Sunday, September 17, 2006

Judaism vs. Secularism



The Bible (Genesis 2:7) teaches us that man is composed of two parts, the body, created from the earth, just as the animals were, and the soul, breathed into us by God. Each man is therefore composed of two opposing halves – one animalistic, one angelic. The animalistic portion includes those parts of our personality which we share with animals – the desire for food, sex, physical comfort, selfishness and cruelty. The angelic portion includes those parts of our personality which we have in common with angels – the desire for spirituality and to emulate God.

Within each person, the conflict continues his entire life, between one side and the other.

Why is secularism more popular than Judaism? Because it is far easier to surrender to the physical and become an animal than it is to constantly struggle and attempt to become an angel.

Why are secular people so often unhappy? Because they are attempting to deny the existence of a vital part of themselves.

25 comments:

Above Rubies said...

JphiLO-You make a simplistic point, and It's nice to see it in a non-judgemental tone. Of course we have a spiritual side and neshama that knows more than a simple animals instinct, but even the animals Hashem gave the smallest brains-such as roosters, have binah. Humans, with our capability to do wonders mentally still have difficulty attaining or recognizing binah. Perhaps that was Hashem's plan when he gave us free will.

You choose to call it animalistic personality. I call it yetzer hera. There are things in the yetzer hera that aren't optimal, but if we try to destroy the yetzer hera, life itself will be destroyed. Things just can't be so black and white...

jewish philosopher said...

The question is, which half should be dominant - should the body rule the soul or the soul rule the body.

Above Rubies said...

As I said, it seems logical to us as human being with souls that the soul needs to rule the body, but without the desire to mate, which is wrapped up in yetzer hera, population growth would cease. We're taught as Jews to channel that yetzer hera into a marriage, where we are free to enjoy making love, but it still doesn't take away that the need itself is animalistic.

Perhaps the channeling is key to the point you're trying to make. I for one dont wish to live a fully ascetic life. Desire to share and give physical comfort or feed those at my table are different than being selfish or cruel. Once again, there's a lot of grey...

jewish philosopher said...

Every animalistic desire has it's appropriate time and place, when it can be elevated to a spiritual level for a positive purpose.

For example, if the righteous person eats only healthy foods as needed to sustain his body for serving God, his table is likened to the alter in the Temple and his food is an offering. However the glutton who eats to indulge his desires is no different than the hog at his trough.

Jewish skeptic said...

>"The Bible (Genesis 2:7) teaches us that man is composed of two parts, the body, created from the earth, just as the animals were, and the soul, breathed into us by God."

Here is the translation from the Jews publication society:
7 Then the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the BREATH OF life; and man became a living soul."
Nishmat is translated as BREATH OF,& NOT "soul".
So it's translated by all other Jewish translations(except I think Artscroll-but they have their own agenda).So it is even tr. in the KJV.
When will you get it into your head that in Biblical Hebrew neshamah means breath & NOT soul.
A while ago I wrote you in a comment about it.But as usual,to what you don't like or know you don't respond!

"

jewish philosopher said...

What exactly do you think God's "breath" is? And does He ever have bad breath or hiccup?

Jewish skeptic said...

>"What exactly do you think God's "breath" is? And does He ever have bad breath or hiccup?"

No one knows what his breath is since no one knows there is such a thing as a God.

But dont try to wiggle out of it.
The word neshamah in Biblical Heb. means breath & not soul.As a matter of fact,the idea of a soul is a strange concept to Biblical Judaism.It was borrowed from the Greeks or Persians after the fisrt exile in 586 b.c.e.

jewish philosopher said...

It's obvious to everyone what this verse means. And I am not aware of any culture which did not have the concept of a human soul.

Anonymous said...

No one knows what his breath is since no one knows there is such a thing as a God.


Aha, you just said it. No one even knows if there is such a thing as God. For all you know this is just a figment of mans imagination.

jewish philosopher said...

If there's no God, where did you come from? And if you have no soul how do you have free will?

Jewishskeptic said...

>"And if you have no soul how do you have free will?"

