The Always Articulate Aliza
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23-12-2015, 09:04 PM
RE: The Always Articulate Aliza
I can answer one of two questions tonight. I'll post my response to Chas's question tomorrow.

(23-12-2015 08:28 PM)Adrianime Wrote:  You keep mentioning atheist and agnostic Jews. So I have a couple questions on that.

1. Is that frowned upon in many Jewish circles? Or do people just not care any more?

I don’t meet many Jews that are atheists. It’s been my personal experience that if a person is going to go that route, they’re more like to consider themselves to be agnostic. I think part of the reason for that is that G-d isn’t shoved down people’s throats the way he is with other religions. Maybe they’re a little more receptive to the concept as a result of that.

In my family, and within my family friends, being agnostic (or atheist) isn’t a big deal. –In fact, it’s probably the default assumption. No one really cares, and G-d is never discussed. These are secular folks who wish to remain culturally Jewish, and unobservant of the commandments.

Among observant circles, a belief in G-d is assumed, but G-d’s presence and his impact on the world is not really discussed at length. –Don’t get me wrong. It does come up in conversation, it’s just that it’s not dwelled upon, and the conversation doesn’t keep turning back to the subject of G-d. People tend to talk about where to find kosher food, or what their last vacation was like, how work or school is going.
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23-12-2015, 10:33 PM
RE: The Always Articulate Aliza
(23-12-2015 09:04 PM)Aliza Wrote:  I can answer one of two questions tonight. I'll post my response to Chas's question tomorrow.

(23-12-2015 08:28 PM)Adrianime Wrote:  You keep mentioning atheist and agnostic Jews. So I have a couple questions on that.

1. Is that frowned upon in many Jewish circles? Or do people just not care any more?

I don’t meet many Jews that are atheists. It’s been my personal experience that if a person is going to go that route, they’re more like to consider themselves to be agnostic. I think part of the reason for that is that G-d isn’t shoved down people’s throats the way he is with other religions. Maybe they’re a little more receptive to the concept as a result of that.

In my family, and within my family friends, being agnostic (or atheist) isn’t a big deal. –In fact, it’s probably the default assumption. No one really cares, and G-d is never discussed. These are secular folks who wish to remain culturally Jewish, and unobservant of the commandments.
Danka

Quick question: Do you acknowledge that agnosticism and atheism are not mutually exclusive? Agnostic atheism being the more common form of atheism.

And yeah, I'd imagine that if you weren't put under threat of god-wrath then you'd be more willing to ask, "why am I/are we doing all this?" So you don't consider yourself agnostic? Or do you? Or have you in the past?

----------

Also, Chas has expanded his question:
Quote:To clarify my question, why keep kosher if one does not believe in God? The kosher rules are from the OT, are they not? But no God, no basis for the rules.

Eat bacon-wrapped scallops, ham and cheese sandwiches, and cheeseburgers for f***'s sake. Facepalm
Please note that while Chas' and my question (#2 from prev post) are very similar, they are different questions, so respond to my bits too por favor Smile. Or at least the bits that aren't redundant to your answer to his.

I prefer fantasy, but I have to live in reality.
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24-12-2015, 08:04 AM
RE: The Always Articulate Aliza
(23-12-2015 10:33 PM)Adrianime Wrote:  Quick question: Do you acknowledge that agnosticism and atheism are not mutually exclusive? Agnostic atheism being the more common form of atheism.

My understanding of the term “atheist” is that it means that the person does not believe in G-d, while the term “agnostic” means that the person is unsure and receptive to changing their minds in the light of new evidence. -I suppose both groups would change their positions if presented with the right evidence, though. Yeah, maybe I'm unclear on the definitions.

(23-12-2015 10:33 PM)Adrianime Wrote:  So you don't consider yourself agnostic? Or do you? Or have you in the past?

I consider myself to be a theist. I was raised with Jewish culture, but not with religion, and I can recall proclaiming to my friends as a kid that “G-d was stupid and didn’t exist!” –So I suppose I was an atheist as a child. I’m not sure. I wasn’t hung up on the G-d question as a kid. I swung the other direction in high school, and decided that a G-d figure just made more sense to me. I actively pursued a (rather varied) religious education on my own, and the conclusion that I drew was that Jewish (orthodox) theology made the most sense to me.

In Jewish circles, people aren’t running around in panic mode because someone they love has changed their way of thinking about the existence of G-d. It’s a silly thing to worry about, and it probably wouldn’t occur to most people to care about. We’re concerned with action, not thoughts.

