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Pastor Who Gave Up God For One Year keeps it going.


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the comments are really bad it seems Christians take it personally if someone stops being christian and it brings out the christian love in them. Can't be good unless you are a christian of course.

 

http://www.addictinginfo.org/2014/12/29 ... o-go-back/

 

As we first reported in December, former Seventh Day Adventist pastor Ryan Bell has spent 2014 exploring a life without God. Initially he posed it as a test of his faith, done after a series of personal setbacks made him question everything. Soon, it became clear that atheism was growing on him.

 

Some had criticized Bell’s “intellectual experiment†as little more than a publicity stunt. A few assumed that he wouldn’t give atheism an honest shake. Those opinions seem to have been blown out of the water this week when Bell officially announced that he would be extending his “year without God†indefinitely. He just found no compelling reason to go back.

 

In an interview on NPR nearing the end of the year, Bell said it was tough leaving the comfort of his religious faith behind, but in the end couldn’t force himself to believe any more.

 

“I’ve looked at the majority of the arguments that I’ve been able to find for the existence of God and on the question of God’s existence or not, I have to say I don’t find there to be a convincing case in my view.

 

“I don’t think that God exists. I think that makes the most sense of the evidence that I have and my experience. But I don’t think that’s necessarily the most interesting thing about me.â€

 

This mirrors what he began saying weeks earlier, when the first signs that he was still having doubts began creeping up. Speaking with the LA Times, he once remarked that while both atheism and Christianity have their “obnoxious certainty,†for Bell he didn’t want “boundaries, and religion just feels like a very bounded thing.â€

 

But if his decision was personal, the response has been very public – and ugly. As Bo Gardiner documents on his blog Under the Greenwood Tree, Christians aren’t taking the news that they lost one of their own very well. Their reaction has been, well, downright intolerant.

 

On the Christian Post’s story, readers weren’t happy:

 

“This is nothing more than rebellion, and at the expense of many of the rest of us. What selfishness and irresponsibility, no matter what the personal struggle.â€

 

“You need the Christian religion (and yes, Christianity is a religion, the true religion) to worship God, and God must be worshiped.â€

 

“Those who have entered into a genuine relationship with Christ Jesus are the most loving people.â€

 

That last quote seems to be an indignant response to a question Bell said he has recently wrestled with, asking “Why do I need religion to love?†The commenter’s answer: Just because.

 

The readers at Free Republic were even nastier:

 

“What a dirtbag. Sorry, without Christ your ‘good deeds’ are worth *****.â€

 

â€Drama queen.â€

 

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light….. Isaiah 5:20.â€

 

“He means without submitting to God. But only God is good, so it is impossible without Him. “

 

“Being good without boundaries. The serpent couldn’t have said it any better.â€

 

“No God, no concience… No God, no peace… Now come out of the closet faggot.â€

 

“Calling evil good and good evil . . . where have we heard that before, I wonder?â€

 

“Next he’ll tell us he’s discovered he’s a transvestite.â€

 

“I was wondering if he is dating a male or female.â€

 

“Seems as though he is sewing the devils fruits to me.â€

Edited by OnceUponATime
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I saw a pattern for some adorable patchwork devil's fruits on pinterest the other day. They looked pretty complicated, no wonder it's taking him more than a year, but good on him for giving them a try.

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Any abusive language or attitudes toward Mr. Bell and his announcement are wholly unjustifiable and despicable. However, I have to admit to some disappointment in him (while realizing his religious beliefs ARE his personal concern) . As a progressive Seventh-day Adventist myself -- who is coming to accept doubt as a constant presence in my faith and life -- I was saddened (although not surprised) to hear he had been fired by his conference a couple years ago for his affirming attitude to LGBT people. I guess where I have been more conservative is that his year of atheism did raise the spectre of doubt as inherently dangerous that most Adventists grow up with. However, as someone who believes in examining and acknowledging doubt and fear, I realize that I shouldn't condemn him based on my own desire to maintain some sort of faith.

What I still feel disappointed about is that while in the church he was a real example of a faith that embraces social justice; I've just been reading a collection of essays published by the Adventist Peace Fellowship, in which he was published. For more conservative members of my family and circle, essays like these are the first step toward a more tolerant .... and I pray someday justice-centred... vision of Adventism. While Bell certainly should follow his conscience, fundamentalists within Adventism are going to use him in a slippery slope argument to say that those of us focused on social justice, more progressive understandings of scripture, etc, are on a quick road to atheism. Now, with people I trust I'll admit that I'm really a Christian agnostic -- nobody can really know in an empirical manner whether God exists. But at this point I follow the teachings of Jesus because in them I see an affirmation of justice, and right now as flawed as the SDA church is, it's the place I'm best placed to support and champion justice and toleration.

