Talk:Jewish atheism

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Orthodox acceptance[edit]

I would dispute the claim that Even the most Orthodox of Jewish authorities would accept as fully Jewish an atheist with a Jewish mother, according to Jewish law's emphasis on matrilineal descent. Many ultra-Orthodox Jews wouldn't even consider involved Reform and Conservative Jews Jewish. I think that perhaps this sentence should be deleted. --דניאל ~ Danielrocks123 talk contribs Count 02:49, 12 September 2006 (UTC)

It is well known that the majority of Jews are actually secular orthodox. Some 95% of United Synagogue members in the UK are so described. The chief Rabbi of the UK Jewish Liberal movement has publically described himself as agreeing with Dawkins! One can only wonder why he wanted to become a Rabbi. Maimonides codified belief in a God who was outside of time and space and was non-corporeal. That only leaves a metaphor I would suggest. Jews and Judaism are intertwined but separate. No other religion is so placed. But no other religion had several hundred thousand people witness a divine revelation, the giving of the Torah at Sinai! — Preceding unsigned comment added by 92.30.9.171 (talk) 15:52, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

Let me put it this way, the great medieval scholar Maimonides (known to Jews as the Rambam) classified a person who denies God's existence as a min (a heretic) (Hilkhot Teshuva 3:7), who has no share in the world to come and is not considered part of the Jewish people for practical purposes (Hilkhot Shabbat 30:15). -- Danezra 20:40, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

So wouldn't you say that it would be fair to remove that sentence? --דניאל ~ Danielrocks123 talk contribs Count 00:52, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

This would be in circumstances where the atheist would know what Judaism is and then rejects it, then he is still Jewish according to everybody but can't be counted for certain things, however nearly all atheists do not truly know about Judaism before they reject it and would be classified halachackly as Tinokim ShNishba whom do not get classified as a min. --PinchasC | £€åV€ m€ å m€§§åg€ 02:20, 24 November 2006 (UTC)
Orthodox Judaism views anyone as Jewish who fits under matrlineal Jewish descent (i.e. Jewish mother, maternal grandmother, etc.) It doesn't matter what faith that person follows - they would still be considered Jewish, just wayward. Mad Jack 00:39, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

Rejection of God puts one outside of the orthodox and traditional Jewish religion. One may still call themselves ethnic Jews if they so wish, but a believing Jew they most certainly are not. So in this respect to use the term 'Jew'in any religious connotation is a contradiction in terms. Merely being descended from a Jewish parent does not make one Jewish in the religious sense. And finally to add to this discussion pleading ignorance is not feasible and is not an acceptable excuse. It is up to the individual to obtain the necessary knowledge and impart on himself the wisdom of their religion. To close your eyes, especially with knowledge so widely and easily available from synagogues, books, internet etc, is to say you are a blind man when your eyes function perfectly. For the man who rejects Judaism in ignorance when he is able to gain knowledge is no better or worse than a learned Rabbi who rejects with knowledge. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 87.194.21.39 (talk) 16:39, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

I agree that the statement on orthodox acceptance is quite misleading. While Halacha might consider an atheist to be a "Jew" for some purposes, in ancient times the halachick courts found a way to put an "apikores" to death, and today orthodox jews would not drink wine that an atheist has touched, would not marry an atheist or count them for a community (Minyan) so overall implying acceptance is very misleading Zvis (talk) 21:11, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

Einstein and Freud[edit]

Einstein declares his disbelief in god in a 1941 paper; albeit he was forced to withdraw the paper for political reasons, he never recanted it. He used the concept of god metaphorically on several occasions (as in "God doesn't play dice"), which gives many people the impression he was religious. Freud more or less explicitly declares that belief in a deity is a form of paranoia in "Psychopathology of Everyday Life". However, sure as I am of the atheism of both, I am not a Jew myself, so I cannot fathom to which extent they, or the community at large, view them as Jews; were they mrely seen as secular gentlemen of no particular association, feel free to revert my edit. Complainer

Einstein[edit]

Einstein disbelieved in a personal god he believed in the god of spinoza

Atheist Jew?[edit]

Don't you have to follow Judaism which includes believening God to be a Jew? Don't give me this "if your mother is a Jew you are". Okay my mom is a Reformist and my father is a Catholic. So what am I? Half Reformist and half Catholic? OKAY! —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 65.101.237.13 (talkcontribs) 07:25, 4 December 2006 (UTC).

