FOR ATHEISTIC JEWS.
Thoughts based on an article from the web site of ‘Friendly Atheists’.
(Plus other discussion sites.)
for this site.
It doesn’t take much research to discover that something like 60 –70% of today’s Jews; describe themselves (or are known to take the position) of being ‘Secular Jews’ – or perhaps ‘Cultural-non-religious’ Jews. It is possible that this would be similar to the ratio of secular people in most Western Societies, USA, UK, Australasia, especially.
However, this site is dedicated to “Secular Jews’. [We can’t help hoping you will enjoy it!] These statistics seem to take on an extra dimension of interest, when it is Jewish people who class themselves as ‘atheists’. This is, because – the general understanding of many people for many years, was that all Jews were ‘religious’. This has lasted over the centuries, and mainly because of the wide availability of the Judeo- Christian Bible, - and all the books, films, organisations, and more – that come from that. Many historical events up to the 20th century, gave the impression that to be a Jew was to be a religious person with a belief in God, and originally ‘Zionism’ (from about 1850) was linked to this understanding, as part of the God-given destiny of all Jewish people. For various reasons this has now changed.
Accepting the Reality of non-religious Jews.
The whole trend of western society has gradually been moving from a religious base to an apparently ‘non-religious ideology’ – sometimes called ‘New Age Humanism’, (which actually is a form of religion).
Even when people did not regard themselves as ‘religious’, A RELIGIOUS LABEL was still respected as the background to the ‘English’ culture, in the English-speaking Western world. In fact being ‘secular’ should actually be seen as a shift from one belief system (worship of the Biblical God) to another ‘religion’, (belief in the supremacy of mankind alone) called ‘Humanism’.
Yet, in the case of most ‘western’ people, (regardless of whatever racial/ ethnic background a person might have), turning from a belief in God did not seem too surprising or unusual. After all, the biggest proportion of the population, (even if they called themselves ‘Christian’) actually did not embrace a full Christian lifestyle, or even the basic beliefs.
In the case of many Jewish people, the shift from ‘a Theistic religion’ was greatly influenced by the events of changing ideologies by the 20th century, but especially the ‘Holocaust’ of the ‘Second World War and perhaps even a disillusionment around events in the State of Israel since 1947.
Why Jews are usually thought of as ‘Religious’.
However, because the Jewish religious hierarchy for centuries have identified ‘being Jewish’ with practicing Jewish religious beliefs and practices, (and they still do) it seemed unlikely that Jewish people would be convinced that they could be genuine, ethnic Jews, but not be religious.
The fact is, that’s exactly how literally millions of Jews today, see themselves ~ “Jewish but not religious”. (This is NOT to say they don’t have high principles ~ they do and are very nice people for sure!) But they have adopted a belief and a lifestyle, which is not thought of as religiously based. Therefore if - say, there are something like 15 million people who consider themselves to be Jewish-born by family descent, perhaps there are as many as 10 million ‘Secular Jews’ in the world now.
[We are NOT talking about the cults that say all white-skinned descendants of Anglo-Saxon Britains are ‘Jews’ because they claim to be part of the “ten lost tribes of Israel”. This claim has no basis in historical or biblical fact. Hundreds of members of the ‘break-away’ historical northern kingdom of Israel actually joined the southern tribes, which already included the members of the tribes of Levi, Benjamin and Simeon, so even in the time of Hezekiah and later, King Josiah, the 12 tribes were well represented in the kingdom called ‘Judah’. By the beginning of the 4th Millennium, (2000 years ago sometime after the return of those who had been exiled in Babylon), it was well established that ‘Israel’ included people from all 12 Tribes, but by then they were, collectively called ‘Jews’]
Very understandable reasons for people to be ‘Non-religious Jews’.
The ‘Age of Enlightenment’ that dawned on the western world, with advances in science, practical technologies, (like printing, machinery, ‘transport vehicles’, etc), and in communications led also to new scientific and ideological concepts. Religion was now more open to question, and the tragic effects of two world wars in the Twentieth Century, following the persecution of the Jewish race in the Spanish Inquisition and Russian pogroms against them, did much to dishearten Jewish people, along with the rigidity of the Religious sections of Judaism. A desire to be more open and honest as human beings, and to enjoy the seeming freedom of a non-religious lifestyle, was very acceptable to many Jews.
The swing to atheism.
1. Without apparent, easily explained reasons and evidence for Judaistic Beliefs, (based on sheer disappointment with the seeming distance of Israel’s God at a time like the ‘Holocaust’), many good, intelligent, modern Jewish people felt it was more honest to question the existence of God. [This, it seems was behind the creation of the ‘Jewish Atheist’ web site, and now a ‘Secular Earth’ web site.]
2. Also, it appears the conduct of Synagogue services and teaching was not as vibrant and attractive as it might have been.
