Monday, November 05, 2012

What Everyone Thinks Can Be Totally Wrong

The god of Imperial Rome - hot or not?
Of course we know logically that the appeal to the people is a logical fallacy. It is silly to argue that "If many believe so, it is so."

Nevertheless, it is perhaps instructive to see a remarkable example of this from ancient history.

If we were living in the year 150 CE, an apostate Jew would have boasted to a loyal Jew, that it's obvious that those who worship Jupiter are right while Jews who persist in worshipping their invisible God are wrong.

After all, Jupiter was the main deity of the Roman Empire.

The Roman empire was vaster than any seen in previous history and few seen since.

The Romans had brutally destroyed the Jewish community in Judea.

Rabbis were tortured to death by the victorious Romans.

Jerusalem was wiped out and replaced by a Jew free Roman city dedicated to Jupiter and a temple to Jupiter occupied the Temple Mount.

Jews were singled out to pay a special tax to the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus in Rome.

What could have been more blindingly obvious than the fact that Jupiter was real and he was succeeding while Judaism was finished? No doubt thousands of weak Jews indeed accepted that argument. (This is a sort of natural selection you might say. Throughout history, the worst Jews are constantly dropping out while the best gentiles convert and drop into the Jewish community.)

Well, where is Jupiter today? I don't believe he has had one worshipper in perhaps 1,500 years while probably a majority of mankind believes in Jewish based monotheism in some form.

And tens of thousands of people still pour over the words of those martyred rabbis.

This should remind us today how all the latest ideolgies, however popular, will surely sooner or later land in the dustbin of history while we will still be here.

37 comments:

Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo said...

My English tutor has a 'Judea Capta' denarius of Vespasian in his coin collection.

You premise with,

"......Of course we know logically that the appeal to the people is a logical fallacy. It is silly to argue that "If many believe so, it is so."......"

Then you conclude with,

"......Well, where is Jupiter today? I don't believe he has had one worshipper in perhaps 1,500 years while probably a majority of mankind believes in Jewish based monotheism in some form.
And tens of thousands of people still pour over the words of those martyred rabbis.
This should remind us today how all the latest ideologies, however popular, will surely sooner or later land in the dustbin of history while we will still be here....."

Would it be imprudent of me to repeat your first quote as a riposte to your second at this point?

If by "Jewish based monotheism" you mean "Peoples of the Book", I think you'll find that if indeed it is a majority, which is possible, it is only a small majority at best.

Judaism was itself a religion of martyrdom during the time of the Maccabees and it was this Jewish psychology of martyrdom that inspired Christian martyrdom, and later still, Mohamed Atta and his 18 friends.
Some parts of this monotheism ain't too good, yes?

Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo said...

".......Jews were singled out to pay a special tax to the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus in Rome......"

Still, better than the fate that awaited a Christian, Germanic Barbarian or Dacian I reckon, yes?

Perhaps you could enlighten us on the differing laws and taxes that applied to Gentiles in Ancient Judea/Samaria/Israel. Especially the ones regarding the theft of a 'penny' - vis a vis the number of witnesses needed to 'prove' guilt and the punishments meted out if guilt is determined.

jewish philosopher said...

"Would it be imprudent of me to repeat your first quote as a riposte to your second at this point?"

The point is that the masses are often, and I would even venture to say, always wrong about religion. Today's universal truth (let's take gay rights for example) will be tomorrow's universal nonsense. Just because the editor of the New York Times or the President of the United States makes some pronouncement, don't get all shaken up.

"better than the fate that awaited a Christian, Germanic Barbarian or Dacian"

The Roman's were cutthroats, but I guess they felt it was OK so long as Jupiter was on their side.

Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo said...

"......The point is that masses are often, and I would even venture to say, always wrong about religion......"

I agree, Caucasoids and Mongoloids especially - they having from 1.5 to 4 percent Neanderthal genes and all. Curiously, though not actually, Negroids have no Neanderthal genes at all. So much for Herr Hitler's Master Race, yes?

