Thursday, November 10, 2011

Is Alcoholics Anonymous Compatible with Judaism?


[a prophet?]

Orthodox Jewish alcoholics are rare, however they do exist. Some attend regular meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous in an effort to recover. Does Orthodox Judaism permit this, however?
 
My opinion is no, it does not. AA is a religion unto itself and to join AA means joining another religion, in addition to observing Judaism.

Here is my basis for saying so.

Alcoholics Anonymous is based on a document called the Big Book. AA members will tell you that if you wish to become and remain sober, then you must follow the teachings of the Big Book. If you do so, you are guaranteed to lead a life of sobriety; if you do not you are guaranteed to suffer and eventually die prematurely.

This belief is not based on science. Scientific research indicates that AA may be helpful, especially in conjunction with professional treatment, for many people who are addicted to alcohol, but it is not a unique, guaranteed cure.

Rather this is based on the belief that Bill Wilson wrote the Big Book with divine guidance. In other words, a member of Alcoholics Anonymous must accept that Bill Wilson was a prophet. This belief permeates all AA meetings and all advice from AA  "sponsors" (spiritual guides). The Big Book cannot under any circumstances be questioned, amended or improved upon with the implication that it is infallible holy scripture. In AA to think critically is prohibited because "your best thinking got you here" (see slogan 389)  

The Talmud (Sanhedrin 11a) states that Haggai, Zachariah, and Malachi were the last prophets. Furthermore, Maimonides stated that the spirit of prophecy only rests upon the wise man who is distinguished by great wisdom and strong moral character, whose passions never overcome him in anything whatsoever, but who by his rational faculty always has his passions under control, and possesses a broad and sedate mind. Therefore, in my humble opinion, the idea that Mr Wilson, who apparently was not even a very nice person, was a prophet is ludicrous and even heretical.

Joining Alcoholics Anonymous involves accepting a false prophet. It is very similar seemingly to a Jew joining a mosque (Muslims also abstain from alcohol, incidentally). 

If a Jew sadly has succumbed to the habit of habitual heavy drinking, I would urge him to wholeheartedly, enthusiastically commit himself to Judaism.

We don't need a Higher Power. We have God.
We don't need Bill Wilson. We have Moses.
We don't need the Twelve Steps. We have the Ten Commandments.
We don't need the Big Book. We have the Talmud.
We don't need meetings. We have a synagogue.
We don't need a sponsor. We have a rabbi.

In addition, making vows along the following lines may be helpful.

I hereby accept upon myself that if later this week or next week I knowingly and deliberately purchase any beverage containing alcohol, I will be required to fast 2 days sometime during this month of ------ or next month of -------.

I hereby accept upon myself that if later this week or next week I knowingly and deliberately consume any beverage containing alcohol, I will be required to fast 2 days sometime during this month of ------ or next month of -----.

If the drunkard is not helped by this, then sadly AA would probably work no better.

88 comments:

Anonymous said...

When did you get semicha to rule on dinei nafashos?

jewish philosopher said...

The same place Bill W. got it.

Alex said...

You wrote: "Scientific research indicates that AA may be helpful, especially in conjunction with professional treatment, for many people who are addicted to alcohol, but it is not a unique, guaranteed cure."

Hang on a minute. Your argument jumped lanes.

Your prior paragraph said, and note the words I capitalized: "AA members will tell you that if you wish to become and remain sober, THEN YOU MUST FOLLOW THE TEACHINGS of the Big Book. IF YOU DO SO, YOU ARE GUARANTEED to lead a life of sobriety; ..."

You say that AA "may" be helpful. But it definitely IS helpful if they follow the teachings! You say "it is not a unique, guaranteed cure", but it IS a guaranteed cure if they FOLLOW the teachings.

Alex said...

I hope you'll excuse us for accepting Rabbi Abraham Twerski's professional and Torah-immersed opinion about AA over yours. http://www.barefootsworld.net/aaspiritualityjudaism.html

Alex said...

I find it mildly ironic that one of your sources, "MoreRevealed" is created by Ken Ragge, whose article appears at PositiveAtheism.org

jewish philosopher said...

"Your argument jumped lanes."

I'm not following you. One paragraph is referring to the results of scientific research, one refers to the attitude of AA members.

"I hope you'll excuse us for accepting Rabbi Abraham Twerski's"

I'm not excusing you, because he does not address the objection which I raise here.

"I find it mildly ironic that one of your sources, "MoreRevealed" is created by Ken Ragge, whose article appears at PositiveAtheism.org"

It's the only place I could find online that quotes from "Lois Remembers" Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, 1979, p. 113.

I'll tell you what I believe is the problem from a Jewish point of view with AA. 

On the one hand, I entirely understand the benefit of an alcoholic receiving advice and encouragement from former drunkards. He is not ashamed to reveal to them his bad behavior because they have done the same things and he may be able to find helpful advice by hearing from them how they coped with problems and recovered from addiction. That's all well and good and AA provides that. 

