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Posted: 13 April 2007 05:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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While I agree that most of what we would consider the history of antisemitism has been Christian and Muslim bigotry against Jews, the Jewish people themselves would probably trace their own oppression farther back than Christ. And it seems there is some evidence for anti-Jewish prejudice that predates Christianity as an important political force and religion (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisemitism). So I think it’s over-simplifying to assert the old “Jews killed Christ” idea as the root of anti-semitism. I think the idea is largely a post-hoc rationalisation for Christian anti-semitism itself, and that the roots of anti-jewish bigotry have more to do with a resentment of their cultural cohesiveness and insularity, their refusal to conform or assimilate to the dominant culture and yet their persistence as a people.  Not to mention that the economic dependance, to some degree, of powerful Christians during the time when usury prohibitions left important economic activities and power in the control of an already despised minority would have increased resentment against the Jews, and formed the origin of the “rich Jew” stereotype.

As for the racial theories that Hitler applied to the Jews, I wonder if that was sincere on his part or a political ploy to create both a dangerous internal “Other” and a notion of guaranteed racial desiny and superiority that could be used to generate support for his regime and encourage the behavior he wanted and needed from the Germans to take and hold power. Not that there weren’t people who came to truly believe these ideas, but I can see antisemitism working for HItler the way the Red Scare worked for McCarethy in the U.S.

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Posted: 13 April 2007 05:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Thomas:

He is going to be a guest on Point of Inquiry about the book. I am persuaded by him and I think D.J. is too. Of course, Hitchen’s arguments rub some of our people the wrong way, and a number of people at CFI disagreed with him on his position on Iraq.

Its definitely worth discussing more.

I certainly wouldn’t give Hitchen’s book a thought.  If Dawkins’s ‘God’ book and Harris’ ‘Faith’ book are merely fundie atheist diatribes which do little to forward the humanist movement - and they are and they don’t - I can only imagine what a man who is still defending Bush’s WMD claims here in 2007, and who - like other fundie atheists - still thinks 9/11 was all about religion - will do to dig the humanist movement even further into the ground. 

It’s time for we humanists to seperate ourselves from these foolish arguements made by anti-humanistic angry atheists before humanism falls under the “new” atheist umbrella instead of atheism being a minor point of humanism!

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Posted: 13 April 2007 06:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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[quote author=“mckenzievmd”]While I agree that most of what we would consider the history of antisemitism has been Christian and Muslim bigotry against Jews, the Jewish people themselves would probably trace their own oppression farther back than Christ. And it seems there is some evidence for anti-Jewish prejudice that predates Christianity as an important political force and religion (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisemitism). So I think it’s over-simplifying to assert the old “Jews killed Christ” idea as the root of anti-semitism. I think the idea is largely a post-hoc rationalisation for Christian anti-semitism itself, and that the roots of anti-jewish bigotry have more to do with a resentment of their cultural cohesiveness and insularity, their refusal to conform or assimilate to the dominant culture and yet their persistence as a people.  Not to mention that the economic dependance, to some degree, of powerful Christians during the time when usury prohibitions left important economic activities and power in the control of an already despised minority would have increased resentment against the Jews, and formed the origin of the “rich Jew” stereotype.

This is really poor scholarship. If you look through the ancient texts you can find insults directed at pretty much every group of people by every group of people. People are going through finding comments directed against Jews and calling this “early antisemitism”, but in reality you can find similar comments about every group, especially coming from the Greeks and Romans. They commented against all of the “barbarians” around them. The Greeks looked down on a lot of different people.

The Romans laws and comments against Jews in the 1st and 2nd century were based purely on real conditions and a real issues. The Jews were refusing to integrate into the Roman Empire, so specific conflict arose there. They were basically enemies for a time.

This is very different from the systemic and ideological antisemitism of the Christian era. Christian antisemitism stemmed from the idea that God had taken his favor away from the Jews and now created a new covenant, which they refused to follow. The Jews were also claimed to be responsible for “killing Jesus”.

The Bible became a source for massive hatred of “the Jews”, even among people who had never seen a Jew in their life. Tons of laws were passed against Jews, the likes of which had never been seen before, which forbid Jews of marrying Christians, forbid Jews of owning property, forbid Jews of holding certain types of jobs, etc, etc. Why? Because they didn’t accept Jesus. These are all laws that stemmed from the Holy See.

Many people who have not read the Bible don’t realize how anti-Jewish it is, EVEN THE OLD TESTAMENT! What people don’t realize is that Jewish culture was a failing culture on the eve of the birth of Christianity, because Jews were fighting among themselves so much over how to worship God, and this is played out in a lot of the Old Testament scriptures, and there are a lot of OT scriptures that are extremely, virulently, anti-Jewish. Talking about how God is going to horribly destroy the Jews, and how the Jews are miserable creatures that don’t deserve to live, and God is going to wipe their seed from the face of the earth, and slaughter their babies, etc., etc.

For Christians, the New Testament is the fulfillment of all of these “prophecies”, and as far as they were concerned the Jews were the worst scum on earth, BECAUSE THE BIBLE SAYS SO.

Some examples:

Malachi 2:
“And now this admonition is for you, O priests. 2 If you do not listen, and if you do not set your heart to honor my name,” says the LORD Almighty, “I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not set your heart to honor me.

3 “Because of you I will rebuke your descendants ; I will spread on your faces the offal from your festival sacrifices, and you will be carried off with it. 4 And you will know that I have sent you this admonition so that my covenant with Levi may continue,” says the LORD Almighty. 5 “My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin.

7 “For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction—because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty. 8 But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,” says the LORD Almighty. 9 “So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law.”

10 Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our fathers by breaking faith with one another?

11 Judah has broken faith. A detestable thing has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem: Judah has desecrated the sanctuary the LORD loves, by marrying the daughter of a foreign god. 12 As for the man who does this, whoever he may be, may the LORD cut him off from the tents of Jacob—even though he brings offerings to the LORD Almighty.

Hosea 9:
1 Do not rejoice, O Israel; do not be jubilant like the other nations. For you have been unfaithful to your God; ...
7 The days of punishment are coming, the days of reckoning are at hand. Let Israel know this. Because your sins are so many and your hostility so great, the prophet is considered a fool, the inspired man a maniac.
8 The prophet, along with my God, is the watchman over Ephraim, yet snares await him on all his paths, and hostility in the house of his God.
9 They have sunk deep into corruption, as in the days of Gibeah. God will remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins.
10 ‘When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the desert; when I saw your fathers, it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree. But when they came to Baal Peor, they consecrated themselves to that shameful idol and became as vile as the thing they loved.
11 Ephraim’s glory will fly away like a bird—no birth, no pregnancy, no conception.
12 Even if they rear children, I will bereave them of every one. Woe to them when I turn away from them!
13 I have seen Ephraim, like Tyre, planted in a pleasant place. But Ephraim will bring out their children to the slayer.”
14 Give them, O LORD—what will you give them? Give them wombs that miscarry and breasts that are dry.
15 “Because of all their wickedness in Gilgal, I hated them there. Because of their sinful deeds, I will drive them out of my house. I will no longer love them; all their leaders are rebellious.
16 Ephraim is blighted, their root is withered, they yield no fruit. Even if they bear children, I will slay their cherished offspring.’
17 My God will reject them because they have not obeyed him;

