The Divine Purpose of Atheism

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Jrosemary
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The Divine Purpose of Atheism

Post #1

Post by Jrosemary »

My rabbi told this story in synagogue yesterday:

A yeshiva student was troubled by the notion that everyone and everything had a divine purpose. He went to his rabbi and said, "Rebbe, I understand how so much of creation works to its divine purpose--but how can atheists be a part of that?"

The rabbi answered, "Atheists constantly remind us that when you hear someone crying out for help, you must become as an atheist--you must behave as if there is no G-d to help him. You must go to his rescue."

My rabbi, who is a deeply devout theist, added that repairing the world is our duty, whether there's a G-d or not. He also said that, in a sense, the closer you get to true religion, the closer you get to atheism. O:)

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JoeyKnothead
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Post #2

Post by JoeyKnothead »

Nice OP.

I can see where it would be sortuva good thing for some to approach their religious belief with the eyes of an atheist. By helping others out we set an example in the here and now, rather than waiting, we show God we're trying to do right by Him without Him having to get onto us about it.
Some say it came from Memphis down in Tennessee
Or it drifted in from Georgia about 1953
Just as long as it's greasy, as long as it's fast
As long as it's pumpin' honey, it's gonna last

It's the hillbilly rock, beat it with a drum
Playin' them guitars like shootin' from a gun
Keepin' up the rhythm, steady as a clock
Doin' a little thing called the hillbilly rock
- Marty Stuart

cnorman18

The Divine Purpose of Atheism

Post #3

Post by cnorman18 »

JoeyKnothead wrote:Nice OP.

I can see where it would be sortuva good thing for some to approach their religious belief with the eyes of an atheist. By helping others out we set an example in the here and now, rather than waiting, we show God we're trying to do right by Him without Him having to get onto us about it.
This is an example of what I mean when I say God is not the focus of the Jewish religion, but our own responsibities as thinking, morally aware human beings. The impulse to pray for someone and then leave them to God, thinking one has done enough (or even "all one could") is not a Jewish impulse.

If God has hands, they are our hands; if He has a voice, it's our voice; and if he has ears to listen to the pleas of humans in trouble, they are our ears. John F. Kennedy had it right: "God's work must truly be our own." If it isn't, it won't get done.

(I'm also wondering when you're going to show us a penguin with a skullcap, a prayer shawl, earlocks and tefillin. I mean, if you're going to post in this forum...)

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Pazuzu bin Hanbi
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Post #4

Post by Pazuzu bin Hanbi »

That is a wonderfully beautiful way to approach the world! And do you believe following Jewish rituals and modes of action help achieve that? I recall reading about Robert Winston, who has done books and television programmes about the evolution of god in human thinking, and yet still follows Jewish rites and practices.
لا إلـــــــــــــــــــــــــــه

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JoeyKnothead
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Post #5

Post by JoeyKnothead »

From Post 3:
cnorman18 wrote: This is an example of what I mean when I say God is not the focus of the Jewish religion, but our own responsibities as thinking, morally aware human beings. The impulse to pray for someone and then leave them to God, thinking one has done enough (or even "all one could") is not a Jewish impulse.

If God has hands, they are our hands; if He has a voice, it's our voice; and if he has ears to listen to the pleas of humans in trouble, they are our ears. John F. Kennedy had it right: "God's work must truly be our own." If it isn't, it won't get done.
Having learned so many lessons, notions, etc. from my Jewish friends here, I try my best to pass this knowledge on to the folks I meet "in the world". This is one of the best lessons, IMO, and I will certainly be applying, as well as advocating it to others.

It allows me to retain a bit of stealth regarding my atheism, while still advocating a quite responsible way of "doing God's work".
cnorman18 wrote: (I'm also wondering when you're going to show us a penguin with a skullcap, a prayer shawl, earlocks and tefillin. I mean, if you're going to post in this forum...)
Let's see...
Some say it came from Memphis down in Tennessee
Or it drifted in from Georgia about 1953
Just as long as it's greasy, as long as it's fast
As long as it's pumpin' honey, it's gonna last

It's the hillbilly rock, beat it with a drum
Playin' them guitars like shootin' from a gun
Keepin' up the rhythm, steady as a clock
Doin' a little thing called the hillbilly rock
- Marty Stuart

cnorman18

Post #6

Post by cnorman18 »

Pazuzu bin Hanbi wrote:That is a wonderfully beautiful way to approach the world! And do you believe following Jewish rituals and modes of action help achieve that? I recall reading about Robert Winston, who has done books and television programmes about the evolution of god in human thinking, and yet still follows Jewish rites and practices.
Absolutely. Ritual and traditional practices have no magical qualities, and aren't intended to. They keep the believer in touch with the community that believes these things and lives this way, and heightens awareness of the depth and longevity of those traditions and one's personal connection to them. When I recite the Amidah, I am aware that I am saying the same words as Jews of all nationalities all over the world, and my ancestors of thousands of years ago. Precisely the same words, in Hebrew, which before the foundation of Israel, was as much a "dead language" as Latin. Eating unleavened bread at Passover continues a tradition that began at the first Passover, and is in fact a reenactment of part of that story in the present day, a sort of living history lesson. All this is about strengthening the values and standards I discussed above.

