FOR CURIOUS JEWISH ATHEISTS.
Thoughts based on common questions about a ‘Jewish Faith’.
for this site.
We happen to have a genuine respect for all people, but especially the Jewish people we have as our friends. So this site is dedicated to them and it is the discussions we have had with them that has inspired this site. We hope these rather simple and straight-forward concepts are encouraging!
Accepting the Reality of non-religious Jews.
For most people (and many Jews themselves) the reality of true Jewish-born people not being ‘religious’ has come as a surprise. Yet even a small amount of research confirms this is true.
Why Jews are usually thought of as ‘Religious’.
There has been a convenient explanation by the Ultra Religious leaders of modern Judaism for several centuries, that a Jewish person cannot claim to be ‘Jewish’ without formally practicing their set religious patterns of belief and practice. It certainly has helped to retain a following of Jewish people. However the development of more a realistic understanding from the 19th century, has led to the realisation, that a person’s ethnic makeup was through the family relationship, not by the religious definition given to them. [This is true whether one is born into a Hindu, Muslim, Christian or Jewish – or any other religious society]. So here is a very important statement about every person alive!
Modern, intelligent people recognise the right to distinguish between their family-born heritage or lineage, and the need for each individual person to freely make their own careful choices of right inner convictions ~ that is: the beliefs or ideals that govern their life style.
understandable reasons for people to be ‘Non-religious Jews’.
There are good and correct reasons for Jews, (or others) to consider the facts of their history in relation to their spiritual beliefs. For Jewish people the extreme suffering of many Jewish people over many centuries has been a basis for genuine questioning of the teaching they were given. Yet perhaps, further considerations need to be looked at, such as we try to honestly provide on this web site ‘For Secular Jews’, especially. [See our previous article here.]
genuine inner ‘FAITH’ or 'Ideology' does not need
based on outward ‘religious’ rules or customs.
swing to Atheism.
In the light of the above explanations and the sheer history of Jewish people, the change to not believing in a 'Supernatural Authority' is not to be surprised at.
Everyone has a right to sincerely question theories or beliefs that they hear of. However, we believe Atheism leaves even more questions ~ questions that are unanswered. Also a total unawareness of the uniqueness of the true Jewish heritage, let alone (in most cases the answers to an inner sense of emptiness or inadequacy) - should lead to a curiosity to know the Truth.
would like to offer you some answers to think about,
in genuine love and concern for Jewish Atheists.
Thankyou for reading on!
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SO NOW WE ASK THREE ‘UNSCIENTIFIC’
BUT ORDINARY, HUMAN QUESTIONS FIRST.
[Answers will come later.]
We address these three basic problems to think about as A & B & C.
are welcome to debate these! Questions like: “where did I come
from and where am I going?”
[Have you heard this little story? Small girl to her mother, -
“Is it true that people come from dust and will go back to dust one day?”
“Yes, that’s right Darling”, mother responded.
“Well then, mummy, there’s someone coming or going under my bed!”]
A> WHAT ABOUT A POSSIBLE LINK BETWEEN THIS LIFE AND THE NEXT?
What if there is a Life after this life that is affected by what we believe, (and do) in this life?
General ideas are rather ambivalent on this question, though the general concept is that a ‘good’ life here will be sufficient to ensure a ‘good life’ in the ‘Olam ha ba’ [the Age to come’]. Probably most Atheists, agree that it is important to live a good life here, even if there is no ‘after-life’. But either way it is worth taking a moment to consider the question as an honest, truth seeking Jew.
11th of Maimonides ‘13 Principles’ states:
“God will reward the good and punish the evil”.
Our response: Surely there is a need for atheistic Jews to examine this statement very carefully? It is, after all a very important question.
Aside from a debate that could come out of this about ‘what is good and what is evil’, it should be clear about what kind of reward is meant and what kind of God or Person is making the decisions in connection with ‘what is good, and what is evil’. We believe this is a valid question that, (especially in the face of death) should have a definite answer.
Judaism’s partial answer. Of course for those who are religious Jews, the ‘Ten Days of Awe’ each year is a recognised period in which, by repenting before God, and putting right - any wrong actions against others, before Yom Kippur [Day of Atonement’] people can hope that they can ensure that their names will be inscribed in “the Book of Life”, instead of the opposite, “The book of Death”.
Some believe in a ‘Book of In-between’ thereby leaving room for vindication to be postponed to some later date. It is possible, (though not definite) that this ‘later date’ may be the time, when Maimonides 13th Principle states, “the Dead will be resurrected”. This raises other questions like, ‘Who does the resurrecting and why and where to’?
