john guzlowski

john guzlowski
Location
Danville, Virginia, USA
Birthday
June 22
Bio
I was born in a refugee camp in Germany after World War II, and came with my Polish Catholic parents Jan and Tekla and my sister Donna to the United States as Displaced Persons in 1951. My parents had been slave laborers in Nazi Germany. Growing up in the immigrant and DP neighborhoods around Humboldt Park in Chicago, I met Jewish hardware store clerks with Auschwitz tattoos on their wrists, Polish cavalry officers who still mourned for their dead horses, and women who walked from Siberia to Iran to escape the Russians. I write about these people.

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APRIL 3, 2013 4:12PM

Atheism?

Rate: 16 Flag

I saw the following poster and thought it was pretty interesting.

 549644_228128413995108_1343776672_n

Well, Atheism makes as much sense to me as Christianity.  

What's Christianity teach us?

God throws the first two people out into the cold because they ate an apple he told them not to.  

Then when people turn bad he drowns the lot of the scumbags except for Noah and his sons (one of whom he banishes because he saw his dad naked), but then everything gets fixed when God sends his son to earth and has him get himself crucified to save the children of the two people God threw out of Paradise in the first place.  

But only if they give up their pagan faiths and convert to a religion created by Paul, a former persecutor of the followers of Jesus.  

Holy Virgin Mother of God, is this any more sensible than atheism? 

I mean God makes more sense than Christianity. 

 

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I do love Jesus, especially when he threw the money changers out of the Temple and stood between the mob and the woman, saying "Let he among you who is without sin, caste the first stone."

Don't care very much for his "Old Man" though, He and I have had our disagreements and subsequently agreed to a non-aggression treaty.

Great post, good humor in the absurdity of extremes. R&R ;-)
Yes, Jesus. There's a man. The beatitudes are okay in my book.
"I mean God makes more sense than Christianity."
Hello,John!
You probably know by heart that I agree.
A non-aggression treaty! That's fun.
Meh!

Theism has lots and lots of faults.

Several forms of atheism have similar faults.

Six of one...
I like RD Laing, a psychologist, guru, smart crazy guy of the 60s. He said the best approach to any kind of system was simultaneous belief and disbelief. God is great. God's not so great. Religion? Well, yes and no.
Christianity... brought to you by the fine people who believe in talking snakes.
I've quoted from R.D.Laing's Knots on several occasions in this forum.

He is aces.
Frank, my brother, I did my dissertation on Laing and contemporary fiction! Taught classes in Laing and lit! Politics of Experience!
No one who thinks that atheism is a "belief" has a clue about what it is - and isn't.

Let me offer you a suggestion - make of it what you will - any time you'd like to know about atheism, ask an atheist. Believe it or not, we who are atheists really do know more about it than non-atheists.
.
I am sick to death of 'theological thought police,' no matter what religious perspective tyhey come from.

In this context, there is no meaningful distinction between pushy evangelical fundamentalists and non-believers. Both obsess over any beliefs different than theirs. Both validate their perspectives on God by invalidating any perspectives that deviate.

Furthermore, both serve up their perspectives without ever being asked.

Moreover, it's useless in every sense.

It's my experience that one's religious self identifcation reveals NOTHING about a person's decency or righteousness.

Don't believe me?

Jerry Falwell and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Both Baptists.

John Kerry and Rick Santorum. Both Catholic.

Eric Cantor and Bernie Sanders. Both Jews.

Stalin and Andrei Sakharov (one of the worthiest of all Nobel Peace Prize laureates). Both atheists.

I've known righteous, compassionate, honest accepting people from every imaginable religious perspective, from the hardcore atheist to the most devout Christian, and everything in between.

As such, would any God who would turn from such people would be worthy of worship.

If you happen to believe in God, would the Almighty really be worthy of worship if He [sic] was the petty sectarian so many people insist He is?
Politics of Experience was an excellent book, John. I have it somewhere on my shelves. But for pure enjoyment...Knot simply knocked my socks off.

It was, I will acknowledge, my introduction to Laing...so it was a first love.

