Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Good Side of Wickedness


[a new restaurant catering to the wicked]

One interesting question is: Since God knows the future, and therefore He knows who will be righteous and who will be wicked, why doesn't God simply create the righteous and not bother creating the wicked? The wicked, after all, are merely destructive and after damaging themselves and others they will end up burning in hell. So why bother with them all together?

The answer is contained in the Talmud: "according to the effort is the reward".

The presence of wicked, evil people creates immense temptations for the righteous, and specifically because the righteous make immense efforts and successfully overcome those temptations, their reward is immensely greater.

We daily pray that God should not bring us to temptations; temptations are very dangerous and who knows if we will succeed of fail. However, on the other hand, we must realize that with no pain there would be no gain.

The wicked play a huge and very beneficial role in this world. It is only thanks to the wicked, with all their horrendous bad influence and attacks, that the righteous are so much greater.

72 comments:

NC said...

As Nathan pointed out this is a theistic argument, ("why would god do such and such") and therefore science has nothing to say about it.

If one believes in god, as thinkers and rationalists one can only speculate why he would do
such a thing.

Personally this sounds like a terrible and evil philosophy, that god would create so much evil and suffering in the world, just for the purpose of tempting the righteous and "increasing their reward". It sounds rather sadistic and psychopathic. I wonder if this
idea makes you feel good about your peity and its rewards, in contrast to all us sinners
out there. I realize that my distaste for such an idea has no bearing on whether it is true
("wishful thinking"), however I do think it very much contradicts other very basic Jewish ideas about a good, compassionate and all-knowing god.

The only viable answer that I have heard to the conundrum you raise is hester panim-- that god has withdrawn himself from interference in human affairs. He has turned responsibility of running the world to human beings, with all that this entails. But of course this approach has problems as well. (like, why bother praying,etc)

jewish philosopher said...

"It sounds rather sadistic and psychopathic"

Except no one forces anyone to be a customer of Traif NY. That is their own free will.

NC said...

"Except no one forces anyone to be a customer of Traif NY. That is their own free will."

Which cannot be said of the victims of a murder, car accident, cancer or natural disaster. No free will there.

This is kind of like a sadistic computer video game, with god playing with peoples lives and causing suffering for entertainment.

jewish philosopher said...

Suffering is simply the result of sin. Without sin man would indeed have lived eternally in the Garden of Eden.

NC said...

So here's the game. God makes imperfect man, most of whom will inevitably sin. These people, whose job it is to sin and suffer (along with many innocents), are put here as temptation to the righteous, so they can enjoy the fruits of piety. Is this what your post is saying?

I'm not saying you're wrong. I'm saying it sounds sadistic. It doesn't sound like the god that is marketed by the Hebrew bible. Sounds a little Christian, actually, about the fall of man, etc.

jewish philosopher said...

God makes man with free will and then people choose what they wish and receive the consequences.

NC said...

"then people choose what they wish and receive the consequences."

I'm still missing something. The Tsunami or earthquake victims or children in the holocaust choose what they wished and received the consequences? Or did they suffer because of someone else's sins?

Besides, how does this fit into your scheme of punishment in the afterlife?

jewish philosopher said...

You're sort of going off in all directions, trying to find something to complain about. However now I think you've hit on the point "Why do the righteous suffer?"

Well, for one thing, they may be a reincarnation of someone sinful.

jewish philosopher said...

Judaism does accept reincarnation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reincarnation#Judaism

NC said...

As I said, I have know way of knowing that you are right or wrong.

Its just perverse and immoral by any human reasoning. So if you want to believe it, OK. I don't. If you want to believe I'll burn in hell for that, that's fine with me, too.

Mahla said...

Are gentiles not allowed to eat traif either? I thought only Jews were enjoined not to eat traif, so if a gentile ate at this restaurant, he would not be sinning, would he?

We have a similar restaurant with an even more traif-y menu here in Eugene called Belly, even the sign is practically the same! http://www.eatbelly.com/menus/

It is hard for a new restaurant to distinguish itself and make money in a very high-overhead, high-competition business ... I would imagine it's even more so in New York City. I think this restaurant is just blatantly trying to differentiate itself from the competition with an 'edgy' name.

