About

Blogging my year living without God after being a life-long Christian and a pastor for nearly 20 years.

facebook-logo-spelledouttwitter-logo

62 thoughts on “About”

  1. I just read your blog post on Huffington Post and I think your experiment, journey, what have you, will be very interesting to follow. Kudos to you to have the conviction to try something out of your comfort zone, that alone is admirable.

  2. I found out about your blog through the Huffington Post. Your journey through the land of the “non-believers” can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be. I hope you get to make the most out of your year-long experiment.

    No spoilers, but it is nice to be able look at our former religious origins from the outside. More power to you! 🙂

  3. I did a similar thing but the other way around- Mine was only giving up atheism for Lent– its on my blog http://www.temporarychristian.com – and I commend you for at least trying this. I had asked my friend who challenged me to give up my atheism to give up her christianity for a month and she wouldn’t do it.

    • Typical.

      • Dy-Anne,

        Your friend wouldn’t give it up because you can’t “give up” Christianity. When the Lord redeems a soul, He doesn’t let go of it. One doesn’t jump in and out of Christianity willy nilly. You’re in for good or you were never in.

        Bell’s “journey” which he intends to detail here isn’t a journey into something new. He’s just finally being honest about his unbelief. He’s leaving religionism (not Christianity) where he pretended to be something he was not. This is not a foray into atheism–it’s just honest atheism.

        So amid all of the “kudos” and pats on the back you’re getting, Ryan, I would suggest that true courage isn’t being bold about your unbelief, but repenting of it. Acknowledging your spiritual poverty and resultant need of Christ, not stifling it in a new and different way.

    • I think I can provide a reasonable explanation for why your Christian friend didn’t see “giving up Christianity for Lent” on the level with “trying Christianity” for Lent. A Christian believes it is exceedingly dangerous to give up prayer and practice for a time. The Christian is in a sacred covenant with God. To betray God by shutting one’s ears for a month and opening oneself up to sinful activity is to create much difficulty when one chooses to return – not because God wouldn’t welcome the person “back,” but because that person will have broken virtuous habits that are hard to regain. Think of it as giving up a diet and exercise regime for a month. It is hard to return to your disciplined ways because you are now used to delicious fatty foods and your muscles are going to be so sore for the first ten days back on the treadmill. It’s difficult to return to those healthy habits by the very nature of the process. And God is also the Christian’s dear love. Most people wouldn’t think it wise to test their marriage by cheating and living apart for a month. The relationship is going to need a lot of painful repair to work again. It’s not exactly analogous, with one of the parties (God) possessing perfect love and understanding, but it’s difficult on the human end when the Christian knows and feels the pain of having betrayed his/her Beloved just the same. In contrast, while you may be interested to see what a month of trying to pray might do for you or your understanding of what religion is all about, you are not betraying anyone or your conscience by doing so. It is pretty safe for the non-believer to ask the Universe if there is a God out there. Please don’t respond and argue against the usefulness of praying to a God that you don’t believe exists, and how false religion harms people – that’s not the question at stake here and not the discussion I’m trying to enter in to. Thanks for reading!

  4. I have asked the question “so now I’m an atheist, now what?” many times, to myself and to others. There is no clear answer. I struggle with that question and I’ll follow your blog to see what you make of it.

    I think there are many profound questions that need answers and this only becomes clear when you give up the notion that god is the answer to everything. I try to explore some of them on my blog.

  5. I’ve spent the last year immersing myself in atheist thought for a similar reason (book, but mine is fictional). It’s been challenging, often disturbing, and forced me to re-evaluate my beliefs on a number of issues. Personally, I now find my faith stronger than ever, but I know many others have fallen away. Praying for you, and wish you strength in your journey.

  6. Awesome perspective you’re looking into. You’ve got an interesting road ahead of you, and I commend the decision you’re making to experience it.

    I was raised Roman Catholic, and I immersed myself in the Christian religion following my confirmation in the church. A year or two later, I watched a video that made me question many aspects of my religion, and religion in general.

    I’ve been an atheist for two and a half years now, and I honestly revel in the journey I took to reach the point I’m at now. I’ve learned so much about myself and the world around me, and I’ve grown as a person. I must say I do not regret one day of it.

