Friday, August 31, 2007
One of the greatest problems that plagues mankind is violence.
People seem to be very inclined to attack other people. The world wars in the last century killed a total of about 112 million people. In a relatively peaceful year, an estimated 1.6 million people died from violence. Humans probably have about a 10% chance of dying a violent death, although among poor young men the chance is probably much higher. This is in addition to the huge number of people who are maimed, crippled or traumatized by violence. We are plagued by domestic violence, rape, robbery, terrorism, etc. The quality of our lives is greatly diminished by violence.
And then there is the economic cost. Global military spending is over one trillion dollars a year. That’s equal to about $200 per year for every human on the planet. What could be accomplished with that money if it were used to relieve disease and hunger? How many lives could be saved?
Why can’t we stop this madness? Why can’t we all just get along?
That question goes back to Cain and Abel. In fact, chimpanzees, which are similar to humans, sometimes engage in very similar violent behavior. Violence may be very deeply programmed into human neurology. This is all the more worrisome considering the fact that together with other scientific advances of the past few centuries, our weaponry has become hugely more powerful. A violent maniac with a hydrogen bomb is somewhat more dangerous than a maniac with a sword.
So what are we to do? Law enforcement does great work. The United Nations is doing great work. However clearly much more needs to be done to conquer our wild animal nature.
I think I have a solution: God.
We need to educate people from early childhood to realize that there exists a supreme being who is constantly watching them and who will punish them if they commit a violent act. Furthermore, this punishment is inescapable – it will occur after death, if it does not occur in this life.
These are the essentials:
A prohibition of violence
(This is basically what the Noahide Laws amount to.)
Convince people of this you’ve solved the problem.
And I have proof that this works.
The Orthodox Jewish community includes about two million members and we do educate our children to believe this. The number of Orthodox Jews who are currently serving prison terms for violent crimes can probably be counted on ones fingers. (This is in contrast to Christianity, which seems to teach the paramount importance of belief, rather than behavior, and Islam, which seems to teach that God rewards violence - the precise opposite of the truth.)
So what is the rest of humanity waiting for? Let's at last beat our swords into plowshares (Micah 4:3).
Posted by jewish philosopher at 9:56 AM
Friday, August 24, 2007
[Ayn Rand, atheist, preached the virtue of selfishness]
Not long ago I believed that atheism is a metaphysical philosophy, based on determinism and naturalism. I believed that it was basically a sort of religion in itself. I was even wondering if there might be some truth to it.
However, debating with atheists and doing research at the library and on the web has changed my mind.
First of all, atheists themselves emphatically assert that atheism is not a religion. Atheism just means not believing in any gods. The funny thing is, that when you ask for more details, atheists cannot define what they mean by “gods”. What is apparent is that atheists don’t seem to be bothered by the idea of an intelligent creator. They do seem to be bothered terribly specifically by the idea of a higher power who can monitor them, judge them and inevitably punish them, for example in an afterlife.
Secondly, atheists seem to be invariably highly selfish people. It is apparently impossible to find a well-documented case of an atheist who was kind, honest, sober and sexually responsible. It is impossible to find a case of a government that officially promoted atheism, which demonstrated any great concern for the welfare of its citizens.
Thirdly, the 19th century foundations of atheism have been abolished by 20th century science. Determinism has been contradicted by quantum mechanics. Naturalism has been contradicted by the Big Bang. We now have proof of what Jews always believed: we do not live in a cosmic perpetual motion machine, an eternally existing universe which keeps ticking away forever according to predetermined natural laws. Atheists seem to have barely noticed this scientific upheaval. They apparently don’t depend on any evidence.
Fourthly, there would appear to be a linkage between pornography and atheism. Communities having a high level of pornography seem to have a high level of atheism. The expansion of the Internet has made pornography more widely available and at the same time atheism seems to be becoming more popular.
I think what is happening is the following.
Many people, especially young males leading secure lives in developed countries, feel no need for the comfort of religion. Furthermore, they are attracted to a very selfish, self-indulgent way of life, an attraction perhaps encouraged by viewing pornography. Therefore, in order to remove any feelings of guilt, they simply deny the existence of any divine judgment or afterlife.
Atheism is not a philosophy; it is a symptom of narcissism and hedonism. Calling atheism a religion is like calling alcoholism a religion. It’s a bad choice, a moral failing, perhaps a disease. Until the 18th century “atheist” was usually simply an insult meaning “debauched libertine”. This may be close to the truth.
A disproportionate number of atheists pursue a career in science. Having decided that the supernatural does not exist, some bright, young atheists choose to devote their lives to intensively studying nature. This adds a great deal of prestige to atheism. Although atheists cannot even explain, let alone prove, their point of view, they can appeal to authority when challenged – claiming that many scientists are atheists so it must be true.
The criticisms, which atheists aim at religious people, seem to indicate their denial of reality. An atheist will claim that religion causes hatred and violence, however, has he ever bothered to compare the quiet streets and loving homes of an Orthodox Jewish community with the brutal violence going on in secular neighborhoods next door? An atheist will claim that religious people deny science, however is he aware that many religious people, this author included, are not young earth creationists and find continuous confirmation of religion in science? These are clearly just excuses atheists use to justify their own addictions.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 10:23 AM
Sunday, August 19, 2007
[bread, the staff of life]
One of the most amazing and obvious miracles we experience every day is food.