That would never work here in Eugene where I would say 85% of the citizenry would have no idea what the word 'traif' even meant.

jewish philosopher said...

"Its just perverse and immoral by any human reasoning."

The fact that all actions have consequences eventually? Sounds pretty fair.

"Are gentiles not allowed to eat traif either?"

They can.

Based on its location, I think that Traif NY was opened to appeal particularly to Orthodox Jews (specifically Satmar Hassidim) who have converted to atheism. Many of them remain somewhere around their old neighborhood. Of course, all customers are welcome.

Anonymous said...

NC:

What exactly is your basis for saying anything is immoral, or that morality even exists?

Anonymous said...

My basis for morality is whether I am behaving as I would like my children to behave.

The religious have no more basis for their morality than the irreligious have for theirs.

When will the god-botherers learn this?

Guest said...

"NC:

What exactly is your basis for saying anything is immoral, or that morality even exists?"

NC, I suggest responding with outrage to this question, a la Christopher Hitchens, who is offended at “the appalling insinuation that I would not know right from wrong if I was not supernaturally guided"

That way you might fool some people into thinking your response truly answered the question. Atheism cannot posit moral absolutes. You simply have to rely on programming from a society that gives passing credence to values grounded in more traditional religious thinking.

NC said...

"The fact that all actions have consequences eventually? Sounds pretty fair."

That's not the problem. The problem is that innocents pay for the actions of the wicked, and that people (ie children) who could not possibly be guilty of anything, suffer, for the "benefit" of righteous. If there is reincarnation, good, but since the person does not know or remember anything from previous lives, how can he learn anything? A baby?

Sounds screwy to me.

On earth, if a person is negligent and causes the death of innocents, he is held liable. So should god.

"What exactly is your basis for saying anything is immoral, or that morality even exists?"

Have you heard of something called empathy and human reason? Don't rehash the same old reductio at Hitlerum argument, please. Both religious and non-religious people do good and bad.

jewish philosopher said...

"Sounds screwy to me."

But that's the way it is. Memory loss is never a defence in a court of law.

"if a person is negligent and causes the death of innocents, he is held liable. So should god."

God doesn't cause innocent deaths.

"Cast away from you all your transgressions, wherein ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD; wherefore turn yourselves, and live." Ezekiel 18:31-32

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt1218.htm#31

"Have you heard of something called empathy and human reason?"

Man is the world's most dangerous animal.

http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Animal-Nature-Origins/dp/0312537441/

Without the restraints of a humanitarian religion, we would probably not survive long.

NC said...

"Memory loss is never a defence in a court of law."

Who said anything about memory loss? All I'm saying is that it sounds very depraved to me. You make Judaism sound depraved, even though I know that real Judaism is not.

"Without the restraints of a humanitarian religion, we would probably not survive long."

He obviously survived for a very long time before the advent of Judaism. At least 300000 years.

"God doesn't cause innocent deaths."

So a 3 year old child who dies of leukemia or is run over by a car is guilty. I get it.

"Atheism cannot posit moral absolutes"

An nor does religion. I challenge you to give me a religion based moral imperative that is absolute.

jewish philosopher said...

"All I'm saying is that it sounds very depraved to me."

In the sense that you don't like being told what to do?

"He obviously survived for a very long time before the advent of Judaism."

Also before the advent of nuclear weapons. Can you cite any primarily atheistic society which has a low level of violence and reproduces at a replacement level?

"So a 3 year old child who dies of leukemia or is run over by a car is guilty."

Perhaps in an earlier life. I think this arguments works better with Christians, who do not believe in reincarnation.

chinick hocker said...

On the one hand, you imply that rewarding the righteous and punishing the wicked is fair, yet when challenged about the suffering of the righteous, you defend using reincarnation. How does it help? If Reuven is tzadik, he always struggles to daven on time, with kavana, and sacrifices all personal considerations to do what the Torah demands, and he is a reincarnation (i.e. gilgul) of Shimon, who was basically a good, well meaning and kind fellow, but once or twice succumbed to regular human failings and ate the wrong food or did not keep the Sabbath as is proper, then you are saying that G-d will punish Reuven and that is just? G-d will not punish Shimon, and that is just?