The "introduction" by the way, came as part of an awareness expansion seminar (something similar to EST) that I participated in many years ago. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had.

I hope you ask Sky some of the questions he wants to be asked. The answers should be fun.
From Knots ( ? )

I have seen the Bird of Paradise and I shall never be the same again ...

One glimpse is all we need. I think I saw Jesus, when I was small, but it might have been the baker.

The life I am trying to live is the me that is trying to live it.

Thanks, John.
Ya, well...I don't gno.
Here's a link to the first chapter of Laing's Politics of Experience: http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/en/laing.htm
Mark Ira Hoffman, I'm with you. I've known good believers and bad believers. People who have had similar life experiences but ended up in opposite religious corners. Both my parents were in concentration camps, but my mom ended up an unbeliever and my dad a believer.
[r] I appreciated and found God most as a humble and needy new 12 step meetings joiner years ago.

Agree with jmac about Christ.

Laing was a genius who cut through the dangerous psychological mystification of authoritarian professional judgementalism. Knots was great. Great poetry. Laing one of the few especially then who recognized the toxic MATRIX. Schizo society/family, etc.

I always liked the expression to us believers, "If you are not feeling close to God at the moment, who do you think moved?"

best, libby
Something happened in between, you know.

But I won't comment on that.
One of the nice things about Reform Judaiism is there's not too much to believe. The Bible is composed of some history and a lot of teaching myths and praise of something or someone anthropomorshized to be holy. Jesus' teachings as a Jew were from the Old Testament. He never told anyone to worship him specifically. That was the disciples. Mainly, his message was about love, which is in the Old Testament. All great writings contain Truths. Reform Judaiism doesn't contradict evolution or science, in general, and doesn't believe in an afterlife, except in the memories of and influences on the survivors.
Jackie, thanks for the good news. :)

If I were looking for a faith, I would be Jewish.
kosher, you weren't addressing me were you? what are you talking about?
Jackie wrote:

Mainly, his message was about love, which is in the Old Testament.


I think it is mentioned in there...although you gotta wade through a lot of very hard-love stuff to get at it.

The god of the "Old Testament" was not one to spare the rod, so to speak.
Just because the classless join forces doesn't add to their classlessness.
john, sorry, please delete my last message. I put on wrong blog. libby
As an atheist I don't know what sky's got against calling it a belief. It's more fitting than "theory", more descriptive than "proposition" and it's certainly not an article of faith.
"In November 1954, five months before his death, Einstein summarized his feelings about his role in the creation of the atomic bomb: "I made one great mistake in my life... when I signed the letter to President Roosevelt recommending that atom bombs be made; but there was some justification - the danger that the Germans would make them." (Clark, pg. 752). A.E. Life & Times

One learns and thinks a lot reading you, John.

And this found googling Einstein and God:

'I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details.'
(Simpletoremember.com) Judaism Online

I've often suspected that the murder of John Lennon was tangentially precipitous to the repetition of his iconic, counterculture anthem, Imagine. Wherein the ubiquitous 'message' was to imagine nothing to kill or die for. Obviously the psychosis of the assassin had other cruel aspirations, but my point is that the status quo only takes so much before it reacts. If we must have organized belief systems, they ought to be taught better, before the ironically named 'golden rule' melts to oblivion.
Tick tock goes the doomsday clock.
Libby,
No, I wasn't. I just noticed that the gist of the post seemed to be "There was atheism, and Christianity came along" and I was being a wiseass and saying that something else came along before Christianity that's still here and that carries less of the baggage John is alluding to.
I won't comment on atheism as a belief system except to say one thing:

I've spoken to an awful lot of evangelical atheists.

Which is to say that, in my experience, atheism often seeks converts.
Kosh wrote:

I won't comment on atheism as a belief system except to say one thing:

I have known many atheists who BELIEVE there are no gods...and who proudly proclaim and assert that there are no gods.

