Humanistic Judaism

Excerpted from the Guide to Humanistic Judaism, Summer/Autumn, 1993, Volume 21(3-4):26, published by the Society of Humanistic Judaism, 28611 West Twelve Mile Rd., Farmington Hills, MI 48334.

  • Today, theology provides six alternative beliefs with regard to God:
    1) Theism: believing in a Supreme Being, a supernatural creator-God who responds to prayer and worship and intervenes actively in the lives of people.
    2) Deism: believing in a Supreme Being, a supernatural creator-God who cannot respond to prayer and worship and who does not intervene in the lives of people.
    3) Pantheism: believing that God and nature are one and the same, or that God and some part of nature, such as life, are one and the same.
    4) Agnosticism: not knowing whether or not a Supreme Being exists.
    5) Atheism:  believing that a Supreme Being does not exist.
    6) Ignosticism: finding the question of God's existence meaningless because it has no verifiable consequences.
     
    Humanistic Judaism is incompatible with theism.  There is no evidence that a supernatural conscious being exists who responds to the personal problems of human beings and who deliberately intervenes in the affairs of humanity in response to prayer or to ensure justice.  Most liberal God-believers vigorously deny that they believe in such an anthropomorphic God.
    Humanistic Judaism can be compatible with deism, if the deist finds no need to worship a creator-God and if the deist attributes no moral authority to that God.
    Humanistic Judaism is incompatible with pantheism.  Calling nature God is verbal confusion. Just call it nature.
    Humanistic Judaism is compatible with  agnosticism.  Many, if not most, Humanist Jews would describe themselves as agnostics.
    Humanistic Judaism is compatible with atheism.  But it is not compatible with aggressive atheism.  Aggressive atheism assumes that denying the existence of God is of ultimate philosophic and social significance.  Humanistic Jews assume that affirming human power, responsibility, and dignity is primary.
    Humanistic Judaism is compatible with ignosticism.  Many Humanistic Jews find the question of God's existence meaningless and therefore avoid God-language.
    Humanistic Jews do recognize the importance of gods and God in human and Jewish history.