Query?
Do we, you and I, count ourselves among these unlettered and deeply stupid masses to which you refer?

Is it even possible to be wrong about religion? Does this not presuppose that one can be right?
Are not even the concepts of wrong and right based solely in the mind of man anyway?
Is there not but one absolute objective truth - that being the combined Laws of Physics (those currently understood, and those yet to be understood)? Is not all else subjective determination?

jewish philosopher said...

I'm right about religion.

Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo said...

"......Today's universal truth (let's take gay rights for example) will be tomorrow's universal nonsense....."

I'd rather take ""The Da Vinci Code" is the best book of all time" instead of Gay rights for an example.
I get your point.

Dave said...

Your basic point is legitimate, in that something being popular doesn't make it right. But your Spaniard interlocutor has also correctly pointed out that in matters of spirit, politics and philosophy--truth has no independent existence and is solely in our minds. Does "democracy" exist, independent of the people who follow and believe in it?

Dave said...

By implication, are we to understand that the smaller and less popular the religion, the more likely it is to be "right"?:

B'Hai
Druze
Alawites
Zorastrianism
Shinto
Scientology

That an idea survives despite the odds among a small group of dedicated followers, reflects not on the truth of the idea but upon many other factors. What has made homeopathy thrive, despite it being demonstrably false?

Hopes, dreams and ideas are stronger than reality in people's minds.


Mormonism

jewish philosopher said...

"truth has no independent existence and is solely in our minds"

Either I'm going to hell for eating pork or I'm not.

"By implication, are we to understand that the smaller and less popular the religion, the more likely it is to be "right"?:"

No, just that incredible success doesn't prove anything.

Perhaps one of the most striking examples of that would be Adolf Hitler.

In 1909 at the age of 20 he was a homeless man on the street in Vienna, very similar to bums you see living on the sidewalks of any large city today.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler#Early_adulthood_in_Vienna_and_Munich

In October, 1941, just 32 years later, he one of the few most powerful men in the world, worshipped by tens of millions and the absolute dictator of a huge swath of Europe from Crete to the Artic, from the Pyrennes to the Volga River.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/16/Europe_under_Nazi_domination.png

I don't know if history has ever seen such an incredible, one might have said miraculous, individual rise to power.

Three and a half years later, in May, 1945, he would lie dead from a self inflicted gunshot in a bunker in Berlin.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler#Defeat_and_death

So incredible success and power does not validate any ideology and it is also no indication of longevity of that idealogy.

Easy come, easy go.

Dave said...

"Either I'm going to hell for eating pork or I'm not."

I believe that the punishment for pork in flogging, not hell. :-)

"So incredible success and power does not validate any ideology and it is also no indication of longevity of that ideology"

Agreed, and, longevity is no indication of truth. As indicated on my list.

jewish philosopher said...

There will be divine retribution for sin (as Judaism teaches) or there isn't.

Falisies naturally have a life span limited to how long they appeal to people according to changing circumstances.

Truth naturally is eternal because there will always be at least some honest people who will embrace it.

Dave said...

How do you determine "eternal"?
Shintoism, Zorastrianism, and Buddhism are at least as eternal as Judaism.

jewish philosopher said...

I guess from an atheist perspective Judaism can't really win. Either we are an ancient, Bronze Age relic and therefore unimportant or because we can't prove that the Torah is older than the Rigveda Judaism is not special.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rigveda#Dating_and_historical_context

Dave said...

TP, my point is that all of these logical or historical arguments for Judaism or any other religion are just psychological rationalizations for what is essentially an emotional choice.

I liken it to strawberry ice cream (although admittedly this has much less importance). Some people like it. Some hate it. Some are indifferent. Some people start off hating it then begin to like it or vice versa. Can you logically convince somebody that strawberry ice cream is good and that he should like it? Yet somebody who likes it will give you all of the reasons in the world why it is tasty. It is sweet, refreshing, creamy, and fruity. Somebody who hates it will explain why it is disgusting-- sickly sweet, artificial, chocolate is much better.

