And now we reach the group whom I perhaps love best, the skeptics, atheists and those who went off-the-derech. I know this group intimately well, for the simple fact that I understand the thought behind such a process.
There are different types of skeptics, atheists and irreligious Jews, of course, and far be it from me to force them all into one category. However, I believe I understand the two main derivations.
Those of you who left our religion due to the cruelty you had practiced upon you, the stifling nature of its constituency, the negative experiences you had and the fact that you were taught as a rule that you could not fulfill your dreams within its bounds, I have been you, and still am you at times.
And those of you who left after intellectual inquiry, having been persuaded by the science of our times, or the history, or whatever else it was you found which did not seem to stand before the Torah, I respect you. Because to me what this means is that your religion mattered enough for you to struggle, to invest the time and the energy into working through it and trying to prove it right, or more importantly, trying to follow wherever your search took you. And I believe that when you go up to God, you can honestly say that you tried your hardest to discover Him, and that your search was not an apathetic one, but a passionate one, fraught with meaning, and yet you did not. And so perhaps to the skeptic or atheist most of all, religion has meaning, for it was the fact that it had meaning which led him to question it and finally to leave it.
The Curious Jew, How to Love Every Jew.
I've always thought that us skeptics take religion more seriously than most religious people. If God exists, would He want us to search for the truth or to hold onto the religion we were born into for dear life, avoiding tough questions and settling on whatever apologetics we can?