The musings of a juggling mother

Rants & raves about life as a woman today, juggling work, home, kids, family, life the universe & everything.

© Mrs Aginoth. The right of Mrs Aginoth to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents act 1988

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A load of tosh!

OK, so here's the follow up post to yesterdays, explaining why I really believe everything there is a load of tosh!

Judaism was the original religion to understand the concept of one God watching over his people on Earth. That simple over-riding belief is the one truth running through nearly every religion practised in the world today, and is so wide-spread that it is only logical to believe the idea has been given to us by God himself.
I mentioned in the comments that the whole concept of monotheism seems pretty stupid to me. If there were one, all powerful, all knowing, eternal god, you'd think he'd have made a better job of the Earth & humanity than we see around us! Natural disasters, disease, distribution of resources, and the deliberate isolation of groups causing nations/nationalism & wars come to mind, and don't even get me started on why there are soooo many montotheistic religions/sects, all believing fundementally different things.

And us - I mean, what ridiculous designs was he working from - or was he just sadistic in making us in his own image - air/food intake in the same place, blocked by a voice box, causing choking & death. Waste disposal & procreation organs in the same place, pleading for various infections/problems. Carotid arteries an easy swipe for any claw, and a simple mouthful for those toothed animals, a spine that is unable to support us throughout our life, organs that wear out, teeth that wear down and a genetic imperitive to ignore all of His laws (no sex till marriage, but men think about sex every 3 seconds?! Don't eat pigs, but they are the most versitile animal foodstuff on the planet! etc) . And if it was sadism, I assume it was masochism too, since he must have made himself. Now WHY would anyone design themselves this way?

While we're on "In his image" - who? Me? you? Angelina Jolie? Should we be fat? thin? black? white? round eyes? Flat eyes? Blond? Brunette? 6 feet tall? 4 feet short? Or does anything that is humanoid shaped count? what about Apes? monkeys? Nobby nobbs?

finally it is NOT the one truth running through every religion today - there are only four recognised monotheistic religions: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Sikhism, which meansthat out of the top ten religions in the world (defined by number of adherants), seven are polytheistic!

Judaism follows the word of God as written in the Torah This is the real bible - "the old testement" as I have heard it described, was written for God's chosen people, and all those who do not follow it's teachings are casting themselves out of his salvation. Most other faiths are perversions of Judaism, where people have found the teachings difficult to follow and have re-written them for their own ease.
This basically boils down to the fact that I don't believe, and can't really see how any rational person can believe that the torah/old testament is the direct word of God. Again, you'd think he'd have made it a bit more obvious. and maybe a couple of copies? Some present day smiting might do the job:-) Not natural disasters - they are indiscriminate, but something a bit more obvious. Assuming he actually wants us to follow his word/guidelines/whatever, you think he'd have made them easier to understand. And maybe discouraged us from warring over interpretations? Yet most religious wars have someone claiming God "told them to".

And he's a bit of a bastard to his chosen people isn't he. What's with the diaspora? The persecutions through the ages. The nasty genetic diseases he's given us?

Again, only three religions have been born from Judaism, and they have come from the addition of new information, rather than the dislike of the old (although Jesus freed christians from following some of the old).

For Jews, God really is our father - in his wisdom, love, anger and dissapointment, we can understand our role and our purpose in life. He is there for each one of us, guiding me through my life, but giving me the opportunity to stand on my own two feet and find my independance. I can talk to God at any time, and I know he will listen, and help me do the right thing. I do not need inanimate objects, other people or a special place to assist with this dialogue, I know he is there watching me all the time.
This i find rarely works in practise. Although they may have a dialogue with God at any time, Jews will seek advice from their Rabbi - who can be as good or as bad as any community leader! They are still expected to turn up at synagogue every Saturday and holy day, to follow the kosher rules, wear specific clothes (not defined in the Torah) and various additional laws (although they can be "let off" for good reasons if a Rabbi says it's ok).

This is just the version of "religion as an excuse" as you see so prominently in other faiths. I can do this, cos i spoke to God & he agreed with me. In my head. And you can't prove any different cos it was in my head!