Amos 2:
1 This is what the LORD says:
    “For three sins of Moab,
    even for four, I will not turn back {my wrath}.
    Because he burned, as if to lime,
    the bones of Edom’s king,
2 I will send fire upon Moab
    that will consume the fortresses of Kerioth.
    Moab will go down in great tumult
    amid war cries and the blast of the trumpet.
3 I will destroy her ruler
    and kill all her officials with him,”
    says the LORD.
4 This is what the LORD says:
    “For three sins of Judah,
    even for four, I will not turn back {my wrath}.
    Because they have rejected the law of the LORD
    and have not kept his decrees,
    because they have been led astray by false gods,
    the gods their ancestors followed,
5 I will send fire upon Judah
    that will consume the fortresses of Jerusalem.”
6 This is what the LORD says:
    “For three sins of Israel,
    even for four, I will not turn back {my wrath}.
    They sell the righteous for silver,
    and the needy for a pair of sandals.
7 They trample on the heads of the poor
    as upon the dust of the ground
    and deny justice to the oppressed.
    Father and son use the same girl
    and so profane my holy name.
8 They lie down beside every altar
    on garments taken in pledge.
    In the house of their god
    they drink wine taken as fines.
9 “I destroyed the Amorite before them,
    though he was tall as the cedars
    and strong as the oaks.
    I destroyed his fruit above
    and his roots below.
10 “I brought you up out of Egypt,
    and I led you forty years in the desert
    to give you the land of the Amorites.
11 I also raised up prophets from among your sons
    and Nazirites from among your young men.
    Is this not true, people of Israel?”
    declares the LORD.
12 “But you made the Nazirites drink wine
    and commanded the prophets not to prophesy.
13 “Now then, I will crush you
    as a cart crushes when loaded with grain.
14 The swift will not escape,
    the strong will not muster their strength,
    and the warrior will not save his life.
15 The archer will not stand his ground,
    the fleet-footed soldier will not get away,
    and the horseman will not save his life.
16 Even the bravest warriors
    will flee naked on that day,”
    declares the LORD.

All of these passages are actually referred to in the New Testament as well, thus again, Christian saw this as prophecy fulfilled and the Jews were now God’s hated people.

The 2,000 years of consistent oppression of Jews in Europe from the time of Christianity wasn’t just some thing that happened because Jews liked to wear curly hair and be different, or some such nonsense, there is a lot of deeply rooted theology involved in the laws passed against Jews under Christian rule. Again, I’ve already provided links that address some of this information. Here is a link from one of the links, but I’ll post it here to make it more direct:

http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/HistoryJewishPersecution.htm

We are talking about a 2,000 year on-going pattern of behavior that was supported by the highest Christian institutions, indeed encouraged by them, over this period of time.

As for the racial theories that Hitler applied to the Jews, I wonder if that was sincere on his part or a political ploy to create both a dangerous internal “Other” and a notion of guaranteed racial desiny and superiority that could be used to generate support for his regime and encourage the behavior he wanted and needed from the Germans to take and hold power. Not that there weren’t people who came to truly believe these ideas, but I can see antisemitism working for HItler the way the Red Scare worked for McCarethy in the U.S.

I have always been puzzled why it seems that everyone want to believe that Hitler didn’t believe anything he ever said, and that everything he did was simply orchestrated to achieve a result, which of course no one ever says what that intended result was, presuming that it was something other than what all of his efforts were focused on…

Hitler was genuinely antisemitic, and he genuinely supported and believed in eugenics, indeed some of the underlying theory of eugenics and the arguments put forward by the Nazis aren’t even all bad. One of the arguments they put forward for medical eugenics was the reduction of suffering.

This is very easy to ascertain simply by reading Hitler’s early writings from before he was in power, and his personal diaries, etc. Hitler was writings personal letters about how bad the Jews and Marxism were during World War I, when he was a nobody. The majority of people in Europe and America hated Jews during the first half of the 20th century, why people want to claim that Hitler wasn’t one of them, and that instead he rally didn’t care about Jews, but only claimed that he hated them to gain power I have no idea.

Lot’s of people hated Jews at that time, indeed one of the main arguments against the Jews was blaming them for the problems of Christianity at the time. They blamed the Jews for the rising apostasy and the rising secularism. Again, the fascists abolished secularism in Spain, Italy, and Germany and reinstituted state religion, once again going back to the main point, that these were religious movements.

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Posted: 14 April 2007 01:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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[quote author=“Barry”]...Dawkins’s ‘God’ book and Harris’ ‘Faith’ book are merely fundie atheist diatribes which do little to forward the humanist movement - and they are and they don’t [...] It’s time for we humanists to seperate ourselves from these foolish arguements made by anti-humanistic angry atheists before humanism falls under the “new” atheist umbrella instead of atheism being a minor point of humanism!

Here’s a response i wrote on another board:

After having read both Dawkins’ The God Delusion and Harris’ The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation as well as watching both episodes of Dawkins’ documentary The Root of all Evil?* and listening to all the podcasts i could find, I don’t think their criticisms of religion goes particularly far at all. As Dawkins himself puts it, the only reason the criticisms are perceived as extreme is because it is a taboo as well as politically incorrect to challenge faith, which happens to be one of the main problems Dawkins and Harris criticize in their books.
(* Incidentally Dawkins himself was strongly opposed to the title Root of all Evil? on the grounds that “Nothing is the root of ‘all anything’.”)

Some critics seem to think that reaching a conclusion which is very unfavourable to religion is automatically extreme in itself, no matter how it was derived. I don’t accept that. Once we judge the actual content of Christianity, Islam or Judaism by the same standard as everything else, it is hard to escape the conclusion that they are every bit as irrational, immoral and harmful as portrayed by Dawkins and Harris. The questions we need to ask ourselves are:

1. Is there a causal connection* between specific religious beliefs and specific undesirable behaviours, whether it is suicide bombings, stoning, discrimination against women, antiscience, letting your children die rather than allowing necessary medical treatment etc.?
2. If such a connection exists, does this make it indefensible to rely on faith at all?

(* With “causal connection” I don’t mean a one-to-one correlation. All I mean is that - other things being equal - the addition of the belief significantly increases the likelihood of unwanted behaviour.)

Like Dawkins and Harris I think the answer to the first question must be yes. Now, I am not making the argument that any specific religion is bad because some people who just happen to belong to that religion also do bad things. That is a complete straw man, but I hear this exact objection so often that it needs to be exposed of.

