Oct 25, 2018
Cass Midgley talks with Ryan Bell. Ryan J. Bell is a former Seventh-day Adventist pastor who became an atheist after spending 2014, a "year without God", as an experiment. In August 2015, Ryan launched a new blog and podcast called "Life After God." He currently serves as the National Organizing Manager for the Secular Student Alliance, an organization that empowers secular students on college campuses across the US to proudly express their identity, build welcoming communities, promote secular values, and set a course for lifelong activism. Ryan is also the Humanist Chaplain at the University of Southern California. His story of gradual deconversion was covered by national and international news outlets including CNN, NPR, BBC, CBC, LA Times and Sunrise in Australia. He received a Master of Divinity degree from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan and a Doctor of Ministry in Missional Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Ryan is a writer, educator and public speaker and has expertise in subjects ranging from religion, intercultural communication, bioethics and brewing coffee.
We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Also, we offer these podcasts freely. And your support truly makes a difference. You can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge a monthly donation through Patreon. that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com.
We taped this conversation on Oct 8th, 2018.
The intro music is by Dave Weckl called "Just Groove Me"
The segue music on this episode is titled "Dudes" by David Mead
Thanks for listening and Be a Yes-Sayer to what is.
I don't usually use this platform to make arguments for or against the existence of gods. As the title exclaims, no one knows and thus when it comes to whether a being started the Big Bang or is somehow involved in the affairs of life on earth, no one knows. But, it all just smacks of human origin, imagination and projection. All the theistic gods are far too anthropomorphic (which is human-like) to be the unknowable, unimaginable, ineffable god that is so ethereal that even if he/she/it does exist, what difference does it make? So, at the end of the day, life is happening exactly as it would if there were no god, so let's get on with it. In fact, the banner of the Life After God Facebook site reads "Ended relationship with God. It was time." That's why some call themselves apatheists, because who gives a fuck. I've often said that atheism is the best practice of theism because if we got on with the reality of life and the struggles of being human and stop looking to the heavens for help or guidance, we'd fix our own goddamn problems, which is what a good god would want. But I bring this up today because I was shocked by something this week that reminded of the strength of the argument against the existence of God that is known best as the problem of evil.
As you know, I am an unapologetic lover of what it means to be human. Sure, I could easily hate it, hate humans and hate how hard my fucking life is, but then I'm left with contrasting that with the alternative, which is utter nothingness. Unconscious. Zilch. No experience whatsoever. So yeah, if I've got to be here (or should I say GET to be here), let's do this. Let's love one another and make the best of things. But because I know that day is coming when I will fade to black, I'm also learning what battles to pick, what's important and what is not, and for damn sure, God is not. And that's how she likes it!
But seriously, you all know I love orgasm. I love cold fried chicken, snow skiing, watching the Final Four, sorting out shit in my brain while I mow the lawn, Donald Fagen's music, and most of all--sex! I love the celebration of our bodies as playgrounds, I love it when people can be naked and not overly conscious of it. I love watching people fuck, all right? But a couple of times in my life, while exploring the internet for naked people enjoying themselves, I've stumbled onto some horrific, tragic, despicable, evil shit. The kind that is shocking, heart-breaking and utterly devastating to the poor soul that sees it and can't unsee it, but moreso, the real human being to which this inhumane treatment is being imposed. That happened!! And I can't unsee it. And then I ponder, "it's happening right now, somewhere in the world, maybe thousands of places--bedrooms, hotel rooms, backrooms, locked basements, children, sex-trafficking, and rape--it's all happening right now." Then I remember the few times that I've accidentally brushed my cigarette against my arm and how quickly and surprisingly painful that is and how some parents do that on purpose to their children, and the thousands of parents that I don't think have any business being parents and the unfairness of innocent children being introduced into a world they didn't have any say in entering, to parents they didn't choose, into bodies they didn't choose. Who we get to be on earth is a total lottery. No justice to it whatsoever. I have a nurse friend who worked in a children's hospital for years before it just took a toll on her and had to change careers. Right now, as we speak, countless, unspeakable evils are happening to millions of people. Screams. Horrors. Pain. Hell, this week, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was said to have been murdered by dismembering him while he was still alive. And it took 7 minutes for him to die! And historically this is the least violent century in human history. Unimaginable evil has happened every second of every day around the world for over 200,000 years and if ANY of us were all powerful... even as unloving and selfish as we are as humans... compared to the alleged all-knowing, all-loving character of god, we would do something or go insane. And yet god does NOTHING?!?! Any one of us would be a better god than that and put a stop to it, even if it meant putting a stop to all life. Fuck it, we'd do it, to stop the screams and suffering and injustice. We'd at least scrap this fucking disaster and start over with a better plan. So, yeah. There is no god in this god-forsaken universe. It's just us here. I got behind a car this week with a bumper sticker that said "protected by angels" and I just wanted to ram it just to show how delusional, childish, and cowardly that mindset is. Wake up! That kind of stupidity and magic-thinking is why these same evangelicals elected one of the worst specimens of a human being on the planet to the highest office on the planet, because God. God's gonna save us and he's gonna use the weak things of the world to confound the wise, those liberals, those smarty-pants, educated libtards. We'll show them. They think they can solve our problems with getting smarter and education and science and thinking and working together and cooperating and CARING! All those good things are filthy rags to a god who wants glory, who wants to show off, and the more incompetent the human being God uses, the more credit he gets. THIS IS NOT A GAME! THIS IS NOT MAKE BELIEVE! Evil is real and humans are doing it and if we're going to make this world tolerable, it will be humans that do it. Cause the only thing that stops a bad man with a god is good people without one.