Thursday, October 09, 2008

Yom Kippur Thoughts of the Day

Two thoughts:

The Meaning of Yom Kippur

I just had a discussion with a fellow ex-Ortho about what Yom Kippur means to us now. For him, it's an opportunity to act like it's just a normal day and to not let any of the brainwashing he went through as a kid make him feel guilty. For me, it's kind of like a happy day where I get to remember each year where I have come from and what I don't have to do any more.

God as Big Brother

Imagine that we atheists are right that God does not exist.

That means that billions of people all over the world are teaching their children that an imaginary being is following them everywhere they go and watching everything they do, even listening to their thoughts, and he's going to judge them for all of it. And they behave differently because of this belief. They whisper words of thanks and prayer and feel guilty when they have a "bad" thought and try to be good little boys and girls all the time and sometimes they think they hear him talking to them. And most of them go their whole lives believing that. It's an amazingly creepy feat of social engineering and behavior modification.

23 comments:

shoshi said...

It may be a creepy feat of social engineering and behaviour modification.
It may also be a geniuse's feat of social engineering and behaviour modification.

I understand that you resent it that you were "brainwashed" as a child and made feel guilty.

But it might be that any society needs a mechanism similar to this one in order to make it's members "behave".

You see, I did a lot of classical music when I was young, And for this, you need to exercice a lot. And this is not always funny. So there are parents who force their children to exercice (same goes for sports). And some children/adults hate music because of this. Although, in itself, it is very beautiful and useful for society.

I often have the impression that you ex-frum guys just have been fed too much of the same stuff, and that you are fed up with it.

Perhaps, if you had grown up without this culture and discovered it as an adult, you would have found it beautiful.

Perhaps you would even have invented it, if it didn't exist already...

Makarios said...

Interesting perspective shoshi. I was just going to say that it actually doesn't take much for children to believe. They intuitively know that there is more to life than what meets the eye. All adults have to do is put it into a format they can understand. Atheist parents are forced to squelch this natural knowledge that children have.

TikunOlam said...

JA - maybe reading your blog can be my new YK ritual. So, so sick of all of this.

Shoshi - people don't NEED religion for anything anymore. We are way past it. What we need is truth not mythology.

It still amazes me that people actually believe that lying to children (and adults) can be a good thing. It goes against everything we know about human psychology. Everything.

The atheists of this country are at 16% and they are not the ones filling the jails or going to wars for their causes. Jail and wars are made up of believers. That has always been true.

Orthoprax said...

Sure, telling people that what they do matters and that even what they think can have consequences will effect how people live their lives.

You can twist that into a childish theology akin to Orwellian fiction - and frankly, many religious people do just that - but the basic idea is not a bad one.

Anonymous said...

'It's an amazingly creepy feat of social engineering and behavior modification. '

But is it so much more creepy that secular social engineering and behavior modification? ie. secular morality, denial of death etc etc.

Holy Hyrax said...

>Shoshi - people don't NEED religion for anything anymore. We are way past it. What we need is truth not mythology.

Are you stating this from an objective POV?

>It still amazes me that people actually believe that lying to children (and adults) can be a good thing. It goes against everything we know about human psychology. Everything

We aren't lying.

>The atheists of this country are at 16% and they are not the ones filling the jails or going to wars for their causes. Jail and wars are made up of believers. That has always been true.

TO, you are like a stereotypical atheist jukebox. Just put in a quarter, and get the same crap. Look back at the 20th century. These wars were not about belief or faith. Religion had nothing to do with them. If you are SOOOOOOOOO into human psychology, you would KNOW that part of the human pshycologoy is to war with each other. There were wars in the past that had nothing to do with religion and there will be in the future.

Time to let go of your childhood anger TO

jewemp said...

What is wrong with it brainwashing people, if it makes them act better, and, according to many studies, happier? To each his own...

TikunOlam said...

HH - I have a feeling that I understand human psychology a little more that most. I have spent the better part of my life studying it, teaching it and treating people with mental illness. Oh yeah, you knew that already.
Not all peoples war. For one thing - it is not in WOMEN's nature to war in the way it is for men. And have you ever heard of Canada or Switzerland? Aspiring to be a secular humanist is an aspiration for world peace, not divided by separate superstitions and separate dogmas. Sorry if I sound like a stereotype. I agree with the big ones out there. I am in no way original. At least I am not a delusional stereotype - which, my friend, you certainly are. And, eventually, you will be a dying breed. The evidence is mounting. There is just no denying it anymore. One day, in the next couple of generations, the Abrahamic god will go the way of Zeus and the tooth fairy.