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Any abusive language or attitudes toward Mr. Bell and his announcement are wholly unjustifiable and despicable. However, I have to admit to some disappointment in him (while realizing his religious beliefs ARE his personal concern) . As a progressive Seventh-day Adventist myself -- who is coming to accept doubt as a constant presence in my faith and life -- I was saddened (although not surprised) to hear he had been fired by his conference a couple years ago for his affirming attitude to LGBT people. I guess where I have been more conservative is that his year of atheism did raise the spectre of doubt as inherently dangerous that most Adventists grow up with. However, as someone who believes in examining and acknowledging doubt and fear, I realize that I shouldn't condemn him based on my own desire to maintain some sort of faith.

What I still feel disappointed about is that while in the church he was a real example of a faith that embraces social justice; I've just been reading a collection of essays published by the Adventist Peace Fellowship, in which he was published. For more conservative members of my family and circle, essays like these are the first step toward a more tolerant .... and I pray someday justice-centred... vision of Adventism. While Bell certainly should follow his conscience, fundamentalists within Adventism are going to use him in a slippery slope argument to say that those of us focused on social justice, more progressive understandings of scripture, etc, are on a quick road to atheism. Now, with people I trust I'll admit that I'm really a Christian agnostic -- nobody can really know in an empirical manner whether God exists. But at this point I follow the teachings of Jesus because in them I see an affirmation of justice, and right now as flawed as the SDA church is, it's the place I'm best placed to support and champion justice and toleration.

Please don't be disappointed in him. Be disappointed in the people who will use his loss of faith as a slippery slop argument. Be disappointed in the people who without him won't embrace social justice. The problem isn't him losing faith, the problem is a faith that shows no tolerance.

I can so relate when he said it is hard to leave the comfort of his religion but he just can't force himself to believe anymore. That is exactly how I feel and I know that people in my life use me as an example of why you shouldn't become of a more liberal Christian. But I simply can't believe or pretend I believe anymore.

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I've heard about this. It's really making waves in he Adventist community.

Edit: leaving planet Adventist is harder than mainstream branches (with some exception like gothardism)

It's hard for me, and I'm young enough when I left to not have any attachments like marriage and children.

This man has a long hard road ahead if him.

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I can so relate when he said it is hard to leave the comfort of his religion but he just can't force himself to believe anymore. That is exactly how I feel and I know that people in my life use me as an example of why you shouldn't become of a more liberal Christian. But I simply can't believe or pretend I believe anymore.

so. much. this.

and i agree, don't be disappointed in him. one of my dear friends was actually in training to be a pastor, when one of his friends (who was very close to him, so close he helped her out, got her out of an emotionally abusive situation, and gave her a place to stay) turned on him and went into a christian cult of some kind (he never said what kind. he didn't like to talk about it much.) and then accused him of being of the devil and being possessed and all kinds of crazy shit. she put him through a lot of drama. after that, he kind of mellowed out, religion-wise, and then transitioned into atheism. he's had a lot of ups and downs since, but in that regard, he seems pretty secure and settled, and i'm glad he's happy in that. i'm more happy that he's found his own path rather than that he abandoned the comfort of a belief system that he found no true comfort in.

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I don't understand how he could "give up God for one year" unless he'd already given up God. Am I making any sense?

Yes you are-Our Rabbi talked about it on Sat AM made some very interesting points-like you can't just give up something that is not physical-however you can change your mind about a belief.

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I don't understand how he could "give up God for one year" unless he'd already given up God. Am I making any sense?

Yes, but I think it wasn't deciding not to believe in God or a year so much as seeing what life without God would be like. I think the latter can be a choice, but I don't think belief is.

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Yes, but I think it wasn't deciding not to believe in God or a year so much as seeing what life without God would be like. I think the latter can be a choice, but I don't think belief is.

yeah, it's kind of like just seeing how other people live. there's been quite a few little experiments here and there. aj jacobs lived biblically for a year (completely by the letter, in other words) (ajjacobs.com/books/the-year-of-living-biblically/). then there is this guy who is living eight months alone in russia as if he were living in the middle ages (quite fascinating, actually) (http://www.slavorum.org/24-year-old-mod ... -8-months/).

when i was doing my soul searching, i didn't just read about different religions and belief systems, i tried certain ones out for myself, to see how it was living it. i didn't do it for a specified length of time, but i did more or less give them a "test run", because it's one thing to read something and think "yeah, i agree with that, i can think like that" but it can be another thing entirely to live it.

