My jewish atheist friend has an interesting theory on why so many jews in America *are* atheists. (I know there's something intrinsically confusing about labeling someone by a religion and non-religion.)

In America, Christians are the majority. As a Jewish kid, he felt like he was identified more for what he didn't believe - Jesus as the messiah - than what he did. From there, it was a short walk to atheism. Just thought this was a cool insight to share.

Tags: atheism, christian, jewish, judaism, majority, messiah, nonbelief, usa

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Judaism lends itself to questioning in general, and thereby to questioning God.  In college, I directed anger against God, stepped away from Judaism, and went to talk with a reform rabbi who'd taught part of the comparative religions course at my college.  Mind you, I was raised conservative, leaned traditional, and so felt more at home than many non-orthodox in an orthodox setting.  Reform is in the other direction.

I asked, how can God be all powerful, all knowing, AND all merciful, when reality shows otherwise?  He answered two ways:  The wise old man with a long white beard sitting on a huge throne up in the sky is the picture of God given to children whose minds are too young for abstract thought.  The threesome I mentioned is a Christian concept, not a Jewish one, because God isn't always merciful.  Finally, he added that I didn't have to believe in God; there are other Jews who don't, either.  In other words, I was still a welcome member of the cultural group.

Recently, I came out, again, this time as an atheist, and so emailed my orthodox rabbi.  Honesty is important, to me, and I'd been trying to believe in God because life (or, rather, individuals whose lives crossed mine, and not in a decent way) had been so unfair.  Call it desperate, but without family to fall back on, cultural roots were about all I had.  To his credit, this rabbi, too, responded kindly.  When next I mentioned that I would still like to come to services, even though I can never, again, believe, he welcomed me.

Being Jewish is more than a religious experience.  There are many, many facets to it, from food to music to dance to rites of passage and -- on the negative side -- a shared history of acts of semitism, some individually directed (as I've experienced) and some broadcast at all who have any publicly known connection to Jewish roots.

Realizing how much antisemitism was deliberately intertwined with Christianity and Islam from nearly the same early century, I'd hoped atheists, walking away from those religions, might also turn away from unsubstantiated beliefs about Jews.  Sadly, I've seen comments here on A/N that indicate otherwise.  Anything that smacks of, "Well, everyone knows the Jews are responsible for this or always do that..."  here on this social network saddens me.  Similar statements regarding Israel, as though it suddenly came into being in 1967, or even in 1948, as though no Jew lived in the middle east before then, sound frighteningly like other religion-based historical revisions at work in the world (and worse, in the USA), today.

So, I ask anyone and everyone reading this:  Please, question what you think you know about Jews and about Israel.  Don't look for sites that merely support your view.  Look to find other views, and then, seek further to see where the truth lies.  Otherwise, you are still dealing in superstition.

I have an atheist Jewish college friend to thank for convincing me to be one too.  We took a class together: Cultural Anthropology.  Between deep discussions with the friend and the subject matter of the class, it didn't take long for me to 'see the light'.  (I was raised in the Lutheran faith.)  This happened about 30 years ago and I'm still grateful.
It is estimated 10-20% of Israelis are atheist Jews. It speaks volumes about the culture in contrast to the Islamic world. There is something in the Jewish "blood" that encourages debate and dissent. :)

Hi Angie, remember me?  Good topic.  I know why Jews have such a high percentage of non-believers.  They're better educated than other nationalities, races, religions, whatever.  I could never understand how the scriptures got to be so important in the first place.  I mean, like, the Jews wrote the Holy Scriptures and just happen to be the "chosen" people of God. 

To me, the greatest mystery of the church is how the heck people can be so stupid as to believe it in the first place.

 

No Bull,

 

 

When I saw this I wondered if there were any Christian Atheists. And there are???

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_atheism

 

My guess is that regardless of religion or country, the percentages of atheists within those religions and countries will be about the same, anywhere in the world. The main difference between churches and countries are the consequences of admitting to atheism or another belief system. In Islam you might be killed, depending on the country, in Catholicism you are excommunicated, no more free wine or free bread, in Judaism you are invited to come along to the local synagogue and have a nice time anyway.  My guess here is that a whole lot of Rabbi's got together and discussed the increase in people coming out as atheists and figured, let them be atheists during their youth because they might change their minds as death approaches. If we kick them out now, they won't come back to us when the time comes. If I was a religious leader I would do what the Rabbi's are doing. 

 

I do have one question, for any Jewish atheists or Christian atheists or Muslim atheists, is following the traditions of the church/masjid/synagogue important to do or important to know?

You ask a good question.  As a Jewish atheist, I think the answer will depend on the person.  For myself, I expect following the religious traditions will fade over time, while cultural traditions will continue longer.  Those traditions for which a good excuse has been made, not necessarily linked to religion, I seem to continue to follow more naturally.
I now wonder if atheists who still continue with Christmas, Easter, May day, Halloween should be considered Christian Atheists or Pagan Atheists.
Israeli court grants man's option to register w/o religion... heart warmer.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/israel-court-grants-autho...
Interesting fact, did not know they were a lot of Atheist Jews, cool.
I am Jewish through my Mothers family (which is the only line that 'count's because you used to be able to prove maternity but not paternity ).  Although I wasn't raised in any religion and my mom and her parents were/are Atheists, I still have a menorah that was passed-down through the generations, and we had a menorah and a christmas tree, and we got 'gelt' for hanukkah, etc.  I thought it was just fun stuff and still do.  I am definitely an Atheist.
I was raised in a jewish family but became a nonsectarian atheist later in life.  I think that all sectarian groups whether they be Chinese, Italian, Russian or Jewish make irrational demands on you for loyalty to your "people", "culture", "nation" or whatever, and I'm happy not having these demands placed on me.  I feel great when I'm in the company of people who are rational in all phases of their lives.

Hi Eric,

Your post reminds me of F M Esfandiary.

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