    Mr. Bell, if you’d like for me to share my experience with all of this, I’d be more than willing. If not, I hope you enjoy your journey!

    • Victoria M said:

      Just out of curiosity, what was the video that made you change your mind? I’m always fascinated when there is one specific event that un-converts believers.

  7. Charles D Y said:

    It’s more than just deciding to live without God. Atheism is knowing there is no God.

    • Atheism is not “knowing” at all. Atheism is simple the “lack of” belief in a god or gods.

      • Or to put it differently, I cannot accept things purely on faith. I find no persuasive evidence for the existence of a supreme being; but stating with certainty that “There is no God” is every much an act of faith as reciting the Apostle’s Creed.

      • Or to put it differently, I cannot accept things purely on faith. I find no persuasive evidence for the existence of a supreme being; but stating with certainty that “There is no God” is as much an act of faith as reciting the Apostle’s Creed.

      • MIchael E said:

        Once you cross to the side of non-belief, you come to understand the overwhelming evidence that god does not exist. People are healed because of doctor’s skill. Humans exist because of a 1B process of evolution. Once you turn off the “engine” that interprets everything as an act of god, life becomes so simple and easy to understand.

  8. Don’t just read books – I also recommend watching debates on Youtube (especially the ones with Christopher Hitchens) where you’ll get to hear both sides.

    Good luck. 🙂

  9. Hi Ryan,
    I’m glad to see that you are exposing yourself to atheist thinking and community. I do have some concerns about you stating that you want to “live as if there is no God” for a year since Christians seem to have some confusion about what that actually means. To me as an atheist, it means that my actions are guided by entirely secular reasons and not by the desire to please or avoid angering a supernatural being. And there are plenty of reasons to treat other nicely and avoid self-destructive behaviors that have nothing to do with whether or not there are any gods.

    I hope that while you are looking into atheism, you check out the values of humanism as well. And if you are ever in Kentucky, look up Louisville Atheists and Freethinkers. You would be welcome to visit at our meetings if you are looking for atheist company. 🙂

  10. Hello Ryan,

    I have been a minister myself for some time and I find such worth in what you are doing. I am excited to see your responses as well as others during this journey. Whatever the result is I am sure it will be life changing and that is exciting. Please know that there are people in the Christian community that do support you and not all of us look at atheism in a negative aspect. I am sure that many of the questions that you seek answers to will be found. Happy searching!

  11. Save your time, don’t have to read all those books.

    The arguments for atheism are concise. It can all be found here: http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/debate-with-andrew-sullivan-part-two

    If after reading that, you are still not keen to change your mind, then it’s unlikely that you ever will.

  12. I’ll be interested to see where your enquiry takes you, Ryan. As someone who was raised as a SDA who then started grappling with what she believed in her early twenties, I know I belong to the tribe of folks who do not think much of manufactured certainties—either in themselves or in others.

    For me this has meant I’ve ended up with a deep sense of how much I don’t know about God. Consequently, my approach has been to watch for what in my experience shows itself to me as most alive and compelling. It turns out to be a rather short list: connection with other humans as well as the beauty I see in nature and the arts. It’s a vague way to go and lacks the precision of a hard-core proponent of either Christianity or atheism, but it’s what seems most authentic to who I am these days.

    I hope that whatever your journey turns out to be that you’ll find the place where you are most alive and most free.

  13. Hello Ryan,

    I was born into Christianity. My parents were Jesus People hippies when I was a baby. My mom had a Nazarene background and my dad IFBaptist. Throughout my life I have struggled immensely with Christianity, in and out of Church and through nearly a dozen different denominations. I became a Christian as a pre-schooler. In the years to follow I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, spoke in tongues and was fully baptized in water. I have a theology degree, worked in various aspects of ministry throughout the US and the UK and was quite intense in Bible study, prayer, praise and worship.

    I didn’t need atheists or agnostics to question my faith, all of the above mentioned aspects of my life caused me to question. The Bible was a significant tool in my deconversion just half a year before my fortieth Birthday. I can’t be apart of a belief system that continually belittles women, children and various people groups. I tried for two decades to explain away countless hateful scriptures and harmful scenerios in the “Word of God” and I was left with a gospel that was clearly NOT “the good news”.

