that people ask about us and our relationship. (Note: for over a year I have tolerated a lot of mean and sometimes inappropriate comments because I didn't mind it that much. However, I will delete comments that are disrespectful to Rebecca. Let's keep it kind and … [Read more...]

An End, and a New Beginning


"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time" —T. S. Eliot—  A year without God.More pixels have been spilled over the meaning of that expression than any other aspect of this experience. Now that the year is down to its final hours, it makes sense to once again start at the beginning.A year ago I had come to the end of my existential rope. The narratives that had given shape to m … [Read more...]

In praise of good Christians

Several months ago someone asked me whether Christians were trying to win me back. I confessed at that time that there hadn't been very many. I was surprised and a little disappointed. I suggested that it might be because I was still in that difficult in between space. I suspected that everyone was giving me space to take this journey. I also guessed that when I did begin to say more clearly what my convictions are that more people would weigh in. I had no idea how right I would be about t … [Read more...]