Riskin: Wrong About Atheists
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin made significant errors in describing atheists in his Torah commentary (“Belief Never as Important as Action,” Oct. 22) on Parshat Noach.
Riskin states that “ … the atheist [is] confident in his rejection of God … ” This assumes the existence of only one “God.” Atheists do not believe in the actual existence of any of the many deities that have been imagined by humans over thousands of years — only as mythic characters.
Riskin goes on to confuse the concepts of “knowing” that a god (or gods) exist and “believing” that a god (or gods) exist. No one actually knows with 100% certainty; people have differences in beliefs. Riskin then states that a lack of certitude as to whether supernatural beings (gods) exist usually causes despair — a presumption without evidence.
Noah is praised for following the dictates of a god that he doesn’t even believe in — the idea being that it is praiseworthy to act (follow religious rules) as if you are a believer even if you are not. But rules of which religion? By the rabbi’s logic, someone unsure of his/her faith should be lauded for killing a blasphemer or apostate, following the dictates of Islam!
Glen Loev | Wayne
An Absurd Term
Thank you Dave Olim for calling out the absurdity of Jews using the term anti-Semitism (“Anti-Semitism an Outdated Term,” Nov. 12). It’s an example of how we Jews absorb the hatred of our enemies. This term was coined in the 1870s by a German hater of Jews as an early form of political correctness. He felt that Juden haas (hatred toward Jews) was too harsh.
It’s past time to drop this term from our spoken and written language.
Henry Frank | Philadelphia