For Atheistic Jews, annihilation would seem to be the only (unsatisfactory?) answer…
fact is: that for Atheistic Jews there is no absolute
assurance or hope
of an after life, or an individual’s status at that time,
let alone what alternative kinds of ‘life’ there might be.
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HOW CAN LIFE ON PLANET EARTH BE EXPLAINED?
How in fact, can the existence of the world of nature and people be explained if there is no ‘Original Cause’ – that is, actually ‘a Creator God’?
Again, this is where a great deal of modern scientific research is throwing light on the question. But even then, science having demonstrated the strong probability of an incredibly capable Designer, it requires an acceptance ~ that the Designer was a Divine Personality. The accuracy of the scientific details mentioned in the Tanakh signifies the fact of God’s supreme intelligence ~ only now being discovered and proved true by mankind. This is an amazing conclusion, as there are no other ancient writings which have these kind of statements recorded, let alone so accurately. If you want a start to check this out you can do so here. www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/52 The article is called, ‘What’s all this about’. Also see ‘faq’ under the same heading.
is good to at least consider the probability of a Creator God.
We do this in an article here.
Our careful study and conclusions are,
that this question can be resolved in a conclusive way!
[You might also like to see www.allaboutgod.com/science.htm ]
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WHATABOUT THE GOOD AND VERY BAD EVENTS IN THIS
How can all the sad and bad things that have happened in the whole world, since known history be accounted for? Also – just as important - how can all the ‘good’ in the world be explained?
This is huge and serious dilemma for honest people, but atheism does not offer any helpful conclusions. It would be just as honest to consider where does all the beauty and details of fruitfulness in nature, or the magnificent, complex, grandeur of 'Creation' from microscopic to the farthest reaches of Space explorers, (like the Hubble Space Craft), come from?
Or what causes the goodness and kindness of some humans, and the skills of intellectual developments to make life easier in the areas of technology, medicine and communications?
These are actually moral questions of justice, love and a true level of transparent honesty. How are athletes and sports people, musicians and artists, and others, able to reach such high levels of skills and stamina and amazing accomplishments? Above all, what motivates people to do great sacrificial acts (like dying for another person) or even doing small acts of kindness for other people?
These are HUGE and serious questions for honest, thinking people – how can we account for or explain all - both the ‘bad’ and the ‘good’ things of life? We answer these questions in C> below.
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OUR ANSWERS FOR ATHEISTIC JEWS TO CONSIDER.
[We simply offer these – definitely – as our sure beliefs – but respect your right to disagree.]
A> THE QUESTION ABOUT A LIFE AFTER THIS, BEING DECIDED BY A PERSON’S LIFE HERE.
The question of a life after this one, where “God will reward the good, and punish the evil”.
We offer principles of truth, not a religion, as the answers.
1. What is ‘good and what is evil’ needs a High Moral Authority to make the Decision.
Someone Who is a totally Holy [Pure] Supremely powerful AND loving Person. If ever there was a society or group of people where every person was permitted to decide what they alone wanted to be, do or say, without ANY ‘Authority’ to make acceptable rules, there would be so much anarchy and chaos that death would be the only final rule. There is no group on Earth that doesn’t have some guidelines, whether it is gangs, clubs, sports teams, hobby groups or civic societies. Some tribal groups have lacked good laws – especially regarding revenge, so that in some cases they actually became extinct. If Secular Jews of all people, dismiss the good “Ten Commandments” then what hope has any other nation or tribe or ethnic group, have?
For 3 thousand years, it has been the basic guide to civilised life.
Rewards and punishment have to go in tandem
to ensure a degree of harmony in any group of people.
Even a Kindergarten would need rules. First for
safety, then for the enjoyment of most of the children, thirdly to
help them progress on the ladder of life. This is exactly true for
every society of people on Earth. Where would the desire in every
human being for good, kind, thrifty, honest, diligent
self-supporting, nature preserving, productive, fair and just and
merciful behaviour come from?
Historically it can be seen to be true that only societies of nations that adopted those basic beliefs of the ‘The Commandments’ have been the most prosperous, healthy, peaceful and successful. It is only because some citizens ignored or broke these guidelines that these civilised societies were not perfect. It is absolutely true and evident that “right living exalts a nation”. Surely for every individual, or nation God has the right to set the boundaries of ‘good and evil’, and has done all He could to make them known to us.
was the very reason for the Nation of Israel
to be chosen and called into existence!
ONLY ADONAI, THE GOD OF ISRAEL HAS
THE RIGHT TO MAKE GREAT DECISIONS.