What I am saying, however, is that believing certain things gives you a strong motivation to do bad things that you would not have had otherwise. Take for example the following set of beliefs:

It’s as if a very high, impenetrable wall separated you from Paradise or Hell [”] Allah has promised one or the other to his creatures. So, by pressing the detonator, you can immediately open the door to Paradise—it is the shortest path to Heaven [”] In any case, we get to meet the Prophet and his companions, inshallah [”] We were floating, swimming, in the feeling that we were about to enter eternity. We had no doubts. We made an oath on the Koran, in the presence of Allah—a pledge not to waver. This jihad pledge is called bayt al-ridwan, after the garden in Paradise that is reserved for the prophets and the martyrs. I know that there are other ways to do jihad. But this one is sweet—the sweetest. All martyrdom operations, if done for Allah ‘s sake, hurt less than a gnat’s bite [”] Tomorrow, we will be martyrs, [...] Only the believers know what this means. I love martyrdom [”] Are you ready? Tomorrow, you will be in Paradise [”] the first drop of blood shed by a martyr during jihad washes away his sins instantaneously. On the Day of Judgment, he will face no reckoning. On the Day of Resurrection, he can intercede for 70 of his nearest and dearest to enter Heaven; and he will have at his disposal 72 houris, the beautiful virgins of Paradise [”] We focus his attention on Paradise, on being in the presence of Allah, on meeting the Prophet Muhammad, on interceding for his loved ones so that they, too, can be saved from the agonies of Hell, on the houris [”] It [the fear ] comes from his fervent desire for success, which will propel him into the presence of Allah [”] Inshallah, we will meet in Paradise.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,7-1692606,00.html

Honestly: If all this was definitely true, and you knew it to be true, what would you do? Would it even be reasonable to not be a jihadist given this set of premises? One problem with faith is that it allows people to think and act as if such propositions were true even if they are not. Extremism is simply what follows, quite naturally, from that.

Now we can probably argue till the end of the world about whether all this talk of martyrdom and paradise is merely an alibi for some obscure political or ethnical motives or whether the jihadists actually believe what they claim to believe. If someone makes the former argument, I have to respectfully disagree, but I am prepared to be proven wrong. In fact nothing would please me more, because it would make our situation seem far less scary than it currently does. But I am going to take some serious convincing.

If, on the other hand, the jihadists really do believe what they claim to believe, then I can see no way that they would not be motivated by it. Assuming that they just don’t care whether they will have an eternity of bliss or an eternity of suffering is simply not a reasonable option.

Of course the specific doctrines of jihad and martyrdom etc. are only two random examples of beliefs which, if held too strongly, increase the likelihood of harmful behaviours. Other examples include the Sharia and Mosaic laws, the apocalypse, hell, the sinfulness of medicine or condom use etc.

Now let’s look at the 2nd question above: Assuming that religious beliefs really do have the power to cause harmful behaviour, does this mean there is something wrong with faith in general?

Like Dawkins and Harris I think the answer to this question has to be yes as well, and this is where I think even many skeptics misunderstand their argument completely: It is not based on the generalisation that “some religions are harmful therefore they all are”. The problem with religion in general is not the specific contents of particular religious beliefs, but the method of thought by which they are derived.

In Carl Sagan’s excellent Demon-Hunted World he quotes the following parable:

A shipowner was about to send to sea an emigrant ship. He knew that she was old, and not overwell built at the first, that she had seen many seas and climes, and had often needed repairs. Doubts had been suggested to him that possibly she was not seaworthy. These doubts preyed upon his mind, and made him unhappy, he thought that perhaps he ought to have her thoroughly overhauled and refitted, even though this should put him to great expence. Before the ship sailed, however, he succeeded in overcoming these melancholy reflections. He said to himself that she had gone safely through so many voyages and weathered so many storms, that it was idle to suppose that she would not come safely home from this trip also. He would put his trust in providence, which could hardly fail to protect all these unhappy families that were leaving their fatherland to seek for better times elsewhere. He would dismiss from his mind all ungenerous suspicions about the honesty of the builders and contractors. In such a way he aquired a sincere and comfortable conviction that his vessel was thoroughly safe and seaworthy, he watched her departure with a light heart, and benevolent wishes for the success of the exiles in their strange new home that was to be; and he got his insurance money when she went down in mid-ocean and told no tales.

What shall we say of him? Surely this, that he was verily guilty of death of those men. It is admitted that he did sincerily believe in the soundness of his ship, but the sincerity of his conviction can in nowise help him, because he had no right to believe on such evidence as was before him. He had acquired his belief not by honestly earning it in patient investigation, but by stifling his doubts.
William K. Clifford

The Ethichs of Belief

(1874)

Would the shipowner’s method of thought be any more pardonable if the ship had arrived safely? I really don’t think so, since that would not in any way be thanks to him. This is essentially the same reason why I am hostile to faith in all its ugly shapes. 

What Dawkins, Harris and my humble self are attacking is not simply just wrong beliefs but belief for the wrong reasons. It is a method of thought that gives certainty without discriminating between true and false claims. Because that way it really is more or less by accident (at least with respect to what is actually true) what you might end up believing, and once you believe it strongly, you will act as if it was true whether it is jainism or jihadism. That is the problem.

As far as i can tell most of the accusations against Dawkins and Harris amount to little more than moral indignation, ad hominems and straw men. A criticism that must be taken seriously, however, is the argument that it is unstrategic to bee too uncompromising. As Michael Shermer has pointed out you are not going to start a constructive dialogue with the belivers by telling them their most cherished beliefs are nonsense. You are not going to achieve anything by alienating your listener.

I definitely see where Shermer is going with this argument. I just don’t agree. While I normally both respect and admire people like Shermer, i am inclined to think they are a part of the problem when it comes to religion. Why? Because they keep giving legitimacy to the old rules of discourse which i see as the main obstacle preventing us us from changing our situation. As long as the political correctness and taboo against criticizing religion remains, i see no hope of improvement.

It is not as if the appeasment-approach of people like Shermer hasn’t been tried. It is basically what we have been doing all along and it has already failed miserably. If you are satisfied with the way things are now - if you think our way of dealing with religion in the past has been a tremendous success and want nothing more than to keep the status quo, then go ahead and listen to the appeasement-crowd, because that really is the only appoach they are willing to consider.

I strongly disagree that Dawkins and Harris haven’t accomplished anything. Most importantly they have done more than anyone else to get the conflict between faith and reason out into the open, secondly they have encouraged atheists all over the world to become more outspoken, and finally they have actually managed to convert a few believers.

Like Penn Jillette i feel uncomfortable whenever skeptics start talking about which strategy is most effective for persuading true believers. I always prefered playing with open cards and giving people your honest opinion. I actually find the plain speech of Dawkins, Harris, Randi, Jillette etc. far more respectful than all the other discrete and subtle forms of manipulation.

Finally, I am far from uncritical of Sam Harris, and it is not difficult to find examples of topics about which he and I would disagree , but the dangers of faith is not one of them.

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Posted: 14 April 2007 01:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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I will probably check out Hitchens’ book when i am through with the tons of other books waiting on my shelf. Just because i think he is dead wrong on the Iraq-issue, doesn’t mean he is wrong about everything else. Personally i am so fed up with political correctness that it is a relief to hear someone actually make an honest statement. His appeal in defence of free speech at the University of Toronto gave me goosebumps, especially the last minutes.

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Posted: 14 April 2007 05:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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rationalrevolution,

Your argument that everybody badmouthed everybody else, so anti-Jewish hatred wasn’t “real” antisemitism doesn’t make much sense. I’m not saying religious antipathies play no role in anti-semitism, but I still believe the argument that ultimate foundation for it is rooted in the “they killed Jesus” argument is oversimplifying. I doubt we’ll agree, since in past discussions you’ve shown a blief that religion is the root of all evil, but people find all kinds of other reasons to hate each other too.