I am not sure that this answers anything. Then if we say that only G-d knows what is just, then what does it mean that we should pursue justice? How do Reuven or Shimon learn the value of their deeds or misdeeds in this way?

NC said...

1. Reincarnation is not mainstream in Judaism. And besides, there are far more people living now than ever before, so not everybody can have a recycled soul.

2. What is depraved is causing torture, suffering and death to innocent people, for the sake of rewarding the saints.

3. I have no problem with authority. At work, at home, and the law. I would have problem submitting however to a murderous sadistic psychopath, which is what your description of god is.

"Can you cite any primarily atheistic society which has a low level of violence and reproduces at a replacement level?"

That is a red herring and not relevant to this discussion.

Why do you set yourself up as a straw man? There are far better answers to these theological questions than your unidimensional and simplistic approach.

jewish philosopher said...

"then you are saying that G-d will punish Reuven and that is just? G-d will not punish Shimon, and that is just?"

They are simply different incarnations of the same person.

"What is depraved is causing torture, suffering and death to innocent people,"

To criticize God, the burden of proof is on you to prove that anyone innocent has ever suffered and you can't do that.

"That is a red herring and not relevant to this discussion."

It just proves that atheism is a religion of death and extinction. That might be worthwhile contemplating rather than gripes about how cruel God is for not allowing you to eat anything or have sex with anything.

NC said...

"To criticize God, the burden of proof is on you to prove that anyone innocent has ever suffered and you can't do that."

Yesterday, I read about a 3 year old child who was left in a hot car and died from asphyxiation. By Jewish rules, a 3 year old is not responsible for sinning. So he is innocent. Asphyxiating in a hot car is suffering, last I heard.

Or perhaps this story is just atheistic propaganda.

"It just proves that atheism is a religion of death and extinction. "

I believe it was you in the last post advocating nuking of Saudi Arabia.

jewish philosopher said...

"a 3 year old child who was left in a hot car and died from asphyxiation"

He may be a reincarnation of someone sinful.

Judaism does accept reincarnation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reincarnation#Judaism

"I believe it was you in the last post advocating nuking of Saudi Arabia."

The bombing of civilian areas is not a crime if it is justified by military necessity in a war of self defence.

Anonymous said...

NC:

I didn't say anything about Hitler.
And I didn't say that atheists can't act morally. Empathy is an emotion, not a morality. What makes empathy better than sadism, or cruelty? They are both emotions. Why is a person who lacks empathy less moral than a person who has empathy? Why is a murder motivated by anger, an emotion, any less moral than an action motivated by empathy?

onionsoupmix said...

In the name of intellectual honesty, do you really think, JP, that your handicapped child is a reincarnation of someone sinful?

NC said...

JP-- I think that in this post you are really confusing between evil people and evil inclination. The later is seen as being the temptation you describe.

Nathan--if you are getting at the idea that morality can only have a divine source, here is a question.

For the Hindu, Buddhist, or Muslim, is the source of their morality:
a. the actual divine/deity
b. a man made construction of the divine?

Think about your answer carefully.

jewish philosopher said...

"your handicapped child is a reincarnation of someone sinful?"

"Sin" does not need to be a mass murder.

For example "FOR THREE SINS WOMEN DIE IN CHILDBIRTH: BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT OBSERVANT OF [THE LAWS OF] NIDDAH, HALLAH, AND THE KINDLING OF THE [SABBATH] LIGHTS.
Talmud Shabbath 31b

http://www.come-and-hear.com/shabbath/shabbath_31.html#PARTb

"I think that in this post you are really confusing between evil people and evil inclination."

They are both part of the myriad of challenges faced by man.

NC said...

JP, you're making this up as you go along, bringing disparate quotations and ideas from contradictory sources. For example your reincarnation idea completely contradicts the idea of personal accountability and hashgacha pratis. Its all very vague, which is characteristic of somebody not knowing what he is talking about.

The truth is that Judaism has no single coherent comprehensive explanation of evil. Nor does any religion, except perhaps Hinduism.

chinick hocker said...

