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Solomon Schimmel - The Tenacity of Unreasonable Beliefs
Posted: 08 December 2008 10:38 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Solomon Schimmel is professor of Jewish education and psychology at Hebrew College. He is the author of a number of books, including The Seven Deadly Sins: Jewish, Christian and Classical Reflections on Human Psychology, and numerous articles and book chapters on Jewish thought, psychology of religion and Jewish education. His newest book is The Tenacity of Unreasonable Beliefs: Fundamentalism and the Fear of Truth.

In this conversation with D.J. Grothe, Schimmel discusses how and why, even as a complete skeptic of theological claims, he still practices Orthodox Judaism. He talks about the benefits that religion, including fundamentalism, may bring a believer, such as caring and supportive communities, ethical codes, means of coping with stress and loss, celebrations of rites of passage, and a hope for life after death. He explores ways that people can experience these benefits while rejecting the unreasonable claims of religion, which he argues are especially pronounced in fundamentalism. He challenges Sam Harris’s view regarding moderate religionists making room for fundamentalism. He examines many of the ways that Christian, Jewish and Islamic fundamentalism harms society, and argues that it should be challenged in public and in private, for the sake of democracy, scientific progress and the welfare of society. And he details some strategies to encourage people to give up their harmful and false beliefs and fundamentalist commitments.

http://www.pointofinquiry.org

[ Edited: 09 December 2008 05:00 PM by Thomas Donnelly ]
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Posted: 09 December 2008 12:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Hi, DJ-

You asked a very good question towards the end, which Dr. Schimmel failed to engage- about the thesis that moderates of religion enhance or moderate fundamentalism. He claimed to “not be convinced”, and promoted moderate religion as a way of drawing fundamentalists back from the brink.

But the religion Dr. Schimmel believes in has nothing to do with moderate religion. It seems to be a naturalized, de-sacralized tribalism, involving zero belief in its main tenets. The problem with actual moderate religion is that is does believe in the hocus pocus of the books and the authority of the prophets, etc. The moderate position world-wide is one of belief which, if one actually takes it seriously, leads the most committed and the most consistent believers straight into the maw of fundamentalism. Schimmel is drawing on unstated premises and biases to support what he likes, rather than making a rational argument.

Now in practical terms, there is a valid question whether the most destructive fundamentalists are more likely to be moderated by engagement with reasonable co-religionists (as the Egyptian government has apparently tried with some success), or through the crucible of total atheism, as per Hirsi Ali. But the making of fundamentalists in the first place happens in the unthinking (moderate) miasma of obeisance to religion, inspiring some individuals to take it to the limit, as it were.

Thanks- Burk

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Posted: 09 December 2008 07:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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burkbraun - 09 December 2008 12:44 PM

Hi, DJ-

.

Now in practical terms, there is a valid question whether the most destructive fundamentalists are more likely to be moderated by engagement with reasonable co-religionists (as the Egyptian government has apparently tried with some success), or through the crucible of total atheism, as per Hirsi Ali. But the making of fundamentalists in the first place happens in the unthinking (moderate) miasma of obeisance to religion, inspiring some individuals to take it to the limit, as it were.

Thanks- Burk

 

The only way Fundamentalists can be moderated,is by sidelining them.Socially/Politically.Their forum must be taken away.The reasonably religous can be tolerated and somewhat enshrined in society.This will give them the platform to exist and shun fundamentalism.Seeing as how the vast majority of people will not die as atheists,the “atheist crucible” as you call it,is not a factor.
Any imposed atheism will only fertilize fundamentalism.Look at the Ukraine for example.Large Fundamentalist population.

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Posted: 10 December 2008 10:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Mr. Grothe,

Great show, as always.

I understand, and can live with Dr. Schimmel’s point of view regarding truth as a value, but ...

If truth isn’t one’s highest goal, then fine.  But let’s not re-define the word to make it fit our beliefs.  While I would rather live in a world full of people whose concept of truth is, “that which bears positive fruits for life,” as opposed to the one we have now (full of people whose delusional beliefs justify all sorts of atrocities), still better would be a world in which reality is valued for what it is.

