Former Adventists Speak About Ryan Bell's Year Without God

(Spectrumbot) #1

The cover image for a former-Adventist Facebook group in which Ryan Bell is a participant.

We received the following statements from former Seventh-day Adventist Church members in response to the conclusion of former Hollywood Seventh-day Adventist Church pastor Ryan Bell's Year Without God.

Sergio S. Martínez - Student, University of Puerto Rico I had my own fallout with faith and I found I was happier outside of the church. I was a pastoral theology student in Puerto Rico's Adventist University, church elder, ADRA volunteer, teacher...I obviously preached. I dedicated my life to the gospel, but at some point the pressures of maintaining a certain lifestyle, maintaining a pristine image, tired me.

I realized pastoral work was not for me. I quit. Changed concentrations. I started to approach God from a non-Adventist theological point of view. Soon, it all fell through for me. By having a fallout of sorts with Adventist theology, my image of God also morphed. Eventually I left the church for good, and it's made me happier. I made my spiritual peace. Not unlike what he did, not unlike what he's going through. I simply decided spirituality, at least, Adventism wasn’t for me.

LouAnne Sluiter White - Registered Nurse, Aurora, Colorado To be honest I did not trust Ryan's motives in the beginning. Adventists are known for their dishonest approaches to get people to come to their prophecy seminars etc. and they are known for their "experimental churches" and other tactics to reach the "unchurched" so I was leary until after reading more of what he had to say and as time went on I began to feel that he was sincere because I could relate to many of his struggles. I will be interested to read his final decision. My guess is that he identifies strongly with Humanism.

For me, leaving my faith behind was like a Christian’s “born again” experience except it was based in facts and reality rather than faith in mythical fairy tales. The truth will set you free is what I have always been told. It's true. When I first realized I was an atheist I felt liberated and joyful. It is a complete release like coming out of a jail cell after a 50 year life sentence and seeing the world in a totally different perspective. I actually had tears of gratitude flood my eyes as if I had just found a cure for my own cancer.

At first it made me sad to have lost a part of me that consumed so many years of my life. Later, I realized I had only lost something that never existed in the first place. In fact, I was now free to discover what really did exist. Knowledge was opened up to me. I felt that I had maximum freedom to think for myself and come up with a morality that makes the most sense to me. This is freedom of thought and to me it is highly positive and desirable.

Peter Veitch - nurse at Royal Melbourne Hospital in Australia and moderator of the 980-member “X-SDA’s” Facebook group Intense - this window into Ryan's year. Usually we hear about a person's coming to belief or leaving a belief after the fact. This was as it happened, documenting the process as it occurred. It was an amazing journey, asking big questions and then pursuing them. No hint of " conclusion first" - then trying to back it up. Confirmation bias cast aside, safety lines cast off, the journey started. I noticed along the way that many were trying to direct his journey, some announcing there was a god and others announcing the opposite. Some from both sides (theists and atheists) made hostile comments.

My five years without God has me at a place where I am more concerned that people are ok. I wanted to cheer Ryan on for team atheism but I was more interested that he make an honest conclusion himself. I wanted him to be ... OK. His voice, for example supporting LGBTQ people, opposing bigotry was valuable even before the now-famous year.

I don't think there are gods. My journey out of Adventism started with the Des Ford / Walter Rea insights. I stayed a generic christian for many years after '82. My time with theists and atheists has shown me that there are good people and bad people in both camps. The people who are good to people - I'm with them.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Kim Green) #2

At least these two individuals they have had the guts to do and say what they felt…something that I have not often found within the walls of Adventism. They are spiritually where they need to be- whether they believe in God or not.

(le vieux) #3

May I suggest that what she felt was similar to the euphoria felt by Eve after eating the forbidden fruit. There’s no delusion worse that self delusion, which is what many of these folks (including Ryan Bell) have experienced. The evidence for God is so overwhelming that it must take a concerted effort to explain it away or ignore it.

(George Tichy) #4

The only little problem with this statement is that it completely ignores that the “overwhelming evidence” is based solely on faith. It’s the individuals’ amount of faith that will determine their amount of acceptance of spiritual material.

I have seen people (you may know one of them…) criticizing the practice of objective observation of nature looking for evidence of what happened to earth in the past. It’s called scientific research, but many people reject any result from those findings and call for “faith” to overwrite them all. This is just another “little problem” that impedes proper understanding of Nature.

(Steve Mga) #5

Ryan Bell posted a piece, In Praise of Good Christians, December 31, 2014. It was cited by someone who sent it to my Facebook.
This is what I wrote.

