Ain’t that a kick in the @$$

I am sure you have probably heard by now of Ryan Bell, the Seventh  Day Adventist Pastor and teacher who recently embarked on an intellectual experiment to “try Atheism” for a year.  This sounds  like a worthwhile endeavor.  Try something new, see what it’s all about.  Unfortunately Bell was promptly fired from two positions, one at Fuller Theological Seminary as a Doctoral adviser and as a consultant for  the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Glendale, CA.  How’s that for a kick in the Rear?! Not everyone thinks this is a good idea. Some suggest it s a popularity stunt to gain more Christian followers (as one comment on the Thinking Atheist suggests).  Others are saying he is seeing real Christianity.  It is also noteworthy that the Thinking Atheist, Hemant Mehta, encouraged atheists to donate money to a fund to support the now unemployed spiritual experimentalist. I applaud Bell for his bold action, and lament that it is considered a bold action. Everyone should confront their spiritual beliefs head-on as Ryan Bell is doing.  Far too many people are willing to be spiritual sheep, following in their parents and grandparents footsteps without considering why they are following that path.  I would guess most folks do this because its easy and the alternative is frightening.  If you are a Christian reading this, think about it.  Life without God…  What does that even mean?  Or more importantly what is a Life with God, exactly?  What do you gain by believing in a God or Gods that a non-believer does not? Most Christians will answer, “Spiritual fulfillment.”  Can’t there be more than one way to fill your spirit?  I think there is.  In fact, I would bet there are more than 100 ways to achieve spiritual fulfillment. Atheists are likely equally quick to criticize, “How can someone honestly believe in a supernatural, omniscient, omnipotent, being that cares for us, though leaves no incontrovertible, unambiguous evidence of its existence?”  The answer is the same as it is to the Christian’s question, “There is more than one way to spiritual fulfillment.”  Instead of looking at the differences between atheism and Theism, we should be highlighting the common ground.  All people (at least all decent people) want to see the hungry fed, the poor clothed, and justice for all regardless of what they believe or do not believe. So, I urge you to reach out and attempt to understand  why others believe differently and help them understand why you believe differently.  There is a good chance both of you will learn something about yourself.

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About benevolentheathen

I am an Associate Professor of Biology at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. I teach courses in ecology, evolution, and behavior with an emphasis on terrestrial vertebrates, especially reptiles. In recent years I have become increasingly interested in the interplay between science and religion. I consider myself spiritual, but not religious. I am continually reassessing my thoughts and ideas about God, faith, and religion and how they fit into my empirical worldview. View all posts by benevolentheathen

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