Tuesday, July 31, 2007
I have long been interested in Hella Winston, since reading her book “The Unchosen” about a year and a half ago. For several months, I continued an active correspondence with her by email. She always seemed like a very nice person and she always claimed to be very open minded, however the weird thing was that she seemed to be incapable of seeing anything positive in the Orthodox Jewish community and she seemed to be obsessed with unsubstantiated stories of “abuse” within the community – child abuse, spousal abuse, etc.
I could never quite figure out – what exactly is bothering her? Also, I knew nothing about her personal life. Who is she?
Today, I came across this article on the web, which I think makes it all a lot clearer.
Apparently, Ms. Winston is a 38 year old, childless, never married woman. She doesn’t have any high-powered career. She is a student. She lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with her dog. I can imagine her interviewing Satmar women a decade younger than she is who are in stable marriages and have a bunch of little kids. Understandably, that can be depressing. In order to protect herself from being overwhelmed by jealousy, she has had to console herself with imaginary stories of the terrible “abuse” these women are suffering.
I think “The Unchosen” should be renamed “The Sour Grapes”.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 10:07 AM
Monday, July 30, 2007
[scales of justice]
It occurred to me today, I think on the treadmill, that the really crucial difference between Jews and other people is one thing – our belief in divine justice; that there exists an Almighty God who ultimately will fairly punish and reward everyone for everything. There is be no bribery or favoritism (Deut. 10:17). There can be no escape from justice.
Obviously, a lot of people are uncomfortable with this idea and I believe this is perhaps the primary reason why Judaism is not more popular. People can swallow almost anything except inevitable justice.
Many nations in recent centuries have embraced some sort of atheism, agnosticism or deism. I am thinking primarily of Europe and also Japan. These nations first plunged into unimaginable barbarism and then, exhausted, have fallen into materialism and apathy. They no longer are reproducing themselves and are faced with a shrinking, aging population.
In traditional Christianity, there is a loophole that allows escape from divine justice. Jesus allegedly died for our sins and belief in him will atone for us. Divine justice is nullified for the faithful, which may help explain why some devout Christians have committed horrendous crimes without apparent guilt.
In Islam as well, there is a way to escape punishment for sin – death as a martyr fighting for Islam. (See Koran Surah 61). In general, Islam seems to emphasize human justice more than divine justice, an attitude which leads to constant wild vigilantism.
I believe that the Jewish philosophy, of belief in inevitable divine justice, is surely the only path to moral excellence, although it may not be quite what everyone wants to hear.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 2:31 PM
Friday, July 27, 2007
[E. coli, a common bacteria]
The earth formed 4.5 billion years ago. It was then bombarded with huge meteorites for 600 million years. Bacteria appeared about 4 billion years ago, or approximately just as the bombardment was ending. According to Discover magazine July, 2007 page 62, life appeared about 50 million years after the point when the earth stabilized. Discover magazine, absurdly, takes this as evidence that life could “easily develop anywhere, anytime that the conditions are right”.
In fact, bacteria, although the simplest form of life, are incredibly complex. Scientists cannot begin to create a bacterium from simple chemicals and even creating a computer simulation of one E. coli has not yet been completed and will be extremely challenging. Yet scientists believe that bacteria formed on earth spontaneously from simple chemicals in a matter of tens of millions of years at most. I cannot imagine any clearer proof that bacteria didn’t develop spontaneously at all; they were CREATED.
Something gradually developing is called “evolution”. Something appearing suddenly is called “creation”. What does the evidence actually show us?
Nick Bostrom, a respected young philosophy professor at Oxford, has proposed that our universe may in fact be a computer simulation created by an alien civilization.
Academics seemingly will do anything to avoid the concept of a Judge and a judgment. Does something make them uncomfortable?
Posted by jewish philosopher at 9:03 AM
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
[satirical cartoon by Thomas Nast, from Harper's Weekly, August 19, 1871]
Interestingly, I don’t seem to be alone in regarding the current theory of evolution to be nonsense. After decades of claiming it's a "fact", not a "theory", there seem to be increasing grumblings within even the secular scientific community.
The old theory cannot be jettisoned however until something new, but equally Godless, is formulated. A new and improved idol must be created before the old one can be publicly discarded.
I think we can expect to hear more about this in the next few years.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 8:44 AM
Friday, July 20, 2007
[statue of Zeus at the ancient town of Olympia, on the west coast of modern Greece, about 150 km west of Athens]
I have been told that atheism is "the philosophical position that God or gods do not exist".
Let’s think about this for a second. What exactly is meant by the expression “God or gods”?
Possible meaning #1: Something capable of creating something from nothing.
This is clearly nonsense, since cosmologists have proven that the universe was created from nothing about 13.7 billion years ago. So it would seem that something did create something from nothing.
Possible meaning #2: Something supernatural; something that does not behave according to natural laws.
This is clearly nonsense since scientists have proven that subatomic particles do in fact not behave in a completely predictable way; in other words they do not follow natural laws.
Possible meaning #3: Something superior to humans.
This is clearly nonsense, since there is no way of knowing if superior forms of intelligent life do not exist somewhere in the universe.
In other words, late 20th century science has completely pulled the rug out from under atheism. Perhaps this is one reason why atheism seems to have run out steam a bit in recent decades while the allure of religion is growing. Similar to Communism, atheism is a quaint 19th century ideology that has now been discredited.
