Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart
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Tuesday, 11 August 2009

How to Waste Time

Last week I was away on vacation and while I was elsewhere I had a chance to think about things.

Is there a point to arguing through blogs over important issues, for example.

The answer I came to is: no.

It's a complete waste of time. A normal, intelligent debate presupposes that each party is prepared to change his mind when presented with evidence of the other side's position. Unfortunately, I'm not really surrounded by normal intelligent people. Rather it's been quite the opposite: closed minded misanthropes who are fanatically devoted to their illogical positions and who don't so much want to discuss issues as to ridicule and demean those views they don't agree with.

The irony, of course, is that they exemplify all those values that they claim their left Judaism over. They're exactly like the frummies they hate. Different values but the exact same methodology.

Here's an example - the famous Letter to My Rabbi at TalkReason. The entire letter can be rejected by a simple rebuttal: never assume that the simplistic answers a kiruv rabbi gives you are the real, final and only answers to your important questions. I mean, really, would you go into a Chryster dealership and expect to learn everything about cars in general? If you deal with kiruv folks, you get quick sound-byte answers that are easy to rebut because they're not that deep. So what?

Should I waste time proving there's a God, that Torah miSinai happened and that the Torah we have today is 99% what was handed to Moshe Rabeinu? Why bother? Short of God Himself opening up the Heavens on CNN and taking an interview with Larry King to confirm all these items, nothing will change their minds.

So why bother trying?

If I come up with a good answer, then I'll start arguing again. Until then, unlike many in the blogosphere, I have better things to concentrate on.

11 comments:

David said...

I'm curious, Garnel-- are you prepared to change your mind on the subject of Judaism?

SJ said...

Jewish Philosopher will break up with Garnel if Garnel does change his mind on the subject of Judaism. XD

The Leader, Garnel Ironheart said...

No David, I'm not prepared to change my mind. From my readings and research and based on my limited understanding of the subject, I'm content with the answers Torah Judaism provides to my questions.
Someone like that doesn't need to change. Why would they if everything's fine?

Shalmo said...

I flabbergasted that despite our long discussions on the variances between DSS, Samaritan Torah, LXX and masoretic torah. Not to mention the rabbinical insight I provided into more problems in us having a torah given at Sinai.

Despite all that, you still come out saying the Torah we have today is 99% what was given at Sinai.

You truly are an amazing person Garnel Ironheart!

David said...

"No David, I'm not prepared to change my mind. ... based on my limited understanding of the subject, I'm content with the answers Torah Judaism provides to my questions."

Gee, Garnel-- let me see if I understand you. On the one hand, you claim that a "normal, intelligent debate presupposes that each party is prepared to change his mind when presented with evidence of the other side's position." You further acknowledge that your understanding of the various questions at hand is "limited." You take others to task (pretty harshly) because of your perception that they won't change their minds when confronted with the reasons that support your "limited understanding." And, at the same time, you freely acknowledge that you are "not prepared to change" your mind.

So, Garnel, my question to you is: does being Orthodox involve the complete obliteration of any sense of irony you ever had, or were you just born without one?

The Leader, Garnel Ironheart said...

Don't mistake my humility for an admission of intellectual weakness, David.

I don't care if others change their minds. You'll note that all my posts are simply me stating my opinion and why I disagree with others. I'm not asking anyone to change their views.

And I'll have you know I take a multivitamin with irony every day.

David said...

Don't mistake your humility for an admission of intellectual weakness? Huh? Are we having the same conversation?

The humility of which you are pleased to boast is irrelevant. I'm pointing out that, once again, you are accusing others of doing what you are actually doing. In this case, you're bashing people (most of whom have already changed their minds on this topic) for being closed-minded when you have stated up front that you refuse even to consider changing your mind.

My point is not to denigrate your incredible humility, nor even to challenge your mighty intellect. I merely pointed out your hypocrisy.

The Leader, Garnel Ironheart said...

> you are accusing others of doing what you are actually doing.

Close. I'm saying that others are actually doing what I'm actually doing but they're denying it.

David said...

Ah-- but I'm not sure that they are doing it. I can only speak for myself (and you've already been candid enough to speak for yourself). As between the two of us, I'm absolutely willing to revise my opinion when the facts show me to be wrong (as I've mentioned before, I used to be more of your mindset, but have since become convinced that I was mistaken). You have taken the opposite view, but have condemned my crowd for doing just what you're doing. And, as I've pointed out, the only person who has been shown to be guilty of this particular sin is the one who is going around accusing others (i.e., you).

Off the Derech said...

>I don't care if others change their minds. You'll note that all my posts are simply me stating my opinion and why I disagree with others. I'm not asking anyone to change their views.

Riiight. From your VERY FIRST comment on my blog (from here). I should mention I had to put up with months of these kinds of comments from His Worship.


>But i would like to challenge your assumptions:

You hate God but don't believe He exists and see no conflict in that. Well there is because you cannot hate something that doesn't exist. You can think it's a bad idea, you can hate other people for thinking that it does exist but if you're being intellectually honest, you cannot hate it.

In truth what you really hate the CONCEPT of God. Why? Again, I'm guessing here and I freely admit that but I'm assuming your parents, being BT's, had a very fundamentalist concept of God which they tried to transmit to you. Many BT's tend to see things in black and white because that's quite often how they're taught. God was a certain way, He wanted certain things and if He didn't get them from you, wham! Lighting from the Heavens. A good Jew was someone who followed this particular version of "the rules" and a bad Jew was one who didn't, even if he claimed to be Torah observant.
So what is it about the concept of God you don't like? Is it the idea of an invisible authority sitting out there somewhere and judging you based on what you see are irrelevant or absurd standards? Is it the idea that you are not entirely the master of your fate? Or perhaps that the idea of God creates the concept of an objective, universal morality that doesn't match your own personal set of views?
If one strips away all the garbage that coats the writings of Dawkins, Hitchings, et al., it boils down to this: All people worship something. Either its some objective external authority, which we call God, or its oneself. Either one submits to an external authority's standards selflessly or one submits to one's own passions and desires selfishly.
The Gemara tells us that the only reason our ancestors in ancient times embraced idols despite having daily proof of God's existence is because of the sexual freedom idol worship allowed. They knew there was a God but hated the concept and tried to abandon it for their own personal gratification.
And modern atheism, which is on prominent display in bookstores all around, has advanced not one whit. All their arguments against God are:
1) I wanna do something and who is this God person to tell me I can't?
2) I think I'm right and perfect so who is this God person to tell me I have flaws?
3) More people have been killed in the name of God and more cruelty has been committed in the name of God than in the name of any other cause. So God is a cruel murderer, chas v'shalom.

The first two I've addressed. Let me note that the simplistic thinking of modern atheism is exemplified by the 3rd point. Nazism and Communism, avowedly atheist political movements, are the no. 1 murders and torturers in history. The Catholic Church only wishes it could have done what these monsters did. And how does Hitchens refute this? By saying that the way Nazism and Communism were set up, they were exactly like religions so no wonder they acted so badly. The flawed logic can only be laughed at.

So, in conclusion (assuming you're still reading), you have to ask yourself a simple question: What does your hatred of the concept of God say about your belief in your own divinity?

The Leader, Garnel Ironheart said...

I'm a damned great writer, eh?

Anyway, see what I meant about wasting my time?