• Knowing About God is world’s apart from “knowing” GOD.

    One Can easily deny philosophy and theology it’s incredibly stupid to deny the existence of A Real Person.

    GOD is as tangible as any human dwelling in a body of flesh. I’ve known him since I was 18! 42 years ago.

    Unless a seed falls to ground and dies it cannot life. No new life without a death. Ie Born Again.

  • Jack

    A thoughtful article all the way around.

    Max, you could learn a thing or two from this guy. He expresses his atheism in a fair-minded and thoughtful way.

    I would only suggest that if he hasn’t done so already, he read an old book, “The Road Less Traveled,” by M. Scott Peck.

    One of Peck’s points is that a move from theism to atheism may be a change for the better if one’s theism is clouded by negative views of God…..a part of a long process that often leads to belief in a more authentic God.

  • Jack


  • Jack,

    “Max, you could learn a thing or two from this guy. He expresses his atheism in a fair-minded and thoughtful way.”

    And yet you still didn’t get his message.
    Nor did you get mine.

    I was a practicing Christian for many more years than this man. He has wasted only a few decades – I wasted 50 years.

    Church every Sunday, prayers at every meal, Rosaries at every Novena, insisting my children believe things they did not believe.

    Garbage, all of it.
    And it is an abomination to our culture that there is anyone left who still is being assaulted with this cancerous nonsense.

    I did not become smarter when I became Atheist.
    I became a full human being free of a terrible, terrifying cultural disease. Religion.

  • @Doug,

    “Being an atheist….self-destructive.”

    How is the decision to NOT kill someone for Allah a destructive act?
    How is the decision to NOT cut a girl’s clitoris off in female circumcision a self-destructive act?

    Your way of thinking is exactly what the world needs less of.
    Make a stand against religion. Or you are just defending the head-chopping, faith-based religious nonsense engulfing the world.

  • Dave42

    I was disappointed that the title to the article had no real meat to it in the article itself. I didn’t find any substantive reason for Mr. Bell becoming an atheist more than “the intellectual and emotional energy it takes to figure out how God fits into everything is far greater than dealing with reality as it presents itself to us.” Not saying he doesn’t have a reason, just that I didn’t find one in the article.

  • Dave42

    You seem like a very intelligent, well-read person. I understand the Catholic Church has a legacy of abuse, misuse and misguided policies spanning centuries. I have several friends who grew up Catholic and have also turned away. Have you read CS Lewis at all? I’m sure you know that he was an avowed Atheist until his early 30s. There is a world of difference between Religion as perpetrated by these large institutions and the message of love and forgiveness that is central to Christ’s message.

    As I wrote below, I was disappointed the article did not give a substantive reason for Mr. Bell’s turn away from God. Was there a turning point in your life?

  • So, is he going to get a normal job?

  • Mr Bell presents himself as a thoughtful man. But life, and Christianity, is about a lot more than the books one reads and the thoughts one thinks. It’s not, as Max presents, about getting smarter. Authentic Christianity is about a relationship with God. Knowing is far more important than “knowing about.”

  • John

    Here is the reason he left that resonated with me: “I’d just say that the existence of God seems like an extra layer of complexity that isn’t necessary.”

    If you don’t get that, I can see why you think the article was lacking in substance.

  • Nathan

    He has one. He’s worked at PATH for a while now.

  • John P

    Ryan seems like a very likeable and sincere person. I admire that. I am also glad that he sees things in both camps that are admirable and respectful. That helps the conversation. I do hope he realizes in his no-holds-barred search for the truth as he states, that both theists and atheists eventually end up with degrees of faith concerning their beliefs. Not everything is answered in either view, so having faith is not just for the religious.

  • John

    For 15 years I experienced a “relationship with God” as a fundamentalist Catholic. If you listen long enough, and courageously so, you realize you don’t need all the rules, guidelines, constant ‘thought guarding’ or biblical focus, (not to mention the constant stream of threats) that come with Protestantism or Catholicism. All you need is God, and God is so much bigger than the microscopic/self absorbed view of human beings.

    The author says, “I’d just say that the existence of God seems like an extra layer of complexity that isn’t necessary.” It’s those living at the ‘top’ of the religious pyramid – the ‘teachers/preachers/evangelist’ that make it complex, and for a reason. How would they survive at the financial level they do if they weren’t the Experts on God? How do you walk away from a ‘job’ like that? When the author says that his decision has only cost him income, he isn’t kidding. Are ‘professional christians’ actually presenting what they believe or are they just preserving their jobs?

    Mr Bell is closer to Francis of Assisi than he realizes.

  • Frank

    Sounds exactly like someone who wishes to live they way they chose instead of being faithful to Gods Will. Sad.

  • Dave42

    there are a lot of “layers of complexity” that aren’t necessary to existence – friends, art, music, sports, love – but are things that make life more than just getting through each day until we die. Are any of those things going to last beyond the brief span of our days on earth?

    What I hear then, is that he only believes what he sees. Yet the alternate universe theories, string theory and bubble universe theories that quantum physicists are hypothesizing now are untestable and without proof. They require that you simply have faith that everything around us is random. Without that faith in randomness, the most obvious alternative is that the universe was made specifically to sustain life and at present, the only life in the universe that we know of is that in front of us.

  • Doc Anthony

    Max, I think the poster Doug is one of those “betwixt and between” people that this turncoat pastor was talking about. Doug apparently is not an atheist, not a theist, not sure of anything, just drifting in the ocean.

    So let’s see this as a challenge. Clearly you want him to “make a stand against religion”, okay. But that leads to the challenge: Why is your atheism any better than Doug’s current position? What will Doug gain if he chooses your atheism, that he doesn’t have already?

    Honestly, I don’t know the answer on those questions, because I am not an atheist. So I’m asking you instead. Thanks in advance!

  • samuel Johnston

    Hi Todd,
    “Authentic Christianity is about a relationship with God. Knowing is far more important than ‘knowing about.'”
    Todd, how do you “know” that your Christian interpretation of your feelings/experiences
    is the only correct one? Is the Hindu with such feelings/experiences less valid? Is the following feeling/experience also less valid?
    “The rationalist and the scientist, (or one who
    regards himself to be so), sees the contradiction involved in the above
    teachings, and the sectarian conflicts arising out of them. He for one does
    not feel the ‘presence of that Something’ of which the Seer speaks with so
    much confidence. He examines every substance and every form of energy most
    minutely but fails to find there the presence of God. He isolates every
    knowable property of every object, and at the end finds that there is no
    remainder, and concludes that ‘God is nowhere’.
    Quoted from: An Atheist With Gandhi by Gora (Goparaju Ramachandra Rao) 

  • samuel Johnston

    We all live the way we choose Frank. Even you.

  • Frank

    No doubt. But living in Gods Will is a more complicated life. Living without God is the easy way out. Sad.

  • Jack

    Max, reread the interview.

  • Jack

    Max, you are the same person you were back then. You were a rigid no-questions-asked person then and you’re the same today. I’m sure that everyone who knows you will say that once you get into something, no matter what it is, there is no reasoning with you about opposite points of view. You are very different from the one being interviewed.

  • Jack

    John, you forget that Christianity is what’s called a “revealed religion.” It’s not primarily the result of people sitting under a tree and philosophizing and coming up with a system. Instead, it’s a series of concrete claims that at a specified time and place, something extraordinary happened.

    Those claims are either true or false. Jesus was or was not who he said he was. He either rose from the dead or he did not. The rituals he instituted were just two — baptism and communion. The requirement for salvation was faith alone. It’s not complicated. Again, the claims are true or they are not true.

  • Karla

    Many people today fall away because they were never a follower of Christ.
    They wanted to go to heaven but didn’t want to Repent/follow Jesus which
    is like most today. We have tons of people today who want to go to heaven
    but don’t want to Repent. Bible says to Repent or perish! Bible says that
    man shall perish because of their lack of knowledge and we now can see it
    everywhere today with people that claim to be Christian yet they don’t know
    Jesus/what the Bible says and the proof is their life/lifestyle hasn’t changed!
    That’s why so many people in church still get drunk,gamble,be mean,gossip,
    sleep around,take the Lords name in vain. They don’t know the Bible/Jesus.
    The gate is narrow that leads to life and few are on it and broad is the road
    that leads to destruction/many are on it. Many today don’t want to Repent
    but Bible says Repent and believe the Gospel to be saved! We must Repent!

  • Jack

    I liked Ryan, too, and for the same reasons. I don’t think his journey is over. It might have just begun.

  • Dave42

    You mention one of the hardest concepts I struggle with. What do you do with a person of faith who is raised a Hindu, Muslim or Buddhist? For my part, first, I am glad that I don’t have to make such decisions. I trust that God is more merciful and more just than I could ever imagine. I trust that people who really seek Him will find Him. But I don’t have a good answer for the question.

    The next struggle you mention – the sectarian violence that pervades history – is, I think easier to explain as the simple failings of simple men who do not understand their “enemy” and find it easier to hate than to reach out. If you read the biography of Muhammad, there are several tragic events when the Jews of his day could have helped his budding religion, and indeed promised to, and then did not. I believe that if they had kept their word, the history of Islam would have been much different. And the Christian Church has a long and infamous history of perpetrating hatred and fear. But for me, the failure of Christians to follow the Bible is not reason for me to turn away. If it was, my own failings would be the most worrisome. Indeed, the Bible says that we all are sinners, and that does not change by becoming a Christian. It only changes when we die.

    The last point you raise is whether, by examining the world around us, we can find God. For me, it is the moment of the Big Bang that science fails to answer properly. How does matter and energy come into being out of nothing? That is against the laws of physics. And rather than just say that if we cannot understand it then “God must have done it”, we can turn to the Bible and see that it in fact says that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing (you have to go back to the original Hebrew for the proper translation but the Latin sentiment is ex nihilo). That in itself is not an explanation of how, why or when, but it does answer pretty clearly “who”.

  • samuel Johnston

    “Living without God is the easy way out.”
    And you “know” this how? Perhaps those who have explored many paths “know”
    more than those who have not, and it is only the ignorant and dogmatic who are certain that they are on the true one.
    Converts strike me as those who cannot bear the distress of uncertainty. Fear of falling keeps them clinging and dependent on others for support. Conquer the fear and you walk by yourself like a grown up. Perhaps even help others.

  • Karla

    John-Two guys were next to Jesus on the Cross and only one guy went to
    heaven! Why? Only one guy Repented so yes there are many today who
    are like the Pharisees but we must Repent/follow Christ. There are many
    people in the church that want to go to heaven but don’t want Jesus but
    those people forget that Jesus said many will say to Me Lord,Lord and
    not enter heaven! Repentance and faith are required of us to be saved,
    Bible says Repent and believe the Gospel to be saved! We must Repent!

  • ben in oakland

    “Are any of those things going to last beyond the brief span of our days on earth?” no one knows, though many claim to. Does it matter?

    Randomness does not require faith. It requires only observation.

    “Without that faith in randomness, the most obvious alternative is that the universe was made specifically to sustain life and at present, the only life in the universe that we know of is that in front of us.” I’m not sure that your conclusion follows form your premise. But There are billions of planets around billions of stars in billions of galaxies. Our planet being the only one with life on it doesn’t seem likely. From my studies of quantum physics some 40 years ago, my guess is that the unified field theory will be found when we understand what life truly is,.

  • ben in oakland

    Sorry, I can’t agree with either proposition. The only intellectually honest position is somewhere between the two. But it doesn’t make it ideal.

  • ben in oakland

    Perhaps this is what you are looking for: “it doesn’t matterism.”

    I tried to find something complete about it-doesn’t-matterism that I wrote a few years ago, but it has disappeared into the vortex of my files. So this will not be complete. Some day I will get my files organized fully. But then, my husband will insist that I write my book and appear on Jon Stewart. There’s always something.