The totally reliable, proven, unique Hebrew Book, the Tanakh
gives clear explanations of Who has the right to say what
is good and what is evil, and what the results will be for
each. We believe that it is the benevolent Existence of the Only God,
ADONAI, the God of Israel, Who has rightly given in LOVE the
Guidelines; we call ‘Laws’, to be the basic ‘ruler’
or criteria of what is good and what is bad. This answers the
question, “Who has the right to say what is good and what is
4. However this great caring Creative God of the special Hebrew race of Jewish-born people, (and all mankind), Who is totally powerful and totally loving and totally just and fair (or ‘Holy’) also has the right to decide the time, place and kind of rewards for ‘good’ or punishments for ‘bad’ living. It is taking a huge risk to take over God’s role, to decide for one’s self (or anyone else) the ‘type of rewards’ for what is good and what is evil. It therefore it is not a question that should be dismissed in a fog of selfish unbelief, especially by honest truth-seeking Jews but looked for diligently. [Please note, we’re not talking about religiosity.]
5. The eternal nature of the inner spirit of mankind, or God given conscience is deeply planted in every human heart. Therefore in a way, this is not the biggest question, but rather what will be my reward in that future Life? Again, only the Tanakh assures Jewish people of the need to consider the present life, with at least some thought about an ‘after-life’. Have you ever noticed the word 'conscience' is made up of 'con'= with and 'science'. Maybe God has planted a 'laboratory' to analyse life choices within every human being? See 'Scriptures from the Tanakh'.
B> LIFE ON THE EARTH CAN ONLY BE EXPLAINED BY ACCEPTING A CREATOR GOD
Question B > How can life on Earth be explained?
1. Without a belief in a Designer of the whole of the known area of ‘Space’ and this universe, (among many), Who was a Powerful Creative Deity ~ there is no basis for meaning, purpose or even the continuing existence ~ for this life only ~ of each and every one of us.
If some people can honestly live in a vacuum of faith – that there is no GOD, they could be open to much despondency or a nagging sense of insecurity. We wonder if ‘suicide’ is a product of unbelief? To us it is harder to believe there is no God, than to believe that there is a GOD! There has to be one Truth for this question. The only alternative is to live in a limbo of agnostic ignorance by saying “I don’t know”. But if the TRUTH can be known, then it is wise to grasp it. A Jewish man once said a good thing; (Uri Zvi Greenberg) “There is one Truth, not two; as there is one sun,” [as part of our planetary system], “and there are not two Jerusalems.”
The Tanakh is decisive, from the first words of B’resheet/ Genesis, “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth”. Then within a few more descriptions it says, “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female HE created them.”
“In His own image/ likeness” ~ means to us, that we are above the level of animals, as we have been given a superior brain, (intellect), which includes the ability to communicate in words, the ability to make even hard choices, (volition) and the capacity to love and care, (emotions).
No evolution from animals to human beings here! A good site about Science and the Bible is www.pjknight.kol.co.nz/universe/universe.html
2. We believe that the only reason that a Hebrew/ Jewish ethnic race of people exists, is because GOD made a deliberate choice of Abraham, also his son by a miraculous birth - Isaac, then Jacob and his 12 sons, forming them and preserving them (against huge adverse forces) to exist right into the 5th millennium, - that we call the 21st Century!
are several versions of this following story, but the basic statement
A French Emperor asked his religious Adviser,
“What is the best proof that there is a God?”
the Adviser thought carefully before answering, “The Jews, your majesty”.
The whole of the history of your Jewish People is too long to trace right
here, but the choice, preservation, distinctive characteristics and
opportunities for the Jewish People and the fulfilled prophetic writings
for Jews in the sacred Book of the Tanakh are absolutely outstanding!
is completely proved true by many fulfilled prophecies, sometimes
hundreds of years after their pronouncements. So this is irrefutable
proof to anyone who studies the authenticity of the Tanakh. Eighty %
of the predictions, which were expected to happen up to THIS time in
History, have come true. The other 20% will come true as the world
reaches the time for the climax, foretold about it. We have written
about prophetic proof for Jews only – up to now; [see here],
also about the future for Jewish people here]
C> THE ANSWER TO THE PROBLEMS OF ‘GOOD’ AND ‘EVIL’ IN THIS LIFE.
How can all the good and bad things that have happened throughout history be explained?
