Monday, March 29, 2010

Some People Think I'm Delusional

[Jill Vermeire, MFT and Dr. Drew Pinsky in Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew]

when I claim that "Jewish skeptics" leave because of sexual addiction not philosophical questions.

Well, think again....

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Science Proves Creationism

[E. coli, a common bacteria.]

Real scientific evidence (not the pseudoscience of evolution) proves that God created us.

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.

I think he's getting close to the truth, but I would take it a step farther.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Jewish Literature - Seeing The Effects of Sinai

[a page of the Talmud surrounded by commentaries]

One of the unique features of Judaism is the structure of Judaic literature.

Judaic literature was written in five primary stages with authors in the later stages never contradicting those in the earlier stages:

- The prophets; 1300 BCE to 300 BCE.
- The early rabbis; 300 BCE to 200 CE
- The Talmudic rabbis; 200 CE to 500 CE
- The Talmudic commentaries; 500 CE to 1500 CE
- The commentators on the Talmudic commentaries; 1500 CE to present.

Other religions have two stages – the founder and the commentators on the founder. There is the New Testament and canon law, the Koran and the Sharia, etc. The founder of course has special importance, however after him any great scholar is entitled to offer an opinion. In the Catholic Church, for example, Doctors of the Church continue to be added up to the present.

In Judaism, a rabbi living in 1000 CE would never have considered contradicting a rabbi who lived in 100 CE and likewise a rabbi living in 1600 CE would never contradict a rabbi living in 1000 CE. Needless to say, no one after 300 BCE claimed to have the gift of prophesy. This is why the canon of the Bible was closed. There was universal reverence for the sages of each earlier era. This is in spite of the fact that since the destruction of the First Temple, 2,400 years ago, the Jewish people have not possessed any central authority capable of declaring and enforcing a new era of Judaic literature. These eras seem to have formed spontaneously because of a universal recognition that current leaders did not possess the spiritual and academic greatness of earlier ones.

In my opinion, this is clearly proof of the great spiritual level which the Jewish people were elevated to 3,300 years ago at Mt. Sinai and from which they have been gradually descending ever since.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sexual Sobriety - an Introduction

Many psychiatrists consider sex to be potentially addictive. In other words a person may feel compelled to behave sexually in spite of negative consequences. Tiger Woods recently spent 45 days in rehabilitation for sexual addiction and in 2008 David Duchovny entered rehabilitation for sexual addiction. Sex Rehab with Dr Drew was a popular television series several months ago.

In Judaism, sex is seen as being potentially very positive - when used appropriately for a positive purpose. When a couple has made a public commitment to each other and they use sex to create a bond between them and/or to have children it can be very elevated and sacred. Sex in this case is constructive and giving, not selfish and harmful.

Unfortunately, sexual addiction, in varying degrees, is something which may affect many people within the Orthodox community. A recent blog post presented a graphic example. An Orthodox young man, "Chezkel", is married with several children. Initially he convinces his wife to engage in various unusual sex acts, however with time he becomes bored with this.

One feature of addiction is tolerance: the drug no longer works and one is forced to take higher dosages in order to achieve the wanted effect.

Next, Chezkel makes some attempt to seduce the receptionist in the office where he works, however she shows no interest.

Then he looks for a girlfriend on the Internet, but still no luck. (I have a feeling that Chezkel is not exactly a Brad Pitt look alike.)

Finally, after a very unpleasant day at work, he decides to pay for sex. He goes to a strip club, where he meets, and pays, a young woman for attention. This is a typical case of using something harmful to self-medicate. This is the core of addiction.

Let's pause for a moment and consider how potentially catastrophic and reckless this type of behavior is.

Chezkel could easily acquire a sexually transmitted disease and pass that on to his wife.
He could impregnate another woman and be sued for child support.
He could very deeply hurt his wife's feelings. How would he feel if he found her having sex with other men?

Yet, in the grip of an addiction, Chezkel is in denial. He flies along entirely oblivious to all this. He may need to "hit bottom" - experience some very painful consequence - before he seeks help.

