• Ryan Bell became an atheist — who cares?

    Former pastor Ryan J. Bell went on a poorly designed experiment to live a year without god (?), something that came to be interesting because he was fired from his job and that was a great chance for atheist solidarity to save the day, and it did.

    Now, word has it Bell actually became an atheist. Here’s why I don’t care.

    About two weeks ago, I was asked what had happened to him, so in order to give an answer I had to do a little research. What I found is not pretty.

    Bell’s been writing at his PuffHo blog and he has quite troublesome ideas — here’s a taste:

    Black people can exhibit racial bias like everyone else, but as a structural problem, there is no reverse racism. It doesn’t exist. White people are privileged.


    As a man, if I heard another man make the #NotAllMen argument, I would reply, “Yes, I agree. I try not to be ‘one of those types’ of men either, but lets face it, we are a threat to women.”

    There you go: so when black people do it it’s not racism, is just “racial bias“; and by the mere fact of being born with a penis you’re a threat to all and every woman alive (it doesn’t matter if you haven’t raped anyone, if you’re gay or if you’re just asexual — penis = threat).

    Sure, there’s no reverse racism, there’s just racism: discrimination on the basis of skin color, and no one should get a free pass just because they happen to belong to a group which has been historically discriminated. How difficult can it be? You don’t fight racism with racism, nor looking the other way when it’s done to ‘privileged’ people (Whatever that means; because I guess Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama are being oppressed by Bell himself, a white man).

    After that, I don’t care if the guy believes or doesn’t believe in god: at end of the day, he just discriminates and stereotypes like the next pastor.

    I will always rather a believer who does not discriminate than a homophobic, sexist, classist and/or racist atheist. It is of no use to get rid of religion if you don’t throw with it its most pernicious effects. The pseudoscience behind Bell’s claims should be of concern to people who think humanism and skepticism just got an ally (maybe, the Center for Inquiry), we didn’t.

    (Image: GC Communication via photopin cc)

    Category: AtheismPhilosophySkepticism and Science


    Article by: Ðavid A. Osorio S

    Skeptic | Blogger | Fact-checker

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    • So you don’t care if I’m an atheist because you disagree that white people enjoy social privilege? Narrow minded, much?

      • Strawman much?

        I don’t care because I strive for a world where there’s less and less racism and sexism. Your statements a) give a free pass for some kinds of racism and b) promotes sexism (against anyone born with a penis)

        • Ryan Moore

          Nope. Wrong.

          • Maybe you need to re-read what he wrote. I’ll quote: “As a man, if I heard another man make the #NotAllMen argument, I would reply, “Yes, I agree. I try not to be ‘one of those types’ of men either, but lets face it, we are a threat to women.””

          • The other one: “Black people can exhibit racial bias like everyone else, but as a structural problem, there is no reverse racism. It doesn’t exist. White people are privileged”.

            Yes, usually being white conveys a privilege (see what I did there? I avoided generalizations); that doesn’t translate into “When black (or any other skin color) people discriminate against white people, that’s not racism”.

            Got it or do I need LEGOs?

    • Ryan Moore

      Your argument against Ryan’s journey is nothing more than a poorly written ad hominem. Terrible post. 🙁

      • Yeah, that’s kinda the point: I don’t see how a racist and a sexist can be a part of a Humanist movement. D’uh!

        • Wait, I’M a sexist and a racist. Wow, time to engage that Irony Surge Protector again! Okay, on to more productive things… Enjoy!

          • So stating that ALL men are threats to women is what, exactly? An egalitarian stance?

            Yeah, go promote your posmodernist agenda elsewhere.

            • I believe it was you who brought this up on your blog.

            • Do you stand by your statement that “all men are threats to women”?

            • I didn’t say that. You said I said that. This is like talking to a revolving door.

            • No, I precisely DIDN’T say it. Okay, I’m done. Believe whatever you want.

            • You did. Twice.

              I’m quoting you verbatim: “men are a threat to women”.

              Would you care to explain how is it that you’re not implying all men?