"They are simply different incarnations of the same person."

Reuven was a tzadik his whole life. Shimon was a pretty nice guy, but did a few things wrong. G-d punishes Reuven. Reuven, and people who know Reuven learn nothing. Shimon, and people who know Shimon learn nothing. No one, including Reuven and Shimon, can see any connection between them to learn anything. In fact, you are simply proposing it to escape the horns of the dilemma. I simply do not see how this answer helps. They are not the same person in any real or perceivable way. So are you saying that G-d makes some random connections between unrelated people living at different times, who may have never heard of each other, and punishes one for the other.

IMO, this violates the ikkar that provides that G-d rewards righteousness and punishes sins. It renders that ikkar meaningless.

chinick hocker said...

"FOR THREE SINS WOMEN DIE IN CHILDBIRTH: BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT OBSERVANT OF [THE LAWS OF] NIDDAH, HALLAH, AND THE KINDLING OF THE [SABBATH] LIGHTS."
Talmud Shabbath 31b

According to you, Sarah, a mother in 2010 will die in childbirth because Rivka, someone who lived in 1740, did not light candles one week when she should have been able to. Sarah has no knowledge of this. Neither does anyone who knows Sarah. Yet, the clear reason for this memra is to tell us the importance of ner, chalah, nida. How is it important? Someone I have never heard of might die centuries from now?

jewish philosopher said...

 "For example your reincarnation idea completely contradicts the idea of personal accountability and hashgacha "

How do you figure that?


"They are not the same person in any real or perceivable way."

They are the same person. For example, someone 70 doesn't look a lot like he did when he was 17, but he is that person. There have been recently Nazi war criminals who have been tried for crimes committed so long ago that no one can recognize them. They may also be living under different names. It doesn't matter.

NC said...

"How do you figure that?"

According to your own previous statements, the righteous are rewarded in the world to come, and the wicked, such as atheists, are condemned to burn in hell. That is supposed to be an incentive. That is not the same as being rewarded or punished in another life, of which the either the original or reincarnated person are aware of. If my reincarnated soul suffers, who cares? Its another person born after I die, as far as I am concerned.

"They are the same person. For example, someone 70 doesn't look a lot like he did when he was 17, but he is that person. "

That's pretty weak philosophy. In your example the 17 and 70 year old share the memories and experiences. There is a continuity in their conscious life. Not so in your so-called reincarnated people.

jewish philosopher said...

Are you familiar with the second blessing of the Amidah, recited by orthodox Jewish men at least three times a day:

"You, O Lord, are mighty forever, you revive the dead, you have the power to save. [From the end of Sukkot until the eve of Passover, insert: You cause the wind to blow and the rain to fall.] You sustain the living with lovingkindness, you revive the dead with great mercy, you support the falling, heal the sick, set free the bound and keep faith with those who sleep in the dust. Who is like you, O doer of mighty acts? Who resembles you, a king who puts to death and restores to life, and causes salvation to flourish? And you are certain to revive the dead. Blessed are you, O Lord, who revives the dead."

It's still the same person, even though the body is obviously new. The body is merely a garment for the soul.

NC said...

"It's still the same person, even though the body is obviously new. The body is merely a garment for the soul."

I still don't understand how the two are connected. Their "souls"-- consciousness, memories, personality, awareness-- are completely distinct and each has no awareness of the other. So how is that the same person? It would be like saying you and I are the same person. You're playing with words.

chinick hocker said...

"There have been recently Nazi war criminals who have been tried for crimes committed so long ago that no one can recognize them."

Nonetheless, you have the actual perpetrator, not someone from another century or millenium who has no real connection with the person and their deeds. I cannot even believe you mean this seriously.

jewish philosopher said...

Let me try to put it like this.

Let's say you started suffering severe headaches. You consulted with a neurologist. After extensive testing, your doctor sat you down and told you "Mr NC, I have some unhappy news for you. You have brain tumor. We will need to do brain surgery. Following the surgery, you will suffer complete memory loss. You will have to relearn how to speak, read, you will not recognize your family. But, with time, you will relearn everything and you will make a complete recovery. We can schedule the surgery for next month."