Obviously not all atheists do that. But for anyone to suggest that atheism is without "belief"...hasn't a clue about atheism...even if that person is an atheist.
Dear Kosher, regarding evangelical atheists, if I were to start a belief system, the first commandment would be:

Don't try to convince anyone else to believe what you believe?
Spencer wrote:


Why do some people who believe in a God assert that the atheists LACK of belief in a god is itself a belief?

I do not know of anybody who does that…and I certainly do not.

But SOME atheist state that they believe there are no gods.

That is a belief.

I have a sneaking suspicion that they are using this as an attempt to lower the credibility of atheists to the level of religious people.

No need to lower it. For the atheist who have beliefs that there are no gods…it is already low enough.


They seem to be saying "Yes, religious people believe in something even though their is no proof. But atheists BELIEVE there is no god, so they are just as bad."

And some atheists do…and they are just as “bad.”



That sort of logic doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

“That sort of logic” is just a straw man creation. Of course it doesn’t stand up to logic…so why create the straw man?




You don't have to believe that you DON'T believe in something -- if you don't believe it, you just plain don't believe it! That's all there is to it.

Fine…for the atheists who go that route. But for the many who go a different route, they still have to answer for their beliefs.

Wanna talk about it?
Spencer wrote:


OK, Frank, so you say that most atheists just plain don't believe in a God, but that there is a certain subset of atheists whose lack of belief somehow IS a belief?

I have not said anything of that sort, Spencer.

Just quote what I actually said rather than trying (rather unsuccessfully) to paraphrase my comments…and comment on what I actually wrote.



I'm not sure I want to try to untangle that bag of worms.

Me neither. Not sure why you invented that stuff in the first place.


Maybe you could write up a detailed explanation of how that works and post it on your blog?

Try dealing with what I have written here before getting into even more detailed matters.

ASIDE TO JOHN:

I'm just responding to what has been written here, John. If you would prefer that I take the conversation elsewhere...just tell me.
Perhaps more so than any other time in history we might all do better not to believe what we think.
Spencer, I am not interested in riling up the atheists of OS with a provocative new thread. If you would like to start such a thread, however, do so and I will instantly attend and discuss the issue with you.

We certainly can do it here…in a thread actually titled: ATHEISM. In fact, it makes sense to do it here.

Quote anything I said with which you take issue; tell me why you disagree…and I will initiate a response.

This will further John’s thread.
John,
Judaism already does that. We don't seek converts.

Spencer,
The problem I have with your take is that I've seen too many atheists (like Bill Maher) try to convert people with religion to atheism, which is an oddly religious behavior. Jews don"t seek converts, but many atheists do? That's why I talk about atheistic evangelism.
Evangelical Anything can be irritating.
`
a poor country boy prays to Virgin Mary.
Hoping that in the afterlife he'll have a hit.
The Evangelical Christian Hopes Misery Ends
When?
After he Croaks. Kicks Bucket.
Priest has Bible under armpit.
Black Bible stink High Heavin'
`
on his deathbed . . .
Dear Kosher Rabbi refuses:
`
To take morphine to dull pain.
Dying Atheist explains Mystery.
He Preaches Why He Optimist.
`
I always enjoy the Hope that:
`
After death - in afterlife - basil,
lox, double-yoke duck eggs, rye-
bread, and good cooks. No kooks.
I know many respectful atheists who disavow religion as a matter of principle. They don't go out of their way to offend or attack other people's beliefs or cultures. This is fine.

I know many respectful Hindus, Christians, Jews and Muslims who are devout. Yet, they do not go out of their way to offend or attack other people's beliefs or cultures. This, too is fine.

On the other hand, I have met some Atheists, Christians and Jews, and heard about some Muslims and Hindus on tv, books and magazines, who go out of their way to offend and/or attack other people's beliefs or cultures when they do not match their own. This is a small group. The number of respectful people I meet is far larger than the number of disrespectful people.

But there is always a small group of people, regardless of belief or background, who believe that they are right and that everybody else is wrong and they wish to impose these beliefs on everybody else. Sometimes this is done militantly and aggressively. Sometimes it is passive and unconscious.