Our world views are made up of our personalities, genetics, experiences/background and emotional states.

Ironmistress said...

In the year 135 CE I would have not put my bet on Juppiter as the future winner on religion market. Juppiter was a moribund deity already at that era.

The traditional Roman pagan religion had pretty much died out already during the late Republican era, and was nothing anymore but an undead ruminant: a tradition in which nobody believed but which was kept up. It was part and parcel of the Emperor Cult. The victory at Judea was not really that of Juppiter Deus Optimus Maximus, but that of the Emperor.

At that date I would have bet either Mithraism, Buddhism or Sun worship - the future religion would be either a Monotheistic or Transtheistic religion but not a Pagan Polytheistic. JHWH was also a strong contender as Christianity, but outlawed as "atheistic".

The history then went how it went.

jewish philosopher said...

"TP, my point is that all of these logical or historical arguments for Judaism or any other religion are just psychological rationalizations for what is essentially an emotional choice."

I'm sorry, however after nearly four decades of researching and soul searching, I believe that the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai is as much a historical fact as let's say the Sack of Rome in 410 CE or the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Those events are no better documented and no one thinks of them as being figments of the imagination, for the simple reason that those events don't make a personal difference to us so there is no overwhelming need to deny them.

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2012/01/why-weshould-beorthodox.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sack_of_Rome_(410)

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

Dave said...

"I'm sorry, however after nearly four decades of researching and soul searching, I believe that the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai is as much a historical fact ..."

Is your 4 decades of research and soul searching more objective or powerful than that of a convert to Christianity, Islam or any other religion? I understand that for you, it is. That is my point. You cannot be objective. And I don't claim to be objective either, except to acknowledge that I am not objective and neither are you.

Anonymous said...

The Battle of Hastings is well documented. There's the Bayeux Tapestry, for one. There are also mentions in the different versions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

Plus, we have historical documentation of William the Conqueror and the major players and families involved in the events before, during, and after the Battle of Hastings.

We also have physical evidence that corroborates the broad outlines of activity in the geographical areas involved. The Conqueror was one of the very few who every conquered England by way of the Channel.

The fairy tale at Sinai offers zero in comparison to all we have on Hastings (and on the sack of Rome, for that matter). So, you don't know what you are talking about regarding these two events, you know nothing about the actual evidence that supports their historicity, and you're completely unaware of the gulf between real historical events and your magic mountain story.

jewish philosopher said...

"So, you don't know what you are talking about regarding these two events,"

Actually I beg to differ. Our knowledge of anything prior to 1500 is on very slender ground, as I explain, while the proof of Torah is far stronger.

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2009/07/is-history-bunk.html

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2012/01/why-weshould-beorthodox.html

"You cannot be objective."

I'm simply as certain of it as I am of anything else, for example the Holocaust, an event disputed by millions, and not just primitive morons either. Mel Gibson is an academy award winning American Catholic actor and director with a net worth over $400 million. Not too shabby.

http://www.splcenter.org/blog/2010/07/09/the-recidivist-mel-gibson-unleashes-new-racist-rants/

http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-celebrities/actors/mel-gibson-net-worth/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel_Gibson#Honors

Dave said...

"I'm simply as certain of it as I am of anything else"

As are Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. For some reason you give Judaism a free pass on being "a religion"-- in which people can be fooled.

When it comes to religion there is no such thing as objective, no matter how certain you feel about it.

And atheism, no matter how many times you repeat it, is no more a religion than "not collecting coins" is a hobby, or "not jogging" is a sport. Ask your wife if she engages in the sport of "non-jogging".

jewish philosopher said...

"When it comes to religion there is no such thing as objective, no matter how certain you feel about it."

Which could be said about anything which has happened in the past, including who killed JFK and where Obama was really born or who your mother is.

"And atheism, no matter how many times you repeat it, is no more a religion than "not collecting coins" "

Funny how so many atheists get rich publishing books about their non-thoughts and non-opinions.

Dave said...

Since when is having an opinion a religion?
Say I write a book claiming that the Torah was written by a bunch of wise men, and not by Moses. That's not a religion.

