Chief Rabbi: atheism has failed. Only religion can defeat the new barbarians

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The West is suffering for its loss of faith. Unless we rediscover religion, our civilisation is in peril
 


I love the remark made by one Oxford don about another: ‘On the surface, he’s profound, but deep down, he’s superficial.’ That sentence has more than once come to mind when reading the new atheists.

Future intellectual historians will look back with wonder at the strange phenomenon of seemingly intelligent secularists in the 21st century believing that if they could show that the first chapters of Genesis are not literally true, that the universe is more than 6,000 years old and there might be other explanations for rainbows than as a sign of God’s covenant after the flood, the whole of humanity’s religious beliefs would come tumbling down like a house of cards and we would be left with a serene world of rational non-believers getting on famously with one another.

Whatever happened to the intellectual depth of the serious atheists, the forcefulness of Hobbes, the passion of Spinoza, the wit of Voltaire, the world-shattering profundity of Nietzsche? Where is there the remotest sense that they have grappled with the real issues, which have nothing to do with science and the literal meaning of scripture and everything to do with the meaningfulness or otherwise of human life, the existence or non-existence of an objective moral order, the truth or falsity of the idea of human freedom, and the ability or inability of society to survive without the rituals, narratives and shared practices that create and sustain the social bond?

A significant area of intellectual discourse — the human condition sub specie aeternitatis — has been dumbed down to the level of a school debating society. Does it matter? Should we not simply accept that just as there are some people who are tone deaf and others who have no sense of humour, so there are some who simply do not understand what is going on in the Book of Psalms, who lack a sense of transcendence or the miracle of being, who fail to understand what it might be to see human life as a drama of love and forgiveness or be moved to pray in penitence or thanksgiving? Some people get religion; others don’t. Why not leave it at that?

Fair enough, perhaps. But not, I submit, for readers of The Spectator, because religion has social, cultural and political consequences, and you cannot expect the foundations of western civilisation to crumble and leave the rest of the building intact. That is what the greatest of all atheists, Nietzsche, understood with terrifying clarity and what his -latter-day successors fail to grasp at all.

Written By: Jonathan Sacks
continue to source article at spectator.co.uk

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  1. “Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury; signifying nothing.”

    How difficult it is to wade through this kind of intellectual bragging: these are the people I’ve read and the quotes I’ve armed myself with in order to impress others.

    Nothing worldly or indicative really matters, only the subjunctive and imagined are of any importance, but these poor rationalists simply don’t comprehend that simple salient fact; only we of blind faith have the depth of understanding to make sense of it all.

    “The Exodus”? What Exodus? In deep time terms it would have happened less than a nanosecond ago, but there’s not a scintilla of evidence for it.

    Oh, sorry I was forgetting, no evidence is required if you possess blind faith; how comforting that must be, how very very comforting!

  2. “Fair enough, perhaps. But not, I submit, for readers of The Spectator, because religion has social, cultural and political consequences, and you cannot expect the foundations of western civilisation to crumble and leave the rest of the building intact. That is what the greatest of all atheists, Nietzsche, understood with terrifying clarity and what his -latter-day successors fail to grasp at all.”

    That’s funny, the message I got from the majority of his writings and maybe better to quote Wiki “According to Nietzsche, it is only when nihilism is overcome that a culture can have a true foundation upon which to thrive. He wished to hasten its coming only so that he could also hasten its ultimate departure.”

  3. Am I the only one that giggled at a Rabbi using the word “barbarian”?

    And western culture, wasn’t that the ancient Greeks? Last I checked the pantheon and Yahweh didn’t really get along.

    To end this post I shall use a big word in order to sound more intelligent. Photosynthesis.

    • In reply to Rabbi Jonathan Sacks:

      “But if asked where we get our morality from, if not from science or religion, the new atheists start to stammer.”

      Well, I’m not stammering. I’m not sure where I got my morality from, but I sure know where I didn’t get it from. It obviously wasn’t from the Catholic school where Jimmy Saville got his from. It wasn’t from the Baptist Sunday schools where Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart and Ted Haggard got there’s from. It wasn’t from the Yeshivas that Jack Abramoff or Bernie and Peter Madoff got their’s from. Needless to say, it wasn’t from the Madrasas where (fill in the blank with almost anybody who ever attended one) got their’s from. Perhaps the reason I’m not “stammering” is because I’m an old Atheist and not a new one, and therefore, have had a bit of time to think about all this.

    • In reply to #3 by BigDyTerminator:

      Am I the only one that giggled at a Rabbi using the word “barbarian”?
      And western culture, wasn’t that the ancient Greeks? Last I checked the pantheon and Yahweh didn’t really get along.

      According to Rome, the Jews were pretty barbaric, and the Helenic Greeks were pretty cultured themselves. Perhaps he was defining savages as anyone not like him.

      Regarding the article, it does show a considerable lack of knowledge of the New Atheism movement, its intents and motivations. The only reason we care about scripture is that other people do, and will make policy based on its alleged authority.

