I Had to Take My Dirty Panties to a Rabbi, and So Has Every Orthodox Jewish Woman

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By Katia Aryeh

Religion brainwashed me into doing irrational and emotionally self-damaging things that I would have easily recognized as primitive and harmful were it not for my indoctrination.  Of all the practices I look back on with horror, this was the worst.  By removing the veil of secrecy that keeps these practices from public knowledge, my hope is that women suffering within these communities will feel empowered to leave.

There are three key tenets of Orthodox Judaism, each associated with an array of laws that must be strictly adhered to. Of the three, people are generally familiar with two: the special dietary laws referred to as Kosher; and the rabbinical laws of the Sabbath, or Shabbat, that govern the do’s and don’ts during the day of rest between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday.

The third pillar of Orthodox Judaism, family purity or niddah, is one very few people outside of that insular world are aware of.  However, if broken, the laws accompanying it carry a far greater penalty in the next world than those related to the Sabbath or keeping Kosher. The laws of family purity apply to all spectrums of orthodoxy, including the modern ones that allow women to wear trousers and uncover their hair, like the sect Ivanka Trump belongs to, for example. Even the slightest deviation from these laws would compromise a couple’s standing as practicing Orthodox Jews in the eyes of a rabbinical court.

What are these laws, you ask?

The laws of family purity revolve around the color of a woman’s vaginal discharge.

You see, beginning on the days when she anticipates her period, a husband and wife are forbidden from having any sexual relations until seven days following the end of her period. Considering orthodox law states that a period’s duration is a minimum of five days, this typically spans about two weeks or longer, depending on whether her post-menstrual discharge cooperates. In short, this means that for about half of every month, all aspects of an orthodox woman’s life, relationship, sexuality, and emotional health, are dictated by her vaginal discharge.

Except for the far left minority, most orthodox sects go even further with their adherence to the ancient laws by completely prohibiting any physical contact. Couples may not sleep in the same bed, or even hand objects to each other directly (even a baby), all to prevent the increase of temptation to have sexual contact. These laws apply even after a miscarriage, during childbirth, months following childbirth, and even if a spouse loses a family member and needs a hug from their partner. 

While the woman is required to count seven clean days before she may immerse herself in a ritual bath (mikvah) prior to reuniting with her husband, it’s not only a matter of days or time waiting. The woman must take an active role to ensure she is “clean” by wearing only white underwear and conducting self-examinations of her vaginal canal with special white cloths twice a day, every day, before sundown. The white cloth is inserted into the vagina so that any fluid or discharge is absorbed. The first examination of the seven days requires the cloth to be left in for about an hour, even if the woman is out of the house, and it is usually quite painful. Here is an excerpt from a website detailing very specific examination instructions (http://www.yoatzot.org/taharat-hamishpacha/?id=603):

 “Insert the finger deeply but GENTLY into the vaginal canal as far as the length of your finger will allow. If this is difficult for you, try to go deeply at least for the hefsek taharah [first] examination and for one of the examinations during the seven blood-free days – preferably the first.”

If during the seven days any of the examination cloths contain even a tiny spot darker than tan, or a spot on her underwear bigger than a penny and darker than tan, she must take the underwear or cloth to a special rabbi for further evaluation. This Rabbi will then examine the color to determine if it is light enough for her to keep counting, or if it’s too dark or too red tinted such that she must begin counting the seven clean days over, even if it is day 7. Seeing a spot obviously induces massive anxiety for housewives longing for any affection from their husbands, many of whom also worry that their deprived husbands will start looking elsewhere. 

Q: How do boys and girls raised in a culture obsessed with modesty accept this practice when they are made aware of what they must adhere to? 

A:

1) They are told that these special rabbis are like male OBGYNs; that there is nothing sexual about them examining the discharge, and that if someone still thinks it is inappropriate, it’s because THEY have a dirty mind and do not understand the holiness that motivates these rabbis. 

2) Engaged couples are told that if husbands sleep with their wives too much, they will grow tired of them the way a person’s love of chocolate cake would dwindle if eaten for every meal. The girls are also told that without a forced physical separation, their husbands will only see them as sexual toys and will have no incentive to talk to them and connect on a deeper emotional and intellectual level. 

3) To paraphrase what Sam Harris has said, one guy cutting off a girl’s clitoris is called a monster; hundreds of men doing the same is called culture. 

Q: Why can’t women check the colors themselves? 

A: According to Jewish law, women can’t be judges and can’t make legal rulings. Once vaginal discharge is darker than tan, a legal judgment is required. However, the minority left-leaning sect has, in recent years, certified some women to make these judgments. The center and right-leaning majority, however, does not recognize their certification because they are female judges, for all intents and purposes. 

That’s right. Women encouraging other women and their daughters to painfully violate themselves for God, instead of listening to their bodies and protecting themselves. Further, these are the least extreme of the bunch! More here: http://www.yoatzot.org/taharat-hamishpacha/?id=603

Q: Is this in the Bible? 

A: Yes, sort of. The prohibition for a man to not approach a menstruating woman is one of the 613 commandments in the Old Testament. Like kosher and the Sabbath, the specific laws governing the execution of the commandment are recorded various rabbinical writings considered as binding as the Bible itself.

The scope of this article does not include the vast laws that govern what the woman must do to her body on the night of her ritual bath, the emotional stresses put on the marriage and on the spouses by these laws, and how men who are prohibited from spilling their seed deal with so much celibacy (Hint: In Jewish law, a married man sleeping with a single woman who is not his wife is NOT considered adulterous. Adultery is defined by the marital status of the woman). 

148 COMMENTS

  1. I didn’t know menstruation was contagious.

    How do people even function in day-to-day life with all of these ridiculous rules and governances? And don’t get me started on the even-more-ridiculous “work-arounds” they have to circumvent their own rules…!

  2. @OP – The laws of family purity apply to all spectrums of orthodoxy, including the modern ones that allow women to wear trousers and uncover their hair, like the sect Ivanka Trump belongs to, for example. Even the slightest deviation from these laws would compromise a couple’s standing as practicing Orthodox Jews in the eyes of a rabbinical court.

    Mmmm! Another Trump nuttery connection!!

  3. I find this incredibly sad. After reading the article I was able to find information about this online, but it would have never occurred to me to look for it before. Aside from the incredible invasiveness of the procedures for checking for blood, the entire concept of physically limiting all intimacy, even a simple touch, for potentially weeks at a time, is horrendous and must have some strong psychological repercussions. I read about a “condition” called halachic infertility – where women are only fertile during times when they are considered unclean and so are unable to get pregnant because they are never permitted to have intercourse at the right time. There were suggestions of infertility treatments to respond to this problem! The absurdity is mind-boggling and incredibly saddening. And once again, the women suffer most.

  4. Engaged couples are told that if husbands sleep with their wives too much, they will grow tired of them the way a person’s love of chocolate cake would dwindle if eaten for every meal.

    But did not the Lord’s voice speak from out of the cloud, “I command thee to love thy wife like a person who loves chocolate cake so that you may never tire of her but always go back for seconds.”

    (The Bible is so riddled with contradictions.)

  5. To paraphrase what Sam Harris has said, one guy cutting off a girl’s clitoris is called a monster; hundreds of men doing the same is called culture.

    There is an apocryphal parallel to this phrase attributed to Stalin: “The death of one man is a tragedy; the death of a million men is a statistic.”

  6. I think she has some options:

    leave the faith. She does not buy it.
    find a denomination that does not do this.
    humiliate the rabbi as a pervert by taking a recording video his demand to the press. Let him make excuses to the public.
    give him some freshly laundered panties.
    just refuse. Leave the ball in his court.

  7. Melissa K,
    I agree with you on all fronts. I never even thought to encroach on a woman’s dignity to this degree and as a by-product of this respect, it never would have occurred to me to even search this. AND, damn, I’d clear the history so quickly, hoping that my wife never saw the search!!!! It’s reprehensible.

    Roedy,
    I’d love to hear an updated post from Katia with her resolving to leave or walking away from this staggeringly invasive and oppressive regime of pseudo- religious, pseudo- human, pseudo-men .

    But, with a twist. Hopefully many people here have read my stuff for a while and realize that while i am content being a giant middle finger, what follows here is, in fact an attempt at being funny.

    Here’s what i’d hope she does….. It would be grand to see how many “substances” she could smear in undergarments and turn in for inspection before the “holy man” caught on. I’d relish the story of her getting one over on he sexist asshole and, by proxy, their entire sexist system.

    One final fuck you and then walk away with your finger raised.

  8. I feel bad that you had a bad experience and I understand that you want to share it and help others. for the readers of this article, they should be aware that there are millions of religious Jews who adhere to these laws, accept them and feel privileged to have them. It’s unfortunate that in every “system” there will always be some people that it does not work for. (think about school drop outs or just the way people have different tastes and music they like) and the writer of this article obviously had a bad experience. Hence the way this article is written it makes it seem that these laws are primitive and unhealthy for the women keeping them. I won’t go down the path to write why the Nidda laws can be beneficial to couples as I am sure there are many available online or at your local Jewish bookstore.

  9. Jacob Cohen #8
    Nov 30, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Hence the way this article is written it makes it seem that these laws are primitive and unhealthy for the women keeping them.

    That’s probably because they are!

    I won’t go down the path to write why the Nidda laws can be beneficial to couples

    I’m pretty sure you would struggle to make a coherent case based on biology, medicine or psychology.

    as I am sure there are many available online or at your local Jewish bookstore.

    I’m sure there are, but none of them are likely to written objectively by anyone who is an expert on psychology or health, or who has not been indoctrinated in primitive preconceptions!
    There are also many books which are written claiming the Earth is flat, or that the Moon-landings were a hoax!
    Their authors also have credibility problems when in rational company.

  10. Jacob Cohen,

    Spoken like a true “male of the religion”. Way to go. You have single handedly shown exactly why this is unacceptable. And, single handedly summarized my absolute disdain for so many religions. You couldn’t have done it better with a flaming star of david stuck in a child’s eye. The fact that you seem like a very nice and genteel human being only serves to highlight further how pernicious this collection of taboos and superstitions actually are.

    Her’s your post from my perspective:

    “I feel bad that you had a bad experience….but….” Some women like having their undergarments dug through like they are farm animals….. yeah, and some men get sexually aroused by being vomited on. And, are the “holy men” masturbating about this access to these myriad women???? Next will be, “how dare I” (self righteous indignation that I’d SAY such a thing — while your rabbis are ACTUALLY sniffing women’s soiled undergarments in real life). how about this? How dare this religion do such repugnant shit? Would you be ok with a ____________ coming up to you and asking for your daughter’s soiled panties? I WOULD NOT.

    You claim it has benefits that “you choose not to go into”… like that kid who has a girlfriend ….in Canada… at summer camp…. you wouldn’t know her. Typical mindless adherence and thoughtlessness. Reminiscent of Trump ending every statement with “everybody knows”.

    You also then cite biased insider source material… “available at a Jewish bookstore”…. Like “hey, man, EVERYBODY”S doing it”…. There’s this BOOK!!! One says that you can beat homosexuality out of your child. Another says that if you say the right prayers, their leukemia will clear up, another extolls the benefits of a vegan diet for newborns, hey, voodoo, santaria, animal sacrifice…. Oh, but they are all “wrong”, huh?

    It reminds me of when that man in Iran said that homosexuality was punishable by death in Iran….. but that’s ok because we don’t have any homosexuals here.”

    What a reprehensible thing to justify. And, again, you come off as a very nice man and I’d be glad to be your friend, coworker, neighbor even family member….. However, I’d seriously think about reconsidering when you condone such overtly heinous violating of women’s privacy rights and do so with such matter-of-fact cavalier statements and do it all in the name of some kind and loving being in the sky. It’s an offensive pile of shit.

  11. Jacob Cohen

    there are millions of religious Jews who adhere to these laws, accept them and feel privileged to have them.

    The big three monotheisms, Judaism, Christianity and Islam all share the misogynistic strategy of controlling women’s natural reproductive strategy. It certainly doesn’t surprise me to read from a Jewish man who supports the bizarre level of scrutiny of women’s vaginal discharge that is explained in the article above. It also won’t surprise me to hear of the sadly brainwashed Jewish women who support this tactic as well. Every religion has its own gender traitors after all. Consciousness raising amongst them is needed immediately.

    On this website, when you post a claim you may be challenged to provide a source for that. Are you sure that it’s actually “millions” of supporters? You have stats? Of course we could never trust the answers of the women themselves. Some truly support this bizarre tactic but many will indicate support out of fear. And don’t tell me that all of the men in that community support this either. They’re all perfectly content with the practice of some Rabbi geezer sniffing their wive’s and daughter’s panties? Give me a break.

    These women are trapped in an abusive little world from which it is extremely difficult to escape. Some privilege, right?!

    Alpha males of the in-group who are absolutely brainwashed and intimidated by the prospect of women running their own lives in an independent autonomous way must find the rules and regulations of their antiquated religions to be very convenient when it comes to keeping their women on a short leash.

    …feel privileged… That is beyond the pale. The misogynistic statement of the century award.

  12. Laurie B,
    Great post. Your controlled burn is much more effective than my laser beams! I wish I had your writing style.

    But, posted to ask….

    First, are you sure that this wins the coveted “misogynist of the year award”? Because Some might proffer Trump as the current leader for the award.

    Second, and on a lighter note, what does this award look like? Is a sphincter shaped trophy too callous?

  13. crooked

    Trump as the current leader for the award.

    Well ok then, the point is well taken. I stand humbly corrected. 😉

    Is a sphincter shaped trophy too callous?

    Yes, that’s definitely too callous. The actually trophy is a six foot long dildo. The winner of the award will be bludgeoned with it at the award ceremony. For the record, just to put you in your place crooked, I can out-callous you any day of the week in three languages. So there. I could also take tea with the Queen. No problem. It’s good to be versatile in this life.

  14. @OP – like the sect Ivanka Trump belongs to, for example.

    http://www.ibtimes.com/ivanka-trumps-jewish-faith-11-things-know-about-donald-trumps-daughter-judaism-2393299

    Ivanka Trump’s Jewish Faith: 11 Things To Know About Donald Trump’s Daughter And Judaism

    2: Israel’s supreme rabbinical court recently rejected a conversion performed by Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, the rabbi who oversaw Ivanka Trump’s conversion, but that decision does not affect her status as a Jew.

    3: Donald Trump did not attend the “bris” — ritual circumcision — of Ivanka’s son Theodore in April.

    4: The mother of three says her religion plays an important role in family life. “We’re pretty observant, more than some, less than others. I just feel like it’s such an intimate thing for us,” Ivanka Trump told Vogue magazine in 2015. “It’s been such a great life decision for me. I am very modern, but I’m also a very traditional person, and I think that’s an interesting juxtaposition in how I was raised as well. I really find that with Judaism, it creates an amazing blueprint for family connectivity.”

    5: Ivanka and Jared Kushner reportedly keep kosher — that is, they follow the dietary restrictions in the Torah, eating no shellfish or pork and keeping milk products and meat products separate.

    6: Like other Orthodox Jews, Ivanka and her family observe Shabbat (the Sabbath). Kushner said the couple “turn off our phones for 25 hours.” Ivanka explained the benefits of abstaining from work for the weekly holiday. “From Friday to Saturday we don’t do anything but hang out with one another,” she told Vogue. “It’s an amazing thing when you’re so connected to really sign off. And for [daughter] Arabella to know that she has me, undivided, one day a week? We don’t do anything except play with each other, hang out with one another, go on walks together. Pure family.”

    10: Modern Orthodox Jews tend to adhere more closely than Conservative or Reform Jews to the commandments of Jewish law, said Rabbi Leora Kaye, the Director of Programming for the Union for Reform Judaism. “In general the biggest difference between the denominations, I would say, is the way they understand the weight of what we call Jewish law.” Kaye noted that, for example, it would be unlikely for a woman to be a rabbi in an Orthodox denomination.

    11: Ivanka and her husband live in “a world that is committed to the age-old practices of Judaism, but it doesn’t mean that those practices and observances prevent the person from being fully engaged,” said Rabbi Wildes.

    There is no mention of panties in the article, but there probably would not be anyway!

  15. Jacob,

    As a woman who lived under these laws for ~17 years, I think I am qualified to address some of your comments more so than those outside this world commenting. (Though I appreciate their voices as well!

    You wrote, “they should be aware that there are millions of religious Jews who adhere to these laws, accept them and feel privileged to have them.”

    You are correct that every Orthodox Jewish woman follows these laws. There are 2.2 million Orthodox Jews in the world (obviously a lot of children and men in that number.) It’s a slight exaggeration to say “millions” follow the laws.

    However, my argument is with this bit… that people “feel privileged to have them.”

    Umm, no. Not according to any frum women I have ever spoken with over my lifetime.

    Do they accept them? Yes. They must! They truly believe it is the word and will of god. They HAVE to follow the laws. (From their standpoint.)

    But privileged to have them?? I don’t know one mikvah-going woman who feels “privileged” to have these laws, unless you’re counting the kallah teachers that teach women the rules. They may say so. But I’m sure they must convince themselves of their good, otherwise how could they tolerate teaching it to others??

    I assume you are from or in the Orthodox world, so you know as well as I do that staying pregnant and breastfeeding is as much about “pru’vu”, or the commandment to have children, as it is about staying away from mikvah. When you’re pregnant, and when you breastfeed “clean,” you don’t go to the mikvah. So, stay pregnant or nursing, and you won’t need to go much. That’s just what most Orthodox women do.

    Do you know how many dedicated religious women I know who have CRIED to me that their periods came back while breastfeeding?? They cried because they did NOT want to have to follow these laws.

    I would say hundreds of thousand “tolerate” these laws. They may justify these laws… try to rationalize them. Make up “benefits” in order to tolerate them… But that’s as far as it goes.