1. ‘A Book that cares’, might be a good name for the Tanakh. The high level of integrity, (which cannot be matched by any other ancient book) adds to its accurate information and high ethical code, actual ways on how to use its guidelines. It also tells us the Source of grace to make it ‘work’ in our lives. This is in the true stories, prayers and songs of the real-life experiences of real Hebrew people to success, failure, recovery, and the inner life battles that life in this world brings to every human being no matter who they are! “Man is born to trouble, as the spark fly upward’ is true, but also ‘there is comfort for sorrow’. (It is all there in the Tanakh!) How we would love to bring you the stories that prove that, but they will have to wait for another time.
2. The problem of suffering in the human life (actually to all forms of life on this Planet) is a moral dilemma, which demands a truthful response. Part of the answer is actually in the giving of clear guide-lines for avoiding many of the pains and pitfalls of life, by the Teachings of the Decalogue or ‘Ten Commandments’.
Just as a loving Father would carefully teach his son ‘the Rules of the Road’ before allowing him to take over the wheel of his most treasured vehicle, so a Loving Father God has given us some ‘Rules of Life’ for our best good! So this is part of the answer, because in our case they are for the good of the treasured vehicles of every individual, every family, and society; yet so often we steer our own lives into sorrow and trouble a lot of the time. So it is not right to “blame God for all the evil” when sheer stupidity and sinfulness is probably the largest cause of the ‘problems of evil’.
we people are far quicker to condemn God for what we do not like,
but rarely thank Him, or give Him credit for His great goodness.
was MOST evident at the 60th Celebrations of the Independence of
Modern Israel in 2008/5768, when this writer could not find one word
of acknowledgement to Israel’s ADONAI Elohim for modern
Israel’s survival and success. Any thanks given, went to
3. However in the Tanakh the values given there are demonstrated ~ either positively or negatively in the lives of real people of that time. Hebrew/ Jewish people, (please note), who cannot be blindly dismissed as ‘fictional’ – as some Secular Jewish Teachers say – since they were your ancestors, without which you would not now exist. So justice and cruelty, truth and deceit, blessings and curses, victories and defeat, success and failure, crying and laughing ~ are not only written about, but God Himself describes His ‘feelings’ in these words and ways, as He identifies with us, showing He is a caring God!
There are other rational and helpful answers to the problems of suffering in the world, and specifically for Jewish people, but these are rather too long to write about here. So please, start by reading the Tehellim/ Psalms yourself ~ if you would like some further answers.[If you are really keen to read some in depth articles, you are welcome to contact us by e-mail and we can direct you to them.}.]
simply add, that our genuine concern is that
many Secular Jews would find some real answers and
encouragements in the words we have written.
You’re invited to see our other articles, especially about
prophetic promises for Israel in the Tanakh.
OUR APPEAL TO EVERY ‘ATHEISTIC JEWISH PERSON’
IS TO ACCEPT THESE FACTS.
reasons (in love and with respect) for this, are these:
1. Your own personal experience of contentment and satisfaction. Life has enough problems, pressures hassles of relationships and just the business of living life, without any nagging doubts about the TRUTH.
2. The experiences that in the near future are going to bring great joy to the Nation of Israel and all Jewish people. Again this is a very big subject, which comes straight out of the Tanakh. We have tackled it in a separate study here. ((For Jews Only.)) But if you have a Tanakh in English (or any other language) you could do your own reading. Look at Ezekiel, chapters 36 – 37 and Jeremiah 30, 31 and 33.Also Isaiah 60 –66. You may see some descriptions of events in the past, but most of these and several other parts of the Tanakh are still in the future – a very bright future for Israel and all Jewish people. [Now you will understand better what we have written in our paper about the Tanakh, here.]
3. Because we believe every person in the world is going to be pressured into believing that the only ‘god’ is ‘Gaia’, instead of the ‘GOD of Israel’. Secular Jewish people are almost sure to know about this belief that is being promoted already by the ‘Global Governance Leaders’ that are promoting the concepts about ‘Saving The Planet’ – The Green Agenda, as it is also called. We believe the honest secular Jewish people will not be happy to accept their theories, at all. Please see: here and also here.
So we close this introduction to this important subject for your own
consideration. It can only be a brief introduction to a big subject.
Yet for a Jewish person, especially ~ we feel it is a vital question
with deeply satisfying answers, when they are discovered.
If we can help you find these answers, we will be delighted to help in any way!
In the meantime, we pray the prayer for you, that was especially
given to Aaron, Moshe’s brother, the first High Priest of Israel.
“ADONAI bless you, and keep you.
May ADONAI make His Face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
May ADOANI turn His Face toward you ~ and give you His “Shalom’.”
To read the actual Scriptures that are the Basic Beliefs
of the Jewish Faith you can see them here.