    I’ve been out of it for less than two years and am trying my best to heal from such a mysogynistic lifestyle. As a woman, I found Christianity to be the number one way to walk in absolute hatred for myself.

    • “misogynistic” that is. I really need to do a better job at proof reading my comments.

      • NuAgnostic said:

        C Hope, I share some of your experiences. I was the son of a preacher man. Tried hard to be what I understood a Christian to be. Traveled as an evangelist, pastored and ran church schools. I am now in my sixties and still partially in the closet. There are two things I came to understand that helped me. One is all books are fiction, it is a matter of degree. Once I let fiction into the Bible, it was easier to navigate my way out. Second I acknowledged that my understanding was God made us in his image and that God made us to worship him. I find these two concepts in contradiction. If we are in the image of god, we do not worship god. If we worship god we are not in his image.

      • Good points, NuAgnostic. Thank you for sharing your insights.

      • CHope, I can understand where you’re coming from and relate to some of the internal conflict of having to try to “explain away” things. I am curious about one thing, which I have only heard about but not experienced/seen or known anyone personally who has experienced it–the speaking in tongues. How did that happen and how do you explain it from a secular standpoint?

      • My apologies, L, I had a long reply to your comment and I lost it on my end. (I’m sorry, Ryan, if this posts twice, please fix as you see fit.)

        Here is a secular definition about “tongues”.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossolalia

        I believe my personal experience with tongues came about because I was continually surrounded by it. It was in my home all the time as a kid. I heard it for years in Assemblies of God Churches, as well as Word of Faith congregations and non-denominational gatherings. I also consistently prayed, read the Bible and was a big fan of worship music. All of these things contributed to my exposure, as well as to my practice of speaking in tongues. I guess I was being programmed to do so.

        My husband grew up Southern Baptist, but had exposure to Pentecostalism long before I came into his life and throughout the first seven to eight years of our marriage (before our deconversion.), He never could speak in tongues no matter what he allowed for or tried to do.

      • CHope, thank you for taking the time to reply. I’ve been a Christian all my life and my faith has been mostly focused on believing in an omniscient, loving God who would work out all things according to His plan, and trying to apply the principles taught in the Bible to my life. So there has always been an emotional and an intellectual aspect, but never any “unexplainable” occurrences. The emotional part was very contained, though–I could never relate to the people who would sing with their eyes closed and arms raised high, for example, or people who would suddenly be overwhelmed with tears during worship. The closest “unexplainable” experience I can describe is consistently getting a very real feeling of peace if I prayed for it, that I never got in any other way. I guess what I am getting at is that my experience with faith never really conflicted with my experience of being rational (and I was fine with not having all the answers to things that did not make sense because like with any subject, it takes time to study and learn and understand, and frankly, I devoted most of my time to other things).
        Recently, I’ve had several negative experiences regarding other people who seem to really believe that they have a special connection with God. One claimed to hear messages directly from God, sometimes for himself, sometimes to be relayed to me, and all in all it turned into a messy situation that thankfully I am out of now. Another person would attribute things to God that I knew for a fact had another, simple explanation, or she would have strong feelings or fears that something was happening to me or someone else, when I knew the facts to be contrary. These things somehow jolted me into looking at faith and Christianity from an outside perspective (not that I couldn’t on some level understand the outside perspective before, but this has pushed me to a different level).
        So now when I encounter mention of something “unexplainable” that I would imagine to be an affirming experience in favor of faith, I’m more curious as to how it was debunked. That’s the long-winded explanation of why I’d asked.

      • Let’s see, while I was a Christian, I often tried to balance the mind and the emotions. I attended Churches and schools that were Assemblies of God, Foursquare, Full Gospel, Word of Faith, Methodist, Southern Baptist and Missionary Alliance. I tried really hard to make sure that I was in constant prayer and study of the Bible (personally and in groups).

        Through membership of the institutions mentioned above, I noticed a particular trend among teachers and preachers as they read the Bible. There was this tendency for them all to stop reading scripture right before they reached a verse or chapter that contradicted their doctrines. I took a lot of issue with this. For instance, say I was listening to a Southern Baptist minister speaking on Holy Spirit. It was pretty much a guarantee that he would stop reading the Bible right before any mention of speaking in tongues. If a Pentecostal pastor was reading, he would either stop right before a verse about being “once saved, always saved” or explain that verse away to mean something much different than salvation.