"Don't you have to follow Judaism which includes believening God to be a Jew?" No. You can be an ethnic Jew. Mad Jack 00:39, 20 December 2006 (UTC)
No, you have to believe in a supernatural being to be a Jew. It's not a ethnisity no matter how much they wan't it to be. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 85.165.88.106 (talk) 09:13, 16 May 2011 (UTC)

Lets be clear, Judaism is the religion of the Jews. You are a Jew by birth. However: Orthodox requires both mother and father to be Orthodox Jews. Reform requires either parent to be Jewish whether Orthodox, Reform, Liberal or Progressive. Conversion takes a year with Reform but can take several years with Orthodox. Orthodox does not accept non-Orthodox conversions or as Jews those who only meet Reform criterion. You can accept or reject Judaism or even become a Christian but you are still a Jew by accident of birth. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 92.30.9.171 (talk) 16:08, 13 October 2011 (UTC)


Yes it is an ethnicity, the genetic data proves it. Ashkenazi Jews and all jews clearly have a genetic structure distinct from ALL European populations. And it traces them back 3,000 years in the middle east. The reality is Ashkenazi Jews have nothing to do with any European population no matter how hard people try to exagerrate and claim how "German" or "Slavic" they are. We have the genetic evidence now and it shows they cluster NOWHERE near any of these groups they're claimed to be mixed with. No matter what country they inhabit they are distinct from the country's native population that is an indisputable fact.

Ashkenazi Jews distinct from Caucasians. http://blog.23andme.com/ancestry/the-uniqueness-of-ashkenazi-jewish-ancestry-is-important-for-health/

Jews in Europe & the Middle East sharing genetic similarities. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/10/science/10jews.html


And here's a clustering of European groups (Ashkenazi included). The only people who cluster close to them? you guessed it Sicilians, who have intermixed with Mid easterners in the past. Notice how far away Germany & All of the Slavic nations are from the Ashkenazi, there goes that whole "Ashkenazis are just Germans & Slavics" theory.

http://i.imgur.com/qh0wtuz.png

In short? if Jews aren't an ethnic group? Then neither is much of the world considering a German is less distinct from a British than a Jew is from all Europeans. A Jew is more of a distinct ethnicity than the bulk of Western Europeans are.


 — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2602:306:C4EA:CA0:9DBC:5FDD:405B:EE9B (talk) 21:54, 11 October 2013 (UTC) 

Einstein again[edit]

Could you people source instead of hacking and slashing? The Spinoza statement sounds very appealing, but all but realistic and, to be perfectly honest, I don't think I've ever met a theoretical physicist who believed in god, and I've met dozens. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Complainer (talkcontribs) 08:52, 20 December 2006.

According to Albert Einstein, he stated he believes in "Spinoza's God", which implies he has a pantheistic view of God. Unfortunately the article does not cite the quote, but nevertheless I'm removing him from the list because there is no clear evidence he was indeed a true atheist. --Ginkgo100talk 20:43, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

"Jew" vs. "jew"[edit]

As far as I know there is an interesting distinction in Polish. Nouns designating members of religious denominations start with lower case letters, whereas those designating nationality or ethnic origin are capitalized: "żyd" means a person of Jewish faith, and "Żyd" means an ethnic Jew. Thus one would write "katolicy i żydzi" (catholics and jews) and "Polacy i Żydzi" (Poles and Jews). It is even possible to say that somebody is a "Żyd katolik" (a catholic Jew -- a convert?), even though such usage is probably uncommon.Tsf 01:44, 9 June 2007 (UTC)

Ideology of atheist???[edit]

How can you assign an ideology to an atheist? Ideology and atheism have nothing to do with one another. Ideology and atheism are completely independent of one another. What does believing in God or not believing in God have to do with such things as Communism, Socialism, Social democracy, Liberalism, Conservatism? Even Zionism need not correlate with belief in God or non-belief in God, though I can understand this article commenting on that one ideology in relationship to atheistic Jews because the reader may be curious about that. The rest strikes me as ludicrously irrelevant. Bus stop 21:07, 18 July 2007 (UTC)

Category:Jewish atheists up for deletion[edit]

FYI: Category:Jewish atheists has been nominated for deletion. Anyone who wishes to participate in the discussion may do so at Wikipedia:Categories_for_discussion/Log/2007_August_25#Category:Jewish_atheists. Cgingold 15:39, 28 August 2007 (UTC)

Religious Atheist Jews?[edit]

Noting that there is a distinction between the Jewish race, and Jews as followers of the religion Judaism - my impression is that "atheist Jew" usually means someone who identifies as a member of the Jewish race, but does not follow the religion Judaism (as is covered in this article). Can it also mean an atheist who is a follower of the religion Judaism? The article says "Many Jewish atheists feel comfortable within any of the four major Jewish denominations", but it's not clear what "comfortable" means? Is this "comfortable" as in they actively believe and practise its principles, or simply that they don't object to it? Mdwh 21:24, 1 October 2007 (UTC)

No Jew will say he belong to the Jewish race but there are Jews that will say they are ethnicsly Jews.Maybe for you there are no differnce but Jews don't like to use it the term Jewish race.132.72.70.50 11:24, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

Of course there is a Jewish race. Jews are defined by being related to Jacob (Israel)and his 12 sons (the childen of Israel). From a family of some 70 people, 3,500 years ago, was born the Jews/Hebrews/Israelites. Jews have racial characteristics. Jews, Cohens in particular, have a high incidence of particular strands of DNA. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y-chromosomal_Aaron As a Jew one can mix freely with Orthodox, Reform, Liberal and Progressives. Its one big mostly happy family! — Preceding unsigned comment added by 92.30.9.171 (talk) 16:20, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

A Couple of proposed edits/expansions[edit]

I'd like to propose a couple of things (if anyone is reading this)...