3. The struggle to establish Israel as a free, accepted democratic nation, subjected as it has been to 7 wars of aggression from Muslim neighbours; plus two periods called ‘Intefada’, (where terrorist acts against peace-loving Citizens of Israel caused many deaths and injured people), meant that many Jews became disillusioned with the whole ‘Zionist dream’. This was inspite of the fact that actually, Zionism was almost more socialist than religious. There seemed a real need to be self-sufficient to build the Zionists dream. Sadly, (from our point of view) this led many Jews to rejection of the reality of their God. [You might like to see our link discussing about ‘G-d’, here]
4. So in a time of many modern inventions and discoveries ~ as well as the high level of education among the Jewish population, ‘Humanism’ seemed so much more honest, and based on an intelligent love of Truth. [Look for an excellent article “From Religious Idea to Secular Ideology”, by Ed Snitkoff.]
BELIEFS OF ATHEISTS.
(As taken from some of their own articles and blogs.)
Basic Statements to think about.
[We have scanned the articles to save you time! ]
a background of (universally) agreed facts, we would not be able to
conduct daily life.”
Response: This is very true, and should form a reasonable foundation for making some helpful conclusions. But what are “Are the agreed facts”? Also is it not true that some facts are more important to daily life, that others?
Probably a lot of the ‘agreed facts’ are so obvious we hardly think about them.
A number of previously 'agreed facts' have been influenced or changed by modern scientific and experimental knowledge.
An example might be, because of a better understanding of the causes of many physical illnesses being by infection from micro-organisms, the importance of hygiene, is now an agreed fact.
[Advertisers of cleaning products, for the body, the mouth or houses or clothing – are very happy to accept this ‘fact’!]
However while ‘hygiene’ is good it cannot prevent all infections, yet it is still an agreed fact that ‘cleanliness is good’. Balance in matching facts and actions, in most things are important!
Therefore accepting “universally agreed facts” as most atheists do, is a good start but often needs more assessment of specifc ‘agreed facts’! Do you agree?
Also it is true that in most cases a “background of agreed facts” is helpful but not always accurate or essential to daily life.
Only genuine well-tried facts about essential life principles that are based on indisputable truths ~ provide the basis for a truly fulfilled life.
These are the FACTS that honest people need to find.
FACT is a word or set of words that can conventionally be applied to
a specific thing or situation.”
Answer 1. Yet some statements that are highly ‘conventional’ (acceptable) statements may or not be based on actual scientific or verifiable facts. In other words, they may be accepted ‘by faith’, or supposition!
Thousands of people believe in the statements of the ‘Theory of Evolution’, but there is good scientific research that challenges those statements as not being truthful facts. It is a good excuse to dismiss ‘having to believe in a Creator ~ God’, which frankly, many self-centred people find convenient.
Motives can be important in establishing facts
Answer 2. Millions of accepted facts, are indeed “sets of words, which are applied to thousands of specific things” – but as time goes by and more research is done into space, the world, the human body, nature, etc., etc., the ‘facts’ can be found to be needing changes and adjustments.
But real provable, eternal TRUTH never changes.
So both ‘facts’ and ‘truth’ need to be examined. Perhaps atheists could do these tests and examinations well, if they were prepared to study all the evidence very carefully?
is important, but in almost every case
good evidence must still be accepted by ‘faith’.
3. On the other hand, a
‘statement of fact’ maybe believed/ accepted, but not
Example 1. Most people accept the statement that ‘drinking poison is harmful’. Yet many people take the risks of drinking well-known beverages that contain significant amounts of the poison called ‘alcohol’ which can be used to preserve specimens in a science or hospital laboratory. The provable truth is that alcohol is harmful to the human body and brain. Yet many people still drink it. So the facts maybe believed but not acted on. So ‘blind faith’ is the result, by deciding that the dangers do not matter. ~
an informed faith that believes in God ~
is often thought of as ‘stupid’ by many secular people!
Example 2. Many people will berate and decry scientific intervention in nature [such as objections to ‘G-E’ crops’] or other practices that are thought to pollute or damage the environment, or human bodies, but have no problem with people smoking or drinking alcohol, or even the taking of harmful drugs.
is a form of honesty.
But living a consistently honest and truthful life is important to Life!
Therefore some ‘conventionally accepted’ facts need honest scrutiny.
It is right to assess ones own ‘accepted’ beliefs,
but motives and reasons are important, too.
MORE DANGEROUS DEFINITIONS OF
FACTS OR TRUTHS, FROM ATHEISTIC WEB SITES.
“Truth is something
most people believe, because it is repeated often”.
Answer: You would not agree, I’m sure! Yet the sad reality is that repeated statements, very often do deceive many unthinking people.
Example: For years people believed a certain highly acclaimed fruit juice was rich in Vitamin C. Two schoolgirls in a school science competition in New Zealand, found this was provably not true.
Quote: “Truth is only truth, if it can be proved by scientific, literal, visible evidence.”