        As far as the whole “God’s got a word for you” or “Thus saith the ‘LORD of hosts'” people, they made me pray on my own and read the Bible even more the longer I was a Christian. When I was younger and attending very manipulative Churches, these people seemed to come out of the woodwork for me. I was gullible and I would take heed to all that they told me. I later believed that if that same Spirit that rose Christ from the dead lived in me, why didn’t I hear God speak those things to me? I began to take everything with a grain of salt, but then I got to the point when I rarely took such “prophecies” sincerely. Before I knew it, I was attending Churches where no one did this.

        As far as debunking tongues, I noticed that some of the most abusive and controlling people that I knew were tongue talkers. (Oddly enough, as a deconvert, I can still turn tongues on and off now. I don’t feel anything when I do it.) It’s funny that one of my relatives was always pushing everyone to be baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking tongues was a man that I NEVER heard speak in tongues. Don’t get me wrong, he was ambitious about jumping and clapping and would bop his head and grunt once in a while, but I don’t recall hearing him speak a so called heavenly language.

        As far as leaving Christianity, I really struggled with my faith from 18 (My doubt began while I was a student at a very “spiritual” Bible College.) to 39 years old. It was looking at the Koran and the Talmud that led me back to those unanswered questions I had about so many scriptures in the Bible. As I mentioned somewhere else on here to another blogger, all three holy books were all starting to sound the same to me. The longer I was a Christian and the more I studied the Bible, the more questions I had as time passed. I also took issue with much of what is said about women, children and people of different nations in the Bible. L, I’m basically an atheist by default, I stopped believing in God due to what I’ve mentioned here and some other things I’ve mentioned elsewhere.

        Thanks so much L for your kindness and interest. I hope you and yours are having a great New Year.

    • Philosogetics said:

      Through all your credentials, it seems as though you still have a gross misunderstanding of Christianity and Christ’s message, friend.

      This especially was a pointer to how amazingly off you are about what it means to be a new creature in Christ:
      “I found Christianity to be the number one way to walk in absolute hatred for myself.”

      Seems to me you have issues with some caricature Christianity– not the real deal. (this is coming from an agnostic turned Christian, by the way).

      Cheers

      • But from all the lesser mentioned parts of the Bible, you really see a different side of Christianity. It’s not a very loving-based religion. If you want to be a true follower of Jesus, you have to hate your entire family? That doesn’t really sit well with his image of an all loving and forgiving guy, does it?
        And I agree with CHope that it is a way to be hateful and degrading towards women.

      • You quoted me and didn’t include the whole sentence. “As a woman” makes all the difference in the world, as another person who has replied to your comment has already addressed.

  14. frustratedfairy said:

    This is an interesting concept and it takes somebidy somebody brave to lose employment over this. I hope good things will come your way. Oh and welcome to the dark side, we have cookies as well as Hitchens, Dawkins and Tim Minchin. Follow the “we are star stuff” blog, science is beautiful and inspirational!

  15. Mike McCatty said:

    I read that you plan to “not read the bible” on your journey as and atheist. Most atheists I know have read the bible, and not just the good parts. Please read the bible, nothing creates atheists quicker than reading the bible. Good luck.

    • A good point! I noticed that he said specifically that he would not read the bible for inspiration – I am hoping that a more critical and historical reading may be able to take place this year.

  16. I think it is a great thing what you are doing. I grew up in the Christian church and never felt like myself. Once I proclaimed I was an atheist I felt free.

    It has been somewhat of a struggle with my family because are still very much Christians. My mom says she doesn’t tell people that I am atheist because “she failed.” In her eyes, since I am not a Christian she thinks she did not do a good job. I told her that is not true. But it is interesting that thought has been drilled into her over the years.

    I found this quote from Epicurious and thought you might be interested:
    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able, and willing?
    Then whence come evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God?”
    -Epicurus

    Good luck on your journey!

  17. Since you are challenged finding a living, check the clergyproject at http://www.clergyproject.org/news/ . You might find people which are like you and can help.

