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YouTube comment reply to voncello

 

 

Re: Atheist Life vs. Religious Life (Atheists Behaving Badly), Pt. 3

 

 

 

Usually I would go through your posts one by one but you have made a lot of bogus claims and accusations all based on a misunderstanding of the points I was making so I thought I would try and explain my points again to clarify. Hopefully this will also help structure and round up the conversation a bit more while replying at the same time.

 

My working definition of God is a supernatural omniscient omnipotent and omnibenevolent divine entity that created our universe via a supernatural mechanism, reveals himself via scripture in the holy books, hears and answers prayers, rules the universe with a purpose and mediates your fate in the afterlife. ALL Abrahamic religions have that core belief about God, but like you say, they differ in the details about the nature of God. For example, they disagree on which book is the true revelation of God, whether or not Jesus was God’s son, how to interpret the holy scriptures (even within the same religion), etc. etc. For the purposes of this conversation, can we say a theist is a person who adheres at least to that belief?

 

Are you a theist?

 

I was responding to a claim you made about the Torah. You said it was very influential, scientifically accurate and that it contained good morality. I replied saying it was quite influential, but influential in a negative way. And I replied saying it was not scientifically accurate. I know that different Jews interpret the Torah in different ways. I know that some interpret it more literally than others. Some Jews, like the Karaite Jews, interpret the Torah literally and reject the interpretations of Rabinic Judaism. Some Christians also interpret it literally. Many Muslims will also interpret the Qur’an literally – it happens all the time. I was under the impression that the Peshat form of biblical exegesis was actually the original one that was dominant in the centuries BCE and that it was only later that it became interpreted and deviated from the literal face-value interpretation. What I was saying was that a LITERAL interpretation of those passages I mentioned was absurd and would imply that God is a sadistic psycho. Similarly, a LITERAL interpretation of the Torah is scientifically incoherent. Do we agree or not?

 

Now this is why my question about interpretation creeps up. You clearly seem to think that Moses existed and the he was in direct contact with God and that the events in Exodus LITERALLY happened. And you also seem to take the 10 commandments literally, right? Yet you gave me the very nice example of Noah’s ark passage being interpreted METAPHORICALL/ALLEGORICALLY so as to derive what you call a spiritual meaning. That meaning of course is much less absurd than the literal meaning but it * still * assumes the existence of God. So how exactly do you justify this belief in God? You say God is not a physical entity. So what is he, exactly? If God is indiscernible,  as you say, then how can you have knowledge about him? Please explain this. Do you believe that the Torah has divine authorship?  Explain what you mean by saying God is  nature and more. Your words were “He doesn’t think like you and me”. Again, you are making factual claims about God! Please explain, like I asked, what exactly do you think God is and how do you know this.

 

Ok, you said some passages are literal and some are not. But this is SPECIFICALLY why I asked you to specify which ones are and which ones aren’t. Your problem is that some passages simply cannot be interpreted allegorically. For example:

 

Deuteronomy 22:20-21

If a woman is not a virgin on her wedding day, then take her to her father’s doorstep and stone her to death. Don’t you tell me that’s metaphorical. It means what it means! There are MANY examples of these.

 

Similarly then, let’s go back to the issue of scientific coherency. Let me ask you a simple and fair question. How do you interpret Genesis 1? What do you think it means? You see, you are loosing touch with the fact that some people interpret these passages literally. And many people do, in fact. That is exactly why I am saying that the influence of the Torah has been negative. Because it is so easily used to motivate wars.

 

But let me ask you something else. Why didn’t God include CLEAR instructions as to how to interpret the book? Even within Judaism, there are divisions which disagree with each other. In Christianity and Islam too there are fractions that disagree with each other on HOW to interpret the books or even kill each other over it! Don’t you think it’s a bit strange God did not include ANY indication of how they are meant to be interpreted???

 

God made his bowels fall out so bad the disease was. I think that crosses the line into sickness IF interpreted literally. But again, what is your interpretation of the verse with the bowels coming out then? Peshat or not?

 

And then again, concerning the Sun and the Earth in Genesis:

 

Genesis 1:10 God called the dry land Earth - this is clearly the Earth is it not?

Genesis 1:16 That is clearly the sun, is it not?

 

How do you interpret it?

