I was raised in a Christian sect that in many ways was very similar to Judaism. That is one of the reasons I take an interest in Judaism. The first cracks in my faith were also because of the Old Testament which also draws me to this section of the board. The New Testament and the specific doctrines of the sect I belonged to were just as riddled with cracks. When the questions began it took a very short time for all of the cracks to propagate and bring my faith crashing down.
The OT presents a picture that does not hold together internally. It became apparent that the OT contradicts itself so many times in so many ways that it could not be the work of anyone who was inspired by an omniscient being. At the same time it became evident that the OT and all associated religions at their core are elitist, exclusionary, and parochial document. Some sects have advanced beyond that but that is in spite of, and in direct opposition to, the canonized texts. The Bible suffers from blatant errors, lies, and/or distortions depending on the true motives of the authors. A good starting place is, “The Bible Unearthed” or the related documentary.
The ability of humans to explain away inconsistencies and point out flaws in others’ logic that are identical in construct to their own fallacious thinking is interesting. I found that when I was a Christian many Christians from other sects, in an attempt to dismantle my beliefs, very effectively refuted their sects foundation in the process. Since leaving I have had experiences where Christians do the same thing while speaking of “apostates” and the supposed errors in our reasoning. A very good Jewish friend spent a good portion of time pointing out the errors in Christianity for me. The odd thing was, all of the issues she brought up were errors in Jewish scripture and she made no mention of errors in the purely Christian texts. In short it has become apparent that religion works for many people because it fits our illogical but evolutionarily successful thought processes and emotions. Atheism/agnosticism are basically logical yet they are a contented person’s luxury and do not work well for those facing the numerous harsh realities of existence and our inevitable demise.
The reaction of some of the adherents of Judaism to criticism of their religion is virtually identical to the reaction of the members of the church in which I was raised. I actually write much less about Judaism than I do about my former faith but those things I post on two other boards. My former religion is in decline partly because they turn a blind eye to all criticism and explain it away. Criticism often contains some very good information that is useful to think about and perhaps address though not always. The Christian denominations, not mine obviously, who can think critically about their own beliefs and carefully consider criticism are often resilient and fairly vibrant.
The dogmatic segments of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are likely heading for extinction if the social climate continues along roughly its current trajectory. The believers in my past faith ignore some massive and glaringly obvious flaws in their historical record and doctrine. They also claim persecution when these flaws are pointed out. It is typically not intended as persecution it is just a candid comment about reality. The same is true about many of the attempted discussions of the flaws in Judaism and Islam. Continue to cry Antisemitism if you will whenever someone points out a flaw or inconsistency in the Torah, Israeli foreign policy, or what have you. However, it is often an erroneous cry of persecution and a denial of reality.
Discussion on this board has been largely squelched by the trolls who come here with that very intent. Adherents of my old faith do the same on the forums of my fellow apostates. The faith that I come from is roughly the same size as Judaism and is declining in membership worldwide by about the same yearly percentage. They have rendered themselves largely irrelevant to the lives of most of the six billion people on this planet. With the blinders on so tightly the chances for reform before slipping into even greater irrelevancy are beginning to vanish.
Just a few of my thoughts. I believe this is the cue for all of the trolls to jump on and respond with things such as “antisemite, Hitler, holocaust denier, blah, blah, blah.” I do not deny the holocaust, I think Hitler was one of the ultimate psychos ever to exist, etc. I like most others who used to post on this board are looking for somewhat of a rational discussion. That will likely never happen and Judaism, along with Islam, and many flavors of Christianity will likely continue their fiction-guided journey with eyes tightly closed.
“The Old Testament is responsible for more atheism, agnosticism, disbelief - call it what you will - than any book ever written; it has emptied more churches than all the counterattractions of cinema, motor bicycle and golf course.”
- A. A. Milne
“The Old Testament filled this world with tyranny and injustice, and the New gives us a future filled with pain for nearly all of the sons of men. The Old Testament describes the hell of the past, and the New the hell of the future.”
- Robert G. Ingersoll
“If a man would follow, today, the teachings of the Old Testament, he would be a criminal. If he would follow the teachings of the new, he would be insane.”
- Robert G. Ingersoll
Let’s assume you and I were sitting in a bar and you just told me all of this, and I felt like you were trying to get something out of your system rather than just trying to start an argument. I think my first question would be:
How did your former faith’s interpretation of, or adherence to, the Old Testament negatively impact you?
Thanks for that link Coop, it’s always fun to revisit shows on the pbs.