What people don’t realize is that Jewish culture was a failing culture on the eve of the birth of Christianity

Not sure how you would describe the JEws as a “failing” culture 2000 odd years ago, since they’re certainly still alive and well today. Clearly sectarian animosities were powerful in old testament times, and therre are still strong conflicts between sects within Judaism today, but as a culture they are remarkably cohesive and resilient.

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Posted: 14 April 2007 06:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Sam:

Hitchens engages in hate speech post 9/11, and not free speech.

And Shermer’s approach to religion is not any more enlightened than Dawkins’ or Harris’ - though at least he doesn’t resort to immature name calling like Dawkins does, or condone torture like Harris does ... and at least he does not think religion is the root of most evil such as re terrorism.. Or does he?

Anyway, the point is that these folks’ arguments are parochial and not very different from 19th century arguments which miss most of the points about religious people and human nature itself.  Their diatribes may be fun for angry atheists, but really useless beyond angering people.  Shermer’s work, I agree, is not as “angry” and parochial, but it is just as useless.  His work on skepticism in general is far better.

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Posted: 14 April 2007 07:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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fundie atheist diatribes…foolish arguements…anti-humanistic angry atheists…hate speech post 9/11…immature name calling…“angry” and parochial…just as useless

To me you sound pretty angry yourself. Surely you must have something more substantial to back up your claims than unspecified accusations and negatively loaded adjectives? If Dawkins’ and Harris’ views on religion make them angry “fundie atheists”, then so am I. Since you obviously know the right way to deal with religion, perhaps you could be so kind to enlighten me in my ignorance?

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Posted: 14 April 2007 09:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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[quote author=“mckenzievmd”]
Your argument that everybody badmouthed everybody else, so anti-Jewish hatred wasn’t “real” antisemitism doesn’t make much sense. I’m not saying religious antipathies play no role in anti-semitism, but I still believe the argument that ultimate foundation for it is rooted in the “they killed Jesus” argument is oversimplifying. I doubt we’ll agree, since in past discussions you’ve shown a blief that religion is the root of all evil, but people find all kinds of other reasons to hate each other too.

It has nothing to do with thinking that religion is the root of all evil, it has to do with the facts of who passed laws, when, why, and how they were enforced, and the attitudes of Christians over the centuries towards Jews.

Are you blaming Jews here? Is that what you are claiming, that this is the fault of Jews? That they have brought antisemitism on themselves and Christians aren’t at fault?

Not sure how you would describe the JEws as a “failing” culture 2000 odd years ago, since they’re certainly still alive and well today. Clearly sectarian animosities were powerful in old testament times, and therre are still strong conflicts between sects within Judaism today, but as a culture they are remarkably cohesive and resilient.

So the Greeks weren’t successful 2,000 years ago, because they aren’t successful now? This isn’t any kind of mysterious history, this is common knowledge for students of either Jewish history or ancient Mediterranean history.

The ancient Jews weren’t a very successful people when compared to the surrounding cultures, and during the 1st and 2nd century in particular their culture was almost completely destroyed. Judea was destroyed in 70 CE, most Jews were taken into slavery. They staged another failed revolt in 135 CE, and again were badly beaten.

For 300 years prior to all that though they fought horribly among themselves, largely because of their religion, which was far more strict than most other people. Many Jews left the religion frequently. It wasn’t a popular or well adhered to culture or belief system, and simply reading the Old Testament shows this.

1 Kings 18:
20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
    But the people said nothing.

22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the LORD’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let them choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”

1 Maccabees:
11: In those days lawless men came forth from Israel, and misled many, saying, “Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles round about us, for since we separated from them many evils have come upon us.”
12: This proposal pleased them,
13: and some of the people eagerly went to the king. He authorized them to observe the ordinances of the Gentiles.
14: So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, according to Gentile custom,
15: and removed the marks of circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant. They joined with the Gentiles and sold themselves to do evil.
...
41: Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people,
42: and that each should give up his customs.
43: All the Gentiles accepted the command of the king. Many even from Israel gladly adopted his religion;

The whole last half of the Old Testament practically is nothing but admonishments against the Jews for not following the ways of God, and talk about how God is going to destroy the people of Israel.

If it weren’t for the fact that Christianity, an offshoot of Judaism, became the dominant religion of Europe, the Jews would probably be unknown today.

The oldest copies of the Old Testament, aside from the recently discovered Dead Sea Scrolls, are all from Christian sources. The oldest Jewish copy aside from the DSS is from the 10th century.

When you look at the laws in Europe from the 5th century to the 10th century, you see that they absolutely outlaw “paganism” and they come down hard on Jews, but not to the point of totally eliminating them.

There was a sort of respect for Judaism, to the point of allowing it to exist, but not to the point of treating Jews well.

Id also recommend that you read John 8 and John 18-19, NT scriptures that have been used by Christians to justify hatred of Jews ever since they were written.

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Posted: 14 April 2007 02:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Are you blaming Jews here? Is that what you are claiming, that this is the fault of Jews? That they have brought antisemitism on themselves and Christians aren’t at fault?

Obviously not. What I am suggesting is that the reasons for Christian anti-semitism is not all, or even primarily religious antipathy. Thought I was pretty clear about that, so while you are welcome to disagree, try not to egregiously misinterpret my position.

The whole last half of the Old Testament practically is nothing but admonishments against the Jews for not following the ways of God, and talk about how God is going to destroy the people of Israel.

You seem to rely on the Old Testament as a pretty accurate historical record. Bit dodgy if you ask me. Anyway, the point I was making was that I don’t see any logic to calling the Jews a “failing culture.” All the internicine strife described in the Bible, even if historically accurate (which I don’t take as a given) hardly justifies calling a culture “failing” that is alive and well 2 millenia later. You seem to be suggesting that the very Christians you accuse of being the source of anti-semitism are the only reason Jewish culture has survived at all. I’m not convinced.

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Posted: 14 April 2007 05:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Sam:

To me you sound pretty angry yourself. Surely you must have something more substantial to back up your claims than unspecified accusations and negatively loaded adjectives? If Dawkins’ and Harris’ views on religion make them angry “fundie atheists”, then so am I. Since you obviously know the right way to deal with religion, perhaps you could be so kind to enlighten me in my ignorance?

Sorry Sam, I did not mean my short post to come off angry.  You have not read my many posts on Dawkin’s and Harris’s approach; and to be frank, many who I have discussed this with on said threads have frustrated me to no end in how they have either missed my points altogether (while calling themselves humanists and not just atheists), or how some have even likened me to an apologist for religious fundementalism.  So what you saw in my post was frustration, and not anger… but frustration aimed at the wrong place, and I apologize for that :oops: 

Please do look at the Religion and/or Humanism sections to see the details of my thinking here.

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Posted: 15 April 2007 02:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Thanks Barry,
no offence taken.  :D I did’t mean to come off as aggressive. I am just fed up with hearing that i am “no better than the fundamentalists” just because i apply the same standards of rationality and morals to religious beliefs as in every other area. As i see it a religion is a set of ideas, and an idea can never be a victim of intolerance. Intolerance towards individuals or ethnic groups is another matter all togehther, but ideas are free game, as they must be in a functioning democracy.