Truth is truth.  Facts are facts, whether we recognize them or not.  Isn’t that what the scientific world-view is all about?  Just because accepted wisdom before the 14th century was that the Earth was the center of the universe, didn’t make it so.

I think the goal should be to promote the scientific world-view and the search for unambiguous truth, wherever it can be found.

Or does that make me a “Truthamentalist” of some sort?

~Macallan

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Posted: 11 December 2008 02:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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burkbraun - 09 December 2008 12:44 PM

Hi, DJ-

You asked a very good question towards the end, which Dr. Schimmel failed to engage- about the thesis that moderates of religion enhance or moderate fundamentalism. He claimed to “not be convinced”, and promoted moderate religion as a way of drawing fundamentalists back from the brink….

I have a feeling that most moderate religionists are on the right side of history, and don’t want their particular religions to take control of society, or even their own lives!  I know this is the case with my wife of 21 years, who is one of those “cafeteria catholics” that the pope and the cardinals are all worked up about—but after a couple of failed attempts during our marriage to find a common religion for the sake of the children, when I gave up on religion, she went back to the Catholic Church for reasons of tradition and family heritage…that have little or nothing to do with dogma.

I think the difference in our attitude towards church and religious observance has more to do with our opposite life experiences with religion, than they do with actual beliefs, since her early church experiences were mostly positive, whereas I left home at 16 to reject both my father, and his religion, which I also hated. As I grew older, every time I tried to plunge into a religion, I could not separate the patriarch skydaddy of various branches of Christian religion with the patriarch I knew as a child.

There are likely many other cultural Christians who have some vague sense of positive spiritual feelings from their religion, and they are just as strongly opposed to expanding church influence as secular-minded people are. The exception are jerkoffs like Chris Hedges, who have some mealy-mouthed notions of the “divine” and likely have a feeling that it’s all make believe, so they turn their guns on atheists who question the validity of their beliefs. To someone like Hedges, he feels more camaraderie with Muslim fundamentalists, who at least accept some part of his fantasy world, than with the atheists who reject it.

If you listen to people like John Shelby Spong or Tom Harpur, you notice that they appreciate the challenges of skeptics more than the blind obedience of fundamentalists. Yesterday, I listened to the podcast of an NPR: Fresh Air interview with Frank Schaeffer, the son of Francis Schaeffer, and now regrets his role in putting together the monster now known collectively as the Religious Right. Near the end of the interview, Schaeffer comes totally clean and says that he can understand why some people are atheists, but his life experience makes belonging to a church and experiencing the liturgy an essential part of his life—so he made an unexpected move to the Greek Orthodox Church, explaining that he was drawn to the centuries-old orthodox liturgy and the fact that the priests face the altar instead of the congregation—eliminating the opportunity for an individual priest to develop the cult followings that are notorious in evangelical churches; Schaeffer may have rejected much of the religion he grew up with, especially the politicizing of religion, but he doesn’t feel it works for him to make a total break.

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Posted: 11 December 2008 02:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Macallan - 10 December 2008 10:44 AM

Mr. Grothe,

Great show, as always.

I understand, and can live with Dr. Schimmel’s point of view regarding truth as a value, but ...

If truth isn’t one’s highest goal, then fine.  But let’s not re-define the word to make it fit our beliefs.  While I would rather live in a world full of people whose concept of truth is, “that which bears positive fruits for life,” as opposed to the one we have now (full of people whose delusional beliefs justify all sorts of atrocities), still better would be a world in which reality is valued for what it is.

Truth is truth.  Facts are facts, whether we recognize them or not.  Isn’t that what the scientific world-view is all about?  Just because accepted wisdom before the 14th century was that the Earth was the center of the universe, didn’t make it so.

I think the goal should be to promote the scientific world-view and the search for unambiguous truth, wherever it can be found.

Or does that make me a “Truthamentalist” of some sort?

~Macallan

But let’s not also forget that evaluating “truth” is not an objective or not even a completely rational process. There has been a flurry of research in neuroscience lately that is pointing towards a theory that our sense of belief is an emotional experience or at least a mental sensation, and not a purely objective search for the most plausible answer to a question. I like the explanation that Robert Burton gives to explain the “certainty epidemic,”—the fact that people can feel certain of a belief, even on the flimsiest of evidence—his theory is that our “a ha moments” and other feelings of certainty come to us from mental reward sensations that help motivate learning and discovery.

