Pastor Ryan J. Bell giving up the deep thinking he never began


Ex Pastor Ryan J. Bell Explains Why Hes Journeying Into Atheism and Living for a Year Without God

Ryan J. Bell, former Christian pastor, has announced he will live a year without God. The claim itself is not all that interesting, but the following statement of his is:

“For the next 12 months I will live as if there is no God. I will not pray, read the Bible for inspiration, refer to God as the cause of things or hope that God might intervene and change my own or someone else’s circumstances,”

I can understand living without the typical Sunday school answer to life; almost every question can be answered with “read the Bible and pray.” Alternatively, answer “Jesus.” It’s not that the answers are wrong. The questions are just insufferably shallow. It’s rare that I come across a question that makes me think deeply– a sad state of affairs for Christianity.

Not referring to God as the cause of things is standard for atheist rhetoric. He’s already talking like a man ignorant of God. Is he really going to pretend there is no source of everything? The world just is? There is no explanation? Sometimes I wonder about the logic of God-deniers.

As for God intervening, you can be a Christian and think it illogical that God intervenes in the universe. You don’t have to be an atheist for that. Practically a whole host of theologians from before Thomas Aquinas and after him thought that God was too powerful to intervene in the world. To intervene is to come in where you were not, and that can’t apply to God who is, right now, actively creating every place.

Anyway, I think it’s good that he’s abandoning shallow Christianity, but bad that it’s not for the purpose of diving more deeply into God. Maybe he doesn’t think there is anything more to Christianity than what he’s been taught. He undoubtedly reflects many other Christians out there who may or may never realize their foundations run about a foot deep.

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10 thoughts on “Pastor Ryan J. Bell giving up the deep thinking he never began

  1. Sounds like this poor and destitute soul has never experienced true salvation. I pray for his repentance. The world has nothing but sorrow and suffering to offer – and the consequences of sin are dreadful and deadly.

  2. Okay, I just saw another blog post about this guy, and he was a Seventh Day Adventist “pastor”. This explains MUCH – as was/is involved in a cult. Yes, I pray he has a true repentance and discovers the REAL Jesus.

  3. As the word says … logic or reasoning of the world cannot understand the depths of God… “it is foolishness”… let this lame and crippled find Christ the hard way….

  4. Very perceptive, Dan.

    If Ryan J. Bell can sincerely get away from his favorite notions about God, he may encounter someone more like the real thing before the year is out!

    This might be worth a try with a post-Sunday School youth group – with the right leadership.

  5. Mr, O’Brian, I found your post through a search on Mr. Bell. As an atheist I found his story interesting. I have to correct a fundamental misunderstanding you seem to have regarding atheists, or at least myself and the fellow atheists I know.

    You stated “Is he really going to pretend there is no source of everything? The world just is? There is no explanation?”.

    None of the Atheists I know have ever claimed “There is no explanation”. What they will admit to is not knowing the explanation for everything and that just because they don’t know the explanation it does not follow that a god is the explanation.

    “Sometimes I wonder about the logic of God-deniers.” I feel the same way about God-believers.

    1. Thanks for dropping by, Remo. You seem to think that the source of everything could be a kind of thing itself. If you work out the implications of what it means to be the source of everything you would understand it is impossible for it to be a kind of thing. Therefore, as a Christian, I have no problem saying, like the atheist, I don’t know what the source of everything is. That is, I do not have any meaningful positive conceptual content to identify it. But the source of everything is what people commonly understand as God. The only positive content I can offer is that the world is created, that is, it has an explanation. If there are kinds of gods, as you seem to indicate, they cannot be the explanation for themselves, for they fall into the order of kinds. Kinds need explanation as well. The source of everything (God), cannot be ordered, cannot be a kind, cannot be one of the created things visible or invisible. Let me be explicit, there is no such “thing” as God. And, I am NOT breaking away from Christian tradition when I say that. Since I claim the world is created, it would only be illogical of me to say that another piece of matter was the explanation for everything. For that would still leave that piece of matter to be explained. Neither can I say that there is no explanation, for that would not be consistent with my claim of creation.

      1. I’m familiar with the conundrum you’re referring to, I think of it as the “It’s turtles all the way down” problem (Wiki reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turtles_all_the_way_down), a more interesting turn of phrase than “Chicken and Egg problem”.

        Far better minds than mine have wrestled with it. My response is that resolving it with “God did it” is resolving one seemingly impossible thing by invoking another seemingly impossible thing. Or, as stated by Bertrand Russell, “If there can be anything without a cause, it may just as well be the world as God,…..”.

        While this can make for an interesting discussion over a few beers it is in the end a pointless discussion that cannot, at our current level of understanding, be resolved. Which gets back to my original point, I don’t know what the explanation is and I’m ok not knowing. I just don’t see the need to fill that void with a supernatural explanation.

        As an aside I do have to commend you. I was pleasantly surprised to see my comment posted, and with a reasoned response. That is too often not the norm in these types of discussions.

  6. Not referring to God as the cause of things is standard for atheist rhetoric.

    Well, to be accurate, it covers people of other religions too. Not just atheists.

    “Not referring to magic as the cause of things is standard for materialist rhetoric. He’s already talking like a man ignorant of magic. Is he really going to pretend there is no source of everything? The world just is? There is no explanation? Sometimes I wonder about the logic of magic-deniers.”
    Etc.

    Anyway, I think it’s good that he’s abandoning shallow Christianity, but bad that it’s not for the purpose of diving more deeply into God. Maybe he doesn’t think there is anything more to Christianity than what he’s been taught. He undoubtedly reflects many other Christians out there who may or may never realize their foundations run about a foot deep.

    No True Christian.

  7. An interesting dialogue with Remo. And your answer is the first time I’ve seen an Aquinas-like explanation for God as the source of all and yet not any kind of “thing”.

    I listened to a lecture by Peter Kreeft on Aquinas’ position that you really can’t say anything affirmative about God that doesn’t also express a limitation of some kind.
    The inability of most people to grasp this distinction is what leads to “replies” like the above “magic in place of God” statement. God properly understood is interchangeable with no other concept.

  8. I know nothing about his Bell person except what’s in your post but I have been living without the felt-presence of God’s reality for about two years now. After 37 years with It. I believe the Mystics called it, “the dark night of the soul.” I have an experiential understanding of what it is like to inhabit a world without God. I don’t need to “pretend” or “act like”.

    So what is it like? Sometimes a little scary. Most times, lonely. It is interesting at times how little the concept of God affects daily living and at other times how essential He seems to make life rich enough for living. Most Mystics speak of feeling “abandoned” by God but I have never felt that way. After all, if God doesn’t exist “abandoned” is an illogical emotion to feel in response. And if He still does exist He could not have abandoned me since He promised, “I will never leave you.”

    The result? My journey is ongoing.

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