Friday, November 30, 2007
Core Beliefs: The belief that no omniscient, omnipotent lawgiver exists, who has made rules and who will punish people if they disobey.
Primary Motives: Narcissism and hedonism.
Primary Proofs: The fossils and the suffering of children disprove the Bible.
Primary Defenses: Life was created by blind chance over a very long time and vast space. Judaism was fabricated by Ezra the Scribe based on earlier Canaanite myths and superstitions.
Primary basis for ethics: Whatever most people in society think is ethical.
Primary motivation for ethics: A desire to be accepted by society.
Primary purpose in life: To be comfortable and to do interesting and enjoyable things.
Founder: Baron d'Holbach 1770
Primary text: The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
Core Beliefs: The belief that God exists and wrote the Torah.
Primary motives: Honesty and integrity.
Primary proofs: Life proves God exists. Jewish history proves God wrote the Torah.
Primary defenses: The fossils are remnants of earlier worlds. Children suffer due to sins in earlier lives or the sins of their parents.
Primary basis for ethics: The Talmud.
Primary motivation for ethics: Fear of God.
Primary purpose in life: To serve God. To be rewarded in the afterlife.
Founder: Abraham 1739 BCE
Primary text: the Pentateuch
Posted by jewish philosopher at 11:44 AM
Thursday, November 22, 2007
The American monarch butterfly is a migratory insect. In order to survive, the monarch butterfly requires certain types of vegetation, in particular milkweed. In northern climates, such as New England and Canada, milkweed is available only in the summer. Rather than hibernating during the remainder of the year, the monarch butterfly migrates south to Mexico and California. Interestingly, this migration from Mexico to Canada and back takes more than one generation to complete. In other words, the butterflies arriving in Mexico now have never been there before. The path of migration is therefore not remembered, but is somehow stored in the butterflies’ genetic code. This is besides the fact that the method used by the butterflies to navigate is still little understood. Bear in mind that the butterfly’s brain is about pinhead size.
The question arises, how could this conceivably have evolved?
Evolution means “gradual development”. According to evolution, life developed through a series of very small changes. Each change must be small enough to have occurred spontaneously, yet large enough to give it’s bearer a significant reproductive value. The question is, how could the genetic “computer program” which guides the butterfly have developed gradually? Each butterfly must have full instructions guiding it in exactly the correct direction at each time of year in order to survive. A half written, incomplete or defective “program” would lead to butterflies committing mass suicide. On the other hand, a perfected “program” originating in one generation seems incredible, especially considering that this phenomenon is so complex that it is still a mystery to modern science.
Let's spend a few moments marveling at the miracles of creation.
To insist that this all came about as a result of small, random genetic mutations, each one having occurred by chance and having a significant survival value, is simply an insult to reason.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 8:16 PM
Thursday, November 15, 2007
The fact that God has no body is one of the fundamental principles of Orthodox Judaism. The antiquity of this belief is seen in Deut. 4:15 which notes “for you saw no manner of form on the day that the LORD spoke unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire”.
Sometimes my six-year-old twins ask me “What does God look like?” I have to explain that we cannot see Him. Then they ask “Why not?”
Atheists also like to ask, “Isn’t God simply an imaginary friend?” In other words, doesn’t God’s invisibility imply that He may not exist at all?
To me it seems obvious that God must be invisible and in fact this is one of the first things which attracted me to Judaism, rather than for example Christianity.
For us to see something, for something to be tangible to us, it must have borders and limits and it must exist in space. Therefore, logically, an infinite being who created space itself cannot be visible. God is everywhere and furthermore everywhere is within God, therefore it is impossible to see Him.
Additionally, God’s level of reality is different from ours. Let’s say someone is thinking about a person. That person exists only in his imagination. The imaginary person cannot see the person who is imagining him. Likewise, we are like thoughts in God’s mind. He is the only true reality. This is what Jeremiah (10:10) meant “The Lord God is truth”. He and He alone is real.
God is not our imaginary friend - just the opposite. We are God’s imaginary friends.
This makes clear the falsity of Richard Dawkin’s question, “Who created God?” This question assumes that God is a material being. God is essentially entirely unlike any physical being, therefore He requires no creator.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 4:59 PM
Thursday, November 08, 2007
[Karl Marx, Jewish atheist]
How does an Orthodox Jew become an atheist?
Actually, the Talmudic sages, in the Sifra (beChukosai 2:3, paraphrased by Rashi in Leviticus 26:16) answered that question 2,000 years ago. They list seven levels of spiritual descent, beginning with neglecting Torah study and inevitably ending in atheism.
This the first step toward atheism – a lack of intensive Torah study. If you want to remain a believing Jew then learn Torah. If you want your children to be believing Jews, teach them Torah, the more the better, the longer the better. There is no other solution. I have yet to meet an atheist who had previously studied Talmud for five years or more full time after the age of 20.
For women, I believe the process works somewhat differently. Women need to have close, loving relationships with Orthodox people. If, for some reason, they don’t, then they may leave. The neglected daughter, the older single woman, the convert to Judaism who tends to be a loner are all at high risk.
Nature abhors a vacuum.
The Jewish man whose mind is not on Torah starts thinking about other things. The woman who has no close circle of family and friends looks for happiness elsewhere. Pornography is a common substitute – whether it may be porn movies for males or romance novels for females. After that, casual sexual relationships are usually sought and found.
The Jew is now sliding into the grip of addiction. He or she is developing bad habits that are very difficult to break. To cope with this unpleasant reality, defense mechanisms are employed.