So, some of us, and I am certainly one of them, are inclined towards skepticism—but if we look around, not only at religion, but also all of the new age crapola, conspiracy theories and alternative medicinal claims, I’m not very confident that the majority of people will ever share or value a skeptical approach. Maybe the best we can hope for is to reduce the harm caused by irrational beliefs, rather than trying to stamp them out completely.

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Posted: 12 December 2008 12:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I hadn’t heard of Schimmel till early this week, after I went to a lecture by James Kugel, author of “How to Read the Bible,” at Manhattan’s 92nd Street Y. (That community center uses the brand name “92nd Street Y” instead of its official, more religious name, the “92nd Street Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association.”

Kugel’s book—e-mail if you want a free copy—is a scholarly debunking of the historicity of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.  Yet the author, an Orthodox Jew, also is fully in favor of religious belief.  He wistfully emphasizes archeological or literary research results that might redeem the Bible, while admitting those are minority opinions in the field.  His book, and his talk at the 92nd St. Y, “Can the Bible Be Saved from Biblical Scholarship,” supports reading scripture as a interpretive experience that he says is the original style of reading religious texts, an experience that’s mystical rather than analytical.

The Jewish audience liked that, of course.  But I, one of maybe one or two non-Jews in the room, felt frustrated by hearing that kind of conclusion after that kind of evidence.  So I went online later, looking to see what others thought of Kugel.  I found a post by Schimmel promoting his own book (and complaining that he wasn’t being invited to speak as often as Kugel was) on a blog called Modernorthoprax, and discovered I now have two mysteriously semiskeptical Orthodox writers to compare to each other.

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Posted: 12 December 2008 06:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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i guess im the only who doesnt take so well to the comfy grampa like discussion with “sol”...it sort of reminds me of the huckabee approach to being anti gay marriage; if u dress it up nicely and put a sagacious lovely odor to it, they cant complain too much…

while still not buying this whole orthopraxy bs, im more bewildered at how sol can comfortably push away djs brilliant question about what about the freedoms and liberties being given away in order to accept the social benefits of orthodox judaism…i cannot speak for other religions, but i was raised orthodox judaism…despite us being being black hatters (ultra orthodox) we had a tv at home, my parents went to movies and i didnt grow up feeling like i was in a ghetto and deprived of anything…BUT WE WERE!!! the harm and damage done through orthodox indoctrination is the single reason that all my friends, who thanx to me now, dont believe in the torah and all the bs, are still screwed up to the point that they cant leave the shackles of religion behind…and im referring to the males, the damage done to females is to the point where i dont even discuss theology or logic with them, cause the pain would be too much to bear for a female who has made so many irreversible forced upon life decisions… 

modern orthodoxy abuses children, especially women, and in the hundreds of thousands right amongst us in nyc…girls are raised to believe they are dirty creatures and until they dip in a ritual bath, they can have no contact even with their husbands…half of a married woman’s life is spent in isolation realizing she is dirty and unfit to be touched…eating kosher brainwashes kids…even as an atheist now i cant get myself to eat pig, let alone shellfish…i have to walk out of restaurants when friends order lobster cause i was brainwashed into believing its disgusting…women all cover their head…wearing a wig FOR LIFE is not enough abuse to negate any social benefits? maybe if men were forced to wear wigs, the book would slant a bit more towards unorthopraxy…and perhaps sol will respond that his wife is allowed to wear her natural hair, or wear pants…well the 3 things that make someone officially orthodox are keeping kosher, keeping the sabbath and family purity (the women being a dirty pig thing we mentioned) i think thats a heavy price to pay for a community Y…

im sorry, i hate to be a whiny lil commenter, but seeing my sister suffer by being forced to marry at 18, having a bunch of kids, being robbed of her precious teens and 20s intentionally, not having the outlets of sports and other things her husband has, then hearing someone gloat about the lovely social comfort addressed by orthodoxy gets me a bit wired…

