Before I even start this post, let me state upfront that there’s no way for me to write everything that needs to be said in one post. So, don’t be surprised if I need to add things in the future.
My second disclaimer is if you are currently an Orthodox Jew, please don’t read this post. Thank you.
Since I “came out” to my family and some friends about my lack of religion and realization that God does not exist, a common conversation Orthodox Jews try to start is “how I know god does not exist”.
They aren’t asking because they are trying to understand my point of view. In fact, they don’t “believe” I have any proofs or reasons. They are only initiating the topic because they want to “zing” me on a logical point and “convince” to return to the fold. I have no desire to return to hell that Orthodox Jewish life is. I have no desire to believe in a bloodthirsty, barbaric, hateful, or fictitious god. I am hesitant to get into a conversation with these people because
- I have experience, I know they’ll seize onto some logical argument and try to make me feel uncomfortable. I know I’m not only governed by logic, stubbornness is strong with me. Even if one could prove to me that god existed (which I know they cannot), I would still prefer to not believe in god.
- I am not in the business of trying to convince people not to be religious or to disbelieve in god. For me to express my arguments fully, I might shake someone’s faith in god.
One “argument” I hear often from religious folk is, “How can you live without believing in god?”. When I ask for clarification they inevitably say something like, “If I didn’t believe in god, my life would lack purpose.”
When I point out that believing in god isn’t what gives their life purpose, it’s believing in god and god actually existing. According to them, if god doesn’t exist, did their lives really have meaning?
Another question they often ask is, how do you know what to do if you don’t believe in the Torah and its commandments. They ask as if people haven’t worked out moral codes without religion. When I was in Yeshiva we were constantly exhorted to develop our own internal compass. (There are moral questions that face us today that you cannot answer by looking in a sefer or responsa. The only way to answer them is to be “moral” and then “weigh” the issue internally.)