Atheism continues as a sort of self-serving gut feeling that “there is no judge and no judgment”, but intellectually it’s bankrupt.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 10:53 AM
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
[the Flying Spaghetti Monster]
Atheists often tell me “Atheism is not a religion; atheism just means I don’t believe in gods.”
I would like to respectfully ask however: What exactly do you mean by the word “god”?
Let’s say, for example, there would exist alien beings who are a trillion times more intelligent than humans. Further more they are invisible and intangible since they are made from dark matter. They are powerful enough to be able to easily create new galaxies in moments. Would these Dark Matter Super Creatures [DMSCs] be gods? And if not, why not? Gods in non-Abrahamic religions basically resemble some sort of super heroes or space aliens. [This may explain the popularity of UFOs and comic books in many circles today. Deep down, we really miss those old gods.]
Are atheists saying that they know that DMSCs do not exist? How can they know that? And if not, what exactly are they saying?
Posted by jewish philosopher at 2:24 PM
[Malawi, where the Middle Ages continue]
Last Friday afternoon I was walking down 34th street in Manhattan on my way to the gym when an attractive young lady accosted me. She asked me if I wanted to sponsor a child for something called Plan USA. Although I always try to be friendly, I am not friendly enough to give my credit card out to strangers on the street, no matter how pretty. However I told her I would check out their website.
I have, and I’m very impressed.
I would urge everyone who can afford to do so to sponsor a child through Plan International, in addition to your other charitable donations.
"He Who is merciful to others, mercy is shown to him by Heaven, while he who is not merciful to others, mercy is not shown to him by Heaven" (Talmud Tractate Shabbat 151b).
Posted by jewish philosopher at 9:29 AM
Monday, July 16, 2007
I was in Barnes and Nobles yesterday browsing through the Science section, when I opened up “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins. (I didn’t buy it – but I probably will when the paperback comes out.)
Sometimes I cannot help but wonder if Professor Dawkins, who is apparently so intelligent and well educated, is really serious.
First of all, he explains that the most convincing proof against God is that theists have offered no explanation of how God was created. However, doesn’t the professor realize that by definition God is an eternal being? Seemingly, what Dawkins should do is prove that an eternal being cannot exist (he doesn’t do that), not harp on the ridiculous question of “who created God”. That’s like asking, “Who is the bachelor’s wife”.
In any case, since Dawkins believes evolution answers everything, why can't he believe that God evolved somehow as well.
Second of all, he repeats again and again the deceptive concept that “natural selection is non-random”. That’s true, it is, but it is also non-creative. Natural selection simply means that all living things, which exist today, are capable of reproducing, otherwise they would not exist. I agree. But what created all those successful reproducers? According to Dawkins, pure, dumb, blind, incredible good luck, gradually dribbled out over a few billion years. Blind chance chemical combinations created the brain, the eye, the hand, etc. etc. Natural selection just means that all those poor animals created with no brains, eyes, etc. perished. For one, I cannot convince myself of that. And the fossils offer no support whatsoever.
Sometimes one really wonders whether Dawkins is serious, or whether he is giggling secretly about having duped so many fools as he collects his royalties.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 9:53 AM
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
[stars of “Sex and the City” ]
People don’t usually associate God with sex, however interestingly Judaism does.
The Song of Songs is a dialogue of passionate love between a man and a woman, which appears superficially to be entirely secular. God is unmentioned in it.
Nevertheless, in the Mishnah Tractate Yadaim 3:5, Rabbi Akiva states “all of the [inspired] writings are holy, however the Song of Songs is the holy of holies”. This is because, according to the Midrash, the Song of Songs is an allegory of the love between God and the Jewish people.
Therefore, according to Judaism, the love between God and man can be compared to the intense, passionate love between and a man and a woman. In fact, Maimonides in the Laws of Repentance 10:5 writes “What type of love should one have for God? One should love God with a tremendously powerful and fierce love, to the point of being constantly obsessed with it, like a man who is in love with a woman and thinks of her constantly, whether active, resting, eating or drinking. In fact, man’s love for God should be even greater than this as it is stated in Deut. 6:5 ‘with all ones heart and soul’ and as Solomon wrote in the Song of Songs 2:5 ‘I am sick with love’. The entire Song of Songs is an allegory for this.”
Based upon this concept, I think it becomes easier to understand why God has implanted in man a preoccupation with sex. In animals, the female goes into “heat” when she ovulates, the male and female copulate and it’s over. Purely business. Humans, on the contrary, are constantly active in this area. This is because the obsession with sex is actually an allegory for the obsession that we should have with the love of God. Just like a geography teacher will point to a globe and say, “This is a miniature model of the earth”, so God has given us sexual passion and, in the Song of Songs, He inspired Solomon to say “This is a miniature model of the love which should be between us.”
Posted by jewish philosopher at 10:51 AM
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
[Saint Dominic Presiding over an Auto-da-fe, painted 1475. Oil on wood. 60 5/8 × 36 1/4" (154 × 92 cm). Prado Museum, Madrid.]
Today is a fast day, the 17th of Tammuz. In the afternoon service we recited the prayer “Our Father, Our King! Help us for the sake of those who have been butchered rather than deny Your Unity!”
Yesterday, a woman from an Orthodox Jewish home posted an article writing that she did not apostatize in spite of the rudeness of her high school teachers.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 1:54 PM