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Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo Says Atheists Believe They are Missing Out on Something Fundamental in Life

nathan lopes cardozo

Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo is the founder and dean of the David Cardozo Academy and the Bet Midrash of Avraham Avinu in Jerusalem. Cardozo had this to say about agnostics and atheists in a The Times of Israel article titled God for Atheists:

There are very good people who claim that they are agnostics or atheists. They cannot see any reason to believe in God or they seriously doubt His existence.

However, they are greatly disturbed by this question, for they feel that they are missing something fundamental. Firstly, a higher meaning to life. They complain they have no rituals or festivals that stand for a higher purpose, no religious gatherings in a synagogue or church where they may feel that there is more to this world than what meets the eye.

This void darkens their lives and they feel depressed. They would like to be religious but cannot convince themselves to adopt a theist worldview.

I meet many people like this and I see their pain, which is sincere.

Although I am not sure the following is entirely true for all of them, and I am probably overlooking certain issues, here are some insights.

The main cause for their denial of or doubt in the existence of God is that reason does not offer these good people sufficient grounds to believe in God. Sometimes their reason moves them in the opposite direction from belief in God.

I believe that it is most important to realize that reason is not the way to go. There are certain matters in life that surpass reason. Reason, no doubt, plays a most important role in our lives but it has its limits. There are many matters that play a crucial part in our lives that reason is incapable of penetrating because these matters belong to a totally different category and have little to do with reason.


Are you an agnostic or an atheist? Does Cardozo accurately describe you?

The only true thing in Cardozo’s article was this: “Although I am not sure the following is entirely true for all of them, and I am probably overlooking certain issues.”

No shit, Sherlock. You need to get out more, maybe talk to a few atheists before declaring what it is they believe or what they are “missing” in their lives.


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar

    Excuse me while I take a Clue-By-Four™ to Cardozo’s noggin…


    Cardozo, you mendacious asshole, you do not speak for me. I believe the exact opposite of what you claim I believe. I neither need nor want a “higher” meaning, because all meaning is personal and subjective. My family has festivals too, and no, you are not invited.

    I’ve been to “the void,” too. Twice. As you can see, I survived the trip quite nicely. (I got better insights, too.) 😀

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    Karuna Gal

    I wonder if he was talking only to former believers who ultimately became agnostics/atheists, like me. As a former churchgoer I do miss, at times, the Christian community and belief in God. But did he talk to any lifelong atheists or agnostics? That would present a very different picture, I think.

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    Toby Lee

    I think Mr. Cardozo has it backwards. There is a place in the world for feeling and intuition. But not as it pertains to the nature of the universe. This is where you want reason, science, logic, and nature to be. Feeling and intuition belongs in your intimate, personal relationships. Know where to feel, know where to think.

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    dale m.

    Sherlock (Cordova) reminds me of a Man who says that women have “penis envy”. Really sir ?!? Your ignorance is astounding. There are 10,000 religions on this planet. But why are there only 2 or 3 types of Humanism which seem to get along just fine ? That’s because religion is attempting to find and know God without the most basic tool …. REASON.

    In the Humanist world, many of us have no problem in believing in the possibility of such a power that could be in operation in the manner of a celestial Vatican where the real power lies in the hands of Galactic (Cardinals) or an ancient Roman consortium of Galactic senators who choose one of their own kind to act as a cosmic ambassador (God) to other star systems. That’s our approach. It is based on the organization of world powers throughout history. Why should it be any different on a cosmic scale ?

    So no. We don’t feel left out. If anything, we feel very privileged to base any celestial being purely on reason. We feel bad for those still stuck in an existence without reason. All they have is hope that the next “life” will offer more. The small size of our traditional celebrations is based on economics, not a lack of belief. We don’t yet have any real economic power. That’s on us. If we ever achieve economic power someday, Christians, Muslims and Jews will surely have “atheist envy”. We know how to have a good, no wait ….. GREAT TIME !!!!

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    MJ Lisbeth

    I would love to hear what this rabbi would say about me: I am an agnostic atheist transgender woman who was raised Catholic, became an Evangelical and learned that she is Jewish according Halakhic law.

    What this guy says about atheists reminds me of some things “love the sinner, hate the sinner” Christians and some who are nakedly homophobic say about LGBTQ people:

    —We feel empty because we don’t get to have families or participate in what cisgender and straight people enjoy. That may be true for some of us, and the sadness comes from having been excluded or barred from such things.

    —Because we “chose” nor to have families or be alienated from the ones in which we grew up, we try to fill that void with alcohol, drugs and all manner of hedonism. In their minds, reason should lead us to be cis and straight—and into healthier lives. They don’t understand that some LGBTQ people live “on the edge” because of the stress of experiencing hate (especially when it’s dressed up in “the love of Jesus”), and eat unhealthily because of poverty. (Contrary to conservative and religious folks’ stereotypes, not all queer and trans people are wealthy advertising art directors or tech entrepreneurs.)

    As for “reason”: It should be abandoned only for love and beauty, not in any search for the truth—which is what people claim their quest to “know God” is.

    • Avatar

      “They don’t understand that some LGBTQ people live “on the edge” because of the stress of experiencing hate (especially when it’s dressed up in “the love of Jesus”).”

      This is so true, MJ, at least in my lived experience. If only I didn’t have this burden, I’m sure I would have been able to accomplish more things.

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    I agree, “there is more to this world than what meets the eye”, but it is absurd to think ancient people who were wrong about everything else knew what it is. As for spiritual growth from weekly meeting in a synagogue or a church, I prefer the gaudy showiness of Nature.

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Bruce Gerencser