      And that’s wrong. And I suspect Chief Rabbi Sacks recognizes this in that he wouldn’t stone his kids for being too rebellious as teens. I suspect nor would he stone an adulterer or a rape victim. Sacks regards himself as a family man, and if he dares to call us barbarous, it would be telling if he believes in capital punishment (as endorsed by scripture) at all.

      But different sects disagree as to which scripture should be regarded as authoritative. There’s no convincing standard, ergo scripture is at best a guideline, and a higher sense of morality must be used to determine right and wrong. And this is what New Atheism is about: Religion is Dangerous. Appeals to the sacred are essentially appeals to authority. And we well know that we can’t trust that the big hat has our best interests at heart, or knows better how to achieve them.

  4. Atheists are not lacking in some way,we can have a sense of transcendence,feel the “miracle of being” and in no way do we try to dodge the question of where we get our morals from,its not that we don`t get religion,we get it ,we just reject the validity or the need for it.

    • In reply to #4 by joby44:

      Atheists are not lacking in some way,we can have a sense of transcendence,feel the “miracle of being” and in no way do we try to dodge the question of where we get our morals from,its not that we don`t get religion,we get it ,we just reject the validity or the need for it.

      Spot on.

      S G

  5. No Dr Sacks, religion cannot save us from “the new barbarians”, because it is the religious who form them and drive them.

    Western civilization has for the last 200 years been all about rejecting self-serving authoritarianism, of which organised religion is the worst form.

    Nothing else in the entire history of humanity, has been as pernicious, selfish, or destructive of human dignity as organised religion, and its time is now passing. We have found something better. Its called rationalism, the belief that you must show evidence for your claims before they are taken seriously.

    Atheism isn’t the problem, organised religion is the problem and atheism and rationalism are the cure

  6. What a train-wreck of an article. Not only does he misrepresent Nietzsche, the “new atheists,” and Dawkins, he also fires off a series of half truths and full lies before ending on a confused note supported by the argument from self incredulity. Someone please call 999/911 and please take his train driving license away from him.

  7. At least atheists are using their brains as something other than a stagnant paper weight. This jerk off hasn’t had a deep thought in his entire life. The whole pseudointellectualism of studying something as banal as a religion and then pontificating about how “smart” atheists USED to be is disingenuous and contrived. This bearded goon is the mind these people look up to?

    The picture in the OP looks like it is taken from a python sketch. Look at the psychopath 2nd from the right. Holy Shit! You can see that he is standing there, empty. These men are “blessed” because other than conning simpletons, they would starve to death. What the hell would any one of these people do for a living if they weren’t taking handouts from rubes?

    And, I like the idea of ending with a big word that makes me appear smart….god.

  8. “I have not yet found a secular ethic capable of sustaining in the long run a society of strong communities and families on the one hand, altruism, virtue, self-restraint, honour, obligation and trust on the other. A century after a civilisation loses its soul it loses its freedom also. That should concern all of us, believers and non-believers alike.”

    In hard times glazers would pay a young lad to go down the high street with a few stones to drum up trade.

    Convincing us that things are worse than they are is entirely the job of the shamans.

    Atheists, secularists and free thinkers have done more to drive up the quality of moral and ethical discourse than any in the last few decades. Epicurus et al. got us started. Ethics are lived and struggled with everyday, not read and acted out.

    This little scamp needs to empty his pockets.

  9. “Whatever happened to the intellectual depth of the serious atheists, the forcefulness of Hobbes, the passion of Spinoza, the wit of Voltaire, the world-shattering profundity of Nietzsche?”

    Hang on a minute… Even though he he poked fun at organised religion, Voltaire wasn’t an atheist.

    • In reply to #10 by Missus Gumby:

      “Whatever happened to the intellectual depth of the serious atheists, the forcefulness of Hobbes, the passion of Spinoza, the wit of Voltaire, the world-shattering profundity of Nietzsche?”

      Hang on a minute… Even though he he poked fun at organised religion, Voltaire wasn’t an atheist.

      There’s also the way Spinoza was accused of unnamed abominations, expelled from the Jewish community by the Talmud Torah congregation, and then chased out of Amsterdam at the behest of the rabbis. No wonder Sacks misses the good old days.

      • In reply to #53 by Greyman:

        In reply to #10 by Missus Gumby:

        “Whatever happened to the intellectual depth of the serious atheists, the forcefulness of Hobbes, the passion of Spinoza, the wit of Voltaire, the world-shattering profundity of Nietzsche?”

        Hang on a minute… Even though he he poked fun at organised religion, Volt…

        Yes, Spinoza would have taken Sacks apart.
        Surely mentioning Spinoza undermines all he prattles on about?

    • In reply to #10 by Missus Gumby:

      “Whatever happened to the intellectual depth of the serious atheists, the forcefulness of Hobbes, the passion of Spinoza, the wit of Voltaire, the world-shattering profundity of Nietzsche?”

