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Atheist responds to open letter

Rabbi Adam Jacobs
Rabbi Adam Jacobs
Aish Center

A few days ago, Rabbi Adam Jacobs posted an open letter to atheists on the Huffington Post. It started reasonable enough, but very quickly degenerated into nonsense. You can read his letter here. This is my response:

Dear Rabbi Jacobs,
I got to the second paragraph before realizing that you are being disingenuous. It seems to me that there really are no true theists (by your definition) because in order for you to be a theist you must prove that there is a God and in order to do that you would need evidence. Of course, atheists need no such proof in anything as we just have to lack a belief. They may be gods of all kinds running around the universe, but since there is no evidence presented for such beings, I lack belief in them and therefore fall into the category of atheist. While I cannot speak for others, in addition to being an atheist (one who lacks belief in a deity), I am also an agnostic (one who lack knowledge in a deity). In fact, because I am agnostic, I am also an atheist. While you can label me whatever you want, if you are going to insist on your straw man definitions, then you must also be an agnostic and not actually a theist because by your definitions it would be ridiculous to take any position other than agnostic.

As for Antony Flew, he never claimed belief in a personal deity. In his old age, while losing his mind, Christian intellectuals fed him misinformation and wrote a book in his name. He still never claimed belief in the Abrahamic deity. For the record, “our experts” use actual evidence, where your experts use bad arguments, misinformation, and the argument by authority which you are attempting to exploit right here. While I am sure you wish that different people classified as experts (some by themselves) makes it a draw, the fact is that you or your “experts” have yet to present any valid evidence for your position. Until you do, it will not be a draw at all. Theism is no more a draw with atheism than astrology is a draw with astronomy or alchemy is a draw with chemistry.

Having spend a significant part of my life as a Jew, I can't understand why you would believe such ridiculous stories and spend so much time and money forcing your ridiculous beliefs on everyone else (tax free) while stunting human progress and being so hateful toward others. Hitler for the record was a Catholic and a strong God believer. Why would a Jew side with him? I should also point out that it isn't that Abrahamic believers do horrible things “in the name of religion,” but rather that they do it “because of religion.” Your holy books are extremely violent, sexist, hateful, anti-science, anti-humanity and anti-human progress.

I am open to the idea that religion isn’t inherently bad, but it seems that there is a mountain of evidence (both in the past and the present) against that proposition at least where the Abrahamic religions are concerned. As far as Jewish history goes, I was shocked to learn that much of it is a lie. For example, the Exodus from Egypt never happened. The Jews were never slaves in Egypt and this religious lie has demonized the Egyptian people for long enough and given the Jewish people a persecution complex which has become self-fulfilling. This is yet another mark against religion. Religion manufactures history that never actually happened.

You need not accept the multiverse hypothesis. No one is asking you to ascribe to it on faith. That isn’t how science works. While it probably is a very good hypothesis, it is still in its infancy and little evidence has be presented to support it yet. However, you should realize that Einstein's General Theory of Relativity is pretty well established and almost certainly true. This being the case, space and time are linked and relative. So before space there would be no time and thus to ask what came before the Big Bang would be akin to asking what is south of the south pole. It is a meaningless question.

At the end of your article you again fall back to authority. Your view that Darwin has authority and that his opinions outside of his scientific discovery means anything it part of the problem with religion. Stephen Hawking said it best when he stated, “There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority and science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works.”

Author's Note: I am not the only one who responded to this Rabbi's article. Landon Ross also wrote a brilliant response. Check it out HERE. And my friend Glen Loev also wrote a response. Check his out HERE.

I go into more detail on many of these issues in the Atheism 101 section.

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  • Anonymous 4 years ago

    Well done.

  • Profile picture of Hugh Kramer
    Hugh Kramer 4 years ago

    “I am open to the idea that religion isn’t inherently bad”

    I'm not. If you regard truth and factual accuracy as important, anything that requires faith as its basis isn't going to be good. I believe in the scientific method as the most accurate means of understanding the world around us but my "faith" in it is only as strong as the evidence supporting that premise.

  • Ben Tousey 4 years ago

    "So before space there would be no time and thus to ask what came before the Big Bang would be akin to asking what is south of the south pole."

    What's south of the South Pole? North. Since we live on a globe, we can only walk so far south before we're doing north again.

    Ironically, though, we are the ones defining these terms. South is a word we use to describe a place.. both generic and specific. As far as the Universe is concerned, it's irrelevant. There appears to be no up or down as far as the universe is concerned. The Big Bang is a word we use to describe an observation. Rabbi Jacobs assumes that his "language" is his evidence. Rather than observe, he creates a story and then tries to defend it.

  • David Taylor 4 years ago

    "The South" is not a Carolina or a Dakota. It's a man-made reference to a direction along an axis. If one walks to the end of our geological South Pole - and keeps walking - that is the opposite direction. Your description suggests North and South alternate when walking in a straight line - there's a challenge for navigation.

  • Profile picture of Staks Rosch
    Staks Rosch 4 years ago

    That's actually a quote form Stephen Hawking. The point is that there is no south of the south pole because that is the limit of what south is. In other words, there is no before the big bang because that is the limit of what time is.

  • Chris D 4 years ago

    You're little behind the times on your multiverse theory. To question what happened before the big bang is a thoroughly legitimate question, and is not so easily dismissed.

    Just because something happened outside the light cone of our universe, does not make it non-sensical to ponder. Just because the concepts and laws of our universe rule the way we measure time and space, does not mean there are no higher spaces in existence.

    There's a lot of very serious thought given over to the nature of what formed the big bang, and it's not going to stop for a while.

  • Profile picture of Staks Rosch
    Staks Rosch 4 years ago

    And it shouldn't stop, but we also shouldn't assume there is actually an answer either. Hawking is the one who made the analogy to the South Pole and he is also the the main person working on M-Theory.

  • quedula 4 years ago

    Excellent clear response Staks.

    Now I'm going to read the other one you link to :)

  • Profile picture of Camels With Hammers
    Camels With Hammers 4 years ago

    <blockquote>The Jews were never slaves in Egypt and this religious lie has demonized the Egyptian people for long enough and given the Jewish people a persecution complex which has become self-fulfilling.</blockquote>

    Self-fulfilling persecution complex. This sounds like some horrid victim blaming, Staks.

    And I find your accusation that the rabbi sided with Hitler in his article to be a bewildering, slanderous misrepresentation of what he said. I skipped these disquieting passages when quoting other, better portions of your text on my blog today, but wanted to register my dissatisfaction with these irresponsible and borderline anti-semitic remarks.

  • Profile picture of Staks Rosch
    Staks Rosch 4 years ago

    There is no doubt that the Jews have been persecuted (and in some places still are persecuted), but the mindset of many Jews has been that they have always been persecuted and always will be persecuted. This is what I am talking about. Like I said, I spend a significant portion of my life as a Jew (religiously) and by some standards will always be considered a Jew (ethnically). So if I am anti-semetic, then I really must hate myself. My twisted logic with regard to Hitler was a mirror of the type of logic the Rabbi was using. It was meant to be sarcastic.

  • sashan 4 years ago

    Good work - I like how you used Adam Jacobs original reasoning process in the 1st paragraph to show that there are no true theists.

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