And there are more and more like me everyday coming out, proudly proclaiming their atheism, so get used to the jukebox. We make up 16% of this country. You have any idea what percentage OJs make up? This "ohr" lagoyim?

Look around the world and tell me what is at the root of evil. It is certainly not atheism, science and quest for a modern humanistic moral society.

Holy Hyrax said...

LOL



Though I am not in your field of human psychology, it seems you have a superficial understanding of humans, hence, you ignored what I said.

Comrade Kevin said...

It can be, but it doesn't have to be that extreme.

nuggetydinolove said...

but you see, if god didn't exist...then you wouldn't write about god...because god wouldn't exist to write about.

nuggetydinolove said...

and i think...an interesting point to think about is how god is institutionally socially constructed, but these constructs are flawed and destructive to the human race. institutions of religion make god a monster. the institution is big brother. god is merely a dangerous pawn. it is necessary to separate institution from religion and institution from god because institution creates constructed catastrohpe. we see it happening right before our eyes.

Orthoprax said...

"I have a feeling that I understand human psychology a little more that most. I have spent the better part of my life studying it, teaching it and treating people with mental illness. Oh yeah, you knew that already."

LOL. Avrum? Some people with fancy degrees tend to protest a little much.

"For one thing - it is not in WOMEN's nature to war in the way it is for men. And have you ever heard of Canada or Switzerland?"

Why? Are they run by women?

"Aspiring to be a secular humanist is an aspiration for world peace, not divided by separate superstitions and separate dogmas."

Sure, because a western secular humanist has a series of values derived directly from their society's religious past. But what makes you think you can convince your fellow atheist from another country to believe in your dogma of human rights? As you know, atheists in power tend to have a poor track record in that respect.

nuggetydinolove said...

toot, toot. a degree means nothing on the interweBz. so here, i will challenge all with the notion of everything read is a lie. nothing is real except love and war; but those are the same. psychology is a diabolical joke, an act of parasitic human nature. it is impossible to master psychology, and i know this because psychology is just a game that never ends and is impossible to win or lose. and this is babble that has meaning which is none because everything you read is a lie. everything you know is a truth. and anything that makes sense is a trick.

Jack said...

The atheists of this country are at 16% and they are not the ones filling the jails or going to wars for their causes. Jail and wars are made up of believers. That has always been true.

Atheists have beliefs. The suggestion that they do not is a bit silly.

JA,

I hear what you are saying, the day is what you make of it. There is merit to viewing it as being a chance for reflection and thought.

Doesn't have to be a day to thank, praise or fear any sort of higher power.

TikunOlam said...

Jack - I was referring to believers in the way that people use the term colloquially to mean believers in an Abrahamic god. Of course atheists have beliefs.

TikunOlam said...

"Sure, because a western secular humanist has a series of values derived directly from their society's religious past."

Or, you can look at a different way. Religious ideas of past were derived from ancient societies on a quest to develop civilized societies structured around humanistic values, because people coexist better and live fuller and more fulfilling lives that way.

Secular humanists are taking those ideas, taking out the unnecessary god factor, as well as things like human/animal sacrifice, inhumane methods of punishment for transgressions and updating the concepts to fit what we know about human kind, civilized behavior and humanism in 2008.

Orthoprax said...

TO,

"Religious ideas of past were derived from ancient societies on a quest to develop civilized societies structured around humanistic values, because people coexist better and live fuller and more fulfilling lives that way."

Sounds to me like you're saying Religion has been a force for good, hmm?

"Secular humanists are taking those ideas, taking out the unnecessary god factor..."

And magically supporting ethical standards on nothing at all. Why should the ethical nihilists among you pay any attention to your particular dogmatic values?

Maybe you should think through the "god factor" a little bit more deeply.

tikunolam said...

Orthoprax,
I have a much more optimistic understanding of human nature, I guess. People are social animals by nature. They are naturally inclined to behave in prosocial ways (just as many animals in the wild who are social - or group together as herds do - they have ways of protecting and caring for their own. You see selfless acts of heroism even in household pets like dogs and cats). Prosocial behavior has evolved over time and I believe, will continue to evolve, in the longrun, in a positive direction. Out current dominant religions have certainly done some good. And I think that the Torah and what has come from it is absolutely incredible.