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yeah, it's kind of like just seeing how other people live. there's been quite a few little experiments here and there. aj jacobs lived biblically for a year (completely by the letter, in other words) (ajjacobs.com/books/the-year-of-living-biblically/). then there is this guy who is living eight months alone in russia as if he were living in the middle ages (quite fascinating, actually) (http://www.slavorum.org/24-year-old-mod ... -8-months/).

when i was doing my soul searching, i didn't just read about different religions and belief systems, i tried certain ones out for myself, to see how it was living it. i didn't do it for a specified length of time, but i did more or less give them a "test run", because it's one thing to read something and think "yeah, i agree with that, i can think like that" but it can be another thing entirely to live it.

I see what ya'll are saying, but those seem to be affirmative physical choices: to go to synagogue or mosque; to shave or not to shave.

If one believes in God, that faith resides within one, regardless of the outer manifestations.

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Any abusive language or attitudes toward Mr. Bell and his announcement are wholly unjustifiable and despicable. However, I have to admit to some disappointment in him (while realizing his religious beliefs ARE his personal concern) . As a progressive Seventh-day Adventist myself -- who is coming to accept doubt as a constant presence in my faith and life -- I was saddened (although not surprised) to hear he had been fired by his conference a couple years ago for his affirming attitude to LGBT people. I guess where I have been more conservative is that his year of atheism did raise the spectre of doubt as inherently dangerous that most Adventists grow up with. However, as someone who believes in examining and acknowledging doubt and fear, I realize that I shouldn't condemn him based on my own desire to maintain some sort of faith.

What I still feel disappointed about is that while in the church he was a real example of a faith that embraces social justice; I've just been reading a collection of essays published by the Adventist Peace Fellowship, in which he was published. For more conservative members of my family and circle, essays like these are the first step toward a more tolerant .... and I pray someday justice-centred... vision of Adventism. While Bell certainly should follow his conscience, fundamentalists within Adventism are going to use him in a slippery slope argument to say that those of us focused on social justice, more progressive understandings of scripture, etc, are on a quick road to atheism. Now, with people I trust I'll admit that I'm really a Christian agnostic -- nobody can really know in an empirical manner whether God exists. But at this point I follow the teachings of Jesus because in them I see an affirmation of justice, and right now as flawed as the SDA church is, it's the place I'm best placed to support and champion justice and toleration.

Have you ever thought that you don't need religion to be pro-LGBT?

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eri, I thought she was saying that she's not religious ny more but that one should pretend to believe in order to set a good example (in terms of morality and having a social conscience) for those who do still believe.

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Yes, but I think it wasn't deciding not to believe in God or a year so much as seeing what life without God would be like. I think the latter can be a choice, but I don't think belief is.

that's how I see it. It's like he was trying it on for size, to see if he missed it, he noticed the lack of it, or whether his faith/theology would redevelop.

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Knowing the details of his last few years leading up to this "giving up God experiment," there is obviously more to it than the articles in the papers are able to capture. As we've discussed here before, Adventism is, for many, (and definitely for Ryan) an enveloping subculture. To be rejected in this community is devastating and I'm certain that had a lot to do with his choice to try "giving up God." I am not surprised that his overall opinion has changed. Mine certainly has from my moderately conservative SDA upbringing and I didn't go through nearly the ostracism that Ryan did.

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eri, I thought she was saying that she's not religious ny more but that one should pretend to believe in order to set a good example (in terms of morality and having a social conscience) for those who do still believe.

Sorry I didn't make myself clear. This is likely partly due to the fact that I am trying to articulate -- although not necessarily justify -- my own frightened reaction to Bell's decision.

Christianity's reaction to doubt is often to simply banish it to inaccessible corners of the mind, so I respect Bell for not pretending. The thing is that despite my own near-constant doubts I do see a value to a faith that is rooted in the hope of final justice, resurrection, etc. With Bell I recognize that “when my mind critique someone else’s view of the supernatural I [am] implicitly undermining my ownâ€. I do believe intellectual honesty is imperative, and because religion (Adventism, in particular) was what I’ve lived and breathed most of my life, the idea that intellectual honesty may perhaps drive me to a similar conclusion is inexpressibly frightening.

Admittedly, Bell’s quest seemed a little cynical and opportunist to me at first before I read up on how it began. Additionally, I recognize that Rachel Held Evan’s yearlong quest – which could similarly be labelled cynical – is something I’ve appreciated immensely. So I recognize that as much as I am trying to rid myself of bias, I’m less disposed to be enthusiastic about someone exploring the seemingly negative-based community of atheism than someone bringing ideas of equality to those who might never be able to abandon their belief in sola scriptura, but who can be introduced to more just and inclusive interpretations. It seems like that was what Bell was doing at the Hollywood SDA church, and while I realize that atheists are often marginalized in society, I hope atheism will not now become his single issue/concern/community any more than Seventh-day Adventism was during his time as pastor.