    And all the bullshit about how “beneficial to couples” it is, again, no. The idea that it “improves” the relationship because they have to talk to each other and not have sex — well, it’s as if the assumption is that when they CAN have sex, that’s all they do. That’s ridiculous. It is completely possible to become emotionally connected to your spouse without forced physical separation for half the month.

    And during childbirth? And after childbirth? And after a miscarriage? To not be able to be touched or hugged or anything? That is emotional neglect. Now, I’m not saying the men are responsible for it — they are as suppressed and hurt by these laws as much as the women. But not ONE expert in psychology would say it was a “benefit” to lack any physical comfort during a deeply emotional or hurtful time.

    Yes, people make up reasons it’s “good” for a couple. But these laws are not followed for the “benefits.” It’s like what one Rabbi told me once: The Torah/Bible isn’t nice — it’s just right.

    They are followed because people believe it is the word of god — and that’s it. Not because they are good. There is not one good thing about them.

  16. LaurieB,
    Duly noted!!! (and you got a huge grin and even a bit of a snicker from me on your last post). Versatility protects against extinction.

    Oh, and i have enough trouble with English…. I’ve always envied brains that can accommodate multiple languages.

  17. Rachel,
    Thank you for your post. I find so much courage and honest intelligence in what you say. As one of the “offended outsiders”, it lends credence and validity to my opinion and let’s me see that, in fact, my kneejerk reaction (even though it is a kneejerk reaction) was “kosher” — pun intended!

  18. I feel like my wife and I can comment from an in-the-middle perspective.

    Regarding my viewpoint on Judaism in short: I see it as a cultural choice that is aimed at controlling one’s impulses instead of being controlled by them EG: Shabbat, I put down my phone, don’t drive, don’t do my normal work, and spend hours in meditation, Holidays: I perform rituals to remind me what I have to be thankful for and what I should remember. Prayer is a method of meditation etc.

    My personal method is fairly common in Judaism, it’s based on rational, psychological and scientific facts. Ah, but what happens when scientific facts collide with the bible? We find a rational psychological, physiological, or anthropological reason for them. Niddah – or the family purity laws do have some good points in them, but the corruption of these laws comes from within Judaism and a fair bit of “Sheeple,” behavior.

    Niddah is a period of separation for 8 days (I know 12 is mentioned here, but I personally disagree with 12 and so do many others). This time is a time of separation and rejoining to renew the sexual bond between husbands and wives – I dare you to look at the statistics of most marriages outside Judaism and the non-vibrant sex-life they boast. After the woman’s immersion in the Mikva (which I said to my wife, if she doesn’t feel like doing it or feels negatively about it, then water is water, take a bath), it is traditionally accepted to have sex. Once every 8 days? that’s pretty good for a few years down the line.

    The 12 days is keeping a law that makes the Niddah law fuzzy – Zava. Due to the fact that the Sheeple of the Rabbincal age of Judaism couldn’t distinguish between uncommon uterine bleeding and a normal period, they set all future religious Jews to follow the laws of Zava. Zava is the irregular bleeding after a period, a time in which most doctors will encourage you to not engage in sexual relations and to remain vigilant for signs of bleeding or spotting for more than a week. I personally don’t agree that we should keep Zava, as we are able to determine ourselves what a normal period is and what irregular bleeding is.

    Furthermore, if Zava is kept for a minimum of 12 days – this can cause a couple to not conceive and need to receive special permission to shorten the period of separation to allow for conception. Also, the psychological effects of the separation, physiological harm a woman can cause herself with frequent checking, and frustration with the complexities of keeping a law that is designed in the event of irregular bleeding and not to celebrate the rejoining of husband and wife (EG the writer of this article) are reason enough to return to the original laws of Niddah.

    Your frustration is shared by many and there are aspects of Judaism that are misogynistic. What I ask for is the appreciation for the aspects in Judaism that aren’t misogynistic – EG, contracts that guarantee a woman’s livelihood in the event of divorce, a law impeding the taking of concubines in warfare, the inclusion of women and their powerful roles throughout Jewish history, and the honor given to women which quite a few other religions don’t share.

    I won’t exonerate Jewish tradition, but I fully believe that misogyny in Judaism is the result of influences to our tradition that stem from other cultures or religions. One example is sex: The bible is pretty damn forthcoming about sex, the prophets are too – who believes sex is sinful? Christianity and Islam primarily. There is no basis in the bible or debatably afterwards to taboo sex – yet today in the ultra-orthodox communities, it is tabooed and considered impure. The laws of purity and impurity referred to a spiritual condition that only occurred in the times of the Jewish temple – they occur in situations when the mind is affected and it detracts from the service of God – EG. Coming in contact with a dead body, blood, sex, warfare, leprosy (in some cases). In these cases you need to undergo an ancient ritual of purification. Today – we don’t keep these laws, but our tradition is influenced from them (hand washing, kashrut) and in the case of the Ultra-Orthodox, are still kept.

    We agree that no woman should be forced to send her underwear to a Rabbi, and that Rabbis (unless they have medical degrees), are not qualified to determine health aspects as a result of examining dried blood, nor can they double as a financial adviser or medical adviser in the case of bearing children (unless, once again, they have a degree in Micro-Econ). We encourage couples who read this to be open with each other about this issue, and to research the plethora of debate surrounding this issue.

    Good luck.

  19. I have been to three bar mitzvahs and enjoyed sitting with two different men showing me who was shagging who in extra marital affairs. I personally listened in on a 76 year old rich guy telling a woman half his age how much he fancied her and watched them behave like naughty children all evening thinking they were the only ones in the know.

  20. Rachel, the point of my comment was for “outsiders” to realize that this article was written by someone who is upset and has had a bad experience. There are two sides to every story and specifically with these laws it has its benefits. It was not to argue the validity rather, to make readers aware that there are many hundreds of thousands of Jews who adhere to them and have a good experience.

    To learn more and come to an educated conclusion, readers should do their own research.

    As a side point I remember as a teenager listening to Dr. Laura and on many occasions, she would ask the caller “when was the last time you had sex with your spouse” I was shocked when many would respond with a period of longer than 6 months. Any religious Jewish couple will not have this issue due to the laws of Nidda. In addition, during the menstruating cycle couples are supposed to be schmoozing, dating, hanging out etc. and working on their relationship in a non-sexual way. If a woman does not feel emotionally well then it is her husband who is not doing his job as a caring spouse.

    You are correct when saying that “They are followed because people believe it is the word of god — and that’s it” I would add that for many, there are additional benefits.

    @crookedshoes, I lost you with the farm animals 🙂

  21. Jacob,

    You said: “I was shocked when many would respond with a period of longer than 6 months. Any religious Jewish couple will not have this issue due to the laws of Nidda.”

    There are Jewish couples who don’t have sex for months, who keep the laws of niddah. That’s a thing, and a myth that mikvah “prevents” this.

    In fact, there are women who just don’t bother to go to the mikvah for months due to friction in the marriage. This isn’t common, of course! (Not common in Jewish marriages, and not common in non-Jewish marriages either.) But it happens. (And yes, it is forbidden by Jewish law but it still happens.)

    I wouldn’t take callers on a talk show as a reference for the general public… I’m sure those people are more likely to have issues. That’s why they are calling into a talk show.

    I will also add that the “obligation” to have sex on the mikvah night is a huge stress for many women. While it is not “required-required” to have sex that night, there is a very strong push that it should happen… and many women don’t feel like it after all the preparation and stress of mikvah. That brings up strife in a marriage, too. This, “Well, it’s our mikvah night, we have to have sex tonight. It’s a mitzvah,” thing… How is that good?

    The “Jewish couples who keep taharas mishpacha have better sex lives” refrain is repeated often… but as far as I know, there’s been no actual research on the topic. (I imagine finding frum people willing to share with a professor how often they have sex would be difficult.)

    I agree people should do their own research… BUT that is going to be really difficult to find, if you’re looking for sources that are not already strongly biased towards keeping the rules. I actually don’t know of a neutral source to learn about these things.

    Rachel

  22. So far on this thread there have been appeals to accept and overlook, even appreciate the negative aspects of Judaism because there are a number of positive aspects of the religion that are supposedly serving a couple million believers well.

    Here are some of the aspects that are reported as positive:

    14

    Rules serve as a “blueprint” for family connectivity

    Phones turned off for 25 hours

    From Friday to Saturday do nothing but hang out with each other. Play and hang out with daughter.

    19

    Controlling impulses

    Rituals for giving thanks and remembering.

    Dietary Restrictions

    Niddah family purity laws based on ancient superstitions force couples to reject sexual contact. Forcing couples to only have sex on schedule, according to an arbitrary ancient, man-made schedule leads to postponement of marital ennui for decades.

    Ok, here’s the thing. Some of these are positive and some of these are not considered positive at all, even by members of the religious in-group, as commenters have indicated. But the point that the secular community would make, if I may speak for us here, is that these are all items that anyone could incorporate into their own lifestyle if they choose to do so! Why is it necessary to force these rules on a large group of people, two million if the figure is correct, when they could easily adopt them if they desire but reject the items that they find to archaic, perverted or harmful in some way?

    That’s the complaint here with orthodoxy, it forces many people to comply with the bad just so that a few good things will be observed as well. This is unacceptable and it’s too tied in with indoctrination of children when they have no ability to consider whether or not they want to comply. They must comply because they have no choice. They grow into adults who are either in compliance through force or through brainwashing. How can anyone defend this? It’s monstrous.

    Abe Truitt

    What I ask for is the appreciation for the aspects in Judaism that aren’t misogynistic – EG, contracts that guarantee a woman’s livelihood in the event of divorce, a law impeding the taking of concubines in warfare, the inclusion of women and their powerful roles throughout Jewish history, and the honor given to women which quite a few other religions don’t share.

    Secular law provides protection now for women in divorce. Many women want to access that for the protection it provides and reject religious “law” for being based on old misogynistic ideas that are predatory. I believe there are rules of war that are recognized by the international community and as for appreciating the role of women in Jewish history, I’m all for that but that’s something that everyone can do without giving in to old bad ideas that the rest of the religion forces on people.

    When we talk about the good things that religion makes us do, ask yourself if you could do it yourself without religion at all. If so, then what good is it to put up with the bad aspects of religion at all?

  23. Jacob Cohen,

    This is the writer. I am not angry and I didn’t have a bad experience. You saying so as a matter of fact is not only wrong, it’s an ad hominem attack meant to distract from the issue at hand as well. Falicious arguments abound in your world, but they don’t fly here.

    What horrifies me when I look back was that I thought what I was doing was good when I engaged in this uncomfortable, violating, and sad practice. Further, I find it horrifying that I almost brainwashed my two daughters to think this was normal and good for them. THAT is what is horrifying now that I have objectivity and have been out of the fog for some time. I wasn’t horrified at the time because I was brainwashed, which is entirely the point: I SHOULD have been, but wasn’t.

    It’s also quite sexist to assume that if a woman writes a blunt informative piece without dancing around the issue and sugar coating it like the demure damsel an orthodox girl is expected to be, you automatically think she’s angry. More misogyny.

  24. She’s right- no good reason that women can’t be trained to examine their own panties. Period.
    Sex abstention improves the sex life according to plenty of Gentile mental health professionals. Period.
    The ultra orthodox community has many idiosyncrasies that are bizarre. It’s not normative Judaism. It’s intellectually dishonest to characterize Orthodox Judaism according to what they do.
    Plenty of women love the Mikva experience. Especially converts. Many don’t. So what.
    The rules described here are not from Moses from Sinai. It’s mostly rabbinic. Feel free to follow what makes sense to you. TRUST ME– GOD DOESNT CARE. HE GAVE US THE TORAH FOR OUR BENEFIT, NOT HIS. Do as many mitzvot as you can. The only purpose of the mitzvot is to get close to God. Do what you can and what generates that closeness. It doesn’t help to make fun of anachronistic OCD obsesssed Jews.
    Instead of this rant, let the author go to a modern orthodox egalitarian synagogue and enjoy life.

  25. Ari #25
    Dec 1, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    Instead of this rant, let the author go to a modern orthodox egalitarian synagogue and enjoy life.

    Or they can just circulate socially in secular society, and enjoy life without rituals, quaint taboos, and superstitions.

  26. @ Jacob Cohen,
    You’ve gone on to clearly demonstrate how likable you are. If you were an actor, your “Q” rating would be way way higher than mine. The farm animal rant, although brusque and perhaps brutish, is simply words. I use them with force sometimes and sometimes I am right and sometimes I am wrong. These practices are actions and well… one speaks louder than the other.
    The idea that I “lost you there” is not surprising as it is true tangential thinking and I feel no compulsion to rehash any of it. It stands. If you care to reread it, I wouldn’t change a word.

    **** not true….. I regretted one word in the diatribe and that is when I said “even” (a family member). I wish I hadn’t said “even” there. It doesn’t convey what i meant and has the added crapful byproduct of being easily misinterpreted. Anyway, your posts are appreciated and I think, honest from your perspective and i thank you for them.

    @ SuperKatGirl,
    What is most heartening is when you say “Further, I find it horrifying that I almost brainwashed my two daughters to think this was normal and good for them.” This makes me feel great. Because of your strength of both character and mind, you have provided your daughters with the most important thing (IMO) a child can see: a strong parent. Further, you’ve made the “score” 2 million MINUS three. And, that’s remarkable. I do not know if this matters one iota in your world but Bravo from crookedshoes (and I am sure many many others here).
    Respectfully,
    Jim

  27. Thank you Jim. I appreciate that. 🙂

    For anyone who is interested, I’m good and well and my girls and I are living happy secular lives and have been for about 4 years. Needless to say it’s been the best four years of our lives and it just keeps getting better and better!!!

  28. It simply amazes me that anyone follows these ridiculous rules. I took a look around the linked web site and found one instance of breathtaking made-up idiocy after another. These are perhaps best represented by this:
    Wait required after bowel movement?

    Wait required after bowel movement?

    Question: With regards to finding a kesem on toilet paper, I was
    wondering if the rule of waiting more than 15 seconds only applies
    after urinating or for a bowel movement as well? Thank you Answer: It
    applies specifically after urinating, as urinating may mask a
    sensation of menses. A bowel movement’s sensations are in a more
    clearly distinct region of the body. In practice, a woman who has a
    bowel movement after urinating generally waits fifteen seconds for
    that reason alone.

    I thank my stars that I was never involved with any of this foolishness!

    Steve

  29. I’m coming late to this thread – sorry if everyone else has moved on, but I feel I need to say a few things. I learnt something new from this post. It was not, I can say, something I particularly wanted to learn but nevertheless …

    @Jacob
    A quick question, do you have actual blood in your veins? I’m asking because your reply, to a women recounting a deeply humiliating and traumatic time in her life, was the measure of cold, clinical indifference. When I read Katia’s post I felt sadness and compassion, but, I must admit, I felt just a little bit of rage reading your reply. You said you were “sorry (she) had a bad experience”. Really? As if it were a trip to the dentist, just a little more painful than it should have been. Perhaps you think most women are OK with all of this? Perhaps Katia is just being a little sensitive?

    In the context in which it was written, I would be hard put to recount a more callous and cold-blooded statement than this remark of yours.

    Funnily enough, despite the immense hurt she suffered, Katia’s reply to you was noble and dignified. I am neither of these things however, so I ask again, Jacob, do you in fact have veins full of icewater? And for a follow up question do you, in your sick little world, (@mods sorry – personal attack, I would hope you let this one go), do you, Jacob, actually believe that this is the will of God? That the Almighty, creator of all we see, the alpha and omega, that this omnipotent being has decided, in his infinite wisdom, it’s a good idea for a bunch of old men to go around inspecting young women’s undergarments? Again – really?

    Judaism is not the only religion to treat women shamefully and you Jacob certainly and sadly are not the only adherent who believes that this is all correct and proper, that God intended women to be second-class citizens. I am nevertheless greatly encouraged by brave people such as the poster, who despite the best efforts of others to brainwash them and inculcate them into going along with their despicable practices and traditions, summon up the courage and say “enough”. Katia you have my immense respect. Good luck, and thanks for having the guts to write this.

    (ps my wife is Colombian and Colombians have fire in their veins. She’s catholic, but if any priest ever asked to see her panties she’d kick him where it really hurts – and good job too!)

  30. @OP
    I read these posts just after lunch usually so I got as far as vaginal discharge.

    I can guess the rest reading the title.

    It does not actually matter about the detail or why for me.

    Its just another a mindless, tribal religious practice that subjugates, humiliates and takes away the dignity/privacy of women.

    That some rabbi or cleric may get a power rush or perverse sexual gratification from?

    Why am I not surprised? (but still disgusted)

    There are positives from each culture and maybe even a few from some religions but this is clearly not one of them.

  31. Just another example of how the men of religion have set their minds to dealing with what they see is ‘the problem’ of womankind and how to keep them in their place. There has been an obsession with virginity and menstruation in the abrahamic religions that is fanatical, bizarre and perverse.

  32. this BIG commandment too, to me, is a clear indication, that the Bible was written by a collection of people, possibly just men only. “I am your God and you shall have no other God but me”. Now if you think for a moment, if you were the God of everything, would there be any need to state the obvious? I mean, if there was a God of everything then everything would know, instinctively, who this God was. However, if you were not a God of everything then of course this would be the ultimate commandment to make, wouldn’t it?

  33. ray stasionis #35
    Dec 16, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    “I am your God and you shall have no other God but me”. Now if you think for a moment, if you were the God of everything, would there be any need to state the obvious?

    Ah! But this comes from the time before Israelite monotheism and the killing off of the other gods and their priests, if you read history rather than listening Bible ranters!

