Thursday, May 29, 2008
[A good start, but not enough.]
I am now in the middle of reading a fascinating book Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction by David Sheff. The author is a professional writer whose son Nicolas became a methamphetamine addict in high school. It’s extremely well written and suspenseful and I can hardly put it down. Perhaps because I am a father myself, about the same age as Mr. Sheff, I find the book so absorbing. (Click here to see Nic and David.)
One interesting point in the book is that Mr. Sheff, although Jewish, is an atheist (at least at the beginning of the book). One of the problems his son Nic has with therapy is that the universally used 12 Step recovery program requires a belief in God - a personal, monotheistic God, whom we can speak to and who will involve Himself in our day-to-day lives. At one point, Nic is upset by this and brushes it off as “bullshit” and goes back to living on the street in drugged semi-consciousness.
Some historical statistics may be relevant. In 1956, there were estimated to be 35,000 drug addicts in the United States. In 2006, an estimated 20.4 million Americans were drug users. This would seem to correspond roughly to the rapid growth of secularism in the United States during those years. I can testify from my own experience that in the Orthodox Jewish community, the usage of illegal drugs is almost nil. Similarly, a higher level of religion seems to correspond to a lower rate of suicide.
My impression is that belief in God gives people greater satisfaction in life which means that they don’t need to escape to cope. God is the real anti-drug.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 4:24 PM
Friday, May 23, 2008
Atheism is a delusion based primarily on testosterone. Testosterone creates a desire for sex. People, mainly men, wish to indulge their desire for promiscuous sex, therefore they imagine that nothing exists except physical things and therefore there are no consequences to their actions other than the obvious physical ones. Disappointed women, ruined children, etc are none of their concern.
I believe that the growing popularity of Internet pornography will cause a growing popularity of atheism. I think that the current crop of anti-religious best sellers, which apparently began in 2004, is an indication of this.
Evolution is the substitute atheists have invented for God. It is the delusion that huge amounts of purposeful complexity can develop spontaneously over a very long time. Evolution satisfies the atheist’s natural curiosity about his origins by saying “evolution made us”.
Atheists imagine that they are morally superior to religious people by assuming that any crime committed by any religious person proves that all religious people are evil while imagining that any crime committed by an atheist was caused by something else, not his atheism.
Atheists are actually often very cruel, brutal, selfish and violent. The only limit on an atheist’s behavior is fear of law enforcement, which is not nearly strong enough to make people honest, kind and peaceful all the time.
In spite of all the evidence to the contrary, atheists imagine that King Josiah and Ezra the Scribe fabricated Judaism. (This concept is called the Documentary Hypothesis.)
It is obvious that non-physical things exist. [By non-physical, I don’t mean non-real. I mean something which is beyond human comprehension and which is not bound by the laws of nature.] The physical universe must have been created since if it were infinitely old it would have reached a state of complete entropy an infinitely long time ago. The universe cannot be a perpetual motion machine. The creator of everything physical must be something non-physical.
It is obvious that the universe has an intelligent designer since purposeful complexity cannot occur spontaneously. A book, for example, cannot write itself.
It is obvious that the Torah was given at Mount Sinai because large-scale conspiracies, where a very large number of people attempt to deceive others and none of the conspirators confesses, are implausible. It is implausible that the Ten Commandments are a hoax as much as it is that the Apollo moon landings were a hoax.
Orthodox Judaism has the potential to make people happier.
Orthodox Judaism has the potential to bring world peace.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 12:11 PM
Friday, May 16, 2008
[skulls remaining from mass murders in Cambodia]
There are several instances where the Torah mandates genocide – the extermination of an entire ethnic group. Those instances are:
In Deut. 20:16 God commands the extermination of the Canaanites.
In Deut. 25:19 God commands the extermination of the Amalekites.
In Numbers 31:17 Moses commands the Israelites to kill most of the Midianite prisons of war, leaving only the virgin females as slaves.
However, Psalms 145:9 states “The LORD is good to all; and His tender mercies are over all His works.” How then could God mandate the slaughter of children, old women and other apparently harmless, innocent people? This seems to contradict God’s basic kindness and goodness and the entire spirit of the Torah. The prophet Micah 6:8 stated clearly “He has made clear to you, O man, what is good; and what is desired from you by the Lord; only doing what is right, and loving mercy, and walking without pride before your God.” Therefore, how can God command people to slaughter others?
I believe the answer is very simple – all these killings were perfectly justified based on the principle of self-defense.
Each of these groups represented a dire threat to the Israelites. In regards to the Canaanites, Deut. 20:18 states that if not eliminated, they will teach the Israelites their sinful practices. Deut. 25:18 mentions the unprovoked attack by the Amalekites on the Israelites, perhaps implying that they will surely attack again if left unmolested. Also, a lack of retribution might have been a sign of weakness, putting the Israelites in danger from other attackers. Numbers 25:18 mentions the involvement of a Midianite noblewoman in the spiritual corruption of the Israelites. Based on this, Moses understood that the Midianites were a very dangerous influence that had to be eliminated.