The food that we eat is so complex and specialized, that no team of scientists and not even the world’s most advanced laboratories are capable of producing one loaf of bread from the basic ingredients of water, air and minerals. In fact, many people prefer food containing no artificial additives at all because of possible health risks. Synthetic food is completely a science fiction fantasy. There can hardly be a clearer proof of divine plan and purpose than food. Did food, this miraculous and mysterious substance, just happen to come into existence by chance, before humans, also by chance, came into existence? The idea is so ludicrous that only the most mentally perverted fool can believe it.
Next time we pick up a piece of delicious, nutritious food and are about to place it into our mouths, let’s give enthusiastic thanks to the One who created it.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 5:35 PM
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
[Nick Bostrom, director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University]
Today’s New York Times included an interesting article in the science section discussing the ideas of Nick Bostrom, a respected young philosopher at Oxford, who has proposed that our universe may in fact be a computer simulation created by an alien civilization. The Times science columnist John Tierney, who seems to be far from a fundamentalist, finds this theory to be highly plausible.
In other words, the Times seems to be officially endorsing as scientific the idea of a Supreme Being who created our universe. This is a variant of Intelligent Design theory. We would expect to see eminent scientists rushing to denounce this article and Richard Dawkins should be having a stroke.
Somehow, I doubt that there will be any major fireworks. But why not? Where are all the New Atheists?
I think a clue can be found in the Hebrew word for “God” – Elohim. Elohim means “ruler” or “judge”. (See Exodus 22:8 where the word used is Elohim but is often translated as “judge”.)
When an atheist says, “I don’t believe in God” he really means “I don’t believe that there is any Biblical style God – any higher power monitoring my life, judging me, rewarding and punishing me. To believe in that would subtract from my own power, choice, self-importance and self-indulgence. In spite of any evidence one way or the other I refuse to accept any hint of that.”
Since Intelligent Design theory is being promoted mainly by conservative Christians, the atheist smells the danger immediately and goes on the attack. Dr. Bostrom however is apparently a very nice secular guy who is merely suggesting that we are part of a computer game created by some cosmic couch potato. No judge, no judgment, no trace of hellfire whatsoever. So that’s kosher. However when we come to a traditional Biblical God, Professor Dawkins seems to be almost unable to find words in the English language which are negative enough to describe Him. A divine Judge is the true enemy of atheism. They absolutely detest the concept.
This confirms my belief that atheism is neither a religion nor a philosophy; it is a personality problem. Atheism is just a polite term for pleasure seeking and selfishness.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 9:46 AM
Thursday, August 09, 2007
The Philosopher’s Quick Summary
[The Thinker by Auguste Rodin]
Orthodox Judaism: The only rational way to live.
Christianity: Magical thinking; the idea that believing in Jesus will solve everything.
Islam: Macho men gone wild.
Atheism: Synonym for narcissism and hedonism.
Agnosticism: Mental laziness.
Gay: Promiscuous men with a filthy habit.
Mythology: The ancient version of science fiction.
Secular morality: Whatever most people think is good at the moment.
Evolution: The irrational belief that although everything appears to be designed, it really developed very gradually by chance.
Documentary Hypothesis: An academic fraud with a kernel of truth.
Pornography: Bad acting with no clothes; the primary gateway to atheism.
Fossils: Proof that life has originated through a series of special creations.
Cosmology: Indicates that the universe was created from nothing.
Quantum theory: Indicates that on a subatomic level, things do not always behave according to any predictable rules.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 9:01 AM
Sunday, August 05, 2007
From Diderot to Dawkins – a Tradition of Degeneracy
Denis Diderot, 1713 – 1784
In a previous post I asked a question: “Can anyone find an example of a single prominent atheistic leader who was kind, honest, and sober and had a stable family life?”
One commentator mentioned Denis Diderot as candidate and was even kind enough to refer me to a recent biography . I have finally gotten a hold of the book and I’ve begun reading it.
Basically, this has just confirmed my original opinion.
What about kindness? Monsieur Diderot married Anne-Toinette Champion in 1743 (page 22). From 1746 until 1751 he had a sexual affair with Madeleine de Puisieux, the wife of a friend (page 42). Wasn’t this cruel to both his wife and to his friend?
Regarding honesty, in 1749, Diderot was arrested for publishing heretical and obscene literature. At first, he lied and denied the charges. Then, after two weeks in jail, he admitted to everything and promised, falsely, never to repeat these offences (page 49).
In addition to this he believed humility to be a vice (page 101). “He loved praise, indeed bathed in it, and no writer has seen more deeply into the lengths people will go to obtain praise. Correspondingly one of his leading traits was self-admiration.” (page 102) He hardly needed God when he himself was a god.
Based on a great deal of research and discussions with many atheists, I am forced to conclude that atheism is indeed not a religion or a philosophy. Its followers cannot give us any clear definition of what atheism is. Determinism and materialism are both scientifically discredited. Rather, as is seen so clearly in the lives of well known atheists, atheism is a mental illness, based on narcissism and/or hedonism. It is no more a philosophy than alcoholism. A truly good, moral atheist is a contradiction in terms.
This by the way helps us to understand the fact that no officially atheistic government has had a decent human rights record.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 10:05 AM