After hearing that news, would you say "Wow, that's awesome! I'm going to sell my house, blow all my spending, rob some banks and party 24/7! True, after the surgery I'll end up penniless and in prison but that's going to happen to someone else! That guy post surgery isn't REALLY me. He'll be someone else who won't remember me."

NC said...

So, are you saying that eventually, the reincarnated person will find out who he "really" is?

jewish philosopher said...

I would assume that there will be an ultimate accounting and we will all see precisely how everything is fair - in all our incarnations, experiences in hell and paradise and ultimately the revival of the dead.

chinick hocker said...

Let's put it this way. A great gadol lives his entire life in 2000 in purity, surviving horrible circumstances and remaining true to Torah values as you perceive them. He believes in Judaism in precisely the same way as you do. He despises atheists to the depths of his soul. One of his gilgulim is an atheist who lived a Jewish village in 1650. He did most Jewish things, but secretly, he did not believe in G-d.

According to your thesis, the tzadik, who would hate the atheist, were they ever to interact, will now be punished for the sins of the atheist, who lived long ago and far away and had no relationship to him. Certainly, the gilgul had nothing to do with actions or attitudes. So in effect, one might as well be evil, according to you, since someone totally unknown to him may be punished for it. Even if you say they are the same person somehow unknown to any but G-d, the rasha will not be deterred by the threat of punishment and the tzadik will not be motivated by a reward which may go to some other person centuries after him. This violates the ikar that G-d punishes the wicked and rewards the righteous, that "all Israel shall see and fear."

Anonymous said...

"I would assume that there will be an ultimate accounting and we will all see precisely how everything is fair - in all our incarnations, experiences in hell and paradise and ultimately the revival of the dead."

All of the above is thoroughly delusional.

Ultimate accounting?

Fair?

Incarnations?

Revival of the dead?

You really have got to be kidding. How can a grown adult with any reason whatsoever possibly argue that any of the above is true at all?

Help me out. Just finish this sentence so I can understand what's going on in that noodle of yours:

"I really think that there's an end-of-times judgment for every human being ever and that the dead of history will return to life because __________."

jewish philosopher said...

Everything is eventually rewarded and punished fairly. God has plenty of time and many ways and means to settle all accounts precisely. Not one sin or good deed will be overlooked.

jewish philosopher said...

"All of the above is thoroughly delusional."

Says who? The argument from incredulity is a logical fallacy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_ignorance#Argument_from_incredulity_.2F_Lack_of_imagination

"Just finish this sentence so I can understand what's going on in that noodle of yours:"

Check this out.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2006/12/truth-of-judaism.html

Anonymous said...

"Check this out."

Doesn't respond to my question, unless you are saying that because you like the watchmaker analogy you think reincarnation and resurrection of the dead are true.

Can you fill-in my question as I wrote it?

jewish philosopher said...

Since the Torah is of divine origin we know that a fair and benevolent God exists.

NC said...

Suffice it to say that your belief is a very bizaare and vague faith-based idea, involving unverifiable predictions about the future. It also reflects an unrealistic assessment of human behavior and motivation.

Bsically you are saying that belief in some unknown day of reckoning in the distant future, is supposed to be a better motivator of morality than the here and now motivation of reducing human suffering.

JP, can you answer my question that was addressed to anon/Nathan? This is a key issue.

And, BTW, saying that a "fair" and "benevolent" God exists assumes your human perception of what fair and benevolent is. Otherwise, maybe "fair" to god means torturing the pious and rewarding the wicked. Do you admit to having a human sense of what "fair" means?

jewish philosopher said...

"your belief is a very bizaare"

Which means nothing. So is the accelerating universe

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accelerating_universe

or quantum theory

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mechanics

"vague faith-based idea"

Nonsense. Absolutely based on the facts of nature and history as I explain here.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2006/12/truth-of-judaism.html

"Bsically you are saying that belief in some unknown day of reckoning in the distant future, is supposed to be a better motivator of morality than the here and now motivation of reducing human suffering."