In this particular piece written by Ryan, I see him in the same place as many of the Psalm writers. Deeply questioning and at the same time acknowledging the possibilities. The Psalms are deeply personal.
We do have to recognize that much of Religion, much of Denominations is man-made.
Our Religion attempts to put in a Box a Being Who is Unknowing and Unknowable [at least completely].
Denominations are Much More Emphatic about putting God in a Box and Forcing Him to stay there and shut up since it is WE who will speak for God.
I think Ryan had to get away from Religion, get away from Denomination to hear God speak. I get the feeling from his words that he is still in the Stage of Listening, still in the stage of LEARNING God-language, and this takes time.
I wish him Blessings on his journey.

(Dean Waterman) #6

I really think you find what you are looking for:

(Bille) #7

Amen and amen. And an excellent blog essay. I hope many here will read it. Thank you very much for posting it.

(Elaine Nelson) #8

This has dual applications.

(Peter Veitch ) #9

the data don’t support that “eve” existed , ie fairy tale , etiological foundational creation myth etc. the Sumerians invented beer 1,000 years before the sda god made the universe. seriously ? Adam and eve as real ? this is why the sda church gets labeled as fundamentalist . IMO the church either has to grow /adapt , accept science and stop denying it … or go extinct

(Elmer Cupino) #10

Would you be kind as to expound on the similarities and differences between “faith” and “delusion?”

(Interested Friend) #11

A serious question- Will Spectrum present now some positive testimonies as to why some stay with the SDA church in an effort to be balanced?

How about soliciting some testimonies from leaders of the GYC group? Or does Spectrum prefer not to expose readers to a differing viewpoint? I’m not referring to posts on the blog but articles about faith from real people similar to this blog?
In The Grip of Truth

(Noamork) #12

A textbook example of religious gaslighting here. Obviously Ryan and others can’t really be experiencing what they say they are, so it must be, oh I don’t know…Satan?

Where is this overwhelming evidence of which you speak, and why is it so underwhelming to so many of the smartest and nicest among us?

(Elaine Nelson) #13

It’s “faith” if it’s my belief; it’s “delusion” if it’s yours. :wink:

(Elmer Cupino) #14

You never mince words, do you? Now watch @blc say the same thing, but spiced with biblical principles and SOP. :smile:

(George Tichy) #15

That would be fantastic!
We could actually check by ourselves how much they have been learning about the SDA Church History and the problematic doctrines. I am sure it would not be difficult to detect, with only a few questions, if they have or have not been brainwashed or taught only part of the whole thing.

In The Grip of Transparency and Wholeness!

(Peter Veitch ) #16

one addit: I can understand that some current sda might see us x sdas as the devil"s spawn whatever, I think you should be aware that many in current adventist academia reject the literal six day creation story as literal fact. I’m not only talking about current science related academics but also in the theology departments. YEC fundamentalists are not just arguing with us x sda but half or so of christendom and mountains upon mountains of evidence against Young Earth Creationism.

(J Madden) #17

I find it interesting how many Christians and Adventists are trying to explain why we leave the church instead of asking why we leave the church. And leaving the church we are. And especially youth are. So, Christians, if I can be so audacious as to make a suggestion, how about you ask WHY, and listen. Maybe you’ll learn how to prevent the leaving. More likely not. But maybe.

Oh, and I left because the Adventist church told me my whole life that Adventism was based on the bible, and the bible was the Truth. When I learned that the bible had errors. Had forgeries. Is flawed. I questioned everything. And I became an atheist. Very similarly to Ryan. If you build up the bible as infallible, and it is not, then you will lose people. If you preach intolerance of gay people and repress women, you will lose youth. On and on.

(le vieux) #18

And where are those alleged errors and forgeries? Or could it be that the appearance of discrepancies is just that, an appearance? And maybe if we had more background information we’d realize that there is perfect harmony throughout Scripture? And how do you explain the prophecy in Daniel (which even skeptics admit was written before Jesus was born) which gives the exact time of the beginning of Messiah’s ministry? Have you looked through commentaries and really studied this out? Others have and have come to the opposite conclusion as yourself. Lee Strobel is one; a former atheist who, because of his wife’s conversion, began to investigate the Scriptures. It converted him. He wrote 2 books: The Case for Faith, and The Case for Christ. Only a determined skeptic could resist his reasoning.

All doubt will never be removed, but there is enough evidence that the Bible is divine, rather than human in origin.

(le vieux) #19

Mock on. The truth will come out in time. Faith is not based on “data;” it’s based on evidence, and there’s plenty of evidence for the divine origin of Scripture. Can you prove that Plato existed? Or anyone, for that matter, before photography was invented?

(le vieux) #20

Faith is as described in Heb. 11:1. Delusion results from ignoring compelling evidence. I find it sad that so many are encouraging Ryan Bell in his downward spiral, rather than trying to turn him around. Is this what Spectrum is all about: discouraging the faithful; encouraging the skeptics in their skepticism; attacking validity of Scripture? Sad; very sad.