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Posted: 15 April 2007 05:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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[quote author=“mckenzievmd”]Obviously not. What I am suggesting is that the reasons for Christian anti-semitism is not all, or even primarily religious antipathy. Thought I was pretty clear about that, so while you are welcome to disagree, try not to egregiously misinterpret my position.

Well, I will say that you are wrong, and all of the facts show that you are wrong. Your position is not supported by anything other than baseless beliefs.

You seem to rely on the Old Testament as a pretty accurate historical record.

#1 I’m using the OT because its an easily accessible primary source for the purpose of this discussion.

#2 The later books of the OT are widely accepted as representative of the cultural happenings among Jews at that time. The books of Maccabees are primarily historical books anyway. They weren’t writing about their culture being in turmoil at a time when in fact it was really thriving, hardly….

The same issues are discussed by Philo, Josephus, Justus of Tiberius, etc. Josephus goes into detail about the sorry state of Jewish affairs, describing all of the infighting taking place among the priests, the degradation of the higher institutions, etc.

What I’m telling you is nothing controversial, it is standard knowledge.

I have no idea why you think modern success has anything to do with the state of a culture 2,000+ years ago.

Bit dodgy if you ask me. Anyway, the point I was making was that I don’t see any logic to calling the Jews a “failing culture.”

It was a failing culture at that time, and any knowledge of the historical facts would make this apparent. The Jews were fighting among themselves, their priesthood was corrupt, they had a lot of scandals at the Temple, people were leaving the religion in droves, Hebrew almost became extinct, virtually all Jews spoke Greek, they were conquered and subjugated repeatedly, and then in 70 CE Judea was completely destroyed. What is so hard to understand?

It’s very doubtful that if Christianity hadn’t come along that Judaism would even exist today at all. If it did still remain, it would be obscure and unknown, like hundreds of other minor religions in the Mediterranean region today.

Jews have no special importance to anyone other than Christians and Muslims. If those religions never came along, they wouldn’t stand out in any way.

All the internicine strife described in the Bible, even if historically accurate (which I don’t take as a given) hardly justifies calling a culture “failing” that is alive and well 2 millenia later.

This makes no sense at all. Can you not comprehend that cultures ebb a flow? Greek paganism was thriving at the time. The fact that it isn’t thriving today saying nothing at all about the state of the culture 2,000 years ago.

For that matter Christianity was struggling for the first 200 years. Are you now going to claim that because Christianity is the dominant religion in the world today that it must never have struggled in the past? You aren’t making an ounce of sense, and worse, you aren’t displaying any knowledge of the historical facts that are are relevant to the discussion, you are just making things up based on a whim.

You seem to be suggesting that the very Christians you accuse of being the source of anti-semitism are the only reason Jewish culture has survived at all. I’m not convinced.

It’s pretty simple, and this isn’t a discussion of philosophy or logic, this is a discussion of historical facts.

Take the Code of Justinian for example:

  CONCERNING THE MOST EXALTED TRINITY AND THE CATHOLIC FAITH, AND PROVIDING THAT NO ONE SHALL DARE TO PUBLICLY OPPOSE THEM.

  1. The Emperors Gratian, Valentinian, and Theodosius to the people of the City of Constantinople.

  We desire that all peoples subject to Our benign Empire shall live under the same religion that the Divine Peter, the Apostle, gave to the Romans, and which the said religion declares was introduced by himself, and which it is well known that the Pontiff Damasus, and Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic sanctity, embraced; that is to say, in accordance with the rules of apostolic discipline and the evangelical doctrine, we should believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit constitute a single Deity, endowed with equal majesty, and united in the Holy Trinity.

  (1) We order all those who follow this law to assume the name of Catholic Christians, and considering others as demented and insane, We order that they shall bear the infamy of heresy; and when the Divine vengeance which they merit has been appeased, they shall afterwards be punished in accordance with Our resentment, which we have acquired from the judgment of Heaven.

  Dated at Thessalonica, on the third of the Kalends of March, during the Consulate of Gratian, Consul for the fifth time, and Theodosius.

  2. The Same Emperors to Eutropius, Pr torian Prefect.

  Let no place be afforded to heretics for the conduct of their ceremonies, and let no occasion be offered for them to display the insanity of their obstinate minds. Let all persons know that if any privilege has been fraudulently obtained by means of any rescript whatsoever, by persons of this kind, it will not be valid. Let all bodies of heretics be prevented from holding unlawful assemblies, and let the name of the only and the greatest God be celebrated everywhere, and let the observance of the Nicene Creed, recently transmitted by Our ancestors, and firmly established by the testimony and practice of Divine Religion, always remain secure.

  (1) Moreover, he who is an adherent of the Nicene Faith, and a true believer in the Catholic religion, should be understood to be one who believes that Almighty God and Christ, the Son of God, are one person, God of God, Light of Light; and let no one, by rejection, dishonor the Holy Spirit, whom we expect, and have received from the Supreme Parent of all things, in whom the sentiment of a pure and undefiled faith flourishes, as well as the belief in the undivided substance of a Holy Trinity, which true believers indicate by the Greek word .... These things, indeed, do not require further proof, and should be respected.

  (2) Let those who do not accept these doctrines cease to apply the name of true religion to their fraudulent belief; and let them be branded with their open crimes, and, having been removed from the threshhold of all churches, be utterly excluded from them, as We forbid all heretics to hold unlawful assemblies within cities. If, however, any seditious outbreak should be attempted, We order them to be driven outside the walls of the City, with relentless violence, and We direct that all Catholic churches, throughout the entire world, shall be placed under the control of the orthodox bishops who have embraced the Nicene Creed.

  Given at Constantinople, on the fourth of the Ides of January, under the Consulate of Flavius Eucharius and Flavius Syagrius.
 
  ...
  12. The Same to John, Pr torian Prefect.

  We order that Our Divine Decree by which We have ordered that no one who accepts the error of heretics can receive an estate, a legacy, or a trust, shall also apply to the last wills of soldiers, whether they are made under the Common, or military law.

  Given, on the Kalends of September, after the Consulate of Lampadius and Orestes, during the second year of the reign of Justinian, 535.
  ...
  CONCERNING THE PAGANS, THEIR SACRIFICES, AND THEIR TEMPLES.

  1. The Emperor Constantius to Taurus, Pr torian Prefect.

  We have determined that the temples shall be immediately closed in all cities, and access to them forbidden to all, so that permission for further offending may be refused to those who are lost. We also wish everyone to abstain from sacrifices, and if any person should do anything of this kind, he shall be laid low with the avenging sword; and We decree that his property, after having been taken from him, shall be confiscated to the Treasury, and that the Governors of provinces shall also be punished, if they have neglected to suppress these crimes.

  Extract from the Novel, “Concerning Statutes and Customs.” Section Beginning “Gazarists,” Collection 10, Last Constitution.
  ...
  1. The Emperor Constantius and Julian-C sar to Thalassius, Pr torian Prefect.