so yeah, when i close my eyes, i hear in sol an orthodox jewish voice, as though i was back in yeshivah, shmuzzing and arguing his point to fit the desired result..but spare me the bs, its an abusive lifestyle that takes its toll on women the most….but thankfully for them, they dont have a voice in the community, so who complains:)

shabbat shalom yall

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Posted: 12 December 2008 07:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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It is odd that he’s a practitioner of Orthodox Judaism rather than another more liberal branch. Reform Jews, to take the obvious example, are not very different from Unitarians. If he feels the need to belong to a Jewish congregation, why not just pick a local Reform branch? Presumably for social reasons? The other members of his congregation can’t be too happy with his stances here ...

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Posted: 13 December 2008 12:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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josh_karpf - 12 December 2008 12:16 PM

I hadn’t heard of Schimmel till early this week, after I went to a lecture by James Kugel, author of “How to Read the Bible,” at Manhattan’s 92nd Street Y. (That community center uses the brand name “92nd Street Y” instead of its official, more religious name, the “92nd Street Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association.”

Kugel’s book—e-mail if you want a free copy—is a scholarly debunking of the historicity of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.  Yet the author, an Orthodox Jew, also is fully in favor of religious belief.  He wistfully emphasizes archeological or literary research results that might redeem the Bible, while admitting those are minority opinions in the field.  His book, and his talk at the 92nd St. Y, “Can the Bible Be Saved from Biblical Scholarship,” supports reading scripture as a interpretive experience that he says is the original style of reading religious texts, an experience that’s mystical rather than analytical.

The Jewish audience liked that, of course.  But I, one of maybe one or two non-Jews in the room, felt frustrated by hearing that kind of conclusion after that kind of evidence.  So I went online later, looking to see what others thought of Kugel.  I found a post by Schimmel promoting his own book (and complaining that he wasn’t being invited to speak as often as Kugel was) on a blog called Modernorthoprax, and discovered I now have two mysteriously semiskeptical Orthodox writers to compare to each other.

Yeah, I have Kugel’s book as well. It’s called “How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture Then and Now.” Basically, he concludes that pretty much none of the events as recounted in the Hebrew scriptures happened, and that the god in the Hebrew scriptures was thought of as an actual physical being, and was inhereited from Canaanite gods. Yet, at the end, he still tries to square a circle. I agree with David Plotz’s review in the New York Times when he wrote, “Though Kugel surely did not intend this, in its own way, his book proves as devastating to the godly cause as any of the pro-atheism books that have been dominating the best-seller lists in recent months.” I honestly don’t understand exactly why many in the Jewish community can see the bible as an unhistorical mess and still practice their religion, but I think part of the reason is that in Judaism, there isn’t as much an emphasis placed on dogma as there is in Christianity and Islam. I don’t think that this entirely solves the dilemma (how can one serve a “God” that was basically an amalgamation of deities from different tribal sects?), but given the different approach to religious doctrine in Judaism, it’s partly understandable.

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Posted: 14 December 2008 12:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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dougsmith - 12 December 2008 07:13 PM

It is odd that he’s a practitioner of Orthodox Judaism rather than another more liberal branch. Reform Jews, to take the obvious example, are not very different from Unitarians. If he feels the need to belong to a Jewish congregation, why not just pick a local Reform branch? Presumably for social reasons? The other members of his congregation can’t be too happy with his stances here ...

I think this shows the power of community, and what he gets out of it. And how a real community can be accepting, as opposed to what we often think of as fundamentalist communities as being exclusive. I don’t know of many secularist communities that would be so accepting. But maybe I am romanticizing the whole issue, since obviously, Schimmel is a nonbeliever, and I’d assume the other Orthodox members of his Temple aren’t.

Cheers,
Thomas

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Posted: 14 December 2008 08:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Thomas Donnelly - 14 December 2008 12:12 AM

think this shows the power of community, and what he gets out of it. And how a real community can be accepting, as opposed to what we often think of as fundamentalist communities as being exclusive. I don’t know of many secularist communities that would be so accepting. But maybe I am romanticizing the whole issue, since obviously, Schimmel is a nonbeliever, and I’d assume the other Orthodox members of his Temple aren’t.