    El, who morphed into Yahweh, Jehovah, and “God”, was the chief god, and ruled along with his wife Asherah.

    http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Canaanite_Religion

    Canaanite religion describes the belief systems and ritual practices of the people living in the ancient Levant region throughout the Bronze Age and Iron Age.
    Until recently, little was known of these traditions outside of the Hebrew Bible, which denigrated them as idolatrous and licentious. Twentieth century archaeological excavations, however, unearthed several texts, as well as many artifacts, which provided previously unknown details and insights into the nature of Canaanite religion.

    Canaanite religious beliefs were polytheistic, with families typically focusing worship on ancestral household gods and goddesses, while honoring major deities such as El, Ashera, Baal, Anat, and Astarte at various public temples and high places. Kings also played an important religious role, especially in certain ceremonies, such as the sacred marriage of the New Year Festival, and may have been revered as gods.

    The Canaanite pantheon was conceived as a divine clan, headed by the supreme god El; the gods collectively made up the elohim. Through the centuries, the pantheon of Canaanite gods evolved, so that El and Asherah were more important in earlier times, while Baal and his consorts came to fore in later years.

  34. At the very least, every month a Rabbi should bring his dirty panties to a select jury of women within his community, for them to deliberate on the relationship between the color of his discharges and his fitness to serve as judge on the color of their discharges.

    It would be only fair.

  35. Hey, so I stumped on this article and thought I would give my own insight.

    First of all, a point of halacha: the stain on the examination cloth doesnt have to be bigger than a penny to make you nidda, nor does it have to be darker than tan. The tiniest tiniest stain, in any shade of red (from light pink to black) is considering invalidating. The under-penny-sized stain is acceptable only if seen on a white or light-coloured or coloured pant. On a coloured underwear, it doesnt change one’s status unless it’s a real flux.

    This is only a preview of all the complexities of these laws. sometimes you see an light orange coloured stain, you have a doubt: is there some red in there? Is it more orange or red or yellow? It is in those case, when you’re unsure, that you’re heading to someone which studied the matter at lenght.

    Contrary to what is written in this article, it is not a “minority left-leaning sect” that “has, in recent years, certified some women to make these judgments”. A rebbetzin, which studied these matters, is as qualified as anyone to determine the nature of the stain. In my community, we have a rebbetzin which is very competent and I assure you my community is more of the right-leaning type.

    I read a couple of things that surprised me:

    1) I was NEVER told I had a dirty mind for being uneasy with the fact a rabbi was checking my bdikot/underwear O_o
    And I have really read a lot of books on the subject of nidda, spoke with yoatzot, etc etc and every time the subject was brought up, the response was that it was frequent to feel weird the first few times you give the envelope to the rebbetzin (so she can check it or give it to her husband to check) or put it into the malbox, but that it was simply a matter of checking if everything is alright and that it’s not disrespectful to the rabbi and that, like you said, I didnt have to feel any worse than when I go to an OBGYN
    I’m sorry you obviously went to an incompetent yoetzet, this is the first time I hear of such a rude teacher. My friends and I talk about our yoatzot and no one ever told me hers was telling her that (the go-to-a-rabbi being a touchy subject for a bride to be, I would have heard of a yoetzet being that mean with one of my friends)

    2) It’s true that rabbi Meir praises those laws for allowing a couple to reconnect in a way other than touching each other and for making the wife more desirable to her husband. But sex is still a mitsva during pregnancy and after menopause, which are times during which couple dont have these monthly interruptions, and no one seems to be concerned that husband will be disgusted of their wives. The “reconnecting” aspect is seen as something positive that can be obtained through these laws, not the reason behind them. I have never been told, in the numerous occasions I have learned about Nidda, that my husband would be disgusted by me if I had too much sex with him.

    3) I dont think it is honest or fair to compare nidda laws with excision. The last destroys one’s sex life, induces a great amount a physical pain, increases mortality, etc. Nothing, comparing to simply having to put an envelope into a mailbox with your telephone number on it.

    And the women are totally competent to make legal rulings (see Dvora). Not that deciding if a colour is permitted or not falls under the “legal rulings” description anyway. But if we were considered incompetent to apply the legal rulings made by the heads of our religion, we would have to bring every single one of our bdikot to the rav.
    Jewish women and men all the time use their judgement to determine if something is permitted or not. You’ve seen your mother doing chabbat, accomplishing mitsvot, cooking, casherizing meat, etc etc. Some people become so competent they can give chiourim, and I’m sure your already went to those women teachers to ask a question about a tricky point of halacha. So why exactly do you think examining bdikot is any different?

  36. I am an Orthodox Jew, going on 30 years of marriage. My wife and I faithfully observed the laws of taharat hamishpachah (family purity) from the time of our wedding until she experienced menopause. Neither of us would have had it any other way! While the article and some of the responses to it betray an inherent bias against any religious practices, I will nonetheless assay to explain the Jewish perspective.
    We view the laws of family purity as God-given, no different than the laws of Shabbat, or the laws related to thievery, or the laws related to giving charity! There is, essentially, no difference, and just because some “moderns” do not understand a law does not mean that the law is flawed.
    The article criticizes family purity on several grounds, and i will address these:
    1. Katia Aryeh is uncomfortable that women have to take their “dirty panties to a rabbi.” Well, actually, not usually the case. A woman having a discharge of questionable color usually has several options. First, to avoid a potentially uncomfortable situation, the woman can have her husband bring the panties to a qualified rabbi (for the record, no, the “panty viewer” does not have to be a rabbi, and in actuality, the viewer can be a woman, if she is qualified). Second, in my community and many others, methods have been developed whereby a woman’s discharge can be judged anonymously.
    Now it may happen that a woman may have to go directly to a rabbi (and yes, generally rabbis are the qualified ones, by virtue of their rigorous study of the applicable laws). Life is sometimes uncomfortable! But their is nothing sexual about the encounter! Believe me, I have looked at panties and cloths, and it is not at all arousing! The perverted ones are the commenters who somehow want to see sex in everything. Which leads me to point two:

    In olden times, MEN ALSO HAD DISCHARGES THAT NEEDED TO BE ASSESSED! Yes, this is not well known, but in the times of the Temple in Jerusalem, the laws of purity and impurity had ramifications for men and women. Certain penile discharges also had to be viewed and evaluated. Today the male aspect is moot, and it will remain so until the rebuilding of the Temple, but back in the day, this was an everyday occurrence. It may not have been a comfortable experience, but again, life is not always comfortable.
    It seems that Aryeh has decided for herself that no logical woman would accept these laws. I challenge readers to read! Read articles written by women who find that the laws of niddah elevate them. Women are not sex objects to be used by men as it suits the men. A woman is entitled to her personal space, to a time when she and her spouses explore the non-physical parts of their relationship. Is this good for a marriage? I think that today, the divorce rate in the Orthodox community at large is probably a stratospheric… ten to fifteen percent! Yes, too high, but nowhere near the percentage in the country at large. What explains this low rate? Part of it is that yes, by separating periodically (pun intended), a husband and wife maintain their desire for one another. Non-stop accessibility is not ideal for a marriage.
    So yes, “Engaged couples are told that if husbands sleep with their wives too much, they will grow tired of them.” True!
    Aryeh states that women can’t check the colors themselves because “women can’t be judges.” It is true that that in Jewish law, women cannot generally be judges in a court of law, but ruling on a “bedikah cloth” does not require such a judge, and if a woman (or her husband) is competent to know the various colors and shades that determine a discharge’s status, she may rule upon it herself. However, knowing the colors is a complicated skill that involves significant study under the tutelage of one who already has studied. Generally, it is rabbis who study this matter along with their other studies of ritual law.
    Aryeh decries women who encourage their daughters to “painfully violate themselves for God.” I know, from speaking with my wife, that the procedure of “checking” vaginally may occasionally be painful. (It depends on the woman; responses vary.) When this is the case, Jewish law allows for less frequent checking; there are ways to minimize the discomfort.
    While Judaism has laws that may seem irrational, we accept the laws, recognizing that we don’t necessarily understand the Divine Will. For example, we don’t wear garments that have a mixture of wool and linen; boy, is that irrational! But the laws of niddah are not irrational at all. They may perfect sense, and for the record, sex after separation is amazing!

  37. To complete my last thought in the previous post: I am not commenting on marital relations after separation from a strictly personal perspective. The Talmud itself states that after a woman goes to the mikveh (ritual bath) and returns to her husband, their experience simulates their wedding night (presumably when they had sex for the first time). I think that most Orthodox men and women will concur that just as continuous eating of chocolate will lead to a disdain for chocolate, the same goes for other physical pleasures, including intimacy.
    Orthodox Jews strive for modesty, but this does not mean that Jewish laws shies away from discussing pleasure. The Talmudic Sages were well aware of the powerful sexual urge, and Jewish law seeks to direct that urge, not to discourage it! We view sex as good, healthy, and part of normative life. Within the marital context, as long as the wife is tehorah (meaning she has gone to the mikveh), there are practically no constraints on what she and her husband can do in bed.
    Looking back, if I were given the choice, I would do it all over again. Keeping the laws of niddah is a wonderful experience.

  38. Avi Goldstein

    We view the laws of family purity as God-given, no different than the laws of Shabbat, or the laws related to thievery, or the laws related to giving charity! There is, essentially, no difference, and just because some “moderns” do not understand a law does not mean that the law is flawed.

    You must be aware of the fact that the regular readers and contributors to this website are well aware that those people who are still under the effects of their childhood indoctrination into whatever religion it happens to be, believe that the ideas of the ancient desert semitic tribes are of paramount importance in living correctly in this current time. We already understand that the orthodox, evangelicals and fundamentalists of all stripes are under the influence of their religious ideology and can’t seem to think their way clear of it.

    When you state that “moderns” don’t understand a religious law, consider that we moderns actually understand it perfectly and may have read the ancient texts that it came from. You assume that you and your “tribe” are the only ones who are in possession of the absolute truth and that if only everyone else would just read this ancient material then they would immediately respect and admire your lifestyle and devotion. I hope you will not be surprised to hear that every devout Muslim on the face of the earth believes the same thing. Then what happens is predictable; the outsider to that religion spends a few minutes reading the Koran and is immediately shocked at the brutality, sexism and every other moral failure that is recognized by all of us moderns who are not brainwashed from childhood to admire these writings and opinions. Try to understand that the Jewish holy writings are no different whatsoever than those of the Christians and Muslims. They are the same.

    Advice to all orthodox and fundamentalists: Do NOT recommend to secular “moderns” that they need to read ancient “holy” books so that the moderns can come to love the barbaric cruelty contained within them. You will definitely achieve the opposite result. These books inspire disgust in us moderns.

    One thing that every secular person is proud of is our ability to leave behind the bad old ideas that come from religion and that come from any other source as well. It takes a flexible educated mind to analyse ideas and run them through the filter of modern ethics. All of the freedoms and equality that we in the West appreciate and maybe take for granted too, come from the great thinkers of the Enlightenment and everyone who had the opportunity and courage to move us forward to our current position. The very person who started this website, Richard Dawkins, has done so much to boost the position of all secular people and has no doubt suffered great aggravation in all of these years because of it.

    So you see Avi, when you ask us here to respect your tired old ideas concerning the management of your women’s vaginal discharge and ritual bathing to return them to a state of purity and cleanliness from the state of filth that they previously experienced from completely natural biological processes, can’t you recognize that we actually do understand what you are participating in and in fact we find it to be misogynistic and repulsive? Your control of your women’s reproductive behavior is unacceptable in the current century. We say the same about the Muslims, your cultural cousins. Unacceptable.

    I think that today, the divorce rate in the Orthodox community at large is probably a stratospheric… ten to fifteen percent! Yes, too high, but nowhere near the percentage in the country at large. What explains this low rate? Part of it is that yes, by separating periodically (pun intended), a husband and wife maintain their desire for one another.

    Ten to fifteen percent divorce rate? I’m sure that the fundamentalist Muslims agree with your assessment as they have told me many times but this is laughably flawed analysis. The real reason your divorce rate is so low is because your women are trapped and can’t get out. All fundamentalists keep their women uneducated and block them from having good money making careers. When women have the law on their side, state safety nets and their own money to spend then they have the power to get up and take their children and leave men who don’t treat them well. You flatter yourself to think that your women are happy when they and their children are under oppressive control. You think that a few days of no sexual contact will refresh her interest in you? No wonder fundamentalists control their women so closely. With that kind of dull sex and display of disgust over the state of female genitals I pity any woman who has to perform her marital duty for the rest of her life in these conditions.

  39. So, Laurie, let’s see: Only people who have rejected the “bad old ideas” are capable of displaying logic. Hmm, I would argue the converse: those who believe that the physical world somehow came into being by itself are entirely illogical.
    But this is quite beside the point. To a carefully worded, gentle post, you responded with an invective. I will not stoop to your level, but I will respond to your points:
    1. You have somehow figured out that our low divorce rate is do to our women having no careers and no outside life. Neither is the case. Today, most Orthodox women have careers outside the home. Many are lawyers, doctors, or even Ivankas (well, maybe not that rich!). In the home, they and their husbands work together to raise their families. You, as an outsider, have no right to tell us whether we are happy! But you are welcome to interview my wife and ask her.
    2. It is an ontological fact that familiarity breeds contempt. The reason for keeping niddah IS NOT that one keeps that feeling of newness in his/her sex life. The reason we keep the laws is that God commanded us to do so. But freshness is a great byproduct! And in truth, as one gets older and one has a somewhat lower sex drive, this particular benefit of separation recedes, which coincides well with women reaching menopause and not needing to separate. But I will tell you, Laura, once in a while I do miss those times of separation and renewal!
    3. Without getting graphic, I can assure you that we do not have “dull sex” and we do not consider genitals (male or female) to be “disgusting.” Quite the opposite; I don’t know where you are getting your mis-information. When you don’t know about something, kindly don’t comment on you; you just come off sounding ignorant.
    4. Not sure what you mean by “modern ethics.” Oh, are those the scientific ethics that led to the Holocaust?
    5. I don’t comment on other religions. I do believe there is good to be found in Islam and in Christianity.

    3.

  40. Avi Goldstein #40
    May 23, 2017 at 11:22 am

    The Talmudic Sages were well aware of the powerful sexual urge, and Jewish law seeks to direct that urge, not to discourage it!

    The need for fundamentalist religions to intrude and dominate people’s sex lives as a method of subjugation and domination, is well understood.

    We view sex as good, healthy, and part of normative life. Within the marital context, as long as the wife is tehorah (meaning she has gone to the mikveh)

    Breeding large numbers of new cult child members as a method of sustaining and spreading the meme, is also a feature – regardless of the poverty which can be produced as a result of large families where resources are limited!

  41. Avi Goldstein #42
    May 23, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    So, Laurie, let’s see: Only people who have rejected the “bad old ideas” are capable of displaying logic.

    Logic is a process of deduction and induction – (usually starting with physical evidence), NOT a badge to be stuck on to asserted preconceptions about conjured-up magical creations.

    Hmm, I would argue the converse: those who believe that the physical world somehow came into being by itself are entirely illogical.

    Err no! That is a strawman claim and an unevidenced assertion!

    The evolution of the Earth following its formation, is explained by the Giant impact hypothesis, as most astronomers and educated people know. This is an evidence based logical understanding of accretion events which are still observable and on-going in the Solar System!

  42. Alan, one is quite welcome not so subscribe to our attempt to “intrude and dominate people’s sex lives.” Just as the writer of the article did, one can choose not to follow the laws. But you are totally ignorant of Judaism if you think that we use sex as a method of “subjugation and domination.” Judaism views sex as a right for a woman, and it is her husband’s obligation to satisfy. If he refuses to, that is grounds for divorce (and the converse applies as well). Sorry, not like you moderns, with your “Fifty Shades of Subjugation.”

    The second statement is simply racist; I do not respond to racist comments.

    As for poverty, those who opt in to Orthodox Judaism know that birth control is allowed, depending on circumstance. Poverty is absolutely a circumstance that comes into play when deciding whether birth control is allowed.

  43. Avi Goldstein #45
    May 23, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    <em.Breeding large numbers of new cult child members as a method of sustaining and spreading the meme, is also a feature – regardless of the poverty which can be produced as a result of large families where resources are limited!

    The second statement is simply racist; I do not respond to racist comments.

    Really? The comment is about a number of religions (such as Catholicism), which discourage birth control! A religion is not a race – and religious conflicts may or may not be between groups of the same of different races!

    As for poverty, those who opt in to Orthodox Judaism know that birth control is allowed, depending on circumstance. Poverty is absolutely a circumstance that comes into play when deciding whether birth control is allowed.

    I’m glad to hear it as far as it goes , – but that has no bearing on my comment about some and religious groups or cults breeding large families in poverty!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_views_on_contraception

    The Jewish view on birth control currently varies between the Orthodox, Conservative and Reform branches of Judaism. Among Orthodox Judaism, use of birth control has been considered only acceptable for use in limited circumstances.

    Many modern Jews feel that the benefits of contraception, be they female health, family stability, or disease prevention, uphold the commandment in Judaism to “choose life” much more strongly than they violate the commandment to “be fruitful and multiply”.

    But you are totally ignorant of Judaism if you think that we use sex as a method of “subjugation and domination.”

    A you saying your lives are not dominated by reporting your sex lives to rabbis, following particular dress codes, and carrying out strange behaviours or abstaining from various activities during the Sabbath?

    Observations of religion related behaviours on this website, are not confined to any one religion or sect of it!

  44. Modern ethics implies Holocaust, check.

    Fundamentalist religion comment implies Racist, check.

    This attempt to imply general criticism as anti-semitism is a poor show and needs to stop. It is not.

  45. Alan, “racism” usually is used in a broad sense, whether talking about a race or an ethnicity. However, if you would prefer to use the term “anti-Semitic,” that is fine.
    All I know is, if someone would say, for example, that blacks are “breeding” too much, the person would be deemed a racist. nuff said.