    1) There is a world of difference between a belief in god and what religion says about god. At a local PCUSA church, I heard the minister talk about communicating God’s will and word in “this sinful and broken world.” My immediate response? If the world is sinful and broken, if these are everywhere, how do you know you’re speaking the word of god? How do you know that the being you believe to be god is god? How do you know he’s telling you the truth? One could certainly posit that religion’s behavior for the past 2000 years in the west– pogroms, anti-Semitism, homobigotry, witch burnings, religious wars, slavery, segregation, Christian vs. Christian vs. Jew vs Muslim vs Muslim– argues against any reliable connection with god, assuming there is such a being. You have only the bible’s or the Quran’s word for it, and those book is notoriously immoral in so many ways.

    Atheism isn’t really a statement about god, therefore, it is a statement about religion. I suspect even Athiest Max would agree with that statement more readily than he agrees with the statement that Atheism=certainty. The statement “I believe there is no God” is not a statement of fact, but of belief. It doesn’t mean the same thing as saying “I have no belief there is no god.”, which is a statement about evidence.

    2) I’m not an atheist, though. I’m an it-doesn’t-matterist. I know very few thoughtful atheists who will proclaim there is no god as a matter of absolute certainty. Most of us would give worlds to see proof of any god at all, let alone the three-in-one Christian god. Hell, I’d settle for incontrovertible proof of a leprechaun. But there isn’t any.

    I’m not really an atheist, but an “it-doesn’t-matterist”. As far as I can tell in my 64 years, the ultimate answers to ultimate questions ultimately don’t matter all that much. The question of atheism vs religion is one of those. Either god is the all powerful, all knowing, omnipresent eternal being that we imagine him to be, or he isn’t. If he isn’t, then he is merely an immensely powerful being, but not our god in any sense. sort of like Q in the old Star Trek: next generation series. Immensely powerful, but not actually all that bright. Sort of like the god in the Sodom story, who didn’t seem to know that Abraham’s wife was hiding behind the door.

    But, if he is how we imagine him to be, then his existence is irrelevant and answers no questions, because everything would be exactly as it is now, with god responsible for everything, instead of everything just existing as it does for no particular reason. Religionists tell us that not a sparrow falls but god knows about it. But the sparrow still falls.

    So what purpose does God serve in this?

    3) Is God necessary for morality? Not as far as I can tell. Gods, especially the Judaeo-Christian god, he who murdered little children who couldn’t have sinned even if they wanted to, have very little to teach me about morality. As Mammy Yokum said, Good is better than Evil because it is nicer. You won’t find that bit of wisdom in the bible. That’s how I know the difference. Which leads me to…

    4) If I believed in a supernatural being at all, it would be Koschei the Deathless, Who Made Things As They Are. Koschei has asked: “What are your beliefs to me, who made things as they are?” “What is your pride to me, who made things as they are?” But that’s why I don’t even believe in Koschei.

    Because he made things as they are. My beliefs are irrelevant.

    I hope that explains it all to you.

  • Karla

    Luke 13 says we must bear good fruit and that fruit is of Repentance not
    good works because non-believers do good works so we must Repent/turn
    from our sins which why 1 Corinthians 5 and 6 need to be preached/taught!
    We are all sinners yes but if say you love Jesus then still practice sin and
    you don’t follow the Bible/religion no Truth is in you! We all must Repent!

  • samuel Johnston

    Hi Jack,
    Silly argument. One I first heard from the pulpit as a child.
    “Would Jesus lie?” Hmmmm……would others lie about him?
    Well….they do today- why not then?
    Did an evil spirt come out of a man and was it then cast into a pig who then committed suicide? Hmmmm……

  • samuel Johnston

    Hi Dave 42,
    “How does matter and energy come into being out of nothing? That is against the laws of physics.”
    As I understand the Big Bang theory, the “laws” of physics were the result, along with time, space, and matter/energy. Logic is our problem, not nature’s.
    As to the Bible, God’s very, very, first creation was obviously a Jewish scribe who could then be the witness to God’s creation and write it all down.
    Personally, I prefer Deep Thought’s answer, which you already have.

  • Dave42

    It’s not my conclusion, but the one that many scientists seem to be trying at all costs to avoid – that the universe seems to be designed specifically to support life. There may indeed be other life out there. My guess is we won’t find it, at least not any time in the next few centuries. But what do I know?

    Mathematically, however, the odds of life are, according to Hawking, either very small or very large. Very large, I think because first and foremost, here we are having this conversation. So if it can happen once, why not twice? Very small because of the amazing intricacies of life, from the RNA/DNA to the systems that make up our planet, to the “Goldilocks Zone” that the earth seems to inhabit in our solar system, to the presence of the giant planets like Jupiter that attract most of the debris in space to dozens of other factors, any one of which, if off by a small amount, would likely make life on earth impossible.

    As for your commentary below – “what does it all matter?” I think the answer is both nothing and everything. Most of our differences are irrelevant. Does it matter if one person is black and one is white? If one is homosexual and one is heterosexual? If one is rich and one is poor? If one is a church-goer and one never sets foot in one? No. I think we agree on that.

    But as Ravi Zacharias says, there is no such thing as a one-ended stick. There is Truth that is True whether we want it to be or not.

    Hope to see you on the Daily Show some day Ben!

  • Dave42

    What is 6 x 9? You got it!

  • samuel Johnston

    Personally, I prefer an once of good works to a pound of repentance. Guilt just makes one sick and never helped anyone- unless it resulted in their better behavior towards others. We are all limited flawed beings- no news there.
    Now get cracking and go do some good today.

  • Karla

    samuel Johnston-All of the/our sin that is in the past is what the devil
    accuses us of but current sin is what the Holy Spirit convicts us of so
    if someone claims to be a Christian yet feels no guilt about current sin
    and is not being convicted of their sin they are not Christian but all the
    better behavior is a result of and the fruit of our Repentance. God bless.

  • Dave42

    So you’re saying the laws of physics didn’t apply before the Big Bang? I hadn’t heard that theory before. It seems to me illogical whether it is my problem or nature’s, but then I am a bear of little brain. Why shouldn’t a Law be a Law all the time? I thought that was the definition of a scientific law? That if it isn’t always true, we call it something else?

    You don’t need a scribe to have been there to witness it all if the Creator is as he describes himself – the Great I Am, a being that is, was and always will be, and one who could tell that Jewish Scribe how it all happened. If you read Genesis 1 with an eye toward that, and understand that a “day” is not really a 24-hour period, as has been stated so many times by so many people, you see a description of the formation of the heavens and the earth that no Jewish scribe could ever have known: the universe is formed, then the earth is formed, covered in waters, the atmosphere forms next, then dry land appears (in one place and is then separated into the continents), fish then land animals and lastly humans. Out of order between the Bible and Science are the appearance of birds and the creation of the sun and moon.

    I have no answer for the birds other than to suggest that the fossil record is a work in progress (not a great answer I know). But I read recently that scientists have found that some of the water on the earth is older than the sun. Geologically speaking, the 4.5 billion year estimate for the age of the earth has always been a minimum number.

    So if you look at Genesis in that light, again the question you raise is right on – how would any ancient Jewish scribe have known any of that? Unless the answer is the one they gave themselves – God told them.

  • Dave42

    I think it is important to remember what “repentance” means – from the Greek it means to turn around. That is, to repent is to find a new behavior, essentially the opposite of the sinfulness I had been doing. So I think your notion, Samuel, of good works is very close to, if not the same as repenting.

  • ben in oakland

    “How does matter and energy come into being out of nothing? That is against the laws of physics.”

    No, it is precisely in accordance with the laws of physics. matter and
    energy are equivalent. Every day, every millisecond, matter comes out of nothing. An electron comes out of nothing, and a positron heads off in the other direction. An electron circling an atom will go from one energy level to another without traversing the space in between. This is all basic quantum physics.

    “And rather than just say that if we cannot understand it then “God must have done it”, we can turn to the Bible and see that it in fact says that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing.” But that doesn’t explain how the something that is god came out of the nothing. By postulating an eternally existing god instead of an eternally existing universe, you simply move the whole question back “a generation.”

    This whole thing is just a meta-conversation about “I think, therefore I am.” The universe has always existed. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. It’s origins? Well, we have some evidence and some sophisticated guess work, but we can’t actually know. For all we know, what we call the big bang was just one of a series of big bangs. A Big bang precedes Expansion which is followed by a collapse followed by a big bang– forever and ever and ever, in both directions.

  • ben in oakland

    “that both theists and atheists eventually end up with degrees of faith concerning their beliefs.” I don’t insist that there is no god, nor does any true atheist. What you are describing is an anti-theist. Not the same thing at all.

  • ben in oakland

    It sure is, Frank. No worries about what the allegedly divine being created by people thousands of years ago allegedly thinks about your sex life, for example. No need to cut off the foreskin of a baby boy to please him, Or to fly an airplane into buildings, or behead anyone, or burn a witch for the crime that cannot be committed.

    Or to write endless posts online about how everybody but you is sad and pathetic for not believing what you believe, and who are going to burn in hell forever for not believing it.

  • Jack

    Hi Samuel,

    I wasn’t making an argument for or against the Gospel. For me, that wasn’t the issue that drew my attention. The issue was the prior poster’s describing Christianity more as a philosophy and series of rules than a bald (and bold) claim that is either true or not true. My stating that it’s either true or not true is obviously not a proof that it is true. It’s merely a reminder of what Christianity is and what it is not. It isn’t a philosophy-and-rules system. It’s, again, a claim about something that either did happen or did not happen.

    But…..since you brought up the subject of proof, let’s go for it:

    Would Jesus lie? I presume you’re asking whether Jesus would lie about his claim that he was equal to God. And if by “lie,” you mean saying he was equal to God when he knew he was not, then obviously he did not lie…..since very few people die for something they know isn’t true. In other words, the fact that Jesus died rather than renounce his belief about himself proved that he truly believed what he said.

    And obviously, that leaves us only two other alternatives — assuming Jesus really said what was attributed to him……

    Either he truly believed it and was deluded, or he truly believed it and was who he said he was.

    Assuming he really said he was equal to God, those are the only two logical possibilities left to us…..since again, his dying for his belief reduces the chances that he was deliberately lying to virtually zero.

    If you want to argue about this and look silly, go for it. I’m game. But it’s futile. People have gone through this for the past 20 centuries. The bottom line is that if you accept the premise that Jesus really said the things attributed to him, those are the only two explanations — he was crazy or he was accurate. Again, his willingness to die for his belief virtually eliminates the third option — that he was intentionally lying….ie saying what he knew to be false.

    But how do we know he really said the things attributed to him?

    Well….we apply the same three-fold test to those making the attribution:

    Either he never said them and they knew it (they were lying to us), he never said them and they didn’t know it (they were deluded or deceived), or he said them (they were correct).

  • Thanks for asking, Samuel.

    First, it’s not “my” interpretation, but people I’ve known personally, as well as spiritual guides through the ages, including a few non-Christian ones.

    Two, it’s not just about feelings. I prefer a more fully integrated spirituality: head, heart, gut, soul, etc.. Relying on the brain is a one-trick pony. That was somewhat satisfying to me as an adolescent, but I still had questions, and I haven’t quite given up on the searching aspect, either.

    I’m as skeptical of an over-intellectualized Christianity as I am of a young engaged or newly married person who either is 100% into love, or can’t get beyond “this is a good match.”

    For all I know Mr Bell may be totally well-integrated. If so God bless and good luck to him.

  • Jack

    Ben, it’s pretty offensive to compare circumcision to flying planes into buildings or burning alleged witches at the stake. I don’t think you meant it to come out the way it did, but it looks rather bad.

  • samuel Johnston

    @Dave 42,
    Folks like yourself, who find the means to interpret Christianity/Judaism in intelligent ways, seem to me to be playing a loosing game. Religions are subject to evolution, but they also have limited useful lives. The Egyptian religion(s) evolved and played a major social role from the middle of the Fourth millennium B.C.E. until the mid Fourth Century C. E. when it was swept away by first Christianity and then Islam. In short, it played an important role in that society for about twice the timespan of Christianity – to date.
    Think of Catholicism as a public company. Any technical analysis would scream SELL! What was once a leading growth stock, evolved into a protected regional monopoly and then splintered. Its capitol and brand power has been declining for the last quarter its existence. Protestantism gets dumber by the day. Its reformed product no longer fits the needs and understanding of society. Local competitors are rising and falling on all sides. The principle world competitor is larger and is still growing.
    The home area has all but abandoned the service/product and the senile management doesn’t even have a recovery plan. It is time to start over.

