Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Do Celebrate Passover

The flight of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt into the desert, as reported in the Torah, probably did not happen. At least, there is no archaeological or historical evidence that allows us to claim with confidence that the extraordinary events relayed in Exodus actually occurred. And even if one or more elements in the report are factual, I highly doubt that God played any part in the events -- this because I reject the hypothesis of God's existence.

Nevertheless, I will sit down with my family this year and conduct the seder. We'll set up the table as instructed by the haggadah, and we'll perform the rituals associated with Passover observance. I fully intend not to eat unleavened bread during the Passover time.

It's been hinted to me that as an Atheist I should not celebrate Passover or observe any of its rituals. Yet, I enjoy the seder and the week-long diet of matzah. Why deny myself of this? Why deprive my children of an annual marker of the heritage into which we were born? The seder is but dinner theater and only serves as the backdrop for storytelling, supper, games and song. The matzah restriction is but a diet, same as any other diet I might try for a week.

Holding seder and eating matzah do not constitute agreement with any truth claims made by the Bible or Jewish theology. I can celebrate this discrimination in and through the seder.

And irreverence? Of course, there must be irreverence.

Happy Pesach!


  1. I struggle, at times, with this very idea. I am a rigid atheist, yet I celebrate Christmas, grudgingly my wife would claim. I buy presents for my son. I go to her family's Easter dinner. I even keep quiet while they say grace. Does this make me a hypocrite?

    Perhaps. I tend to view it as I don't like rules. So I just do what I want and to hell with the what people think. Of course, I may just be lying to myself, but it does keep me warm at night.

    Blessed Atheist Bible Study @

  2. "Does this make me a hypocrite?"

    I don't think so. Being out and outspoken as an atheist is one thing, but being rude to people (especially those who are feeding you) is another matter entirely.

    Hypocrisy, as I understand it, is telling people you think they should do something that you don't do, or that they shouldn't do something that you do.

    More often, I am coming to think that Atheism is rather limiting, in that non-belief is just one part of the bigger thing I think we're all after: intellectual honesty. Our strong opposition to religion focuses on how its truth claims and feel-good messages don't withstand scrutiny.


Feel free to comment if you have something substantial and substantiated to say.