For example, the Soviets were officially atheist. Despite being a "non-belief," they imposed this non-belief on folks with belief with great intensity. Under Stalin, Central Asian Muslims found their freedom to practice their faith curtailed to no small degree, perhaps to an even greater degree than they did under the Czar.

During the French Revolution, the Jacobins were pretty cruel with their anti-clericalism, too. For example, bringing a guillotine to a rural village in the Vendee 1795, asking who violated the law by being baptised, and then beheading people. This may be an example of "non-belief," but its still a bit extreme.

I believe that some atheists passionately reject religion, believing, not without cause, that religion is a fountainhead of ignorance, human suffering and misery. They wish to save humanity from this abyss, and liberate them with their enlightened ideas. To do this, they will resort to militant aggression, if need be.

The history of 19th century Jacobinism and 20th century communism shows us that atheism can, indeed, be militant, aggressive and even violent. It can manifest itself as a belief system like any other.

The best thing is to adopt a principle of mutual co-existence and tolerance. This is my policy. That said, its but a first step. I don't know if we can have anything more .
Frank, no problem. I'm enjoying the conversation.
RWoo5g,

Beheading people with a portable guillotine is " a bit extreme"?

hmmm? Well yes. I see your point.
Regardless of how one terms a philosophical viewpoint, it is still a viewpoint or belief, even if its based on opposition to something.

For example, you have "pro-life" folks vs "pro choice." On the other hand, these are the terms each side gives themselves, so they can frame themselves as being positive and "in favor" of something good, and wholesome, and wonderful.

On the other hand, their detractors define them in terms of being "anti" something. So, an opponent of abortion would call a pro-choice person as "anti-life," or perhaps even "Pro-Abortion," knowing that even though the word "pro" is attached, the word abortion is so violent, it will paint the person negatively. In this same light, the pro-choice crowd tries to paint the pro-life crowd as "anti-abortion," or "anti-choice."

Its all about linguistics and tactics.

Does the utilization of one set of words, rather than another, instantaneously mean that one group has, or lacks a coherent belief system? No.

Atheists are against a belief in God.

As a matter of fact, in the West, atheists tend to be against the belief in Western conceptions of God, but they tend to be rather tolerant of non-Western religious beliefs. For example, I have never seen an American atheist go onto a Muslim blog and attack them for being religious. I have never seen a British atheist go onto a Hindu blog and attack them for being polytheists. I have never heard of Canadian atheists, vacationing in Africa, attacking the locals for their animist traditions.

Rather, these Western atheists reserve their animus for the religion of the majority cultures in which they were reared, namely, Christianity and Judaism.

It is possible that their being "atheist" has more to do with a general protest against these specific religions, due to their specific teachings and political stances, which caused them to doubt the existence of these specific Western deities, do to the cognitive dissonance such teachings and stances caused in regard to their own lives. Hence, the militance.

Now, this is difference between atheism and agnosticism. I know many scientists, lawyers, doctors and academics who genuinely don't know if there is a God. They have major doubts. They are not observant. They retain cultural loyalty to their religion, due to family cultural concerns, and filial duty to ancestry and family history. Some may have been raised Catholic, may not believe in the Gospels, but still celebrate Christmas, sing religious songs in Church on the major holidays for cultural reasons---its part of belonging to the culture. Its part of their identity. They just lack devout spiritual belief. Many ancient Greeks were the same way about Zeus and Poseidon. This isn't a unique feeling.

That said, Agnostics don't go around and try to persuade everybody to be equally uncertain. Some may not even believe. But they don't have the same missionary zeal of the atheist. Most agnostics don't even really define themselves as such. Most atheists conspicuously define themselves as such. Its a term of identity, a label worn with pride. In this manner, too, it differs from agnosticism.

Then we look at "Satan Worshipers." You really can't have Satan worshipers in any culture, save Christianity and/or Islam. Hinduism doesn't recognize Satan, nor does Buddhism, Shintoism, Aztec religion, Norse mythology, Pagan Celtic mythology, Ancient Egyptian mythology and the like.