  • Jack

    Samuel, both are necessary. The #1 obstacle to repentance is people’s failure to admit when they are wrong. Of all the human foibles, none is more corrosive to human happiness than a failure to own up when one has blown it in an area of life. I suspect that our gender is a far greater offender on this score than women are, but either way, it is a destroyer of harmony and good will.

  • Jack

    Samuel, those are just your opinions of Christianity. The real question is whether it’s true or not true — whether the things it alleges really happened. Your opinions or my own about the “product” are secondary to that pivotal question.

    If it’s true and we don’t like it, we still need to embrace it. If it’s untrue and we like it, we still need to reject it.

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  • Frank

    What an embarrassment for you. Batting 1000. Well done.

  • Frank

    Spelling of a losing game.

  • ben in oakland

    Jack, I didn’t compare the two. I included them in a list of the things that any particular version of the Jewish-Christian-Muslim deity has demanded of his followers. We can add in abstaining from shrimp, abstaining from pork, stoning the unbelievers in your midst, damning alcoholics to burn forever in hell if they cannot overcome their addiction, keeping slaves, support segregation, and a whole lot of other things, ranging from the trivial to the grotesque to the murderous.

  • Dave42

    You’re right – I don’t understand the nature of God. He introduces Himself to Moses by saying He is the “Great I Am”, a being without beginning or end, the Alpha and Omega if you will. If that is true, then He would certainly have existed before the beginning of the universe.

    As for matter coming out of nothing, I will be the first to say I am not a scientist. Never got good grades in any scientific subject. But I have never heard or read any scientist present or past since Newton who suggested that matter can come from nothing. Not Hawking, not Dawkins. I’d be glad to learn otherwise if you can find a source. (OK, I’d be horrified, but I truly would like to know if I’m wrong on this.)

  • Jack

    Ben, it appears not to have occurred to you that circumcision is for the Jewish people a sign of their identity as Jews — and that the rite has been a common target of Jew-haters throughout history. Targeting circumcision has a long and ignoble history, and attempts to ban circumcision continue to this day on the European continent.

    This is what happens when you carelessly throw things together that don’t belong together. Circumcision and its meaning have nothing to do with witch burnings or airplane hijackings.

  • Dave42

    Egypt is a fascinating case study – one that came face to face with the God of the Hebrews in Moses’ time and came away not only unimpressed, but happy to be rid of them. I confess that is one of the passages of the Bible that troubles me – when God “hardens the heart of pharaoh.” It seems to remove free will from him, which I regard as one of the main points of existence. Thousands of years later, the Coptic Christians are still there in Egypt. Indeed, my understanding is that they consider themselves the “true Egyptians” and that the Muslims are invaders there (perhaps much like Native Americans consider us European-descended folk).

    I don’t dispute that many churches have lost their way. Martin Luther had no intention of starting a new church. And while every now and again you hear cries in the Christian community for “unity of the church”, my sense is that they’re generally saying “why don’t you all believe like I do?” Similar to what Ben from Oakland suggested above, I am convinced that most of these differences in various churches don’t really matter. What really matters is whether we exercise our free will to serve God or to serve ourselves.

    Not sure I agree on Protestantism getting “dumber by the day”. I do shudder every time they put a religious leader on the news spouting about this fundamental tenet or that while spitting on some minority or another. But I don’t know any people like that personally.

    The basic problem of “selling Christianity” is that it is being “sold” by Christians who are inherently fallible, which may be to your point. I keep waiting for the media to catch Tim Tebow in some love nest or drug den or something.

    But the question isn’t whether or not Christians are perfect. Let me save you the time. We’re not. We’re no different from anyone else, except perhaps in that we (hopefully) acknowledge our own shortcomings and are trying to turn away from the “I’m OK, you’re OK” and “if it feels good, do it” modern philosophy in favor of something more. I can be a better person, with God’s help. I can try to walk in Christ’s footsteps. And as a community, whether believers or not, the one thing we should all be able to come together on is to try to reach out and love our fellow man, to help the poor, the oppressed, the hungry, the sick and the dying.

    Is Christianity a losing game? Certainly the numbers are not in our favor. But whether or not Christ is popular is not the point. The question is whether or not God is God. If He is not, then Christianity is of no importance. The best you could say is that hopefully the good that Christians have tried to do over the centuries (civilization, law, charity, education) even out with the bad (wars, oppression, bigotry, slavery). If He is God though, then nothing could be more important. And whether or not people believe in Him, He must be in control and we need not worry about being popular.

  • ben in oakland

    Jack, as I was born a Jew, I’m well aware of it. It indeed has nothing to do with witch burning or flying airplanes into buildings in a moral sense, absolutely.

  • @Dave42

    “Was there a turning point in your life?”

    Yes. My blog explains what happened (click ‘Atheist Max’).

    But the shortest answer goes like this:

    I was shocked into facing the fact that my prayer for certain dying children could not MORALLY be answered by a God who was already ignoring urgent prayers of those same dying children.

    God could not morally answer my prayer. That was an insight into God’s limits, limits which are not supposed to exist with God.

    I could not believe god to be real after that insight.
    I have not believed in god since.
    Furthermore, if god does not exist all of the claims flowing from god have disintegrated – the Bible, the Cathedrals, the priests, the prayers….all of it is built on layers of delusions.

    Studying the New Testament anew has been a further insight into the disaster that is Jesus, the nightmare of his claims and the destruction of civility and decency which results.

    “But he did not raise him if IN FACT the dead are not raised.
    For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile….we are of all people most to be pitied.” – Paul

    (1 CORINTHIANS 15:12-19)

    Yes. Pity the believers. Help them.

    Whatever Jesus is or was, he cannot be a real influence intervening in our lives. These are delusions we must abandon.

    For Peace, Honesty and The Separation of Church and State

  • “I tortured and killed my son with the first century’s equivalent of an AK47 all for your personal benefit” – Yahweh

    Call me old fashioned but this is revolting nonsense.

    When god vanishes, all that is left is a bucket of empty claims and nonsense which can’t be put back together.

    “burn the entire ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the LORD, a pleasing aroma, an offering made to the LORD by fire.”
    (Exodus 29:18)

    Primitive, dangerous hogwash.

  • @Doc,

    “Why is your atheism any better than Doug’s current position? What will Doug gain if he chooses your atheism, that he doesn’t have already?”

    Atheism is the only honest answer.
    Atheism = “I don’t know if God exists or not, BUT I DON’T HAVE A REASON TO BELIEVE IN IT”

    Doug already admits he doesn’t believe. So he can gain honesty if he confronts his own lack of belief.
    If he continues to pretend that God exists, he is just faking it.

    If you think ‘faking it’ is better than being honest, you are witnessing the slippery slope of EVIL – the true source of religion is fear and fakery.

    I say, be honest. You’ll be happier for it.

  • Jack

    As the old saying goes, Max, you have a right to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

    It’s when you venture into the latter that you make yourself look like an unthinking fanatic rather than a reasonable person.

    Again, if you want to be a person who is taken seriously by people who are not atheists, you should reread the interview above with the former pastor.

  • Jack

    More empty rhetoric, Max.

    Meanwhile, atheistic tyrannies were responsible for the deaths of 150 million innocent people in the last century alone.

    That’s equivalent to annihilating half the population of the United States.

    Picture 50 Cambodian genocides all wrapped up into one.

    Nice record, Max.

  • Todd,

    “Authentic Christianity…Knowing is more important than ‘knowing about'”

    So incredibly vague, isn’t it? The way you open the door for insanity.
    No checks and balances to determine whether Jesus just said something nice or something nasty.


    From CNN:
    March 30, 2004
    …Texas prosecutor described how a mother smashed the head of her infant son with a rock and then led her two older boys outside and did the same to them, killing the two oldest boys.
    Deanna Laney, 39, has been charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of sons Joshua, 8, and Luke, 6, and a single count of injury to a child, Aaron, her 15-month-old who survived the attack.

    The prosecution’s first witness in the Tyler, Texas, trial was the 911 operator who identified the tape of Laney’s dispassionate call saying that she had killed her boys with a rock.

    Laney sat through opening statements with her head bowed, crying softly.
    Prosecutors have chosen not to seek the death penalty in the case.

    ..she bludgeoned the heads of her three sons.

    Aaron survived the attack on May 9, 2003 — Mother’s Day — with critical injuries.

    “His vision is impaired, and he will never be self-sufficient,” Bingham said. “At best he will always be dependent on someone else.

    “The last thing that Joshua and Luke Laney ever saw on this Earth was their Mama holding a rock over her head,” he said. “And the last thing they felt was that rock crashing down on them.”

    After killing Joshua and Luke, Bingham said, Laney telephoned 911, telling the operator, “I just killed my boys. I don’t think I did right by Aaron.”

    When the 911 tape was played in court, Laney closed her eyes and began crying again as she heard the operator try to keep her on the line until sheriff’s deputies arrived. Her husband — Keith Laney, who has been supportive of his wife — sat two rows behind the defense table, his head in his hands as the tape was played.

    Laney’s court-appointed attorney, F.R. “Buck” Files, presented his case for an insanity defense during his opening statement.

    “You will hear that she was a sick person on a quest to be closer to her Lord,” Files said.

    Files said Laney believed that God had told her the world was going to end and “she had to get her house in order,” which included killing her children.

    “The dilemma she faced is a terrible one for a mother,” Files said. “Does she follow what she believes to be God’s will, or does she turn her back on God?”

    Files said he would present witnesses who would corroborate Laney’s love of her children as well as her belief “that the word of God was infallible.”

    “It destroyed her ability to discern the wrongness of her act,” he said.

    Abandon the nightmare of religion.

  • Jack

    Ben, I was trying to give you an “out” on this, but you initially dug in. I’m glad you’re now admitting that the two — circumcision and witch-burning (or flying planes into buildings) — don’t belong together in any way. The key fact here is that, while circumcision might by itself seem “trivial,” once you look at the meaning and the history, it is anything but that.

  • Jack

    Max, every day you believe anything without allowing yourself to be challenged by anyone, including yourself, you are wasting your life.

    You probably did waste your life then — the problem is that you’re continuing to waste it now.

    For 50 years, you were unthinking in your theism — today you are just as unthinking in your atheism.

    Different beliefs — but the same Max.

    And you know it…..

  • Larry

    Are you?

  • Jack,

    “atheistic tyrannies were responsible for the deaths of 150 million innocent people in the last century alone”

    Nonsense. This was not owed to atheism.

    All those regimes were Religions – Stalin’s Agrarian Religious Cult, Hirohito’s Sun God, Hitler’s Catholic Aryan Race, Pol Pot’s Theraveda Buddhist Agrarian Cult, Mao’s Agrarian Cult…

    Religion is the way of mass murder – and you love your god for it.

    “Slay them all” – Yahweh.

    You argue against your own God yet you call me the trouble maker?

  • Psalm14:1

    If atheism is not the most interesting thing about you, then stop with the blogging, interviews, ,multiple FB accounts, speaking, movie, and work towards justice without the ego feed.

  • Jack,

    You are free to defend your belief that Robin Hood will return to his merry band in the forest someday and save us all.

    But to tell me that I have some sort of deficiency for not agreeing with that ridiculous idea – is profoundly delusional.

  • Frank,

    “Living without God is the easy way out. Sad.”

    You certainly got that backwards!

  • CMR

    in the article: All the atheists I have met have seriously hit a brick wall while trying to know God. – The “brick wall” is the clergy who for centuries have propagated FALSEHOODS in the name of God and Jesus. MANY of their doctrines are manmade and of NO value because they are not TRUTH. They are wholly confusing in their complexity when the TRUTH is actually very plain and simple. (Matthew 15:3, 8-9)- 3 In reply he said to them: “Why do you overstep the commandment of God because of your tradition? 8 ‘This people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far removed from me. 9 It is in vain that they keep worshipping me, for they teach commands of men as doctrines.’”
    Jesus NEVER says the words, “I am equal to God” or “I am God”. He says the opposite actually. (John 14:28)- “The Father is greater than I am”.
    1 Corinthians 8:6- there is actually to us one God, the Father, from whom all things are and we for him; and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are and we through him.
    Ryan Bell is right to put all that aside but he should continue to search for the true God, the God of the Bible and not the “god” of so called modern “Christianity”… I hope he finds HIM….