The problem with AA, and if you have trouble believing me try this yourself, is that if you attend an AA meeting, you are not permitted to question or criticize the Big Book. You cannot tell people there "You know it says this and this on page 95, however a new study in Psychology Today says the opposite. Let's try doing things according to the latest research in the field rather than according to what some guy who was never trained as a health care professional wrote in 1938." You will be quickly told to leave, apparently implying that the Big Book represents inerrant divine wisdom which cannot be questioned or corrected. Therefore, how is joining AA really different than joining a mosque?

What branch of health care regards as inerrant a book written by a businessman in 1938?

Incidentally, Mr Wilson's home is preserved as a shrine which AA members compare to the Vatican.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/06/nyregion/06aa.html 

By the way, I'm not necessarily saying that AA is a bad thing, or that Islam or Catholicism are bad things. I'm saying that as Jews, we have our own religion and should stick to that.

Alex said...

"Incidentally, Mr Wilson's home is preserved as a shrine which AA members compare to the Vatican."

That's one lady's opinion!:

“This, to me, would be the equivalent of a Christian going to the Vatican,” said Jean, of Long Island.

Let's see you talk about trips to Uman.

Alex said...

R' Twerski knows your concerns and does INDEED address your concerns. He is way more knowledgeable about AA than you are and he recommends them. (Hmmm, he's also way more knowledgeable than you about abuse in the Orthodox community, and writes about it. No wonder you don't respect his opinions.)

Alex said...

"One paragraph is referring to the results of scientific research, one refers to the attitude of AA members."

That's your fault. You shouldn't have put the two paragraphs back to back then.

Ironmistress said...

Noble is the man who drinks himself to death instead of freeing himself of the shackle of the drink and extending his miserable life by some years by following a false prophet.

Yedid Nefesh said...

Im not sure I agree with this. i had to go to a few AA meetings last semester for the purpose of school. It's true that it has it's own cult but I found that in the room, everyone identified to their own culture. It's in the way they related to the Big BOok and Twelve Steps that they could adhere to both AA and Judaism. Meaning, if their higher power is God, then thats whom they associated with. AA does not tell you what or whom to believe in

Anonymous said...

As a member of a 12 step program I can tell you with absolute certainty that no one thinks of Bill W as a prophet. That is just absurd.

Every single one of the 12 steps can be shown to lie in the Torah. It's the way the program is set up that makes it so potent.

God sometimes works through non-jews.
When R' Chaim of Volozhin was shown the Bill of Rights and the Constitution of the United States he was alleged to have said that the writers merited Ruach Hakodesh while writing them.

Does that make following the constitution akin to following another religion?
The early Americans attributed a lot of religious imagery to the founding of America..inclusing calling it The Promised Land...and there are statues and shrines all over to the founding fathers.

jewish philosopher said...

"Let's see you talk about trips to Uman."

I don't deny that Judaism is a revealed religion. I would not be surprised if a Christian would refuse to convert to Judaism even if he was told that there is no other path to sobriety.

 "R' Twerski knows your concerns and does INDEED address your concerns"

Where does he mention the problem of accepting Bill W. as prophet?

"he's also way more knowledgeable than you about abuse in the Orthodox community"

Wife beating? He wrote a book about that in the Jewish, but not specifically orthodox, community. I only beat my wife when she doesn't listen.

I'm not saying he isn't a fine person, however anyone can make a mistake, even me (although the odds against that are one in billions).

"That's your fault" 

Not really.

"everyone identified to their own culture"

People can blend and combine religions. Christians argue that Jesus will make you a better Jew.

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

"As a member of a 12 step program I can tell you with absolute certainty that no one thinks of Bill W as a prophet."

Let me ask you a question. If you go to your group and give a speech explaining that modern research has proven that a lot of the Big Book is mistaken, and other methods might be more effective, what reaction would you get? Would you be greeting with a lively discussion or a demand that you leave until you stop being in "denial", "this is not a debating society" and "your own thinking got you here"

I have no problem with a mutual aid group where people help each other cope with a common problem. For example, there are groups where parents of handicapped children can meet and discuss coping mechanisms, grief, despair, etc and that's great. However I know of no such group where they have a book written by a stockbroker 80 years ago who happened to have a disabled child and he advised people how to deal with this situation and the group considers his book to be the one and only, infallible and eternal guide for parents of disabled children. It's laughable. No support group has a book like that - except AA. It will never, or almost never, be stated explicitly, however it is clear that AA members accept the Big Book as being divinely inspired, revealed truth. 

I'm not trying to be funny, however AA should more accurately be called the Church of Bill Wilson or Wilsonism. 

Ironmistress said...

Okay, now let's get serious.First, alcoholism (and substance addictions) are no jokes. They are real and hurtful things, and people are known to die from alcoholism, alcohol poisoning, alcohol-related diseases and alcohol-related accidents. Not to speak about the social trauma to alcoholics themselves and their friends and families. So let's take alcoholism seriously. The poet Naphtali Herz Imber, who wrote Hatikva, died from alcoholism.