What makes you think you have real free will?

Like it's been said by greater minds than yours or mine:

"you can choose whatever you will,but you CAN'T CHOOSE YOUR WILL"!(ascribed to Einstein).
My wording is probably different,but same idea.
& tell me ,when have you ever chosen your will?
Your will hinges on your personality & you had no hand in choosing your personality.It was already formed by age 3. Can you give any reason why you might prefer blonds over brunettes or v.v. or why you might prefer one kind of music over another.
It's the same why at age 16 you were an atheist & later you converted to Judaism.
Your being (personality) was pushed along these paths by powerful forces(motives)that you are not even aware of them!
Under the apropiate condidions you could have just as well turned into a bible thumping(you are not far from it now...)Christian,door knocking Jehovah Witness! All depending on the movenents of the neurons in your brain at that time & you would be now blogging about sweet Jesus or knocking at doors & witnessing...
So, all your blog & defense of chareidi Judaism is meaningless.

Jewishskeptic said...

>"It's obvious to everyone what this verse means."

Dont use the word 'everyone.
To me & many others *breath* means just breath. Ask any person in the st.what does the English word 'breath mean... & neshamah has been translated as breath.

ps your word ID is a real PITA

jewish philosopher said...

If we have no free will then no criminal including Hitler should be punished - he just did what his brain chemistry made him do. I disagree.

About "neshamah" how do translate the last verse of Psalms? Every "breath" will praise God? Or every soul?

jewish philosopher said...

I need the word ID because I was getting a lot of automatic spam posts.

Jewishskeptic said...

>"If we have no free will then no criminal including Hitler should be punished - he just did what his brain chemistry made him do. I disagree."

We punish criminals because otherwise society coudn't exist.
Let's take Hitler(who wiped out a large part of my family),he is evil to me because he had an evil nature & commited unspeakable crimes.You may argue,but he coudn't help it,that was his chemical makeup.True! But society has to protect itself & get rid of criminals who threatens its existance.We don't punish him-because he could have been a better person & wasn't. There is no metaphysical morality involved. We punish him because he commited a crime.
& just because I know that he had no choice in being evil,doesnt mean that I can't hate that criminal. Hating means he wronged you & for that you wish to kill him.
We also punish criminals for deterence.We hope that the punishment will in some way affect the brain chemistry of people with criminal tendecies & thereby deter them from carrying them out.
We get rid(or we should) of hard core criminals just as we get rid of a mad dog.


>"About "neshamah" how do translate the last verse of Psalms? Every "breath" will praise God? Or every soul"

Here is the translation from the Jewish pub.soc.

"ו כֹּל הַנְּשָׁמָה, תְּהַלֵּל יָהּ: הַלְלוּ-יָהּ. 6 Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. {S} Hallelujah.

Other translations that I have & KJV
translate *neshamah-breath*.

>"I need the word ID because I was getting a lot of automatic spam posts"

I dont know if its just with me,but your id ,it makes me do it twice & freezes my comment for a few min.I don't know,maybe i am doing something wrong.but i cant see what. as i wrote you its a real PITA.yours more than others.

jewish philosopher said...

If a volcano blew up and killed your family would you hate the volcano and want to destroy it? That would be silly. Essentially, you believe that a criminal is no different than a volcano.

If you want to influence people's brain chemistry, we should perhaps be adding drugs to the water supply. Punishment is meant to deter people from making the wrong choices - because we do have freedom of choice.

To me, Psalms seems to translate as "let all souls praise God".

I don't have that problem with the word ID, from any computer I've used. Maybe it's your browser or something?

Jewishskeptic said...

The comparison to a volcano is a silly one.There is the difference between a nonliving thing that has no emotions & livings things that involve feeings,
Most people would feel hatred towads a mad dog that killed their child despite their awareness that the dog coudn't help it .How much more so when human beings are involved!

>" because we do have freedom of choice"

Yes,I agree.BUT NO FREEDOM OF WILL!
As I wrote ,YOU CAN'T CHOOSE YOUR WILL!