      Hang on a minute… Even though he he poked fun at organised religion, Voltaire wasn’t an atheist.

      Neither was Spinoza. But I guess Shaman Sacks has never even opened Spinoza’s Ethica, whose first chapter is entitles de Deo

  10. @OP – Where is there the remotest sense that they have grappled with the real issues, which have nothing to do with science

    You could tell he was a fantasist who had lost the plot long ago, when he can up with “real issues, which have nothing to do with science”!
    “Reality” which has “nothing to do with science” does not exist! – except as an image in the minds of the deluded!

    @ OP – Some people get religion; others don’t.

    and atheists who got it early in life, get over it as they become more rational!

  11. “you cannot expect the foundations of western civilisation to crumble and leave the rest of the building intact”

    “western civilisation” never subscribed to his particular brand of religion. In fact it spend the best part of 2000 years treating his people like shit at best and trying to wipe them out at worst. Jewish people getting anything like fair treatment in western civilisation has actually pretty much coincided with the crumbling of what he thinks to be its foundations.

  12. I could talk about how the Orthodox in Israel (and Brooklyn) are spitting at girls; at the Taliban; at the Westboro Baptist Church. But I think I would rather sum up this fellow’s deep thoughts with the phrase written by six Oxford and Cambridge gentlemen who anticipated this kind of bilge, and warned of many things. Such as:

    “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!” Case closed.

    • In reply to #14 by Peter Grant:

      Call us barbarians if you must, but relativists we most certainly are not! Antitheism stems from our moral outrage at religion.

      “Barbarians!” This from a man whose religion has genitally mutilated little babies for millennia. What did another rabbi say anout “the beam in thine own eye”?

  13. “Unless we rediscover religion, our civilisation is in peril”

    No Jonathan, your civilization is in peril. The one that f***ed everything up far too many times for it to be pure bad luck or coincidence. The one which has hundreds of millions of avoidable deaths on its conscience inflicted in the name of religion. The one that uses religion to deny basic human rights to women, or to gays, or to ethnic minorities, or to people who just believe in the wrong sort of fairy. The one that indoctrinates children into perpetuating the abuses perpetrated on their parents.

    I want that civilization to die. It has nothing left to offer. I am more interested in helping to build its replacement.

  14. Well I would give the Rabbi force 9 on the Beaufort scale. What a load of wind, supposedly dressed up in a scholarly fashion ! The usual tired old “morality crumbles without the discipline of religion” argument. Pure bilge from start to finish. Therefore circumcise every new born baby boy ? Eternal bloody values, – my backside !

    Perhaps this professional bullshitter could tell us the “real” meaning of Noah’s flood? Or are we too dumb to realise that God wanted most of everything dead?

  15. “Should we not simply accept that just as there are some people who are tone deaf and others who have no sense of humour, so there are some who simply do not understand what is going on in the Book of Psalms, who lack a sense of transcendence or the miracle of being, who fail to understand what it might be to see human life as a drama of love and forgiveness or be moved to pray in penitence or thanksgiving? Some people get religion; others don’t. Why not leave it at that?”

    Should we not simply accept the fact that relativism does not exist and that there is an absolute truth. Should we not simply accept the fact that there are some who do not understand what evidence and reason are?

    I’m an atheist, and I do contemplate the “miracle of being.” In fact, I ponder it incessantly to an almost obsessive degree. I find the beauty of life and everything around me to be overwhelming, and it does produce a sense of transcendence. Ironically, I can say without doubt that I am certainly more “spiritual” and profound than many allegedly religious people that I have met in my life. The only difference between my perspective and that of the religious is that I believe that logic, reason and evidence will find the answers. I believe that the explanation lies within the empirical, material realm, not some imaginary, mythical place. The latter view, in my firm opinion, reduces the complex beauty of the universe.

  16. Sigh…not again.

    Same old, tired arguments. And that’s what so curious about this. I would expect people who never think about religion, never engage in conversations about it and never encounter arguments for or against it to spew out stupid assumptions about atheism. But Sacks is not an amateur in this ball game. I’m 100% sure that people have explained to him countless times what atheism is, how morality works without faith in gods, and that lack of faith has no causal connection to what he sees as destruction of society. He has been rebutted countless times. Nevertheless, he is still throwing these arguments at us despite they’ve been shown not to stand up in light of evidence. That means he is either not listening, he doesn’t understand what is said to him or he is knowingly spreading falsehoods thinking that no one will notice.

    • In reply to #18 by Aztek:
      “That means he is either not listening, he doesn’t understand what is said to him or he is knowingly spreading falsehoods thinking that no one will notice.”


      Or he’s desperate

      • In reply to #36 by Stevehill:

        In reply to #19 by A3Kr0n:

        How can I take anyone seriously with a little box on his head?

        I thought he was the token Dr Who fan, sporting a model Tardis. In any event, he belongs in a previous epoch.

        It is bigger on the inside, smaller on the outside!