Judaism has Satan, but here, he's more of a prosecutor angel, as shown in the Book of Job. Not evil at all. Just somebody who tries to prove that somebody "isn't worthy" before God, who acts as a judge. But the prosecutor must still obey the judge.

In Islam and Christianity, Satan is seen as the "anti-God," and they have a distinct Manichean perspective on him, very similar to Milton's interpretation in Paradise Lost, that of the Fallen Angel.

Now, interestingly, Satan Worshipers specifically adopt this perspective of Satan, and they worship it as a deity. Sociologically speaking, this is an interesting development.

Since Satan worship doesn't really exist in the Middle East, its safe to say this is basically a form of new age, ritualistic protest against the dominant Christian culture. They basically choose the most controversial figure from Christian mythology, dress up in black, paint pentograms, mix up the ritual with genuine Wiccan pagan rituals, throw in some Ayn Rand philosophy, and pretend they are their own religion. In fact, its more of a protest-religion.

In fact, I would classify them as Ultra Radical Protestants, because they aren't just protesting specific aspects of Catholicism, but the entire God thing, too, and worshiping some mythological fallen angel anti-God instead. BUT, its all within the Christian paradigm. All the symbols and names, they are all the creations of Christians. Indeed, the Satan that Satan worshipers worship was CREATED by Christians as a foil to their God, which is the hillarious thing.

So here, its a "faith," but its really an "anti-belief," or "anti-religion," but its still a religion. And in this way, I think, its similar, in ways, to Atheism, at least insofar as they are defined by their opposition to the majority faith.
Be sure to link "faith" only to religions, since the definition of "faith" is a belief in something in which there is no proof. Be careful not to incorrectly link "faith" to atheism, which is a LACK of belief in something (a God) for which there is no proof.

I see you are still making that inaccurate general characterization.

Perhaps you should return to our discussion.
The Good Comment Teach Us. Think.
We can Hear the Many Various Views.
Various Views. It Makes a Wild World.
`
This Post got me to be Pondering Beliefs.
It's Better Than being a Quiet Mannequin.
I read The 'Style' Section in he Wash/Post.

Spring cause the Human Spring Sap to Flow.
I have been Trying to Be more Quiet. Hushed.
To Stop the Mind seems to Be a Great Teacher.

I Live in the Mountains. Spring Peeper Inspire.
I'll often Play Gentle Music and Listen to Birds.
My Salvation Comes From Shutting my Mouth.
`
I Seriously Believe The Mind needs Quiet Rest.
Nature Soothes. Nature Heals. It Replenishes.
Serious.
I need to Rid my Psyche of Sad Images. Thought.
If Mind is Flooded with Sorrow I Die Premature.
This is just Seems to Work, Personally, for me.
Was Milton discussed in the above thread? The Paradise Lost
epic is well worth the time and so-called energy. And of course
Vonnegut (sp) top to bottom for those with an inkling toward modernism. Such dissertation might be:
>Conundrum of Freedom
why was my last comment truncated? Is no one at the helm?
Spencer is correct, Seer.

But many of them have "faith" that no gods exist.
If I'm not mistaken, in Judaism, Satan is a normal angel. If Judaism believes in Heaven, this would mean that Satan himself lives there with God and the rest of his angels, such as Michael or Gabriel. But here, Judaic conceptions of Michael and Gabriel, too, differ from the Christian conceptions.

Jews do not worship angels, in the way that Catholics pray to angels.

Early Christianity, too, (which became Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy) took the single angel, Satan, and turned him into the "anti-God" figure.

Which shows the influence of Eastern Hellenistic manichean philosophy, or dualism, in early Christianity, and how it embraced multicultural theology in its early development.

This is why Christianity is so interesting a faith. Many of its ideas are much more ancient than the religion itself. Furthermore, many of its ideas and cultural practices transcend Judaism. They embrace and preserve ideas, cultural practices and concepts from Hellenistic philosophy, Middle Eastern, Roman, Greek and Egyptian paganism.

As a Christian, when I celebrate these rituals, I feel connected to over 4,000 years of cultural history throughout all of Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Its really an interesting cultural, anthropological experience.