Example: In the Passover seder, or ritual meal - note that the center of Jewish religious practice and tradition is the home, not the synagogue - there is a recitation of the plagues on Egypt, removing one drop of wine for each, a symbolic lessening of our joy and celebration; it's a reminder that the Egyptians suffered and died during that time, and that their dead were God's children too. We commemorate and mourn the deaths of our enemies in that story, every year, even as we celebrate the Festival of Freedom.

Ritual is often described here as if it were all meaningless "magic," as if the Kol Nidre service on the eve of Yom Kippur were equivalent to a voodoo sacrifice. That's nonsense. Ritual can be, and most often is, an expression of beliefs and values and devotion to an heritage. As a former Protestant Christian, I can tell you that the Eucharist is the same thing; some may believe that it actually imparts "salvation" itself, but it seems clear that, at least in Protestant circles, it's primarily a reenactment of the Last Supper and a symbolic participation in the sacrifice of Christ.

One may not share the beliefs, or have much regard for the heritage, that lie behind these practices; but it's grossly inaccurate and unfair to assume that believers do them out of a childish conviction that they have magical powers and represent nothing more than pure primitive superstition.

cnorman18

The Divine Purpose of Atheism

Post #7

Post by cnorman18 »

JoeyKnothead wrote:
cnorman18 wrote: (I'm also wondering when you're going to show us a penguin with a skullcap, a prayer shawl, earlocks and tefillin. I mean, if you're going to post in this forum...)
Let's see...
Perfect. Shalom, flightless fowl.

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Re: The Divine Purpose of Atheism

Post #8

Post by alex00ander »

Jrosemary wrote:My rabbi told this story in synagogue yesterday:

A yeshiva student was troubled by the notion that everyone and everything had a divine purpose. He went to his rabbi and said, "Rebbe, I understand how so much of creation works to its divine purpose--but how can atheists be a part of that?"

The rabbi answered, "Atheists constantly remind us that when you hear someone crying out for help, you must become as an atheist--you must behave as if there is no G-d to help him. You must go to his rescue."

My rabbi, who is a deeply devout theist, added that repairing the world is our duty, whether there's a G-d or not. He also said that, in a sense, the closer you get to true religion, the closer you get to atheism. O:)


I really like this rabbi's response and I think it is beautiful how the rabbi found a way to say that atheists are an intrinsic part of life. I understand what your rabbi means when he says, "the closer you get to true religion, the closer you get to atheism," but I think he phrases his point this way because today's Jews concept of god is negatively influenced by other religions. What I have found is that religious Jews don't see god as a force that will solve their problems. God is always acting but since humans have free will we must be the catalyst for change.


http://www.jerusalemexperience.com/pict ... jerusalem/

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Re: The Divine Purpose of Atheism

Post #9

Post by alex00ander »

alex00ander wrote:
Jrosemary wrote:My rabbi told this story in synagogue yesterday:

A yeshiva student was troubled by the notion that everyone and everything had a divine purpose. He went to his rabbi and said, "Rebbe, I understand how so much of creation works to its divine purpose--but how can atheists be a part of that?"

The rabbi answered, "Atheists constantly remind us that when you hear someone crying out for help, you must become as an atheist--you must behave as if there is no G-d to help him. You must go to his rescue."

My rabbi, who is a deeply devout theist, added that repairing the world is our duty, whether there's a G-d or not. He also said that, in a sense, the closer you get to true religion, the closer you get to atheism. O:)


I really like this rabbi's response and I think it is beautiful how the rabbi found a way to say that atheists are an intrinsic part of life. I understand what your rabbi means when he says, "the closer you get to true religion, the closer you get to atheism," but I think he phrases his point this way because today's Jews concept of god is negatively influenced by other religions. What I have found is that religious Jews don't see god as a force that will solve their problems. God is always acting but since humans have free will we must be the catalyst for change.




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Re: The Divine Purpose of Atheism

Post #10

Post by ThatGirlAgain »

Jrosemary wrote:My rabbi told this story in synagogue yesterday:

A yeshiva student was troubled by the notion that everyone and everything had a divine purpose. He went to his rabbi and said, "Rebbe, I understand how so much of creation works to its divine purpose--but how can atheists be a part of that?"

The rabbi answered, "Atheists constantly remind us that when you hear someone crying out for help, you must become as an atheist--you must behave as if there is no G-d to help him. You must go to his rescue."

My rabbi, who is a deeply devout theist, added that repairing the world is our duty, whether there's a G-d or not. He also said that, in a sense, the closer you get to true religion, the closer you get to atheism. O:)
It may seem extremely odd to refer to Christian scripture in the Judaism forum, but since the reference will be to Matthew, the most recognizably Jewish of the Gospel writers who has Jesus insist on the continuing validity of the Law, perhaps it can be forgiven.

In The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats those who performed charitable works for those in need without even awareness of religious motivation are also deemed righteous and given a place in the world to come…oops…I mean “eternal life�. ;) Those who failed to perform charitable works are condemned.

Some ideas are good no matter who says them.
Dogmatism and skepticism are both, in a sense, absolute philosophies; one is certain of knowing, the other of not knowing. What philosophy should dissipate is certainty, whether of knowledge or ignorance.
- Bertrand Russell

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