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Pastor who tried out atheism for a year gives up on God ‘to have a closer relationship to reality’

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The former pastor of the Hollywood Seventh-day Adventist Church, who stepped down from his position in March of 2013 before embarking on what he called a “Year without God,” has concluded that he no longer believes that God exists.

In an interview with NPR, former pastor Ryan Bell said his year long journey took him from merely questioning the existence of God to arriving at the conclusion that there is no convincing case for the existence of God.

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“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,” Bell explained. “I don’t think that God exists. I think that makes the most sense of the evidence that I have and my experience.”

Bell created a stir when he first announced his plans to “live as if there is no God” for 12 months, resulting in him being fired as an adjunct professor at Azusa Pacific University and at Fuller Theological Seminary, where he coached doctoral candidates preparing their dissertation proposals. Both schools are Christian institutions that require their instructors and staff to be committed followers of Jesus, and administrators  didn’t feel Bell should be a part of the faculty while living outside his faith.

Followers of Bell, with an assist from readers at the Friendly Atheist, chipped in over $27,000 to assist Bell while he took his one year journey, which he documented on his blog, Year without God.

Speaking with NPR, Bell said that, while he no longer believes in the existence of God, he’s not comfortable being called an atheist.

“I think I’ve adjusted or sort of acclimatized a little bit to the atheist community. I’ve spent more time in settings with atheists,” he explained. ” But there are still elements of it that are a bit more confident than I find myself to be in some aspects, so still an awkward fit.”

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Bell admitted that he also uncomfortable around some of his Christian friends.

“I think part of my discomfort is that I never like to make people feel uncomfortable by my personal experience or whatever I’m going through. So I’m sensitive that people around me are uncomfortable because of what I’m going through or what I’m exploring, ” he said. ” I think it just takes time to get used to the fact that I’m in a different place now than they are, and if they choose to be in relationship to me, then that’s just something we have to adjust to.”

Bell now works with PATH, an organization dedicated to helping the homeless, and says that is more important than his personal path.

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“You know, I think there are much more important issues to be focused on – things that are really threatening our society while we’re worried about what’s going to happen about after we die, when in reality, no one of us knows what’s going to happen to us after we die,” he explained. ” But what we do know is that if we don’t do something about the immediate challenges that we’re facing today, we’re going to die a lot sooner (laughter) than we might otherwise.”

Bell added, “My focus is I want to have a closer relationship to reality. I think before I wanted a closer relationship to God, and today, I just want a closer relationship with reality.”

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Devin Nunes’ hometown newspaper blasts ‘authoritarian’ lawmaker: ‘He should step aside’ — and get a job on Fox News

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Rep. Devin Nunes’ war against the free press reached a new low on Tuesday when he barred The Fresno Bee from covering a major water forum in Tulare, Calif.The forum covered matters of crucial public interest. The chief executive officer of Friant Water Authority, a public agency, moderated the event. David Bernhardt, secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, also attended. Yet despite the fact that the McClatchy reporters had reserved tickets, Nunes’ staff banned them.“The Fresno Bee learned at 10 a.m. Tuesday that its reporters would not be allowed to cover the event, after receiving ... (more…)

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2020 Election

The ‘Titanic met an iceberg named Elizabeth Warren’: Michael Bloomberg’s first debate performance widely panned

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Former NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg's first presidential debate performance is being widely panned by pundits.

The Root's Dr. Jason Johnson told MSNBC viewers just how bad he thought Bloomberg did at the Democratic debate in Las Vegas: "The most expensive night in Vegas I've ever seen. He lost everything."

"This probably was the most expensive night in Vegas I've ever seen. Bloomberg lost everything.

He stumbled over obvious questions anyone could have anticipated. He's probably doubling the salary of people going into the spin room" --@DrJasonJohnson #DemDebate pic.twitter.com/Vv6bC8xrRI

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How Democrats clean up the messes left by Republicans

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For decades, Democratic administrations have been cleaning up economic messes left to them by Republican administrations. Thanks to Donald Trump, they'll have to do so again.

Before diving in, we need to understand this one concept: the debt-to-GDP ratio.

The national debt is a meaningless number on its own. It's meaningful only as a percentage of the total economy, the GDP. Even if the debt grows, that's okay so long as the economy grows even faster. But if the reverse is true — if the economy is growing more slowly than the debt — we're in trouble.

With this in mind, let's go back to the 1980s. When Ronald Reagan took office, the national debt equaled just a little over 30 percent of the total economy. Then Reagan began cutting taxes and spending a huge amount on the military. By the time he left the White House, the debt-to-GDP ratio was nearly 50 percent. He viewed it as a way of "starving the beast" so future Democratic administrations would find it harder to fund programs for the poor and average working people.

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