  • Karla

    CMR-Jesus said before Abraham I Am! What did God say to Moses?
    He said I Am! Jesus is co-eternal with God the Father/the Holy Spirit
    and yes while on earth Jesus had to submit to the Father while on
    earth because He was subjected to the will of Trinity/Godhead yet
    He had the fullness of God upon Him to perform miracles/fulfill all
    the Bible prophecy. Read Revelation 1:17-18……Jesus says that
    I Am the First and the Last! Jesus was not created but is co-eternal
    with the Father/Holy Spirit. One God with the three parts. Many try
    to say there is no hell too but if there is no hell why would a demon
    ask Jesus not to cast him into hell/outer darkness if there is no hell?

  • Larry

    “Those claims are either true or false.”

    False dichotomy. There is a 3rd option. There is those claims are unconfirmed and require more details. “True” or “false” depends on enough evidence being around to make a final determination. If no such evidence exists, no such claim can be made in either way.

    People making claims that turn out not to be true are not necessarily being dishonest. They can also be misinformed, mistaken or guessing.

    Religious belief does not like open questions because it undermines the arbitrary authority one invests in its leaders, scriptures and customs.

  • Doc Anthony

    So you are citing “honesty” as a reason why your chosen position of atheism (more accurately, the hedge-your-bets variety of atheism commonly called “agnostic atheism”), is better than Doug’s fuzzy “betwixt and between” position.

    I would respond that yes, you DO have a strong point there regarding honesty. There is no such thing as being “half-pregnant,” and likewise there is no such thing as a halfway position between atheism and theism.

    You really do choose either one or the other, hence Doug should simply go ahead and honestly own up to one or the other. Clearly Ryan Bell has done so in the RNS article. So yes Mr. Max, I can understand and even accept your point on this one.

    (And if Ryan Bell is reading this, just know that some of us Christians ain’t too surprised at this outcome. You played with atheist matches and now you’re all burnt up, all messed up, all defeated up.
    But God is God, and this may not yet be the last chapter of your book. Hopefully not.)

    So yes, I can understand and accept your point there.

  • Doc Anthony

    What if somebody needs to repent of their reliance on their own “good works”, and instead start relying by faith on Jesus Christ and what HE has accomplished?

  • alison

    I agree. He will be back.

  • Pingback: Pretend Atheist Pastor Comes Out as Actual Atheist | Do You Really Believe?()

  • Ursula

    Max, when they leave the subject matter and start with the personal attacks, you know they’ve got nothing more to say. Keep on.

  • Belief is not a choice. Can you choose to “go back” to believing in Santa Claus?

    You can’t forget what you’ve learned.

  • Dave42

    Thank you for your reply. In my mind, that is a better reason for becoming an atheist than Ryan gives. To me, his reason seems almost lazy, though reading further I see that he is actively searching for the truth.

    First, I am impressed that you “read the New Testament anew” since becoming an atheist. I notice in your reference to 1 Corinthians that you add extra emphasis on “in fact”. But you stop at 19, when verse 20 is the key to that passage. “But IN FACT Christ has been raised from the dead…”

    CS Lewis had a similar experience when he was praying for his dying mother. My understanding of dying children is that we are not responsible for our sins until we come of age, whenever that is. Not sure if that would have comforted you. It is a horrible thing to watch someone die young, whether you are a believer or not.

    I think you’re making a jump, perhaps for brevity’s sake, from the teachings of Jesus to the destruction they bring. The teachings themselves, I think most people, believers or not, would agree are basically good. Love your neighbor as yourself, judge not lest you be judged, turn the other cheek, etc.. The problem comes in when people take the Bible and use it for their own purposes. Paul warns against this in Philippians (1:17 “(they) proclaim Christ out of their own selfish ambition…), so it’s been a problem for centuries.

    How does one become able to use the Bible for one’s own ambitions? I think by taking selected verses and ignoring whether or not our interpretations of those fit with the rest of scripture. The Bible has been used to promote slavery, oppression, racism, homophobia and war (etc.) in just this manner. But I would suggest that you too are picking selected verses and ignoring what you don’t like.

    You are right, and Paul is right – if Jesus was not raised, we are a people to be most pitied. But that “if” is key, right?

    Thanks Max. I love comments that make me think and examine my own beliefs.

  • Karla

    HumanistFox-God/Jesus are real. Read Psalm 14:1/Romans 1:18-32.

  • Dave42

    Not sure if these were rhetorical, but I’ll take a crack at a few of them anyway 😉

    God does answer all prayers – sometimes the answer is “no”. Bono (from U2) said that rather than asking God to bless what we want, if we seek God’s Will, we will be blessed.

    Why am I concerned that everyone believes in God? If I am right and you are wrong, it makes me genuinely sad – no it pains me – to think that you might spend eternity outside the presence of God. That is why I am concerned that people find the Truth.

    How did I determine that God is the one True God? I have read and studied the Bible and found it to be a good and trustworthy book and I see Him at work in my life.

    Why does God say there are no other gods? The Holy Spirit and Jesus are not separate from God, they are different aspects/manifestations of the same entity. Satan is an angel, as I understand it he was created by God.

    Why does God endorse genocide? I’m going to pick the example of the Hebrews entering the Promised Land and God telling them “wipe them all out” as what you are referring to there. First, notice that the Hebrews don’t follow his instruction, as I think He knew they would not. Second, I think His purpose was to have them understand they need to stay far away from foreign gods and their abominable practices (child sacrifice key among them). Does that help those “innocent” people the Hebrews wiped out? It does not. Does that endorse genocide? In that specific instance, I have to say it does. I would suggest that does not apply to any other instances. That is a tough one and I’m not completely happy with my own answer.

    Why did God not tell the truth to Adam? Interesting one. God told him, if you eat of the tree, in that same day, you will die. Clearly he did not. First, the question would have to be “what is meant by day, and die?” Some suggest he died spiritually, or ceased to be immortal. Some suggest that “day” is an undefined period of time. I think God’s intention was to portray to Adam the seriousness of his order. As for Satan – he told the truth, but in a deceitful and destructive manner. I think God had a more eternal view than Adam realized and Satan knew both and used what he wanted. That is another tough question though.

    How do I determine that Jesus is God when he insisted he wasn’t? I don’t think Jesus ever denied being the Son of God. I do think he ordered people not to say so. Matthew 16:13-20 is one of many places where this occurs. “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Then in 20 – “Then he strictly charged his disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.”

    I think it’s safe to say that to call you “unquestioning” is wildly inaccurate. The questions you raise above, and I’m sure you’ve had many more, are tough, important questions. For my part, I love talking about this stuff. It seems like you do too, Max. If there is one question I skipped over that you want me to try to answer, I’ll be glad to take it on, but I’ve already written pages worth on this post.

  • Dave42

    I had a kid in my Sunday School class ask me “how did Saul the Apostle not know he was not doing the work of God when he persecuted the early Christians?” It’s a tough question. I think it gets back to the point about taking certain verses for your selfish purpose and ignoring the rest of scripture. If you hear the word of God, whether hearing voices, seeing visions, a dream or through the Bible or a teacher, we are REQUIRED to question it and make sure it is truly His Word.

    I don’t mean to make light of the CNN story you reference in any way. “Tragedy” seems too soft a word. But anyone can see that God asking me to kill innocent people would have to be an extraordinary request and one that I would hope to have the sane frame of mind to question thoroughly to understand why. I would pray, read the Bible, ask my minister. Just because she believed it to be true does not make it true.

    Why would God allow this to happen? I do not know. I trust and hope that those children have been gathered into heaven. But it does shake you up. The worst of it is the 15-month old surviving.

  • Fleur89

    This is all so twisted up, the way some people believe that God is really like this. The God I know is loving, patient, kind, persevering, abundant in Grace, peace and mercy. There is no explanation for why awful things happen, but the world is not absent from evil. Evil is responsible for these things, not the Lord. Yes, He could stop them, and it doesn’t make sense why He often doesn’t, but we just have to believe that there is a higher purpose in light of eternity.

    My father died way too young and I have experienced other extremely painful losses, all of which God could have prevented, but He didn’t. Instead of running away from Him with my pain in tow and casting blame, I chose to run towards Him and call Him father.

    As believers we’re often tested whether we really love God for who He is, not what He can do for us to make our lives comfortable and perfect. Do we treat Him as a genie who grants all our wishes, or as our Savior, Father and Friend?
    What would you say or do to your father if he didn’t do something for you the way you wanted? Would you cast him out of your life for good and throw away the special relationship you had?

    Satan must be having a field day with this.

  • Jack

    Nice try, Max, but as you know, I was comparing your attitude to that of another atheist — the one written about in the article we’re discussing.

  • @Ben in Oakland,

    “Atheism isn’t really a statement about god, therefore, it is a statement about religion. I suspect even Athiest Max would agree with that statement more readily than he agrees with the statement that Atheism=certainty….”

    No. I would not agree.
    Atheism = “I see no reason to believe in god”
    or more simply, “I don’t believe”

    ATHEISM does not shut any doors. A god may exist. I don’t know.
    ATHEISM is not a claim that gods are impossible.

    If someone has any evidence at all – even a simple persuasive demonstration that a god may be real – I am completely open to examining it.

    Religion, on the other hand, is the expression
    of a God’s commands.

    Until evidence for a god exists, RELIGION (the practice of carrying out a god’s supposed commands) should be abandoned, in my opinion.

    Because without evidence for a god, ‘his commands’ can only be hearsay from a self-proclaimed person of authority. There are no checks and balances on such claims.
    Religion then, is extremely dangerous for that reason.

    I make NO certain claims about God. He may exist.
    But I have absolutely no reason yet to believe in it.
    And I have good reason to not practice any religion without that confirmation.

    “Slay them wherever you find them” – Allah via Muhammed – Surah (Q’uran)

    No, Allah! I am deaf to the instructions of religion.

    “Bring to me those enemies of mine, execute them in front of me” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

    NO, Jesus! I am deaf to the instructions of gods and religions until they can be demonstrated to be true.

    Show me that God exists
    and that he requires something of me and I will be happy to believe and practice his wishes, provided they are moral.
    Until then, I remain an unbeliever.

  • Jack

    So in MaxWorld:

    (1) If crimes against humanity are committed by theists, it’s theism’s fault.

    (2) But if even or greater crimes are committed by atheists, specifically in the name of atheism, it’s also theism’s fault.

    What a joke you’ve become.

  • Jean

    @Atheist Max, you make more sense than any of those who attempt to call you out and tear down your reasoning.

    I began my turn into non-belief – nothing called atheism back then – at the age of 10. I tried to figure out what was “wrong with me” and continued to go to different churches, even trying out Catholicism when I began dating my then boyfriend (now husband) and his sister took me to mass with her. I even had both of my children christened. But, nothing ever caught on and seemed real or right to me and I quit the church scene altogether in my mid 20s.

    Then one day we discovered a group in Florida – a fellowship – who were just like us. Well over a 100 at the 1st meeting we attended and we knew that we had “found” ourselves and for the first time since that 10 year old began to doubt I knew, without a doubt, this was where I belonged and I have never gone back – nor will I ever do so.

    I am 75 now and the feeling is stronger than ever to the point where I have become more activist and very active in local groups and I have never been happier with my decision. My husband is right along with me and we neither could ever turn back to what we left behind.

    We gave our children the freedom to attend church wherever they wanted and urged them to read everything from both sides before ever making a decision that would mark the remainder of their lives. Fortunately, they both chose not to stay withing the religious framework and are both good, compassionate people.

    Religion is not for everyone and for anyone who is seeking and searching that is their right and their decision. No one should stand in their way or put them down. Just be available if they have questions or just want to talk but in the end it is an individual decision.

    Mr. Bell, I hope that you are finally able to determine which way you will go and be at peace with your decision.

  • Jack

    You truly are unquestioning…..A little introspection will do you some good on this.