Just as a funny sidebar, somehow my parents always knew I’d end up being the most observant person in the family. That had been a standing prediction since I was very small. I used to stomp my feet and scream at them when they’d say that! True to their prediction, I ended up exactly as they suggested I would be. (Admitting that I was going to be more religious was a really hard pill for me to swallow given my previous convictions. Tongue)
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24-12-2015, 08:50 PM (This post was last modified: 24-12-2015 10:39 PM by Aliza.)
RE: The Always Articulate Aliza
Quote:If a Jew doesn't believe in God, then what would be the basis for all those laws that a Jew is supposed to live by? Y'know, the God-given ones.

My version of the same question is...Why observe if you don't believe? Just a cultural thing? Also, if "god" doesn't want or expect anything more than your own pursuit of happiness, then what is the point of these "613 commandments, as laid out in the Hebrew Bible"? If "god" has made rules, why would he just "not care" if they are not followed?

The Hebrew Bible is not a story about creation. It’s not a story about sinning, and it’s not a story about talking snakes and donkeys; these are just not the main ideas of the story. It’s a guidebook on how to live your life. It is our assertion that following the commandments that apply to you will aid you in living a happy life, and help you live comfortably and peacefully with your neighbors.

The logical rules:

Many of these commandments make obvious sense to us. Don’t sleep with your neighbor’s wife. –Because it hurts your neighbor. Don’t covet your neighbor’s belongings. –Because it makes you feel bad about what you have. Don’t steal. –Because it cheats another person.

Why should someone have to believe in G-d in order to feel that these rules are wise, and promote a happy life? Whether the 613 commandments are from G-d or from desert people is totally irrelevant. The laws work well for us, that’s why we follow them.

The not-so-logical rules:

Other rules defy logic. The avoidance of pork and shell fish and not wearing linen and wool together in the same garment are examples of this. No explanation is provided, and we follow them either because the Torah tells us to, or because culturally, this is the expectation.

According to my best understanding of Jewish thought, G-d gives us the rule book, and lets us decide whether or not to follow it. It’s to our benefit to follow it, but not to the detriment of our eternal souls if we don’t.

If there is one thing that I want to really express, though, it’s that G-d doesn’t need us to follow the rules. He needs nothing from us at all. He doesn’t need us to worship him, he doesn’t need us to believe in him, and he doesn’t need us to live good lives, and our belief in him won't impact the universe in any way. These are choices we make, and while it may be the Jewish position that making good choices will be in your best interest and improve your life, your life and free will are still ultimately yours to do with as you please. You can choose to be an asshole, you can choose to make yourself miserable, and you can choose to hurt others. If you do that, you’ve wasted your life and possibly harmed others, but it was still your choice to make.

Quote:Why keep kosher if one does not believe in God? The kosher rules are from the OT, are they not? But no God, no basis for the rules.

Non-observant Jews generally do not keep kosher. Some may weave aspects of kosher dining into their otherwise non-kosher eating, while others may not bother with it at all.

If a person doesn’t believe in G-d, then the only motivating force that I can think of to maintain any dietary restrictions would be cultural. Some Jews don’t keep kosher but are completely nauseated by the idea of eating meat with milk. Others describe shellfish as being the same as cockroaches. It’s disgusting.

It’s not a part of our culture, and even if a less observant Jew can rationalize why there is no reason not to eat these foods, they may choose to avoid them for the same reason that non-Jews might avoid a plateful of spiders covered in monkey-semen sauce.
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28-12-2015, 11:47 AM (This post was last modified: 28-12-2015 11:52 AM by Adrianime.)
RE: The Always Articulate Aliza
Breaking stuff up so I don't have to answer all at once...
(24-12-2015 08:04 AM)Aliza Wrote:  
(23-12-2015 10:33 PM)Adrianime Wrote:  Quick question: Do you acknowledge that agnosticism and atheism are not mutually exclusive? Agnostic atheism being the more common form of atheism.

My understanding of the term “atheist” is that it means that the person does not believe in G-d, while the term “agnostic” means that the person is unsure and receptive to changing their minds in the light of new evidence. -I suppose both groups would change their positions if presented with the right evidence, though. Yeah, maybe I'm unclear on the definitions.

You sort of have the basic idea right. All an atheist is is somebody who doesn't actively believe in the existence of a deity (or deities). Different from atheism/theism which deal with belief, are agnosticism/gnosticism which deal with knowledge. It usually gets broken down like this:

a/theist = I believe (Or am without belief)...
a/gnostic = I know (Or am without knowledge)...

the common 4 sets that get communicated are these:
agnostic atheist: "I don't believe that a deity exists, but I don't know for sure."
gnostic atheist: "I don't believe that a deity exists, in fact I know for sure one doesn't."
agnostic theist: "I believe that a deity exists, but I don't know for sure."
gnostic theist: "I know that a deity exists."