Second, the question of ethics is not about blind obedience to a given set of regulations but hierarchy of values, as any Talmudic scholar could tell you. The highest value is the human life. Saving a human life overtakes all other rules.

As far as I know, calling Bill Wilson as a prophet is merely an allusion or a metaphor. He never claimed being on and he has never been canonized as one by any religion and AA is NOT a religion. Bill Wilson himself prohibited any religious diatribes within AA and insisted religion is a private matter and everyone should stay true to one's original faith.

If we assume God exists, it is plausible also to assume that a human being can be under divine guidance without being a prophet. He may well be a teacher, leader, rabbi, priest, you name it. Do you claim Rambam, Hillel or Gamaliel the Great weren't under divine guidance? If not, do you claim they were heretics?

According to Wilson, while lying in bed depressed and despairing, he cried out, "I'll do anything! Anything at all! If there be a God, let Him show Himself!" He then had the sensation of a bright light, a feeling of ecstasy, and a new serenity. He never drank again for the remainder of his life.

I would call that either divine guidance (if there is God) or self-delusion (if there isn't). But by no means false prophecy. (See Joel 2:32.)

A tree is known by its fruits. A good tree bears good fruits and bad tree bears bad fruits. If Alcoholics Anonymous can save a human life (and they have a pretty good track record on it), then the fruits of AA are good and the tree itself is good.

Ergo: If there is a possibility to save the life of an alcoholic via AA (most likely a good tree) and without it he or she is likely to die, attempting to save the human life is a greater value in the value hierarchy than a doubtful possible lapse of doctrinal orthodoxy. Even if AA was an avoda zara, even then saving a human life would be higher on the value hierarchy.

It is allowed to break the law if a greater good is achieved by breaking the law than by adhering to it. It is allowed to rescue an ox fallen in a well on Sabbath - compassion on the animal life (and a valuable asset for field work) is a greater judicial good than strict adherence to Sabbath regulations.

While it is a good thing to be skeptic and doubtful, mere skepticism to the verge of paranoia has never brought any fruits.

jewish philosopher said...

I don't see any reason why a devout Jew needs AA. We have a spiritual path. It's like wearing a belt plus suspenders.

Alex said...

"I don't see any reason why a devout Jew needs AA."

Just like many rabbis, yes, even "right wing Lithuanian Yeshivish" rabbis, will direct some of their congregants to psychologists for their psychological problems.

jewish philosopher said...

I would say that going to a gentile therapist might be OK, although I would strongly prefer an orthodox one.

However AA is not group therapy. It's something more like a religion based on a book.

Ironmistress said...

I don't see any reason why a devout Jew needs AA. We have a spiritual path. It's like wearing a belt plus suspenders.

Because alcoholism is not an issue to joke about or take lightly.

Nor is drug or medicine abuse.

Sometimes wearing both belt and suspenders is advisable.

Anonymous said...

The differences in Atheist, Agnostic, Christian and Jewish thinking:

Atheist: Anything goes

Agnostic: Nothing, which is explicitly prohibited, goes.

Christian: Anything, which is not explicitly prohibited, goes

Jewish: Nothing, which is not explicitly permitted, goes

jewish philosopher said...

If Judaism doesn't help, I don't believe AA will either. The key factor is a "spiritual awakening".

Bill W.'s own grandfather became sober thanks to a "conversion experience"; no AA needed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_W.#Early_life

Anonymous said...

Ooo, ah...why not take on REAL challenge Mr Jewish Philosopher, why not explain to an atheistic, former Judeophile about the obvious humanity of the Mitzvah of Mamzer, and how it does not attest to Judaism's existence as a an antiquated, ethnocentric country club? No, I have a better idea, why not find some of the "Mamzerim" in Israel who've been declared such simply because their parents didn't sign a piece of paper in time? Pointless, I know, since they already know what a loving, sophisticated belief system it is already.

Alex said...

"The problem with AA, ... you are not permitted to question or criticize the Big Book. You cannot tell people there "You know it says this and this on page 95, however a new study in Psychology Today says the opposite. ... You will be quickly told to leave, apparently implying that the Big Book represents inerrant divine wisdom which cannot be questioned or corrected. Therefore, how is joining AA really different than joining a mosque?"

Or joining a shtiebel?

Now, you state so confidently that the questioner will be told to leave. Is that an across-the-board rule, or did it merely happen a few times in certain locations?

jewish philosopher said...

I think that this reaction would be universal in AA meetings, based on many AA members I have been in contact with, online and face to face. If someone has had a different experience, please let me know.

I would have no problem with AA if the Big Book would be periodically revised and rewritten by a team of psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists, based upon a consensus the latest research in the field of addiction. Big Book edition 12 published 2010 might have 5 steps or 20 steps or no steps. Then AA members could say they follow the Big Book because it represents state of the art knowledge. That's fine.