In short, I really love the kind of faith expressed in his last sermon (here:

) and am personally disinclined to give up that kind of affirming and inspiring faith for a purely rationalistic belief, but aware that as a person of endless questions, I just might "fall" farther down that "slope".

(The blog post I quoted from: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/yearwithou ... z3NXms3l68 )

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I don't think you understand what it is like to lose your faith. I literally can't go pretend anymore. I can't act like that is all real. Instead of being disappointed in him for finding out what he really believes and following that path, why not be disappointed in the people who view the atheist community as "seemingly negatively based"? Those are the people who are the problem, not a man who is bravely being honest about what he believes. It sounds like you expect him to pretend to be a believer because that is what you feel like you would do.

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I don't think you understand what it is like to lose your faith. I literally can't go pretend anymore. I can't act like that is all real. Instead of being disappointed in him for finding out what he really believes and following that path, why not be disappointed in the people who view the atheist community as "seemingly negatively based"? Those are the people who are the problem, not a man who is bravely being honest about what he believes. It sounds like you expect him to pretend to be a believer because that is what you feel like you would do.

agree with everything here. it gets to a point where "fake it till you make it" is just no longer feasible. it's great that people have such a strong faith in a particular religion, but not everyone has the same convictions about the same path.

nowadays, i'm very strongly rooted in paganism, far stronger than i ever was in christianity. but it's a faith that i myself found, not one that was forced upon me from birth. as people grow and change and mature, they should feel free to change and adapt their personal beliefs with it. they may not change religions or go non-religious, but they should feel free to follow their own unique path without condemnation from anyone.

and, honestly, if anyone's faith is shaken because a pastor turned to atheism, then their faith is not very strong to begin with, and i would think they maybe have some issues they need to address within themselves. it may be a frightening, sometimes painful process (lord knows i know how that is) but it is worth it in the end, to either reaffirm what you believe or to find what you believe in something else and be confident in it.

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I just realized that Janes said SHE felt less disposed to be enthusiastic about someone exploring atheism. Janes, I'm not trying to make you feel attacked, but condemning him for exploring atheism is just wrong and offensive to atheists. Let me repeat, the problem isn't him becoming an atheist, the problem is that the belief system you seem to love is filled with people who are intolerant not inclusive. That your faith is filled with people who believe intolerant things does not mean that he has to deny he lost his faith or not even explore atheism to begin with. The burden of fixing your religion cannot be put on a man who doesn't even believe in it.

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I just realized that Janes said SHE felt less disposed to be enthusiastic about someone exploring atheism. Janes, I'm not trying to make you feel attacked, but condemning him for exploring atheism is just wrong and offensive to atheists. Let me repeat, the problem isn't him becoming an atheist, the problem is that the belief system you seem to love is filled with people who are intolerant not inclusive. That your faith is filled with people who believe intolerant things does not mean that he has to deny he lost his faith or not even explore atheism to begin with. The burden of fixing your religion cannot be put on a man who doesn't even believe in it.

and, in my personal opinion, people should be free to explore any belief system they want, regardless of what they were brought up in or currently espouse. i wonder, if he decided to spend a year as a buddhist, what would people's reactions be to that? would it be just as much as being without religion at all, or would it be somewhat less because "well, at least he's believing in something and it's peaceful and blah blah blah".

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and, in my personal opinion, people should be free to explore any belief system they want, regardless of what they were brought up in or currently espouse. i wonder, if he decided to spend a year as a buddhist, what would people's reactions be to that? would it be just as much as being without religion at all, or would it be somewhat less because "well, at least he's believing in something and it's peaceful and blah blah blah".

Just from my experience leaving the faith, it seems like many people have an attitude that anything is better than believing in no God. If you believe in the wrong God there is still hope, but if you just stop buying into any of it you are pretty much damned. It was extremely brave of him to go public with losing his faith especially because it is likely that even the more liberal ones in his former religion are shaming him and wanting him to keep quiet. Hopefully he will be able to show that he is still the same person that he was before and that becoming an atheist doesn't mean that you are negative, evil, or scary.

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Agreeing with the above. Several years ago, I realized that "fake it till I make it" was no longer working for me in my church of origin. (One of my sisters occasionally gives me little passive-aggressive jabs, like "Last night I dreamed you went back the the Catholic Church," but I ignore them while thinking, "How nice for you.")

When I first read about this man's "one-year experiment," I instantly thought, "That's it. He's already got one foot out the door."

ETA that I'm a UU now, because I'm the kind of person who needs both a sense of spiritual community and the opportunity for intellectual debate--if that makes any sense.

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ETA that I'm a UU now

ot, but i read that phonetically in my head as "yoo-yoo" :lol:

carry on.

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