  17. @Op – Future intellectual historians will look back with wonder at the strange phenomenon of seemingly intelligent secularists in the 21st century believing that if they could show that the first chapters of Genesis are not literally true, that the universe is more than 6,000 years old and there might be other explanations for rainbows than as a sign of God’s covenant after the flood,

    Showing that intelligent secularists dismiss simplistic fundamentalists – not strange in the least.

    the whole of humanity’s religious beliefs would come tumbling down like a house of cards and we would be left with a serene world of rational non-believers getting on famously with one another.

    Showing that “fisticated” theologians love creating and attacking simplistic strawman fantasies (which imagined “authoritative future intellectual historians” will endorse. – allegedly).

    I love the remark made by one Oxford don about another: ‘On the surface, he’s profound, but deep down, he’s superficial.’ That sentence has more than once come to mind when reading the new atheists.

    What a gem of an example of “fistcated” projection of his superficiality onto his simplistic strawman construct!

    “Future intellectual historians” – really spells out an argument from ( fantasy – fake) authority.

    the whole of humanity’s religious beliefs would come tumbling down like a house of cards and we would be left with a serene world of rational non-believers getting on famously with one another.

    A lot more than the literalists and fundamentalist would need to go, before rational non-believers could get on with normal life and normal social relationships.

    There would also need to be a clear out of the religious barbarians, and the parasitic irrational “fisticated” sociopathic drivel brains. Fortunately failed memes like failed species, have a habit of declining in numbers and becoming extinct.

  18. Levels of trust have plummeted throughout the West as one group after another — bankers, CEOs, media personalities, parliamentarians, the press — has been hit by scandal.

    The list is incomplete without your new friends in Rome.

  19. ……. ‘On the surface, he’s profound, but deep down, he’s superficial.’ That sentence has more than once come to mind when reading the new atheists……..

    Because you know that is what they think, when they think about you, which is probably not very often. (Claps hand over mouth, tries very hard not to say the magic word “deepity”.)

  20. Which holy man and his “eternal” values should I believe? The Pope, who thinks non-believers are not too bad and can do good works, or the Rabbi who thinks we’re out to destroy civilisation? Both can’t be right, and yet they’re both on the hotline to God ?

    Instead of “eternal values”, all we get from religion is eternal confusion and mind numbing absurdities.

    I’ll stick to my materialism, thank you very much !

  21. “The history of Europe since the 18th century has been the story of successive attempts to find alternatives to God as an object of worship, among them the nation state, race and the Communist Manifesto. After this cost humanity two world wars, a Cold War and a hundred million lives….”

    Like most allegedly historical arguments, it all depends how far back you go. Pre 18th century, we had the Muslim conquest of The Near East, a good slice of The Far East (India, Malaysia, Indonesia etc, North Africa, Spain, southern France, the Balkans, Hungary), the European Crusades and the conquest of the Americas, the wars of religion in Europe (lasted about 200 years),the Tai Ping Rebellion in China (second most costly war in history)… it’s getting boring but I could go on. All these wars were between religions, where religion played a huge part in the motivation, instigation and organisation, so the Rabbi’s claim that the enlightenment is to blame for war, becomes a bit hollow.

    “Turn natural selection into a code of conduct and you get disaster.”

    How do you know, it’s never been done. Anyway, how could it be done? What does the auld windbag mean? Could he give an example of how natural selection might be used as a basis for morality? You could no more do that than you could base morality on Boyle’s Law or the Laws of Motion.

    “The threat to western freedom in the 21st century is not from fascism or communism but from a religious fundamentalism.”

    Isn’t that religion? I’ll bet he thinks Hamas are fundamentalists, I wonder would he say the same about the Irgun and the Stern Gang? Fundamentalists, broadly speaking are those who belong to a religion other than your own. It’s easy for us, we can blame the whole lot of them. What he seems to be saying, is that it doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you believe something, which tends to show how the whole kit caboodle is a load of self delusion.

  22. “Whatever happened to the intellectual depth of the serious atheists,”
    PSST: I think the answer is evolution happened. Followed by proof after proof after proof that your sacred texts were a bunch of made up stories, lies, mistruths, generic philosophy plagiarised from earlier civilisations, and enticement to ethic prejudice and genocide. (Which unfortunately makes many subsequent parts of jewish history absurdly ironic.)

  23. Oh, and yet another thing that annoys me about this article is the smug, self congratulatory tone it sets. Apparently believers have something that we non-believers don’t have, (nod nod, wink wink, know what I mean?). Apart from heads full of absurd delusions about reality, they have an insufferable arrogance about their baseless faiths.

    Oh and as for bacon sandwiches, what a sinful food to eat ! Another bloody ancient and useless taboo dressed up in religious garb.

  24. [blockquote][i]“Time and again in his later writings he tells us that losing Christian faith will mean abandoning Christian morality.”[/i][/blockquote]

    He’s writes that as if it is a bad thing. Abandoning christian morality should be very high on any reasonable persons list of reasons why religion needs to be marginalized if we want to improve our civilization.

