Atheists are needed

Mar 6th, 2007 | By | Category: Spirituality

There is a Jewish story that has been told in many variations concerning what it really means to be an atheist

“In the little Eastern European village of Chelm lived a young man, who considered himself an atheist. Chaim, the Chelmite had heard that the very famous “Moishe the Atheist” lived in the neighbouring village. Eager to find a like-minded soul to learn from, Chaim packed a bit of food in his kerchief, hung it on a stick, and made his way through the woods to find Moishe the Atheist and to study with him.

After a few days journey, and directions from a few helpful strangers, the young man found Moishe’s little cottage. He knocked on the door and received permission to enter. There was an old, bespectacled man hunched over the table, half-hidden behind a pile of books.

“Yes,” said the older man.

“I am looking for Moishe the Atheist,” said Chaim.

“I am Moishe,” said Moishe.

“Sir, I am an atheist too, and I would like to be your apprentice,” said the younger man.

Moishe slowly removed his glasses and peered at the stranger. “You are an atheist?” he asked.

“Yes, sir,” replied Chaim.

“Have you read the Torah?” Moishe asked.

“No, sir,” said Chaim.

“Have you studied the Talmud?”

“No, sir,” said Chaim.

“Are you familiar with all our prayers and philosophies?” asked Moishe.

“No, sir!” said Chaim adamantly. “I am an atheist.”

“Ach,” said Moishe, waving the young man away dismissively. “You are not an atheist. You are only an ignoramus”

Atheists are people who take faith seriously.They have travelled the same ground as Christians and come to different conclusions. I find in the atheists who contribute to the website an integrity that we as people of faith often lack.

Perhaps we need each other, they, to stop us drifting down the path of the Inquisition or into Protestant Fundamentalism; us, to stop them drifting towards making an idol of the human intellect and believing in a value free universe.

Leave Comment