Being Religious Without Belief in God


I recently had a halacha question that i asked a friend much more learned than me and he gave a wonderful answer; full of details and citations. We continued discussing it when all of a sudden he tells me he does not believe in God. I was shocked for a moment because for the last 20 minutes we were discussing different rabbinic opinions and not only that, he keeps shabbat, kosher, wears a kippah and was even growing his beard out for the omer. But he doesn’t believe in God. Blew my mind. It doesn’t seem like its from a lack of emunah per se but just that there is no solid proof of God’s existence.

I studied philosophy, specifically ethics, in college at the same time as I started learning Torah. When it comes to arguing for God’s existence, I have all the arguments ready to go from Creator -> God ->HaShem and im very passionate about it. The beauty of mitzvot? I can talk about those too. I’ve continued my Torah and philosophy studies for a few years after college, even now, as well but I never ran into this situation where someone keeps the mitzvot so well, knows quite a lot, but does not believe in God. I want to keep expanding my knowledge and ability to converse with different type of people but I have no idea what field of Torah/philosophy this would be. I thought about perhaps learning more about emunah but emunah has an emotional root to it and I believe my friends case is more of an intellectual one. Is there something else besides emunah that I can read up on?

Does it make sense to ask: Outside of the 13 principles of faith and first commandment, can a person be religious/observant if they don’t believe in God?



  1. Can a person be religious if they don’t believe in God? No, not really. I wonder what is driving your friend to live a fully religious lifestyle without a “beating heart.” In any event, there are many books that deal with belief in God through an intellectual prism.

    Depending on what kind of approach you want, there are the “classics” such as the Kuzari and the Guide to the Perplexed and the Nineteen Letters. There are also a plethora of newer titles that have been written over the last few decades. Personally, I would suggest that you look at a site like to see what is available and what sounds like it would appeal to you.

    Best wishes from the Team