That said, I realize this is only because I am a certain type of historically minded intellectual. 99% of churchgoers are not experiencing Church in the same way I am.

That said, they should. It is most enriching.

I am currently reading Jung and Joseph Campbell. Also enlightening. Religion is not about "absolute text-based truth."

It is about something else.

If you read the book "Life of Pi" you will see what I mean.

Its metaphorical, psychological, communitarian, cultural.
And let me clarify. When I say "transcend Judaism" I do not mean "better than" or "evolved." I simply mean that Judaism is one approach. And that, academically speaking, Early Medieval Christianity (which became Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy) was a hybrid of approaches, combining the traditions of Judaism, Egypt, Hellenism, Manicheanism, Roman Paganism, Norse/Germanic paganism, Eastern mysticism and the like.

So here, transcend merely means that although it was born in Judaism, it became multicultural and synthesized the traditions of other peoples, cultures, faiths and groups. This was probably done to aid conversion. But at the same time, the religion probably spoke to different people in different ways, and they also may have utilized their own unique, dominant paradigms as a way of understanding new paradigms as they were introduced.

Ergo, it may not have been a wholly cynical, conscious act on the part of Christian missionaries.

Islam took major aspects of Christian theology and incorporated it. Yet nobody argues that this was because Mohammed was indoctrinated forcefully by cynical Byzantine missionaries. What probably happened was that Arab traders took Christian ideas and Arabized them, and incorporated them into their own world-view.

Cultural diffusion is a wonderful, interesting process.
Outstanding! It really is almost easier to not believe in anything, rather than believe the rubbish and drivel of Christianity and it's unbelievable hypocrisy (practiced daily by it's followers). The Vatican remains easily one of the largest money making organizations every created and the most corrupt and violent. Their collusion with the Nazi's during WWII continues to be revealed.
Among the aspects of Judaism I appreciate (and there are many I appreciate) is that there is no belief-requirement (let alone a catechism) for a person to be a Jew, a full and complete Jew. I am a Jew solely by virtue of my having been born to a Jewish woman. I could go into the historical reasons for that but suffice it to say that Jewish Law (Halacha) says this .o equivocation.

Of course, every religion gets to make its own rules/laws as to who is and who is not a _____.

In Judaism, it's sufficient to be born to a Jewish woman (and in the case of voluntary conversion) -- Kosh is right -- there is no missionizing in Judaism. Evan as to converts, no convert must pledge to a belief in God; s/he studies, usually attends shul after conversion, observes holidays, but there's no policing of belief.
God is evolving. And has been for 100000 years or more. When we speak of God we generally are talking about the most recent development. The homo sapien god. There were gods before him. The bronze gods. The clay gods. The wood gods. And before them there were 10s of 1000 of years were the god or gods were nothing like todays god. Who did the cave artists of 30000years ago pray to while they worked for 5000 years on their drawings of mastodons? And if they didn't pray to god because they didn't know him why not? Where was there god?
Among the aspects of Judaism I appreciate (and there are many I appreciate) is that there is no belief-requirement (let alone a catechism) for a person to be a Jew, a full and complete Jew. I am a Jew solely by virtue of my having been born to a Jewish woman. I could go into the historical reasons for that but suffice it to say that Jewish Law (Halacha) says this .o equivocation.

Of course, every religion gets to make its own rules/laws as to who is and who is not a _____.

In Judaism, it's sufficient to be born to a Jewish woman (and in the case of voluntary conversion) -- Kosh is right -- there is no missionizing in Judaism. Evan as to converts, no convert must pledge to a belief in God; s/he studies, usually attends shul after conversion, observes holidays, but there's no policing of belief.


Jonathan, this bit of reasoning was a bit disingenuous.

I am an American because I was born to American parents in America. But that has nothing to do with any religion or non-religion on my part.

Your comment dealt with your ethnicity and the cultural aspect of your being a Jew. But there is a religious aspect to Judaism…and far from being without any “belief” component…it has as many as any other religion. In fact, the “belief” structure of the ancient Jews are the reason we have all the rest of what has been referred to here as “this nonsense.”

