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Alan Dershowitz

Dershowitz is a Harvard law professor and civil liberties lawyer, probably best known as a member of the "Dream Team" for the O.J. Simpson trial. He is a passionate supporter of Jewish causes, but in his recent book, the Vanishing American Jew, he makes it clear that his attachment to Judaism is primarily cultural, not spiritual. He refers to his "borderline agnosticism." He also writes, "God is not central to my particular brand of Jewishness. Even if a voice came down from wherever secular voices come down from and proved conclusively that God did not exist. Being Jewish, to me, transcends theology or deity" (pp. 179-80).


"Having called for more openness in the expression of views regarding the existence of God, let me follow my own example. I am a skeptic about everything, including God and atheism. I am not certain about issues of cosmology. Sometimes I believe that our universe is the result of random forces. Other times I believe that there must be some order or purpose, though I do not begin to understand what or who it could be. I do not expect that these cosmic doubts will ever be resolved in my mind. I am more certain that the miraculous stories that form the basis of most religious beliefs are myths. Yet I respect the Bible and enjoy reading and teaching it. Indeed, I find it even more fascinating as a human creation than as a divine revelation. I consider myself a committed Jew, but I do not believe that being a Jew requires belief in the supernatural. When I attend synagogue, as I often do, or conduct Sabbath, Passover, or Chanukah services at home, I recite prayers. I am comfortable with these apparent contradictions. I am part of a long tradition that links to my heritage through the words and melodies of prayer. Indeed, it is while praying that I experience my greatest doubts about God, and it is while looking at the stars that I make the leap of faith. But it is not faith in the empirical truths of religious stories or in the authority of hierarchical religious organizations. If there is a governing force, He (or She or It) is certainly not in touch with those who purport to be speaking on His behalf."

from "Taking Disbelief Out of the Closet" by Alan M. Dershowitz, Free Inquiry, Summer 1999, Vol. 19, No. 3. p. 7.

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