Weight Watchers, which I am a huge fan of by way, does exactly that.

http://www.weightwatchers.com/about/his/board.aspx

I have no problem with Jews joining Weight Watchers, I was a member for years. 

However, the way AA works now, what exactly is it based on, other than a belief in Bill W.'s infallibility? To me, this sounds like accepting a false prophet.

For example, it's very questionable if alcoholism is a disease rather than a choice.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disease_theory_of_alcoholism#Criticism 

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

However in AA, alcoholism as a disease is unquestionable dogma.

I believe AA has done a huge amount of good; so has the Catholic Church for example. The question is: is it permissible or even helpful for Jews to join?

Ironmistress said...

The medical consensus is that all addictions are diseases - at least to certain extent, and the tendency to get addicted is genetic.

There are people who drink like fish yet are not alcoholics. Likewise, my uncle had smoked all his life and was able to quit in one week. They are excessive consumers, but not addicts. They have genetics which protect them from getting addicted.

Alcoholism is a disease by choice. You cannot get it if you are never introduced to drink, but once you are and if your genetics make you prone to it, there you go. Moralizing with the issue makes it only worse.

jewish philosopher said...

Many physicians reject the disease theory of alcoholism. One study found that only 20 percent of physicians believe that substance addiction is a disease. In addition, 55 percent believe that there is "no effective treatment" for it.(T. McLellan. R-Considering Addiction Treatment: How Can Treatment Be More Accountable And Effective? A Continuing Medical Education (CME)Course. Cranston, Rhode Island, Association for Medical Education and Research on Substance Abuse, 2006.)

Another study found that only 25 percent of physicians believed that alcoholism is a disease. The majority believed alcoholism to be a social or psychological problem instead of a disease. (S.I. Mignon. Physicians' Perceptions of Alcoholics: The Disease Concept Reconsidered. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 1996, v. 14, no. 4, pp. 33-45)

A survey of physicians at an annual conference of the International Doctors in Alcoholics Anonymous reported that 80 percent believe that alcoholism is merely bad behavior instead of a disease. (Barrier to Treatment. Alcoholmd - Information About Alcohol and Medicine)

Dr. Thomas R. Hobbs says that "Based on my experiences working in the addiction field for the past 10 years, I believe many, if not most, health care professionals still view alcohol addiction as a willpower or conduct problem and are resistant to look at it as a disease." (T.R. Hobbs. Managing Alcoholism as a Disease. Physician's News Digest, 1998.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disease_theory_of_alcoholism#Criticism

In AA, the idea that alcoholism is a disease is sacrosanct because Bill W. said it is.

natschuster said...

Anonymous at 4:43:

Wahy exactly is your basis in logic, reason, or science for saying that anything in the Torah is wrong? What exactkly is your basis for saying that wrong and right even exist?

Ironmistress said...

Many physicians reject the disease theory of alcoholism. One study found that only 20 percent of physicians believe that substance addiction is a disease. In addition, 55 percent believe that there is "no effective treatment"
for it.

This is a fallacy known as argumentum ad populum. The truthfulness of an argument is not decided by popular vote but verifiability and evidence.

In plain English: Which argument has more credible evidence, that alcoholism is a disease or that it is a lifestyle?

Another study found that only 25 percent of physicians believed that alcoholism is a disease. The majority believed alcoholism to be a social or psychological problem instead of a disease.

Those physicians apparently do not have the slightest idea of either endochrinology or genetics. All addictions are based on dopamine metabolism.

Dr. Thomas R. Hobbs says that "Based on my experiences working in the addiction field for the past 10 years, I believe many, if not most, health care professionals still view alcohol addiction as a willpower or conduct problem and are resistant to look at it as a disease."

Keywords: I, believe, many, still. It is more likely that Dr. Hobbs actually contemplates the situation than makes an argument. It is his personal opinion (argumentum ipso dixit) based on faith (argumentum ad verecundiam) on numbers (argumentum ad populum) - three fallacies in one sentence.

In AA, the idea that alcoholism is a disease is sacrosanct because Bill W. said it is.

No, but because it works. Treating alcoholism as a disease rather than lifestyle works and produces results. Moralizing doesn't.

jewish philosopher said...

I'm just disproving your statement that the disease model is accepted by a consensus of physicians. It's not.

About the disease model being helpful, that's debatable.

"While many advocate for its benefits, the disease concept has proven to be far more damaging to substance user then anyone could have predicted. Therapists claim the disease concept helps the patient to understand the seriousness of [his/her] problems. But in reality, this idea backfired. The disease concept stripped the substance user of personal responsibility. A disease cannot be cured by force of will; therefore, adding the medical label transfers the responsibility from the user to caregivers. Inevitably, the users become unwilling victims, and just as inevitably they take on that role. In retrospect then, the disease concept has effectively increased alcoholism and drug use. Furthermore, its only benefit has been vast monetary reward for the professionals' and governmental agencies responsible for providing recovery services. Specifically, it has not offered a solution for those attempting to stop abusive alcohol and drug use."

http://www.baldwinresearch.com/alcoholism.cfm  

Ironmistress said...