>"To me, Psalms seems to translate as "let all souls praise God".

What seems to you is irrevelant.Do you know better Hebrew than the translaters I quoted.
I'll tell you what I don't like about you.You can never bring yourself to admit you were wrong,even when it's obvious you are.This trait is common with fundamentalists who suddenly "saw the light".Nothing can budge them from their deluded opinions.I bet you were just like that when you were first a Christian & then an atheist,or whatever.

However,unlike you,I don't seek to win an argument by the opponents ignorance of a certain fact.
So I'll help you out.
If you knew your bible,you could have quoted me the verse in Is.57:16

כִּי-רוּחַ מִלְּפָנַי יַעֲטוֹף, וּנְשָׁמוֹת אֲנִי עָשִׂיתִי. 16 For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth; for the spirit that enwrappeth itself is from Me, and the souls which I have made"

& at first sight,you would have scored a point ,showing that neshamot is tr. souls.
However,I am sorry to disappoint you. this verse doesnt prove that in Gen.2:7 it means soul.
All scholars tell us that 2nd Is.(from ch.40 till the end ) was written in Babylon,after the Exile,& as I have written you,by then they incorporated the concept of a soul(probably from the persians)& gave the name neshamah to it.But it doesn't reflect upon the Hebrew of earlier books of tanach.& especially not of the Torah.
Now that I pointed out this verse to you, you can use it against others who might question your translation of neshamah.Of course,you'll leave out the part about it being written in Bavel...

jewish philosopher said...

Do we have clear evidence of any human society which has not believed in a soul? Not to my knowledge.

And by the way, is there any place in Tanach were "neshomah" clearly and explictly means "breath"?

Jewishskeptic said...

>"And by the way, is there any place in Tanach were "neshomah" clearly and explictly means "breath"?


All the words of neshamah in the tanach that I am aware of means just breath.with the exception of the v.in 57:16,but see what I write at the end.
In answer to your question: the verse in the Torah (I am too lazy to look up the ref.)
" lo t'chayeh kol neshamah"=you shall not let live any neshamah, is a clear answer to your q.
the b'nei israel were commanded to annihilate the 7 nations & all the domestic animals as is explicitely stated & it states 'anything that breathes'.How clearer can it get?
Use a concrodance to find the v.
I you cant,get back to me & I'll find it for you.

BTW,even though the tr.of neshamot in Is.57:16 is translated in what I have seen in 2 tr.as 'souls'.
Its not against the language or context to translate it as "breathing things".

jewish philosopher said...

I really am sorry to disagree with you, however in my opinion Genesis 2:7 clearly implies the endowment of man with a divine soul, not merely that God blew on him.

jewish philosopher said...

Note also that in Genesis 1, other animals were created without any special breathing into their nostrils.

And in my humble opinion the concept that the ancient Israelites did not believe in a soul is just silly. All of mankind has always believed in the human soul. Weren't the pyramids built to some help the dead pharaohs the spiritual journey after death?

Cameron said...

JP said: The angelic portion includes those parts of our personality which we have in common with angels – the desire for spirituality and to emulate God.

CH: Given that Satan was an Angel, should we presume that our angelic parts are like him or more like Michael? What parts of us exactly are angelic again? I can't seem to locate these in the anatomy texts I have.


JP: Within each person, the conflict continues his entire life, between one side and the other.

CH: Au contraire. Some of us have eschewed the invisible and intangible stuff of ancient fairy tales for a life based on reason, and as a result, there isn't any conflict for us. Of course, previously you have concluded that this makes me a candidate for being 'soul-less'. Fair enough, but I await the evidence for your own purported ensoulment.

JP: Why is secularism more popular than Judaism?

CH: Easy, because secularism allows the individual to use his powers of reason unfettered by dogma or dietary restrictions. We also get to keep our willies intact. I'd say that's a 1st rnd knockout by secularism.

JP: Because it is far easier to surrender to the physical and become an animal than it is to constantly struggle and attempt to become an angel.