    Whatever you happen to believe at any moment in your life, you are unable to see why others believe otherwise. You’re in all of the way, and contrary beliefs are baseless in your view….

    You were that way for 50 years of theism (assuming you’re not lying about that) — and you’re the same way now that you’re an atheist.

    Anyone can see this for themselves — simply by comparing your attitude to that of the pastor in the article who’s now an atheist.

    He is an atheist, but he shows a mature understanding of both sides — atheism and theism alike.

  • @Dave42,

    “But anyone can see that God asking me to kill innocent people would have to be an extraordinary request …I would..read the Bible…Just because she believed it to be true does not make it true.”

    God often commands the deaths of innocent people
    for no good reason.

    “Then God said, “Take your son to the land of Moriah and kill your son there as a sacrifice for me. This must be Isaac, your only son, the one you love. Use him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains there. I will tell you which mountain.” – Yahweh (Genesis 22:2)

    “Why would God allow this to happen? I do not know.”

    He doesn’t ‘allow’ it. He commands it.

    Religion is not benign. It is dangerous.
    Truthfully, Yahweh isn’t any more real than other Gods. These ancient stories are metaphors for ancient peoples and have no use for modern humans.

    We must respect ourselves enough to spot something insane and delusional and call it what it is.

  • Jack

    Wrong, Larry. You’re confusing the objective reality of truth with the ability of us to know truth.

    In terms of objective reality, either Jesus existed or He didn’t exist.

    If He existed, either He is or He is not who the Gospels claim Him to be.

    There is, objectively speaking, an answer to both questions.

    But whether we are capable of knowing the answer for a certainty is a completely separate question. You’re conflating the two questions.

  • Fleur89,

    “Instead of running away from Him with my pain in tow and casting blame, I chose to run towards Him and call Him father.”

    I can’t say you were wrong to do this. I did the same thing for 50 years.

    But beware the day when logic strikes and you realize you have been loyal not to a God who will repay you, but an idea as empty as Robin Hood.

    We are told that God exists from a young age. It fills in the gaps in our knowledge and smooths over life’s bumps to make things understandable. But it is smoke and mirrors.

    But watch for evidence of profound immorality – I hope you spot it while you are still young. I wasted decades being loyal to Robin Hood.
    I wish I had never been brought up with religion.

    For Peace, Culture and The Separation of Church and State

  • samuel Johnston

    @Jack, Dave42
    re:The #1 obstacle
    Yes, but stubbornly clinging to some obsolete world view is the biggest impediment to enlightenment. Most folks on this board have NO understanding of evolution. I was just as ignorant when I graduated from college. Years later, I started reading Darwin’s two famous books and then a biography, and then moved on to current evolutionary theory, genetics, and epigenetics, and then took a couple of on line university courses.
    Evolution is the most powerful new idea in human history. It is not the same as accident or chance. Creation without a creator, without a planner, without a goal, without direction, goes against all previous ways of thinking, yet it is the working theory that has organized every field in science. All of the jobs previously ascribed to the gods are now understood as natural, undirected, physics and organic chemistry.
    You ask “The real question is whether it’s true or not true — whether the things it alleges really happened.”
    There is no such thing as truth in human terms- only relationships. Emmanuel Kant explained why -in stupefying detail- his Critique of Pure Reason. Put compactly, it approximately means that a map (a representative or scheme) of the world can never be accurate unless it is actually the world- which is a contradiction of terms. It short, it is forever above our pay grade. O.K. you say, what about revelation? Well, says Kant, no problem, except you cannot transfer that experience to another person.
    The fields of science and philosophy have been merging for sometime. I would love to return in a few centuries and see how it goes.
    Oh yea, human desires, and happiness, and afterlife etc. American Buddhism
    with its emphasis on this life is a more suited to our needs at this point.
    Finally, yes, this is only my opinion, but I hope it is an informed and reasonable one. The Greeks asked if all things were just a matter of opinion.
    Then they discovered geometry and mistakenly dubbed it truth. We know better now.

  • samuel Johnston

    Hi Fleur89,
    “He could stop them, and it doesn’t make sense why He often doesn’t,”
    My life was wonderful until my fifth birthday, when my mom was packed off to the state mental institution (1949) and we four children were packed off to a church run orphanage. I was never happy again until I was in my thirties after my daughter was born. I was so bitter, so angry, so disillusioned. Slowly, very slowly, I gave up on hating God and began to see that most of my pain was self inflicted. Making demands on God is ridiculous, as you appreciate. But that is not your only alternative. No god=no satan. Please have the courage to try a different, less painful understanding. I wish you well on your journey.

  • Jack

    The problem with atheism is that, while it deals with the problem of evil and injustice in the world around us, it can’t begin to account for the astonishing depth and complexity of that same world.

    Both matters need to be dealt with if we’re going to be honest with ourselves.

    But I see far more theists honestly wrestling with the problem of evil and injustice in the world than I see atheists honestly wrestling with the problem of how the world got here to begin with.

  • Dave42

    there is a big difference between God commanding Abraham to sacrifice Isaac and what happened with the woman in the CNN story, one that you know but choose to overlook. Abraham was given a substitute and the test of faith was revealed before he had to sacrifice his son as was God’s plan all along.

    Which is why I am comfortable in believing that the woman did not hear from God but was delusional. You need to test the visions (or whatever) against what you know about God. I would think someone who searches and questions as much as you apparently do would try to find the whole truth, not just the part that best suits them.

    I would encourage you, Max, to try listening to someone other than from the Catholic church, unless maybe it’s the new Pope. You seem to study the Bible more than most Christians I know, so I wonder if you’d take the challenge. I don’t have a good suggestion for a modern preacher. Like you (I think), I am naturally suspicious of anyone I’ve heard of. I like CS Lewis’ writings myself. Have you read Mere Christianity?

  • Larry

    Jack, you are confusing objective evidence and proof with religious claims. The two have nothing in common.

    Anyone who claims their religious belief is based on factual evidence and rational appeals is a liar. Nobody believes on such a basis. People make such claims to avoid the admission and implications of faith. That faith is belief without reason and the basis for all religious belief.

    In terms of “objective reality” we lack any credible evidence to even answer the question as to whether Jesus existed. You want an answer because your faith demands that his existence be true. But reason does not permit one to make such a statement with any degree of certainty.

    We are capable of knowing an answer based on evaluation of evidence in existence. We have nothing reliable to answer this question.

    It is not either/or, it is “maybe”.

  • Larry

    Actually it can. Its just more honest about it.

    Rather than closing off all thought on the subject and ascribing it to a mythical entity, one appreciates the uniqueness of the world around them. One doesn’t fob off the infinite as some easily defined pronouncements from ancient texts but seeks it through observation and contemplation.

    Religion creates shorthands and easy (but not always useful) answers for questions which are complicated, contemplative and difficult to grasp.

    There are far more theists willing to make up stuff, ignore the world around them, construct elaborate spurious nonsense in order to pretend the messy, complex, infinite world fits between the covers of their scripture. Religion adds a layer of complication which is unnecessary to understanding the world around us. One doesn’t ever need the supernatural or spiritual to understand the human condition. But its a useful crutch for those who want a quick, easy, unsatisfying answer.

  • Jack

    The problem with critiquing reason is that the critique is self-refuting, and there’s no way around that. Try getting around it sometime. It’s impossible. Every attempt to do so ends up turning in on itself. It’s a remarkable fact about human logic and language.

    Similarly, the statement that “there is no such thing as truth” refutes itself. If there is no such thing as truth, that must include this very statement. The statement destroys itself.

    This is not some word game, but an important window into reality. We can’t take relative statements and set them up as absolutes….we end up sawing off the branch we are sitting on.


    There is an exception to every rule. (Including that rule?)

    Everything is relative. (Including that statement?)

    Everything is meaningless. (Including that statement?)

    So truth is a real thing. Reality suggests we acknowledge it, and humility suggests we be slow to claim we possess it.

  • Did God tell Abraham to kill his son as a burnt offering? Yes.
    Did Abraham comply? Yes.
    God stopped it at the last minute but not until Abraham raised his weapon and lunged.

    Every year there are hundreds of such cases where children are slaughtered because “God told” the parent to do it.

    The madness of religion is that such things are discussed at all.

    If god told you to kill your son I guess you would do it. Despite the fact that such a request is on its face baldly immoral as well as a likely hallucination!

    I would throw my middle finger at god – even if he existed – were he to ask such an immoral thing of me.

    And that is the difference between us, I guess.
    I’m convinced there is no way to be a moral person and also comply with an invisible, unknowable authority who bears far more resemblance to a delusion than to a real entity!

  • Jack

    And on a more down-to-earth level, it is certainly true that an alleged event either happened or it didn’t happen. Either you were inside your home at this moment yesterday, or you were not. One does not have to agree or disagree with Kant to affirm this.

  • Jack

    Fleur, thanks for sharing that. You are in a very good place….part of me wishes I were there. As for myself, I do my share of wrestling with God, partly because I believe that’s part of the process by which we grow. Blessed are those who hunger for righteousness, but part of developing that hunger is to be passionate against injustice in the world. And that inevitably leads, at least for me, to wrestling with my Maker and Redeemer.

    I understand where honest atheists are coming from, but as I half-jokingly tell a good friend who’s an atheist, he’s letting God off easy by denying His existence. I’m not letting Him off for a single second…..and I believe He works through that so long as I’m fighting fair and listening as well as speaking.

    I like very much the apparent fair-mindedness of the atheist being interviewed in the article. He’s aware of both sides and doing justice to both.

    I don’t like the atheism of Max because it plays dirty, refuses honest dialogue, and fundamentally lacks the integrity of the atheism displayed by the former pastor in the article.

  • Jack

    Larry, stick to the subject. Nothing of what you just posted has a thing to do with what we were discussing. Reread and see.

  • Jack

    Thank you for proving my point, Larry.

  • Fran

    Humanist Fox,

    Belief is a voluntary choice which can be changed in a matter of time. Some people revert to different beliefs in their lifetime.

    Criminals can change and become righteous and then choose go back to being a criminal.

    Santa Claus does not exist; yet people still exercise the belief that he does. God does exist; yet people still exercise the belief that he doesn’t.

    You can’t forget what you have learned; but you can make the choice to not believe in it any further.

  • Dave42

    You said below:
    “I’m convinced there is no way to be a moral person and also comply with an invisible, unknowable authority who bears far more resemblance to a delusion than to a real entity!”

    What would you say to a Mother Theresa, Pope Francis, Ravi Zacharias, CS Lewis, Isaac Newton, Billy Graham or any one of the billions of people who do live a moral life by trying to follow the precepts of Christ? There obviously IS a way to comply with the writings of the Bible and live a moral life. These people are not idiots, nor are the delusional, and they follow(ed) Christ in such a way as to transform the world.

    Every year there are hundreds of cases of people slaying their children because God told them to? A search of the internet yields 3 such incidents since the turn of the century. Now clearly that’s 3 too many, but let’s use real numbers please. And no, I won’t let you dismiss the fact that God did not allow Abraham to kill Isaac. That is a fairly relevant point, no? Do we skip over the part where Judaism was the only religion in that part of the world that forbade child sacrifice?

    I hear what you’re saying, Max. I urge you not to let the behavior of Christians or unanswered prayers convince you of something that is not true. Keep asking questions, don’t assume you know the answers.

  • samuel Johnston

    HI Jack,
    Be fair. I never said “there is no such thing as truth” (whatever that may be).
    What I said was “There is no such thing as truth in human terms- only relationships. ” I referred you to Kant’s Critique, which is a standard work, which you obviously have not read (darn few have). My high German is not so good, but I had a Dutch Professor in college who wrote his thesis on the Critique, and then hammered it into our impressionable young brains. The Critique does not focus on reality (called objects) but on the knowing subject (us). “Space and Time are forms of beholding which the Mind imposes upon the reality which it apprehends” (One of Kant’s typical sentences, which I quote from memory; translated by Smith )
    You assert “So truth is a real thing. ” I respectfully disagree. Truth is a word that is only a flexible symbol – is a place holder for the unknowable. That’s the problem with words. Greek History Professor W.K.C. Guthrie, F.B.A. opines that the Greeks were taken in by words. Justice, truth, God, spirt, soul, and so on were not strictly defined, but were assumed to exist because the words existed, as did the desire to understand these troublesome concepts of judgment and experience. Christian theology is principally warmed over Greek philosophy. So much so, that during the Middle ages large numbers of monks prayed that God accept the soul of Socrates
    in heaven, because he was so worthy.

