Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

Modern atheists are right all along

I’m most disturbed by the quiet agreement between many Jewish atheists and most Orthodox Rabbis as if they are having incomparable worldviews. I don’t believe that for a moment. I understand that Jewish Atheists don’t want to be pushed toward Judaism. I understand Rabbis being confident that whatever they do and believe, it’s not Atheism. But I’m just not sure.

Atheists, nowadays, have good reasons not to believe in God. And I don’t mean that they are right not trusting anything or Anything that cannot be proven. But I think that most of the time, Atheists are not so much put off by the concept of a God but rather by how many religious people behave. They see and say: no, not like that.

All the sexism, the homophobia, the rejection of science. And a refusal to stop thinking by oneself and just follow what others say.

Good for you!

I have no need for a God I never see or hear.

I don’t want to talk to Someone Who never answers.

Good for you!

I like a lot of what a religious upbringing teaches.

But I don’t want to suffer with little in return.

Good for you!

If there would exist this God that the Jewish Tradition talks about, God would be very proud of you.

God would not want you to be a sexist, a homophobe, to reject science and stop thinking for yourself and just follow what others say.

Don’t steal. It’ll make you less holy. And God, your Soul, will see, of course.

I case you don’t know what our Soul is, neither do I. I know it’s not part of the human body. Take all the parts apart and you won’t find a Soul part. But neither will you find a Life molecule or a Smart piece.

This is nothing mysterious. When you build a shelter from bricks and wood, there will be no shelter part. The building blocks created a safe space but safety is not a characteristic of the individual building materials.

We should never reject reality. Science tells us of its findings. To embrace them until they are replaced by something newer and better. Especially, if you learned science, it’s disgusting to see how religious leaders dispute Geology and Evolution Theory while they don’t know what they are talking about. Of course, you want no part in this!

God has no need for people with blind faith who never see or hear. But if you listen to your Intuition and your Soul, you’re listening to God.

Don’t be intimidated by these traditional Jews who parade around as if they talk to God face-to-face every day. They don’t.

At most, they, but anyone really, can talk to God all the time until they see God in everything. You do that for two years and you have that too.

Nor does God need our prayers. Prayer is for the one who prays.

And God doesn’t want you to be a hypocrite to just pretend to be religious.

And to have a sleepy religious routine with unchecked customs is dumb.

God doesn’t want you to suffer with little in return. The Sages say that God’s original plan was to give followers the best life — no less.

God — if God exists — made people independent agents. With Free Will. With a need for autonomy. With their own viewpoint and own mindset.

Each unique and priceless.

And God doesn’t need to be worshipped, praised, obeyed. He’s not an idol!

So what’s with all the praises for God that religions prescribe and all the bowing?

Let me suggest that all this began as a concession to human weakness, to help most people transition from idol worship to being close to God.

To say: Don’t bow to an idol; bow to God.

But we went up in rockets and walked on the Moon. There is no God up in the Heavens. Not even beyond the Universe. If God were so beyond, why take God into account at all? Beyond is beyond.

Let me suggest that snippets of God really live in all of us (Exodus 25:8, 28:46) as our Souls, our deepest Selves.

And that we’re all interconnected because our Souls are part of a larger Whole: God. Human conflicts are never between our Souls.

This would solve the problem of why God says that it’s not good for Adam to be alone (Genesis 2:18). He was with God — how alone could that be? Well, if God was Adam’s Soul, so indeed, on his own, he was alone.

I would not limit God to being the sum total of our Souls. There could be more to God and since God is unlimited, there probably is. But, I’ll be pleased if we could agree that God is at least all our Souls combined.

There is no difference between obeying God and obeying the Human Soul. That’s how the first Jews, our Matriarchs and Patriarchs, followed all the Commandments, by just being outstanding people.

You can hear God when you listen to your conscience. Just make sure it’s not the voice of a stern confusing message that was perpetrated upon you early in life.

There is no tension between serving Man and serving God.

You don’t need to believe in an external God to be holy, not to do Evil.

Evil is simply the perpetration of more overall hurt than the minimum.

Maybe an old wise religious tradition can help you figure out faster which are the ways to inflict as little as possible overall hurt, but never give up on your own checking if this works out.

People often are unwise about ‘believing’ in God as if that should be just a naive leap of faith. Naive people may live calmer but they are also in more danger. I believe that traditional Jewish belief in God is this: “You do all you can. Outside of that, you give it over to God.” That means that you take no shortcuts. But while you did your best within reason, you also don’t worry. Call it having Trust, call it being a realist. Nothing an Atheist can’t do.

You don’t need religious leaders to tell you to be friendly, humble, peace-loving, a proud (but humble) Jew, etc.

Atheism is the best religion there is because it refuses to do idol worship or anything that looks like that!

But, I’m too weak and confused for that.

I like the wisdom of ages and to check it for accuracy now. I don’t know how to bow to God without putting God above me. I don’t want to start from scratch. It could take me a lifetime to figure out that giving money to a heroin addict is murder, not charity. That just being fair to a parent is not enough awe and gratitude. I value the character traits the Jews cultivated.

But if you’re strong and sensitive enough, be religious without tradition.

You see, Atheism is incorporated in Judaism. No wonder, there are so many Buddhist Jews. Buddhism certainly doesn’t have all of Judaism (nobody has anything like the Talmud) but it certainly has the essence.

However, I’m not certain about any of the above. What do you think?

This post has been further expanded and edited for clarity on April 6.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500th blog post with the ToI. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * NEW: To see other blog posts by him, his overspill blog you can reach by clicking on the Website icon next to his picture at the head of every post. There you may find precursors to later TOI blog posts, addition or corrections of published TOI blog posts, blog posts the TOI will not carry, and some thoughts that are too short to be a TOI blog post. Also, the TOI only allows for one blog post per blogger per 24 hours. Sometimes, he has more to say than that. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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