Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart
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Wednesday, 4 February 2009

The Religion of Anti-Religion

There are, for my observations, five basic principles to Judaism as outsiders see it:
1) Religious Jews have a set of core beliefs
2) These beliefs are based on the writings of "important" rabbis.
3) These beliefs cannot be contradicted or disproved. Any evidence that does must be ignored, discounted or fought.
4) Those who reject these core beliefs are fools who are missing out on "the truth".
5) Those who are happy living outside to these core beliefs are deluded fools.
The argument against being religious from the anti-religious bloggers out there seems to be pretty simple:
a) The only real Judaism is Chareidi Judaism
b) Judaism's basic principles like Torah miSinai and the story of the Creation of the world have all been proven to be wrong.
c) Therefore Judaism is wrong so anyone who still believes in it is stupid.
Although it is so easy to refute this argument, trying to do so is of little use. Like any good intellectual (some of the stupidest's people I know are intellectual) approaches things, these anti-religious types have already decided on the answers they will and will not accept.
If you point us that Chareidi Judaism, while definitely the dominant form of Torah observance nowadays, is not the only kind and that Modern Orthodoxy and Religious Zionism have their own authorities and views on many of these subjects, views that must be more palatable to them, they simply reject the notion. Non-Chareidi Torah observance is illegitimate. Modern Orthodoxy is simply people who want to keep kosher but also see movies. If they were really religious, they'd sell their plasma TV's and start wearing shtreimls like they're supposed to.
If you point out that Judaism's basic principles have not been proven to be wrong but that there is rather vigorous argument in which both sides make important points, they are again dismissive. Any philsopher or scientist who disagrees with them is wrong and his points are meaningless.
In summary: any evidence that there is a wide range of genuine Torah observance and that Torah observance can be rigorously defended on scientific, intellectual and philosophical grounds does not exist. Therefore their argument is right.
I don't want to waste further time contending the point. There's an old saying I like to recall when tempted to: Don't try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.
Rather, I want to point out the ultimate hypocrisy of these anti-religionists:
1) They have a set of core beliefs
2) These beliefs are based on the writings of "important" intellectuals and philosophers.
3) These beliefs cannot be contradicted or disproved. Any evidence that does must be ignored, discounted or fought.
4) Those who reject these core beliefs are fools who are missing out on "the truth".
5) Those who are happy living outside these core beliefs are deluded fools.
6) While aggressively attacking opponents of the core beliefs, they must also stress that they are the real victims. As they attempt to scream their opponents into submission, they must also shout about how they're being silenced.
Hey, do points 1-5 seem awful familiar to you? Although they'll never admit it, the anti-religious types are still quit religious. In fact, they're Chareidi in their passionate devotion to their empty philosophy. And that makes point 5 the saddest of all. At least while one is within the comforting wings of Torah Judaism, one can find find spiritual bliss. But from what I've read on the blogsphere, outside its warm environment, there's just vitriol to be spat at those who haven't seen "the light".

4 comments:

Baruch said...

Remember when that book Bondage of the Mind came out? He was entirely focused on chareidim, and a very specific set of chareidim --the authors of Anglo-chareidi English-speaking Litvish authors. Or, in Neusner's words, "Feldman, Gottlieb, and Tauber have met their match. But there are other builders of Orthodox Judaism and other voices of the classical canon altogether, and for the best minds of contemporary Judaism critical history does not mediate the message of Scripture at all."

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

"The message of Scripture"
That's Reform Judaism, no?
I hope the Orthodox won't feel so intimidated by critical history that they need to retreat to "the message of Scripture" to defend their religion from attack.

SJ said...

read my blog

Yeshivish Atheist said...

If there is genuine reason that my brain finds convincing to believe in X, I will believe in X. If there is not genuine reason that my brain finds convincing to believe in X, I probably will not believe in X.

That is the way I evaluate things and live my life. I don't think that is so unreasonable.

Of course, I have no problem with your brain finding something convincing that my brain doesn't (unless that would result in my harm of course), since in reality there is no objective criterion for proof since we all adhere to not exactly the same set of criterion.

But that doesn't mean it's useless to try and convince other people to adhere to different criteria, or to use those criteria to convince other people, we use logic all the time to solve basic, everyday problems, it's how we get by. It makes testable predictions that can be confirmed as well. If there is any criteria for getting as close as objective truth for the important questions of reality, then I think logic would be the best one. I understand that different people come to different conclusions using logic, but that is what the logical debate is all about: taking advantage of the fact that we all share similar criteria of logic to deduce truth. And it works.

To sit around and straw man other people's positions and attack them won't accomplish anything, and that is exactly what you did here with me. You have addressed me by linking my blog while saying I make the following arguments when I do nothing of the sort.

"The argument against being religious from the anti-religious bloggers out there seems to be pretty simple:"

"The only real Judaism is Chareidi Judaism"

I never said that nor do I believe it. (Although some Chareidi Rabbis say that all the time.) This is a straw-man of both me and my position.

"Judaism's basic principles like Torah miSinai and the story of the Creation of the world have all been proven to be wrong."

Firstly, there is not such thing as absolute proof, nothing can be proven in the absolute sense to be correct or false. Not that needs to make a case to make a logical deduction, but I just wanted to get that point across.

Secondly, while I will contend that it is not reasonable to believe in the Creation story in light of scientific advancements, I am talking about believing in them literally.

"c) Therefore Judaism is wrong so anyone who still believes in it is stupid."

This is another straw-man. I never said that from the other two premises Judaism is wrong. Nor do I believe that anyone who believes in it Judaism to be stupid. Smart people believe in incorrect things all the time.

"Although it is so easy to refute this argument"

Yeah, most straw-man arguments are pretty easy to refute. Not such a big chiddush.

How about you either stop making up arguments to put into my mouth to refute them when in reality I have said nothing of the sort, or simply leave my name out of your links. Thanks.