I'm just disproving your statement that the disease model is accepted by a consensus of physicians. It's not.

This is known as logical fallacy known as argumentum ad populum. Scientific paradigmae are not decided by majority vote.

jewish philosopher said...

The disease model of addiction is controversial to say the least. AA accepts it as dogma.

AA is faith based not fact based. It is the Church of Bil W.

Alex said...

I'll remind you of your argument:

AA members claim that if you follow the teachings of the Big Book, you are guaranteed to lead a life of sobriety. You retort that scientific research indicates that the program, whether you do or don't follow all the teachings, is not a guaranteed cure.

If you can't see the hole in your argument, you need to go back to logic class.

jewish philosopher said...

"If you can't see the hole in your argument"

It's holeless.

I would have no problem with AA if the Big Book would be periodically revised and rewritten by a team of psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists, based upon a consensus the latest research in the field of addiction. Big Book edition 12 published 2010 might have 5 steps or 20 steps or no steps. Then AA members could say they follow the Big Book because it represents state of the art knowledge. That's fine.

Weight Watchers does exactly that.

http://www.weightwatchers.com/about/his/board.aspx

AA could be like Weight Watchers, just for alcohol not food. WW also provides plenty of literature, group meetings and support.

http://www.weightwatchers.com/plan/mtg/index.aspx

However, the way AA works now, what exactly is it based on, other than a belief in Bill W.'s infallibility? To me, this sounds like accepting a false prophet.

I think it's clear that rather than being Weight Watchers for alcohol (which by the might be a great idea) AA is the Church of Bill W.

ksil said...

"Wahy exactly is your basis in logic, reason, or science for saying that anything in the Torah is wrong?"

LOL

since when does an orthodox jew care about logic and reason?!?!

LOL

jewish philosopher said...

Ksil, you believe that people are soulless zombies descended from a worm. Lol.

natschuster said...

Ksil:

I care very deeply for logic, reason, and science. That's why I'm Orthodox. You, on the other hand, live by your faith. I ask for logic, I get a LOL. It must be so easy to be you.

ksil said...

its definately easier to close your eyes and ears to the world around you and believe in man-made pre-historic buba maysahs....have fun with that.

and JP, i tend to want to believe in things that ARE ACTUALLY TRUE - not made up fantasy bullshit. if that leads me to worms, or whatever it is that you wrote, fine. you can cover your eyes and ears and believe what you want - but you should at leas acknowledge its bullshit

jewish philosopher said...

According to you, I really have no choice about what I believe or don't believe. Neither did Hitler and neither does Ahmadinejad and neither do you. It's all predetermined by brain chemistry. We're all zombies. Lol. 

natschuster said...

Ksil:

Would thjose bubbs maases be things like the Big Bang, Abaigenesis, evolution? IT must be so easy to just close your eyes and think "the scientists say it, so it must be true. I have faith." No thought required.

ksil said...

THE BIBLE! you ever read it? full of nonsense...i recomend it nat, you'll see what i mean

jewish philosopher said...

Origin of Species. Ever read it? There's real nonsense. Try it sometime.

ksil said...

origin of species? written by god? nope. no such thing!

btw, god is an AWFUL writer...you would think all powerful and whatnot he could put together a book that is SLIGHTLY more meaningful

sentence after sentence of narishkeit....generations, sacrifices, nonsensical, unapplicable laws....just utterly ridiculous.

jewish philosopher said...

Your religion was founded by Darwin. Thanks to him, we had the holocaust.

http://www.trueorigin.org/holocaust.asp

Here's a little bit of Darwinian genius:

“The great break in the organic chain between man and his nearest allies, which cannot be bridged over by any extinct or living species, has often been advanced as a grave objection to the belief that man is descended from some lower form; but this objection will not appear of much weight to those who, from general reasons, believe in the general principle of evolution. Breaks often occur in all parts of the series, some being wide, sharp and defined, others less so in various degrees; as between the orang and its nearest allies--between the Tarsius and the other Lemuridae--between the elephant, and in a more striking manner between the Ornithorhynchus or Echidna, and all other mammals. But these breaks depend merely on the number of related forms which have become extinct. At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked (18. 'Anthropological Review,' April 1867, p. 236.), will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.”

From THE DESCENT OF MAN AND SELECTION IN RELATION TO SEX by Charles Darwin Chapter VI. On the Affinities and Genealogy of Man; on the birthplace and antiquity of man; second edition September, 1874

ksil said...

ok. i dont believe in that either.

now what

jewish philosopher said...

Well, if you don't believe in Darwin, then you have to believe in God.

Alex said...

Let me edit that for you, JP:
"Well, if you don't believe in those specific words ofDarwin, then you have to believe in God."

natschuster said...

Ksil:

A book of advanced calculus would look like nonsense to a young child. The Torah appears like nonsense to yuo because you don't understand it.

jewish philosopher said...