  If anyone, after renouncing the venerated Christian faith, should become a Jew, and join their sacrilegious assemblies, We order that, after the accusation has been proved, his property shall be confiscated to the Treasury.

  Given at Milan, on the fifth of the Nones of July, during the Consulate of Constantius, Consul for the ninth time, and Julian-C sar, Consul for the second time, 357.
....
(1) Therefore, We present to Your Holiness the fact that certain infidels and persons who do not belong to the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of God have, like Jews and apostates, dared to dispute matters which are properly accepted, glorified, and preached by all priests in accordance with your doctrines, denying that Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, and that Our Lord was born of the Holy Spirit and of the Holy, Glorious, and always Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, and became a man and was crucified, and that he is one of the persons of the Holy Trinity, who are all of one substance, and who should be adored and exalted along with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and that he is consubstantial with the Father according to divinity, and consubstantial with ourselves according to humanity, and susceptible of. the sufferings of the flesh, but not susceptible of the same as a deity. For these persons refusing to acknowledge Our Lord Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God, and Our Lord as one of the Holy Trinity, and of the same substance with the other persons composing it, appear to follow the evil doctrine of Nestor, who asserts that there is one Son of God according to grace, whom he styles the Word of God, and another Son whom he calls Christ.
...
(5) Therefore We request your paternal affection, that you, by your letters, inform Us and the Most Holy Bishop of this Fair City, and your brother the Patriarch, who himself has written by the same messengers to Your Holiness, eager in all things to follow the Apostolic See of Your Blessedness, in order that you may make it clear to Us that Your Holiness acknowledges all the matters which have been set forth above, and condemns the perfidy of those who, in the manner of Jews, have dared to deny the true Faith.
...
As many judges requiring Our advice have consulted Us as to the disposal of litigation, in order that they may be advised what to decide with reference to heretic witnesses, and whether their testimony should be accepted or rejected, We order that no testimony shall be given against orthodox litigants by a heretic, or by those who adhere to the Jewish superstition, whether one, or both parties to the suit are orthodox.
...
We grant permission to heretics or Jews, when they have litigation with one another, to introduce witnesses qualified to testify, with the exception, however, of those who are controlled by the Manichean insanity, which it is evident is also shared with the Borborites and those who believe in the Pagan superstition; and the Samaritans are also excepted, as well as those who are not unlike them, together with . the Montanists, the Tascodrogites, and the Ophytes, to whom all legal actions are forbidden on account of the similarity of their offences. We therefore order that the right to be a witness, along with all other lawful acts, shall be forbidden to the Manicheans, the Borborites, and the Pagans, as well as to the Samaritans, the Montanists, the Tascodrogites, and the Ophytes.
...
We desire all Jews and worshippers of the heavens, and their heads and patriarchs, to be notified that, if anyone, after the promulgation of this law, should dare to attack a person who has abandoned his odius sect and betake himself to the worship of God, with stones or with any other manifestation of rage (which We have ascertained has been done), he shall at once be given to the flames, and burned with all his accomplices.

Given on the fifteenth of the Kalends of November, during the Consulate of the Emperor Constantine, Consul for the eighth time, and Constantine-Ca3sar, Consul for the sixth time, 316.
...
No Jew shall marry a Christian woman, nor shall any Christian man marry a Jewess; for if anyone should be guilty of an act of this kind, he will be liable for having committed the crime of adultery, and permission is hereby granted to all persons to accuse him.

Given at Thessalonica, on the day before the Ides of March, during the Consulate of the Emperor Theodosius, Consul for the second time, and Cynegius, 388.

No Jew shall retain the customs of his race relating to marriage; nor shall he marry in accordance with his religion; nor shall he contract several marriages at the same time.

Given on the third of the Kalends of January, during the Consulate of the Emperor Theodosius, Consul for the third time, and Habundantius, 393.
...
The Governors of provinces shall prohibit Jews from burning or exhibiting the representation of the Holy Cross, with the sacrilegious intention of bringing it into contempt, on the festival day when they celebrate the punishment of Haman; nor shall they place the emblem of our faith upon their own houses, but they can retain their rites without manifesting any scorn for the Christian religion; and unless they abstain from what was unlawful, they shall undoubtedly lose the privileges which they have hitherto enjoyed.

Given at Constantinople, on the fourth of the Kalends of June, during the Consulate of Bassus and Philip, 408.
...
We order that, upon the Sabbath day, and at other times when the Jews observe the ceremonies of their worship, no one shall either do anything to them, or, under any circumstances, compel them to appear in court; and they themselves shall not be given permission to sue orthodox Christians upon those days, so that Christians may not suffer any inconvenience from being summoned by the officials upon the days aforesaid; for it is evident that the remaining days will be sufficient for the purposes of the Treasury, and the suits of private individuals.

Given at Ravenna, on the eighth of the Kalends of August, during the Consulate of the Emperors Honorius, Consul for the eighth time, and Theodosius, Consul for the third time, 409.
...
The chiefs of the Jews, who govern the Sanhedrim in both Palestines, or those who reside in other provinces, shall, at their own risk, be compelled by the officers of the palace to collect the annual tax due from all the synagogues, in the same manner as the patriarchs formerly collected tribute, under the name of “coronary gold,” and what was accustomed to be paid to the western patriarchs shall be deposited in the Treasury of Our Largesses.

Given at Constantinople, on the third of the Kalends of June, during the Consulate of Florentius and Dionysius, 429.
...
No one, for the purpose of reverence or worship, shall reopen the temples of the Pagans, which have already been closed, in order that the honor which was formerly shown to their idols and their infamous and execrable rites may be removed from our age; for it is held to be sacrilege instead of religion to adorn the impious portals of shrines with garlands; to kindle profane fires on the altars; to burn incense upon the same; to slaughter victims there, and to pour out libations of wine from bowls. Anyone who attempts to perform sacrifices contrary to this Our decree, and against the prohibition of the most sacred ancient constitutions, can be lawfully accused of the crime before any judge, and, if convicted, shall suffer the confiscation of all his property, and the extreme penalty, and the accomplices of the crime as well as the ministers of the sacrifices shall undergo the same penalty to which he was sentenced; so that, terrified by the severity of this Our law, they may desist from celebrating forbidden sacrifices through the fear of punishment. If, however, the most illustrious Governor of the province as well as the judge himself, when the accusation has been lawfully made and the crime established, should, after proper examination, neglect to punish an offence of such gravity, they shall each immediately be compelled to pay fifty pounds of gold into Our Treasury.

Given on the day before the Ides of November, during the Consulate of the Emperor Martian and Adelphius, 451.
- The Code of Justinian; 529-534 CE

As you can see, Jews were allowed to continue to exist and practice, but in a severely restricted manner. At the same time, paganism was outlawed outright. The pagan temples were shut down, but the synagogues were allowed to remain open.

Nevertheless, the Jews had a LOT of restrictions on them.

It was also illegal for anyone to convert to Judaism, the only way that one could be a Jew in Europe after the time of the rise of Christianity, was to be born a Jew. No conversion were allowed. A Christian who converted to Judaism could be killed.