I didn't say that. I would say punishment is often far removed from the sin, perhaps later in this life, perhaps in the afterlife or perhaps in a future incarnation. This in itself is an additional layer of punishment. Since we have forgotten about God, He may give an appearance of having forgotten about us.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/08/kindness-of-suffering.html

"For the Hindu, Buddhist, or Muslim, is the source of their morality"

Their own fantasy and wishful thinking.

"Do you admit to having a human sense of what "fair" means?"

11. I believe with perfect faith that G-d rewards those who keep His commandments, and punishes those who transgress Him.

http://www.ou.org/torah/rambam.htm

I think that sums up "fair".

NC said...

"Their own fantasy and wishful thinking."

Which is derived from a god which they invented. Which means it is possible to have man made morality.

"I didn't say that."

Yes you have. You have repeatedly asserted that for atheists, who believe we are just a bag of chemicals, there is no source for morality. I have shown you that this is not so (see the earlier part of my comment). I have also brought into clear relief that in essence you believe that morality results only from the fear of far removed and vague consequences.

" Since we have forgotten about God, He may give an appearance of having forgotten about us."

That does not follow. Is that supposed to be revenge? Corrective?

If I forget about the IRS, will it forget about me?

jewish philosopher said...

"I have shown you that this is not so (see the earlier part of my comment). "

Where? Muslims and Buddhists aren't atheists, although they are wrong.

" I have also brought into clear relief that in essence you believe that morality results only from the fear of far removed and vague consequences. "

And therefore? I also belong to Weight Watchers and a gym only from the fear of far removed and vague consequences.

" Is that supposed to be revenge?"

Justice. The punishment fits the crime. 

DrJ said...

"Where? Muslims and Buddhists aren't atheists, although they are wrong."

They invented a god, made up man made rules, and obey them. Thereby showing, man can derive a morality, without a real god giving it to them. All you do is have to make up a system, then believe in it.

"Justice. The punishment fits the crime."

So if I am a ruler, and my subjects forget about me, I punish them by ignoring them? Is that logical? Who thought of that one?

jewish philosopher said...

"man can derive a morality, without a real god giving it to them"

But atheists believe in a creator, evolution, which has no intelligence and cannot ask for anything. This makes it perhaps the most dangerous religion.

jewish philosopher said...

"So if I am a ruler, and my subjects forget about me, I punish them by ignoring them? Is that logical? Who thought of that one?"

Criminals may be exiled.

Anonymous said...

NC:

The Buddhists, Muslims, and even athiests got their morality from the moral sense that G-d created everyone with. But that is an emotion, just like empathy is. Man made morals that claim to be based on reason, ligic or science have no basis in reason, logic, or science, just emotion. So, without saying G-d put it there, there is no basis for saying moral emotions are more moral than bad emotions such as cruelty.

NC said...

Ah, now we're getting somewhere!

Now that we agree that man has a moral instinct, we can debate where it came from.

If it came from God as you say, so did man's negative and destructive emotions. So the fact they "came from god" tells us nothing about which is preferable.

"there is no basis for saying moral emotions are more moral than bad emotions"

Em, by definition moral instincts are moral.

The fact that other religions came to conclude, by human reason, that moral instincts should take precedence reinforces this point.

Regarding the actual source of these instincts whether divine or by evolution or reason, the same debate can apply to how humans (or any species) acquired any characteristic.

Probably the acquisition of language or use of tools are the best analogies here. Evolution endowed us with certain capabilities that gave us a reproductive advantage, and we cumulatively built upon these abilities via culture.

jewish philosopher said...

I'm sorry to butt in, however I think that an anthropologist would confirm that very few human behaviors are universal and therefore apparently instinctive. They would be eating, finding shelter, avoiding danger, having sex, maternal care of young, male dominance, living with others, speech, worship and covering genitals.

This is exactly the same as most other mammals with the exception of language, religion and clothing which are uniquely human.

 Kindness, honesty, mercy, sobriety and chastity are definitely NOT universal or instinctive; they are arguably rare, exceptional and unnatural.

This book is relevant.

http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Animal-Nature-Origins/dp/031234189X

Anonymous said...