  • Dave42

    Ah, evolution. I know so little about that I should stop typing right now, but I’m an idiot, so I’ll keep going. What I do know is that there is “micro-evolution” and “macro-evolution”. For most of my life, I never knew the distinction. I don’t think anyone disputes micro-evolution. It might surprise you if I told you I believe Genesis 1 allows for that. Each vegetation/animal is allowed to procreate “each according to its kind”. And so it is today. Interspecies procreation is generally not possible, at least not beyond one generation, and then only in a couple of instances.

    Further, Genesis 1 tells that God formed each new species out of existing material. It does not say what material that was. It further uses a verb tense throughout that is best described as “past perfect” which would be “He began to do something and is still doing it.” When we understand that a day in Genesis is not a 24-hour period, but an undetermined period of time, and combine it with the past perfect tense, you get the understanding of something much more in line with the scientific theories than you might expect. Not bad for an “obsolete” world view eh?

    So what causes macro-evolution? There probably isn’t one set answer for every case. But do we have one answer for any of them? I mean something beyond a theory? Comets, asteroids, heat waves, ice ages. Could be, I suppose. You suppose these things happen randomly. I say, as I mentioned elsewhere here, that life happening randomly is, in the words of Stephen Hawking either extremely likely or extremely unlikely. Likely because here we are. Unlikely because of all the thousands of variables, any of which, if off by a small margin, would negate the chance for life.

    Darwin himself said that his theory breaks down if the basic building block for life is complex and not simple. I assume you’d agree that DNA is anything but simple. It is a self-replicating, self-repairing information system with tens of thousands of bits of data.

    I probably need to study more evolution. From what I’ve read of cosmologists though, many of the leading scientists are coming to the conclusion that the universe appears to be designed specifically for supporting life on earth. From where I sit, they seem almost desperate to find life on another planet and to form theories of alternate universes, bubble universes, that the Big Bang has repeated billions of times. There is no proof for any of these theories. They ask only that you have faith. It seems rather circular to me.

    As for truth, yes many things are relative and true only based on what point of view you have. But some things are true no matter what our perspective. Some say death and taxes are the only certain things in life. But it is true that the earth orbits around our sun. It is true that one cannot create or destroy matter / energy (at least since the Big Bang). It is true that murder is a bad thing, whether you are a believer in God or not. It is true that we long to be part of something larger than ourselves. It is true that there is nothing on this earth that will truly satisfy that longing.

    Keep looking for the truth, Samuel. I am.

  • Jack

    Samuel, you’re making what’s called a distinction without a difference. If you read your own post back to yourself, you might see the futility of the quest.

    Thus your claim that “truth is a word that is only a flexible symbol” is either true or false. If true, it refutes itself because it attempts a debunking of objective truth. If false, it needs to be revised.

    There’s just no way around this pesky little reality called objective truth. It’s impossible to make a coherent argument against it, because all arguments depend on it. So to argue against it is like a dog chasing its tail.

    The problem isn’t you….the problem is the thing itself. Arguing against objective truth is like arguing against arguing. You’re attempting what is impossible, no matter how bright you are.

  • Samuel Johnston

    I respectfully disagree. The distinction between a symbol and what is symbolized is rather clear. It is also very important, the opposite of a distinction without a difference. Most folks cannot see past logically manipulating symbols. “Logic is not truth” is a direct quote from Kant.
    Kant disproved “adaequatio rei et intellectus” (” St. Thomas, emphasizes the principle of adequation or adaequatio (adaequatio rei et intellectus) according to which to each plane of reality there corresponds an instrument of knowledge adequate to the task of knowing that particular level of reality.” )
    If you want to disagree with such big time heavyweights in Philosophic history, you are free to do so. I am hiding behind the skirts of one so, you may certainly hide behind the other, but to call this disagreement unimportant, is just plain silly. If I have stated the argument poorly, then that is my fault.

  • Larry

    It has everything to do with what is posted. You presented a false choice as to claims relating to your religious beliefs. You just don’t want to admit the limits to the honest ability to make such claims.

    It is not as you suggested to Samuel that the claims about Christianity are either true or someone is lying, there is also:

    1. They are mistaken,
    2. There is not enough evidence to tell one way or the other.

    You are just so used to a canned argument that you can’t seem to think off script.

    CS Lewis’s trilemma (which you are obviously carping) is a set of phony arguments because it bases itself on the assumption that credible evidence actually exists to support what you believe about Jesus. It makes assumptions on the veracity of the Gospels which cannot be objectively supported.

  • Larry

    Thank you for being so smug and patronizing in your ignorance. Continue to make phony, dishonest, statements about atheists. God evidently expects that from you.

  • Larry


    So what you know about evolution is what was spoon-fed to you by Creationists. Macro/micro evolution distinction is false. It is simply what Creationists say when science keeps making fools out of them. A way to concede scientific discovery and research but not enough to actually accept it.

    You are trying to take literally what can only be sanely done metaphorically. You are trying to dishonestly deny faith as the basis of your religious belief. Trying to pretend your belief can be supported by rational and objectively credible arguments. We both know that is a complete fiction. No argument or evidence will be capable of shaking you of your religious belief which is based on faith. Faith, belief in the absence of reason.

    “I probably need to study more evolution.”

    You should probably start by reading stuff by actual scientists accredited in the field of biology, not pastors pretending authority on the subject.

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  • samuel Johnston

    Hi Ben,
    The Buddha steadfastly refused to answer any questions concerning the gods. He objected that such matters were too speculative.
    I can only add, that the view changes with each position, and everything is in motion, so only dunces never change their minds. “Confused? You won’t be after the next episode ” (tag line from the TV show, Soap.)

  • Neon Genesis

    Maybe you’ll stop being such an idiotic bigot when you learn to exercise the use of your brain.

  • debbie

    To all my fellow Christian’s debating, please remind yourself of 2 Timothy 2: 23-24

  • Ben in oakland

    Indeed! If you meet the Buddha in the road, KILL HIM! That pretty well sums it up.

    I have to disagree a little bit, though. Having examined the theological questions from both sides over more than 45 years, I can say that it is extremely unlikely I will ever budge from atheism or it-doesn’t-matterism.

    However, never say never. If someone could present me with some real, replicable, generally accessible proof of ANY God, let alone the One God, let alone the three-in-one Christian God, well, I’d give worlds to see it.

    Hell, I’d settle for proof of a leprechaun.

  • Shawnie5

    Given your response to Larry, I’m wondering if this statement struck you in the same ironic way that it did me:

    “There are far more theists willing to make up stuff, ignore the world around them, construct elaborate spurious nonsense in order to pretend the messy, complex, infinite world fits between the covers of their scripture. Religion adds a layer of complication which is unnecessary to understanding the world around us.”

    It was precisely the belief that this “messy, complex, infinite world” could be known and understood via rational laws designed by a perfect and rational God that gave rise to the scientific revolution in western Christendom, and the reason why it did not arise in cultures which considered the universe ether too mysterious to understand or operating according to the changeable motives of gods or spirits.

    Lucky for us that someone got to work unraveling the laws of God’s universe instead of merely sitting back contemplating the terribly mysterious complexity and infinity of their own navels.

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  • @Dave42,

    “What would you say to a Mother Theresa, Pope Francis, Ravi Zacharias, CS Lewis, Isaac Newton, Billy Graham or any one of the billions of people who do live a moral life by trying to follow the precepts of Christ?”

    Gosh! Dave,
    I don’t consider those very good examples of morality at all. You have not read much about Mother Teresa if you think she was moral – she worshipped poverty and pain. C.S. Lewis was a profoundly lazy thinker (his ‘liar, lunatic or lord’ strangely omits ‘legend’!).
    Isaac Newton was famous for his scientific insights about gravity, not his crackpot ideas about the ether! Billy Graham? I have no idea how moral he is – but he loved power and the company of the powerful.

    There are much better Christians than those!

    Did you know?

    Every moral Christian has COMPLETELY DISAGREED with Jesus’ preachings. In fact, one cannot be moral and also follow the despicable words of Jesus:

    “The master shall cut him to pieces” – Jesus (Luke 12)
    JESUS describes what he intends to do to his own enemies.

    “..bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their King, and execute them in front of me.” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

    “Drown him with a millstone” – JESUS (Matt 18:6)

    “And why do you break the command of God
    for the sake of your tradition? …. ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ ” – JESUS
    (Matthew 15:3)

    “…if they are unworthy..REMOVE your blessing of peace.” – JESUS (Matt 10:13)

    “I have come to bring FIRE…What constraints! I am impatient to bring NOT PEACE BUT DIVISION.” – JESUS (Luke 12:49-51)

    “Hate your parents…hate your life. Or you are not worthy of me.” – Jesus (Luke 14:26)

    “Eat of my body” and “Be baptized and believe” or “Be condemned to Hell” – Jesus (John 6:53-54) (Mark 16:16).

    “I shall kill her children with Death” – Jesus (REV. 2:23)

    “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death…for ME.” – JESUS (Matthew 10:21)

    “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his daughter, and a daughter against her mother, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD.” – JESUS (Matthew 10:35)

    “And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet AS A TESTIMONY AGAINST THEM.” – JESUS (Luke 9:3-5)

    “For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commands and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” – JESUS (Matthew 5:18-19 RSV)


    Inhabitants of conquered cities
    Victims of rape
    People who work on Sunday
    Uncircumcised men
    Men who have sex with women who are menstruating
    Ignorers of Priests
    Ignorers of Sacraments
    people who drink blood
    People who eat peace offerings
    People who let food go bad
    People who do magic tricks
    People who go to temple while filthy
    fortune tellers
    False prophets
    People who approach the Tabernacle
    Pretenders of witchcraft
    Pretenders of other religions
    Stubborn children
    Rebellious children
    Children who disagree with their parents
    Women who marry their daughters
    People who are irresponsible with their bulls
    People who pretend to worship idols
    People who actually worship idols
    Unruly children
    Slaves who run away
    Slaves who disobey
    Wives who disobey
    Men who steal
    Women who steal
    Children who steal
    Children who pretend to be witches

    There would be nobody left.

    I fail to see any morality in Jesus at all.
    Even Love thy neighbor becomes and insidious injunction under the circumstances.
    For Peace, Culture and The Separation of Church and State

  • @Jack,

    “I don’t like the atheism of Max because it plays dirty, refuses honest dialogue, and fundamentally lacks the integrity of the atheism displayed by the former pastor in the article”

    In other words, you like to be lied to.

    Well…Too bad.
    The character of Jesus is rotten. And to wish such a thing to be true, when it clearly isn’t, is a willful, power-hungry lie.

    Jesus stinks.
    That is as clean and as honest as anyone has ever been on the subject of Jesus.

    Get over it.

  • @Neon Gensis,

    “an idiotic bigot”

    If it is not bigoted to preach Jesus to a non-believer
    It CANNOT be bigoted to preach Anti-Jesus to a believer!

    How dare you play the bigotry card?
    WHILE YOU EMPLOY BIGOTRY against Atheists like me!

  • There are thousands of stories like these.
    Thanks to the twisted nonsense of religion, MADNESS is not only encouraged but fully justified.

    “Mom Kills Son Thinking He Will Be Better Off in Heaven”


  • samuel Johnston

    @ Doc.
    I tell you what he accomplished. His teachings were soon lost/confused and his name was appropriated by clever worldly Romans, who substituted popular polytheistic religion, for his spare, demanding, radical ideas.
    This “Christianity” the Romans created is/was not about religion. It is about Roman control of the superstitious- religious population through organizing the Church/state and its mechanisms. No holy spirit needed- just politics.
    Let he who has ears hear.

  • ” ‘See the light’ ….It struck me then that most people really are searching for the same thing.” – Ryan Bell

    Of course we are looking for the same thing!

