The 'Jewish Philosopher' whips up another dandy of an argument....

Spiritual Illiteracy

Maybe there was some grain of truth in the concept that they are more free and more enlightened than I am. I wanted to find out.

So, I found out.

I believe that secular people are lacking an important life skill. They are lacking the ability to look beyond their own immediate needs and to see a larger reality. They are suffering from a certain type of learning disability.


AR: Nothing says you are treating your opponent fairly in an intellectual discourse like commenting on how their perspective is just like 'a learning disability'. At least it is an upgrade on calling them 'stupid'.

As for my ability to 'look beyond my own immediate needs to see a larger reality' what reality is that exactly? Is it Pat Robertson's apocalyptic-Jesus-is-coming-back-real-soon reality? Is it the reality presented by the temples of Salt Lake City? Is it the larger reality of engrams, Thetans and 'going clear' that Scientology pushes?

Seriously, help me out here. How is that the Jewish Orthodox 'larger reality' is any more sensible than the larger reality of the 'Easter Bunny'? How do you judge which of these 'larger realities' is the actual 'larger reality'?


I feel that it’s comparable to a modern, educated person visiting a primitive, illiterate community and trying to convince people there of the importance of literacy. Some might be receptive to the idea, however surely many would be resistant. After all, they could ask, what exactly is the point in spending hours a day staring at worthless bits of paper? Shouldn’t a rational, practical person hunt, fish, gather fruit, build homes or make tools? I have heard of cases of American teenagers who did poorly in school and dropped out in disgust with “trick learning”, hating their school and their teachers.

Obviously, people like this are to be pitied. Literacy can do so much to enhance anyone’s life, young or old. There is so much a person can learn about the world through reading. Of course one could point to a lot of worthless or evil literature. And there are literate people who live miserable lives of great poverty. However on the average, literacy, together with a good, thorough education has undoubtedly changed the lives of countless millions for the better. No sociological study is needed to prove this.


AR: So far, we can agree on at least this; Literacy = good. Illiteracy = bad.


I submit that the same is true of spirituality.


AR: Then you must be 'learning disabled'.

See how it feels? Thats the level of discourse you have adopted, adolescent name calling.


Belief in God, in an afterlife, in ultimate reward and punishment, in an ethical system based on the Ten Commandments, the love of neighbors and the golden rule, tremendously enhances a person’s life.


AR: Allright, now we've definitely crossed the line. Actually, suggesting atheists are 'learning disabled' crossed it first, but this takes you to a whole 'nother level of line crossing.

Of the items you list I will agree that the 'love of neighbours', and the golden rule definitely both enhance a person's life. Loving your neighbours is cool by atheists. We have neighbours, and hating them would require a lot more effort than getting along. Nothing unsecular about that.

The 'golden rule' (do onto others...) is actually the basis of secular liberalism (John Stuart Mill, etc.), not to mention a factor in pre-Christian morality going back as far as you care to go. Further, the discovery of 'mirror' neurons and their relation to empathy may well explain the biological roots of the golden rule. Our ability to understand and empathize with how our fellow humans is an essential component of all ethical systems and isn't anything endemic to Judaism or or it's retarded bastard child, Christianity.

As for an 'ethical system based on the ten commandments' this is a doozy of a suggestion. Of the Ten, only three really belong in any legal framework; don't kill, don't lie, and don't steal (and as you should know, these pre-date Christianity as foundations for ethics - I mean c'mon, do you really believe that Christians invented the prohibition against murder?).

The rest are all far lesser moral issues, with the first four being of solely Christian/Jewish concern and not worthy of being the basis for any ethical system.

The fifth is definitely a nice idea, but in no way is necessary for ethical conduct (afterall, what if your parents are jerks, or worse, atheists? Do you still honour them then? If so, why?).

The 7th (don't covet thy neighbours ass) is in direct conflict with modern capitalism, and the 10th (don't bang your neighbours wife) while probably sound advice, isn't anything that a reasonable person believes should be criminalized.

Further, lets take a quick look at 'ultimate reward and punishment'. How is it that a loving caring God would ever consign someone (like say, an atheist child) to eternal damnation? How do you square that with any ethical system anywhere?

Innocent child + eternal suffering in a lake of fire = moral?


The all embracing, detailed legal framework of rabbinical Judaism supports these ideals to the highest level possible. People who have accepted these ideas are as different from those who do not in the same degree that a scholar is diffrent from an illiterate. They are focusing on God and their fellow men in a constant, real, practical way. They are not obsessed with their own comfort and profit. Their lives have a cosmic purpose, a mission with universal, eternal value. They can have so much more satisfaction in life and accomplish so much more.


AR: The followers of Jim Jones, the Bhagwan Rajneesh, Wahabbists and the members of the Solar Temple would no doubt agree with you that their lives have much more cosmic meaning then those of us atheists.


Of course, the atheist\agnostic\materialist\naturalist will reply: I am only concerned with real, practical matters. I have no time for imaginary gods and imaginary rules. This is like the illiterate person who claims he only has time for practical tasks, not for worthless book learning. The atheist and the illiterate have no idea what they are throwing away and how limited, narrow and miserable their lives needlessly are.


AR: Now you are being contradictory not only to reason, but to yourself. Given that your exposure to atheism is largely from ex-Orthodox Jews, you can hardly claim that atheists have no idea what they are throwing away. It seems clear to me that know EXACTLY what it is that they are throwing away.


Just to illustrate this, I am involved in two groups on
www.yahoo.com: one is for people who have left Orthodox Judaism, usually for atheism. The other is for parents of children with cerebral palsy. The first group is filled with anger and hatred; unhappy, lonely people, trying to console themselves by ridiculing their former religion. The second group is full of kind, concerned people who love someone who is disabled and who are happy to help someone else while hoping for God’s blessings. The contrast is striking.


AR: Is it really surprising to you that the atheists you encounter in a chat group composed of ex-Orthodox Jews would have more anger than a support group for parents of the severely disabled? Isn't at least part of the point of a chat group for fallen members of orthodoxy to blow off some of the built up resentment and anger towards religion that caused them to leave in the first place? And is using a cerebral palsy suppport group the right comparison to use?

I mean, Puh-leeze.

It looks to me you have stacked the deck in your 'research' to arrive at the conclusions you presume to be true. Atheists must be angry bitter beings with shriveled up souls and no moral centre - so to confirm this you hang out in a chat room with people who you can be fairly certain harbour ill-feelings towards Jewish Orthodoxy. What a surprise! The atheists you find there are sometimes hostile and angry! Then you compare it to the people you encounter in an environment that is by design meant to be supportive, and nurturing for those in the deepest pain, and to your shock and amazement you discover that these people on the whole are more supportive and nurturing then those angry ex-Jews!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I truly admire your efforts to engage with the so-called "Jewish Philosopher." However, experience has shown that he has no interest in dialogue or the honest exchange of ideas. That said, I do enjoy watching you rip his arguments to shreds, so please keep it up!