  18. Hi Ryan,
    I read your HuffPo blog and saw that the first two comments you got were people “concerned” for you. As both a former APU student and a former Christian, I have a few things I want to say. First, I respect and admire your dedication to finding truth. The search for what you believe and figuring out your worldview is terrifying, but it’s such an important part of growth. And of course it’s risky–but all this “concern” people express for you is beyond aggravating. Those you love should always support your search for growth, for truth, for meaning. Asking questions and doubting is incredibly vital and healthy to growing as a human, and I still wish I’d gotten less “concern” when I broke away from religion and more encouragement and understanding. Why are we so afraid of asking questions? It’s the only way to discover more truths, or at least get us closer to them.
    While I’m much closer to being an atheist than much else, I don’t identify as one (yet), because I find this idea, from Carl Sagan, to be more what I feel: “To be certain of the existence of God and to be certain of the nonexistence of God seem to me to be the confident extremes in a subject so riddled with doubt and uncertainty as to inspire very little confidence indeed.”
    Good luck on your journey, and ignore the frowny “concerns” for your soul. As many others have commented on your blog, this is a huge, scary, amazing time for you, and you have the support and encouragement of a great many people who have been in a similar place, and I’m sorry you didn’t find the same support and encouragement from your employers.

  19. Hi Ryan,
    I read your HuffPo blog and saw that the first two comments you got were people “concerned” for you. As both a former APU student and a former Christian, I have a few things I want to say. First, I respect and admire your dedication to finding truth. The search for what you believe and figuring out your worldview is terrifying, but it’s such an important part of growth. And of course it’s risky–but all this “concern” people express for you is beyond aggravating. Those you love should always support your search for growth, for truth, for meaning. Asking questions and doubting is incredibly vital and healthy to growing as a human, and I still wish I’d gotten less “concern” when I broke away from religion and more encouragement and understanding. Why are we so afraid of asking questions? It’s the only way to discover more truths, or at least get us closer to them.
    While I’m much closer to being an atheist than much else, I don’t identify as one (yet), because I find this idea, from Carl Sagan, to be more what I feel: “To be certain of the existence of God and to be certain of the nonexistence of God seem to me to be the confident extremes in a subject so riddled with doubt and uncertainty as to inspire very little confidence indeed.”
    Good luck on your journey, and ignore the frowny “concerns” for your soul. As many others have commented on your blog, this is a huge, scary, amazing time for you, and you have the support and encouragement of a great many people who have been in a similar place, and I’m sorry you didn’t find the same support and encouragement from your employers.

  20. I commend you for embarking on this journey.

    Question everything … question it HARD. Look deep within yourself and read everything you can and learn how and if what you know squares with what you observe in reality.

    Why would a loving God create a race of beings within a vast and wonderful universe solely for the purpose of “accepting him” in order to have redemption. Start your journey just looking at some of the logical problems that exist right there.

  21. Although I was raised in a very Christian conservative home, I saw through the illogical religious stories and incompatible beliefs. However, as a gay man, I have been unable to shake the immense shame that was driven into my psyche by nuns and priests, as well as Baptist preachers and the society they influenced. At 45 years’ old, I often have nightmares and daily spontaneous thoughts of worthlessness. Every day I have to remind myself that I am a good person and that I have been able to survive despite these unwelcomed thoughts.

  22. I applaude your leap of faith (pun intended).

    2 years ago I stumbled across a youtuber who made a very thoughtful insight to his own deconstruction to his faith over the course of his life.

    It’s well edited and respectful. And I highly recommend it as food for thought through the eyes of a previous devout born again christian.

  23. tremerton said:

    I applaude your leap of faith (pun intended).

    2 years ago I stumbled across a youtuber who published a series of videos where he sums up his own deconstruction of faith.

    It’s well edited and respectful video series. I believe you might find it interesting to view the process from the eyes of a previously devout christian. Food for thought, so to speak.

  24. I couldn’t find a contact page so I am trying it here, hoping that you read these comments. I am not sure if this applies to you, since the whole point of your experiment is to do it openly. Also, obviously, you might return to the fold and go back to being a Christian once you deem your experiment over. Nonetheless, if you haven’t already heard about it, you might want to check out this:

    http://www.clergyproject.org/

  25. I saw your project referenced on Huffington Postband I came to express my support for your exploration of atheism, regardless where your journey takes you. If you like, it is akin to the ancient prophets and madmen, who abandoned the comforting arms of the civilization that they knew, to seek deprivation and truth (and mad, hunger-induced hallucination) in the Wild. You may go back to civilization if you find you prefer it there; some do. You need not, but know that the Wild is not the dangerous place it’s made out to be.

