Ask an Atheist with Sam Mulvey

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Jewish … or just Atheist? (w/ David Silverman)

Sam moderates a discussion between Becky and David Silverman on whether atheism and Jewish identity are desirable or even compatible. Dan joins to comment and present a moment of science.

David Silverman has served as President of American Atheists since 2010, having been an atheist activist since for more than 10 years prior. Dave has become widely known thanks to heading regular billboard campaigns espousing the mythical nature of religious observances, and numerous media appearances including The O’Reilly Factor, The Situation Room, and Fox and Friends. Recently, he provided an interview to Tablet, a Jewish interest magazine.


Full Title: Jewish Atheist, or Just Atheist (with David Silverman)

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[…] of Ask an Atheist in general for a short, but interesting, discussion on the topic at the end of this week’s show. ┬áSam was honest and up front about his opinion, saying, “I’m gonna be the jerk […]


It’s regrettable your cast was so easily persuadable by David Silverman’s arguments. Apparently he feels threatened that the “atheist” brand would be diluted by such hyphenates as “Jewish-Atheist” (or, in my case, “Jewish-Buddhist-Atheist”). But I, and millions of others, are quite comfortable with the apparent ambiguity. I say apparent, but I really mean non-simplistic.” But apparently, Silverman (or your cast) has never heard of Reconstructionist Judaism, founded by Mordechai Kaplan, who, like Spinoza and Einstein before him, espouse a naturalistic definition of God: that is, a God that is non-personal and shorn of superstitious and supernatural attributes, such as a… Read more »


Sorry about several grammatical/typographical errors above. Can you get your web gurus to fix the feedback and commentary feature to allow commenters a chance to correct errors and re-post?

Francois Jean

I cannot agree with your definition of secular humanist. It does’nt equal atheism. You can have both secular and humanist who believe in God. Secular means, originally, outside of the church, “in the century”. Nowadays, secular applies to all non-religious phenomenas, be it a government with no official religion, or any groups or person not involved with religion. Humanist is a philosophical concept which sees human as the most important subject. Therefore, you can have humanists religions in which humans are the quintessential of the creation. Humanism started with renaissance, and was not in contradiction with religion (or not always… Read more »

Becky Friedman

A Secular Humanist is not merely just secular, nor just humanistic. Squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares. And finally, “A chickpea is neither a chick, nor a pea. Discuss amongst yourselves.”

Francois Jean

I guess it became a synonymous of atheism with the time, in some countries, but I’m not 100% sure that it’s an exact term to use. Therefore, I agree more with David Silverman on the question.

Francois Jean

An exrmple of a secular humanist organization is the Red Cross. They are not religious, but neither are they atheists.


And yes, recently in Myanmar Buddhists WERE responsible for violence against Muslims. But the clashes were more cultural and political than religious. I’m not excusing the violence. But it’s naive to think that a religion with hundreds of millions of adherents and which has been around for 2.5 millennia would be immune to such conflicts. But on balance, there’s been a hell of a lot less violence perpetrated by Buddhists against non-Buddhists, than, say, Christians against Jews, Moslems against Hindus, Christians against Moslems, Jews and Arabs against each other, etc., etc. And, I might add, both Stalin and Mao were… Read more »


Neither Stalin or Mao killed anyone in the name of Atheist, they killed for cultural and political reasons, other then religious.

If you are going to make an argument defending one group, stay consisted when you are lying blame on another.


The actual reason I was going to post. I’m a bit behind in my podcast listening, sorry this isn’t more timely. You were way to easy on Scoutmaster Jim Brass. That scumbag is claiming he has to leave the scouts because of his moral beliefs based on what he calls Biblical values. This is a guy who stuck with the Scouts despite them covering up 1000’s of cases of child abuse before 1985, but while he was active in that organization. He cling with the Scouts when in 2010 they were forced to acknowledge that the Scouts let child rapists… Read more »

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