325: The Council of Nicea decided to separate the celebration of Easter from the Jewish Passover. They stated: “For it is unbecoming beyond measure that on this holiest of festivals we should follow the customs of the Jews. Henceforth let us have nothing in common with this odious people…We ought not, therefore, to have anything in common with the Jews…our worship follows a…more convenient course…we desire dearest brethren, to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jews…How, then, could we follow these Jews, who are almost certainly blinded.”

367 - 376: St. Hilary of Poitiers referred to Jews as a perverse people who God has cursed forever. St. Ephroem refers to synagogues as brothels.

380: The bishop of Milan was responsible for the burning of a synagogue; he referred to it as “an act pleasing to God.”

415: The Bishop of Alexandria, St. Cyril, expelled the Jews from that Egyptian city.

415: St. Augustine wrote “The true image of the Hebrew is Judas Iscariot, who sells the Lord for silver. The Jew can never understand the Scriptures and forever will bear the guilt for the death of Jesus.”

418: St. Jerome, who created the Vulgate translation of the Bible wrote of a synagogue: “If you call it a brothel, a den of vice, the Devil’s refuge, Satan’s fortress, a place to deprave the soul, an abyss of every conceivable disaster or whatever you will, you are still saying less than it deserves.”

692: Cannnon II of the Quinisext Council stated: “Let no one in the priestly order nor any layman eat the unleavened bread of the Jews, nor have any familiar intercourse with them, nor summon them in illness, nor receive medicines from them, nor bathe with them; but if anyone shall take in hand to do so, if he is a cleric, let him be deposed, but if a layman, let him be cut off.”

See: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/heritage/episode4/presentations/4.3.6-2.html

Jews throughout Christian Europe were often forced to wear special badges on their clothing, as enforced by decrees such as one from Emperor Ferdenand I. In France, Italy, Spain, and Germany, the Jewish badge, or ‘Rule’, was a round or ring-shaped piece of fabric, usually yellow, red, or red and white. In some places, wearing the Jewish hat was also mandated by law. The badge was resented by Jews, who viewed it as oppressive and degrading. Governments even used it as a way to exact money from the Jewish community; exemption from the badge could often be brought. Enforcement of the Jewish badge and other restrictions on Jewish dress continued throughout Christian Europe for over four centuries.

The Jews and Their Lies, by Martin Luther, founder of Protestantism:

http://www.humanitas-international.org/showcase/chronography/documents/luther-jews.htm

Well, let the Jews regard our Lord Jesus as they will. We behold the fulfillment of the words spoken by him in Luke 21:20: “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near ... for these are days of vengeance. For great distress shall be upon the earth and wrath upon this people.

In short, as has already been said, do not engage much in debate with Jews about the articles of our faith. From their youth they have been so nurtured with venom and rancor against our Lord that there is no hope until they reach the point where their misery finally makes them pliable and they are forced to confess that the Messiah has come, and that he is our Jesus.
...
Soon, too, the rumor circulated that Jesus, whom they had killed, had again arisen and that he was now really being proclaimed openly and freely as the Messiah. The people in the city of Jerusalem were adhering to him, as well as the Gentiles in Antioch and everywhere in the country.
...
They will have nothing of this Jesus, even if they must pervert all of Scripture, have no god, and never get a Messiah. That’s the way they want it.
...
In the first place, they defame our Lord Jesus Christ, calling him a sorcerer and tool of the devil. This they do because they cannot deny his miracles. Thus they imitate their forefathers, who said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebub, the prince of demons” [Luke 11:15]. They invent many lies about the name of God, the tetragrammaton, saying that our Lord was able to define this name (which they call Schem Hamphoras), and whoever is able to do that, they say, is also able to perform all sorts of miracles.
...
Then they also call Jesus a whore’s son, saying that his mother Mary was a whore, who conceived him in adultery with a blacksmith. I have to speak in this coarse manner, although I do so with great reluctance, to combat the vile devil. Now they know very well that these lies are inspired by sheer hatred and spite, solely for the purpose of bitterly poisoning the minds of their poor youth and the simple Jews against the person of our Lord, lest they adhere to his doctrine (which they cannot refute).
...
If I were to avenge myself on the devil himself I should be unable to wish him such evil and misfortune as God’s wrath inflicts on the Jews, compelling them to lie and to blaspheme so monstrously, in violation of their own conscience. Anyway, they have their reward for constantly giving God the lie.
...
They are real liars and bloodhounds who have not only continually perverted and falsified all of Scripture with their mendacious glosses from the beginning until the present day. Their heart’s most ardent sighing and yearning and hoping is set on the day on which they can deal with us Gentiles as they did with the Gentiles in Persia at the time of Esther. Oh, how fond they are of the book of Esther, which is so beautifully attuned to their bloodthirsty, vengeful, murderous yearning and hope. The sun has never shone on a more bloodthirsty and vengeful people than they are who imagine that they are God’s people who have been commissioned and commanded to murder and to slay the Gentiles. In fact, the most important thing that they expect of their Messiah is that he will murder and kill the entire world with their sword. They treated us Christians in this manner at the very beginning through out all the world. They would still like to do this if they had the power, and often enough have made the attempt, for which they have got their snouts boxed lustily.
...
But when they disdained John and his [Christ’s] message and miracles, reviling them as the deeds of Beelzebub, he spoiled and ruined matters entirely. He rebuked and chided them severely something he should not, of course, have done for being greedy, evil, and disobedient children, false teachers, seducers of the people, etc.; in brief, a brood of serpents and children of the devil. On the other hand, he was friendly to sinners and tax collectors, to Gentiles and to Romans, giving the impression that he was the foe of the people of Israel and the friend of Gentiles and villains. Now the fat was really in the fire; they grew wrathful, bitter, and hateful, and ranted against him; finally they contrived the plot to kill him. And that is what they did; they crucified him as ignominiously as possible. They gave free rein to their anger, so that even the Gentile Pilate noticed this and testified that they were condemning and killing him out of hatred and envy, innocently and without cause.
...
First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians. For whatever we tolerated in the past unknowingly ≠ and I myself was unaware of it ≠ will be pardoned by God. But if we, now that we are informed, were to protect and shield such a house for the Jews, existing right before our very nose, in which they lie about, blaspheme, curse, vilify, and defame Christ and us (as was heard above), it would be the same as if we were doing all this and even worse ourselves, as we very well know.

Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. For they pursue in them the same aims as in their synagogues. Instead they might be lodged under a roof or in a barn, like the gypsies. This will bring home to them that they are not masters in our country, as they boast, but that they are living in exile and in captivity, as they incessantly wail and lament about us before God.

Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them. (remainder omitted)

Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. For they have justly forfeited the right to such an office by holding the poor Jews captive with the saying of Moses (Deuteronomy 17 [:10 ff.]) in which he commands them to obey their teachers on penalty of death, although Moses clearly adds: “what they teach you in accord with the law of the Lord.” Those villains ignore that. They wantonly employ the poor people’s obedience contrary to the law of the Lord and infuse them with this poison, cursing, and blasphemy. In the same way the pope also held us captive with the declaration in Matthew 16 {:18], “You are Peter,” etc, inducing us to believe all the lies and deceptions that issued from his devilish mind. He did not teach in accord with the word of God, and therefore he forfeited the right to teach.