If you accept the obvious fact that Darwin was hardly a scientist but was rather a Victorian crackpot embittered against God by the death of his young daughter, then you have to accept "God did it".

Ironmistress said...

JP, science confirms addictions are diseases and not lifestyles. Addictions can develop on animals just as well. Elephants are especially vulnerable on becoming alcoholics. Waxwings are known to get high on fermented wild berries.

To develop a dependence, you need a) the substance and b) genetics making you prone to develop dependence. The same applies with tobacco, illicit drugs and prescription pills. But once the dependence has been developed, no matter of moralizing will break it.

If your own program of relying on Torah can break the physical and psychological dependence on substances, fine. If not, tough luck. AA programs are known to work.

Remember what I said: saving a human life is a higher value than flawless adherence to regulations. This is Ethics 101 for everyone.

Ironmistress said...

JP, your attack on Darwin is pot blaming kettle on being black. Reading the Book of Joshua is not exactly popular amongst Christians, because they very much despise seeing God as an omnicidal and demonic maniac who commands on genocides and wholesale butcheries at Canaan. No matter how deprave those ancient Semites might have been.

Reading the Book of Joshua must have turned more Christians away from God than anything else. Yes, the Aztecs were even worse than those Canaanites, but Hernando Cortes isn't remembered exactly as a hero today.

Ironmistress said...

Ksil:

A book of advanced calculus would look like nonsense to a young child. The Torah appears like nonsense to yuo because you don't understand it.


This is known as argumentum ad hominem abusivis. Torah is what there is written and there are several English translations available if you do not understand Hebrew. Unlike advanced calculus, it does not require specific skills to understand plaintext language.

jewish philosopher said...

The Canaanites deserved to die due to their sins. See Deuteronomy 18:9

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0518.htm#9

Addiction is the result of atheism. Sobriety is a result of monotheism.

Religion is the opium of the people. Karl Marx.

Opiates and alcohol are the religion of atheists. Jacob Stein

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2011/09/god-will-make-you-sober.html

Ironmistress said...

JP, so you condone witch hunts and murdering innocent people "just in case" they would be abominators, and the concept of collective guilt?

Since Jews are NOT stupid people, you are very likely to notice the unberarability of your position. Mind you, the European history has a very stark legacy on where that kind of an attitude will eventually lead.

Nobody really "deserves to die because of their sins". For their crimes perhaps, but we earthling are not to punish anyone on transgressions against the supernatural. It is the deities' duty to so do, not us human beings.

Ironmistress said...

Then another snippet on Logic 101:

The truth value of an argument is not dependent of the habitus of the instance presenting it. What Charles Darwin presented is no doubt atrocious to our AD 2011 standards, but it was his opinion over the matter, not a scientific axiom or postulate.

Opinions are like buttholes: everyone has one. Charles Darwin had his. What he presented as his opinions in 1859 was by no means atrocious on the standards of the date. Yet his scientific statements, such as evolution, heritability, natural selection and struggle for existence, are no less invalid today than what they were back then.

Ironmistress said...

Umm... is "narishkeit" the same as "Narrischheit" in German?

jewish philosopher said...

I'm not sure I understand your problem with the massacre of the Canaanites. If you believe in the Bible, then the massacres fulfilled a divine decree, which the canaanites richly deserved. If you don't believe in the Bible, then the massacre never happened.

Darwin's theory was and is nonsense as I've explained here.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/03/evolution-science-hijacked-by-atheism.html

Ironmistress said...

I'm not sure I understand your problem with the massacre of the Canaanites. If you believe in the Bible, then the massacres fulfilled a divine decree, which the Canaanites richly deserved. If you don't believe in the Bible, then the massacre never happened.

This is known as fallacy of exclusive premises. You come to negative conclusions from affirmative premises.

It may well be the case that the Canaanites massacres happened, but there was no divine mandate for them. Or that ha-Shem is indeed an omnicidal maniac, which leads into maltheism and either into blind servility to an evil deity or into rebellion against a cruel and insane cosmic tyrant.

As AA goes, nobody has so far ever considered AA as a religion nor a cult. You seem to be stretching the concepts of an avoda zara quite liberally.

Ironmistress said...

Addiction is the result of atheism. Sobriety is a result of monotheism.

Alcoholism has been known long before atheism emerged. There have been sober Polytheistic societies, such as India.

Religion is the opium of the people. Karl Marx.

Opiates and alcohol are the religion of atheists. Jacob Stein


Christianity is opium for the masses.
Buddhism is pot.
Islam is amphetamine.
Atheism is cheap and bad vodka.

natschuster said...

Ironmistress:

I might also have trouble understanding a book of philosophy written in simple English. The concepts might be beyond my comprehension. Same thing with the Torah.

Ironmistress said...

Nat, if you have problems understanding a book of philosophy written in simple English, you either have dyslexia or the author has done bad job. Understanding plain English cannot be that difficult. Even I can understand it, while English isn't my first language.