    The rabbi’s essay is intended primarily to bolster religious believers justifications for their beliefs. Hence the errors, lies, misdirection and condescension, which he knows from experience many believers will eagerly accept due to ignorance or a great desire to believe.

    And, of course, to insult atheists. I think it’s great. He does not have the ability to address the New Atheists’ actual criticisms.

    Where’s the fookin sack when you need it?

  25. Oh and BTW, Rabbi, atheists do not have to be overly (or overtly) intellectual to dismiss your woo as fantasy. That’s the good news. Your message has eroded to the point where you’d have to be an idiot to accept it…. oh wait….

  26. Perhaps the rabbi could let me know which bits of the bible I should and shouldn’t take literally, which miracles are true. He doesn’t believe jesus was the son of god and yet he bad mouths atheists who agree and is cosying up to christians who disagree.
    The guy even uses the word narrative, what a pseude. Atheism is simple and nonintellectual because what it stands against is such obvious fakery only a fool can’t see through it.

  27. In reply to #37 by ukantic:

    For example, both the first and second world wars were started by a country where the vast bulk of the population were believers and the Church had substantial political influence.

    Jonathan Sacks, of all people, must know that Hitler was born and raised a Catholic in an era when Catholicism routinely characterised Jews as “God killers” and could hardly have been any more anti-Semitic. Even in the 1970s, at a friend’s wedding in Birmingham (UK) I stood in the church porch slack-jawed and goggle eyed at the posters on the church notice board asking for funds to help “re-educate” Jews from their sinful ways (an experience which has clearly stuck with me for 40-odd years).

    Sacks needs to understand that organised religion is the problem, not the solution. As if that is ever going to happen, sadly….

  28. From the article:

    “Time and again in his later writings he tells us that losing Christian faith will mean abandoning Christian morality. No more ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’; instead the will to power. No more ‘Thou shalt not’; instead people would live by the law of nature, the strong dominating or eliminating the weak. ‘An act of injury, violence, exploitation or destruction cannot be “unjust” as such, because life functions essentially in an injurious, violent, exploitative and destructive manner.’ Nietzsche was not an anti-Semite, but there are passages in his writing that come close to justifying a Holocaust.”

    Ri-ight.

    Passages that come close to justifying a Holocaust? There are passages in the Bible that do exactly justify a Holocaust! If it’s interpreted as “God’s will” then all manner of atrocities are justified. Love your neighbour? Surely not if he happens to be an infidel? An act of injury, violence, exploitation or destruction cannot be “unjust” as such, because it’s God’s will… and God is love and God is kind and God is a fluffy cloud bunny and God’s will cannot be understood by ordinary people…. only rabbis.

    “…A significant area of intellectual discourse — the human condition sub specie aeternitatis — has been dumbed down to the level of a school debating society…”

    No, this significant area of intellectual discourse is becoming more enlightened and sophisticated, despite determined attempts by some people to drag it back to the level of bronze-age superstition.

    • See, that is the part of the article I thought the silliest.

      It’s pretty obvious to even the most casual observer that humans are a hyper social species. Why did we evolve that way? My own personal hypothesis is that it is linked to our super-fast ability to learn new information. The more social humans survived that bottleneck because they could learn new survival skills from others. The loners died off. Heck, it’s probably how religion got started.

      So even if we were to follow our evolutionary past we would be loving and learning from our neighbors just fine.

      That is what peeves me the most about religion. It’s origins were probably a noble attempt to keep groups of people together with the same stories, but over time it has just turned into a way for people to partition themselves off into tiny sects and ignore/hate the rest of humanity that doesn’t kneel down next to them.

      /rant

      Oh, and another big word to sound as smart as a rabbi: polymorphoneucleic.

      • In reply to #43 by BigDyTerminator:

        …The more social humans survived that bottleneck because they could learn new survival skills from others. The loners died off. Heck, it’s probably how religion got started…

        Reciprocity already has a clean natural selection component: all things being equal organized teams out survive disorganized mobs. It’s such that we can even see such behavior from our fellow mammals, from predators such as wolves and lions to herding herbivores such as bison and zebras.

        But we also have an instinct to sustain ourselves in small groups, like a band of 50-100. Any more than that and we start separating ourselves between us and them (e.g. the Jaguars and the Leopards). My suspicion is that a unified population in one cell would more easily lose the entire cell to communicable pathogens (in contrast to a population broken into many smaller cells), so we learned to team up, but not too big a team.

        The thing is, disease aside, large organized tribes are also a hotbed for science, technology and civil development. With enough people you can organize agriculture and defense, and this allows for the group to stay stationary, and for individuals within that group to specialize. Literacy, scholarship and infrastructure follow (and then armies with fancy weapons).