As a Jew, I am not "at war" with science. I can accept the world in all it's glory and with all it's flaws. I try to live my life as best as possible, because I know that is what I should do. I know that punishment is there as an option if God wishes to use it, but I follow the laws because I do not want to disappoint him, not because I fear retribution or dream of fantastical rewards to come. We have free will to decide what and how God expects us to follow his teachings in the Torah, and as an individual I am able to make that decision for myself. I can be a good Jew, and a good scientist/nationalist/politician (mostly)/teacher or anything else.
Liberal Jews do have a good record of integrating with other societies and cultures due to necessity, and most will accept the modern world without qualm. That is not a reason to believe in a religious doctrine! Jews accept that this life is the most important one, (the afterlife being a bit confused and vague to most jews) and that the judgement of their peers is important. that is defining a good society IMO, and has nothing to do with spiritual beliefs. Of course orthodox Jews have a fantastic tradition of ghetto's, even when welcomed into a society with open arms.

I follow the rules because I know that will make society & therefore the lives of myself & my loved ones better. Although I know there are punishments laid down if I get caught breaking them, that is not why I don't break them. Although I know I may possibly have a better life if I follow all the rules absolutely, I do not do so on the promise of that life. However, I do not believe in ANY kind of higher being, spirit, soul, afterlife or judgement. One does not equate to the other.

My Jewishness is more than my belief, more than my culture, more than my nationality, more than my philosphy. It is all these things together. It is my life. everything I do is part of being a Jew. When i eat my dinner, I am being a good Jew. when I wash my car, i am being a good Jew. when I go to the shops, I am being a good jew. It supercedes every other identity I have, and combines with them, to make me into a better person.
Utter, utter tosh. In what way do i have the same "culture" as an African Jew? My culture, nationality and beliefs are defined by my education, upbringing and personal experiences. your religion does not, and should not supercede other identities ever - it leads to the whole situation we are in with radical muslims claiming they must support their "brothers" 1000's of miles away by blowing up thier "brothers" next door!

If I & my clone were born at the same time, & lived exactly the same lives, but clone believed and I didn't, in what way would that make the clone a better person?

When I eat my dinner I am being a good person, when i wash my car i am being a good person, when I go to the shops I am being a good person. Belief in God has nothing to do with it.

Jews have survived more turmoil and persecution than any other race or religion, and we have come through it stronger and more sure of our faith. We have dispersed accross the whole world, both voluntarily and by force, and we have come through it with our faith stronger and more cohesive. Millions have died, knowing that if they recanted their faith - or even just broke a few rules, they could save themselves. Jews from multitudes of different backgrounds, speaking different languages, knowing different cultures, have come together in Israel and made a home country, a nation, out of nothing. Anything that strong, must be the truth.
One of the known things about religion is that it is defined by hardship. Cultures with no/few enemies, a plentiful food supply and temperate weather have very few Gods. Humans like to blame things on someone, and when there is no obvious reason for something bad happening, God is invented. We have an innate sense of fairness (it's a good survival technique - you help me & I'll help you), and the world is inherently unfair. We are also stubborn & the more we are told to stop something, there more we want to do it. Again, no reason for a rational, modern person to believe in a set of religious doctrines written by men, 1000's of miles away, 1000's of years ago.

My Jewishness is integral to my life. It is integral to my children's lives. It is not there to make life easier, or to offer me solace, or to provide sustenance - it is just there. all the time, and forever. I can no less stop being a Jew than i can stop being a human being. they are one and the same. Those who deny their Jewishness are denying their very existance.
My jewishness is irrelvent to my life. It is irrelevent to my childrens lives. It does not make my life any different to if I were a different theist, an atheist, or an agnostic. I neither think about it or follow any of it's rules. I only remember about it occasionally, due to others questions usually. I can no more start to feel Jewish than I can start to feel male. i do not deny my jewishness, it is an irrelevance.

My atheism is also an irrelevence most of the time - it is not a belief system. It does not feel that "gap" that theists seem to think is paramount to my life. There is no gap! I believe there is no God in the way I believe the Earth is round. Or the sun is a big ball of fire. Or that the moon landings did happen. I personally have not got any proof of any of those, but I accept the evidence & make my own judgement. I don't teach it to my children, and I don't try to convert or pervert theists beliefs. I trust them to make their own judgements, and it doesn't matter to me if they agree with me or not. As long as their general social and cultural outlook is broadly compatable with mine, we can live together quite happily


  • At Tuesday, February 28, 2006 8:57:00 pm, Blogger Dave said…

    Top post, send a copy to Simon, stand back and watch the fireworks!