Fifth, I advise that safe≠conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside, since they are not lords, officials, tradesmen, or the like. Let they stay at home. (...remainder omitted).

Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping. The reason for such a measure is that, as said above, they have no other means of earning a livelihood than usury, and by it they have stolen and robbed from us all they possess. Such money should now be used in no other way than the following: Whenever a Jew is sincerely converted, he should be handed one hundred, two hundred, or three hundred florins, as personal circumstances may suggest. With this he could set himself up in some occupation for the support of his poor wife and children, and the maintenance of the old or feeble. For such evil gains are cursed if they are not put to use with God’s blessing in a good and worthy cause.

Seventh, I commend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow, as was imposed on the children of Adam (Gen 3[:19]}. For it is not fitting that they should let us accursed Goyim toil in the sweat of our faces while they, the holy people, idle away their time behind the stove, feasting and farting, and on top of all, boasting blasphemously of their lordship over the Christians by means of our sweat. No, one should toss out these lazy rogues by the seat of their pants.
- The Jews and Their Lies, Martin Luther

I really have no idea why you try to claim that antisemitism isn’t a product of Christianity. It’s a truly indefensible claim.

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Posted: 15 April 2007 06:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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I guess I just don’t understand what you mean by “failing.” To me it means dying, passing away, moribund and implies that the culture is on its way out. The reason I keep pointing out the current success of Jewish culture is becuase it could clearly not have been any of those things and still survive. Perhaps you mean “dysfunctional” rather than failing, in which case the discrepancy is one of terminology.

Anyway, you exaggerate and misinterpret what I say, and respond with such cocksure indignation that I can’t see much point in continuing. For the record, I have said repeatedly that all I am arguing is that points of religious dogma are only one factor, and not necessarily the primary factor, in the history of anti-semitism and that there are other factors involved, especially in the modern era. Of course Christianity as a religious ideology has played a huge role in the history of anti-semitism. But since your conclusion that religious antiathy is the sole root of anti-Jewish feeling is “standard” and “uncontroversial,” and any suggestion to the contrary is “baseless belief” and “really poor scholarship,” I can’t see anything productive in continuing the discussion.

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Posted: 15 April 2007 08:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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To me it means dying, passing away, moribund and implies that the culture is on its way out.

Precisely. It was on the way out. It is only well known today because of Christianity. If not for Christianity it would have either totally gone away or it would likely be obscure and little known about today.

The ancient Jews were never a highly successful people. They constantly had major problems, hence the reason their religion was so F*ed up.

God is a hateful vengeful horrible tyrant in the Old Testament. Why? Because this is the only way the Jews could explain why it was that they were constantly failing as a people. If you actually read the whole OT, you see that in about half of the works God is basically the enemy of the Jews.

The ancient Jews attributed all of their failings to punishments from God, as far as they were concerned they were a highly punished people.

The reason I keep pointing out the current success of Jewish culture is becuase it could clearly not have been any of those things and still survive.

Umm.. after Christianity became the official religion of Europe, only two religions were allowed to exist in Europe, Christianity and Judaism. That’s why it is still around today, because it was one of two religions that were allowed to exist. All others were totally extinguished.

What happened after the rise of Christianity has nothing to do with before the advent of Christianity.

Perhaps you mean “dysfunctional” rather than failing, in which case the discrepancy is one of terminology.

No, I mean failing, as in diminishing, coming apart at the seams, on the verge of extinction.

Jewish culture was in a tailspin, and it wasn’t until the rise of Christianity that they began to rebound. They rebounded after the rise of Christianity for a variety of reasons, one one of which was actually the fact that they we separated off from the rest of society.

In the Greek and Roman culture prior to Christianity Judaism was being rapidly diluted and many Jews were adopting non-Jewish culture. The Romans and Greeks, etc., didn’t try to keep the Jews separate, indeed the opposite, they approached them and tried to get them into integrate, and most Jews did.

It wasn’t until Christianity came along that #1 all other religions except Christianity and Judaism were eliminated in Europe, and #2 Jews were completely isolated from everyone else, which actually strengthened their culture, insulted it from outside influence, and made it more distinct and structured. Don’t forget that the Hebrew Bible wasn’t actually canonized until AFTER the advent of Christianity. Judaism was much more diverse BEFORE Christianity than it was after Christianity.

Anyway, you exaggerate and misinterpret what I say, and respond with such cocksure indignation that I can’t see much point in continuing. For the record, I have said repeatedly that all I am arguing is that points of religious dogma are only one factor, and not necessarily the primary factor, in the history of anti-semitism and that there are other factors involved, especially in the modern era. Of course Christianity as a religious ideology has played a huge role in the history of anti-semitism. But since your conclusion that religious antiathy is the sole root of anti-Jewish feeling is “standard” and “uncontroversial,” and any suggestion to the contrary is “baseless belief” and “really poor scholarship,” I can’t see anything productive in continuing the discussion.

All that I, Hitchens, and others, are saying is that the antisemitism that was present in the West during the rise of Nazism was a product of Christianity, Christian attitudes towards “the killers of Christ”, and 2,000 years of sustained Christian persecution of Jews. It was simply an expression of the same exact tendencies that had been taken place in Europe ever since Christianity became the official religion of Rome. It was part of a clear pattern of attitudes and behaviors, which were rooted in Christianity.

This behaviors and attitude can be seen in countless documents from the 4th century up to the 20th century, all coming from Popes, bishops, and various other religious leaders, who call Jews the killers of Jesus, liars who deny the truth of Christ, deceivers, blasphemers, whores, devils, dogs, the hated people of God, the enemies of God, etc., etc.

The whole painting of Jews as dishonest liars was a product of the need to discredit their view of the Gospels and the fact that they denied Jesus was the Messiah. After all, the Jews should have known best of Jesus was their savior right? Well, they were painted as untrustworthy liars that no Christian should ever talk to or listen to because Christians feared Jews arguing that Jesus was not the Messiah, and fear of Jews showing certain flaws in the Gospels. There was a time in the early Medieval period when Jews were heavily critical of the Christian story, pointing out flaws, mistranslations, wrong misinterpretations, showing that certain things were not really prophecies, etc. The Jews had to, of course, be totally discredited and punished for this.

All of the policies against Jews that Hitler enacted, EVERY SINGLE ONE, had presidents in RELIGIONS LAWS that had previously been in place in Europe. ALL of the anti-Jewish laws that the Nazis passed were a REINSTITUTION of OLD RELIGIOUS LAWS.

The ghettos had only recently been eliminated in Europe, prior to that the ghettos were in places as part of A PAPAL DECREE.

When the Nazis made the Jews were yellow badges, that was the REINSTITUTION OF PAPAL LAWS.

There had been many mass slaughters of Jews ORDERED BY RELIGIOUS LEADERS over the centuries, Hitler was doing nothing new when he ordered the roundup and killing of Jews, it had happened hundreds of times before, just on smaller scales due to technology. The only thing different with Hitler was that he had better methods.

Everything that Hitler did to the Jews had been done before UNDER CATHOLIC THEOCRACY. The attitude of people against Jews came ultimately from centuries of Christian depiction of Jews as liars, thieves, and murders of Jesus, and the abandoned children of God, who were now cursed by God as hated and vile devils.

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