The ways in which atheists break or undermines Noahide Law
It must first be noted that the greatest weakness for anyone attacking atheism is that we think we are just dealing with someone who doesn’t believe that there is a God or someone that is convinced that there is no God. It’s difficult to battle against a negative, and atheism is truly a void and empty sort of thinking in some ways. But there is a truth to the statement that nature hates a void and and an empty place (“nature abhors a void”), especially when it comes to the nature of man. When someone lives a life not subservient to God, it simply means that they have shifted what they are subservient to. What has normally happened for the atheist is that they’ve shifted to a form or humanism (the belief that human reason and endeavour is the only way to understand reality, rejecting God) or naturalism (nature is all there is, no God) or scientism (very close to humanism, the belief that science (a human endeavour) will find all the answers we need). Notice that all of these reject God (atheism). And each is fundamentally flawed, but that’s not the aim of this response.
Based on what I’ve said above, I can go into how an atheist breaks or undermines the noahide laws in 3 ways.
1) Atheists break the law of idolatry, and this can be shown through a quote from the book, Secular By Design by Alan Cecil, pages 415-416 and its footnote.
“The “secular” nature of the Noahide Law confuses many who think that the prohibitions of idolatry and blasphemy are strictly “religious” laws. In Torah Law, there is a much broader understanding of idolatry; the common (non-Jewish) view of worshiping false gods … is only part of what constitutes idolatry, for along with the worship of false gods there is also a prohibition concerning the worship of false ideas. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan explained that “the Torah warns: ‘Do not turn to the idols’ (Vayikra 19:4), which the Gemara explains as a reference to conceptual idols,[see footnote 3] ideologies not based on the Torah (Shabbos 149a).””
Let’s also look at footnote 3 that the above quotation refers to.
“The idea that the worship of man will be the last idolatry before the advent of the Mashiach is cited in the name of the Vilna Gaon … in putting forth this concept, Rabbi S. R. Hirsch of course had in mind the modern age, in which man and his reason and judgment have become the supreme arbiter and authority in the world. Secularism, naturalism and scientism (the belief that science and only science can furnish the answer to all questions) are some of the approaches that have replaced mankind’s seeking of God’s guidance. The failure of the twentieth century to solve any of the basic problems of humanity – achievement of international peace, agreement on accepted standards of morality and interpersonal relations, mental health requirements, alleviation of poverty and famine, protection of our environment, etc. – certainly justifies the author’s remark about ‘the havoc wrought by human violence and human folly.’ Ultimately, the ‘worship of man’ is disastrous, because man’s insight cannot arrive at a clear knowledge of moral law.” Elias, Nineteen Letters, 101.”
Atheists are not void of ideology. Many times you will find them clinging to one conceptual idol or another. And Noahides are prohibited concerning any form of idolatry.
2) Atheists break the law of blasphemy. According to Noahide law, it is blatant idolatry to verbally accept anything other than HaShem as your god. To say to a statue or an angel or a man or anything other than HaShem is your deity could make you liable if there are witnesses (Divine Code by Rabbi Moshe Weiner, pg 165). Even if the person does no action, but simply and clearly gives this statement, he is liable. No, this isn’t the main point, but it’s going somewhere. What is the command about blasphemy about?
“The diametric opposite to this ideal of reverence for G-d is the crass and sinful conduct of deprecating [meaning belittling, disapprove of – my addition, DD] G-d or His Sovereignty. This is referred to as blasphemy. In common usage, the word “blasphemy” is generally defined as any form of uttered impiety, irreverence, or sacrilege against G-d. These are acts of defiance seeking to impair the appropriate respect and reverence for G-d.” (words of Rabbi Immanuel Schochet, http://asknoah.org/7-commandments/blasphemy).
Now what is atheism or any of its derivatives? It is blatantly the deprecation of God and his sovereignity. Also there is a general prohibition not to curse God which logically includes the prohibition against insulting him. A person who states that there is no God or that he has no rule over their lives is therefore as guilty for the general prohibition against blasphemy as a person who states to an idol or some creation is their god. It may not be a capital offense, but is still against the general prohibition to insult the existence and sovereignity of God.
3) Atheism undermines the commandment of Dinim (a law concerning social laws and justice). According to the Talmud, these following laws or principles are part of the law of Dinim:
“With whom does the following statement of Rab Judah in the name of Rab agree: viz., [God said to Adam,] I am God, do not curse Me; I am God, do not exchange Me for another; I am God, let My fear be upon you?25 — This agrees with the last mentioned [who mentioned the law of Dinim]” (Babylonian Talmud Tractate Sanhedrin 56b)
Surprising as it is, these injunctions are part of the noahide law to do with justice. Why is this important and how does it relate to an atheist?
As I’ve said before, there isn’t really a command without a commander. The law that all gentiles are under is called the Seven Commandments of the Children of Noah. Without the foundation, the underlying strata, of, at the very least, an acknowledgement of God, the authority of these laws are undercut and undermined. I remember being in a debate with an atheist myself and mentioned that there were laws against theft and murder, and the atheist said that the authority of those laws is debatable, can be argued, maybe even be refuted. Why? Because the atheist is only going on his own logic based on his own presuppositions. The only authority in his universe is himself. Even if such a person lives a life similar to the noahide laws, although he avoids a direct punishment (if he keeps quiet about his rejection of God), there is no reverence to God in him and he is basically following his own authority. And at the root of any injustice, any violation of Torah is the shrugging off of authority, and in this case, God’s authority for someone else’s, essentially going against every statement/command above regarding justice. Although such a person may do avoid doing what is illegal in the eyes of others, maintaining that life in private is another thing between oneself and the Commander, God. When such an authority is removed, the mask of privacy can hide a person’s actions and offenses. This is not to say that atheists are immoral and will necessarily break God’s law. But no authority other than their own, their morality is on shaky ground.
In an objective way of looking at things, an atheist who has a morality that echoes the Noahide Commandments doesn’t really keep the Noahide Commandments, i.e. commands from God to gentiles, but rather his own dictates. They just happen to coincide. It is because they coincide that there are a lot of positive things that an atheist can do in this world and for this world and there is more chance for that atheist to see the truth of the matter. But he has only deposited his investment in this world so it is in this world that he can expect to see his returns.
It is important to note that the reason why governments these days are so willing to adopt laws that contradict so many of the Noahide commandments is that they ignore or do not even have in mind the words quoted above. In fact, this is also why our legal system can be so corrupt with lawyers and judges more interested in getting paid than administering justice. There is no fear or reverence of God before their eyes and they have exchanged God’s authority for the whims of other humans. So the legalizing acts that are illegal according to the Torah Law for Gentiles, and the corruption of the whole governmental and judicial system of our lands, these things are not just to be expected, it’s almost inevitable. That has to be a huge undermining of the Noahide Law of Dinim (justice).
These are the way in which an atheist either breaks or undermines the Noahide Law, the commands given by God.
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