I was recently pointed to this article about what life is like for Hasidic atheists, and I was struck by the similarities between their lives and the stories I’ve heard of atheists from fundamentalist Christian families in the American South. I especially identified with the one called Solomon:
From Dershowitz, Solomon moved on to evolutionary biology, and then to Stephen Hawking and cosmology, and then biblical criticism, until finally, he was unable to deny the conclusion his newly developed capacity for critical thinking had led him to: he no longer believed in the existence of God.
‘It was the most devastating moment of my life,’ he told me. ‘I wish to this day that I could find the holy grail that proves that I’m wrong, that it’s all true.’
Many of these men and women are trapped living an orthodox life, sticking to kosher and other practices, for fear of losing their children, jobs, spouses, and social life entirely. For very similar reasons, I lied to my own family until I was sure, very, very sure, that I could never return to Christianity.