1) The line "Some Jewish groups have expressed the view that Judaism is a religion, not an ethnicity, stating that non-practicing Jews should be called simply "atheists" not "atheist Jews"."

This is marked as needing a citation. I can't find any reasonable citation for this claim: i.e. all four major Jewish movements (in the US) view being Jewish as more than strictly about belief. Orthodox and Conservative define Jewishness along the lines of matrilineal descent, while Reform and Reconstructionist accept both matri- and patrilineal descent, if accompanied by a Jewish upbringing. While you probably can't convert to any of these movements while espousing atheism, I don't see any of the four branches rejecting the idea that there's a Jewish ethnicity. So I think this sentence should be deleted.

2) It looks like there's been a bunch of prior discussion re: the atheism and Jewishness of Freud, Einstein, etc. I think a section is needed here on prominent/famous Jewish atheists. I propose defining this as people who are ethnically Jewish and who rejected belief in God: Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud and Woody Allen would certainly qualify here. Whether we want to include someone like Einstein or Spinoza, Jews who rejected a personal God while using "God language" is perhaps a matter for debate.

Htrouser (talk) 15:07, 1 March 2008 (UTC)

The Reform movement in the UK is mostly social rather than theological. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 92.30.9.171 (talk) 16:23, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

Carl Sagan[edit]

Carl Sagan is also Jew, and he holds a philosophy similar to that of Einstein's and Spinoza's.

We should add a section on it. — Stevey7788 (talk) 04:49, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

Marx[edit]

Do we really want to put up a picture of Marx as the symbol of Jewish atheism? This articles discusses Jews who identify ethnically, something that Marx didn't do. Some would even argue that Marx was an anti-Semite (see On the Jewish Question). Macfanatic (talk) 19:55, 26 March 2009 (UTC)

Is there any evidence he didn't identify ethnically, out of interest? And accusations of anti-Semitism are based on a completely shallow reading of "On the Jewish Question", an article written as a reply to an article called "The Jewish Question", in defence of Jews as an ethnic minority but attacking the Jewish religion (while arguing against the idea that Jews should be forced to give up their religion in exchange for equal political rights, remember), and all this some decades before anti-Semitism really became an acknowledged concept. 147.143.252.182 (talk) 00:20, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

Karl Marx's parents were Christians, his grandparents were Jews and he was an athiest who denied he was a Jew an wrote antisemetic articles. About the only country on earth where Marx would be branded a Jew is Nazi Germany based on a perverse notion of race. Whoops I stand corrected, Nazi Germany and Wikipedia. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 82.27.181.16 (talk) 04:21, 12 December 2009 (UTC)

Jewish atheism vs. Christian atheism[edit]

There is a phenomenon known as Christian atheism, but it is arguably more marginal than Jewish atheism in terms of social acceptance within religious communities. The article should maybe try to explain why Jewish atheism is perceived as more common and more acceptable than Christian atheism, Muslim atheism or other forms of atheism. One possible explanation is that Christian doctrine teaches a form of antinomianism, which exalts faith and grace above the obedience to ancient communitarian laws. It is therefore possible for Jews to continue obeying these religious laws even as they lose their belief in the existence of God. ADM (talk) 18:18, 8 May 2009 (UTC)

David Cross[edit]

The comedian and actor David Cross has said that he has Jewish family and yet he is said to be an atheist. I am wondering if he is considered an atheist Jew? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 67.171.37.139 (talk) 22:14, 9 September 2009 (UTC)

Proposed for deletion?[edit]

With this edit the article is proposed for deletion. A person is a Jew by birth or conversion. Atheism, or belief in God or anything else, does not even enter the deliberations as to whether someone is Jewish or not. Bus stop (talk) 16:27, 14 March 2012 (UTC)

Any editor can de-PROD an article, as I just did. If the editor wishes to delete the article, she/he will have to take it to AfD. — Malik Shabazz Talk/Stalk 17:01, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
Thank you for taking care of that. Thanks too for the information that any editor can do that. Sometimes if the editor is not an admin it can set off an unnecessary reaction. Bus stop (talk) 17:56, 14 March 2012 (UTC)

Judaism as a 'paradigm example' of non-faith-requiring culture[edit]

'Judaism is arguably the paradigm example of the evolution of a culture and tradition that one can embrace without religious faith.' How is this true? I would say that most cultures and traditions can be embraced without adopting religious faith, and the very fact that there has to be an article explaining the fact that someone can be both Jewish and non-religious proves that it is hardly a perfect example. Surely Jewish ethnic identity and Judaism are much much more wrapped up in each other than other cultures and their respective majority religions (if they have any)? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 89.101.225.183 (talk) 04:04, 10 June 2012 (UTC)

Proposed rename: Jewish atheism -> secular Judaism[edit]

Before proposing this officially, I want to see what people think.

