Soc.Culture.Jewish Newsgroups
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

URL: www.scjfaq.org/faq/12-02.html
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Question 12.2:
Can one doubt G-d's existence and still be a good Jew?

Answer:

What does it mean that one doubts G-d's existence? It rarely means that one does not believe that G-d exists, rather that a person does not understand what G-d does. In other words, that the way G-d runs the world is not comprehensible (e.g. not understanding why G-d allow things like famine or the Holocaust to occur). G-d does not fit into our limited intellect. And defining G-d to be something that would fit into a human ideal of what G-d should be, would mean that we are denying what G-d actually is: something beyond our intellect.

So the answer is: we all have questions about G-d, but it does not prevent us from being good Jews. Because being good is not an end-goal, rather a process. We struggle to get better despite any doubts.

What a Jew does is more important than what he or she believes, even though Maimonides included belief in G-d as one of Judaism's key principles. Full and complete faith (emunah sh'laimah) in particular is a most difficult state to achieve, but the seeds of faith find fertile ground in the person of one who earnestly strives to live a Jewish life based on the Torah's prescriptions.

Note that there is an additional question of the extent to which an individual who doubts G-d's existance can participate in the congregation. This is more a problem for the individual than the congregation, for the congregation does not publically question one's belief. The individual, however, must reconcile publically performing actions or making professions with their internal doubts.


The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

[Got Questions?]Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to questions@scjfaq.org. The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at maintainer@scjfaq.org.

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