CH: Absolutely true, given we all start off as animals and there is no so such thing as angels, it is definitely easier to be a secularist. Unfortunately, children are frequently brainwashed from an early age into believing in things that aren't true under the guise of their religious eductation, making it a difficult road back to reason.

JP: Why are secular people so often unhappy?

CH: Who says we are unhappy? I get to have guilt free sodomy with my wife, eat ham and cheese sandwhiches with a glass of milk, keep my foreskin intact and I have my weekends free to pursue whatever activities I might wish. I'll put my happiness against that of astrologers, mystics and gnostics anytime.

JP: Because they are attempting to deny the existence of a vital part of themselves.

CH: Right, we deny the 'angelic' part. Remind me again what part of my body should be X-Rayed to show my angelic parts?

Speaking of angels, do we have a clear picture of what they look like? The story of Sodom and Gomorrha has a pair of angels that arrive and who the local townspeople insist on raping and buggering (they are kindly offered the services of the residents daughters instead, I guess because it was the Christian thing to do), so I presume that angels must have an ailementary canal, and/or female organs. But why would they have ailementary canals if they don't eat? Or do they eat? If they do eat, what do they eat? What could possibly grow in an intangible alternate spirit dimmension?

Lastly, if they eat, have sex (or merely have sodomy, I'm still not clear if they get half our organs or the full set), etc., they don't sound very angelic! They sound like they are actually quite human, and as such, I am back to being unclear on what it is you think is different about 'Angel parts' and our own.

I also found the whole debate about the breath of life vs soul-talk to be very interesting. My understanding of
Jewish heritage (albeit limited) is that there was no concept of either 'soul', or afterlife, and that the first concept was borrowed long after Judaism took root from Aristotle (which was then further corrupted/refined by Aquinas), and that the second was explicitly lifted from the early Christians. In short, I believe JewishSceptic has it correct, the ancient Hebrew peoples did not believe in a 'soul' in the way you insist they do.

JP: And in my humble opinion the concept that the ancient Israelites did not believe in a soul is just silly.

CH: Wait a minute, you think it is silly NOT to believe in invisible intangible things? I guess some people will believe just about anything.


JP: All of mankind has always believed in the human soul.

CH: A statement that is so false, even you should be able to acknowledge it as being flat out wrong. I for one, don't believe in the soul, so, given even just myself as an example, it should be clear that not 'all of mankind' has 'always' believe in a soul.

JP: If there's no God, where did you come from?

CH: My parents.

JP: And if you have no soul how do you have free will?

CH: We have danced on the issue of free-will previously, but here is a recap;

- if God is omnipotent (all-powerful), and omni-prescient (all-knowing), then she set in place both the conditions of our minds, and the inevitable directions they will take. In other words, you can have no coherent concept of free-will if you believe that God both made you and has perfect knowledge of what you will do. Can you surprise God? No. As a result, no choice you think you make is actually free.

- in contrast, I as an atheist am only a slave to my own desires, wants, needs, memories and experiences. As such, I can mix and match to my own taste and pursue a course of action that is both free and willful.

Lastly, you commented previously on the health issues of your son, let me join in wishing him a speedy recovery.

Cameron

jewish philosopher said...

I think that most people understand that our consciousness, our free will and our interest in religion implies the existence of a spiritual human soul which is distinct from the merely physical nature which we have in common with animals.

The fact that millions of people report remaining conscious while brain dead (near death experiences) confirms this.

Can anger, love or intelligence be found in an anatomy text?

I meant that all pre-modern societies believed in a soul and almost all still do. If there is no soul, why don't we dump corpses into landfill, just as we do with other dead animals?

Angels may sometimes appear to have physical bodies.

God knows what I am doing and controls what I am doing, however I am still free to choose what I would like to do. I may choose to kill someone for example, however if it is not that person's time to die God will prevent me.

The coorelation between atheism and suicide seems to be well established. I think this may be because atheists are denying a part of their being. One could almost say that atheism is a sort of suicide in itself.

Cameron said...

JP: I think that most people understand that our consciousness, our free will and our interest in religion implies the existence of a spiritual human soul which is distinct from the merely physical nature which we have in common with animals.