NC:

By moral enstincts, I meant the ones we consider moral. I guess I should have been clearer. But these emotions, e.g. empathy are just emotions. What makes them any more moral than emotions like cruelty or anger. If both kinds of emotions evolved what makes one more moral? Chimps are social animals with social instincts. They also eat each other. Both behaviors have a benefit. If human behaviors evolved then anger and cruelty evolved along with empathy. Why is one more moral?

Anonymous said...

And the first question I asked still remains unanswered, i.e. what is your basis for saying the Torah is immoral? If your morality is based solely on your moral sense, what makes your moral sense better than the Torah's, or better than mine, or better than Hitler's?

NC said...

"what is your basis for saying the Torah is immoral?"

1. I don't think it is immoral, just JP's interpretation of it.

2. "or better than Hitler's?" I knew you could not resist the temptation of reductio ad Hiterum.

3. "If your morality is based solely on your moral sense, what makes your moral sense better than the Torah's". The Torah's morality, reflecting man's best moral sensibility at the time, is not absolute, subject to human reasoning, and therefore is no more authoritative than any other man made moral system.

The real question is: Does man need a divine lawgiver, real or concocted, in order to behave?

My answer is no. However, such a divine law does give an added level of ritual which may be beneficial for societal cohesion.

"however I think that an anthropologist would confirm that..."

It is surprising that you would believe anything anthropologists would say, given that anthropology is not "real" science (by your definition). Otherwise you would have to accept other things that anthropology says as well, ie evolution of man, etc. Another example of your selective "mining" of facts.

NC said...

"This book is relevant."

I have not read the book. Having said that and having read the reviews, the focus is on the warmongering nature of human societies-- for tribes to fight one another. It speaks to human nature, and my previous comment applies here, too-- presumably you accept his conclusions about humans' propensity for war, but reject the rest of the assumptions in his book-- about the materialist nature of the human mind and evolutionary psychology.

This is confirmation bias. This would be like me quoting the Torah's passages about Amalek to "prove" how cruel god is, but ignoring context and everything else the Torah says about kindness and justice.

Also, if Smiths assertions are true, it presents a serious theological problem as to why god, who made man in his own image, would make such a warmongering creature populate the earth.

jewish philosopher said...

The point is NC that both rabbis (whom I respect) and scientists (whom you respect) seem to agree that people are naturally pretty nasty. So how you come up with the idea that kindness, honesty, mercy, sobriety and chastity are universal and instinctive sure beats me.

This is just nonsensical wishful thinking and fantasy, the basis of all false religion.

"it presents a serious theological problem as to why god, who made man in his own image, would make such a warmongering creature populate the earth"

Not really. "I have created the Evil Inclination, and I have created the Torah as an antidote against it." Babylonian Talmud, Kiddushin 30b

http://www.beingjewish.com/basics/torahstudy.html

NC said...

"So how you come up with the idea that kindness, honesty, mercy, sobriety and chastity are universal and instinctive sure beats me."

I agree that those things are not instinctive. But the basis of them (empathy) is, and is built upon using man made ideas to organize a society. Religions did it in the past, and humanistic secular values do it today.

As I have already demonstrated to you, other religions have indeed built organized and "non-nasty" societies based on the illusion of a god, made up by men. No real god needed, thank you.

"I have created the Evil Inclination, and I have created the Torah as an antidote against it."

Another man-made saying that doesn't answer the question, considering that the Torah is meant only for a tiny portion of the world's humans. And looking at TaNach, the Torah didn't exactly put wars to an end, either.

Anonymous said...

NC:

Okay, what makes your morality better than JP's interpretation of the Torah?

And the way I understand the "Reducto Ad Hitlerum" fallacy is to say that atheism and evolution lead to Hitlerism. I didn't say that. I wouldn't even say that atheism leads to Hitlerism, because the evidecen seesm to indicate that Hitler was not an atheist, but rather a pantheist.

jewish philosopher said...

"I agree that those things are not instinctive. But the basis of them (empathy) is"

So in that case, why has no primarily atheistic society been peaceful and reproducing at a replacement level? Clearly, atheism is not only false, it is a threat to our species' survival.