            • Stating that men are a threat to women is statistically, factually true. I never said all men are a threat to women. You supplied that word. Here’s some research for ya.


            • Is it my English, or is it that stating “men are a threat to women” implies all men?

            • That’s the same argument used by white supremacists: blacks are statistically, factually a threat and prone to criminal activity.

              I reject both statements: no one is inherently a threat just because the biological traits he was born with

            • Except that blacks are not statically, factually prone to criminal activity.

            • Neither are men to rape. That being the point

            • I don’t suppose you looked at the link from the CDC.

            • And I wouldn’t look any report that pretends to convince me that I should place judgement on anyone based on their biological traits, just because statistics!

              I refuse to say anyone is a threat to anyone else just because they were born with a skin color or a penis or a vagina. Do you understand that?

            • Yes, I do understand that. And I agree with it. No one is talking about judging anyone, or accusing people of thought crimes. We’re talking about bias and privilege. There is a lot of research out there about it in race and gender studies. I’m a white man. I don’t hate myself. But I live with an awareness of my privilege so I can be a more sensitive toward others. The world is not an equal place. Unless we recognize that fact we perpetuate the inequality.

            • I know the world is not an equal place and my activism stems, in part, from that fact. That’s one thing.

              Another, completely different thing is saying that racism is not racism (only “racial bias”) or that men are a threat to women.

              You should, really read this: http://www.skepticink.com/lateraltruth/2013/03/08/chuck-your-privilege/

    • Here’s the thing, Mr. Osorio: If by drinking milk 1 in 5 children contracted a deadly disease and died, we’d say that was a serious threat to children. Right? So statistically, men are a serious threat to women! I’m not saying all men are a serious threat to women, I’m not even saying you are a serious threat to women. All I’m saying is that any women is justified in feeling threatened by any man without further evidence to support the notion that he’s safe.

      • Nope. Correlation is not causation. Didn’t you learn anything during this year?

        • Good grief, I’m not arguing causation. This is exhausting. I have better luck debating Christians.

      • “any women is justified in feeling threatened by any man without further evidence”

        That’s their right, they’re not justified though! Everyone is innocent until proven otherwise, and there’s no biological trait that can change that.

      • David is correct to note that your argument includes assumed causation where it is not assured. For example, smoking increases your risk of lung cancer. Not because some select types or brands of cigarettes cause cancer, it’s a general effect of tobacco on lungs. Is this the case with the milk example? Or is it that a fraction of products from a particular farm or region were tainted? With sexual assault, we know the answer to this: a small fraction of people are capable of violent criminal acts. The groups they belong to are not intrinsically harmful the way tobacco is intrinsically harmful.

        If you meet a random man (or woman) on the street, the justified feeling is cautious optimism, because it’s massively likely that random person is not going to harm you. Your argument, if believed, may actually make women less safe by convincing them not to trust the people who are vastly more likely to be innocuous than to be anything else.

        Your assertion that maleness is intrinsically linked to violence is also untenable. The rates of violence, including rape, vary exponentially across time and space. In just the last thirty years alone, the rate of rape has dropped 90% in the US and these have been similar drops in all violent crimes. But maleness didn’t change, right? We still have men. If the behavior of males in these respects can vary on exponential scales, then no argument that maleness intrinsically means danger of violence is reasonable.

        • euphemus2

          Look – about 3 weeks ago I posted a comment and left it at that. Now, you return with a banal insult – I have email alerts so I got a notification immediately. Why are you engaging me now? Are you lonely? Is no one coming to visit your page?Or was it that you needed to have the last word but didn’t expect me to be a registered Disqus user? Then you respond and immediately ban me so as you can have the last word. You are a troubled man, and egg-shell fragile.

    • Sincere Kirabo

      Firstly, not only are your views on racism (insofar as what it is, and what it is not) horrendously misinformed, it’s a non sequitur in relation to his disbelief. Even if it were the case he was a racist – which he isn’t – that wouldn’t negate what’s supposed to be the topic of the discussion.

      Second, your statement relating to what you imagine to be sexist views is just laughable and reflects the flaw in your comprehension of the subject, and not his views.

