Am I An Atheist?

By Shlomoh
December 9, 2007

ZeRabbi  wrote:
Are you really an atheist.  Being part of the modern world and understanding science and chemistry the way I do, is it really possible to be an atheist?  Have you seen the planet earth video?  ( 12 years in the making and shots of nature never before seen by man ) I look at it and I say I cant believe that this came about only through evolution, there had to be some guiding force. And then my reality driven mind steps in and says, nah there cant be any God.  I am a man torn between reason and logic. You know my wife may be right. Dont ask any questions, just do what you are told (by the goddamn fool rebbeim)

From: "Shlomoh Sherman" []
Date: Sun, 9 Dec 2007 20:26:25 -0800 (PST)
Subject: The "Golden Compass" controversy.

The fact of the matter is that I don't worry about whether or not I am an atheist.I know I don't believe the bullshit that this religious culture teaches children. Now, when people ask me do I believe in God, I have to ask them what do you mean "God", and what do you mean "believe in"?
For most people who don't give much thought to religion, they are hard pressed to answer my questions. Maybe "believe in" means I think that there is an actual deity somewhere or maybe it means that there is a deity who gives a shit about me.  Well then what deity? If they ask me do I believe in God, maybe they mean the God of the Bible. If not, then why ask me if I believe in God; why not ask do I believe in Gods? One reason I can't believe in the Bible's God is that He is too humanly fallible and too contardictory. Logically, if I believe in the Bible's God, then I have to believe whatever the Bible tells me about Him. And what it tells is pretty bad. So if not the Bible's God, then what?  A god that is LIKE the Bible's God except he doesn't mind if you are not religious and if you only acknowledge him once in a while. But I don't know anything about any God outside of what this culture tells me about a God - and that is bullshit. So am I an atheist? I don't know. And I don't care.

That is not the real question anyway. The REAL question is: do I believe that I am Jewish? Yes I do. The next REAL question is: So you believe you are Jewish. So what? Well so what is, as far as I am concerned, not the same question as am I Italian, Irish, Polish, or French? No, it's different. Once I say that I am a Jew, I am saying quite a bit. I am saying that I belong to a people that has an ethnos, a history, AND A RELIGION.  Well, is the Jewish religion my religion? Damn right it is.

But what does that mean to me who has formally left religion?  It means I am familiar with the religious traditions of my People and that I choose to draw upon them at certain times for whatever reason; one reason being that it places me closer to other Jews. So. Maybe I am a religious atheist.

What I REALLY think is that I am a CLASSICAL APIKORES rather than just a mere atheist. I explain. Any goy can be an atheist. Look, No one is born a Christian. At best, one is born a gentile. Then after birth, he BECOMES a Christian by baptism or acceptance of belief. Not so with me. I had no choice. I was born a member of a people that has a religious tradition which is tied in with its history.

There are 3 types of Jews which make Jews unhappy.

First there is the MESHUMAD. This Jew is called an apostate in English. He abandons his people by converting to another religion and forsakes other Jews. He is KADDISH.
Secondly there is the MIN. He's called a heretic in  English. He is a jew alright but he states categorically that the Jewish religion is not what the Pharisees said it is. He has his own version of the Jewish religion.
These two types are ANATHEMA to Orthodox Jews.
Thirdly there is the APIKORES. He is called in English, an unbeliever. He does not convert to another belief and he does not make up a belief and call it Judaism. He simply does not believe literally in the Hebrew mythology and he may or may not do MITSVOT. BUT in order to be an APIKORES, he had to at one time have been completely immersed in YIDDIHSKAYT and know what it is that he does not believe in. An AMHARARETS [ignoramous] cannot be an APIKORES.

What the GEMARA tells us about the APIKORSIM is that they used to hang out on the back steps of the synagogue and discuss TORAH. That's a hell of a bunch of atheists if you ask me. They no longer could enter the synagogue but they could not leave it either. On the eve of YOM KIPPUR they would open the back door and sneak into the SHUL. The Jews inside pretended not to notice them sneaking in. And then the CHAZAN began the YOM KIPPUR service saying, "With the permission of the judges above and with the permission of the judges below, we declare it is legiitimate to pray with sinners." I doubt you will find anything similar in any other religion.

So - why do Jews treat APIKORSIM differently from MINIM and MESHMUDIM? Why am I offered an ALIYAH when I go into a SHUL when the GABAI KNOWS I am an APIKORES? Because unbelief is not voluntary like apostacy or heresy. One cannot help his unbelief. The very idea that I walked into a SHUL is a statement in itself. The fact that I light CHANNUKAH candles and say BERACHOT, that I celebrate a PESACH SEDER, that I have a ROSH HASHANNAH meal, all of these make me a heck of an atheist. If a Christian says that he does not believe literally in Jesus, he is no Christian. If I say that I do not believe literally in the TORAH, I am still a Jew. So am I an atheist? Well if I am, I am a very special kind of atheist because I am a Jewish one.

This essay was originally a posted message on the YAHOO group ExOrthodoxJews

ExOrthodoxJews is a YAHOO discussion group for former members of the Jewish fundamentalist religious experience. You don't have to be Jewish to join but you should be familiar with the major ideas and practices of Judeo-Christian biblical religion.

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