"Another man-made saying that doesn't answer the question"

Sure it does. Although we are imperfect, we have been given the tools to reach perfection if we wish to. Imagine a city the size of Houston, Texas which has had perhaps five murders in the past century and which harbors perhaps a few hundred drug addicts and alcoholics, where probably 90% of children are raised until maturity by both biological parents. That pretty much describes the Orthodox Jewish community.

"the Torah is meant only for a tiny portion of the world's humans"

Anyone can join if they want to, as I did.

NC said...

" why has no primarily atheistic society been peaceful and reproducing at a replacement level? "

What does reproducing at replacement level have any relevance to this discussion? Who says that the human population must increase? China for example is overpopulated, they don't need to worry about "replacement". In any population of animals it can get too crowded for their own good.

Regarding peacefulness, compared to who? I believe that modern day secular Europe is considerably more peaceful than the religious Muslim Asia and Africa. So I don't really see the relevance of your question.

"Okay, what makes your morality better than JP's interpretation of the Torah?"

That fact that "mine" (I mean secular humanistic values) has incorporated additional things that humans have learned over the past centuries, things like equality, fairness, open thinking and inquiry, freedom etc. That we don't punish people for their beliefs, etc. That we don't say that innocents suffer because they deserve it.

jewish philosopher said...

The Chinese population may be growing, however the atheistic government shows a very depraved lack of respect for human life.

http://www.amnestyusa.org/annualreport.php?id=ar&yr=2008&c=CHN

After an orgy of violence from 1914 to 1956, Europe has settled down, to a great extent thanks the intervention of the more theistic US. Without American intervention, there might have been no Europeans left.

However today the European population is falling

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ageing_of_Europe

while being replaced by Muslims

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_Europe

So peaceful, thriving atheistic humanists seem to exist only in the pages of atheistic literature.

NC said...

The whole debate about "theistic" or "atheistic" countries and their shortcomings is silly and based on opinion, overgeneralizations and comfirmation bias and not facts, so you should just discard that argument, its not worth anything.

This is especially true when the governmental system is authoritarian, in which there is little in common between the government and the people.

If you wax nastalgic and think that biblical Israel was a gentle and kind place, just read the bible.

jewish philosopher said...

It seems to me that if atheism were true and Orthodox Judaism false, then we would find atheists to be on the average happier, more productive and in general higher functioning than Orthodox Jews. This hardly seems to be the case.

I have actually found only one well documented case of a nice atheist, and he seemed to regret having been one.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/01/chandra-good-atheist.html

The purpose of the Biblical narrative is to highlight the errors of those generations allowing us to learn from them what not to do. We have no idea what the per capita crime rate was in Israelite Palestine.

NC said...

"It seems to me that if atheism were true and Orthodox Judaism false, then we would find atheists to be on the average happier, more productive and in general higher functioning than Orthodox Jews."

Could you make the same assertion about, say, religious Catholics, or Baptists? I imagine they would say the same thing. Would this be "proof" of the "truth" of Catholicism?

jewish philosopher said...

The closer a person's beliefs are to the truth, the more likely he is to have a healthy, successful life. Christianity is of course derived from Judaism; the founders were yeshiva graduates. Some people actually confuse Amish Christians and Hassidic Jews. 

Anonymous said...

NC:

Again why is your approach better? All you can assert is that you like it better. And secular is not an unmixed blessing. We've got lots of crime, broken homes, kids on drugs, sex slavery, etc. etc. I'm not convinced its better.

NC said...

JP, you wax nostalgic about some idealized but non-existent theistic state, safe and comfortable inside a secular and liberal society.

What's a theistic state? Meet Afghanistan. This society gives us a peek about how ancient Hebrews lived 3000 years ago. Forced marriages, harems, stoning of prostitutes and adulterers, and killing of blasphemers. Women not allowed to work or go out with a chaperone.

Is this what you guys truly wish to restore?

jewish philosopher said...

That's the straw man argument constantly used by atheists.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man

"Since the Taliban are murderers, all monotheists are murderers."

In reality, even when the rabbis could impose the death penalty, they seldom did.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment#Judaism