Friday, June 24, 2005

The Jewish Athiest Responds

I asked The Jewish Atheist what type of atheist he is. I thank him for taking the time to write a response for me.

I few things trouble me about his answers.

Before I continue, I don't know if The Jewish Atheist is male or female but I think I picked up someone on her blog that she is a she. So I am referring to her in feminine. If this is incorrect, I will edit this post to reflect.

Technically, I am a strong atheist

First she calls herself a strong atheist when the entire essay she wrote points to herself being a weak atheist. She questions about Judaism that were not answered satisfactorily, which lead her to question Gods existence. She even concludes "I can't prove that God doesn't exist". She doesn’t lend one argument to God not existing. To me, this makes her a weak atheist even though she believes herself to be a strong one.

The six days' account of creation seemed to contradict Evolution

No it doesn’t and if you still feel it does, the Rambam says you don’t need to believe it literally.

what the firmament was. He said, "I always thought of it as the stratosphere." Huh??

You got a bad answer and you questioned further. That is very commendable. Most of the religious people I meet refuse to think.

no mention of dinosaurs or of mass extinctions (pre-Flood)

It doesn’t record what Moses had for breakfast the day before he went up the mountain. Everything needs to be recorded?

Well, so, maybe it was metaphorical. Maybe it was just a pretty story. But then what about the rest of the Torah? Was the Flood just a story? How about Abraham? I was a big reader of fiction as well as science books and the stories in the Torah certainly read like fiction. Don't Adam and Eve, Cain and Able, Isaac and Ishmael, Isaac and Esau sound like fiction? Aren't they a little too pat to be historical record? Joseph and the multicolored coat? Come on, now. What about Egypt? How do I know that even happened?

We don’t know for sure that any story happened. I don’t think it changes my belief system at all. What if it is all a story and not factual? What if God made it up? So what? I don’t think it would change anything. The torah is used as a tool to get laws from. That’s really it. Who cares if we get the laws from truths or stories?

But if God wrote the Torah, or if God even talked to Moses, or talked to anyone, why didn't He take some easy steps to alleviate suffering? Couldn't he have just explained about tiny, invisible bugs that cause illness? If God exists at all, why does He allow such misery in the world? Why the earthquakes?

Some would say because the things we perceive as bad and good are just part of Gods reward and punishment system. I don't agree with that necessarily. I don't know if all the things you listed are really bad. They are just interpreted as bad. Maybe they are good. Maybe 'suffering' in this world leads to a better eternity after life? Who can say why good things and bad things happen. You ask the same question Moses asked. People tell me to look in Iyov(Job). I never have. I wont fib an answer to you like you have gotten from your Rabbis. I will straight out tell you that I don't know. But me not knowing doesn’t hinder my belief in God. God has reasons. I am not God. I don't know them.

If God exists at all, why does He allow such misery in the world...Why the holocaust and child slavery?

Are you asking why God didn’t create a Utopia? Why do your arguments stop at the holocaust; why not push is further and ask why did God make killers, why did God make people get mad, why did God make people disagree, why didn’t God make people all think the same, why didn’t God create a world of robots instead of people with the ability to choose... God wants us to choose our direction.

Why does the Torah hate gay people so much? Why does it allow slavery and condone genocide (e.g. of the Midionites and Amalek?) Even if it's not literal, even if the Torah is just allegory, and even if God inspired it rather than dictated it, shouldn't it be a better book? Shouldn't it be more moral?

The torah isn’t a moral book. Morals are determined by humans. The laws from the book aren’t based on Morals. What the heck is Kasharus about for goodness sake? Don’t know. Don’t care. It’s the law derived from the law book(not history book).

I read about other religions, past and present. I wondered, did the Greeks and Romans literally believe in their mythologies? How were my Rabbis so sure that the Torah is true but the New Testament is false? Why were the Muslims as confident that they're right as we were that we were? Wasn't it unlikely that I was just born into the right denomination of the one true religion? Didn't Muslims and Baptists and Catholics all think the same thing? Why hadn't all the smartest, best, and most learned people in the world converted to Orthodox Judaism if it's so obvious that we were right?

‘Cause it’s a belief. Its not knowledge. I can ask the same about atheism. “why aren’t all the top scholars atheists”?

Long ago before videorecorders and Richter scales, Moses supposedly split a sea. Before we knew that the Earth rotates, the Greeks believed a god pulled the sun around the earth each day. The Egyptians thought the sun was God. Jesus supposedly walked on water.

Also, Chazal thought the earth was flat. The rabbis can be wrong and they are. We only need follow them with regard to law. Nothing else. Not science, history, astrology. Nothing. Just law.