The common denominator here seems to be that any group of people who posed a serious threat to the Israelites, either physically or spiritually, had to be eradicated, provided that God or Moses explicitly mandated it. Rather than murder, these killings were righteous acts of self-defense.
This was not, however, a principle applied to all future conflicts with gentiles. We do not find, for example, a scorched earth policy applied to the Philistines by the Israelites or to any other opponents in war. These three groups were special cases, ordained by God or Moses, which were so dangerous that they had to be eliminated.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 11:09 AM
Monday, May 12, 2008
Probably the most basic change, which has taken place in European and European based societies since the Second World War is the idea that sexual intercourse should be based on mutual attraction rather than on long-term commitment.
Until at least the 1940’s, it was taken for granted in most of Europe and America that sex is something generally limited to marriage. If the married partners are attracted to each other, that’s fine, and if they aren’t so much, then they will live with that. However marriage was for life and normal, respectable people did not have sex outside marriage.
Today, this has completely changed. About 40% of babies are born to single women in the United States. In the UK, it is roughly estimated that about 10% of presumed fathers are not really the father. Based upon this, I think we can estimate that about half of sex takes place outside of marriage in European based societies today.
In earlier times, men and women were largely segregated and women were required to dress modestly in public. After a brief courtship or an arranged match, couples married at a young age and remained married until one partner died. Eroticism and sexual excitement played a small role in people’s lives. This is still true in traditional cultures today.
In recent times, especially since about 1965, adults see sexual gratification as an essential part of life, if not as a right and an entitlement. During a lifetime, people progress through many relationships, some longer, some shorter, all with the purpose of gratifying both partners to the greatest extent possible.
The problems caused by this are very serious.
- Depression. In a sex-based relationship, many times one partner is happy in the relationship while the other is dissatisfied for some reason and leaves. This can trigger depression. We can speculate that this may be one of the major reasons for an increase in the rate of depression since the Second World War in European based societies
- Disease. Frequent changes in sexual partners cause sexually transmitted diseases to flourish, resulting in physical suffering, infertility and sometimes death.
- Sexual abuse. When women bring new men into the home, as boyfriends or husbands, their daughters from previous relationships are at a high risk of being raped by them.
- Child Neglect. In “The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: The 25 Year Landmark Study”, Judith S. Wallerstein explains in great detail the emotional problems and mental anguish suffered by children who grow up in divorced homes. Many children in single-family homes live that way because one parent felt he or she would have greater sexual satisfaction in a different relationship.
- Abortion. Millions of babies conceived out of wedlock are simply killed before they are born.
Having sex with whomever you want to is probably similar to eating whatever you want to – it may sound good at first, it may not seem to make much difference for a few years, however the long term effects are deadly.
There can be little argument that the Orthodox Jewish practice of chastity and marital fidelity are ultimately far healthier for everyone involved.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 3:22 PM
Monday, May 05, 2008
[Leonhard Kern (1588–1662): Menschenfresserin (female cannibal)
Ivory, Schwäbisch Hall, c. 1650. "Finger Lickin' Good"]
A lot has been said about the problems of overpopulation, food shortages and global warming. Many solutions have been suggested, however nothing has been too successful. For one thing, once we find ways to grow more food, people just have more babies and the problem never ends.
I have the solution – cannibalism. If we could convince people in poorer, overpopulated countries such as India, China and Africa to eat each other, we could solve all the above problems simultaneously. Recently, there have been predications that global warming may indeed lead to cannibalism; it would be wise to get a head start.
The most obvious candidates for consumption would be the weaker and tenderer people – that is children. Before they are able to grow up and begin reproducing, they can be caught by law enforcement officials, harvested so to speak, and rather than wasting their bodies, they would be eaten. Human flesh apparently tastes like pork. The same recipes can be used for both. The most appetizing option would be for the Hormel company to produce a new version of Spam - Man Spam. This would provide a huge new source of protein for the developing world.
There is really nothing new about this. Just the opposite, people make good eating. Cannibalism was probably practiced in all primitive societies. You didn't hear about overpopulation in those days. It's natural and eco-friendly. Nothing artificial added. Instead of cannibalism, which has negative connotations, let's call it human recycling.
I am certain that some religious fundamentalists will make a big stink about this and claim it’s against the Ten Commandments or some other superstition. These are the same idiots who are against abortion or any other type of progress. However science and reason are on my side. I hope Richard Dawkins is reading this. I’m sure he would understand.
Now we just need education. The New York Times can write some positive articles and editorials. National Geographic can do a documentary about neo-cannibalism. Hollywood can produce movies depicting glamorous young people snacking on "long pork". Human recycling can be taught in public schools. Martha Stewart can put it on her show. Just like homosexuality went from being disgusting and illegal a few years ago to being fashionable today, cannibalism can do the same.
Human recycling and Man Spam is the solution!
(My point of course is, that without the Torah to guide us, anything could be rationalized.)
Posted by jewish philosopher at 12:36 PM