 

I was then replying to your claim about God being merciful. Well, YOU are the one who believes he created nature, not me. And I was pointing out the painfully obvious fact that there is unnecessary suffering in nature – our hardships in our evolutionary nature, natural disasters, natural pathogens, many  inherent genetic diseases etc. I think it is actually YOU who is personifying nature. Your God clearly seems to have a conscious mind does he not? That’s a very  human characteristic! I do not “want” to make God look like a man, not do I “hate” nature. That would be  absurd. I actually think nature is a neutral, non-conscious entity (or at least not conscious in a human way).

 

Ok, now onto your ridiculous  accusations. Did I EVER say ANYTHING anti-semetic in our whole conversation? No. I said that under the * literal * interpretation of some passages of the Torah, God is acting like a sadistic psycho (like making someone’s bowls fall out etc.). You then said that was anti-semetic. How exactly did you make the gargantuan and completely incoherent jump from me saying that to implying that I was being anti-semetic??? Do I have to explain for the FIFTH time that I actually really value the non-religious cultural component of Judaism and that I am ONLY contending with the epistemological validity and moral effects of its religious claims? And don’t say they are inseparable. They are. Many people like Einstein and Freud etc. managed to do it. Even I can say I have vestiges of the non-religious components of Christian  culture  etc but I do not believe in the religious doctrines of Christianity. I was clearly NOT making fun of anyone’s culture or the cherished book. I was pointing out the absurdity of some of the * literal * interpretations.

 

But my original point was that you don’t need these interpretations to be moral. We had agreed on that right? You can still be moral and even spiritual in other ways that have nothing to do with either the Torah or with God. And I am sorry, but that does not change the fact that the authors of the Torah (and the other holy scriptures of Abrahamic religions) were written by scientifically illiterate men who were probably delusional and were probably power-hungry. That is the most rational explanation for the authorship of these books. Not divine intervention.

 

Yes, we might have studied different things, but that doesn’t change the facts. Either a divine, conscious supernatural entity created nature, or it did not. Either Noah’s flood happened, or it did not. What either of us have “studied” is immaterial and so are our cultural backgrounds.

 

No. Moral laws are personal. Some people choose to take them from the Torah, some don’t. Then there are State laws, which are the laws of government. These are human constructs that have little, if anything at all, to do with the Torah. Most modern laws, even in Western societies, have no grounding on the Torah. In fact, many societies that were based on religious law such as the theocracies like those in the Dark ages and those were a complete disaster.

 

We seem to agree with separation of state and religion. In other words, we seem to agree that secularisation in the government is good. Now, why do you think it is good? I’ll tell you why. It’s because in secular nation states, the principles and laws that govern people are above those of religion. A person is first a citizen, then a Christian or a Muslim or a Jew or a Hindu. In other words, non-religious law takes precedence over religious law. Unfortunately many countries don’t do this.

 

Your claims about the influence of Jewish culture in the world are a matter of opinion. You are not  crediting the rest of the cultures in the world. On the other side of the world, Confucianists were also coming up with similar moralities like the ethic of reciprocity. And democracy was born in Athens centuries BCE and that is one of the pillars of modern government systems. I am not saying the Torah has no good moral laws. It has a few, but it also has MANY bad ones IF it is interpreted in a certain way.

 

Concerning your rabbi that you mentioned,  he was committing a linguistic fallacy, stating a mere opinion, and he was probably illiterate in science and probably delusional. No. Don’t believe me. You don’t have to. I try to justify my claims with physical evidence. Just ask for elaboration.

 

Yup, I think the beliefs of fundamentalist C and I are also degrading. Straw man.

 

Concerning your comment on laws, the distinction is very simple. One is decided by God, the other is not. You are implying God imposes his law based on whether or not you are Jewish. Is that what you are saying? When a Jew changes his country of residence, he still bound by God’s law. A non Jew, when he changes his country of residence, he changes his state law to obey the law of the country he is in. Do you not understand what the difference I am pointing out is?

 

So heaven IS open to anyone? Why then do you have to stick to the letter of the law (e.g. the 10 commandments) and “extra laws” just if you are Jewish? What exactly do you have to do to get in heaven? You are contradicting yourself again. Why  would  God treat  Jews differently and impose some “extra laws” on them?

 

Yeah we can wind it down if you want but then maybe you should stop your baseless accusations and pay attention to what I am trying to say.