        But we still have that instinct to divide and segregate, even with advanced medical systems in which communicable disease is far less of a threat. Hence, cities have rivalries (augmented with sports teams), religious groups start warring on each other, genetic and cultural differences become intolerable and so on. We know we’re not supposed to attack those Pentecostal Episcopalian Luthorites, because they’re also citizens under the king, but we just hate them so much.

        And so all we need is permission from our god (that is from our high priestess) to raid their neighborhood and burn down that heretical church of theirs… and the next thing you know we’re in a gang war.

        There are many causes for the formation of religion, but one of the purposes of religion (one of those that we atheists demand to be checked) is lending divine justification to go against our social order. It gives us cause to wage war when we generally have no stomach for such brutality.

        • This sir/madam is brilliant! Thanks for the refinement! Perhaps we do need an overarching agreement to keep us from warring with the vegans and such, but that just further shows that religion was developed on top of an existing moral framework. It did not create that framework. It also leads me to believe that “healthy hatred” that is me “hating” Boston a few games out of the year is very important. Could harmless shows be the human version of a large rack of antlers?

          In reply to #50 by Uriel-238:

          In reply to #43 by BigDyTerminator:

          …The more social humans survived that bottleneck because they could learn new survival skills from others. The loners died off. Heck, it’s probably how religion got started…

          Reciprocity already has a clean natural selection component: all things being equal…

    • In reply to #44 by QuestioningKat:

      I think this is a joke? Perhaps an “Onion” type article?

      Na, It’s just pure Sacks. Sugary pluralistic potluck religion laced with poison, but his style can easily be mistaken for parody. A form of trolling.

      I don’t mind it, just don’t pay attention to the attention seeker.

    • Because last time I ignored silly people Kansas voted that creation was science.

      In reply to #46 by finchfinder:

      Why do you all keep commenting on these silly articles by silly people? Just ignore them. Well at least until they start coming at you with guns and knives!

  29. Complete bollocks. Intellectually dishonest and condescending to the max. Elegantly dressed sophistry. It even tries to make it seem like it has reason on its side. If it smells like garbage….

  30. Wow, such deep philosophy, such erudition, such a persuasive argument .

    I will use all the mental faculties at my disposal to respond in kind:

    Hold a chicken in the air

    Stick a deckchair up your nose

    Buy a jumbo jet

    And then bury all your clothes

    Paint your left knee green

    Then extract your wisdom teeth

    Form a string quartet

    And pretend your name is Keith

    How did I do?

    [with apologies to Spitting Image]

    Peace.

  31. Where is there the remotest sense that they have grappled with the real issues, which have nothing to do with science and the literal meaning of scripture

    Great, then we can throw them away

    and everything to do with the meaningfulness or otherwise of human life, the existence or non-existence of an objective moral order,

    Here are a few:

    The Atheist’s Way: Living Well Without Gods, Eric Maisel

    Atheism, Morality, and Meaning, Michael Martin

    Spectres of False Divinity: Hume’s Moral Atheism, Thomas Holden

    Mortality, Christopher Hitchens

    the truth or falsity of the idea of human freedom,

    Didn’t know that was a topic but you could start with this:

    Freedom Evolves, Daniel C. Dennett

    and the ability or inability of society to survive without the rituals, narratives and shared practices that create and sustain the social bond?

    Here’s a start

    Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, Jared Diamond

    Never said without. Think of it as replaced.

    Haven’t read any of them but after two minutes of searching it’s a good start.

  32. Atheism is not an ethical system. It merely asserts the extravangant claims of religions are bogus. They just made up ethical systems, like communism. Antheism does not claim to provide any moral guidance.

    It is a bit like complaining that dogs are not suitable riding animals when no one suggested they were.

  33. More untrammelled rubbish from Mr Sacks.

    To paraphrase Steven Weinberg; “There are good people who good things and bad people who do bad things. But for good people to do bad things… that takes religion.”

  34. ‘On the surface, he’s profound, but deep down, he’s superficial.’

    Oh the irony! Dr Sacks uses this quote against atheists, when it is far more appropriate to use it about religion and those who defend it. Its just one more case of religious projection.

  35. Sachs has a voice as smooth as liquid chocolate but even his languid air of smug confidence cannot disguise that there is absolutely no intellectual content, truth, morality or wisdom in what he, or other any other theologian, tries to pass off as profound reasoned argument. He and his kind can only regurgitate convoluted over embellished spectacularly absurd banalities confected over centuries by rancid old fakirs to taunt, bamboozle and threaten those over which they seek to rule. Sachs is a typical career theocrat,desperate to discredit anyone and everyone he perceives as a threat to his position. The clouds of fog with which he shrouds his vulnerability are rapidly evaporating and he surely knows that the game will soon be lost to the rapidly increasing ranks of freethinking decent rational people. It is only islam through murder violence and terrorism that is fending off the challenge. But islam is overreaching itself and the powers of human decency will prevail as shites, sunnis, wahabis and every other crazy blood thirsty hybrid sect struggle to outgun and destroy each other. It’s all over Oliver. You had better get ready to grow up and admit the sham because if you do not you will be either ridiculed for being a fool or vilified for being a pathological liar.

