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Monday, May 18, 2009

An Atheist???

Someone I thought I knew pretty well shocked me yesterday, utterly shocked me, by casually mentioning that she's an atheist.  I am still blown away.
 
How could you have the arrogance to say - based on however-many, a fairly small number, of years' experience - that despite the many riches our tradition has to offer, it is utterly misguided on the existence of God.  That every single rabbi, ever, has been completely and totally wrong about this one key thing.
 
Sorry; I said I was blown away, and it's true.  I can't even respond articulately.
Even when I didn't actively believe in God, and some days are still like that, I wouldn't have had the chutzpah to say "I've given it some thought, enough to comfortably conclude that he doesn't exist."
 
Maybe I'm just a wimp, hedging bets.  Growing up, I always used the term agnostic, and still like it a bit.  Jewish tradition even likes it a bit.  We're really supposed to be careful about describing God in any concrete way, because then you get attached to the description and not to God who must necessarily remain mostly abstract, or at least inconceivable to our little people brains.
 
And okay, I'm one of these northeastern people who are slightly uncomfortable with any mention of God, unlike, I'm told, southerners, who speak of him like a good friend who drops by very often.
 
BUT.  Saying you're an atheist is like saying "this little people brain is as good as it gets, when it comes to brains."
"Our intelligence is the best you'll ever encounter, ever."
"I know it all.  Trust me.  I have a diploma that says so.  Or two."
 
Dennis Prager says when people come to him and tell him they don't believe in God because of the Holocaust, he replies that, if anything, the Holocaust should destroy one's faith in people... and perhaps convince you there's got to be something better than us out there.
 
Okay, those are not his exact words, or even maybe the right way of saying it.
Like I said, it's hard to be articulate in the face of this.

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