  46. Avi Goldstein #52
    May 23, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    The comment is about a number of religions (such as Catholicism), which discourage birth control!
    A religion is not a race – and religious conflicts may or may not be between groups of the same of different races!

    Alan, “racism” usually is used in a broad sense, whether talking about a race or an ethnicity.

    Perhaps you could explain the “race” or “ethnicity” of the Catholic example I gave? As I stated – a religion is not a race!

    However, if you would prefer to use the term “anti-Semitic,” that is fine.

    Is this an example “badge logic” in the absence of a reasoned response?

    All I know is, if someone would say, for example, that blacks are “breeding” too much, the person would be deemed a racist.

    This is a science site where biologists know the meaning of the term “race”! We also know the meaning of the term “religion”. The two are not interchangeable!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_(human_categorization)

    Race is the classification of humans into groups based on physical traits, ancestry, genetics, or social relations, or the relations between them.[1][2][3][4][5] First used to refer to speakers of a common language and then to denote national affiliations, by the 17th century race began to refer to physical (i.e. phenotypical) traits. The term was often used in a general biological taxonomic sense,[6] starting from the 19th century, to denote genetically differentiated human populations defined by phenotype.

    I have not encountered the “black religion” which disparages birth control and promotes large families! Perhaps you could explain which one it is?
    As far as I am aware people with black skins believe in a wide range of religions, and hold a diversity of views on contraception, just as the diverse religions of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, are followed by the the Semitic races of the Middle East!

    nuff said.

    It probably is if that’s your best attempt at producing a reasoned comment!

    @#42 – I don’t comment on other religions.

    It seems that because you don’t discuss them, you have difficulty in comprehending comments about them, and fail to see in them, the parallels with your own!

    It is quite common for those isolated in fundamentalist beliefs, to be unaware of the wider range of viewpoints held by the peoples of the world outside of their own limited religious circle!

  47. Avi Goldstein #57
    May 23, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    I have been termed a “fundamentalist.”
    Would someone kindly explain what is meant by this word?

    Perhaps this will explain it, but it does cover a spectrum of religions, rather than just some sects of Judaism.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Fundamentalism

    Fundamentalism is a movement to recapture an ideological “purity” within a religion, that supposedly has been lost by mainstream adherents of the religion at large.
    Fundamentalists often assert the primacy of their own idiosyncratic interpretation of religious texts over centuries of acquired knowledge and practice.
    This puts them at odds not only with the secular world and members of other religions, but also with their less zealous brethren.

  48. Avi Goldstein #56
    May 23, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    Olgan, I don’t understand what she is saying; something about female witnesses and salesmen?

    She is talking about homosexuality, arranged marriages, and her personal situation!

    Olgun asked you what advice you would offer to her.

  49. Avi. Your use of terms implying anti-semitism from others here is wrong and must stop.

    Two classes of people breed unsustainably, the very poorest who need kids to help them survive better through illness and old age and the fundamentalist religious breeders, Catholics, Quiver-Full folk, and yourselves. Most other Christians and Muslims with high total fertility rates are simply dirt poor.

  50. Avi

    Only people who have rejected the “bad old ideas” are capable of displaying logic. Hmm, I would argue the converse: those who believe that the physical world somehow came into being by itself are entirely illogical.

    I expect you and everyone else on the face of this earth to challenge yourself to rethink all ideas whether they’re old or new. I expect you to realize that you’ve been indoctrinated into the religion that you currently defend and then do the best you can to recognize that most people on this earth have also been brainwashed into any number of diverse religions out there in the marketplace of ideas. Children believe anything but as an adult you have the freedom and obligation to pull forth all of these ideas and filter them through the framework that ethics provides. Is there harm? Based on the ethical obligations (I will present them if you would like that.) what is good and what is bad, valuable and not valuable and what is right and what is wrong. This is what I mean by modern ethics. This is training for the mind.

    If you’ve spent your entire life enclosed in an orthodox (fundamentalist, evangelical) bubble then how in the world can you understand how abysmally dark your understanding of morality must be? Yes there are a few old ideas that I have kept. There are aspects of traditional lifestyles that I retain but this is only after I have given them years of consideration and observation of their consequences. I’m prepared to defend, say, extended family living as I have on this site before. Not that it’s a perfect system but some of the trade offs are beneficial to women although there are a few downsides as well. But the bulk of the bad old ideas that were meme dumped into my brain by people around me when I was a child and the hours every week that I was forced to spend at the Methodist church were judged by me to be either useless or harmful.

    There is nothing good in that Bible or in the minds of those Protestants that I couldn’t have come up with on my own or from a secular source. In fact, it took me years to review those stupid memes and dispose of them with better replacements. I lost too much time. This leaves me very bitter.

    As for the physical world coming into being by itself, I have no problem with that statement but I don’t have the academic background to engage you in this discussion. If you think that there is an all powerful entity in the sky who snapped his fingers and designed a universe perfect for our existence then I’ll assume that you don’t have the chops for that discussion either. I will refer you to a book by Lawrence Krauss on this subject or any other
    qualified person. My field of study at University was experimental psych and I added a couple semesters after that with classes in the bio department, anthropology, etc. These classes were necessary for me to have some basic understanding of the discussions that take place here on this site. There’s no reason to beat around the bush with this though; I understand that science answers the questions of how this world came to exist, how life came to exist, how life came to take so many diverse forms and all of the anatomical and physiological processes that present in these myriad forms. There are still many mysteries to be solved. I’m not in a rush for these to be solved. The beauty is in the quest. I’m so lucky to be part of it.

    To a carefully worded, gentle post, you responded with an invective.

    By invective, do you mean the general tone of my comment or is there an ad hom in there somewhere? Of course an ad-hom demands an apology and if this is the case I will put that forth but surely you don’t expect a feminist, atheist, materialist to offer you up some smarmy smiling approval for ideas that I find repulsive, do you? You must realize which website you have wandered onto, right? I mean, you can write any vile ideas in gorgeous prose but if the ideas are rotten to the core then what I will offer you is the truth of my opinion. The ideas that you defend are ones that are disgusting to anyone who is not completely brainwashed in your ancient ideology.

    You, as an outsider, have no right to tell us whether we are happy!

    For women who are trapped in fundamentalist communities I hope they can find happiness somehow somewhere. I don’t even dare to tell them to leave. They rarely have the means to do so and I would never ask them to leave their children behind. You seem very confident that your little world is happy and stable. If I ever get one of your women aside in a one on one conversation I’ll bet my bottom dollar I’ll hear a different story. Don’t suggest that I have no business worrying about women from your community. That’s not how it works. When women suffer from oppression here or there or across the globe, I feel that. All women feel that and yes indeed, we are judging you.

    As a member of a community that has been persecuted relentlessly, surely you can identify with this.

    It is an ontological fact that familiarity breeds contempt.

    Thank you for providing an example of how we take ideas and churn them through some skeptical analysis. Let’s get rid of the ontological right off the bat. It adds nothing. I don’t believe that familiarity breeds contempt. That’s very harsh, don’t you think so? I think familiarity breeds a little ennui here and there. A little taking the other for granted. It’s not good. If the familiarity begins as children then the familiarity breeds Westermark’s effect…then there’ll be no breeding at all!! Haaa! Just a little evo-bio-psych joke there. Come on Avi, lighten up a little, will you please? That was wicked funny. But seriously, I’m trying to illustrate how these old memes need freshening up so fire up those old neurons and set them to the task. I know you can do it.

    once in a while I do miss those times of separation and renewal!

    Now Ari, this is purely lack of imagination. A little advice, book yourself and the Mrs into a cute little seaside resort in the South of France for as much time as you can afford. This will have wonderful effect that a dreary religious rite could never compete with. Make her feel special and ravish her for christ’s sake. She’s probably just as bored to death as you are. She’s a female of the species and that’s what’s wanted here. Now get that charge card out and take action instead of droning on about your tired rituals. What are you waiting for.

    When you don’t know about something, kindly don’t comment on you; you just come off sounding ignorant.
    4. Not sure what you mean by “modern ethics.” Oh, are those the scientific ethics that led to the Holocaust?
    5. I don’t comment on other religions. I do believe there is good to be found in Islam and in Christianity.

    I don’t need to be a scholar of the Talmud to discuss these simple ideas. I don’t have to respect these ideas just because they are old or held by many people or for any reason whatsoever. ALL ideas are fair game! Of course since you’ve incorporated some bad old ideas into the framework of your worldview you will have hurt feelings when I point out that they are harmful and unethical. I understand that your first impulse is to lash out with insults but please try not to do that right away. Think it through. I do know how difficult this process is. We all get our backs up over assertive challenges to what we hold dear. I do give you every credit for having the guts to venture forth here (even if we never agree on a single thing) when you must have known that there are readers who disagree with you. I don’t think you’re a bad person, just one who is under the influence of a powerful indoctrination, much of which isn’t your fault but now that you’ve engaged us here I will be very interested to see what you can do with the interaction that is provided.

    Also, I do believe that chucking around accusations of anti-semitism is a lazy and predictable tactic. Please Avi, don’t be predictable. 😉

  51. Alan, from the responses I have been getting, it seems that you folks, not we, are the intolerant ones. You cannot stand the fact that someone holds different beliefs than you (although, lacking any moral barometer, I am uncertain how you have any beliefs at all).
    But to address the part of your post that at least is somewhat sensical, no, we do not “report” our sex lives to our rabbis. Au contraire, our sex lives are private! Unlike your world, where everything goes and there are no moral restraints, we believe that a sense of modesty has value!
    Yes, we believe that on the Sabbath, we are restricted from certain activities. Thank God, I do not have seven days in my week. I have six days plus one entirely different day. I am thrilled every time the Sabbath commences and I am saddened when it ends. What a beautiful thing to be able to take one day off from the rigors, physical and mental, of the week! I recommend you try it.
    As for the “strange behaviors,” I am not certain which you mean.
    But yes, some things we do may seem strange to you. You have no concept of Judaism. You have no experiential evidence upon which to rely. You examine everything by your narrow-minded, anything goes barometer. That is truly sad.
    I am kind of surprised (well, not really) that an organization claiming to support open-mindedness is so closed-minded to others!

  52. Laurie, if you used the term “breeding” for blacks, you would be termed a racist, and rightly so. If you use that term with us, then yes, it is anti-Semitic.
    As for the rest of what you said, it is not I who has “lashed out,” it is you. I have maintained an even, reasoned tone. Others (perhaps not specifically you) have been much more ad hom; a sign, I believe, that they have no argument!
    I have addressed most of your points, but let me assure you, Laurie, one can faithfully observe our rituals and still check into a romantic resort, with whirlpool for two, and thoroughly enjoy themselves. there is no contradiction here.

  53. Avi

    What are you selling. Your wonderful life full of whirlpools and sex or the religion? If it is the latter then it clearly is not working for all and in particular women. Do you care or are you going to carry on ignoring people like that woman in the link. Bit much telling others their world is narrow when when you ignore whats going on around you.

    Please stop the victim stuff. Ive lost count. You are killing the conversation.

  54. Avi Goldstein #62
    May 23, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    Alan, from the responses I have been getting, it seems that you folks, not we, are the intolerant ones. You cannot stand the fact that someone holds different beliefs than you

    On the contrary!
    I have studied many different beliefs and world views, and have evaluated them in terms of their long and short term effects on people, and the capability of people to cope with the problems of life.
    There are, and have been, literally thousands of religions and cultures in addition to yours.

    (although, lacking any moral barometer, I am uncertain how you have any beliefs at all).

    I don’t do beliefs from assumed preconceptions!
    I collect evidence based ideas which have been tested and shown to work, and then up-date them when valid new information becomes available.

    But to address the part of your post that at least is somewhat sensical, no, we do not “report” our sex lives to our rabbis. Au contraire, our sex lives are private!

    I thought this discussion was about women regularly consulting rabbis about sexual discharges! Did you miss that point? In the secular world they consult doctors if they think there is a problem.

    Unlike your world, where everything goes and there are no moral restraints,

    You clearly have no concept of secular morality or codes of conduct which involve empathy, reciprocal altruism, and consideration of other people. Humanism is about respecting humans, not gods.

    we believe that a sense of modesty has value!

    Modesty is a cultural concept frequently with indoctrinated shame about a person’s body image. The taboos come in many forms.

    Yes, we believe that on the Sabbath, we are restricted from certain activities. Thank God, I do not have seven days in my week. I have six days plus one entirely different day.

    I quite like days off work and weekends too, but I don’t need gods to arrange them for me or organise my activities.

    You have no concept of Judaism.

    There are considerable numbers of orthodox Jews living in my area.

    You have no experiential evidence upon which to rely.

    There are also quite a few secular Jews who participate in discussions on this site, although they usually base their comments on their associations with Jewish family members and evidence, rather than just making wild assumptions about the knowledge of others in discussions.

    You examine everything by your narrow-minded, anything goes barometer.

    You have no basis for thinking I accept an “anything goes” philosophy!

    That is truly sad.

    It is sad that you do not know how to seek out real information about other viewpoints, but are left looking at a blank when others say they do not accept all of your personal beliefs.

    I am kind of surprised (well, not really) that an organization claiming to support open-mindedness is so closed-minded to others!

    I think this psychological projection of your own lack of an open minded view of the world outside of your own belief bubble. You exhibit a lack of awareness, and seem to be struggling to even discuss other viewpoints.

    an organization claiming to support open-mindedness is so closed-minded to others!

    Unlike fundamentalists, those who embrace critical rational thinking and science, are very open minded, but examine ideas for evidenced support and validity before accepting them. Lack of acceptance does not imply a lack of knowledge or understanding.
    They are not open to having any old long refuted garbage poured into their heads.

    Sometimes when examining the stories in “holy books” they check and compare these with scientific or archaeological evidence and historical documents, rather than simply uncritically accepting the traditional folk-law versions.

  55. Avi Goldstein #63
    May 23, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    Laurie, if you used the term “breeding” for blacks, you would be termed a racist, and rightly so.

    That is of course (once again) an irrelevant strawman diversion from the original issue of religious discouragement of contraception for the purpose of creating large families of believers.

    If you use that term with us, then yes, it is anti-Semitic.

    Nope! Arguing a false equivalence is a fallacy!
    Gratuitous allegations of anti-Semitism, are just a mentally lazy way of dodging answering valid criticisms – usually criticisms of:- damaging or repressive religious beliefs, the government of Israel, or Zionist literalist claims to be entitled to steal land from the previous owners whose families have lived on it for decades or centuries!

    That is one of the differences between the inflexible fixed preconceptions of fundamentalists, with their non-thinkers’ dogmatic answers, and those who are prepared to rationally debate issues and the interests of various parties, on their merits!

  56. Hey Avi,
    I have skimmed this thread so forgive me if someone has asked you this and you’ve already answered.

    First, may i say that I am perfectly accepting of you and your wife’s relationship, marriage, and the things that the two of you have consented to and loved and valued through out the course of your marriage. My take is as long as both consent and what manifests is strength and love, have at it.. and to me your methodologies are valid and seem very suited for you and your wife’s needs. I applaud you for finding such harmony and adopting practices that (again, due to your words) seem to heighten and deepen your love for each other.

    My questions. If your daughter-in-law did not want to adhere to your practices (after initially “believing” in them) would she be ostracized? Would you speak harshly to her. about her? How about your brothers children? Would there be gossip? If your grandson wanted to be baptized christian, would you disown him?

    If your daughter or son were gay, would they be “welcome” in your paradigm? If any of your family members identified as atheist, would it be a crisis?

    If you answer even “maybe” to any of these or if your answer is not a hardy and cheery “it would be fine”. Then, you are doing EXACTLY what LaurieB proffered above. See, pressure to conform is not always overt and obvious. It is not always actually verbalized. Sometimes menace can simply be shadowy and amorphous.

    So, tell me, are you inadvertently (I am sure) pressuring your family members into conformity? Are they truly free without risk of disowning and/or excommunication? I eagerly await your answers.

  57. Avi

    I have maintained an even, reasoned tone.

    Do you realize that you have lobbed a few insults at the regulars here? When you imply or state that non-religious people have no moral compass and are immodest and are illogical because we favor an explanation for the creation of the universe and life that is entirely science based, can you see that this can’t be interpreted as reasoned in tone? This is what the negative reactions are about.

    Even if you never change your religious worldview, aren’t you even slightly curious to know how we, the secular community, create a morality, a worldview and a whole community without the slightest need for a supernatural being?

    Here’s your chance to find out.

  58. Olgun, can’t take a bit of the truth? Can’t accept that people cannot be happy within a structured (somewhat) society?
    i am not “selling” anything. I am not trying to convince you or any other critic here. Judaism does not need excusing. We have a tradition, coming from God, that is thousands of years old. Our tradition has withstood the test of time. If you don’t like our rules, that is not our problem.
    But you are certainly guilty of engaging in ad hominem attacks, rather than addressing the issues at hand. How unfortunate.