  36. If the Rabbi can quote Spinoza, then I can quote Shylock !

    You take my life when you do take the means whereby I live.

    With only natural explanations for the universe, all those holy men with their snake oil and charms, – and impressive clothing, would be out of a job ! It might help explain why Sacks is so anti-atheist. Bloody hell, most of the SS guards in the killing camps were Christians of one sort or another. Where was God then? Nowhere, – as always.

  37. The Rabbi clams that Christian ethics (!!!) is what held Europe together (!!!) and that without it European civilisation will surely collapse since there is no alternative (!!!). Has he even heard of Humanism?

    • In reply to #64 by HenMie:

      The Rabbi clams that Christian ethics (!!!) is what held Europe together (!!!)

      I am not sure where the Rabbi claims this, but if this is an implied claim, I would like to know when, since the Roman Empire and before the EU (the whole Christian era), was “Europe together”?

      • Hi GOD,

        Thanks for your interest in my reply which was really an outcry at the whole theme of the Rabbi’s article, and especially when he talks about ‘Christian ethic’, which compared to Atheism or Humanism (which he does not even mention as useful) is anything but an ‘ethic’. The bit quoted by Mr.DArcy (thanks to him) and also the bits below were the ones that prompted my anger at the Rabbi’s message. I agree with you that European civilisation was never ‘held together’ by Christianity but instead was ‘held’ to ransom by it. I therefore disagree with the author when he says the whole ‘building’ of European civilisation will collapse when its religious foundation crumbles.

        Regards.

        “Time and again in his later writings he tells us that losing Christian faith will mean abandoning Christian morality. No more ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’; instead the will to power. No more ‘Thou shalt not’; instead people would live by the law of nature, the strong dominating or eliminating the weak. ‘An act of injury, violence, exploitation or destruction cannot be “unjust” as such, because life functions essentially in an injurious, violent, exploitative and destructive manner.’ Nietzsche was not an anti-Semite, but there are passages in his writing that come close to justifying a Holocaust.

        This had nothing to do with him personally and everything to do with the logic of Europe losing its Christian ethic. Already in 1843, a year before Nietzsche was born, Heinrich Heine wrote, ‘A drama will be enacted in Germany compared to which the French Revolution will seem like a harmless idyll. Christianity restrained the martial ardour of the Germans for a time but it did not destroy it; once the restraining talisman is shattered, savagery will rise again… the mad fury of the berserk, of which Nordic poets sing and speak.’ Nietzsche and Heine were making the same point. Lose the Judeo-Christian sanctity of life and there will be nothing to contain the evil men do when given the chance and the provocation.”

        In reply to #65 by GOD:*

        In reply to #64 by HenMie:

        The Rabbi clams that Christian ethics (!!!) is what held Europe together (!!!)

        I am not sure where the Rabbi claims this, but if this is an implied claim, I would like to know when, since the Roman Empire and before the EU (the whole Christian era), was “Europe together”…

  38. GOD:

    Perhaps HenMie was referring to this statement from Sacks’ article

    Fair enough, perhaps. But not, I submit, for readers of The Spectator, because religion has social, cultural and political consequences, and you cannot expect the foundations of western civilisation to crumble and leave the rest of the building intact. That is what the greatest of all atheists, Nietzsche, understood with terrifying clarity and what his -latter-day successors fail to grasp at all.

    Well to his credit, at least Sacks doesn’t bring in the Dosoyevsky character, “Without God, everything is permitted“.

  39. So the fact that it was RELIGION that drove the bombers to attack the World Trade Center means that ATHEISM has failed? What would it take to show that RELIGION has failed?

    There is obviously aomething seriously wrong with their intellectual functioning. Religion does that to people.

    • In reply to #71 by paulmcuk:

      I wonder, will the Spectator be inviting a notable atheist thinker to write an article in response?

      Only if they condemn those nasty, nasty new atheists, find brown people sufficiently scary or support regressive economics. Ideally all of the above.

  40. The problem in this world is that Religions use books that have been written in a specific language, with a symbolic metaphorism that is proper to the teachers of the secret doctrines of Kabbalah. It is called language of branches. The narratives are written in a way that they describe things that are proper to our body, things inside our body and mind, with words and metaphors from the outer normal world we know. This form of writing describes what happens at the root with a language proper to the branches.

    Understand this in a way that we have states of mind and behavior, described with people, countries, just like you find this in any cartoon. If i told you that Disney rewrote the main narrative of the Bible with ducks, dogs, and Mice, you would say that I am a fool. But, he did it indeed, and to show the religious bigots that he can do the same they do, he has built a Land that corresponds to his narratives. And, he tells it to you, he called the mouse My Key. It is his key to the book. What we see in Palestine and Israel today, are things that have been built according to the narrative and with the simple goal to let people believe it happened there. Unfortunately, the Bible contains no historical facts, nor does it relates to any creation of the universe or anything on our planet, not even the world itself, since this again is a metaphor that designs something totally different and that has nothing to do at all with our earth. Same for the arch, that is not a boat, or the flood that is not a flooding of any ground on earth. Mount Sinai of the Bible is not in the Sinai peninsula, they have given that place the name, that’s all. The Greeks returned the name in the NT and named is Ianis, an anagram of Sinai, what is St John Baptist. The book is so simple to read, once you know the code and the symbols.