In regards to history, indeed, the farther back you go in time, the evidence becomes weaker and more a subject of opinion. Fewer people will argue about something that happened yesterday than something from a thousand years ago. That's not very surprising.

I understand the inferiority complex that religious believers have in their anti-science views, thus their attempts to call science and atheism a religion as well.



jewish philosopher said...

Opinions about the origin of the universe, the origin of mankind and our future, if any, after death, is the essense of religion and atheists hold very strong opinions in those areas, as probably any thoughtful person does.

jewish philosopher said...

Of course atheists can insist "No, no, no. We are different because we REALLY, REALLY are right."

Well, good for you. You're not the first to think so.

Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo said...

"......I'm right about religion......."

Well, you would have to be, wouldn't you? Otherwise you are nothing but a poseur, n'est-ce pas?

".......Either I'm going to hell for eating pork or I'm not......."

Does this statement not presuppose there is a Hell?
Is there a Hell?
I've no idea, but I do know the question itself is invalid. An affirmative can be verified, but a negative one cannot. If a question cannot be either verified or falsified, it is not a valid question.
And as far as trichinosis is concerned, I wouldn't worry about it. Those Industrial Pork Operations are cleaner than Governor Chris Christie's lunch plate the day he and President Obama toured NJ. The poor man was huffing and puffing as he tried to keep up - he must have worked up a powerful hunger.

jewish philosopher said...

About heaven and hell, let's look at it like this.

If I'm wrong, what am I losing? Nothing. In over 35 years as an orthodox Jew no rabbi has ever suggested that I do anything illegal or unhealthy. Additionally, there is significant evidence that my religion is making me happier and more sober.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_and_happiness#Research

http://www.casacolumbia.org/articlefiles/379-So%20Help%20Me%20God.pdf

On the other hand, if I'm right then I'm going to heaven and you're going to hell.

The only problem would be if another religion could claim to have stronger  evidence than Judaism, however I don't that's the case.

Regarding the pork prohibition, I have my own little theory about why God prohibited it. Pork tastes like human flesh.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/the-lay-scientist/2010/sep/05/human-meat-taste-cannibal

So perhaps God wished to prohibit to his holy people even the semblance of cannibalism. 

Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo said...

".....On the other hand, if I'm right then I'm going to heaven and you're going to hell......"

You are correct - to a point. In this invalid question, the 'safe' default position would be that of a 'believer'.
But......
The divinity is all-loving, omniscient and omnipotent and it would understand my reluctance to enshroud my concord with it in an anthropogenic construct that may, or may not, be amenable to an unfettered conversation with it.
With my embrace of the liberal concepts of the 'Enlightenment' and the adoption of Kantian Ethics there is significant evidence that my individual 'rapport', untouched as it is by any 'obstacles'(read: Religions') born in the mind of Man, with the divinity is making me happier and more sober too! Though, as an Asian, my distinct lack of sufficient alcohol dehydrogenase limits my consumption to mere sips and only on special occasions.
All religions claim to be the possessors of The Truth. All cannot be right, but they can all certainly be wrong. Best to avoid them all entirely.
Humans and Divinity, that is all there is.....
Pick up the phone!
Give it a call!
It's a direct line - no machines - no service reps - no run around.
Mind you, this cannot be for everyone, alas. It takes a very strong Faith in the divinity - AND a very strong faith in your Faith in the divinity. Without this you are susceptible to the indoctrination inherent in all anthropogenic constructs that issue forth, as excreta, from the sordid mind of Man.

Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo said...

Further to my telephony metaphor:

Pick up the phone!
Give it a call!

It is wise to remember the sage words of Lily Tomlin:

“We don’t care. We don’t have to, we’re the Phone Company!”

I trust you understand that the ‘Phone Company’ in my clever missive above represents ‘anthropogenic Religions’. Yes?
Best to use a 'String and Can' of your own manufacture I reckon.