    The Truth

    If someone claims ‘god exists’ they must back up that claim with evidence. Otherwise, there is no way to know if the claim is true or not.

    If there is no evidence the default is to doubt.
    For some people that alone is a valuable – and TRUE – insight.

  • HistoryGeek07

    Max, the problem with your assessment is that you are assuming that Doug no longer believes in God. He never admitted that he doesn’t, so you are putting words in his mouth. It sounds to me like he is actually struggling with whether he believes in God or not. He hasn’t made up his mind yet. It’s probably people like you that makes Doug (and others) have doubts about atheism. The way you are trying to push your beliefs on other people is no different than the way that religious fundamentalists of all stripes do, whether they be Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, etc. You are being just as bigotted as they are.

  • @History Geek 07,

    “..You are being just as bigotted as they are.”

    No. I’m not ‘bigoted’.

    If it is not bigoted to preach Jesus to a non-believer
    It CANNOT BE bigoted to preach anti-Jesus to a believer.

    People have rights. Ideas do not have rights.
    Religion is nothing more than a very bad idea. People who believe in religion are blameless victims of a lie. Victims are to be helped not ignored.

    My problem with fundamentalists is not their bigotry. It is that they are preaching lies.

    “Bring to me those enemies of mine and execute them in front of me” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

    Yes. I am fundamentally against religion.

    Do you NOT object to the beheadings of ISIS?
    Do you NOT object to the genital mutilation of faith-based programs?

    Do you feel that objecting to these barbaric practices makes you a bigot? Why do you not call yourself a bigot for objecting to beheadings?

    Religion is a lie and it harms the innocent.
    Objecting to religion is not bigotry. It is sanity.
    For Peace, Culture and The Separation of Church and State

  • “Atheists….only have make believe meaning and make believe morals.”

    Tell that to John Foley who’s head was IMMORALLY chopped off by believers in Faith.

    Morality is doing what is right no matter what you are told.
    Religion is doing what you are told NO MATTER WHAT IS RIGHT.

    Religion is a dramatically inferior way to arrive at any moral decision.
    Your claim that we are ‘derived’ is nonsense.

  • Jack

    HumanistFox, it’s easier to believe that the moon is made of green cheese than to believe that the entire universe sprung into being all by its lonesome.

  • Jack

    Good point, Shea. Human language and logic presuppose such things as objective reality and absolute truth. If there is no god and nature is all that there is, then there is no basis for believing in reality and truth.

    Try having a conversation about anything without such presuppositions.

  • Jack

    And there is a virtually 100% certainty that the board atheists will answer this in a way that demonstrates that they have no understanding of the intellectual dilemma they face.

  • Jack,

    Science is not your area, is it?

    Water just knows how to spring forth from the ground. How does water know how to do that?
    Water also knows how to find the drainpipe – every time! How does it know how to do that!?

    How do the ocean waves KNOW HOW to curl up and crash onto the beach all day long??? How does the water know how to move with the pull of the moon?

    Your lack of knowledge is not an argument in favor of a god doing everything.

    To say “I DON’T KNOW the answer, THEREFORE I KNOW it must be god” is just an argument from ignorance fallacy.

  • ben in oakland

    “If there is no god and nature is all that there is, then there is no basis for believing in reality and truth.”

    I certainly don’t see that conclusion following from that premise. Please explain it to me. As far as I can see, the opposite statement is far truer.

  • I would call myself either atheist/agnostic. Being considered one or the other or both does not bother me one way or another. I claim to not know if any deity exists and highly doubt one does because there is no sufficient evidence to believe it does exist.

  • Religion is nothing but an emotional trick and master manipulation at its core. Like the term hardening of the heart used by Christians. Of course, telling a person they will be eternally tormented for not believing or accepting their Jesus will piss you off. It’s all based on human affairs.

  • Karla

    Shane Turner-Creation is the proof there is a creator. Read Romans 1:18-32
    and also Psalm 14:1. If you see a building you know there is a builder cause
    the building didn’t build itself. It’s the same with creation. If the sun was any
    closer we’d burn/any further away we would freeze. Just all random chance?
    If Jesus was still in the grave why would people who didn’t even believe in Him
    lie and say the body was stolen? It’s because they didn’t want the Bible to be
    true. Bible prophecy like Psalm 22:16-18 and Isaiah 53:3-7 are about Jesus.
    Read the Case for Christ by Lee Strobel and also you can read Jesus among
    other gods by Ravi Zacharias.God/Jesus Christ are very,very real. God bless.

  • Larry

    Speaking of phony patronizing dishonest statements in service of one’s faith, there you are Shawnie, right on cue.

    Christendom and rationality met and parted ways after a brief flirtation in the middle ages never to see each other again. Scientific and rational discussion involves getting away from the assumptions and elaborations of religious faith. Avoiding the pat supernatural approaches encouraged by religious faith. No scientific theory begins with “Jesus grants us this”. No logical proof ends with, “if God permits”. One never needed religion for scientific discovery and advancement.

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  • @Jack,

    “If there is no god and nature is all that there is, then there is no basis for believing in reality and truth.”

    That is a bag of hot gas
    From a person who desperately needs to be introduced to an education in Philosophy 101.

    Good grief.

  • samuel Johnston

    You endlessly repeat the mantra “Creation is the proof there is a creator.”
    This is simply a word game. A simple rephrasing clears up this rhetorical trick.
    Example: Everything that has an end has a beginning.

    You play a similar game with your true or false dichotomy. If I say reality is…
    then that is false, but if I say that human access to information is limited to the conditions our minds impose on it, and the mind’s inherent distortions, then that can be true, and it is inclusive. Not everything worth knowing is simple. At least it does not seem simple when it is a new concept.

  • Americans want to know why the church is dying… The media has not satisfied the question yet! Let’s publish.
    Gotquestions.org says it’s because few young adults believe in Satan or that Christianity is the only true religion. Why don’t they believe?
    The primary reason for the exodus is sociological. Most young adults go to school, work, and live with diverse friends now. But the church, as always, insists that their religions are an abomination.
    This long standing precept of the church has struck a cultural nerve with most young adults. With Indians, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and middle easterners all around them, they’re quitting church because this policy is divisive and offensive to their new friends. So Americans are searching for, and finding non-discriminatory spirituality outside the church. This micro phenomenon is becoming macro, and could be the undoing of the world’s largest religion.
    Let’s talk about this and other contributing factors.
    Truly, Brad O’Donnell, Richmond, Va. Video:

  • frank moore

    “we want Him out of our laws” ??? he is the source of our laws you twit. So you dont want “thou shalt not steal?? or thou shalt do no murder”??? So if you throw off the God of order… you end up with lawlessness.. chaos. I’d say that would not be good for society to say the least!

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  • blaine

    But you can realize what you have learned is a crock of shit and that the creation of a God is just away for man to control man with the fear of death and the unknown

  • samuel Johnston

    Hi Jack,
    Re: your true or false dichotomy. If I say reality is…(anything/nothing)
    then that is false, but if I say that human access to information is limited to the conditions our minds impose on it, and the mind’s inherent distortions, then that can be true, and it is inclusive.
    That is why Kant never spoke about reality, only relationships.

    All languages are loaded with assumptions. That does not make these assumptions true or false, they merely assumptions that that particular culture shares. Some cultures (Asian Indians) assume that all perceptions of reality are mere illusions.
    I strongly suspect that you are merely repeating a laundry list of conclusions, rather than looking at the sources of the “presuppositions”. The so called “dilemma” is only a result of confusing words with what the words represent.
    example: eternity – no definition is anything but a place holder.
    the list of words like this is vast, but by custom we use them constantly.

  • samuel Johnston

    So Frank, “Godless” societies do not have laws against stealing? Murder? Really?
    Please enlighten us, I am most interested – you twit

  • @Frank Moore,

    “he is the source of our laws you twit…”


    Human morality and law preceded all religions.

    We see morality even in other animals like primates, dogs, cats, dolphins and other species.

    We had laws against murder and stealing long before Yahweh was invented and we will have them long after Yahweh is forgotten.

    Religion is a playground for children. Childish nonsense.

  • JT

    Such arrogance. You are so superior that you can predict the future. It’s inconceivable that anyone could ever believe differently than you, isn’t it? Sad.

  • JT

    I believe those people were inherently good people who would have lived a loving and moral life without a belief in the supernatural. Just as inherently bad people will commit murder whether or not they believe in the supernatural. Believing in one god because of one book written in the very short time span of 2000 years instead of the many other gods people have created throughout the many thousands of years of human history is not intellectually justifiable. What you have experienced is one minute fraction of the experiences of all humans today, and an even smaller fraction of the sum total of the human experience. And that total human experience is but a tiny, tiny blip on the scale of our planet’s existence.We are so arrogant that we cannot see beyond our infinitesimal personal view of reality. Looking at the larger picture makes one humble, and gives the knowledge that we simply do not know all the answers.

  • JT

    Sounds suspiciously like grabbing for any excuse to do nothing. Just pray and repent and god will take care of the rest. Lazy, in other words. I’d be interested to know what, if any, good works you’ve done, Doc. Do you volunteer to make the world a better place? No, that doesn’t include proselytizing. In the words of one comedian, “Don’t pray for me, make me a sandwich!” DO something.

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  • Sean E Carmody

    It seems so odd that people argue about God. If you know him, then there is nothing to argue about. If people want to pretend that they don’t know him, that is their choice. It will be sorted out in the end. If you know God, that is Jesus, as your savior, then be glad you will be in heaven with him. If you know someone that denies his existence, then feel badly for them because you know where they will end up. Arguing for or against seems to me a waste of time. It does not change the facts.

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  • David

    He appears to have been duped and may never return…as the poor will always be with us.

  • David

    @ max

    I’m not so sure you’re wrong, Max. Jesus isn’t so hip with religion either. I think worshiping the Father in truth and spirit is more his bag.

  • brandon

    Well I suppose I could choose to believe in god again, albeit though the magic of self-deception. So yeah, not in any true sense really.

    I was raised to believe in god, but struggled with faith ever since my teens… you know, the years where you develop independent thinking and reasoning.

    I was just too scared to accept the truth that god doesn’t exist, and I’m sure a lot of other people that call themselves believers do as well.

  • brandon

    As far back as I can remember I’ve known that harming or murdering someone was wrong. I didn’t need a book of fairy tales aka the bible to confirm that for me.

  • ChildoftheKing

    Pardon me, as I am about 2 months late to this show down 🙂 I am a believer in Christ and have been for majority of my life… I will not call you names or get upset with you and any “believer” or here that does, does not truly know the creator because He instructed his followers to show love. Period.

    You mentioned that you attended Church every sunday, Prayers at every meal, rosaries at every Novena… etc and it was all a waste.

    Could it be, that your interactions with God were more routine than relational? Im sure youve heard many believers say that it isnt about religion, it is about having a relationship with God. So perhaps, all those years felt like a waste because you never really experience God and all his fullness?

    I urge you re-examine your previous relationship with God simply because God is more than church on sundays… I believed for years but never truly had a relationship with Him so when things got rough my faith swayed because my foundation in Him wasnt solid. It wasnt until a few months ago that I gave God a legit “yes”

    It is my prayer that you do the same. I respect your beliefs and I will keep you in my prayers. God bless 🙂

  • Marcus

    Sounds to me like this pastor is trying to run away from his responsibilities to God and seeking refuge with unbelievers. It will work for a while until something happens.
    He’s made things worst by denying God who will deny him on judgement day if he doesn’t repent. Not to mention misleading others and reinforcing negative beliefs.

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  • elaine

    Seems to me like Ryan is in a battle, a spiritual battle and right now the devil is winning. The mind is the devils battleground and he will attempt to persuade and spread confusion and other level discord and break up in the churches. I have read Ryan’s a count of what caused this change in him. Anybody who attends Church will disagree with its stance on some things. Women becoming vicars, marrying divorced people in Church. The list is endless. we are told all sin is the same. NONE of us are without sin for long periods of time because this world is sin as an environment but we can keep asking God to cleanse us of it. It requires prayer and forgiveness to keep us straight with God. Firstly we need to keep ourselves straight with God and stand firm whatever happens whatever we see that we don’t understand. Then minister as best we can. We aren’t called to keep everyone happy. We are called to teach and rebuke as necessary. Jesus was tough on the rich man. He didn’t like what Jesus said at all. As for the issue of homosexuality that is a Minefield. So Ryan ask Jesus back in rebuke the devil and get on with what he has called you to do. Maybe set up a different Church but Remember always that the devil wants to disrupt and destroy at every moment. We are at war!

