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Peter Lipton, a Cambridge philosopher, spoke of his struggle to be a practicing Jew in spite of his lack of belief in a supernatural God. “I stand in my synagogue and pray to God and have an intense relationship with God, and yet I don’t believe in God,” Lipton confessed with a rueful grin. He compared his religious experience with that of someone who gets pleasure and meaning from a novel even though he knows it is not literally true.

Are you having your cake and eating it too?” asked journalism fellow Shankar Vedantam of the Washington Post.

I’m certainly trying to,” Lipton replied.