  59. Laurie, I have not lobbed insults at anyone. If you took any of my words in that fashion, I apologize. To the contrary, it is I who have been called “illogical,” a “cult” member and worse.
    I did not say an atheist cannot be moral, but even if I did, that would not be an ad hominem, it would be an observation based on an assessment of atheism as a philosophy.
    Here is what I mean, and of course i welcome a reasoned response: When one believes in God, especially in an all-encompassing religious construct such as Judaism has, at least one has a basis for their moral views. For example, I believe that murder is wrong (I am referring to a classic case of, say, John murdering Steve because John decides he wishes to kill someone). The reason I believe John would be wrong is that I believe God commanded us not to murder.
    It is fair (not an ad hominem) to ask you, as an avowed atheist, whether you believe John is being immoral in murdering Steve, and if yes, why do you believe this. I think, Laurie, that this is a fair place to start, and I look forward to your response. Thanks. Avi

  60. Crookedshoes, sorry for the delay in responding. Thanks for your input, and indeed these are good and serious questions.
    if my daughter-in-law (just got my second one!) wished to opt out of the niddah laws, well, first of all, she would have to deal with my son, who would not continue in such a marriage. The penalty for having relations with a niddah is the same as for eating on Yom Kippur! But if, God forbid, I had a child who became not religious, I would be very saddened. However, gossip is not permitted in Jewish law, except in very limited circumstances. Simply to talk about someone is forbidden.
    If a child of mine were to become Christian, that would be another story. This is considered absolutely horrible. Not so long ago, such children were indeed “disowned,” and one would “sit shivah,” as if the child died. Today, while the sin remains a terrible one, we are cognizant that there are so many outside influences on even the most insular communities that the apostate’s fault is not entirely his/her own, and that it is better to maintain a connection.
    If my daughter or son chose to become gay, that too would be terrible, but i would not break off my connection with them, at the same time not welcoming a same-sex partner into my home.
    I doubt you will like these answers, but i think they are an accurate depiction of how most Orthodox Jews would react.

  61. at least one has a basis for their moral views

    Really? What would you do without your religion? Do you see non-believers killing and raping because they don’t have any morality?

    99 percent of inmates are “christians”.

  62. Avi #72

    can’t take a bit of the truth

    I have taken great care in claiming that religion doesn’t work for SOME people but you seem to have missed that.

    I am not trying to convince you or any other critic here

    But you come to an atheist site expecting a hallelujah and a praise the lord for every one of your posts. If not then….claim victim hood at every difficult question.

    I have no reason to attack you, though you tried rile me by deliberately misspelling my name in an attempt to divert attention from my question. That part actually showed me how far my internet savvy has grown as these sort of attacks were and are still being used by trolls on the net. Starts with a nursery school name calling followed by diversion and then, this-

    Others (perhaps not specifically you) have been much more ad hom; a
    sign, I believe, that they have no argument

    -covering your behind for anyone else that might ask why you didn’t answer the question. You are behaving exactly like a troll even if you are not or realise you are doing it. It is evasive and adds not a jot to the conversation.

    I am genuinely happy that you are happy within the structure of your choice but not to acknowledge those that are not is immoral. What does your religion say about those less fortunate than yourself? Ignore them? Feel anger at them because they dare speak up?

    Those are the truths Avi but you are not interested in that.

    Now, again, what advise will you offer this woman , who is of your own faith, based on what you know your religion requires of you in these circumstances. If you are following religious lines in ignoring her suffering then do you have a moral opinion outside of it, like the rest of us here.

  63. Avi Goldstein #71
    May 23, 2017 at 11:23 pm

    Laurie, I have not lobbed insults at anyone. If you took any of my words in that fashion, I apologize.
    To the contrary, it is I who have been called “illogical,”

    Logic is a description of arguments. If you make claims your assertions are “logical” as a badge of “authority”, when they are purely assertions with no deductive process included, that is illogical!
    Statements of fact about the structure of arguments, are not insults! Being wrong is not being insulted!

    a “cult” member and worse.

    Are you suggesting that your religious group is not a denomination, sect, or cult of Judaism? That would be a position which is rather hard to support!

    I did not say an atheist cannot be moral, but even if I did, that would not be an ad hominem, it would be an observation based on an assessment of atheism as a philosophy.

    There is no such thing as “an atheist philosophy”!
    Atheism is an absence of belief in gods, so any supposed supposed “observation” of some imagined “atheist philosophy” is purely in your imagination. Atheists hold a diversity of philosophies as do the followers of various religions.
    There is no “standard” atheist or “religious” philosophy, except in the imaginary, self deluding, dichotomous bubble, of “mine and the wrong ONE”!

    Here is what I mean, and of course i welcome a reasoned response: When one believes in God, especially in an all-encompassing religious construct such as Judaism has, at least one has a basis for their moral views.

    Actually all one has is the opportunity to copy the tribalist “moral views” which have been passed down in folk-law from the warring bronze-age tribes!

    For example, I believe that murder is wrong (I am referring to a classic case of, say, John murdering Steve because John decides he wishes to kill someone).

    “Murder” is a crime defined by state laws enacted by whatever legislative regime is in power locally. Killing is quite often approved by states when they want soldiers or rebel groups to do their dirty work.

    The reason I believe John would be wrong is that I believe God commanded us not to murder.

    If you are taking this from the Bible/Torah, “murder” would be killing a fellow member of the tribe. The texts are full of applause for killing people from other religions or other tribes.
    That is the “in-crowd” – “outsiders”, divisive dichotomy of most religions.

    Most atheists would comply with state laws to respect their fellow man, but there could be exceptions in militaristic repressive states, where state elites abuse the general population or particular minorities.

    The fundamental difference between secular states and theocracies or political ideological states, is that secular states generally seek equality before the law for all, whereas theocracies seek privileged positions for the followers of particular religions or ideologies.

    That is why there are mass killings in religious wars between theocracies based on different religions!

    @#72 – If a child of mine were to become Christian, that would be another story. This is considered absolutely horrible. Not so long ago, such children were indeed “disowned,” and one would “sit shivah,” as if the child died.

    . . . and you suggest that it the atheists who accept civilised debate between differing world views, who are “intolerant” of others!

    Today, while the sin remains a terrible one, we are cognizant that there are so many outside influences on even the most insular communities that the apostate’s fault is not entirely his/her own, and that it is better to maintain a connection.

    That is the problem with the mind-slavery of sects and cults.
    There is no respect for rational debate or toleration of other viewpoints. That is why the antiquated ignorance-based on bronze-age preconceptions of dogmas resist up-dating in the light of new evidence-based information.

    If my daughter or son chose to become gay, that too would be terrible, but i would not break off my connection with them,

    This is simply an assertion of bigoted ignorance!
    Children do not “choose” to become homosexual, trans-sexual, intersex or hermaphrodite! This is a medical condition derived from their embryological development in the womb. As biologists know, the dichotomy of male and female is not absolute – neither in humans nor in other organisms. Some species of fish for example, often change sex at some stage in their lives.

    at the same time not welcoming a same-sex partner into my home.

    If you had a disabled child who was a wheelchair user, would you also refuse their fellow wheelchair using partner admission?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-38730291

    Intersex people are born with a mixture of male and female sex characteristics.

    According to the United Nations, the condition affects up to 1.7% of the world’s population.

    These are the sorts of issues where atheists challenge the bigoted ignorance-based bronze-age pseudo-morality of religious dogmas which go in for abusive victim blaming!

  64. Avi Goldstein #70
    May 23, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    Judaism does not need excusing.

    Some of the actions of its followers do – unless those involved take the simplistic view –
    actions of my tribe – right or wrong = good.
    conflicting actions by others- right or wrong = bad.

    We have a tradition, coming from God, that is thousands of years old.

    The origins and evolution of this god from the polytheistic Canaanite pantheon, are being progressively researched by archaeologists and anthropologists.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Canaanite_religion

    However thousands of other religions can make similar claims, and have, or have had, followers making similar claims to yours!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_deities

    Do you have some evidence that your claims have any more substance than theirs?

  65. @#75 – The fundamental difference between secular states and theocracies or political ideological states,
    is that secular states generally seek equality before the law for all,
    whereas theocracies seek privileged positions for the followers of particular religions or ideologies.

    Here is an example of this:-

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-40012047

    Taiwan’s top judges have ruled in favour of gay marriage, paving the way for it to become the first place in Asia to legalise same-sex unions.

    The highest court ruled that current laws preventing members of the same sex from marrying violated their right to equality and were unconstitutional.

  66. All this seems far afield from the original topic, which was Katia Aryeh’s misrepresentation of Orthodox Judaism. But strayed we have. Rather than respond to some of the more silly asides, I will focus on two issues: the morality of murder and the issue of homosexuality.
    Re murder, rather than addressing my crystal clear question: Does an atheist believe John can kill Steve simply because John feels like it, and if not, why not, Alan chose to dodge the issue, in the interim misrepresenting the Torah (no, Alan, according to Jewish law, the rule against murder IS NOT limited to one of the “tribe.” He also introduced other non-related issues (e.g., the nature of the particular state.
    I am asking a simple question. As an atheist, do you believe John can kill Steve for no reason, and if not, why not?

  67. Regarding homosexuality, the fact that in the past couple of decades advocacy groups have managed to convince many people that sexual “orientation” is inborn does not make it so.

  68. Oops, I clicked Send too early!
    From a traditional Jewish perspective, the question of sexual “preference” or “orientation” is irrelevant. One can feel something and not act upon it. I may be born with an innate sense that I need to steal things. My goal in life would then become to restrain myself so that I don’t steal. That is part of the challenge of life.

  69. Avi Goldstein #80
    May 24, 2017 at 9:21 am

    Regarding homosexuality, the fact that in the past couple of decades advocacy groups have managed to convince many people that sexual “orientation” is inborn does not make it so.

    However – a study of biology and embryology clearly identifies a range of intersex conditions! – which is why those using evidence and reason are prevailing over those dependent on bronze-age prejudices and assertions!
    (You see I am a biologist who reads medical text books and biological studies, rather than bronze age-guesswork wearing a god-badge!)

    Could I recommend some study of the actual subject at a top international medical reference site!

    https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003269.htm

    Ambiguous genitalia is a birth defect where the outer genitals do not have the typical appearance of either a boy or a girl.

    The male and female reproductive organs and genitals both come from the same tissue in the fetus. If the process that causes this fetal tissue to become “male” or “female” is disrupted, ambiguous genitalia can develop. This makes it difficult to easily identify the infant as male or female. The extent of the ambiguity varies. In very rare instances, the physical appearance may be fully developed as the opposite of the genetic sex. For example, a genetic male may have developed the appearance of a normal female.

    You seem to have missed answering this question.

    Alan @75 – If you had a disabled child who was a wheelchair user, would you also refuse their fellow wheelchair using partner admission?

    Avi Goldstein #81
    May 24, 2017 at 9:25 am

    From a traditional Jewish perspective, the question of sexual “preference” or “orientation” is irrelevant.

    It is however not irrelevant to those born intersex, and who see no particular reason to live sexually repressed lives, simply because some religious groups embrace bigoted dogmas and feel an urge to interfere in other people’s sex lives!

  70. Avi Goldstein #79
    May 24, 2017 at 9:20 am

    I will focus on two issues: the morality of murder and the issue of homosexuality.
    Re murder, rather than addressing my crystal clear question: Does an atheist believe John can kill Steve simply because John feels like it, and if not, why not,

    First of all, people who are not psychopaths do not casually kill people anyway. Usually they need a strong motive!

    Your problem in understanding a secular morality, seems to stem from an indoctrinated version of “morality”, which says you must behave in certain ways, because a vengeful big-brother god, is watching you, and without this oversight, believers will run amok!
    A secular humanist view, is that societies need to establish laws and manage their own moral codes of conduct, based on equality of rights, mutual co-operation, and altruism. with individuals taking responsibility for their own actions.

    Alan chose to dodge the issue, in the interim misrepresenting the Torah (no, Alan, according to Jewish law, the rule against murder IS NOT limited to one of the “tribe.”

    Perhaps you could explain the various accounts of acclaimed killings and genocides against rival states, rival tribes, and rival religions.

    http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/says_about/genocide.html
    And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain. Deuteronomy 2:34

    He also introduced other non-related issues (e.g., the nature of the particular state.

    I tried to give a vague meaningless question some context.
    When discussing the legal term “murder”, the local state laws are relevant. – Particularly where military activity is involved.

  71. Avi,
    I do not like your answers, you are correct, but I do like you and if you were my son and (my family is devoutly catholic) YOU decided to convert to your orthodox Judaism, I’d not only support you, but I’d try to use reason to convince anyone in the family that had a problem with your choice to support you in your strides toward happiness to rethink their stance. We are fundamentally different on this point, you and I. And, in my system of morals, you are extraordinarily morally corrupt on this point.

    More importantly, I also find your other answers deeply, deeply immoral. So, the high ground that you feel you come from because “you have a tradition thousands of years old, dictated from god” is an illusion. Sadly, of the two of us, I am the only one who can see this illusion and you are not only living as if it is absolute truth (and to you it may be, and I support you in your acceptance of it as YOUR absolute truth), but you are clearly being “kindly tyrannical” to your family and friends.

    So many of your answers, although accepted and routine in your perspective are exactly the smiling hate we all have come to expect from folks who purport to be “doing god’s work”.

    ie. “She would have to deal with my son….”

    you are awfully confident in your son’s reaction. What if HE surprised you?

    There is this song called “I’ll follow you down”, I don’t expect everyone has heard it but the basic premiss is that the singer loves this girl enough to fall from grace for her… (hence follow her down)… Do you have love like that? I DO. I DO > I DO> I DO>>>>>>>>> I sing my happiness with my wife and my life.

    It makes me happy and I have a right to it. But see I’ve supported you and your happiness and you’d EXPECT me to lose mine if I were your son and that is nonsense. And, that is precisely where your beliefs hurt others. you have a right to your happiness but you most expressly do not have a right to interfere with anyone else’s ANYONE else’s. And my sentiment (of not judging others) is clearly stated in your own Holy books and YOU choose to flout them…

    Here’s a bit to chew on:

    Our sages ask, when are you allowed to judge another person? The
    answer: Never. The explanation given is as follows: Who says your
    blood is redder than his? (Talmud – Sanhedrin 74a)

    In my opinion, the exact thing you’ve lost sight of is that it is the HAPPINESS your belief system brings you that should be what you urge others to seek and pursue in their lives, NOT THE BELIEF SYSTEM. If these scenarios I’ve presented make the individual HAPPY, and as HAPPY as your belief system makes you, then why why why do you think you have the right to judge and pressure a person to fit their “happy” into your mold?

  72. Avi Goldstein #70
    May 23, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    We have a tradition, coming from God, that is thousands of years old.

    No you don’t. You have a tradition that came purely from men inventing stuff to suit themselves and ascribing it to an imaginary god, and I mean men in the male sense because almost exclusively women had little say in the origins of the ancient religions which is why they are so discriminated against in them. There is no more evidence for the existence of your particular imaginary god than there is for Shiva, Ra, Thor, Zeus or any of the other thousands of gods who have come and gone but you believe in yours because that’s what you were indoctrinated to believe in because of who your parents were and where you were born. End of.

    If you had been born in Saudi Arabia you’d be a Muslim, India probably a Hindu, China an atheist, The USA probably a Christian. You are just a product of your particular childhood brainwashing.

    You can happily disavow all those other religions, current and extinct, as made up, inventions of man, no real god involved but yet you can’t see the same must surely apply to your own imaginary god. However childhood brainwashing is very hard to overcome. We understand that and are saddened by it. Where it becomes obnoxious is when you pontificate that atheists can’t have any moral compass because they don’t have an imaginary sky pixie telling them what to do. I don’t need one of those to tell me that pulling the wings off butterflies is cruel any more than I need one to tell me that murder of a human being is wrong. I simply think it’s right to treat everyone else, animals included, as one would wish to be treated oneself. No imaginary god needed for thinking that’s so simple and straightforward.

  73. Hi Avi. I am one of the secular Jews Alan mentioned and a semi regular contributor here. A few of the people that were kind enough to engage with you here (I generally don’t have the patience for these kinds of discussions seeing early on, as the others certainly did, that we would not be able to make any headway when the dogma is so thick) have done so, I assure you, in a measured, mannered way. They have the patience of Job if that makes you more comfortable. You have also conducted yourself this way, just with a message we cannot rationally appreciate. I use the word rationally on purpose. I will remind you again of where you are choosing to post. I have a feeling that if one of us chose to post our atheistic/humanistic beliefs on an Orthodox Jewish blog I am not sure the reception would be quite so warm. Clearly you are not taking the time to peruse the links you’ve been provided or truly consider the information kindly being shared. You need to understand that we are as incapable of believing in your sky god as you are in his absence. But let me be clear on this point: we are NOT incapable of considering it rationally however. It’s just that it doesn’t take that much consideration to come to the conclusion that there are far better rational explanations for these things, much elucidated from my patient fellow posters. I’m not sure you’re considering any of the concepts being presented to you rationally. That seems anathema to your dogma. And regarding morality, anyone who needs a sky god dictator to keep them in line, lest they succumb to the latent immorality apparently brimming right beneath the surface, is no one I’d want to spend any time with. We would never have evolved without an innate morality. This much is clear.

    @crooked – smiling hate. I love that. And I shall steal that with attribution (with your permission).

  74. Yes, “smiling hate”. Love that. I’ll coin one of my own. “Spewing venom in calm measured tones”.

    I remember Richard debating with some bat shit crazy blonde American woman years ago who spoke in the quietest calmest voice that nothing could upset but everything that came out of her mouth was pure poison. Also Ted Haggard raging against gays whilst paying male prostitutes for sex and calling the police against Richard because he discussed evolution (he accused me of being a monkey).

  75. Alan, “intersex” is already covered by our Sages in the Talmud, with the laws that particularly pertain to them, given their uncertain status. Of course, if you don’t believe in the laws, they are irrelevant, but we are well aware of this nature and have dealt with it.
    It has nothing, however, to do with homosexual conduct!

  76. Steven, the only reason I posted was because Katia Aryeh’s article was so misleading. It was not my intent to seek out a secular site just to post! However, I will note that it seems you prefer insularity, that is, you prefer not to engage in discussion with those who disagree with you.
    I have no such issue, I am much more open-minded.

