Commenting on atheism

After the lively discussion I had, I wanted to get my feet wet with some bloggers. Being as easy as it is to find content on WP, I searched for a few minutes and then found this post: To Those Who Say There is No God. It seemed as good as any to dive into, and I opened with the following:

I grew up “spiritual” with no religious training other than the random christianity events for holidays. As an adult, I became a Christian, then got into messianic christianity. Then I rejected christianity and became a Jew. Then I rejected that too. I can’t say with 100% certainty that there is no god, but I’m about as certain as saying there probably aren’t unicorns either.

Ultimately, it was my incessant needs to have questions answered. Religion couldn’t answer them. I found the natural world to provide a better source of understanding the world than a sky man watching me.

It seemed to me this was a fairly tame comment. Also, I’m especially fond of Richard Dawkins’s “unicorn, elves, fairy” comment and was looking for a chance to use it.

I found the site’s owner, Victor, to be pleasant. But then, this other person stepped in – Freedomborn! – which is pretty much where everything went to hell.

So what Proof have you got Jason that there is no God, have you died and come back and so can be so certain there is no God or Heaven or Hell or are you just going by hearsay and your own understanding, as Christians we do have Proof.

Christian Love – Anne

I’ll save you the drudgery of posting that mess here. You can do that if you feel like it. My conclusion from the experience is that religious people (Christians in this case) have problems believing some very basic facts, like facts based on history for example. Coincidentally, history was also a problem for the gal mentioned in the previous post.

After going through the whole experience for several comments I grew tired of it, realizing it was like talking with a dog. Which leads me to the question, in a roundabout way, but I’ll get there…

All of my debates and with various religious people in the past were useful because I used the Bible and spoke with them around a common authority. But now I speak to people from a different reference point, like when I would talk with Christians about Judaism – it’s nearly impossible because it centers around Jesus and their interpretation of the Tanakh as it relates to the New Testament. Unless you can get them to speak from a common reference point, there’s not going to be any eye-to-eye discussion.

Is it then worthwhile to talk with Christians about atheism? I enjoy discussing religion – it’s still probably one of my favorite topics – but is it worth it to engage? When you can’t discuss with someone about simple things like historical facts and fossils that anyone can view at their local college/university, how do you have a discussion? What has your experience been?

Thanks for reading.

Jew Roundup

The Phoenix New Times has reached a new low in its publication of Jew Roundup by Michael Lacey. At the request of a congregant, my Rabbi wrote the following response, Letter to the Editor, to the Phoenix New Times and encourages others who find the material as reprehensible as he does to contact them, complain about the article, and demand an apology and retraction of the material.

In addition to calling the Phoenix New Times at 602-271-0040, you can also email the editor by clicking this link.

As Rabbi Lavinsky points out, it is not the racism of this post alone that is troubling, but also,

The publication of this article just a few days before Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, highlights just how clueless the New Times is to the sensibility of a people that has already done more than their share of suffering over the years.

Jew and non-Jew alike, please take a moment to read Rabbi Lavinsky’s Letter to the Editor, and contact the editor yourself.

We must not be silent.

Hey, Jew!

Before I start, I want to be clear that this post is not about an anti-semitic incident that happened to me. Rather it’s a tale expressing my amazement at the level of ignorance and insensitivity people still display towards Jews, and the manner in which I intend to deal with it when I cross its path.

If you know me you know where I work, and if you don’t know me you can figure it out pretty easily, but for the sake of protecting the innocent I’m not going to say it outright here. At my current job I have had two separate incidents with someone speaking ignorantly towards me. Today was my second incident. The really great thing about this one is my cube-mate is also Jewish (it’s really great—this has never happened before), so I had a little support.

A fellow co-worker poked me with a stick from my side and said, “Hey, Jew.” When confronted with a semi-aggressive “What?!” he plead ignorance and pleaded, “I said ‘you.'”. Not buying it I proceeded to tell him how inappropriate, rude, and disrespectful it was. When I mentioned there was a history to the context of being called “Jew” he said he didn’t know it. So, I explained briefly a little thing called the Holocaust, yellow stars, and Juden.

While he still tried to play it off as a goofy bastard, I challenged him to approach a black co-worker and address him in a similar, relevant manner, at which he promptly declined.

I was mildly pissed off by this and after the offender left my fellow Jew turned and told me that if I had not said anything he would have. At which point we discussed it for a couple of minutes.

As I think about this in hindsight I am a bit more pissed off about it than initially. There will be ignoramuses, schmucks, and people who make honest mistakes, but in spite of this, I do not know why people will speak to a Jewish person in a racial manner that they would not address a black person. Therefore, it is my new agenda when confronting this issue I will issue the challenge. If given the opportunity, I will enlist the help of black people around me to cooperate with my challenge to the offender, making himself available at a moment’s notice, so that a point may be strongly impressed upon the person to never repeat the mistake again.

This is something that I will no longer deal with wearing a smile and believing in the innate goodness of people. I will address the issue aggressively with a determined goal of preventing it from happening to another from this person, or from another who witnesses the event.

Interesting News about Israel

Here are a few interesting pieces of news pertaining to Israel that are worth a read. All articles are from JTA. Click the link to read the full article.

Obama official: Israel should sign non-nuclear pact

This article addresses a U.S. non-official request for Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The poser with this is that it would confirm Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons. If you want to read about the NPT, check it out here.

Congressmen call for Gaza aid conditions

This brief article addresses a letter sent to Secretary of State Clinton by two Democratic congressmen. They request that terms need to be set for the Palestinians to receive the first 1/3rd of a $900 Million aid package (incindentally, this was part of the ‘stimulus’ package, but that’s another story…).

If the U.S. is going to follow through and actually give this terrorist state money, it must have conditions placed and met before a penny can be sent. Why we would do this befuddles me. It not only won’t go to the people it would be intended to help, but it would be used by it’s corrupt, terrorist government to fight Israel, thereby effectively placing the U.S. in a threatening posture towards Israel. Moreover, it would work to undo all the work Israel has been doing to combat the terrorism.

Israeli police seize ancient Hebrew scroll

This is a great article about a piece of Israel’s history. This scroll is a piece of evidence proving Jewish existence in the land contested by Palestinians. The irony to this ‘proof’ is that those who need it would never accept it. Anyway, it’s a good read, check it out.