The stance of agnostic by itself is theoretically possible, but I'm skeptical of it. Do you run into people who are completely unsure about the "god" question, and don't lean one way or the other on belief? My position is gnostic atheism, by the way. Which is an unpopular position as most atheists are agnostic.

Hope that's clear Smile.

Oh and none of these stances say, "I won't change my position if evidence presents itself." That's just being willfully ignorant.

I prefer fantasy, but I have to live in reality.
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28-12-2015, 12:09 PM
RE: The Always Articulate Aliza
Additionally a/gnosticism may refer to if knowledge is possible, not just if the individual knows. Somebody might say they are agnostic because they believe it is impossible to obtain knowledge about the existence of a deity. I don't usually think of it this way, but I'm just throwing this out there as well.

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28-12-2015, 12:19 PM
RE: The Always Articulate Aliza
(24-12-2015 08:04 AM)Aliza Wrote:  
(23-12-2015 10:33 PM)Adrianime Wrote:  So you don't consider yourself agnostic? Or do you? Or have you in the past?

I consider myself to be a theist. I was raised with Jewish culture, but not with religion, and I can recall proclaiming to my friends as a kid that “G-d was stupid and didn’t exist!” –So I suppose I was an atheist as a child. I’m not sure. I wasn’t hung up on the G-d question as a kid. I swung the other direction in high school, and decided that a G-d figure just made more sense to me. I actively pursued a (rather varied) religious education on my own, and the conclusion that I drew was that Jewish (orthodox) theology made the most sense to me.

In Jewish circles, people aren’t running around in panic mode because someone they love has changed their way of thinking about the existence of G-d. It’s a silly thing to worry about, and it probably wouldn’t occur to most people to care about. We’re concerned with action, not thoughts.

Just as a funny sidebar, somehow my parents always knew I’d end up being the most observant person in the family. That had been a standing prediction since I was very small. I used to stomp my feet and scream at them when they’d say that! True to their prediction, I ended up exactly as they suggested I would be. (Admitting that I was going to be more religious was a really hard pill for me to swallow given my previous convictions. Tongue)
Was there any event in highschool in particular that "swung you the other way"? Or were you just finding yourself? Was there something that really convinced you?

From my observation, I often see people choose their religious subculture based on which one fits their own lifestyle and morals best. For instance, changing which sect of Christianity you belong to because your current church says being gay is bad and masturbating it bad, so you find a church that says the opposite. Of course most people choose their religious culture based on what their parents did and what culture they were raised around. Do you think this was the case for you?

Haha, that is funny that your parents predicted this despite your attitude when you were younger. Maybe they saw you as a girl with strong will, strong cultural interest, or other personality traits that might lead to you "seeking" something? What do you think lead them to thinking you would become more observant than other family members?

What was the religious education you pursued?

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28-12-2015, 12:56 PM (This post was last modified: 28-12-2015 01:02 PM by Adrianime.)
RE: The Always Articulate Aliza
(24-12-2015 08:50 PM)Aliza Wrote:  The Hebrew Bible is not a story about creation. It’s not a story about sinning, and it’s not a story about talking snakes and donkeys; these are just not the main ideas of the story. It’s a guidebook on how to live your life. It is our assertion that following the commandments that apply to you will aid you in living a happy life, and help you live comfortably and peacefully with your neighbors.
So from your perspective, the Torah or Hebrew Bible is more like a, "How to..." (live an awesome life) book, than a rule book?
Aliza Wrote:The logical rules:

Many of these commandments make obvious sense to us. Don’t sleep with your neighbor’s wife. –Because it hurts your neighbor. Don’t covet your neighbor’s belongings. –Because it makes you feel bad about what you have. Don’t steal. –Because it cheats another person.

Why should someone have to believe in G-d in order to feel that these rules are wise, and promote a happy life? Whether the 613 commandments are from G-d or from desert people is totally irrelevant. The laws work well for us, that’s why we follow them.
Awesome. Yes, I totally agree Smile. Actually the concept that morals came from a god is a foreign concept to me that I didn't even hear about until 3 or 4 years ago.

Aliza Wrote:The not-so-logical rules:

Other rules defy logic. The avoidance of pork and shell fish and not wearing linen and wool together in the same garment are examples of this. No explanation is provided, and we follow them either because the Torah tells us to, or because culturally, this is the expectation.