  77. Alan, you wrote: “A secular humanist view, is that societies need to establish laws and manage their own moral codes of conduct, based on equality of rights, mutual co-operation, and altruism. with individuals taking responsibility for their own actions.”
    Now we are talking! We all agree that societies need to establish laws. As the Sages put it (and we can all agree on this, I think): If not for a stable government and laws, “people would eat each other alive.” Not all people, not most, but enough to rip society apart. So we agree, we need laws.
    The laws against, say, murder, are meant so that society is not destroyed. And indeed, if someone murders, we put him/her in prison so that society’s safety is assured.
    But this has nothing to do with morality! When you say that society’s mores should be founded upon equal rights, cooperation, and altruism, why? What makes you think these are positive values? Indeed, what makes you think there are values at all? It is this issue that particularly interests me.
    By the way, this has nothing to do with the original posted article. Obviously you would (or should) agree that a self-managing group (such as Orthodox Jews) can have its own rules, as long as it is not forcing others to keep those rules. I would fully agree with that notion. I await your response. Thanks.

  78. Avi Goldstein

    I am asking a simple question. As an atheist, do you believe John can kill Steve for no reason, and if not, why not?

    Hello,

    I, like Steven 007, am a secular Jew – or a “Jewish” atheist. I would say that I am absolutely prohibited (from within!) from committing murder. And as I have never been religions and come from a family of non-religious people and have had very little contact with orthodox Jews and no very little about Judaism. I can only assume that that feeling of murder (and rape and stealing, and hurting people) being wrong does not, cannot come from any God. God to me and to many compassionate and humane agnostics and atheists is simply Nothing. This sense of prohibition does not come from the State either, i.e., the fear of punishment.

    It is not an easy thing to explain; these are complex questions, and they should be asked. Empathy, being civilized, caring about others… All those things have developed willy-nilly over the centuries, but not enough, as violence and hate and cruelty is still so prevalent, prevalent among religious Jews and Christians and Muslims (and their non-believing counterparts as well). But what can be established beyond a doubt is that that profound aversion to killing that I referenced, along with the sense of right and wrong and the sense of justice, and the appreciation and concern (empathy) for other people’s right to live (a natural right) which I and so many other non-believers feel and have a sense of, must be, if logically considered, something quite independent of your lawgiving deity.

    Moreover, if the only thing that prevents “John” or yourself or anyone else killing “Steve” or anyone else, is a God that you know nothing about and that has no qualities at all, is immaterial, is little more than a word, an idea, then please stay religious. We have enough homicides in the world. The prisons are filled with homicidal maniacs. So for all of our sakes, stay religious until you figure out how you as a man, an individual with your own set of values and sensibilities, feel about killing – and not a child or soldier taking orders from Big Daddy in the Sky. (Yes, I am expressing some disdain.) If “God” is the only thing that can hold you back, in the heat of passion, from wielding the knife or the sword, then stay religious, please.

    Many Holy Books do advocate killing. Must people put themselves in a position where they have to pick and choose which laws God meant and which ones he didn’t or which ones he might not care as much about and go through life that way? Did you read what someone had written above about all the different religions all saying different things? No. Religion cannot possibly last; no lie can live forever.

    Those are some of my thoughts.

    Regards,

  79. Avi Goldstein #88
    May 24, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    Alan, “intersex” is already covered by our Sages in the Talmud,
    with the laws that particularly pertain to them, given their uncertain status.
    Of course, if you don’t believe in the laws, they are irrelevant,
    but we are well aware of this nature and have dealt with it.

    Perhaps you could explain how this is dealt with.

    It has nothing, however, to do with homosexual conduct!

    Actually it does, because the brain development governing sexual attraction, is similarly affected by hormonal effects on the embryo in the womb.

    Avi Goldstein #45 – May 23, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    Alan, one is quite welcome not so subscribe to our attempt to “intrude and dominate people’s sex lives.”

    I recall this earlier comment, but it appears when it comes to homosexuals and intersex people, you express an urge for friends and family to bring pressure to bear on then in exactly that way!

    You went on to say you regard one of your children being a homosexual “would be terrible”.

    But you are totally ignorant of Judaism if you think that we use sex as a method of “subjugation and domination.”

    and you say that you would discriminate against any partner they lived with!

    So which is it? Is sex “a private matter” between partners, or are homosexual relationships to be intruded upon and harassed?

    Then there are these conflicting claims:

    Just as the writer of the article did, one can choose not to follow the laws.

    It seems that children can’t mature and decide to grow out of ancient beliefs without being disowned or ostracised as apostates – as you explain in this comment!

    If a child of mine were to become Christian,
    that would be another story.
    This is considered absolutely horrible.
    Not so long ago, such children were indeed “disowned,”
    and one would “sit shivah,” as if the child died.

    There seem to be conflicting claims and compartmentalised thinking in your comments. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compartmentalization_(psychology)

    Perhaps there are some reasons here in threats to apostates, why you seem to have mental blocks making you unable to follow the reasoning which challenges some of your mistaken preconceptions.

  80. I am much more open-minded.

    Ha! Well Avi I appear to have underestimated your smiling hate and condescension. It’s rich assuming that you’re the one with the open mind. And if I preferred insularity I would not have posted. What I disdain however is arguing with a dogmatic close minded person which you quite clearly are. There’s a great big world outside the shul and your kosher home. This world is no less valid than yours. Indeed it allows yours to exist by several means I’ll allow you to presume. I won’t hold my breath.

  81. Avi Goldstein #90
    May 24, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Alan, you wrote: “A secular humanist view, is that societies need to establish laws and manage their own moral codes of conduct, based on equality of rights, mutual co-operation, and altruism. with individuals taking responsibility for their own actions.”

    These are of course worked out by people making informed judgements on predicted outcomes and balancing the interests of various parties.
    For example professions such as doctors have codes of conduct, which most follow voluntarily, but which include sanctions against rogue individuals.

    Now we are talking! We all agree that societies need to establish laws. As the Sages put it (and we can all agree on this, I think): If not for a stable government and laws, “people would eat each other alive.” Not all people, not most, but enough to rip society apart. So we agree, we need laws.

    However laws as I explained should be based on evidence and predicted outcomes, not ancient superstitions.

    The laws against, say, murder, are meant so that society is not destroyed. And indeed, if someone murders, we put him/her in prison so that society’s safety is assured.

    Actually no! Most systems are less than perfect, and many are corrupt! That is where the objective evaluation of various political systems comes in.

    But this has nothing to do with morality! When you say that society’s mores should be founded upon equal rights, cooperation, and altruism, why? What makes you think these are positive values? Indeed, what makes you think there are values at all?

    The values are chosen by the people of the community. Those law makers who honestly take responsibility for their legislation, and seek expert science based advice, are to be preferred to those who try to stick badges of “authority” onto unevidenced preconceptions, ideological notions or superstitions.

    It is this issue that particularly interests me.

    All laws and codes of conduct are the work of humans, including those which some try to enhance by sticking a god-badge on to them.

    By the way, this has nothing to do with the original posted article.

    Actually, it does because it looks at the sources of ideas and mental processes directing the behaviour patterns under discussion.

    I recognise god-beliefs as a mental delusion created by childhood indoctrination. “God-did-it” explanations are simply a patch which is put over personal ignorance of the workings of the physical world. These are sometimes referred to as “God-of-gaps” explanations. In science, if we don’t know, we say we don’t know, but hope to investigate and find out.
    In theology the claims are made to know the unknown by claiming “god-did-it”!

    That is why I referred you the the evolution of the Earth @#44, when you raised the issue.

    Obviously you would (or should) agree that a self-managing group (such as Orthodox Jews) can have its own rules, as long as it is not forcing others to keep those rules.

    Groups form their own rules, but it is perfectly reasonable to evaluate the effects of these on members, relations of member, friends of members, children of members and members who wish to leave the group.

    As with politics in general applications of rules are open to abuses, so criticism and in extreme cases actions are justified. There are many examples where authority figures in religions (sometimes in league with politicians), abuse their positions to the detriment of their members.

    I would fully agree with that notion. I await your response. Thanks.

    Not only are many regular posters on this site well read, but many are ex-Christians, from Muslim families or are secular Jews. There is a wide ranging understanding of religions and their effects in societies.

  82. Alan, you wrote:
    “The values are chosen by the people of the community.”

    So let’s say the community, through its legislators decides it should be legal to kill Jews, or Cambodians, or Ethiopians, or Armenians (or unborn babies, although that is a complicated matter). Would that be okay with you?
    I think we are centering on the problem!

  83. My set of questions sure seems to have exposed the closed mind and smiling hate (trademark pending). Let’s recapitulate the past few days:

    Avi would regard his son being homosexual as terrible.
    Avi’s clear bullying of his son has resulted in a child who would divorce the love of his life if she dared DARED to drift away from AVI’s beliefs (which of course MUST be his sons) — so YES she would be ostracized.
    Anyone wishing to worship in a different way or pray different prayer would meet harsh nastiness AVI was not clear as to exactly what he’d do, but he’d react somewhere in the continuum between “maintain contact” and sit shiva and act LIKE THE CHILD DIED.
    To AVI “gay” is a choice and just because a few “fringe groups” (kettle, black much?) have LOBBIED to change everyone’s mind doesn’t make it true…. wow. The cognitive dissonance and absolute lack of self awareness is staggering.

    He has also managed to evade my last exchange that ended with:

    In my opinion, the exact thing you’ve lost sight of is that it is the
    HAPPINESS your belief system brings you that should be what you urge
    others to seek and pursue in their lives, NOT THE BELIEF SYSTEM. If
    these scenarios I’ve presented make the individual HAPPY, and as HAPPY
    as your belief system makes you, then why why why do you think you
    have the right to judge and pressure a person to fit their “happy”
    into your mold?

    And, i fear that evasion was/is willful evasion because the point is very very hard to argue. AVI would rather block his family member’s happiness here and now to “force them to do what’s right in his eyes” so that they qualify for an afterlife that Jewish scholars have serious doubts even exists.

    In my lifetime of experience with people of all stripes (21 years working in public schools, 12 years working in public prison, 15 years working in private hospitals, 4 summers working at private universities) and all the people I’ve met as a gregarious, outgoing “friend maker”–extrovert…. the really badly behaving and really mean, bully children/adults never ever look like what you’d envision.

    Sometimes/many times:

    Guy with his hair parted on the side, accountant, clean shaven, neat orderly???? Serial killer. (see: Dahmer)
    Guy with tattoos, long hair, pockmarks, and a scowl… would give you the shirt off his back. (see: most bikers)

    This is a clear case of that phenomenon.

  84. Re my comment 91

    And as I have never been religions and come from a family of non-religious people and have had very little contact with orthodox Jews and no very little about Judaism. I can only assume…

    Corrected sentence:

    And as I have never been religions and come from a family of non-religious people and have had very little contact with orthodox Jews and know very little about Judaism, I can only assume…

    I would also add that as the atheist Dr. Jonathan Miller admitted, we do owe religion, the Christian religion in particular, a certain debt of gratitude; it helped to move the evolution of our moral idea of brotherly love along. But morality is not from God.

  85. Avi—

    So let’s say the community, through its legislators decides it should be legal to kill Jews, or Cambodians, or Ethiopians, or Armenians (or unborn babies, although that is a complicated matter). Would that be okay with you?

    No, that would not be okay with Alan or with any of us. It would be dreadful. But that is the world we live in and the struggle for humane laws and justice is continuous, and cruelty and injustice and bigotry, etc. is something we must contend with.

    But let’s say that God (that celestial dictator), that a Holy Book (written by men and disguised as Holy) – perhaps one that hasn’t yet been written yet – decides what is moral or not moral, who we should kill or not kill. That is far, far more dangerous, far more insidious – and you know it. Yes you have centered on a fundamental problem.

  86. I wrote:

    So let’s say the community, through its legislators decides it should be legal to kill Jews, or Cambodians, or Ethiopians, or Armenians (or unborn babies, although that is a complicated matter). Would that be okay with you?

    Dan responded:
    No, that would not be okay with Alan or with any of us. It would be dreadful. But that is the world we live in and the struggle for humane laws and justice is continuous, and cruelty and injustice and bigotry, etc. is something we must contend with.

    Dan, what I am asking is: Why would it not be okay with you? I am not seeing an answer to this question.
    I will note that I had the same discussion recently with my brother, a practicing, believing Orthodox Jew who maintains that one can devise a moral code without religion. But my brother, along with all the posters on this site, has been unable to logically explain why this moral code would have any standing or any validity. What makes something right or wrong? To this, I have not heard an answer from the atheists on this site or from my believing brother, much as he wants to side with you.

  87. To clarify further:
    I am not saying that there CANNOT be a system of morality devised by atheists. I am saying that as of yet, I have not heard a cogent rationale for it. I am open to suggestions!

  88. Avi Goldstein #95
    May 24, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    Alan, you wrote:

    “The values are chosen by the people of the community.”
    >

    So let’s say the community, through its legislators decides it should be legal to kill Jews, or Cambodians, or Ethiopians, or Armenians

    That is why I mentioned state laws in my earlier comment on murder which you seemed to miss!

    Avi – He also introduced other non-related issues (e.g., the nature of the particular state.

    Would that be okay with you?

    Of course not – I explained secular values earlier. There needs to be various bodies to hold those in authority accountable.
    When particular religions dominate the local legislatures national legislatures, police and the courts, actions of religious authorities are looked at through rosy spectacles, and we get the sorts of covered up abuses, such as Catholic priests raping children with impunity.

    We also get abusive religious customs such as female genital mutilation, “honour” killings, and assassinations of apostates.

    I think we are centering on the problem!

    Not really! I think you are still having a problem with:- “If big brother is not watching you, why don’t you run amok”?

    It’s like comparing the evolution of the solar system with “God-did-it-by-magic-in-7-days! The former view require a LOT more study!
    It is the same with making the effort of developing the ability to work out your own code of conduct, V copying a simplistic one which is spoon-fed to you.

    (or unborn babies, although that is a complicated matter).

    Those who talk about “unborn babies”, usually don’t know the biology of zygotes, blastocysts, embryos and foetuses.

    Science based decisions on abortions are determined by survivability without debilitating complications affecting the baby or the mother, and the later potential life quality of the infant.

  89. Avi #100

    You are going to have to stick around and join in with discussions on how the brain works, evolution and animal behaviour, to name a few, and be as open minded as you are to suggestions, if you want an answer that you might be happy with. Morality is not devised by atheist but by millions of years of evolution.

  90. Avi Goldstein #100
    May 24, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    To clarify further:
    I am not saying that there CANNOT be a system of morality devised by atheists.
    I am saying that as of yet,
    I have not heard a cogent rationale for it. I am open to suggestions!

    No systems are perfect, and all systems are devised by humans – past or present.

    Atheists take responsibility for theirs, work to improve them, and learn from any mistakes.

    Theists pretend theirs come from their gods, and that the inadequacies or negative effects in these, are “the divine will”, nothing to do with them!

    ” Mine is better and unchangeable because it is wearing a god-badge”, is really rather childish! – especially when we look at all the conflicting doctrines and dogmas of the numerous religions, sects, and cults, and the huge range of god-badges involved!

    Every “Trooo believer” KNOWS their their own religion is the right one!

  91. Olgun #102
    May 24, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Morality is not devised by atheist but by millions of years of evolution.

    Reciprocal altruism – “The Selfish Gene” – Richard Dawkins – Chapter 10, Page 183 to 188.

  92. Avi #99

    Why would it not be okay to kill people in a given secular community? That’s a very good question, and a tough one, Avi. I think every individual and every community, every culture, and every epoch, develops it ideas of what is permissible and what isn’t? These ideas and arguments are debated and it is rare to find a society where there is universal agreement about what should be considered right and proper and what is considered wrong and improper. And it is not always certain why truth is to be preferred to lies and why compassion, justice and mercy is to be preferred to their opposites; an argument can conceivably be made that killing the “feeble minded” or the sick is a practical necessity which may “benefit” the state as a whole, in spite of the suffering those unfortunates would have to endure, etc. With regards to the State, I would say that in a democracy, where people are allowed to worship as they wish and to speak their minds and be who they are, its citizens should be able to enjoy their natural right of freedom to exist (assuming that they are able to obey reasonable laws), to live their lives, without fear of being arrested or persecuted or punished, without being criminalized. Dictators are always capricious and always impose their paltry will upon the freedom and the pursuit of happiness of others, trample on that right. Democracy is a state of grace, easily lost; laws concerning justice are a delicate thing too, based often on consensus. But that is the nature of morality with regards to the State. (Perhaps this basic uncertainty as to why one must not do this or that has given rise for the need on the part of many for some kind of ultimate authority on these matters.)

    “I’ve always felt that fascism is a more natural governmental condition than democracy. Democracy is a grace. It’s something essentially splendid because it’s not at all routine or automatic. Fascism goes back to our infancy and childhood, where we were always told how to live. We were told, Yes, you may do this; no, you may not do that. So the secret of fascism is that it has this appeal to people whose later lives are not satisfactory.”
    ― Norman Mailer

    Murder as a way of life is not an isolated issue; it is bound up inextricably with such things as justice and truth. To condone murder is to deny justice and to affirm lies (such as those based on prejudice or a false sense of moral superiority).

    Why is it better not to kill? Because we as individuals have risen above the egotism of brutes, because we regard indifference to human life as depraved. Persecution and murder based on capricious laws or the need to control in order to maintain power is not only impractical, it is based on a system that is unsustainable as it is based on lies and on vice – and all lies and all vice eventually do harm and destroy those who engage in them in the end. From a mere pragmatic point of view such a way of life where killing is considered lawful or acceptable would make life impossible. But more importantly than any pragmatic reasons why an individual shouldn’t kill, we as individuals must all develop our own sense of moral values; I regard indifference to the suffering or unjust, unreasonable persecution of others, as depraved, contrary to what is good, right, decent, and proper. I get these values from many sources, from what I have been taught by those around me, moral philosophers, and most importantly, from within myself, my own nature; it is, finally, the ability to feel another’s pain as if it were my own, to identify with others, which prohibits me. (The question as to whether this is learned or not does not belong here; let us assume it is learned, for clearly it can be.) The opposite of this is base egotism. It comes from no law although the laws are a practical necessary to keep selfish men from preying on others which is no basis for organizing a civilized society that aspires towards the (cultural and aesthetic) Good or that has any affinity with Beauty.

