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“ Famous atheists say they are contacted frequently by priests, pastors, rabbis, etc who have discovered ... that they are atheists.

Obviously, none of them came to this without years of serious thought. Many pay a dear price for this integrity. They lose careers, incomes, retirement plans over it. But they also lose friends and family. Social support.

Genuine love of truth brought them into religion and eventually back out. And these are only the brave ones. The others ...

I despise the cleric who knowingly pushes a false faith on the naive.  ”

Curious FellaNPRSaturday, December 27, 2014 6:43 PM

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“ You do understand, perhaps, that others are guided by the same process of "years of serious thought" to discover they are not atheists?

Despite NPR's lopsided reporting, that door swings both ways. Those with faith also have, as you term it, integrity; it is not reserved solely for atheists. ”

Class ANPRSaturday, December 27, 2014 7:26 PM

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“ But of course! It's the law of large numbers. A handful of people win lotteries every week, too. The data show, though, which way the numbers are moving. If you hear of someone moving from one category to another, the better bet is away from religion, not toward it. I'd like to think of it as a consequence of the information age; the questions that used to be answered only by religion have other answers now. ”

digital cuttlefish NPRSaturday, December 27, 2014 8:10 PM


As 2014 draws to a close, NPR's Weekends on All Things Considered is checking back on some of the most compelling stories of the year. Here's an excerpt from our interview with Bell in January:

On experiencing doubt

When things start to come unwound, sometimes they unwind all the way. And then, you know, perhaps you can wind it up a little bit again later — who knows? But I feel like I lost my church leadership position and then I really didn't have any compulsion to go to church internally ...

So I just decided not to fight it. I just decided to say, "Well, let me just give church a rest." And as I did that, I just began to wonder about the very existence of God.

At the start of 2014, former Seventh-Day Adventist pastor Ryan Bell made an unusual New Year's resolution: to live for one year without God. This, reflecting his own loss of faith. He kept a blog documenting his journey and has a documentary crew following him.

After a year, Bell tells NPR's Arun Rath, "I've looked at the majority of the arguments that I've been able to find for the existence of God and on the question of God's existence or not, I have to say I don't find there to be a convincing case in my view.