Ironmistress said...

Well, if you don't believe in Darwin, then you have to believe in God.

This is a false dilemma. I might be a Buddhist and believe in neither or a Catholic and believe in both.

ksil said...

9there is ZERO philosophy or depth in iterating the dozens and hundreds of decendants of people from thousands of years ago. the is ZERO philosophy in describing the ritual practices in an ancient temple from thousads of years ago there is ZERO philosophy in most of the torah. the rest of it is fairy tale like stories that have mostly been proven to be horseshit. (or taken from other peoples)

you can believe in this stuff, you can believe in santa claus. i dont think anyone gives a hoot, but its too bad you cant admit to yourself that its false. i feel bad for your kids whome you are raising in this cult

jewish philosopher said...

"I might be a Buddhist and believe in neither or a Catholic and believe in both."

I don't know of anyone who believes neither in Darwinian evolution nor an Intelligent Designer. You need at least one.

"9there is ZERO philosophy or depth in iterating the dozens and hundreds of decendants"

As a matter of fact the Torah is the most ancient, wise and influential book in existence.

Monotheism greatly simplifies our understanding of the universe and originated in the Torah.

Altruism, the idea of caring for other people without getting anything in return, is something which brings great happiness to the world and originated in the Torah.

The concept of the weekend brings a welcome periodic respite from work and originated in the Torah.

Pleasure is psychologically necessary, however it's easy to slip into dangerous addictions. The Torah teaches us how to live a balanced life.

To help us to observe all the above, Judaism includes a total educational system.

The Torah is also the oldest book written using an alphabet.

Instead of being a meaningless story of violence, like for example the Iliad, the Torah is a book which more than any other has changed the world.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/06/gods-wisdom.html

Lol.

Ironmistress said...

I don't know of anyone who believes neither in Darwinian evolution nor an Intelligent Designer. You need at least one.

There are many Atheistic religions such as Jainism and Theravada Buddhism. They do not prescribe deities, but neither do they approve Darwinism either.

I don't know about Neo-Pagans, such as Wicca or Asatru, though.

Ironmistress said...

Ksil, but Santa DOES exist!

Or at least he has existed. His - St. Nicholas of Myra - grave is at Bari, Italy.

Ironmistress said...

Let's say there is very little philosophy in Torah. Most philosophy in the Bible can be found in Ketuvim. Nevi'im is a fairly reliable historical document.

I personally appreciate the Book of Isaiah much higher than Torah in the respect of philosophy.

jewish philosopher said...

I don't think that Ksil, above, is a Buddhist or Jain.

natschuster said...

ironmistress:

Maybe I'm not as smart as you are. But you see, that's my point. The fact that we can't understand something may be due to the fact that we aren't smart enough, noit because it is nonsense. Lots of people tell me that if I only understood evolution I would believe in it. They say I only reject it because I'm too dense to understand it. I don't think I'm that silly.

Ksil:

Haven't yuo ever studies any of the meforshim that extrapolate all kinds of moral lessons from lives of the Avos? Very practical stuff for people who want to live moral lives. And my kids are doing just fine. My oldest donates blood on a regular basis. My number two son worked with autistic/MR children for years. Number three worked with special needs as well. And my forth worked with sick children, and the siblings of sick children. If this is a cult, then the world needs more cults like it.

Alex said...

JP writes: "I don't know of anyone who believes neither in Darwinian evolution nor an Intelligent Designer. You need at least one."

Iron Mistress responds: "There are many Atheistic religions such as Jainism and Theravada Buddhism. They do not prescribe deities, but neither do they approve Darwinism either."

JP responds: "I don't think that Ksil, above, is a Buddhist or Jain."

Are you admitting that Iron Mistress was right and you were wrong? No, you never admit anything.

Ironmistress said...

JP, I see your point. But yet the best brains of Judaism and Christianity - and those of Islam as well - have done quite thorough inspection and reading on Torah, and while I am by no means a scholar or cleric, I have read mine as well. In Finnish, English and Hebrew. Torah - and Nevi'im and Ketuvim - isn't calculus nor Hegelian philosophy. It is a highly poetic and beautiful allusion on how everything began, why we are here and how a nation which I respect deeply got its beginnings.

But one of the many Anonymouses said it quite well: the major difference between Christians and Jews is that Christians consider everything what is not especially prohibited as allowed, while Jews consider everything what is not especially allowed as prohibited. It is apparent in this thread as well: you interprete any hints of unhealthy obedience to an authority as evidence of avoda zara, while others see mere unhealthy obedience to an authority.

A tree is known by its fruits. A good tree produces good fruits; a bad tree produces bad fruits. Even doctrines, which are not considered as avoda zara, can turn out really sour - such as Islam. They most certainly are not idolatrists, but I do not consider wawing a scimitar and yelling death to infidels as healthy. IMO the "fruit test" - does this tree bear good fruits? is a far better way to measure an avoda zara than merely inspecting the external signs.