However, unfortunately, with every step forward, there are often steps back as well, and in today's society - religion, especially at its extremes, is not acting as a force for good.

I think human kind is moving beyond an Abrahamic god.

Doesn't "Orthoprax" signify a "going through the motions" rather than true belief in the "motions?"

Think through the god factor? Wow, guess you never read me on DovBear then. There is no way that I can be legitamitely accused of ignoring the "god factor."

Orthoprax said...

TO,

"I have a much more optimistic understanding of human nature, I guess."

I'm optimistic as well, but only with human nature properly kept in check by noble philosophies. Humanity can be great, but it's simply a fact of life that ethical nihilists cum atheists have been among the most brutally cruel actors of the last century.

My point is that faith in unbelief to solve the world's ills is by no justification a good theory.

I fully agree that fundamentalism is little but bad news today, but a moderate religious approach - with or without the more typical theistic concepts - has with it good reason to think it will do well and will continue to be a force for good.

"I think human kind is moving beyond an Abrahamic god."

That remains to be seen. But do you likewise think that humanity is past more abstract conceptions of divinity and philosophical moral foundations?

"Doesn't "Orthoprax" signify a "going through the motions" rather than true belief in the "motions?""

I chose the moniker some years ago when I was flirting with atheism but remained observant. But I've always believed in the power of Jewish tradition and the "motions" in their own right. Now I hold, well, unorthodox beliefs, but religious beliefs nonetheless.

"Think through the god factor? Wow, guess you never read me on DovBear then. There is no way that I can be legitamitely accused of ignoring the "god factor.""

Whenever I see people making the false dilemma between traditional theism and atheism, it tells me that they haven't opened their minds to the broad middle ground. There is more to yet consider should you be truly interested.

TikunOlam said...

"Whenever I see people making the false dilemma between traditional theism and atheism, it tells me that they haven't opened their minds to the broad middle ground. "

You are making some interesting assumptions of me that are innaccurate. I am an atheist - but I am also a member of a shul, send my children to a Jewish Day School, celebrate my heritage, learn from Jewish traditions and our history.

They might not be an OJ shul or school - but your assumption that I have not investigated religious moderation is incorrect.

What do mean by "false dilemma?" There is no dilemma. Either god exists or doesn't. The evidence is in. Doesn't mean that all Jewish tradition is worthless. I am the last one that would say that actually. But in order to learn from Judaism, and in order to have developed my own sense of morality, I do not find that a belief in a higher being is necessary. And I don't think it is necessary for society as a whole.

I don't believe that theists are in any way more moral or prosocial, as a group, than non-theists. There are those of moral character in any society, religious and secular. People seem to be so afraid to let go of religion because they are afraid that they would have no inner compass to tell them right from wrong. I know it terrified me when I first strayed. But I found that I have a internal compass. I believe that all people do. Some people have damaged internal compasses, but I don't think that religion is the cure for that.

Orthoprax said...

TO,

"They might not be an OJ shul or school - but your assumption that I have not investigated religious moderation is incorrect."

No, my assertion was that you haven't well investigated variant-axis philosophical options besides for traditional theism vs. atheism.

"What do mean by "false dilemma?" There is no dilemma. Either god exists or doesn't."

No. The false dilemma is that you are limiting conceptions of God just to traditional theism. If I were to ask you "What is God?" I suspect you'd answer with rather non-sophisticated notions akin to personified actors and storybook characters. There are plenty more ideas out there that paint a more subtle picture.

"I don't believe that theists are in any way more moral or prosocial, as a group, than non-theists."

That's fine, but what still is necessary is an affirming philosophy that does not permit the likes of ethical nihilism to get a perch. Ergo, atheism by itself is a philosophical vacuum ripe for social evils. Secular Humanism sounds nice but it rests on shifting sands and follows wherever the wind may blow.

"Some people have damaged internal compasses, but I don't think that religion is the cure for that."

If you do not have proper philosophical grounding for morality except for "follow your feelings" then while you, brought up in a certain worldview, may feel one way, other people would likely feel differently. And with no real right or wrong to put a check on feelings, terrible things can occur.

jewish philosopher said...

Actually, the fact that religion is universal I think proves that it is natural and instinctive, not cultural and artificial.

It's no more true to say "Everyone is born an atheist" than to say "Everyone is born a mute".

In fact atheism, in those few societies which promote it (China, for example), is the result of a creepy feat of social engineering and behavior modification.