Absolutely. One of the strengths of conventional religion is the sense of community it provides to its practitioners. Not to say the same community can’t be had in a secular organization like a club, sports team, reading group, etc., but the additional implied agreement on religious matters is something additional. For that reason it would be interesting to know how other members of his congregation view Schimmel and his participation. Judaism is much less creedal than Christianity or Islam, but Orthodoxy is defined in part by certain stances that they take on the divine source of the Torah, and the resultant binding nature of the commandments, which are not shared by Reform congregations.

Presumably his fellow congregation is willing to accept Schimmel because even though he professes disbelief in the divine origins of the Torah, he is nonetheless willing to abide by the Mosaic law, for cultural and social reasons. This does go to the heart of the difference with Judaism. Belief in creed is inessential; following the divine law is what matters.

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Posted: 14 December 2008 10:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Thomas Donnelly - 14 December 2008 12:12 AM
dougsmith - 12 December 2008 07:13 PM

It is odd that he’s a practitioner of Orthodox Judaism rather than another more liberal branch. Reform Jews, to take the obvious example, are not very different from Unitarians. If he feels the need to belong to a Jewish congregation, why not just pick a local Reform branch? Presumably for social reasons? The other members of his congregation can’t be too happy with his stances here ...

I think this shows the power of community, and what he gets out of it. And how a real community can be accepting, as opposed to what we often think of as fundamentalist communities as being exclusive. I don’t know of many secularist communities that would be so accepting. But maybe I am romanticizing the whole issue, since obviously, Schimmel is a nonbeliever, and I’d assume the other Orthodox members of his Temple aren’t.

The power of community can be abused, too, though Thomas. I have read the true reason for things such as food taboos stemmed from (or perhaps were simply socially adaptive for) useful mechanisms to keep members of the flock from straying- not from theology or mythological hygiene issues. Indeed, no culture has more successfully leveraged the psychology of in-group/race/tradition/family/religion/taboos better than the Jews. This is what disturbs me. Belief is optional- as long as you keep doing what we tell you you should. Isn’t that a rather brazen admission that the aim is power and control not sanctity and community? How ‘bout having a community that accepts you regardless of the state of your foreskin, who you wish to marry, or where you spend your Saturday?

Now here many protest in the name of protecting cultural identity, tradition, heritage, ones roots etc.., and those are fine I suppose but we’d never for a second tolerate it from any other group when taken to the .. let’s face it racist and xenophobic extreme of the Jewish orthodoxy. Somehow its quaint when a Jewish girl is expected to marry a Jew but racist and offensive for say, an Irish Catholic to say the same. Is this what is meant by the “good aspects” of religion? What’s more.. when Dawkins interviewed the Rabbi at the orthodox school (in The Root of All Evil?) he admitted his students would have been exposed to Evolution and that , paraphrasing, “most of them probably rejected it”. Is this the grand tradition of Jewish scholarship at work? Is this the cost of preserving the warm community and rich traditions?

I find the argument is not convincing.

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Posted: 14 December 2008 11:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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re: the effect of moderate religion

I think this topic is separate from the issue of Orthodox/prax Judaism because that is a rather unique entity unlike other ascetic sects and their moderate counterparts.

Debate is probably useless. The social transition toward moderate religion is a consequence of the incompatibility between fundamentalism and modern democratic states. The shift is then organic and we could point out ways in which it is harmful (it inflates the confidence of malignant Godhead’s as they count their followers) or helpful (moderate theists oppose the efforts of zealots on social issues like abortion).. but really, what’s it matter? It’s a step in the right direction and assuredly one on the path to greater atheism.

The positive effect of community is a phony issue. Schimmel seems to admit this in saying belief is not required etc.., because one step further is this: religion/synagogues are not required. This is a very important point- Americans particularly, we have the view that you are either a rural livin’ Community/Family values Theist or an aloof atheistic librul city slicker. Probably the warmest family-centric community-minded place I’ve been to reminded me a great deal of rural Texas.. except that it was Denmark where I visited old friends last year. Among the most atheistic, socialistic and socially liberal places on the planet.. they long dispensed with any real   religion but they kept the community. More or less the same could be said for the village I live in, here in southwest Germany. Americans remain dedicated to an absurd false dichotomy.

