Elie Wiesel

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Why did Elie Wiesel become an atheist?

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Eliezer Wiesel was born on September 30, 1928, and died on July 2, 2016. Wiesel is remembered as one of the most influential literary and social figures of the 20th century for his writings and public speaking on The Holocaust. In 1944, Wiesel and his family were deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where his parents and siblings were killed. Wiesel has written about his experiences leading up to and during his time in the concentration camps in his memoir, NightIn this book, he recounts that he began to struggle with his understanding of God. How could God, any God, especially a kind and loving one, allow such atrocities to happen? There is nothing godly in what happened under the Nazi regime. In fact, many of Wiesel's writings are highly critical of God or the idea of God as understood in the Jewish and Abrahamic traditions. 

Though Wiesel became highly critical of God and struggled with his own relationship with God, he never said he had outright renounced God. I do not think Wiesel ever identified as an atheist or implied that he was one. In fact, despite his criticisms of God and the cruelties he lived through, Wiesel continued to believe in God. Often asked about whether or why he believed in God, Wiesel expressed some ambiguity but said that he did not give up on God for the same reasons he did not give up on humanity.

With that in mind, it seems Wiesel did falter in his faith or relationship with God during and after his time in concentration camps, but he never fully renounced the Jewish faith.

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