According to a recent article on ReligionNews.com (as well as in the Huffington Post), Ryan Bell, a former Seventh-day Adventist pastor, is giving up God for one year and “trying on” atheism. He states: “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.”
His actions have been criticized by various atheist bloggers, who say he is already an atheist and feel this is a disingenuous way for him to “come out.”
IMO, there will be many churchgoers (and even ministers) who will appreciate reading about his journey because they too are having doubts about their faith. Most are afraid, for any number of reasons, to act on these doubts … or even to admit they have them. So, for them, Ryan’s trek will offer insights on what it’s like to live without God. For some, it may strengthen their faith, but for others it may give them the courage to see life from a new (and godless) perspective.
He has said he will be researching the works of many well-known atheists (Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennett), as well as the works of Spinoza, Russell, Nietzsche, and others. It will be interesting to read his comments and opinions on these stalwarts of godlessness.
Certainly, there are numerous other ministers of the faith who have turned away from God and written about it (Dan Barker comes to mind), but Ryan is sharing his experiences on an open forum and on a day-to-day basis.
Whether or not Ryan is, as some claim, an atheist in hiding, I, for one, think it will be fascinating to follow along.