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Old 08-19-2008, 06:21 PM
LordBaltimore LordBaltimore is offline
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 12
Default Re: Science Saturday: Liberals vs. Conservatives

I'm surprised that so many people dislike the term "Jewish atheist". It's a nice way to avoid rejecting a certain culture while rejecting a false belief. In my experience (this is just anecdotal; I haven't done or read any research) I'm struck by how many self-identifying Jews describe themselves as "observant Jews", while Christians, especially Protestants, are more likely to describe themselves as "believing Christians". Catholics seem to me a kind of in-between case; ritual observances are more important for them than for Protestants, so far as I can judge.

So if for many Jews, Jewishness is principally defined in terms of observing certain rituals and/or cultural practices, then the term "Jewish atheist" can make a lot of sense. Famous atheist Richard Dawkins, who has no reluctance to describe himself as a cultural Christian, wish people a merry Christmas, put up a Christmas tree in his living room, etc., has with some (acknowledged) envy noted the easy use of the term "Jewish atheist" and wished for some acceptance of some term like "Christian atheist"; to avoid confusion, he has called himself a "post-Christian atheist", to acknowledge and accept his cultural heritage while jettisoning the theological baggage.
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