Jewish Atheist

An agnostic atheist perspective
from a once orthodox Jew.

Fun, Stupid, Email Exchange: Kuzari & Miracles

So I got an email a few months back with two “proofs” for judaism which with only a glance were clearly idiotic, and that’s basically what I said. So, I got a reply back recently saying that I was chickening out of answering and so decided to address this talmud chacham’s genius arguments. They’re really quite a study in rationalization and hero worship. Fascinating, really.

So, it begins by quoting a famous article from TalkReason, which contains some really great arguments against Judaism. (I’d suggest my email correspondent read the entire article.) But anyways, he tries to tackle the rhetorical letter with which the article begins. His two lines of attack: The Kuzari Argument” and “Tzadikim [holy men] performing Miracles!” My comments are in brackets and italicized. His in quote-blocks. Enjoy.

"Dear Rabbi,

Many years have passed since we studied Torah together. Since then you went on to become a prominent scholar and I continued with my business endeavors. Thank G-d, my business is doing well and I am able to devote part of my time to Torah studies. My wife and children are well and at least outwardly my family seems well integrated in the community where we live.

Inwardly, however, the last few years have been quite trying for me. I seem to have lost the calm and confidence I used to have in observing Yiddishkeit, in following the path which gave my life overall meaning, definite and absolute goals that I should strive to achieve. My belief that the Torah and only the Torah is the absolute Divine truth has been seriously challenged and I find myself at a loss to respond.

As you know, just about all religions in the world and many non-religious ideologies proudly state that the meaning they give to human life is the ultimate true meaning. Every religion claims that it contains the genuine Divine revelation and all the others hopelessly miss the true meaning of life. So how, objectively, do I know that Judaism’s claims to the truth are correct? Because I believe so? But then I cannot speak of the Divine plan for my life, only of my own invention, something I created in my own image, according to my personal considerations, hopes, and the inclinations of my heart. What I was taught to consider absolute becomes relative, and if that is so, I see no difference between me and an adherent of any other religion or ideology, G-d forbid.

I am looking for arguments to strengthen the rational basis of my faith. I am searching for answers to an assortment of problems so as to restore my confidence in the truth of our tradition. It is important to point out: I am not looking for absolute “mathematical” proofs, but rather for common sense plausibility, for an intellectually honest approach which would lead to a reasonable conclusion that the Torah is really from Heaven and that our Halachic tradition, which determines the practical behavior of a contemporary Jew, really has Divine authority.”

Dear Naftali,

Although I am not your rabbi, and, truth be told, not even a rabbi, as I am still before semicha, I will attempt to answer the questions you bring up in your letter, mainly because I have not yet seen others do so satisfactorily.

Let me preface by saying that I do not view myself as an ideologue. My goal here is to provide answers that I believe represent the truth, and if you believe that I have somehow miscalculated, I would greatly appreciate if you would let me know.

Read More

Anonymous asked: What is your opinion on the historicity of the United Monarchy?

Don’t know a thing about it.

Anonymous asked: To the last anon, Christopher Hitchens found out he was Jewish later on in life. Also he once said in an interview that every one of his close friends was Jewish.

Interesting! Thanks!

Anonymous asked: Was Christopher Hitchens antisemitic?

I don’t know, but I haven’t read anything from him which left me with that impression. However, he was anti-judaism, just as he was anti-religion in general. He was also very critical of Israel. But no, I don’t think he was antisemitic.

The Rational Approach to Divine Origin of Judaism REVIEW


Thanks for submitting the link. Believe it or not, I was actually at the taping of that Kelemen lecture! And bc that speech and that argument had a profound effect on convincing me judaism was true, I have a special place in my heart for debunking what I now realize is the nonsense of his argument. (I’ve actually been working on and off on a huge ass rebuttal that lecture for a while now! I’ll finish it one of these days! lol)

Anyways, I appreciate your effort and approach, but I think if you want to convince someone the argument is wrong, you have to accept their premises and work from there, or slowly destruct the premises.

Simply saying, “oh, the Sinai narrative is false bc it was written later” may be true, but it won’t sway the believer (esp when you don’t cite sources for your many points - true though they may be!) and doesn’t address the argument which kelemen is making.

So, I appreciate your effort - and I’ve checked out your blog in the past, thanks! - but I think destroying that kelemen lecture is gonna require a lot more.

Which means we’ve got work to do! =]

This paper, written by a believing Jew, discusses the likelihood Yahweh was started by volcano worship. Most people would then become atheist but obviously Jacob Dunn is very devout.