(I do not think of it as "nonsense"...and I stand on what I have said about it.)
Man may very well have invented God. It may be a psychological need, in which we communicate with a sublimated aspect of our psyche. Who knows?

That said, it still behooves us to respect religion and the function it has served in human development, culture, and the world.

Some psychotherapists say primitive tribal shamans display traits similar to schizophrenia and various other psychiatric disorders. That said, should they go to the tribe and shatter their belief system, the results would be rather nasty.

Why destroy the beliefs of some Amazonian tribe, especially if you have nothing of equal sustenance and comfort to offer them in its stead?

The transition from one belief system to the next should be gradual and self-sustaining.

I was reading an account of the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs. When they totally killed off the Aztec nobility, high priests, etc... and destroyed their temples, desecrated their holy objects, the Nahuatl culture went into a free-fall.

Being conquered by the Spanish was one thing. But having their belief-system, which gave them sustenance, so quickly destroyed and their myths turned on their heads, caused many to become so despondent that widespread suicides took place and many became indifferent and apathetic to the Conquistadores.

Similar things happened to animist religious belief systems in Africa when the British and Portuguese arrived.

I think its wise to not go out of one's way to "destroy sacred cows" of another belief system.

Betrand Russel once said that "Sacred Cows make the tastiest hamburgers," but I think he was a real asshole for saying this. If he went to India, slaughtered a cow and ate it to prove a point to Hindus, we would all know he's a prick. He's phrase was metaphorical, but regardless, its still callous.
Frank: some people cherry pick, so they can make their points more easily...lol

Christianity is different from Judaism, though, in that there are fundamental premises upon which the religion is based. Because its not ethnically or tribally based, its based purely on thought.

Judaism, because it began much earlier in human history, developed at a time when religion and ethnicity were often intertwined. We see this with the early Hebrews, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Trojans, Greeks, Scythians, Norse, Ancient Egyptians, Hitites, Assyrians and the like.

Each antiquarian group had its period of relative isolation, and or a period in which they strove to define themselves relative to their neighbors and their religion became sort of the ideological litmus test by which they defined their tribal identity against those of their neighbors.

Over time, as cultural habits developed, and history became established through acts, oral and written history, one could still claim membership in the same group, while simultaneously doubting the early, religiously-based foundation myths of the culture.

For example, Plato in the Republic has much dialogue between various learned Greeks, including Socrates and I believe Xenophon, discussing non-belief in the theologically-inspired foundation myths of Greece. This is found in other works from ancient Greeks. Many ancient Greeks grew so learned, that they doubted the "magic sky God" foundation myths of each of their city states. Yet, due to the strength and continuity of Greek culture, they still considered themselves Greek.

The Greeks would eventually abandon their early tribal religion and its belief in Zeus and Poseidon and adopt the universalist religion of Christianity.

Judaism is the only religion today that still carries many of these ancient traditions, where ethnicity can coincide with religion, but one can subscribe to the religion but not the ethnicity, but also belong to the ethnicity (Ashkenazi or Sephardim) but not the religion. I think it is unique in this manner.

That said, its not grounds to attack other faiths who have a more ethereal, non-ethnic, idea-based conception for their existence.
And yet, Judaism may very well originate, religiously speaking, with the Egyptian cult of Akenhaten, the Pharaoh who broke with 2 thousand years of polytheism and tried to impose state-sanctioned monotheism on Egypt. He believed that the Sun-Disk, Aten, was the Supreme God, the only God, and tried to abolish all the other Gods.

That said, he still maintained the Egyptian prayer ritual, which ended in an incantation to the Egyptian God Amon-Ra, which is where the Jews and Christians get the word "Amen" from, even though the word was intentionally spelled differently by early Hebrews, in terms of an aleph and yodh, to mask the geneology of the belief.