  • At Tuesday, February 28, 2006 9:17:00 pm, Blogger Juggling Mother said…

    Ah, but to Simon the whole lot was blasphemy:-)

    I think i said somewhere, atheists usually have a reasonable understanding of theists beliefs (if not what makes them believe it). Theists seem absolutely petrified of even looking at non-theistic beliefs as anything other than evil incarnate. We see them as an interesting social practise. They see us as mental terrorists.

    Obviously a biot of generalising there, but that's how it seems to me sometimes.

    Well done to Sadie-Lou who is the only Theist (as far as I know) who has taken up the challenge - even though I think she got it wrong, at least she looked at some possibilities.

  • At Tuesday, February 28, 2006 10:05:00 pm, Blogger doc-t said…

    what exactly is the challenge?

  • At Tuesday, February 28, 2006 10:13:00 pm, Blogger CyberKitten said…

    Mrs A said: They see us as mental terrorists.

    I like that...........

  • At Wednesday, March 01, 2006 7:07:00 am, Blogger Juggling Mother said…

    DocT - the post below explains the chalenge & links to JA's original post. Basically it was to write one post stating the opposite of our beliefs

    CK - that is pretty uch what I've been accused of just by disagreeing with some theists. they see any oter pov as an attempt to "destroy" them, and their lifestyle.

  • At Wednesday, March 01, 2006 12:17:00 pm, Blogger CyberKitten said…

    Mrs A said: CK - that is pretty much what I've been accused of just by disagreeing with some theists. they see any other pov as an attempt to "destroy" them, and their lifestyle.

    I haven't had that over the top argument used against me... but I have come across the idea that atheism is somehow a 'dangerous' idea that shouldn't be allowed to spread too much.

  • At Wednesday, March 01, 2006 12:26:00 pm, Blogger Juggling Mother said…

    CK said I haven't had that over the top argument used against me... That's because you fel the point of arguing is to change someones mind - and therefore leave a debate if you think that is never going to happen:-) I think the point of arguing is convince someone that there are other valid points of view, and that they should try to accept that fact as reality, so i stick it out longer & with tough opponants sometimes;-)

  • At Wednesday, March 01, 2006 6:25:00 pm, Blogger BaconEating AtheistJew said…

    When the leader of Iran goes off about Jews, the Holocaust, and wiping Israel off the face of the earth, he isn't talking about just religious Jews. It is the anti-semites that bound the religious and secular Jews together.
    Hitler didn't ask any Jew if they believed in God before he murdered them.

  • At Wednesday, March 01, 2006 9:08:00 pm, Blogger Juggling Mother said…

    So my mother told me throughout my childhood.

    It doesn't change my beliefs though! And nobody should bas their identity and personal beliefs/actions over the way others see them!

  • At Monday, March 06, 2006 1:54:00 am, Anonymous Mendel said…

    I apologize for writing briefly, as I shall now do, but my schedule, as my wife can tell you, does not allow me to indulge beyond a very short email. I only found your blog b/c I am doing a search for sources on juggling in Judaism and so your site came up. I glanced at this piece (and in truth I did not read, and so will not address, all your points) and I wanted to address a few of the thing which you wrote. Regarding "the image of G-d", no Jew understands this phrase in a physical sense. If they do, they are not Orthodox, and I am willing to guarantee that they are also not Conservative. While there are different ways of understanding it (and the one which I prefer has to do with humanity's creative potential) none of the "classical" approaches has anything to do with physicality. Regarding chosenness: Most Jews are uncomfortable with this concept. If you have the time to read "The Dignity of Difference" by Dr. Sacks (chief rabbi of England) you might find yourself less averse to the idea. Finally, regarding Jewish survival over the millenia: You are undoubtedly correct that there are other ancient groups which have survived till today despite hardship (though I daresay that there are far less than you think) but I would argue that the issue is not merely one of survival. If you read Mark Twain's oft quoted piece from Harper's, his point is not just that the Jews are still around, but that they are still around and still making positive contributions. Anyway, I think that that's enough for now, and I must go back to work.


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