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How can an atheist believe?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein

  

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Question: I am an atheist, and have been my entire life. But like any other thinking atheist, I do tend to wonder what would happen to me if I was wrong. The problem is, if there is a G-d how can there be so many different religions, and what about suffering? How could a G-d allow such suffering? Thank you, Safek

Answer: No one likes to be confused, so when G-d becomes confusing many opt out.However, let's not confuse the issues.1) G-d and religion are not synonymous. The fact that there is a creator of the world, a first cause, an ultimate force etc, doesn't mean that He ever spoke to a certain prophet, or that somebody actually knows what He wants. Similarly, the fact that one has a religion, a belief, an unwavering way of life, doesn't necessarily mean it has anything to do with G-d (many people play golf or watch House every week "religiously").2) Believing in G-d is not to be confused with "understanding" G-d, and not understanding "G-d" doesn't prove that G-d doesn't exist. To the contrary, what kind of G-d would He be anyway, if He and you were of equal intelligence.3) Thus in a case of confusion (like you claim to be experiencing) it is important to separate the issues, and explore three realms of thought: 1) Does this world have a cause, a creator, or is the complex system of our universe just a random product of pure chance? 2) When people claim they have a divine message to share, what is their proof, and why do other people believe them? 3) Is being unpleased reasonable grounds for denial? I.e. if I don't like and don't understand the tax system, is that alone sufficient evidence that there is no IRS?

"...if I don't like and don't understand the tax system, is that alone sufficient evidence that there is no IRS?"

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