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Posted: 15 December 2008 03:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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sate - 14 December 2008 10:58 AM

..................Indeed, no culture has more successfully leveraged the psychology of in-group/race/tradition/family/religion/taboos better than the Jews. This is what disturbs me. Belief is optional- as long as you keep doing what we tell you you should. Isn’t that a rather brazen admission that the aim is power and control not sanctity and community?

Okay, no doubt in-groups can create a source of conflict, but try this one on for size if you really don’t understand why people with a weak or non-existent connection to a religious tradition would still choose to be part of the faith:

Back when I first left home, I worked in a restaurant owned by a Jewish concentration camp survivor, who went the whole nine yards, practicing his religion, even though he told me that no one who seen the things he had would believe there was a God watching over us and answering prayers. For him, carrying on with Judaism, and raising his children as Jews was an act of defiance against the Nazis and the only meaningful tribute he could pay to the rest of his family and most of his relatives who never got out alive! Even though he stopped believing in the God of his forefathers, he could not get past the consequence that abandoning Judaism would have been a victory for the Nazis just the same as if he died like the rest of them.

Was he right? I think he had a valid point.

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Posted: 15 December 2008 04:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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sate - 14 December 2008 11:34 AM

re: the effect of moderate religion

I think this topic is separate from the issue of Orthodox/prax Judaism because that is a rather unique entity unlike other ascetic sects and their moderate counterparts.

Debate is probably useless. The social transition toward moderate religion is a consequence of the incompatibility between fundamentalism and modern democratic states. The shift is then organic and we could point out ways in which it is harmful (it inflates the confidence of malignant Godhead’s as they count their followers) or helpful (moderate theists oppose the efforts of zealots on social issues like abortion).. but really, what’s it matter? It’s a step in the right direction and assuredly one on the path to greater atheism.

This is where I part company with the New Atheism. There is an unfounded assumption here that the theists are under the hypnotic spell of religion, and if the religious are brought to their senses, they will become happy, skeptical atheists! It seems to me that a lot of people are hardwired to be drawn to magical beliefs and mystical experiences—and there are a minority of us who are natural skeptics, and keep falling out of religion every time we try to take the plunge.

Dean Hamer and Andrew Newberg have come up with some interesting findings that support the position that some are born to believe, and others to disbelieve. If true, dreaming of a future golden age of rationalism will be as much of a pipedream as it was a hundred years ago!  If traditional religion is in decline, the people who are prone to magical thinking will find some other outlet to feel “spiritual,” such as new age mysticism—but they are not going to just stick with what’s in the natural world without trying to add imaginary stuff to it. I have a hunch that it’s better to just leave moderate religion alone until situations arise when the cattle prod of rationalism has to be applied, and they have to leave their fundamentalist brethren behind and reinterpret their religious positions to keep up to date.

The positive effect of community is a phony issue. Schimmel seems to admit this in saying belief is not required etc.., because one step further is this: religion/synagogues are not required. This is a very important point- Americans particularly, we have the view that you are either a rural livin’ Community/Family values Theist or an aloof atheistic librul city slicker. Probably the warmest family-centric community-minded place I’ve been to reminded me a great deal of rural Texas.. except that it was Denmark where I visited old friends last year. Among the most atheistic, socialistic and socially liberal places on the planet.. they long dispensed with any real   religion but they kept the community. More or less the same could be said for the village I live in, here in southwest Germany. Americans remain dedicated to an absurd false dichotomy.

Again, I’d be interested in finding out what the polling data on how many Danes believe in ghosts, UFO’s, astrology, naturopathic medicine etc.. Maybe they happen to be a rational society, or maybe all of the services provided by a socialist government has eliminated the incentive to belong to a church. But, that still does not mean that they have abandoned all supernatural beliefs!

In the U.S., and in Canada, where I live, I know of more than a few people who have joined new non-denominational megachurches primarily for the reason that they provide the only sense of neighbourhood and community in many of these brand new, sterile suburbs. Reducing the power of the religious institutions may have more to do with government providing the services, than it does with trying to deconvert the believers.

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