Raised by a free-thinking rabbi who exposed me to a variety of religions in my short lifetime, at synagogues, mosques, churches, ashrams, gurdwaras, and anywhere else that people seek God, I’ve chosen to base my beliefs on reason and logic rather than the “feel good” nonsense of most religions. My belief in God can be summed up in one sentence: “There is no God!”
The biblical God described in the holy books of Jews, Christians, and Muslims, is easy to disprove because it’s so ridiculous. While I applaud the mental acrobatics of believers in the Biblical God, ignoring thousands of years of scientific advances and undeniable facts, a fundamentalist belief in a personal God has no place in modern society and is detrimental to humanity, as seen with Islamic terrorism. Additionally, fundamentalists waste hours of valuable time each day praying and performing meaningless rituals, instead of spending their time productively.
A so-called spiritual view claims that since we can’t fully explain the miraculous nature and mysteries of the universe, they must be the result of divine intervention. While I too look at the universe with awe and ponder the miracles that take place every day, I choose not to refer to my wonder as God. The mysteries of the universe will eventually be explained by science, and there is no need to attribute what is inexplicable today to a deity, as ancient people did when they knew nothing of germs, so they blamed their maladies on God.
Anyone who has lived on Earth for longer than fifteen minutes has seen the harm fundamentalist religion causes, and Islam is not the only problem, though it is the most obvious today. The holy books of all three Abrahamic faiths have vile passages that cause true believers to behave terribly. Orthodox Judaism destroys families when children become intelligent enough to reject Orthodoxy or decide to intermarry, and the Torah advises parents to stone a disrespectful child. Christian scripture instructs men to dominate women and tells women to be subservient, and the Quran urges believers to murder infidels. Anyone who takes these books literally is a danger to themselves and others.
Stripped of a delusional idea of God, these books contain a plethora of beautiful lessons and ideals. For religion to survive and benefit us all, it must evolve to exclude God and retain the good. Some may call me a traitor to the Jewish religion, but I believe that Judaism must evolve to remain relevant in the modern world.
Rabbi Barry Silver
For many people, God is not a belief, but a crutch to cling to when they feel helpless and afraid, desperately trying to believe a concept they know deep inside to be false. When finding it hard to cope, they turn to the security blanket of youth, and the world of “let’s pretend”, seeking to convince themselves that the tooth fairy, Santa, or a loving God will protect them, yet sensing that these notions were concocted by adults to comfort them and avoid awkward conversations about the realities of life, much like telling kids that babies are delivered by a stork to avoid discussing human sexuality.
Many Jews, who profess loyalty to such a nebulous God, which upon closer examination resembles wishful thinking and political correctness more than belief, find this concept insufficiently compelling to bring them to the synagogue except on special occasions in order to show loyalty to their group or their parents.
On the other hand, science and reason provide the basis to truly know and be inspired by the creative power within and beyond each of us. Some accuse me of being an atheist, as if this is a crime. I am not offended by this label, though I do not use it to describe myself. Albert Einstein vigorously denied being an atheist, yet also rejected belief in a personal God. He called himself a “religious non-believer” who felt transformed by a feeling he called a “cosmic religious experience”, which he considered the inspiration for all music, art, religion and science, and without which people were a “snuffed out candle”. This transcendent experience does not require genius; just a willingness to look beyond childhood indoctrination, Bronze Age fear and anthropomorphic explanations for disease, the weather and our origins, in order to open our heart and mind to the awe, wonder, and rapturous appreciation of the symmetry, majesty and miracles which abound in the natural world and within us.