One technique used in sexual addiction is “Alert, avert, affirm”: as soon as you notice the behavior, alert yourself, then turn away, and affirm. The affirmation is, “I’m worthy of real love. I am a good person.” Or “I’m a great dad,” if you have kids.

I have found that making certain vows can be a powerful tool in developing self control. For example:

I hereby accept upon myself that if later this week or next week I knowingly unblock any webpage from Net Nanny software I will be required to fast 1 day during this month of --------- or next month of -----------.

The longer range solution is to overcome the depression and pain which is at the base of all this and to achieve true happiness.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Modern Orthodoxy - Is it OK?

[Rabbi Mosheh Lichtenstein, a Rabbi at Yeshivat Har Etzion]

The short answer is - No.

First of all, I would like to define what I mean by modern Orthodoxy.

Modern Orthodox Jews are Jews who do not use motor vehicles or electrical devices on the Jewish Sabbath or holidays, who only consume kosher meat and who have separate dishes for meat and milk foods. However they also celebrate Israeli Independence Day and they believe that people are descended from apes.

Modern Orthodoxy represents a transitional stage between on the one hand Orthodox Judaism and on the other hand atheism. Sabbath and dietary observances are Orthodox while Zionism and evolution were founded by Theodor Herzl, a completely secularized Jew and Charles Darwin, an agnostic. Distinguished Talmudic scholars have almost unanimously rejected Zionism and evolution.

This is probably a common phenomenon, that when a new religion (in this case, atheism) appears, there are people who try to merge the old and the new. For example, when Scandinavia was first Christianized, some people apparently worshiped both Thor and Jesus.

Modern Orthodoxy does not represent a serious, stable religion. The grandchildren of today's modern Orthodox will presumably be either fully Orthodox or fully atheist.

To get some sense of the demographic decline of modern Orthodoxy thus far, it's worthwhile to examine the makeup of Orthodox Israeli Parliament members since the founding of the State until the present:

1950: modern Orthodox 9 ultra-Orthodox 5
1960: modern Orthodox 12 ultra-Orthodox 6
1970: modern Orthodox 12 ultra-Orthodox 6
1980: modern Orthodox 12 ultra-Orthodox 5
1990: modern Orthodox 5 ultra-Orthodox 13
2000: modern Orthodox 5 ultra-Orthodox 22
2010: modern Orthodox 3 ultra-Orthodox 16

Incidentally, essentially the same trend may be seen among American Protestant churches. The more liberal, or "mainline", churches are declining. They too are a transitional phase between Christianity and atheism.

In addition to the theological contradictions of modern Orthodoxy, there are also serious political issues. The largest modern Orthodox community at the present time seems to be Efrat, in Israeli occupied Palestine. Israeli occupied Palestine represents a major stronghold of modern Orthodoxy today, and the ownership of this region depends on the final status negotiations between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority. Quite possibly, the final internationally accepted border between Israel and Palestine will follow the 1949 Armistice line, which would mean the dismantlement of all the modern Orthodox communities on the West Bank.

Monday, March 01, 2010

A Peek Underneath

[what you find under rocks]

A recent blog post described a scene from what I would assume is the typical lifestyle of Orthodox Jews who convert to atheism.

The post describes young people who are completely immersed in unhealthy habits and addictions - promiscuity, marijuana, tobacco and alcohol. Apparently not a moment is wasted on philosophical discussions or scientific research; so much for all the questioning and doubts about Torah from Sinai. And these people are really worried about "unethical" rabbis? Oh, I'm sure – but perhaps they should worry about their own underage drinking and substance abuse. And of course these young people are properly filing their income taxes.

In my humble opinion it's obvious what's happening to these people. They're suffering from depression and as a result they are attempting to medicate themselves. However the crutches they're using will not help in the long run. They're not only losing the next world, condemned to eternal damnation, they will lose this world too. The addictions they are cultivating will rot out their minds and bodies. They will eventually be bitter middle aged people and finally lonely old alcoholics and cat ladies.

This is a like a cancer in the community's body.

Prevention is the first priority.

Surgical removal is the final line of defense.

As Sir Walter Scott once wrote:

The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonour'd, and unsung.