My opinion is that the fruits of Atheism are not good. The hubris is always followed with nemesis. It is a historical trend.

jewish philosopher said...

Buddhists and Jains may believe that the universe has simply always existed - no creation at all and therefore no creator needed. Modern science has pretty much discredited this. People for example we now know (and Jews always knew) have not existed for all eternity. Therefore you have to choose either Darwinian evolution or intelligent design.

jewish philosopher said...

Incidentally, I have explained here how Judaism reconciles God's love with God's anger

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

and I have explained here that today ultra-orthodox Jews are basically pacifists.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/02/massacre-of-midianites.html

Alex said...

"Modern science has pretty much discredited this."

Sure, accept "modern science" when it conveniences you and reject it when it doesn't.

jewish philosopher said...

What do you think about scientific racism

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

or scientific Marxism?

http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/8634

I'm not fond of dangerous crackpot ideologies, like evolution, masquerading as science.  

Alex said...

I'm against crackpot ideologies, too, but it is intellectually dishonest for you to redefine any theories that the rest of the world classifies as "modern science" as merely a pretender.
So, my criticism, "Sure, accept "modern science" when it conveniences you and reject it when it doesn't." still stands.

jewish philosopher said...

"it is intellectually dishonest for you to redefine any theories that the rest of the world classifies as "modern science" as merely a pretender."

First of all, it's not true. Even in the US, only 39% believe in evolution.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/114544/darwin-birthday-believe-evolution.aspx

I'll bet in Islamic countries, in Africa, South America, etc it's even less. So probably most of world does not accept evolution.

And even if they did, so what? An appeal to the people is a logical fallacy.

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

Alex said...

An appeal to "modern science" /might/ be a logical fallacy, too.

jewish philosopher said...

I think that the evidence is pretty unquestionable that the belief, accepted by some early societies, that the world as it is today has simply always existed, is not true.

JRKmommy said...

Have you found that making vows was helpful to you in your life?

I've got concerns about that advice. For starters, I've learned that making vows is generally something to be avoided in Judaism, to the extent that observant Jews will pepper sentences with "bli neder". I know that Rabbi Noach Orlowek cautions against ever making promises to children, and of course there is a serious issue of putting a stumbling block before the blind if you encourage someone to do something as serious as making a vow when you know that there is a reasonable possibility that the vow will be broken.

Furthermore, in my professional experience, addicts make promises all the time, and many engage in self-loathing and self-harm when they break those promises. Making vows would just seem to feed into that cycle of addiction. Instead, many need to honestly admit the extent of their problem and the problems that it causes, to have some form of real accountability and to learn to cope with stress and plan their lives so that they deal with the common triggers.

jewish philosopher said...

In this particular instance vowing is praiseworthy. The Talmud (Nedarim 8a) states:

Whence do we know that an oath may be taken to fulfil a precept? From the verse, I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments.

http://www.come-and-hear.com/nedarim/nedarim_8.html

For a God fearing Jew I believe it would be of immense therapeutic value. Vows allow us to customize the Torah by prohibiting certain things at certain times to certain people, where a universal prohibition is not required or desirable.

Anonymous said...

I feel so sorry for you! Your trapped by a fear of a fictitious 'god'!
I live a healthy, happy life filled with substance. I do not need to live my life in fear, for it is mine. The only person in control of what I say, think, feel is myself.
Thank GOD.

jewish philosopher said...

I'm sorry for people who deny reality.

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

Anonymous said...

So, you feel sorry for yourself..

jewish philosopher said...

I'm doing fantastic, as opposed to atheists like Hitchens who drink themselves to death.

Anonymous said...

So... we can't follow a book written in the 30's, but we should follow books allegedly written by man via God thousands of years ago?

I've been to AA meetings and I've seen the BB "challenged," with little to no fanfare.

I'm also curious to see your data about "rare" cases of alcoholics among Orthodox Jews.

Your usage of the word "drunkard" is insulting, but then again, that's your point. So well done.

jewish philosopher said...

I think AA is OK, however Jews don't need it.

Anonymous said...

to quote "I'm not saying he isn't a fine person, however anyone can make a mistake, even me (although the odds against that are one in billions)."
Why is it more likely for you to be making a mistake than Rabbi DR. Twerski?

Anonymous said...

"I'm not saying he isn't a fine person, however anyone can make a mistake, even me (although the odds against that are one in billions)."
It sounds to me like you have a big ego.

SJ said...

Hi
Let me tell you something. Bill W was right on, and that's why so many Jews find salvation in the Big Book. Bill's message was that only a God can save you from anything. It would be great if we could get that kind of God Consciousness from our Rabbi's and teachers, but we don't. I see a lot of Goyim getting it religiously "right", and doing great, and that might be because when we are down they are up. I'm not advocating going to AA meetings. I'm advocating the idea in the Big Book that only a God can save. Wherever you get it, wether from a simple "god" worshipping goy's book or somewhere else, you better, because if you don't, you'll never "Make It".