    Thou Shalt Not Kill is a flimsy thing indeed designed, presumably, for criminal-types and accepted by malleable, pathetic, hoodwinked half-men and half-women who have no sense of their own personal dignity or the dignity of others, and would or might be inclined to kill or do harm without such messages of prohibition, sent by a man-made God. The strength of the prohibition is proportionate to the latent desire to commit the crime. Gods are made in the image of Man and his laws cannot be relied on. Moral goodness is good if you value the well-being of others as you value your own well-being, and that is, finally, something one must develop feelings about and come to one’s own decision about as one moves through life; but the affirmation or denial of such goodness or the rejection of the very idea of goodness itself even, are feelings and decisions generated by human social life and by individuals in their relationships to themselves, each other, and those in power. Gods and goddesses belong to the realm of mythology.

    One last thought, the quintessence of existentialism:

    When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.
    —Abraham Lincoln

  93. Alan, you quoted your god as saying: “Morality is not devised by atheist but by millions of years of evolution.”
    That’s pretty shallow; you cant do better?

  94. Alan, you wrote (sorry I don’t know how to get this into orange type, as you guys are doing):
    “Theists pretend theirs come from their gods, and that the inadequacies or negative effects in these, are “the divine will”, nothing to do with them!”

    Not true, at least for Judaism. We believe that while God guides many things, we have the free will to do good or evil. We believe we can overcome our inadequacies.

    You wrote: “Every “Trooo believer” KNOWS their their own religion is the right one!”

    Knowledge is not the issue here, any more than you “know” that there is no God (which of course is wrong, so you can’t possibly “know” it). At best you can say you don’t believe there is a God. Surely you must admit that you may be wrong, because you have no experience to dictate otherwise. I, however, have the experience within Judaism to comfortably assert surety!

  95. Avi

    To make a block of text orange just add a right arrow directly in front of the first word. > and leave no space between arrow and first letter of first word. leave a couple lines clear before you continue typing rest of comment. Try that and see if it works.

  96. Avi Goldstein #107
    May 24, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    Alan, you quoted your god as saying:

    “Morality is not devised by atheist but by millions of years of evolution.”

    That’s pretty shallow; you cant do better?

    Actually I quoted Olgun #102 saying that and posted the the chapter in the book giving depth of explanations on the evolutionary genetics of altruistic interactions in populations.

  97. Alan, you wrote:
    “Those who talk about “unborn babies”, usually don’t know the biology of zygotes, blastocysts, embryos and foetuses. Science based decisions on abortions are determined by survivability without debilitating complications affecting the baby or the mother, and the later potential life quality of the infant.”

    Actually, not far off from how Judaism thinks, although there is a wide spectrum (Jewish law is very complicated, much more complicated than civil law, and different experts hold different views, all based on their incredible knowledge of the subjects at hand).
    But “science” cannot make a moral judgment. Science is a mostly objective discipline, it has no feelings and no moral contours. People make moral judgments, and I still await someone who will answer my core question: How does an atheist determine what is moral?

  98. Avi
    In your comment 108 you are sure to run into trouble with this communication. The problem is that the science community has one thing in common and that is how we think and talk about probability. Anyone here who has a college degree in science or math processes certain statements and assertions in the same way due to the training and education that we have. We entertain hypotheses and think about how to test them. We collect, organize and analyse data. We make conclusions based on those analyses and then consider the implications of those results. When in the company of my fellow science majors this is something I count on them knowing. To me, everything is a probability equation. Some things are more probable or less probable than other things. Sometimes there are propositions that are so minutely probable that we agree to say – it’s impossible, but in our minds, we have a p-value sitting there that indicates – yes there is some extremely minute possibility but let’s not waste our time with that.

    This is how we view the probability of the existence of a god or collection of gods or any other supernatural creature. The probability that there is an omniscient, omnipotent being that has created this universe and all of the life in it is in fact, so absolutely minuscule as to be for all intents and purposes – so close to the number zero that we will all now say – the probability that this entity exists is ZERO. The end. We will no longer waste our time speculating as to its nature and properties and we will move on to more interesting hypotheses.

    When religious people try to insist that their favorite deity exists because their old sacred texts say so, or because they feel the “presence” of their deity intensely and personally, this is where we run into trouble. We will end up talking past each other forever if these two very different ways of understanding reality are maintained.

    What any science major will require and what anyone who relies on logic and rational thinking will require is for you to present a hypothesis – God exists, and then explain how you will collect data and move to a conclusion one way or another, that will satisfy us that this is truth or not truth.

    So this statement you made above:

    I, however, have the experience within Judaism to comfortably assert surety!

    This cannot possibly be processed by us and it makes no sense whatsoever. It is only a feeling stated with emphasis. We can’t work with it. My field is psychology and I can tell you that emphatic statements that are based on nothing but feelings are very common and are often completely false. Too many of these curious statements in too short a time and your shrink will be reaching for his prescription meds pad, pen in hand. Not good.

    You will notice that regular contributors here don’t hesitate to make fact based statements. When they do this they usually include a link to the evidence for their assertion. If they fail to do that you are within your rights to ask for their evidence. This is how science and rational thinking works. If you can incorporate these standards into your comments then we won’t be talking past each other quite as much.

    I hope you will try to talk to your brother again about his ideas on secular morality. Reading between the lines, I think this is something he’s put a good deal of thought into. Could you try again and based on what we’ve all discussed here, try to listen with a more neutral mindset? Your religion, like all of them, include a little subroutine that kicks off a fierce defensive reaction. Yes, they all have this feature. Can you suppress this reaction long enough to give his ideas and the ideas presented here a fair trial? Also, you are perfectly capable of reading some entry level science and material on ethics, humanism, etc. I do realize that it’ll take some deep breaths and the courage to entertain information that you’ve actively blocked in the past. Even if it never changes your mind, there is some credit to you for making an honest attempt to try to understand how many other good people create a worldview that is moral and good with no reference at all to a supernatural all powerful being. Or, you could double down on the substantial defense systems that are evident in all of your comments here. If that’s your choice I will feel very sad for you. Life is short and there’s so much to learn. I’m aware of this every day.

  99. Avi Goldstein #108
    May 24, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    You wrote:

    “Every “Trooo believer” KNOWS their their own religion is the right one!”

    Knowledge is not the issue here,

    The unevidenced claims to knowledge are the issue.

    any more than you “know” that there is no God (which of course is wrong, so you can’t possibly “know” it).

    You are correct that I cannot know with absolute 100% certainty that no god entity exits anywhere in the universe.

    At best you can say you don’t believe there is a God.

    I can do much better than that! I can say there is no evidence for the Abrahamic god of the Bible ( which is the one usually spelt with a capital “G”).

    I can however point out the history of the origins and evolution of this monotheistic god-belief from the Canaanite pantheon of gods, through the forms El, Yahweh and Jehova, to the “God” of the tribes of Israel. (see #36 and #77).

    I can also point out the thousands of believers in other gods with conflicting properties which are followed by believers who are equally certain their their versions of gods are THE correct ones, – and finally I have the mounting evidence from psychologists and neuroscientists that god-delusions are a feature of believers brains which dominate their core beliefs.
    These “core beliefs vary and are grouped geographically and temporally throughout history – being fully coincident with the indoctrinating populations of believers, and absent in populations isolated from these.

    Surely you must admit that you may be wrong, because you have no experience to dictate otherwise.

    Not at all! – Furthermore, I am aware of the vast scale of the universe, many of the physical laws which operate it, and the absence of any need for miracles or supernatural stunts for its operation.
    Theistic attempts at explanations, such as the book of Genesis, are utterly incompatible with scientific evidence of the Earth’s formation.

    I, however, have the experience within Judaism to comfortably assert surety!

    Yes! God delusions dominate the subjective thinking and blank out perceptions of reality, which might lead their host brains to apostasy!
    It is how the religious memes are preserved, copied, and passed on as comfortable certainties devoid of any supporting material evidence.

    However as all the various god-delusions (see list of deities @#77), produce claims which are in conflict with each other, there is no reason to think any of them have any material basis beyond the illusions in the brain chemistry and circuitry of their believers.

    They can’t all be right, and none have supporting material evidence of their external existence, so the obvious conclusion is that they are specific to particular illusions in the minds of individuals in particular cultures.
    They are “beliefs” which only exist in the brains of believers.

  100. Avi Goldstein #111
    May 24, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    But “science” cannot make a moral judgment. Science is a mostly objective discipline, it has no feelings and no moral contours.

    That is correct. Science informs moral judgements which can then be made on the basis of reliable information and predicted outcomes.

    People make moral judgements,

    They do indeed, but if they use guesswork or dogma in place of science, their judgements will most probably be flawed due to a lack of proper evidence-based information.

    and I still await someone who will answer my core question: How does an atheist determine what is moral?

    While there is no “universal atheist philosophy” (any more than there is a “universal religious philosophy” embracing all religions), a very high proportion of scientists are atheists, and I think the earlier part of my post [below] which you quoted, shows the process of evaluation of the interests of involved parties, and prediction, generally used by scientists and humanists.

    Alan, you wrote:

    “Those who talk about “unborn babies”, usually don’t know the biology of zygotes, blastocysts, embryos and foetuses. Science based decisions on abortions are determined by survivability without debilitating complications affecting the baby or the mother, and the later potential life quality of the infant.”

    Other issues are dealt with in a similar manner on their merits.

  101. Avi is getting a lot of attention. I’m jealous.

    Btw, speaking of morality, I was just having a bite to eat on 84th and Third Avenue. I noticed a crowd outside. A young man had collapsed and was foaming at the mouth. The ambulance came. My point; everyone was standing around, concerned, on their cell phones. I thought about Avi’s question “why do we care if someone is killed in a Godless universe? Because people are good; that’s why; we have developed the capacity to empathize. How? Don’t know but it’s not from God, and we don’t all have it either. Some people are cruel. But most of us have empathy to some degree, and that is just the way it is. It is possible to imagine a world without empathy. HG Welles described such a world. Whether empathy is more natural or not is an open question, but we have it and all I can do is hope that we as a species never lose it. That would be contrary to my values and would not be a world that I would choose to be part of if I found myself transported to such a world and had the ability to decide my own fate.

    Life is what we make of it, our experience is what we interpret, our values are what we form and what we develop. We create all of it – and it varies.

  102. Avi,

    Yes, yes, there might be a God. We can’t prove that there isn’t. You can’t prove that something doesn’t exist. But the burden of proof is on you to prove that something does exist. Do you comprehend that?

    As for morality without God, it isn’t moral to do something moral unless it arises from a genuine desire to alleviate the suffering of another. So even if there is a God there is no value in pretending to do the right thing when your heart, so to speak, isn’t in it, but you just want to please that God. That’s just like trying to curry favor with the boss. It’s dishonest.

    Thinking about God all the time is a wasted life. You are thinking about nothing. You don’t know what God is as you say you do because you have no experience of Nothing; and God cannot be said to be something rather than nothing. If it were something you’d be able to say something about it. You only know what you feel, and that is not objective truth; No one can know nothing, and that is why you cannot describe him. Nothing to describe. And that is all God is: Nothing. And you have no answer to that, cannot say anything at all about this God of yours. So why should I respect your faith when you have nothing to tell me except that he is real or that i can’t prove that he isn’t real. This is madness and imbecility. You think Judaism is profound but are in denial; Judaism is based essentially on nothing. Don’t waste your life. Go help someone. Quit thy childhood and wake up.

  103. HG Wells. Not Welles; that’s Orson Welles. Sorry.

    (Laurie, pssst, come here for a second. How’s Dombey and Son?)

  104. Dan

    Started with my copy in my Dickens collection – the print is so tiny I almost went cross-eyed. Switched to the free Kindle edition. Easier on the eyes. I’m at about 20% Dombey is a hopeless asshole. I feel a pall over my life because of him. If I plunge into a deep dark depression it will all be your fault. frown 😉

  105. Avi Goldstein #108
    May 24, 2017 at 6:40 pm
    At best you can say you don’t believe there is a God. Surely you must admit that you may be wrong, because you have no experience to dictate otherwise. I, however, have the experience within Judaism to comfortably assert surety!

    And there we have it finally, the arrogance of surety that always comes out in the end when believers talk about their non existent deities. LaurieB has already given you an excellent riposte which I could not hope to improve on which explains exactly why “believers” can’t communicate rationally with scientists which is what most atheists are. We are not so arrogant as to claim surety in anything. Only the delusional do that. We don’t even use the word “believe” which implies making a choice in the absence of sufficient evidence. We talk about probabilities and evidence. It is irrelevant what in in our gut or inside our own heads. Only reproducable evidence matters. Evidence that can be demonstrated to a third party with no axe to grind and which produces the same results every time.

    There is no evidence for the existence of any god that has ever been postulated or worshipped. Not a single shred of proof, no miracles, no healings that couldn’t have happened some other way. In the absence of such evidence we simply decline to accept the postulation that such a god exists and leave the burden of proof back where it belongs – on the believer. However it is not just a matter of the situation being a 50/50 chance either way as theists like to try and claim. When we factor in the thousands of gods that humans have invented over the millenia and no proof for any of them, when we factor in the laws of physics which make omniscience and omnipotence impossible. When we factor in that we already have robust scientific explanations for most of the things that religion has turned out to have been wrong about such as the earth being the centre of the universe, how planets and solar systems form, the age of the earth and the universe, evolution rather than creation myths. When we look at all of this we can say with high probability that at best only one of the conflicting religions might be true or have some grains of truth in it, that there’s no reason to pick any of them as candidates for this and that to all intents and purposes it’s a pointless debate with almost zero chance of any gods existing.

    In short we have almost 100% certainty that you can pray to your sky pixie until you’re blue in the face but he’ll never appear, never do anything that only a god could possibly do and which couldn’t have happened any other way and he’ll definitely never answer any of your prayers because there’s nobody listening.

    However, and here’s the very core of why atheists (scientists) and faith believers are so different. Ask any atheist what it would take to make him change his mind about the existence of god and he’ll say just show me some incontrovertible evidence. I would suggest something nice and easy for an omnipotent god like moving mount Everest to the sahara desert and leaving a glowing message in the sky saying “Hi folks, god of the bible here. have a nice day”.

    Now ask any hard core theist what it would take to change their own mind about the existence of their god and they’ll say “nothing could ever do that”. Their faith is unshakeable despite zero evidence to support it. That’s not rational or logical or evidence based. That’s pure delusion and sadly that’s all you and people like you have.

  106. Ask any atheist what it would take to make him change his mind about the existence of god and he’ll say just show me some incontrovertible evidence.

    An uncharacteristically weak comment, Arkrid. And it doesn’t apply to me, a non-theist.

    It would not take incontrovertible evidence to inspire faith in me. Moreover, as soon as there is evidence of God’s existence faith vanishes and we have no God anymore but scientific truth in its place!

    Religion is based on faith, not reason. (That is why people like Avi get under my skin; they are sure of something that one can not possibly be sure of; that is fanaticism, as defined by Kant. That is why I said that the God he “knows” is nothing. If he had said that he has faith, and admitted that faith is non-rational, I wouldn’t have said he had faith in nothing.)

  107. Avi Goldstein #90
    May 24, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Obviously you would (or should) agree that a self-managing group (such as Orthodox Jews) can have its own rules, as long as it is not forcing others to keep those rules.

    You seem to be very sure what ought to be obvious to other people which is more of the arrogance I mentioned in my previous post. What if that self regulating group practices cannibalism, female genital mutilation, paedophilia? Do we just let them get on with it because they aren’t forcing anyone else to do the same? Hell no is the answer.

    As far as religions go if that’s what you mean by self-managing groups, I think they do harm to all of us even if they keep themselves to themselves. The reason is that believing in, and worshipping, that which does not exist is delusional. Essentially a form of mental illness and that reflects poorly on all of humanity and any aspirations we might have to one day be able to call ourselves civilised. If aliens visited this planet I’m sure they’d wonder why half of its 7 plus billion inhabitants believe in invisible sky pixies and whether that meant all of us were a bit nuts. I’m also sure that if they had a Federation of planets they wouldn’t want us joining for the same reason until we’d put such stupidity behind us.

  108. The reason is that believing in, and worshipping, that which does not exist is delusional.

    I guess you’re right, A.S. I have trouble making up my mind about all this. Faith is just as nuts as claiming to know that which can’t be known, I suppose. I take back what I said in comment 121. Yup. I want evidence. Faith in God is faith in nothing too.

    Next week I might say something different. That’s okay; I’ll probably be grappling with this stuff my whole life.

  109. Avi Goldstein #108
    May 24, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    “Theists pretend theirs come from their gods, and that the inadequacies or negative effects in these, are “the divine will”, – nothing to do with them!”

    Not true, at least for Judaism.

    Judaism is really no different to any other faith-based perception.

    We believe that while God guides many things,

    But have yet to produce ANY evidence of this happening or any mechanism showing how gods are involved in this working of nature.

    we have the free will to do good or evil.

    In religions “evil” is defined by “holy texts” so references to “evil” are circular thinking from a god-based definition, so cannot be used as evidence of a god.

    We believe we can overcome our inadequacies.

    As can all people, but that has nothing to do with gods, or the inadequacies of dogmas and doctrines.

    You wrote:

    “Every “Trooo believer” KNOWS their their own religion is the right one!”

    Knowledge is not the issue here,

    I explained the nature of theist unevidenced “faith-claims” to “knowledge” about the unknowns, and about god-fantasies @ #113.