Answer. This is only partly right.
An honest person would have to concede that some things cannot, or have not yet been proved to be true, by science, but are accepted as facts. We are privileged to live in a time when science has revealed many true facts about Space, the Earth and nature, and the Human body. However many things that we accept, still wait to be tested scientifically, but in the meantime we just trust they are true and continue to live life, as our ancestors did ‘in faith’ – with out much of the ‘proof’ we now have!
An example: This might be that the Earth is absolutely unique in the Universes of Space, since so far, nothing like it has been discovered. The proponents of ‘Saving the Earth’ theories and plans of action, may not say this straight out – but by their theories and extensive plans, they imply a belief, that the ‘Earth is unique’! That’s why there is so much talk and effort to ‘Save the Planet’! Yet other people are still looking for another ‘earth’ or habitable place in space, while they are using the very totally inflexible, (and once mysterious) rules of physics, astrology and other scientific principles which enable accurate launches of inter-space vehicles, to question the fact of the uniqueness of this Earth!
Quote 1: “Provable Truth is the only foundation of Faith – or belief.”
Quote 2: “Truth, (though open to question) is defined by facts that can be agreed on.”
Answer. Again this is shaky ground for dogmatic statements. This is the basic belief – (though the writer does not use the word ‘belief’) - in a paper giving 21 (unscientific) reasons for not believing in a true God, because they refuse to accept up to 21 convincing arguments for (the truth of the reality of) – GOD.” There have been times when people have agreed on ‘facts’, later found NOT to be true.
firmly believe the most important aspects
of Truth can be found by anyone set on finding Truth.
The reality – however you look at it is – no one can prove there is NO God.
Nor can anyone prove from scientific facts alone, that there IS God!
Each set of accepted conclusions represent a
‘Faith’ or ‘Belief’, for or against the existence of God.
One true observation that one of the Atheistic web
sites made was; “Many people who discard
their Judeo/ Christian Beliefs, turn to new mythologies [like
‘Humanism’] supposedly better by being different.”
Answer. That is true – but either way they are both forms of a religious belief.
So Atheism or Humanism requires a ‘faith’.
A Quote: “Co-incidences are not proof of anything.”
Answer. This eliminates, it would seem many miraculous experiences which people have certainly had, simply because they seem to be beyond human understanding or rational acceptance. Events can be and in some cases are amazing proofs of the existence of God! Especially for Jewish People! More amazing facts about this is in the article “Jewish person, Why Are You here?”
A Query: “Linguistics may be a path to Truth”. This was a possibility floated on the Jewish Atheist’s web site.
Answer. It isn’t quite clear what that meant, but if it means good words, ~ ancient words especially, like those in the Tanakh ~ if they are looked at carefully, those words can be as close to scientific factual proof as anything in a test tube!
scholarly people have looked at them just like that
- and scientifically proved it is true!
last quote: “Secular
humanism’ (like atheism) is a philosophy that upholds reason,
ethics, and justice, and rejects the supernatural and
spiritual. It is a life stance.”
Answer. To us any good ‘Life stance’ is only worthwhile when it is really open to reason, which leads to good ethics and true justice ~ based on love and mercy, and the power to genuinely forgive! For millions of good people, a reasonable and possible life stance is only in the final analysis, for those who see the value and the need of the GOOD ethical reality of the ‘supernatural and spiritual’. Only the ethical virtue of humility linked to truthful sincerity can prove the reality of the ‘Spiritual’.
Genuine GOOD ethical attitudes of service, mercy and forgiveness –especially for those who have wronged us – or even could be called ‘enemies’ - are only possible with ‘Super-natural help’. The general term, (lets face it) is called 'goodness', meaning reasonable ethics and justice. A very famous, truly Good Jewish Teacher once said; “ONLY GOD IS GOOD.” It’s worth thinking about!
Because it is true!!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Thankyou for reading this article
But we would sincerely invite you to look at our
next one, written especially for genuine
‘CURIOUS JEWISH ATHEISTS’.
“No one is better that their source of information”.
We hope you agree?
So many times people have said about an issue,
“O if only I had known…”
Only with good information such as we provide
in that next paper, added to by your own research
can you reach a place of inner satisfaction.
[Please note; this article is being written for other people like ourselves, using ordinary basic logic, as we are NOT qualified to delve into very complex reasoning such as presented on some other web sites. You can see one here: atheismexposed.tripod.com or this good one: www.btinternet.com/~pimeta/synopsis.html
BUT we invite you to start here!
the meantime, we can and do pray the prayer for you, especially given
to Aaron, Moshe’s brother, the first High Priest of Israel.“The
LORD bless you, and keep you.” Even Jewish Atheists may
be glad one day of someone to pray that prayer, even for you.
[Just - in – case - you do want to know what we believe from the Tanakh only, about God, we have listed some Scriptures especially for Jewish people about God from the Tanakh for you to think over. See here.