One of the most common defense mechanisms is denial. The lapsing Jew will deny that he is doing anything wrong and misbehave only in secret. He may deny to himself that he really has any problem. The more he sins, the more those sins seem acceptable to him.
As time goes by, and the Jew has greater and greater contact with non-observant people, directly or through the Internet, movies, etc. he feels more comfortable with their way of life and their opinions. A non-Jewish lifestyle and belief system seems “normal” while Judaism seems strange. Addicts often will immerse themselves in a new subculture of similar people.
The final step is rationalization. This is a decision to justify ones misbehavior by explaining that there is nothing wrong with it. Usually a few philosophies are “purchased off the shelf”, from atheistic websites and books. One thing I wish to make perfectly clear: These philosophies are ALWAYS AFTER THE FACT EXCUSES. The preponderance of evidence is clearly in favor of Orthodox Judaism and that is obvious to any fair-minded person, just as much as the evidence is in favor of sobriety to any fair-minded person. There is not an iota of evidence that atheism is a good thing any more than there is that alcoholism is a good thing. All of the questions like “What about fossils? ” and “What about suffering? ” can be answered easily in a few minutes. The new atheist, however, is totally biased against religion. Any evidence in favor of Judaism is brushed off as insignificant while any shred of evidence against Judaism is given tremendous weight.
Now the Jew has reached the point of no return. Once he has totally rationalized his misbehavior and denied the Torah and/or God, there is most probably no turning back. The atheist no longer wants to turn back and this is what Proverbs 2:19 means “None that go unto her return, neither do they attain unto the paths of life”. The most we can hope for is that the heretic will leave the Jewish community as quickly as possible, before he has too much negative effect on others. The ability to shed the weakest and most disloyal members of the community, while extremely painful, may be one of the secrets of Jewish survival and excellence. Similarly, we are highly selective in accepting converts. Judaism, like the Marines, is looking for a few good men and women.
Maimonides (Laws of Idolatry 2:9) writes that someone who denies the existence of God or the divine origin of the Torah and therefore casually transgresses Torah law is not considered to be a Jew and even if he does eventually repent he may not rejoin the Jewish community.
[Please do not bother to comment and suggest that your story disproves this post because you are an idealistic atheist, unless you will also give me some way to check out who you really are and verify your story. Thank you.]
Posted by jewish philosopher at 4:50 PM
Sunday, November 04, 2007
[test of a small, portable nuclear bomb May 25, 1953 in Nevada]
There is no question that the most dangerous weapons ever created by man are nuclear bombs. One bomb placed in the trunk of a car would be capable of destroying a city. The Medium Atomic Demolition Munitions produced by the United States during the Cold War weighed 400 pounds and were approximately as powerful as the weapon which destroyed Hiroshima in 1945. An MADM in Manhattan would kill an estimated 100,000 people.
Since 1945, thousands of nuclear weapons have been produced by many nations, however in fact none have ever been used other than the two which the United States dropped on Japan at the end of the Second World War. A liberal democracy would never use them in a first strike because of humanitarian concerns and even a dictator such as Stalin did not use them because of the fear of reprisal. Therefore about 26,000 nuclear weapons sit and gather dust. From a practical military point of view, they are nearly worthless.
The question arises, however, what if someone completely irrational were to possess nuclear weapons? What if someone would want to use them not for any practical benefit, but rather because of an imagined spiritual benefit?
What about a suicide bomber?
Suicide bombing is a method of killing commonly used by Islamic terrorists since 1981. There are today millions of Muslims who consider murdering non-Muslims to be more important than their own lives. They are certainly not held back by any humanitarian considerations. They also may not be concerned about any retaliation, however certain and devastating. They will gladly sacrifice themselves and other Muslims for the sake of killing non-Muslims whom they feel threaten Islam. Obsession: Radical Islam’s War against the West documents this in brutal and revolting detail.
Where would a suicide bomber obtain the nuclear weapon? This is not something you can order online or make in your garage.
There are a few possibilities:
- Bombs or bomb material may be purchased from corrupt Russian military officers .
- Pakistan now has dozens of nuclear weapons and many Pakistanis support a holy war against non-Muslims. The political instability in Pakistan as of this writing does not bode well for Western countries.
- Iran may produce nuclear weapons within the next decade and the Iranians at some point might share these with Hezbollah terrorists which it sponsors .
In a new book, The Day of Islam , journalist Paul L. Williams argues that Islamic terrorists in fact already have nuclear weapons positioned in Western countries. It may well be that no nuclear holocaust has yet occurred due to the intensive efforts of the intelligence services together with bad luck. After all, many planned conventional suicide bombings are unsuccessful. Alternatively, Islamic terrorists may be busy putting in place enough nuclear weapons to cause a single, massive blow to the United States at one time. They may realize that they will not have a second chance to use nuclear bombs, considering the reprisals and security crackdowns which would certainly follow it, and therefore they will wait for the opportunity to make one devastating attack on America.
So what are we to do?
In my humble opinion we must of course support any efforts governments are making to stop nuclear terrorism. This is not merely an issue of national security, but of national survival. International and American law, if necessary, must be set aside to deal with this threat.
However, the most important thing we must do is repent and hope for God’s mercy. We must take our example from the city of Nineveh in the book of Jonah . Nineveh was destined to be overturned in forty days; however through sincere repentance they were saved. We in New York, Tel Aviv, London and any other large city may be in the same situation at this moment. We no longer have prophets to warn us, however we can learn valuable lessons from the words of the prophets in previous times.
In particular I believe that we must be kind and considerate to other people, especially those closest to us. "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).
This is our best and surest defense.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 7:30 PM