    A claim which you confirmed is your position, in expressing your unevidenced “certainty” to “comfortably assert surety*, based purely on confident “faith” in your indoctrination into the “right” religion!

    any more than you “know” that there is no God (which of course is wrong, so you can’t possibly “know” it).

    Actually, once theists stop making vague suggestions that some obscure god-thingy exists somewhere out of sight, and list the claimed properties and activities of their gods, these are easily and rapidly debunked by scientific and historical evidence.
    They are shown to be myths and folk-law from the imaginations of people in the past.
    They were used as manipulative tools by elites seeking power over local populations, and organising tribal followings to attack rivals and rival populations. Today they still are!

    https://www.thoughtco.com/roman-equivalents-of-greek-gods-4067799

    https://www.revolvy.com/main/index.php?s=List%20of%20Canaanite%20deities

    https://www.thoughtco.com/deities-of-mexica-mythology-170042

    http://www.godchecker.com/pantheon/incan-mythology.php?list-gods-names

  110. Thinking about God all the time is a wasted life. You are thinking about nothing.

    (Thanks, Laurie, it worked; reminds me of my days in publishing when I would do a bit of coding.)

    Ideally, one indeed should keep God in mind all the time; this is the essence of life! When we don’t put God at the forefront, that is when things start to go wrong! Yes, it does seem we are talking past one another (as someone said in a post). The problem is that I am perfectly logical while you folks are not.

  111. The problem with what you call the “science community” is not science itself. God created the amazing thing we term “science,” and of course it is wonderful!
    But I digress. Let’s see if we can sum up what you have said regarding morality:
    Somehow people have “evolved” and can “figure out” what is “good” or “evil.” The further we get away from the apes whence which supposedly evolved, the better we are.
    The logical conclusion is that as society advances, we will become ever more good (a term you cannot even explain, but so be it). Then why, my friends, have the last 100 years featured more evil than at any time in history? Why aren’t we becoming ever better, ever (ooh, don’t like the term!) more humanistic?
    The answer is that the natural world has nothing to do with good and evil; it is simply the setting in which good and evil and neutral acts take place!
    I repeatedly asked for a definition of good. Dan responded with a story about bystanders having concern for someone who was ill. Dan, you are right; people have good within them, because God put good within them! (God and good are, as far as I know, of common etymology.) But no one has managed to define “good” or “evil” in a remotely satisfactory way.
    You all know the story of Leopold and Loeb and the (im)perfect murder. Leopold and Loeb held themselves, by virtue of their intellects, to be superior beings who had the right to do whatever they wanted to those they held to be inferior. What a perfect demonstration of how amorality leads to evil. Of course, none of you can say Leopold and Loeb were wrong; they held themselves to be scientifically superior!
    And the Nazis did the same.
    No, I am not saying you are Nazis! (I am sure someone will jump on me for invoking the Holocaust.) But it is indisputable that the Nazis believed themselves to be biologically advanced. They held Jews, Romas and others to be biologically inferior.
    Do you believe that similar abominations cannot be repeated? What about euthanasia in supposedly civililzed, advanced, secular societies? Need I say more?

  112. Also, I have not written about evolution, your sacred touchstone, and the truth is I have no problem accepting a God-guided evolution (Jews are not fundamentalists and we don’t necessarily read all parts of the Torah literally). But since we are talking about science, can someone please explain how and why we would develop two eyes?
    and while we are at it, can someone explain why a snake is not poisoned by its own venom?
    And I am still waiting an answer to how matter appeared.

  113. Dan wrote:

    Religion is based on faith, not reason. (That is why people like Avi get under my skin; they are sure of something that one can not possibly be sure of.

    Dan, I can say the same about you; you are so certain about your beliefs that you cannot imagine anything else being correct.
    And on that subject, you put enormous “faith” in the power of reason. Why? How do you know that our logic (even commonly shared logic) is reliable? What makes you think that your thinking process is a valid one? How, indeed, do you draw conclusions about anything?

  114. Avi Goldstein #125
    May 25, 2017 at 6:30 am

    The problem is that I am perfectly logical while you folks are not.

    As I explained in an earlier post, logic a deductive or inductive process, not a badge to be stuck on to assertions which endorse your preconceptions.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_reasoning

    Unless the starting premises are evidence based, anything built on them will be hypothetical fantasy!

    Logical reasoning from evidence, is one of the key skills of scientists in their investigations seeking understanding of the workings of nature.
    That is one of the reasons why the majority of top scientists are atheists.
    “Faith-thinking” (belief without evidence of proof) – uses no testing or checking methods, so has nothing to contribute to science, or scientific understanding.

    Ideally, one indeed should keep God in mind all the time; this is the essence of life!

    Not really! The majority of species on this planet have no concept of gods, and the majority of humans on this planet have no belief in your particular version of a god.
    There is no evidence to suggest this causes them any problems. (Although beliefs in some other gods certainly do!)

    When we don’t put God at the forefront, that is when things start to go wrong!

    I can assure you I have had no need of gods since I matured to the formal operations stage of mental development as a teenager.

    While strongly indoctrinated theists are dependent on their god-delusions in a similar way to drug addicts (the opium of the people) who are dependent on their regular fixes, free-thinking atheists have no such needs, and can manage life perfectly well without gods, worship, or priests – in the open-minded wider world outside of the restricted “in-groups” of closed “faith” communities.

  115. Arkrid Sandwich #122
    Ask any atheist what it would take to make him change his mind about the existence of god and he’ll say just show me some incontrovertible evidence. I would suggest something nice and easy for an omnipotent god like moving mount Everest to the sahara desert and leaving a glowing message in the sky saying “Hi folks, god of the bible here. have a nice day”.

    Arkrid, while Jews do not rely on supernatural evidence for our beliefs (Maimonides, one of the greatest thinkers of all time, is quite clear on this subject), God DID leave a glowing message in the sky. He spoke to us at Mount Sinai.

  116. Avi Goldstein #127
    May 25, 2017 at 6:58 am

    Also, I have not written about evolution, your sacred touchstone, and the truth is I have no problem accepting a God-guided evolution

    The problem with “god-guided evolution” (known as Theistic evolution which is not in itself a scientific theory), is just a fudged attempt to graft theological beliefs on to modern science.

    Theistic evolution has no explained mechanism and the mechanisms of evolution have NOTHING to do with being guided towards particular objectives. None of its advocates have produce anything which credible resembles science!

    (Jews are not fundamentalists and we don’t necessarily read all parts of the Torah literally). But since we are talking about science, can someone please explain how and why we would develop two eyes?

    Eyes have evolved many times n the evolution of life selective pressures in evolution promote replication of mechanisms which work or work better than the competition, bin ocular vision give a greater depth of perception of distance or a wider field of vision – depending on the placing of the eyes on the skull. Insect vision sees a wider range of wavelengths and can ultraviolet light which humans cannot. Spiders have numerous eyes and more than one type of eye.

    This is detailed biology which requires study, but it is well understood.

    and while we are at it, can someone explain why a snake is not poisoned by its own venom?

    Clearly any individual snake which was poisoned by its own venom would not live to reproduce, so only those with immunity would develop the venom and the immunity together over many generations. Many predators of venomous snakes have also evolved immunity to their prey’s venom.

    These are the sorts of questions which come from students on beginner courses in biology.

    And I am still waiting an answer to how matter appeared.

    Atoms formed from sub-atomic energy particles during the Big-Bang!

    Some of the processes are not yet known, but “god-did-by-magic” is gapology, – not a scientific answer!

  117. Avi Goldstein #126
    May 25, 2017 at 6:49 am

    And the Nazis did the same.
    No, I am not saying you are Nazis! (I am sure someone will jump on me for invoking the Holocaust.)

    I think that person would be Dan – given his family’s involvement in the holocaust!

    But it is indisputable that the Nazis believed themselves to be biologically advanced. They held Jews, Romas and others to be biologically inferior.

    Creationists love to pretend to associate NAZIs with science.
    NAZI social Darwinism was a politically ideologically motivated pseudo-science perversion of Scientific Darwininian evolution, just as theistic evolution is a pseudo-science religious perversion it!
    Having said that, like tyrants throughout history, they invested heavily in the development of weapons technology, and made huge advances in that area.

    It is also worth noting that the Aryan assertions of superiority and anti-Semitism were rooted in the German Protestant churches of the time!

    Have said that, delusions of Aryan superiority have parallels with Zionist claims to be “Gods chosen people”!

    BTW: Hitler was brought up a Catholic and was initially supported by both Protestant and Catholic churches before he fell out with them when he no longer needed them after achieving power.

  118. Avi Goldstein #125
    May 25, 2017 at 6:30 am

    The problem is that I am perfectly logical while you folks are not.

    Ok, now I know you’re just a troll taking the piss and not worth bothering with.

  119. Avi Goldstein #127
    May 25, 2017 at 6:58 am

    Also, I have not written about evolution, your sacred touchstone, and the truth is I have no problem accepting a God-guided evolution

    This comment along with you “logic” claim, indicate that your education has been sadly neglected in the areas of logical thinking and science!
    This is quite common in closed communities where “faith-beliefs” are defended from the evidence-based imported knowledge of the outside world.

    When talking about the stages of evolution, we need to be clear about time frames covering millions or billions of years, when dealing with the evolution of our Universe, the evolution of galaxies, the evolution of stars and planets, the evolution of our Solar-System, the formation of the Earth, the evolution of early life, the evolution of complex life, the history of humans, and the on-going features of these processes.

    These evolutionary processes are the key features of cosmology, astronomy, physics, geology, climatology, and biology.

    sacred touchstone

    They have absolutely nothing to do with sacred beliefs or your preoccupation with sacred beliefs!

    If you really want to learn about these subjects, you need to engage and follow up on the answers and links you have been given, rather than constantly throwing in new topics to change the subject!

  120. Avi

    That’s pretty shallow; you cant do better?

    I am barely out of the shallows myself but it would be pointless enticing you any deeper. You can’t swim and won’t wear floats relying on faith instead.

  121. And on that subject, you put enormous “faith” in the power of reason.
    Why?

    Avi (trust me, I realize I’m talking to a stone wall at this point), the reason you’re able to communicate with us, from either your phone or some PC, is due to reason. If you have a car, it’s not a faith built car. A cascade of scientific discoveries and inventions culminated in this modern mode of transportation. Ditto your PC/phone which began largely with Alan (not our Alan) Turing who of course built upon the ideas of many other giants in the field. And so it goes as Vonnegut would say. I know, your god “created science” whatever that means, and so it’s in that phantom cloak that you’re able to agree with me about these wonderful things that science has given us. None of us is capable of changing your mind because it is closed to your dogma. But in engaging with us we hope you’ll concede that atheists/humanists are a congenial lot (we’ve been at least as congenial as you). Not only that, many here have genuinely tried to teach you something. That is a rare gift horse you shouldn’t look in the mouth.

  122. Avi Goldstein #126
    May 25, 2017 at 6:49 am

    The problem with what you call the “science community” is not science itself.

    You do not specify any particular problem with the scientific community, but it appears your problem with the scientific community, is that you don’t understand how it or the science works.

    God created the amazing thing we term “science,” and of course it is wonderful!

    Well actually no! – “God-did-it” is the assertion of the ignorant, pretending they have knowledge they do not possess!

    The term “science” and scientific methodology, was invented by talented humans fairly recently!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_science

    The English word scientist is relatively recent—first coined by William Whewell in the 19th century.[1]

    Previously, people investigating nature called themselves “natural philosophers”.

    While empirical investigations of the natural world have been described since classical antiquity (for example, by Thales and Aristotle), and scientific method has been employed since the Middle Ages (for example, by Ibn al-Haytham and Roger Bacon), modern science began to develop in the early modern period, and in particular in the scientific revolution of 16th- and 17th-century Europe.

    Relying on “god-did-it” as an answer, also has the unfortunate side effect of giving a false sense of knowledge and understanding, which discourages the further investigations which could provide real knowledge, and then locks the individual into a cycle of ignorance and pseudo-answers.

  123. Olgun #138
    May 25, 2017 at 10:55 am

    Alan

    Was there something wrong in that statement given the circumstances?

    No – I gave the reference to the relevant depth of explanations of evolving reciprocal altruism @#102 and #110. These supported your statement.

    The claim that your comment was supposedly being “shallow”, is (in the light of other comments), a projection of the depth of perception of Avi in these subject areas.

  124. Olgun, I think Alan was just propping it up. I said something similar in #86 –

    We would never have evolved without an innate morality. This much is clear.

  125. It is somewhat aggrieving I have to say that once again, as so many times before, we give someone coming in here the benefit of the doubt that it’s not just a wind up, spend a lot of time answering their points and then it turns out to be just more trolling. Perhaps I’m just cross with myself for breaking my rule about engaging with people I know from the outset it’s pointless debating which is why I try not to get sucked into these type of threads.

  126. Arkrid Sandwich #143
    May 25, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    I know from the outset it’s pointless debating

    I don’t think so.
    There is more to a debate than convincing a particular individual.
    A change of mind-set is going to take more than a few days.
    There are other readers of these threads who benefit from studying different mind-sets.
    I think some of the reduced activity on this site lately, can be attributed to a lack of theist input drawing out answers to basic questions which most educated atheists understand, but they don’t.

  127. I agree with Alan. On religion Atheists have nothing new to say to me. But I am continually amazed at lives free floating of facts because they think it more rooted! I never tire seeing the fatal sophistry and marvel at how so simple an idea defeats its victim the Pre Frontal Cortex.

    Missing is that single inoculation before 7 years of age that sets you free time and again.

    Doubt.

    I am impressed by how this latter gets injected later say at fourteen as an idea to confound doubters and falsely present them as lacking this important attribute.

  128. Arkrid wrote:
    It is somewhat aggrieving I have to say that once again, as so many times before, we give someone coming in here the benefit of the doubt that it’s not just a wind up, spend a lot of time answering their points and then it turns out to be just more trolling.

    Wow, talk about arrogance! You “give someone the benefit of the doubt”? You are so full of yourselves! And you are afraid to engage in meaningful debate.
    Today I attended my daughter’s graduation from Yeshiva University, which combines the highest in Jewish learning with the best in secular education. I watched old and young, rabbis and lay people, extolling the virtues of higher learning and a live grounded in God-given morality. The focus of many speakers was how to live a truly moral life, and at the last minute (at my behest) we inserted a moment of silence in prayer for the injured in the Manchester terrorist attack (an attack you cannot even denounce, since you have no barometer to judge it).
    Folks, the level of intelligence among the speakers, including the lay people, is so beyond what you exhibit that it is not funny. One-quarter of Nobel Prize winners have been Jewish, a staggering statistic. But what is even more staggering is that these are not even our best and brightest. Our best and brightest are studying and teaching Torah at incredibly profound levels.
    Because of your collective ignorance (this is not to fault you, ignorance is not a sin), you are unaware of just how profound and difficult Torah study is. We do not simply read the Torah (best example: we do not believe, and have never believed, in “an eye for an eye”); we expound upon it, based on the principle of study given to Moses by God at Mount Sinai. Even secular Jews, when exposed to true Torah study, tend to be deeply affected, even if they are not observant of the laws.
    The Jewish people have given the world the highest in intellectual achievements, and that is not because of any innate ability; it is because Torah study trains one to think logically and rationally. A (non-Jewish) college professor (boy, was that a long time ago!) once, out of the blue, asked me if I study Talmud. I was perplexed by the question, till he explained that my questions in class differed substantively from the questions posed by the other students. This was a TV/Radio class, as I recall, the point being that once the mind is trained, it applies itself to any discipline.
    Our religious basis is of course faith, faith whose truth has been borne out through generations of survival in a mostly hostile world. But we spend very little time talking about faith! Most of our study time is devoted to Jewish law, including non-ritual parts such as civil law. Yes, Judaism has a remarkably detailed civil law! I doubt any other religion can make this claim. The closest is probably Islam.
    My point here, as I sum up (because I have made my point, and I think I shall declare victory and run), is not to demean science or reason. You all prejudged me, thinking I accepted everything I was taught without question. Quite the contrary: I was brought up in a home where we were encouraged to think for ourselves, and (just ask my wife) I continue to think matters through carefully. If I hear about a rabbi who I believe has made a mistake in Jewish law, I will proudly announce my disagreement! And in truth, that is what Judaism is about.
    But at the end of the day, we accept and (hopefully, usually) keep the myriad commandments. We do so with perfect faith. As Maimonides, the rationalist par excellence of Jewish philosophy, states, “I believe with perfect faith that the Creator created and leads all who were created.”
    If any of you are ever in Far Rockaway, look me up, and I will be pleased to continue the discussion over some (kosher!) cake and coffee. All the best, Avi

  129. Avi

    the injured in the Manchester terrorist attack (an attack you cannot even denounce, since you have no barometer to judge it).

    This is the cruelest statement you’ve said here. I’m very shocked to read this. You can’t possibly believe that people outside of your own religious group have a lack of morality to this degree. Of course we are all disgusted by these acts of extreme violence. Everyone on this website comes from a different location in the world and from families of many different faiths or no faith at all and still, we feel pain of people wherever they are. Orthodox jews don’t have a monopoly on morality. You accuse us of arrogance but what you’ve said about the entire secular community is the height of arrogance. I really think you should apologize for this cruel insult. You are convinced that we have no moral compass but what are you doing about learning more about how others arrive at their moral position? I think you’re afraid to learn about other paradigms because you’ve staked your entire being on the one that you were indoctrinated into many years ago. I’m sure there will be a discussion thread here at some point on the Manchester attack and we will have the opportunity to express our feeling about it then. It wasn’t mentioned previously because it was not the topic of this discussion. Please think first before making accusations about people that have different ways of thinking than you do. Also, we all recognize the intellectual contributions of Jewish scholars. This was never called into question. It’s a given.

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