Ryan Bell is a writer and speaker on the topic of religion and irreligion in America. In January 2014, Ryan began a yearlong journey to explore the limits of theism and the atheist landscape in the United States. He blogs about his experience on www.YearWithoutGod.com
By Ryan Bell
It was January 2014 and I was sitting on the beach in Malibu looking out at the seemingly endless Pacific Ocean, ebbing and flowing. I had just begun a personal project of challenging my lifelong assumption that God exists.
You see, I had been a Seventh-day Adventist pastor for 19 years. I resigned from my pastoral position the year before, but now I stepped away from my faith altogether. It was a gut-wrenching decision but I couldn’t see any other way to find peace and clarity. I encountered major theological differences with my denomination and evangelical Christianity in general, including the way it marginalizes women and LGBT people.
I questioned the problem of evils and God’s general silence and inactivity. I sought out more liberal theologies and found them to be the slow death of God. Now I had to face the very real possibility that God does not exist.
Would I discover that God was present and involved, or would I discover that the whole web of theological claims I had embraced and helped develop were false?
I was feeling small against the beautiful and terrifyingly indifferent sea before me. Then I started to feel grateful. “What are the chances that I would be sitting on this beach right now, looking at this remarkable scene of beauty?” I thought. I was struck again by how unlikely my existence is.
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