    I was never raised to religion. I came upon my atheism gradually, as I read history and news and politics. I did not find it in a single volume, or in a stand-alone treatise. Atheism I found in a thousand individual questions and observations. Why do the tablets of Atrahasis also describe a great flood, and why did the people attribute it to things other than the Abrahamic god? Why, if Christ was born in winter, were shepherds out with their flocks at night? Why does God say “no other gods before me” — does he mean there are other gods?

    Atheism to me is the answer, because while it is simple to say “God works in mysterious ways,” man does not. When you posit that all things were made by men, and not by a mysterious god, you begin to see explanations where there were none (and sometimes, admittedly, no explanation where there previously was God).

    I would love to discuss this more with you, if you desire conversation with a lifelong atheist.

  26. Thanks for sharing this; I’ll be following. Having grown up in a fundamentalist faith – in which my education, livelihood, social circles, family and everything were rooted – and having left it at great cost, I understand all to well the sacrifices your making for this academic pursuit and what you’re going to face.

    Still, I wouldn’t call this being an atheist. You can’t divorce yourself from your own preconceived notions about atheism. My suggestion: question yourself at each new insight. What fundamental, ontological assumptions underpin your interpretations?

    I say this because I’m an atheist. But I never set out to be. It was my belief that ultimately led me to atheism. In seeking out a deeper knowledge of G-d, I slowly altered the landscape of my faith until eventually even the foundations – those assumptions I had never been conscious of before – were changed. It was a beautiful, harrowing, terrifying, self-affirming, rewarding seven year process.

    Had I set out to be an atheist, I might never have found myself – and who knows, I might have been peddling after-life insurance against hell-fire to this day.

    But we’re each different – and I hope for you the best along your journey.

  27. If I understand correctly (and please correct me if I don’t), you hoped this to be a contemplative, fairly calmly paced personal journey. However, in addition to attracting hundreds of interested, supportive and/or constructively critical comments, your journey has now also developed into a real-life economic and professional crisis, a media circus and, sadly, has even led to public (written) “shouting matches” between some people who are using your story for their own ends. These shouters post and comment, here and elsewhere on the Net, and appear to care very little about you as a human being and to have paid very little attention to what you yourself have said about your journey.

    What I write about below may all be familiar to you already, but as I did not find anything explicitly about self-care here, in your Huffington Post articles, on Facebook or on your old blog, I’m taking the liberty of preaching a bit. 😉 Feel free to treat this with the same skepticism as you would any other unsolicited advice.

    In the midst of this psycho-social whirlwind I urge you to practice loving self-care and healthy selfishness: please see to your own needs and those of your nearest before feeling obliged to explain any further or to keep The Whole Internet informed about the progress of your project. I hope the following resources can help you with feeling OK about _not_ ministering to this new, unruly “congregation” all the time.

    Even though you are not physically ill, being in the middle of a crisis can rob you of energy, or the “spoons” of this story. Please be mindful of your spoons! http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/wpress/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

    Nobody can please The Whole Internet – in my experience nobody can please even one university department, or small village, or everyone in the smallest of congregations, so please don’t break yourself by trying. You are worth so much better, as these articles about self-care for pastors, social workers, counselors and university teachers show http://www.jrbriggs.com/pastors-and-stress-clergy-self-care/01/ and http://www.socialworker.com/feature-articles/field-placement/What_I_Wish_I_Had_Known%3A_Burnout_and_Self-Care_in_Our_Social_Work_Profession/ and http://ct.counseling.org/2011/01/taking-care-of-yourself-as-a-counselor/ and the “Self-Care for Faculty and Staff” part of this page http://healthcenter.ncsu.edu/counseling-center/stop-the-stigma-campaign/for-faculty-staff/

    You are still the same person, as worthy of trust and love as ten days ago. Your motives are what you feel in the core of your being and what you can see in honest self-analysis – nobody has the right to claim that they know your mind (motives or state of faith now or historically) better than you do. Nobody has the right to tell you that you are “doing it wrong”, either – it’s your journey. If they want such a journey done according to _their_ criteria, they can do it themselves.

