Tag Archives: Atheism

Judaism & Atheism

7 Jul

At 16, one friend gave me Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Place” and another questioned why God would punish his kind and caring mother with so much pain, losing many family members over a few short years, each death unrelated to the others. He also questioned why God would punish innocent children, starving them to death in poor countries, and so on.

About 5 years later, I wondered in the same vein why I was being punished, knowing I’d done nothing worthy of the harsh, even brutal life I lived. For strength, I turned to anger, and for safety, I aimed that anger at God. I could not aim it at the individual humans involved, but God supposedly created them, so He was ultimately responsible.

I broke from Judaism. Despite or because of a comparative religions course, I felt zero attraction to any other religion. Eight years later, missing mostly the prayer melodies, I gave Judaism another try. Twenty years more, and I came to appreciate that Judaism was a culture worthy of keeping, God was not. My rabbi accepted this without argument and welcomed me same as ever.

I think Jewish culture, which praises good argumentation for its exercise in critical reasoning, just might naturally mature its bravest followers into non-belief. The disproportionate numbers of scientists, writers, philosophers, etc., along with my growing appreciation for the historical numbers of Jewish atheists, not just coming out of the Holocaust but even centuries before, are good signs.

Perhaps the legendary Abraham truly meant to destroy all idols and gods, but found the change too radical for others. Perhaps he compromised on one invisible god, just to help others transition.

XSince then, Christianity has added two back: Jesus and the Holy Ghost. Islam has effectively added back Muhammed, since Muhammed is treated like a god. Judaism at least hasn’t done that, and I am hoping, despite the few extremists on its right fringe, that the tiny population of world Jewry finds a way, in addition to science, to lead the world out of superstition.

Atheists of Different Types

15 Apr

As with any group, there is a spectrum of atheist attitudes and positions.  I recognize a few general categories, however, and would like your input on this.

!.  Natural atheists seem never to have believed in religious mythology or cared about religious historical claims, as they never believed in any god or gods and simply don’t care.  Some were born into atheist families, others came by it of their own nature, but never did they consider believing in God/Allah/etc.

2.  Reactive atheists push religion away in rebellion against whatever they feel is oppressing them.  Anger is a common feature.  An apparent sense of superiority, too, as in, “I’m better than those I left behind, because I’m not stupid, like they are!  I don’t care what they say!”

3.  Rational atheists realize, after years of education accompanied by development of strong critical reasoning skills and usually scientific logic, that religious claims just don’t hold water.  They gradually let go, realize it one day, and think, “Okay, that works for me.”  If any vestige of religious indoctrination remains, these atheists are most likely to research the issues and decide on a rational basis whether to keep the concepts or dispose of them for having no supportive data or logical basis.

Have you recognized any such distinctions or categories among the atheists you’ve met?  Does any category seem to fit you?  Did you, perhaps, start in one and move to another, i.e., reactionary to rational?  Are there any broad categories of atheists you’ve recognized that are not mentioned, here?  Please, let me know your thoughts, and if there is sufficient impetus, I might ask Dr. Dawkins to consider a new poll, this time of atheists, to see what comes up.

After all, if reactionary atheists, for example, missed out on the development of critical reasoning skills due to their early religious indoctrination, maybe rational atheists can develop some sort or program to help them catch up, and in doing so, provide the true empowerment of intellect, so that anger, particularly blind anger, fades out of uselessness.

An Informal Poll

10 Dec

I’ve a theory that atheists are predominantly cat people.  So, here it is:  If you are an atheist, please comment on whether you’ve a preference for cats or dogs.  If you’ve a preference for reptiles, I’ve a foster-tegu in need of a good home.  Living with me, he simply thinks he’s one of the cats.