The general belief is that Moses' tale of escape from Egypt was actually the tale of semitic slave followers of Akhenaten (who had converted in captivity) fleeing Egypt for their original homeland after he and his dynasty were overthrown. You see, there was a Civil War in Egypt between monotheists and polytheists. This is how King Tut was murdered (he was the son of Akhenaten).

And, as we all know, Egypt owned modern day Israel. Indeed, its territory went all the way up through Lebanon and Syria up through Cilicia in the south of modern day Turkey, in 1450 B.C. It went a little more south, later on, following Hitite attacks, but these were finally stopped at the Battle of Kadesh, in modern day Syria.

But the fact is, most serious academics show that modern Monotheism grew from this event in Egyptian history. Monotheism is African in origin.

I think alot of what we read in the Bible was added on, later.

That said, religion speaks to other truths. The truth or falseness of it is irrelevant. I understand the true history and geneology of many religions.

That said, I do not like to go out of my way to "disprove" other people's faiths. I think its obnoxious.
I just commenting that this Inspires Serious Thought.
Soon, I Plan to Hook-Up a computer in my Home Hut.
Youth in Farm Guest House will Be Computer Tutors.
`
This need, in my opinion, some quality Attention. Serious.
I guess we - Sure Enough - Be Evolving in A Vast Universe.
When Not at a Home it's Not Easy to Read, Pause, Sctatch.
Home is more suitable for rereads. It's Fun to Ponder Life.
john, now that is a helluva line.
"God makes more sense than Christianity"
atheism you sum up well.
nothing . but. well somehow something.
something from nothing!!
(that does NOT compute with me.)
I must reluctantly agree with art james.
I don't like doing so, for it only fuels his uncanny poetic fire,
of which I am envious..
"we - Sure Enough - Be Evolving in A Vast Universe.
When Not at a Home it's Not Easy to Read, Pause, Sctatch.
Home is more suitable for rereads. It's Fun to Ponder Life."
No survivors' guilt here!

Rifling out a modest check (I hope you don't bounce) to the
Ronald McDonald House et al because I am. [A dear friend's
dau is triumphant vs. a rare cancer and my friend speaks highly of the gratis accomodations available to afflicted families].

Excellent

thread, J.G.!
I'm sorry I didn't keep up with this thread more.

Spencer,
I will tell you a few things about Reform Judaism, my branch. You already know that no branch seeks converts, among other things because, to the extent we bother with the afterlife at all, we don't believe you have to be Jewish to get into Heaven.

Torah, our central document, is not treated by us as if all of it is factual history. The questions of historical validity are mainly beside the point - we study it (along with a lot of other writings and rabbinic commentary on all of it) to puzzle out what ethical lessons we can draw from it. That approach, of heavy analysis, of questioning, of anything but blind obedience, leads to moral imperatives. Reform Judaism in particular is heavily social action-based. If I had to guess, I'd say that the approach is actually more critical than the document, and you'd have to become more familiar with the approach to really understand what I mean. The way we define it is that it's our responsibility to work on repairing the world.

It is not faith-based in a conventional sense. Faith is not imperative. In fact, how you treat others is blatantly more important than faith is, all through Judaism, not just the Reform branch. Judaism is also more based on right and wrong than on reward and punishment.

Another thing to understand about Judaism in general is that it is probably history's most successful system per capita at producing activist humanists. That is a very desirable outcome, even to atheists.

Frank,

Judaism is, if I can use my own definition that I'm not at all sure is widely shared, a people that can be joined through its religion (and left through conversion out). That makes the membership question a little strange, because religion is one face of the package, though not everyone who is Jewish practices anything religious at all.

Spencer,
In any case, I don't think there's an advantage to me, even an ethical one, of leaving Judaism to join atheism. We have our own ways of teaching what's important and, in our case, what's important isn't superstition. If identification with the group makes us more committed to the ethical standards of the group, so be it.
spencer, what this shows me is that faith is more important than religion.
spencer, what this shows me is that faith is more important than religion.
There's still more money in daytrading than, say, philosophy.
Driving down the highway--amazing How anything survives.
TGIF ladies and gentleman!
Best of luck to Secretary Kerry!