Would be awesome to have access to the article. Either way, for me, personally, whether Judaism began with volcano worship or alien worship or whatever doesn’t really matter to me as much as the fact that Judaism and the Torah just isn’t true.

The Infidel Paradox


Once it becomes clear to the believer that the source of the infidel’s blasphemies are the product of false indoctrination, he should immediately call into question the legitimacy of his own beliefs, which were bestowed upon him by the very same process that the infidel acquired his own falsehoods. The infidel’s scriptures, proofs, miracles, prophets, commandments, rituals, and gods, are no less vivid or absolute to him than the believer’s. Once one realizes that the very nature of religious beliefs are solely dependent on the subjective nature of one’s own experience and indoctrination, it becomes clear that no deity could forge a system in which infidels (who make up the majority of humans by any religion’s standard) are expected to accept his divinity. Furthermore, he cannot credit those who worship him due to the fortuitous circumstances he conferred to them. Therefore the infidel is not worthy of punishment and the believer not worthy of reward. This is the paradox that every theist must confront.  

Spot on - and, if I may say, some beautiful word-smithing.

Anonymous asked: GOD isnt the reason bad things happen in the world like suffering and starvation. All of that happens because we are allowed free will if he controlled all the bad stuff then we wouldnt have free will of any thing.


So we control earthquakes, tsunamis and typhoons that have killed and devastated millions upon million of innocent children as well then?

Anonymous asked: Super quick question, do you believe in marshmallows?

Depends which kind… ;]

In the article I linked to you there was a report  of senior officer  describing a mysterious fog that concealed his troops until their objective was achieved.

 What is your  opinion on this story? 



Dude, fog happens. Especially at Dawn. When I lived in Har Nof, I’d often see the jerusalem forest below covered in fog. That’s not miraculous.

If they were covered in fog in space, that’d be something. Or hell, even if it was just a situation where fog was incredibly unlikely, that’d be worth at least something, but saying there was fog in the morning and they found it helpful isn’t miraculous. It’s hardly noteworthy.

oncerbat asked: I'm sorry, but I feel, as you probably do, that I'm beating a dead horse with this conversation. It's quite apparent that you and I come from 2 very different perspectives and worldviews, and nothing I have said has really made much sense to you, so I think it's best for both of us if we conclude this conversation. Thank you for being open for talking about it civilly, though. :)

I agree. And thank you, and you too. Cheers =]

Submission: Why I Liked the Film "God's Not Dead" ___ **Spoilers**



First, before I begin addressing your questions, let me be clear I am not trying to convince you of God’s existence.  I can’t do that. 

Fair enough, and I won’t convince that that god isn’t real…

As far as sharing my faith and my reasons for doing so, let me direct you to this video where atheist comedian Penn Jillette shares an encounter he had with a Christian.  Let me know what you think

That’s an interesting position for Penn but most people still find it annoying and often insulting. As I said before, we know you have good intentions, but it’s still really annoying. It’s not as if we haven’t heard of jesus before. We have. We’re sincerely uninterested.

Furthermore, the Christian life is best because you can be happiest and healthiest in Christ. Your life will truly feel complete, even in the midst of hardships. 

How about a single scientific study demonstrating that this claim of yours is true. And if your claim is true, it should be easy to check.

Btw, do you think that other religions do not say the same thing? And how would you respond to someone who said the same thing to you but about Islam? “You can’t know how good your life could be till you try it!”

Believe me, friend, you can’t know this now.  You don’t see from my perspective.  I pray that one day you will find the peace, hope, and joy I’ve found in Christ. 

I believe you mean it, but I also believe you’re wrong.

And why not just pray that I find good things, why must it be your way? If you’re sincerely interested in helping people, why not just wish them good, and be happy whichever way they find it?

The “ex-Christians” you speak of don’t really exist.  Once a person has accepted Christ into their life as Lord and Savior, they can never truly be separated from Him, even if they drift away.  Those people were probably only Christ in name only, doing their “religious” thing, but never really having a genuine relationship with Him. 

Have you heard of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy?

During school, I had to do a project on Darwinian evolution.  I did a follow-up project on Creationism and submitted to my teacher privately for no credit, knowing full well that I was doing extra work and the teacher wouldn’t agree with my perspective.  Nevertheless, I did not feel comfortable only doing a project that goes against my worldview, without giving my perspective. 

Gotta be honest, that really doesn’t sound like persecution. Creationism isn’t science, and certainly not biology, so why would it be taught? Not having your faith taught alongside science isn’t persecution or anything like what was done in the film. (Btw, my path to atheism largely began when I too began to study evolution to disprove things I read in my biology book.)

