Truths You Can Use

Truths You Can Use


Are There Atheists in Foxholes?

A young disciple once asked his rabbi: “Do you believe God created everything for a purpose?” “Of course,” the rabbi answered.

“Then why,” the student asked, “did God create atheists?”

The rabbi paused and stroked his beard. He then spoke softly and intensely. “Sometimes we who believe, believe too much. We see the cruelty, the suffering, the injustice in the world and we say: ‘This is the will of God.’ We accept what we should not accept.”

“That is when God sends us atheists to remind us that what passes for religion is not always religion. Sometimes what we accept in the name of God is what we should be fighting against in the name of God.” (This teaching is attributed to a variety of sages, including Jonathan Sacks and Rav Kook)

Avoiding Self-Righteousness

What a powerful answer. Atheists challenge what the faithful often take for granted. They prevent us from giving easy answers to important challenges.

In an age of soundbites and talking points, we need such serious and courageous conversations. Doubt, as Paul Tillich pointed out, is not the opposite of faith. It is an element of faith. Doubt makes faith meaningful. If we welcome it with open hearts and open minds, we help stop righteousness from becoming self-righteousness.

 



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Rabbi Moffic

    Thank you for the great comments. I’m glad to know that this article has provoked some thought and reflection.

  • Pingback: Why Did God Create Atheists?

Previous Posts

Will God Condemn Brittany Maynard for Choosing to Die?
On the most sacred Jewish holiday of the year--Yom Kippur--we literally imagine our own funeral. Men traditional wear a white sash that will also serve as their burial shroud. The purpose is to picture our own death in a way that helps us live more fully. What if, however, we could not only imagi

posted 10:06:23pm Nov. 02, 2014 | read full post »

The Strange Book of the Bible We Read in Sukkot
Tonight begins the Jewish “Festival of Tabernacles.” Known in Hebrew as Sukkot, we spend time in  temporary outdoor dwellings. They remind us of the fragility of life our ancestors experienced during their journey across the Sinai Desert. Vanity, Vanity, All is Vanity!  The biblical book

posted 3:57:40pm Oct. 08, 2014 | read full post »

When a Rabbi Announces He is Gay
Religious leaders are public figures. We live on display. People look at what we drive, what we eat, what we wear. Unfortunately, sometimes we hide parts of ourse

posted 8:01:44am Oct. 08, 2014 | read full post »

Is 75 the Perfect Age to Die?
Dr. Ezekiel Emauel, the well-known bioethicist and brother of the mayor of my town, argued recently in an essay in the Atlantic Monthly that 75 is the perfect age to die. After that, he said, most people have little to contribute to society and are a burden rather than a benefit. I can think of f

posted 9:02:23pm Oct. 05, 2014 | read full post »

Yom Kippur: The Happiest Day of the Year
Yom Kippur is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. It is filled with solemn prayer, and most Jews fast. How, then, can it be the happiest day of the year? Allow me to explain... Picture the scene: It is 1944, in Glasgow, Scotland, in the midst of the Second World War. Kol Nidre is about to

posted 1:29:44pm Oct. 03, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.