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  • Chris

    So… Your morals are not make believe because a book contains words saying they pertain to your religion? What if I agree with many Christian morals, and still can’t consider myself Christian? Does that mean I have to disagree with the morals of it as well? No. In turn, since I follow Christian morality, and do not consider myself Christian, this makes christian morals make believe?

    Why are you even trying to pass judgment on another persons morals? Though shalt not judge, turn the other cheek. If any of the “Christians” arguing and pointing fingers here could follow their own non make believe morals, we would have nothing to argue about. You would be too busy living your life according to your morals to be concerned about arguing, and simply provide your argument through your blessed life.

    A sense of right and wrong has nothing to do with religion. You confuse morality with a lack of consciousness. Every action has a lasting impact on any person whether they are religious or not. You basically infer that anyone who is not Christian is subhuman and incapable of emotion. This type of ignorance makes me a bit sick to my stomache. Or the fact that you couldn’t sit down and think your own words out enough to realize what you even said.

  • Ryan, what do you think about the resurrection of Jesus? Is it a farce? If not, does this make him more than human? Deity?

  • Ron

    From faith to faithlessness would be a title to a chapter in my book of life. Someone in this string of ideas made the statement that they must have never been a believer, because now they are no longer an atheist or a Christian. That is an argument that no one ever changes in life.
    For me I too was a pastor, who belonged to a conservative church denomination that tolerated sex pedifile offenders to walk about unpunished.
    To then join another international para church organization whose business became big business. Who had a protected class of employee within that created rules that certain employees were better than others.
    I don’t mean to sound bitter, actually I am thankful to have seen the truth. One group protected the evil doers, the other protected some who were adjudged to be better than others. They both made up for a lack in God’s mysterious ways and showed the naked man behind the curtain who manipulated the levers of life’s good and evil.

  • What is your birth date, or your birth year? Clearly, the calendar is counting from the time of Jesus who brought in that big change into the world. You are still under the loving care of our Savior God who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.1 Tim 4:10. He was made Lord and Christ in His resurrection and ascension. He was inaugurated into that high office to be leader and Savior. He handles the world situations and causes all things to be adjusted in order for many people to be saved. He has been Lord from eternity past. But He became man. As being both, God, and man, He is now capable of handling all things. Also, all judgement is given to Him. Wake up!

  • Unshaken believer

    Satan is not a God.
    Holy spirit, Jesus and Father God are the Holy trinity. Triune. 1 body – 3 parts.
    God doesn’t endorse any of the things you mentioned. He gives free will to man because he loves us. We do that stuff because we think we can do things better than him.
    If people loose their way and become athiest, then they have chosen to put their trust in the world and not God, which God himself warned us about.

  • Robert Zeurunkl

    So the story is “non-Christian starts journey; remains non-Christian”. Is that it?

    I’m somewhat underwhelmed.

  • April Perry


  • How did you got YOUR brain and the way it works?

  • You don’t. habe to believe religions to belive in God.

  • Heidi K.

    Believers/Christians-in-name-only can get lost, born-again Christians CAN’T get lost. This guy has never been a born-again Christian.

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  • Mark

    I was raised in a large family with an abusive father who was a pastor who used the bible as
    Guide to raise us with daily beatings. I had to go and pick out the stick I was going to get beat with and if there were no sticks then his belt would come off the beatings were because the bible said (spare the rod spoil the child) leaving huge welts with both physical /mental damage Now 46 yrs later I’m asked why I dont trust God. So you mean to tell me that a loving all powerful God that supposedly loves children couldnt stop the abuse of my pastor farther growing up but throws the free will card out the window when he needed something done in the bible. Maybe if you were there when I needed you It would be a lot easier forme to be here for you now.

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  • Parker

    I agree 100% The thought that one can choose to believe something or not when evidence is put forth to the contrary is a ridiculous notion. One does not choose to believe anything as far as I know. You choose to ignore facts in order to follow a belief system, but you must admit to yourself that you are ignoring facts and choosing to have faith that those facts turn out to be untrue at some point. I find it condescending when people say things like, “He’ll be back.” or “He can deny God or God’s rule if he chooses, but it is on him in the end to answer to God.”. I am quite certain he has thought about why he was Christian in the first place many times, and I am sure he has reached out to the God he believed in to help him understand why there is no evidence that he exists and plenty of evidence that rejects the possibility of a Christian God. It is a story I know all too well having gone through it myself. Belief is no more a choice than is breathing.

  • Shawnie

    Consider if what you believe is true because you believe in it, or if you believe it because it is true.

    Facts then Faith then Feelings.
    So many falsities are built with just feelings, just faith, or just facts or in a different order. It is important to me that I am not lead merely by feelings which change a lot.

    The evidence in my life – yes, my heart – is overwhelming.
    If God is who he says he is (all powerful and loving), and he is, then he would have to be very powerless to not have an effect in the hearts and lives of people who want to know him.

  • Parker

    “How did you got YOUR brain and the way it works?” The powerful process of cumulative blind variation and selection working over millions of years.

  • Parker

    Where does this person live? If he is a person then he not a God. If he is tangible, he is not a God. If he is a he, “he” is not a God. If he is a person then he is fallible, he is not a God. If you know him, he is not a God. If you know God, then he is not a God. A God by definition cannot exist in the natural world. “A seed cannot live unless is falls to the ground and dies?” Huh? That makes zero sense! A seed cannot live if it is dead. “No new life without a death?” Huh? Again, that makes zero sense. You are saying for any new life to occur another life must die. Nope. Not on this planet. There are billions of life forms so I guess technically there might be a life form out there that follows that law, but it certainly isn’t a law applicable to human beings.

  • Parker

    I am an atheist, and I love C.S. Lewis. I am a bit confused as to why people feel compelled to be ugly to people. I understand Max’s frustration though as I went through it myself. I felt betrayed after my lengthy road out of Christianity which began as in depth study and re-evaluation of the Bible, the origins of Christianity, the history especially with regard to its affect on human history, the pros and the cons, study of theology in general, studied Abrahamic/non-Abrahamic religions, studied non-English versions of the bible (earliest languages), studied works by schloars both devouts and academics, spoke w/ believers, nons and ex-Christians, a vertical/horizontal study of all Bible’s books, and I prayed a lot (to no avail). I was angry at first, but decided to just forge ahead. Now, it is hard to see others make rude comments that they somehow know better or think others are stupid or hellbound (from atheists and xians). It doesn’t make things better

  • Parker

    Dave42-I don’t think that if a multiverse doesn’t exist then we have a better case for God, certainly not the one described in the Bible. In fact, I think it makes your statement: “…the universe seems to be designed specifically to support life.” even less plausible as the universe is constantly working against life as we know it. A universe created by an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good being should be perfect. But the universe as we know it seems flawed. It certainly doesn’t seem particularly hospitable to humans. Admitting that the earth is a fit place for life, and certainly every place in the universe where life exists is fitted for life, then what sort of life was this planet designed to support? If the land of the earth was made for life, it seems as if it was intended for insect life, which can exist almost anywhere (even in the millions on man). If meant for us he may want to go back to the drawing board which again is at the very least a case against God of the…

  • Parker

    Even we concede all of your points, it doesn’t prove there is a God, that Jesus is God, or that the God as described in the Bible is the creator much less than anything of them are worthy of worship. There could be natural explanations for a man who is crucified and then raised from the dead. As we know, the resurrection story is not original to Jesus, but even if it were still doesn’t confirm that he is divine. Nor does it prove he is divine just because people claimed to have witnessed him doing miracles. The believe the God of the Bible one cannot do it based on evidence as there is no such evidence. It must be entirely based on faith. There simply is no evidence for the Christian God just like there is no evidence for any of the others that come before or after him. One would have to not only present convincing evidence that there is a God, they would have to present evidence against the other 999 or so.

  • Parker

    How do you know where the men on the cross next to Jesus went? There is no way you could know that. Also, if Jesus was supposed to have died to achieve forgiveness for all mankind, isn’t it redundant to have to continually seek forgiveness?

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  • sara’lee

    Those out there who are not willing to explore one self spiritually would not likely know our Father.

    Rather than asking and searching material items, continue to ask our Father simply through prayer. Once you know our Father, he will open that door to all our love ones’ who have passed; as well as, eternal life that awaits all of us.

    Imagine for a moment; one leaves the earthly shell that we call body’s, would you want the love ones that still live to know you are right here when they think of you? Well they are, I know mine are, I have my proof.
    Humans have all kind of words for spirits. With my own eyes, ears, and physical proof of eternal life, it’s real. God is real, he answers me. So you want him to answer you then start praying. Help all creatures and good things will come to you, I also have proof of that, it happened to me and many others.

    Try not to investigate so much as to why, who and how it all started, you’ll learn as you pray to God. Don’t ever…

  • sara’lee

    Agreed!! For sure!

  • sara’lee

    1. Here with us all
    2. Because one is not open to believe spiritually!!
    3. Because spirits are here among us, God too!! Proof is here!
    4. We were places here to teach, help. Learn well mist likely to prepare for what’s next.
    5. Trust believe, and he will prove.
    6. Not a matter
    7.Not a matter
    8. Certainly not a matter
    9. Not a matter
    10.whatever..still he said, she said.. not a matter.
    11.not a matter
    12.-17. Things must happen for us to learn, who really knows,
    Pretty sure there is a good reason.

    Why do people want every detail, just know Jesus is here for you, start praying if you want to know him.

    Patience…….took 35 years for all the spirits to show themselves to me, but I was 15 when God proved he was here with me.

  • The fact that this man chose to “spend a year without God” says much about him. 1. By definition the man was NEVER a Christian. For a Christian there most important relationship is with God. If you love someone you don’t want to spend time away from them on purpose. What husband wants to not be with there wife or children for a year? 2. He is going to blog about it? Clearly this was a stunt to gain publicity (“the book deal”). 3. He was a pastor and his wife is a “christian humanist” and has no problem that he is now denying his faith? Sounds like a guy who wanted a Christian wife and has now found a convenient way to live in sin and have the good wife to boot.

  • Steve Magruder

    “It’s not my conclusion, but the one that many scientists seem to be trying at all costs to avoid – that the universe seems to be designed specifically to support life.”

    One, it’s apparent that the universe in nearly all corners does not support life, There’s these comparably few bubbles where life exists

    Two, “design” isn’t required in nature. I realize it’s difficult for a religious person to grasp, but by the very nature of the physics of matter, life in the universe fell into place in infinitesimally small corners.of said universe. Maybe next time before you ask someone to seek God, you may wish to seek information on hypotheses/theories related to particle physics and what extends from that.

  • Steve Magruder

    Belated thanks Larry.

    It’s like reading a discussion between rationality and irrationality, you being the former and Jack being the latter.

    As a strong atheist, I not only hold that I see no evidence for God, I reject even the concept of God, for the concept is as irrational as counting apples with negative integers. I could expand on that, but that’s not my main point.

    Regarding Jesus, we really do not have objective evidence of his existence. Only hearsay stories. That means he maybe existed, but there is no confirmation that a genuine historian would accept as definitive proof. We know Abraham Lincoln existed. We know Julius Caesar existed. We don’t know Jesus did.

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  • Human beings exactly like us have been in existence for about 200,000 years ago.

    Have you ever wondered why it was only about 3,000 years ago that anything resembling modern Judeo-Christian religion started?

    And even then, the ancient Hebrews did not believe that there was only one god. They understood Yahweh to be their tribal god,

  • Tonya

    If you do not have faith then of course your prayers will not be answered. I kid you not, mine are almost always answered..9 times out of 10 and if it isn’t answered, it wasn’t his will.

  • Dane

    Tonya, what prayers were answered and not answered? I want to know if the answered ones could have happened just as well without prayer