    I like people, like Richard Dawkins, that fight religions, but that is a fight without hope. Even if I would open tomorrow to the whole world what the Bible tells in reality, Richard would probably understand it and be surprised, but those people you see here on the picture above, will just get violent and kill you at worst. At best they would call up all their “believers” to avoid you and tell them that you are a liar, heretic, and blasphemer. So, it is a combat without hope. During Milleniums, all Kabbalists, an other name for Philosophers of GOD, are the enemies of all cults. For sure, they know how the religion plays with people’s balls, how some know but do not reveal, other believe their own crap and defend it with all weapons they find. GOD is a reality, it is a metaphor that designs energy, and this is the creator of all. An empty space, 2 poles, positive and negative and energy flows, without that trinity of power, no atom, no molecule, no human, no universe, could exist.

    Nothingness, Resonance, Gravity, N-R-G, the ancients used the letters GDH in Hebrew, and there are reason for this as well. Many cults split energies in sub-energies, that are used for specific fields of action, if you do so and give any energy or force a name, you become a poly theist. A human, like every being in the universe is matter that has 3 levels of existence, there is the program, then the receiver, our brain, and there is the mechanical part, the body. The Programm send information, we take it and rework it, create something out of the thought, and then we act.Modern science treats one single level of this and that is the mechanical part, the laws of nature, Science studies what the evolution has done to the mechanical part, the part we see in action. Today, nuclear physics go deeper and see inside the Atom and beyond, found out about strings and 11 dimensions. But, the Zohar, a kabbalist work, written between 1200 and 1300, explains well that we are in a 26 dimensional space and only 11 are visible in our field of view, and that those fields are interconnected by invisible strings. Out of that configuration emerged the tree of life with 11 sephirot and interconnected by 33 total, 32 + 1 path. And, does our body not has 33 vertebrae, does he not needs 33 weeks to form in creation inside the woman’s uterus. This number 33, this bloody number, isn’t it? Christ lived 32 years and died in 33d. Make order in this chaos, think, use your brains? Use the Bible as a puzzle, take the stones and build the temple, you become all masons if you try. Just imagine, John Lennon told you that in a song, Imagine …..

    But,today, we are in 2013 now, we speak open language and we write in clear text. No need to call a dick a vampire or Jesus, no need to call a pussy a werewolf or a lamb anymore, no need to use the brain, how brainless this world has become. Any well instructed child knows what sexuality is and learn to know the human body in school, SEX is part of our life, so the most ancient book of sexual education and metaphysics written, the Torah and Bible have become obsolete, we do not need to hide the truth in fantasy tales anymore. Jewish Rabbi’s know what’s about, I know this as well because I am a Rabbi myself. So on the end, to whom do religions still serve? Well, wars, big money, divide and conquer, old game, no rules, result guaranteed.

    I encourage anyone to fight the hopeless case against religions, but I doubt that in the next 2000 years we will see any end of the tunnel. Learn the profound teaching of Kabbalah to complete your knowledge on today’s science, the doctrine reveals many things that ancients knew and that we search for. Quantum physics, elementary and nuclear structure are found in it, same as all the evolution theories. Kabbalah is not a cult (except the dogmatic donkeys with the black hats and the tefillin cubes on the front and arm), Kabbalah does not enslaves anyone, does not asks for money. Kabbalists have written the cloak, religions misuse it, and what a mess it does since ever is known by all of us.We killed in some way 7 to 8 billions for a f.ck, power, and money.

    Keep fighting, but do it in peace and without any violence. And do not pray to GOD, it can’t give you anything. Look at the receptacle on your wall, you can pray to it as long as you want, it will not move, not talk, not write, not speak, all it can do is give to you all it has, simply energy. No plug in, no action. And so is the human, you need to plug into the receptacle to get action, and it is just that what that old books are all about. Me too, I can tell you many words of the receptacle and the plug, words of GOD. Translate always, “of” with “about”, and you are in the right path. But on the end, even if I open to you all the books say, would anyone of you think at one moment that he will move something in the world of religions? Religion is business, a brainwash that makes those who teach it become powerful, rich, and live like kings on the expense of those who pay for the scam. Religion, Patriotism, Money, the holy trinity of power in place, and we are not close to change that, unfortunately. It was much easier to get rid of most kings and queens on earth, that scam emerged out of the scriptures as well. And still today, many idiots scream, dream, pray, and bow, when Misses Elisabeth von Battenberg walks around in England, dressed like a medieval clown. On the end, all you need is faith, isn’t it?

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