This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.


← Does Religion = Superstition? G-D Forbid!

BenS's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by BenS

Well, I've not read the entirety of that other thread and - before I do - I'll respond to this at its face value with fresh eyes.

I honestly, really, don't get what you're saying.

Firstly, you say you were trying to respond to posters who asked you if you believed in god. Were you trying to answer that here, because you've actually given an answer.

You seem to be saying that Jewish culture is not separate from Jewish religion... but you don't give a reason why. You say 'if you understand X, you will see' but you don't explain the issue. Can you not explain why the two are separate without me having to spend 4 years studying the history of the Jewish people in detail? I can do so quite easily with Christianity.

My family are arguably cultural Christians. They celebrate Christmas and eat easter eggs. Are they religious? No. They don't believe in god. Are you telling me that it's not possible to be culturally Jewish without also believing in god? If not, explain why.

""What's Jewish culture? Matzah ball soup? Corned beef on rye? Marx Brothers? Mel Brooks? I'm not knocking those things, but is that all there is to it? There are plenty of Jewish sub-cultures: Sephardic; Ashkenazic; Yemenite; etc., but what is the one thing which unites them all? Torah & Mitzvoth." "

Both Torah and Mitzvoth are religious in nature. A religious book and a religious duty. That's the one thing that 'unites' (and I use that word VERY loosely) the religious Jews, but what about the cultural Jews. Those who behave like Jews in a Jewish community but aren't religious (do not believe in god). If you're saying that cultural Jews MUST include the religious aspect and then claim that the cultural and religion are inseperable then, yes, they are. You've defined it that way. It's a tautology. No wonder she couldn't deny it. You defined 'Jewish culture' and 'Jewish religion' as the same thing.

"it is lived out in all sorts of deeds including giving to charity, visiting the sick, marriage counseling & conflict resolution, [prayer] & study, sex & abstinence, honoring parents & raising children, work & rest, and even bathing & diet."

So if you do all that in the Jewish fashion, because it's your culture, but you don't believe in god, read the torah or attend services, are you a cultural Jew or not?

(I've included prayer in brackets because that's quite obviously religious. You can't lump a religious practice in with cultural practices and then claim they're inseparable. I've just proven that by separating them.)

""I'm not really a religious Jew; I'm more of a philosophical Jew." He said to me, "You're more religious than you think you are." I thought that was funny, 'cause I wasn't sure what he meant. Then I realized that he and I had just prayed with a minyan, and that is a religious thing to do."

So... you were wrong. You're a religious Jew. Unless you weren't really praying because you don't believe there's anything to pray to in which case your response should have been "No, I'm really not a religious Jew. Me praying just then was an act. I wasn't really praying.".

""You know, I used to regard so many of the mitzvoth as if they were just a bunch of superstitious mumbo-jumbo. But now that I'm learning more about the meaning of the mitzvoth..." and he said to me, "Now you're learning that it's meaningful mumbo-jumbo?""

Anything can have 'meaning' if you assign meaning to it or find that it sort of fulfils another role. Doesn't make it any less superstitious. Not walking under ladders because it's bad luck is just superstition. It sort of fulfils the role of a warning against walking blindly under things where there's a higher chance of getting a bucket dropped on your head but that's not how it's phrased or probably even intended.

From the mitzvoth, I fail to see how 'To believe in god and that he created all things' is anything other than superstition. To fear god. Same. Showing that some of them (washing hands before eating) make sense does not mean they all make sense.

Right, I'll go and read that other thread now.

Wed, 15 Aug 2012 15:59:39 UTC | #950828