The doubting Jew

Earlier today I brought my son to Hebrew school.

My daughter has a 103-degree fever, so it was just the two of us. The affair always kicks off with a half-hour service, and—because he was miserable and unhappy—I agreed to stay.

As we sat there, I repeatedly asked myself one question: Am I doing the right thing?

By “right thing,” I mean, am I subjecting him to moral fibre, or utter bullshit? Are the lessons he’s being taught important to a whole and decent life, or inane blatherings that have been repeated so often that they’re repeated so often? Hell, recently my boy explained to us how God lives on a cloud; how Noah lined up animals on his boat; how … how … stuff upon stuff that I am 100-percent certain is not true.

As I recently wrote in another post, last week the rabbi told us how the world is 5,773 years old. Everyone in the crowd listened (or pretended to listen) and nodded and prayed aloud when they were told to pray aloud. Of course, the world is not 5,773 years old. Or even close to 5,773 years old. The rabbi told us how God first created man. Again, there were these things called, ahem, dinosaurs.

I know I’m babbling. When it comes to religion, my mind is a ceaseless babble. On the one hand, guilt keeps me from completely abandoning the synagogue. I’ll fast on Yom Kippur; sit in synagogue while my stomach grumbles, trying to pay attention. On the other hand, I hate organized religion. I really, really do. I believe, strongly, that we’re born, we live, we die. Is there an afterlife? Probably not. But even if there is, I highly doubt it has anything to do with how much Jim gives his temple, or whether Bob has accepted Jesus as his lord and savior. I look at all the wars and all the conflicts and think, first and foremost, “Religion. Would this happen without religion?”

The answer is almost always the same: No.

The problem … well, there are many problems. But I think it all stems from the lemming factor. Namely, we are lemmings. We follow before we think; generally with an indifferent happiness. We like being told what to ponder and believe, even if it’s largely fiction. Why? Because it keeps us comfortable and secure and relatively happy. There’s a great void of darkness that probably awaits us all, and no one (myself included) likes to think about it. Death sucks, because it marks a completion of existence. No happy cloud. No sunny mornings. No hugs or kissing. Just—nothing.

So we turn toward answers. Any answers. We’ve been doing it for centuries, which results in the traditions we have before us. We can say, “This has been done forever,” and the translation is, “It must be right, because it dates back hundreds of years.” But, what goes unsaid, is that hundreds of years ago people were just as clueless as we are today.

So there I sat, with my son, listening to apparent nonsense.


8 thoughts on “The doubting Jew”

  1. Wasn’t it Karl Marx who said religion is the opiate of the masses. I also read some where that religion was invented so the masses wouldn’t kill the rich.

  2. Whether you believe, or not, is your walk. I’m not trying to convince you otherwise.
    Just want to comment that the, “would God allow so much bad stuff to happen”, argument against religion isn’t a valid one.
    Generally religion teaches several things to nullify such an argument.
    First – there is the teaching mankind rebelled against God and were removed from his presence. Because man is no longer one with God “bad” happens. When civilization once again become one with God the bad stuff ends.
    Second – life on this rock is very very short. The bad stuff is insignificant in the big picture because God deals with eternity. What is important, in religious teachings, is where will we spend eternity. If war takes your life and you are faithful you will be forever with God. War is not bad in such a situation.
    Third – War, disease, pain, etc puts people on their knees. It has made a believer out of many. “Bad stuff” becomes a tool to bring people to God.
    Again I’m not trying to convince you. According to my beliefs only God can convince you. I am just pointing out the, “if there was a God bad things wouldn’t happen” argument has a flip side.

      1. A person is saved when God chooses to save them. The biblical term is “elect”.
        An infant can be saved before they are born. Such was the case with John the Baptist.
        Luke 1:44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

        I would direct you to CH Spurgeon’s sermon on Infant Salvation:
        –>”We believe, therefore, that even before the intellect can work, God, who worketh not by the will of man, nor by blood, but by the mysterious agency of his Holy Spirit, creates the infant soul a new creature in Christ Jesus, and then it enters into the “rest which remaineth for the people of God.” By election, by redemption, by regeneration, the child enters into glory, by the selfsame door by which every believer in Christ Jesus hopes to enter, and in no other way.”<–
        Even if a person goes to hell there is significant evidence that only means they cease to exist. The word "SHEOL" translated "Hell" is also translated "Grave".
        I'm somewhat on the fence on this, but I am leaning toward the idea hell simply means you cease to exist.
        Pretty much what you already believe. The difference is there is hope for eternal life.

  3. I am generally of the opinion that whatever people want to believe vis-a-vis God, Allah, Jehovah is fine if it makes them feel better. What rubs me the wrong way is when they seek to impose their beliefs on me. I grew up in the Catholic Church and didn’t give it a second thought until high school age. But after studying the history of the Catholic Church and religions in general, seeing how religion has caused and continues to cause war, intolerance, misery, and even stupidity, I came to the conclusion that it is all bull. So feel free to believe what you (that’s the generic you, not you Jeff) wish to believe, but keep it to yourself.

    If you have not seen the movie “The Invention of Lying” yet, you should, as it offers one of the best explanations for how religions came into existence. Ricky Gervais cleverly takes one silly idea and uses it to convincingly show you the idiocy of something else.

  4. It never ceases to amaze me how seemingly intelligent people fall for thinly veiled scare tactics that are clearly in place to make them rich and powerful and only endorsed by others who stand to benefit from having more and more believers fall for the scam. I of course am talking about man made global warming. You look down your nose at all the people that refuse to flush our economy down the shitter along with you like they’re a bunch of heritic dolts. Yet something that makes people feel better, but may not reinforce the fragile ego of homosexuals is completely out of line.

    1. James
      There is a written historical record that goes back about 5,000 years. We can thank the Egyptians, Chinese, and Mayans for being good record keepers.
      If we have a written record that goes back 5,000 years then the flood could never have happened.
      There are other methods of interpreting biblical time, Bishop Ussher wasn’t the only person to work out a time line.
      Even though Harold Camping has misinterpreted the bible many times over at least HIS system has some possibility.
      With Camping there is an added bonus; when the bible says the earth was divided in the time of Pelag it corresponds conveniently with the Mayan date for the beginning of the age. I imagine as the earth was being torn apart the Mayans felt it was a new age.
      In the end there really isn’t enough biblical evidence to be certain of any time line. Nor is it necessary.

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