    I hope that your journey will be at least somewhat calmer after a while. In the meanwhile I wish you strength and the ability to distance yourself from those commentators who are jumping to conclusions or saying other non-constructive things.

    ~yet another friendly atheist

  28. ijourneyman said:

    I came across your story on CNN, so it’s mainstream in a way you, perhaps, never anticipated. As a past-Catholic, indoctrinated in a very orthodox family for many years, I am completely attuned to your journey. It’s been mine too, although I never bothered with the priestly intermezzo part. At some point in my thirties, I just put the bag down and walked away from it. That sounds simple, because it was. The intellectual and spiritual support for my decision, when it came, had been building quietly for many years. The nuns at Cardinal Newman Roman Catholic High School inadvertently encouraged intellectual debate that was bound to undermine the very doctrine they were espousing. Richard Dawkins gave credence to my own meanderings. When it was time, it was time and it has never seemed like a wrong decision since that moment. I see our journey (all of us, whatever we call ourselves) as a spiritual one. It is a journey towards greater human spirituality, not away from it. The shedding of a “necessary” Creator mythology and the ridiculous religious ideologies that sprang from it allows a freedom of thought that we are deprived of inside the doctrinal and, frankly, repressive control structures of any of the churches we end up in as a result of the cycle of adult to child brainwashing that has been maintained, amazingly, through the ages.
    I would like to wish you well on your journey. Choose wisely, is my only commentary. From one who has made his choice, it seems clear that it was the right one. Should you not choose the same path, and even should you return to your previous path, what is clear to me is that you will never regard your previous existence as entirely valid again. What is done cannot be undone. A year without god will free you for ever.

    • Articulate and elucidating commentary above. Walking away from that deposited bag and into that freedom of thought — so simple and so liberating. Thank you.

  29. Dear Ryan,

    I really applaud you on making this choice. I think it’s an extremely difficult thing for a lot of religious people to do; comprehend a world where there is no creator.

    As for me, I was never brought up on any religion in particular, and I was allowed to choose for myself. This resulted in the conclusion that, based on all the currently available evidence, there’s no reason for me to believe in any deities.

    I do hope that you can begin to find enjoyment in life without god as many of us do. And know that there is a multitude of people ready and willing to support you on this experiment!

    I’m looking forward to following your journey over the year and seeing what conclusions you come to by yourself.

    Good luck!

  30. Stan Faryna said:

    It’s a daring decision to share so intimate a journey through this blog and other social media platforms. It’s courageous, indeed, to bring people into your experience as you live it out. I very much hope that you can live up to the relationship you have sought by these instruments of engagement: connecting deeply with your audience, wholeheartedly replying to comments, answering questions with sincerity, and revealing yourself so that people get something valuable out of this conversation.

    A little twist to uncle Ben’s advice to Spiderman: With great publicity comes great responsibility.

    Now you’ve got the bank to give this project your full attention and heart – certainly more money than 30% of the American population make in a single year – not to mention elsewhere in the world.

    Cheers!

  31. Ryan,
    We cannot teach what we do not know and we cannot lead where we dare not go. I believe that to find we have to search. I am a simple kind of girl with simple faith and I am following this journey to see God’s glory revealed through your travel. I think it is so important to learn as much as possible about people and their belief systems because there are so many. I am and will pray for you, your family, and all the folks who will be a part of this journey. Seek you will find.

  32. Good luck with your journey! I think that what you are doing is bold and I support you as you go. I find myself halfway out of the Atheist closet. I don’t think Atheism is nearly as important for our world as critical thinking and respect for all people. Those are things that are a part of you no matter where this journey takes you with regard to belief in god/lack thereof. All the best to you!

  33. To have faith in God or not is act of free choice given by Him to all intelligent creatures. I hope that despite your decision to “buy or sell” and have “multitude of thy merchandise” for a year
    we’ll meet at that thing like “sea of glass mingled with fire” and by the “river of water of life, clear as crystal”.