CH: Leaving aside that a simple majority of opinion on what people understand isn't an argument worthy of respect, or whether it is even true that such a majority of opinion exists in the way that you describe, the idea that from these things we could 'infer' a 'soul' is simply nonsense.

JP: The fact that millions of people report remaining conscious while brain dead (near death experiences) confirms this.

CH: Now you are back to making stuff up. 'Millions' of people have not had concious experiences while 'brain dead'. I doubt you can find evidence of even 20 people to fit that claim.

JP: Can anger, love or intelligence be found in an anatomy text?

CH: Sure, look under 'Brain states'. Anger is recongizable on MRI's, as is love. Intelligence (because it is not an emotion like anger or love) is something else entirely, as it is a subjective ranking of 'high' or 'low' rather than 'on' or 'off' like an emotion. Further, 'intelligence' is clearly a function of ones brain, and for a simple example one need only take into consideration what happens when people are severely brain damaged as the once highly intelligent individual becomes disabled or worse by the damage.

JP: I meant that all pre-modern societies believed in a soul and almost all still do. If there is no soul, why don't we dump corpses into landfill, just as we do with other dead animals?

CH: Even your corrected statement is false. Not all pre-modern societies believed in a 'soul'. The ancient Greeks didn't develop a conception of the soul remotely like what we use now until Aristotle, and his use of the word was not a refference to an invisible mental dualism, but rather to an object functioning properly. The following Aristotelian definition comes from the Stanford Philosophy dept;

"The soul of an animate organism, in this framework, is nothing other than its system of active abilities to perform the vital functions that organisms of its kind naturally perform, so that when an organism engages in the relevant activities (e.g., nutrition, movement or thought) it does so in virtue of the system of abilities that is its soul."

JP: Angels may sometimes appear to have physical bodies.

CH: They 'appear' to have physical bodies? Or they 'actually' have physical bodies?

JP: God knows what I am doing and controls what I am doing, however I am still free to choose what I would like to do. I may choose to kill someone for example, however if it is not that person's time to die God will prevent me.

CH: Exactly. By any reasonable understanding, the above example indicates you don't have free-will. Consider, if God 'allows' you to kill someone, than He, and not you, is responsible since He could have prevented you from killing them just as God stopped Abraham from disembowling Isaac.

JP: The coorelation between atheism and suicide seems to be well established.

CH: Just as the correlation between serial killers having religious beliefs seems to be well established. But it needs to be said that a correlation is not the same as a causation.

JP: I think this may be because atheists are denying a part of their being. One could almost say that atheism is a sort of suicide in itself.

CH: Amusingly enough, I consider religion to be a kind of mental suicide. Afterall, it requires the total subdjugation of reason to faith, and without reason we are unreasonable.

An example of how this mental suicide plays out is ID theory. I could have picked the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation which is so absurd as to be laughable but you would likely just laugh along with me.

No actual scientists (or philosophers worthy of that title) think it is anything more than sophmoric handwaving, but it nevertheless manages to convince the godfearing that it is somehow both explanatory and scientific - and the reason it does this is because it plays in to the pre-existing predjudices of the godly. No experiments for ID theory have ever been performed (or even suggested) and yet you yourself defend it as if it were scientific. Why? Because you cannot bring yourself to reconsider your faith in the light of science.

Better than to indulge in the fantasy that ID theory is true, not because the evidence suggests even the remotest chance of it being so, but merely because you hope it will.

jewish philosopher said...

I believe that human self-awareness and free will, which we all intuitively feel, prove the existence of the soul. The belief in an afterlife is virtually universal since the beginning of history. In addition to this, near death experiences confirm the existence of the soul. In my humble opinion, denying the existence of the soul simply borders on insanity.

As far as intelligent design theory goes, can you produce for me one example of a machine that you can prove came into existence spontaneously without the assistance of an intelligent designer? A machine is a device with a number of moving parts all working together to accomplish a certain purpose. Each organelle in each cell of each living organism which has ever existed is a machine.