      Instead of trying to lengthily breakdown what racism is and is not, I would highly suggest reading material provided by critical race theorists and such. What you will find, as it would be the case with a cursory Google search that links to fundamental data, is that racism is discrimination + power. Blacks in America aren’t in a place of power, as anyone who’s approached and passed the point of puberty can clearly see.

      America’s social systems are infused with the same ideation that declared “We the People” and that “all men are created equal” in the Charters of Freedom and yet considered women and people of color as insignificant, lesser things.

      This nation’s zeitgeist clearly perpetrates a pervasive attitude that creates what is termed “white privilege”, which is a species of social privilege. This idea infects culture, various mediums, legislation and informs implicit biases and negative stereotypes about people of color.

      Ryan Bell’s insight is in agreement with anything an academic or theoretician who specializes on the subject would say. The only thing surprising here is that you either didn’t know that, or that you deny its validity.

      This isn’t to say that Blacks, or any other minority, cannot discriminate. Sure they can – and do. That doesn’t negate the fact that a minority in America cannot exert the mythic proposition referred to as “reverse racism”.

      I admire and commend Ryan for his self-awareness and recognition of how, even with the best intentions, he – just like anyone else – will still fall prey to implicit biases that manifest in sexist or by other prejudiced means. We live in a society that was built upon patriarchal tenets, and these same principles are reinforced in a multitude of ways. So even if we make a conscientious effort to move beyond such erroneous thought processes, we cannot always shake environmental influences from expressing themselves. This is how the dilemma of unconscious and core beliefs work.

      You entire argument – and article – is fallacious. Every paragraph. So I don’t waste time ripping it apart line-by-line. But yeah, I’d be pretty embarrassed to have published this, ditto for anyone who accepts what you say uncritically.

      My advice: This this article down, read (a lot), reconsider your position utilizing critical appraisal once you’ve examined the gaggle of data related to these topics – then revisit the discussion.

      That is, if you are a skeptic and are one who inquires after things asserted or taken for granted. If not, ignore this and rationalize my words away…somehow.

    • Émelyne Museaux

      I’m not sure what to say here that you won’t strawman, false analogy or use selective reasoning with when reading :/ The fact that you can understand male privilege and the documented history of men being a threat to women but then flippantly give two examples of successful Black people and ignore both the history of the past and present danger that White people pose to all people of colour (think colonization, crusades, slavery, Jim Crow, murdere of black youth) is laughable. It’s insane that White people consider Blacks a threat and cry racism when a Black person hurts their feelings wih the truth, but have somehow convinced themselves that after hundreds of years of stealing land, lives and resources, they’re the peaceful ones. You should have spared yourself the time it took to write this drivel.

    • SmilodonsRetreat

      Just to jump in the other side. Atheism is purely a disbelief in god(s). Mr. Bell is probably a fine atheist now. He understands that there is no god.

      However, just because one is an atheist doesn’t mean that one isn’t a jerk too. There are plenty of atheists that hold all kinds of abhorrent views.

      It’s a shame that atheism doesn’t automatically mean humanism (or intelligence). However, it is a shame that people listen Mr. Bell (who is only now taking his atheism journey) and assumes that this means all atheists believe the things he does. And that he has a large audience with HuffPo who accepts that he is truthful because he says the things they want to hear.

      • Joe G

        No, he BELIEVES there isn’t any God. There isn’t any understanding…

    • kraut2

      “Black people can exhibit racial bias like everyone else, but as a structural problem, there is no reverse racism. It doesn’t exist. White people are privileged.”

      which is akin to saying that because of Nazism jews cannot be fascists – which would be an idiotic statement considering the active fascism displayed by many settlers.

      Just because a group is opressed or was opressed does not mean they cannot internalize the believe system of the opressor and turn it against them or other groups they perceive rightly or wrongly as an enemy.

    • Jerry Demint

      This whole conversation is one giant clusterfuck.

    • Guest

      Who cares?

      Says the guy who spend time creating an article about him.

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