I can assure you that human flesh tastes nothing like pork. Human flesh, at least the male variety, is inherently very salty.
Pork is not.
The texture is also quite different, at least the bit I had was.
Having lived in the north of Myanmar for the first 12 years of my life - wherein my 'Tribe' were persecuted by the ruling elite(and curiously also by Aung San, the Commie and father of Suu Kyi, before SLORC and its descendants) - I have had occasion to taste roasted human male.
The divinity will understand.
The ancient prohibition on pork, and shell fish, was simply one of concern for ‘Community Health’. The poor preparation and cooking of these ‘Fruits of the divinity’ resulted in untold suffering and death. In modern times, this prohibition is absurd. Still, best to stay away from humans though.

Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo said...

Regarding the exploits of Herr Hitler you said,

"....I don't know if history has ever seen such an incredible, one might have said miraculous, individual rise to power....."

Temujin?

And dare I say it, that Jesus guy? And I know his actual existence is not historically attested.

Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo said...

Quoting and responding to 'Dave' you said,

"......."When it comes to religion there is no such thing as objective, no matter how certain you feel about it."

Which could be said about anything which has happened in the past, including who killed JFK and where Obama was really born or who your mother is....."

I know nowt about JFK or President Obama, but isn't the 'religion' of a child determined by the 'Religion' of its mother in Judaic Doctrine? In Islam, the religion of the child is predicated on the Religion of that of its father. The Jews, and rightly so, maintain that paternity can be questioned, but maternity is rather factual.

Ducky's here said...

Of course, they could easily both be wrong.

Dave said...

"If I'm wrong, what am I losing? Nothing."

But what if you're wrong about Jesus or Muhammed? They YOU will burn in hell.

jewish philosopher said...

"The divinity is all-loving, omniscient and omnipotent and it would understand"

I wouldn't bet on that.

The LORD is a jealous and avenging God, the LORD avengeth and is full of wrath; the LORD taketh vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserveth wrath for His enemies. Nahum 1:2

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt1901.htm#2

"All religions claim to be the possessors of The Truth. All cannot be right, but they can all certainly be wrong. Best to avoid them all entirely."

All doctors claim to be the possessors of the best health care advice. All cannot be right, but they can all certainly be wrong. Best to avoid them all entirely. Great idea.

"Temujin"

He was born to a chieftain.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genghis_Khan#Lineage

"Jesus"

He was virtually unknown in his lifetime and was quickly hanged.

"But what if you're wrong about Jesus or Muhammed?"

Christians and Muslims admit that God created the universe and gave the Torah publicly to the Jews at Mount Sinai, however they claim that He later on privately cancelled it, rejected the Jews and chose the more righteous Romans or Arabs instead. Sure He did.

Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo said...

"......The LORD is a jealous and avenging God, the LORD avengeth and is full of wrath; the LORD taketh vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserveth wrath for His enemies. Nahum 1:2....."

Why does this "LORD" of whom you speak prattle on in the vernacular of Elizabethan English?
Surely this LORD would not be unduly influenced by that famous infidel King James VI of Scotland and I of England would he?
Say it ain't so Joe, say it ain't so!
Besides, I am not an enemy or adversary of the divinity. Are you?

You're right about the Doctors though. As one, I wouldn't trust me as far as you could throw me - though that could be some distance mind, I weigh only 42 kgs!

"......He(jesus) was virtually unknown in his lifetime and was quickly hanged......"

This character, jesus, has not been historically attested. Therefore, there was no actual lifetime during which he could have been known. A Messiah was needed for the new Judaic cult, accordingly, one was invented.

jewish philosopher said...

The Bible is actually in Hebrew however for the sake of English speaking readers I try to stick to purely English in this blog.

Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo said...

".....I try to stick to purely English in this blog......."

Well, at least you stick to that which the unlettered Yankee refers to as "English", I'll give you that.
My query still stands; "Why Elizabethan English?" Why are texts, purportedly those of 'words' from the divinity itself. rendered in Elizabethan English?
This is not a flippant question. The answer to which is indeed enlightening.

Ezra said...

Nosson Slifkin has refuted this elsewhere