Secular Judaism redirects to this page (Jewish atheism) but it's far from obvious to me that they are the same thing. The majority of Jews in Israel, for example, are secular — i.e. nonreligious — but that doesn't necessarily mean they are atheists, and I imagine many (perhaps most) would reject that term. Same goes for many, probably most, Jews in the U.S. as well. Some are atheists, some are agnostic, some believe in God but don't practice, some are undecided, some may have inconsistent beliefs, and many simply do not consider it relevant to their lives. Some of this page describes atheism but much of this page clearly describes secular Judaism more generally. Similarly, many of the famous people claimed as atheists are not clearly so. E.g. if Spinoza advanced a "pantheistic" viewpoint, then he cannot be an atheist, regardless of whether this view "according to some observers, is both compatible with and paved the way for modern atheism". Likewise, Einstein said he believes in "Spinoza's God", i.e. a God "Who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a God Who concerns Himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.” Obviously, someone who believes in God (in whatever form) cannot be an atheist, which by definition denies the existence of God. Although I would certainly believe that both Marx and Emma Goldman were atheists -- hardly surprising since they were both radical leftists -- the same cannot so easily be said of Golda Meir, even though the article juxtaposes her with Emma Goldman (evidently purely on the fact that both were women): her response "I believe in the Jewish people, and the Jewish people believe in God" is compatible with atheism, but also with agnosticism as well as simply a belief that her personal religious views were irrelevant. And Woody Allen's "religious doubt" is consistent with agnosticism and religious skepticism as well as atheism. For all these people, we need a positive statement on their part that either they are atheists or they don't believe in God in order to classify them as atheists rather than simply as secular.

I suggest either we split this page into secular Judaism and Jewish atheism, or (probably better, given the overlap) simply rename it to secular Judaism.

Benwing (talk) 02:25, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Disagree to renaming – as said, these are two distinct phenomena – better write a new article Secular Judaism and, if necessary, redistribute the contents between the two.
I also disagree with your reasoning concerning Einstein. Imagine a vegetarian living in a society which despises vegetarians, saying "I eat meat (however note that for me the word 'meat' means 'the substance of any organism'. i.e., any non-inanimate matter.)" According to your reasoning, "Obviously, someone who eats meat (in whatever form) cannot be an vegetarian", however, radically redefining "meat" this way actually does allow "vegetarian" to apply to this person. For practically all people "God" is a sentient being personally involved in human affairs, thus Einstein's radically altered notion of God certainly does not render him a believer in the sense "believer" has for practically all people.
Golda Meir's statement, for that matter, is a straightforward pledge to Jewish culture and ethnicity and an obvious distancing from a personal commitment to deism. Dan 11:37, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Although I haven't checked it myself, I would suggest looking at how each of the proposed names is used in sources, and the relative frequency of use. Wikipedia generally tries to use the most familiar names for pages, per WP:COMMONNAME. --Tryptofish (talk) 15:17, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

List of Jewish atheists[edit]

How about we expand the “Notable people” section into an article called “List of Jewish atheists” (Wikipedia:Summary style)? We already have a “Jewish atheists” category on Wikipedia—for now, I added a link to it in the said section with a “See also” template—so an article might appear rather superfluous. Nonetheless, it's not an uncommon practice on Wikipedia; for eample, Wikipedia has both an article and a category for notable people from New Hampshire. Moreover, if we separate it into an article of itself, we'll get the benefit of being able to organize the individuals by their occupations or sources of notability rather than merely the letters from which their names begin, as is automatically the case with Wiki categories. Everything Is Numbers (talk) 04:53, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

Sounds like a good idea. — Malik Shabazz Talk/Stalk 14:42, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Great. Seeing that no-one has expressed any objections, I'll get it done these Motzei Shabbat. Everything Is Numbers (talk) 22:22, 4 August 2012 (UTC)

Style[edit]

"Jewish atheism refers to atheism as practiced by people [...]"

This should be rephrased. You cannot "practice atheism". Atheism is not a religion, just like not practicing any kind of sport is not a sport, and not having a hobby is not a hobby, as atheists have had to point out for years. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 18:37, 26 November 2013 (UTC)