    • Incorrect. Belief is not a “free choice” – another point where Christians are fundamentally and utterly wrong and another nail in the coffin of their religion and their notion of any kind of “God’s plan”. A belief is simply a certain formation of certain properties of your brain. You have not control over this. You can not consciously and intentionally affect the state of your brain. Thoughts, beliefs, memories, consciousness, etc. are all emergent properties of your brain over which you have no control whatsoever.

      If you truly believe that your beliefs are a simple matter of your intentional free choice, please do one of the following:

      – Choose to believe that you can breathe under water and then stay under water for 15 minutes or longer.
      – Choose to believe that gravity has no effect on you and then jump from a high rise.
      – Choose to believe that fire won’t hurt you and destroy your skin and then turn on your stove and put your hand on it.
      – Choose to believe that you do not need food to survive and then don’t eat for 2 weeks.

      Or how about this little brain twister: If you truly believe that your beliefs are a simple matter of your intentional choice then try choosing to belief the opposite of this proposition. Just flip the switch and start believing that belief is not a matter of choice. No problem, right? And once you’ve believed that belief is not a matter of free choice for 10 minutes, just flip the switch again and go back to believing that belief is a matter of free choice.

      Oh, you can’t bring yourself to believe any of those things? Right, didn’t think so. It’s no different whatsoever with a belief in gods. I can’t simply choose to believe in any gods just as you can’t choose to believe that spending 3 hours naked in an ice storm is beneficial to your health.

  34. I am not an Atheist, but my current lifestyle resembles almost that of an Atheist. I was a devoted Christian most of my life, and now I am not sure what I am. But I continue to reflect about life, and consider other faiths, not just Christianity. But I have been living life as if there is no God, I must confess. I don’t pray (except in rare circumstances when I am thankful), I don’t read the Bible, I stopped attending church, and I don’t even like listening to Christian music anymore. I simply live life as it comes, trying to be in the present moment, not hoping for any miracle.

    • As an atheist, I have to say it’s a shame you’re not reading the bible. More Christians should do it.

      “Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.”

      ― Isaac Asimov

  35. As a life-long SDA, theological graduate of Newbold, I recently took my own 2 year God-hiatus. It felt like a spiritual divorce. Very emotional. It was a relief for a very long time. And later came the feeling of hopelessness, when I felt cornered by life and that I had exhausted all my resources… I became desperate for God. So I went back. And I felt relief again. And now I am struggling, yet again. I feel defeated, to be honest.

    I totally support your journey. It has offered me a little validation when mostly I had none.

  36. Hi Ryan…
    Firstly congratulations in your brave journey of discovery! As an ex-SDA myself, I have also been on this journey for several years now. I am looking forward to seeing how you progress, and then of course comparing it to my own journey. I am unfortunately not as brave as you… In that I am selective of when to come out of the closet and when not to… However I am certainly finding it harder every time to step back into the closet.
    I am particularly curious to know how your journey is affecting your family? I would very much welcome reading about that in your blog updates. As I suspect this is partly the reason for my own “stepping back into closet” maneuver…
    For me personally – my journey began when I started to become aware of social and political issues – like marriage equality, and prior to that …. The historic second class treatment of women, particularly in the church. Once these internal questions became far to loud…. I then questioned the sciences… and it did not square up with the teachings of the church…. especially evolution…. My quest then led me on a beautiful journey of discovery of the sciences! When I determined that evolution is in fact true… I then could not square a reason for the existence of a ‘god’! This led me to then really investigate the bible….. The injustices I saw for the first time opened my eyes… And from that moment I knew I was unable to be a believer!
    Now it is a journey of courage to be no longer need the closet…so to speak…. Which is of course why your blog is of personal interest to me.
    Thank you again – for your public journey. I sincerely hope you too find the truth!

  37. It seems that most comments I have read on this thought provoking blog indicate that “new” atheists have “converted” from a religious belief system.

    I missed the boat: didn’t get the memo. Like everybody else, I was born an atheist; unlike others I simply have never become aware of a compelling reason to change that.

    As for “spiritualism” (for lack of a better term) the magnificence and grander of the cosmos provides more awe, wonder, and and reverence than anything I know about any religion based on God or Gods. When we can view stars being born, stars dying in super nova explosions, and galaxies dancing in a gravitational embrace, mythical biblical miracles pale to insignificance.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s