According to my best understanding of Jewish thought, G-d gives us the rule book, and lets us decide whether or not to follow it. It’s to our benefit to follow it, but not to the detriment of our eternal souls if we don’t.

If there is one thing that I want to really express, though, it’s that G-d doesn’t need us to follow the rules. He needs nothing from us at all. He doesn’t need us to worship him, he doesn’t need us to believe in him, and he doesn’t need us to live good lives, and our belief in him won't impact the universe in any way. These are choices we make, and while it may be the Jewish position that making good choices will be in your best interest and improve your life, your life and free will are still ultimately yours to do with as you please. You can choose to be an asshole, you can choose to make yourself miserable, and you can choose to hurt others. If you do that, you’ve wasted your life and possibly harmed others, but it was still your choice to make.
That is the most logical outlook I've ever heard from a theist. Because yeah, if a deity did exist, why would it be this jealous childish monster that most people think it must be? Worship me! Love me! Believe in me! Follow these rules (or suffer)! It's terrible. If a deity existed why the eff would it care about all that crap or need anything from us? Often people who don't buy that stuff, but still choose to believe in a deity become deists. In fact, I probably wouldn't be an anti-theist if most theism worked this way. What you describe is very non-coercive as opposed to most Christian doctrine. Although, without coercion, I don't see how theistic religion can thrive.

So is there an afterlife in your beliefs? Can you describe it if so? Will more observant Jews (than you) have different beliefs on the afterlife or what god expects?

Aliza Wrote:
Quote:Why keep kosher if one does not believe in God? The kosher rules are from the OT, are they not? But no God, no basis for the rules.

Non-observant Jews generally do not keep kosher. Some may weave aspects of kosher dining into their otherwise non-kosher eating, while others may not bother with it at all.

If a person doesn’t believe in G-d, then the only motivating force that I can think of to maintain any dietary restrictions would be cultural. Some Jews don’t keep kosher but are completely nauseated by the idea of eating meat with milk. Others describe shellfish as being the same as cockroaches. It’s disgusting.

It’s not a part of our culture, and even if a less observant Jew can rationalize why there is no reason not to eat these foods, they may choose to avoid them for the same reason that non-Jews might avoid a plateful of spiders covered in monkey-semen sauce.
Haha, as somebody who doesn't eat seafood, I get it. In fact shellfish and Snails are equally disgusting to me. Eating a shrimp is no more appealing than eating a worm. Crab versus Tarantula. Blegh, it's all disgusting IMO.

What restrictions/observations do you personally do, and why?

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28-12-2015, 01:05 PM
RE: The Always Articulate Aliza
By the way if I'm throwing out too many questions, just let me know and I'll try to pace them out so it's not too much at once.

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28-12-2015, 05:04 PM
RE: The Always Articulate Aliza
(28-12-2015 12:19 PM)Adrianime Wrote:  Was there any event in highschool in particular that "swung you the other way"? Or were you just finding yourself? Was there something that really convinced you?

No, not really. I didn’t much care for learning Spanish in high school, so during that class period, I spent my time thinking of more interesting topics such as of the origins of life. Through my ponderings, I decided that it just made more sense to me that there probably was a creator. It was really that simple. It wasn’t this profound epiphany that led me to immediately devote my life to my religious beliefs. I didn’t “have a vision” which served as the basis for my belief system.

It just made more sense to me and continues to make more sense to me. If my studies lead me to a different conclusion in the future, then I’ll change my position. –But I still won’t eat bacon-wrapped scallops.

(28-12-2015 12:19 PM)Adrianime Wrote:  From my observation, I often see people choose their religious subculture based on which one fits their own lifestyle and morals best. For instance, changing which sect of Christianity you belong to because your current church says being gay is bad and masturbating it bad, so you find a church that says the opposite. Of course most people choose their religious culture based on what their parents did and what culture they were raised around. Do you think this was the case for you?

It was definitely the case with me. I tried affiliating myself with gentile culture, but I found that I just felt more at home with people from my own cultural background. If I was going to go the theist route, it was apparent to me that I would have to do this from within Judaism both from a theological perspective, and also from a cultural perspective.

(28-12-2015 12:19 PM)Adrianime Wrote:  Haha, that is funny that your parents predicted this despite your attitude when you were younger. Maybe they saw you as a girl with strong will, strong cultural interest, or other personality traits that might lead to you "seeking" something? What do you think lead them to thinking you would become more observant than other family members?

There are certain character traits that I exhibit which match up to some foaming-at-the-mouth theists who I’m genetically related to. I guess it was destiny. Smile
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