If last January's event at the crossroads of atheism and religion was the emergence of The Sunday Assembly (possibly the fastest growing “church" in the world), this January former Adventist pastor and minor celebrity Ryan Bell is making news with his plan to chronicle a Year Without God. For this “believing atheist" it comes as no surprise that both (many) believers and (some) atheists find it hard to wrap their heads around such a venture. While no two intellectual biographies are the same, I'll throw in my two cents.
It's not that one should dare opt for eternal damnation that irks the faithful - the world is, after all, replete with the numerous sorts of the doomed. It's the flirting which they find simply appalling! They haven't yet learned Tim Minchin's “anthem to ambivalence". A “true believer" loves an unbeliever, nay, he/she needs the unbeliever - it's the latter who gives the “true believer" his/her gravitas. “The Cross", for instance, is supposed to divide history and the world in clear, opposing parties. One can either embrace or reject its claims. Sitting on the fence suggests the possibility that “the Cross" is not all that important to either history or the world. It ridicules and offends the devout way more than outright rejection.
As for reading atheist literature, one need not look further than the Bible itself. When the stultifying straightjackets of a “spiritual" hermeneutics are put aside, this ancient collection of texts reveals itself for what it actually is - the best argument for atheism conceivable. God is only a mirror for humanity. There is no such thing as prophecy, let alone “Messianic prophecy". The apocalyptic imperialism of the “Kingdom of Christ" is no better than the delusional dreams of Jerusalemite world dominance. And I'd replace the likes of Spinoza and Locke with George Carlin, Tim Minchin and the rest of the best preachers of disbelief. If one is to go to hell, why not go laughing?