I also chose to read alternative novels sometimes if the content of a novel the class was reading was something I wasn’t comfortable with. 

Again, not really persecution or bias. At all. I mean, for instance, you do realize that christian holidays dominate America? Do you have any idea what it’s like to be a minority religion or non-religion in America? If you think what you have to endure is tough, try walking in our shoes.

I know that not all atheists are “new atheists” and I know some people who don’t believe in God, yet are comfortable with others’ beliefs.  As a matter of fact, my family had an agnostic man in our Bible study who was married to a Messianic Jewish woman. He was very comfortable expressing his opinion in the group, and we encouraged it. 

As far as not all Christians being missionaries: Jesus commands His followers to “go out and make disciples of all nations”.  Some Christians may be afraid to share their faith, and I admit, sometimes I am, but it is necessary to help people find faith in God. 

Well, I was being charitable in pointing out that not all christians are missionaries, but if you feel they all should be, you’re kinda making my point about being pushy and annoying.

Yes, you can go to a church, but you can’t really experience the love of Christ until you see it demonstrated by His followers, not only in word, but in action as well. 

Dude, you do realize I live in a country which is mostly christian, right? It’s not like I haven’t seem them before. (Btw, you do realize this is something that people from all religions say too, right?)

Jesus helps one endure hardships in several ways.  When tragedy strikes, it is easy to blame God.  Perhaps this is one of the reasons why you choose to disbelieve.

It wasn’t.

With Jesus, when you’re facing a terminal illness, loss of a loved one, financial trouble etc. you can have confidence that while the present situation may seem overwhelming and too much to bear, you can place the burden on His shoulders and He can give peace.

How? What does he do? How is it different than me believing in a false god?

Also, recognizing that God is working the situation out for good in the end, even though it may be unbearable, and it may make you stronger in the end. 

But how do you know it’s for the best? And how can it always be for the best? Like Kevin Sorbo’s character who died: There’s nothing good in dying. Or in suffering. Plus, this is just faith that it’s for the best. You don’t actually know it’s true. It’s basically just a positive - though likely absurd - notion. And one can believe that without god! For instance, even Nietzsche wrote that “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”

Yes, during a trial people can come alongside you, and they should, but if you’re all alone at some point with no one to call, text, etc. and you’re feeling hopeless, what do you do?  I believe most suicides could be prevented if people could find hope in Jesus. 

But a person with a full life with friends and family will typically feel satisfied. They don’t need their friends with them 24/7 acting like a security blanket. And as I said, real life friends can do a lot more help than god apparently does, unless he started making house-calls recently.

You may think what I have to say about the Holy Spirit is absurd, and you are right, at least from your perspective.  I can’t convince you to believe.  The Holy Spirit is the agent God uses to allow non-believers to come to a knowledge of the faith. 

So why bother preaching if it’s all a matter of the holy spirit? Actually, scratch that. I don’t care. You believe a magical force must move someone to accept what you’re preaching. I got nothing more to say about that.

You may only build your hope on real things. Ask yourself how those things will help you get through hardships.  If your hope is built on your loved ones, money, possessions, or even good memories, how will that help you get through the most horrendous situations?  Your loved ones will eventually die, your possessions can get destroyed, you can go bankrupt, lose memory, etc.  My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.  He can help us endure the most painful obstacles, and give us peace in our situations unlike anything else the world has to offer. 

Why does the fact that everything I value will fade away take away from their worth? My parents may already be dead, but they can still inspire me. The fact that they’re dead doesn’t take away from that. It doesn’t take away from my memories, knowing they loved me, from the lessons they taught me, etc. You keep insisting it has to be some eternal support system, but I don’t see why.

And again, I don’t see how Jesus could be 1/10000000th as helpful as actual things. I’d rely on a toothpick sooner than I’d rely on jesus, bc toothpicks actually exist. I know what they can do and not do. They’re consistently toothpicks. But god… there’s no demosntration that he does anything… ever! so how is that supposed to help anyone more than just a placebo effect from an imaginary friend?

I’m not trying to bust your balls, but what you’re saying really doesn’t make sense. Which is probably another reason why people find it super annoying when you preach. “Here’s a whole lot of stuff which doesn’t make sense but i’m just gonna keep saying it anyways, though you don’t like, until the holy spirit decides to change your mind.” Can you really not see why that’s annoying? Missionizing is basically the social equivalent of a telemarketer.