In the interest of clarity I would just like to point out that I did not claim anyone was ignorant. Nor can I fathom why you would choose to read my words as insulting or demeaning. I simply pointed out that the arguments which were being presented had been addressed in the past and that if you had an interest in the topic it would be worth your while to investigate what had already been said on the matter. I would make the same statement if you were trying to claim geocentrism, that the earth was flat, or that landing on the moon was fake and staged.
If you believe you’ve already done so than it might help your argument to cite the sources you’ve read and why you think they’re incorrect.
You’re doing it again. “I did not claim anyone was ignorant,” you say. True, I don’t recall reading the word “ignorant” in your first reply. But the ignorance of us nonbelievers is implied throughout, in your first reply and in this one. I didn’t “choose” to read those words as insulting or demeaning; they just are, and they’re worse here than in your first reply. Why?
Because you make the assumption that if we do not believe as you do, it’s either because we haven’t asked the right questions (“if you have an interest in the topic” implies that you think we’ve dismissed the topic out of hand without researching it) or because we haven’t read or listened to the right answers to our questions (“it would be worth your while to investigate what had already been said on the matter,” as if you knew that we must not have done so). You do this despite a reply from secretjewishatheist that is not difficult to understand.
Here, though, you get even more insulting. Note: it’s not that I particularly care about your opinion. But it’s typical of religious people to trot out these insulting assumptions about nonbelievers. If you have no idea what I mean, have a conversation with an evangelical Christian one day and find out why HE thinks you don’t believe in his faith. It’s because you haven’t tried, dude! It’s because you’ve never read your Bible! It’s because you haven’t read enough Christian apologetics! It certainly couldn’t be that Christianity is based on indefensible nonsense, could it? Of course you and I would agree that Christianity is based on just that, but our friend the evangelical would keep his irrational worldview intact by continuing to assume that our doubts must arise from our, yes, ignorance of the true basis of his faith.
I mean, you’re going from bad to worse here. You think we need to “investigate” what’s already been said on the matter, as if we have not, and then say that if we believe we’ve already done so then we should prove it by getting into a debate with you and explaining why we think those answers are wrong. If we “believe” we’ve already done so? Our hypothetical evangelical Christian will use exactly the same tactic on you to insist that you don’t know enough about his religion to have a basis for rejecting its truth. You just think you do.
Also: Lack of belief in Orthodox Judaism is the intellectual equivalent of geocentrism, flat-earthism, and/or a faked moon landing? Wow.
Look, I don’t think you set out deliberately to be insulting or assume our ignorance. I don’t know much of anything about you, and I’m happy to assume that you’re a really nice guy and a true believer (like I used to be) who just wants people to know the joy of being ovdei Hashem and keeping Shabbos and doing mitzvos and all the rest. In a way, I appreciate that; I think it comes from a good place. I don’t find your proselytism annoying on anything like the same level that I (and probably you!) find other God-pushers (such as evangelical Christians) annoying.
Here’s the thing, though. You don’t know me either. It’s true that I didn’t grow up frum, but here are some things you couldn’t know about me: I was frum for many years. I believed in it wholeheartedly. I did kiruv to nonobservant people. I’ve attended countless hundreds of shiurim, and if I’d been a man I would have been sitting in the beis medrish all the time I possibly could. (I still feel a pang of yearning if I chance to pass by the beis medrish when the guys are learning; in some ways I still wish I could be in there too.)
My appetite for Yiddishkeit was voracious. I learned halachos, I learned history, I learned the Chofetz Chaim and Chovos Halevovos and Derech Hashem and Chumash with Rashi and Pirkei Avos and more; I went to Discovery seminars; I kept kosher and Shabbos; I asked shailos with great regularity and piously did as I was told; I read popular works from Feldheim and Artscroll; I read Aryeh Kaplan and Rav Dessler and Avigdor Miller and a host of others; I fasted and davened, I went all the time to Tehillim groups with the other ladies, I learned to read Hebrew pretty fluently, I listened reverently to leyning and shushed people who shmoozed during davening. I thought Aish and Ohr Somayach and simpletoremember.com were the greatest things since braided challah.
You or anyone could be forgiven for not knowing this, given the sarcastic anti-religious stuff that I’m reblogging these days, and given the atheism that I’ve arrived at, but here’s something else you don’t know about me: I didn’t want to give all that up. I didn’t want to figure out that there was no Hashem. I didn’t just throw it all aside so I could eat cheeseburgers (which I still haven’t done, by the way) or swim on Shabbos or any of that stuff. If Hashem were real, any of that stuff would be worth giving up forever to be a frum Jew. But Hashem is not real. You don’t know the tear-drenched nights I’ve spent begging Hashem not to let go of me, to help me believe against all the evidence, to put me back in that happy ignorant mindset, to make me frum again, to be real.
The sages say the gates of tears are never closed. But I have learned that they are never open, either, because they don’t exist.
I wouldn’t want to convince you of that and deprive you of whatever it is that being frum is doing for you (and I can imagine that’s quite a lot). I’m not really an evangelical atheist. I’m really writing to my fellow atheists, especially my fellow Jewish atheists, to try to recapture a little of the feeling of community that I used to enjoy when I was frum, and which is missing now even though I’m mostly in the closet in my community. Most people do not even know that I don’t go to shul on Shabbos or to classes anymore (they probably just assume that I go somewhere else). But I know that I don’t belong there anymore, and that can be lonely, so I come here while contemplating my future plans, where to live, how to get more friendships and ties to people outside the Jewish community. And, along the way, how to deal with my very very frum husband, who is so frum he actually believes that all the animals currently alive are descended from the ones that came off the ark after the mabul. And who’s a good man, and who loves me, and who doesn’t want to divorce me even though he knows we don’t have this very important thing in common anymore.
I have been through the misery of readjustment to life without faith. And I have found that, on the whole, I would rather be honest and truthful and godless than live in a happy delusion that the creator of the universe thinks I’m important enough to guide my every step. There have been important losses that went along with my loss of faith, but there have been tremendous consolations, too. I haven’t written so much about them, because I am enjoying my one life as much as I can, doing the things I really want to be doing with my life.
So, I may or may not get around to looking at the site you recommended. It is not likely that there is anything there I have not thought about before. And I certainly don’t wish to be involved in a debate with you, especially since I’m as convinced of my position as you probably are of yours, and I’m afraid I’d end up convincing you, and I don’t know that that would be such a good thing for you. I don’t want to take responsibility for what you believe or don’t. You do that for yourself, I’ll do it for me, and let’s just leave it at that.
Go towards peace.
What a beautiful post.