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Thanks for all of your comments both here and at my site. I greatly appreciate them. My new post is up. You can read it here: MSU Student has Mouth Stapled Shut Because of his Religion
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Glen---I think you and I are pretty much in agreement. My basic argument is that religion is often the "fuel for the fire" when it comes to anti-semitism. I very much agree with you that once someone holds an anti-semitic view, both secular and religious Jews are often lumped together.
AD--I very much look forward to a world where we all embrace some type of rationalism, for lack of a better word, instead of religion. I think things would look much different.
Loren--I agree that a mass conversion would not stop all of the hatred that can be fostered by Christianity. All we need to do is look at the numerous wars that were fought in Europe's past to see evidence of that.
AD, I'd say random acts of violence against Jews will take a few generations of atheism to curtail because the religious lies inform the cultural myths. I have seen how some people hate Jews and they have simply had an osmosis reaction. They really dont distinguish the religous from the non-religious. Religion is the oxygen of hatred and discrimination. Racism and homophobia and sexism are produced by religion. You will observe that the great majority of atheists are more tolerant. We need a reason to hate someone. Some religious notion or other will not do.
I agree that humans have innate agressive tendencies. In many instances religion provides the justification you reference. In others it "commands". Religious indoctrination renders the human brain silly putty. Those who have undergone the indoctrination not only believe the lies and the hatred they are more amenable to the abuse of power. They are less apt to question and more likely to accept injustice. For instance in war time there are a greater percentage of atheists who are conscientious objectors. Buddhists and quakers dont count.
At any rate it will be interesting to see what emerges when we all kill the nonsense and embrace rationalism. It will be better for women, gays, blacks, Jews, mentally ill. Fewer wars? Advance of science? Challenge of artificial intelligence? World government?
I'm not convinced that simply removing religion will prevent this kind of violence. From what I've observed, it isn't that religion makes people commit acts of violence against each other, it's that religion gives people the justification they want to do it.
In other words, the aggressor is looking for someone to attack and torture; they find a reason to pick a person (different religion, different sexual orientation, "looked at my girlfriend funny") and to justify their attack. Religion then gives another layer of justification for the choice of person, and another reason for the aggressor to deny their own culpability.
I don't think getting rid of religion will get rid of the violence; what it will do is make it harder to justify, and much, much harder to avoid the consequences and deny the aggressor's own responsibility.
RB, If religion were removed from the equation we would not recognize civilization. Cant even begin to contemplate the wasted human potential. If say the classical greek influence had lit a flame under man instead, well . . .
The contribution of religion to anti-semitism is great. Institutionalized hatred is perpetuated and endless cycles of stupid lies are retold. And the masses bought the shit they were fed and acted according to the evil genie. Much of historical anti-semitism is a direct result of religion-inquisitions, crusades, pogroms.
When you get to random acts of anti-semitism you know religion is the fuel for the fire but so much of the invective is generalized that its source is lost. Jews, religious or secular, are lumped and a generalized hatred applies. Everything would be different if man had a secular history. The great question for me is whether we would be better.
Well said Glen. Do you think that if religion were removed from the equation we would still have had the amount of anti-semitism that we have have historically seen? Do you think that random anti-semitic hate crimes, similar to the ones in the Tennen story would still occur at the rate in which they do?
RB, In the 15th century in Spain the inquisition was in full force against Jews and your hypothesis has some support since the conversos were allowed to stay and those who did not were tortured, had their property stolen and were thrown out in 1492. But the conversos' christian neighbors were on the lookout for jewish practices and from what I have read the discrimination against ethnic Jews did not stop. At least not until assimilation occured.
Reason and rationality are not present in racism either. In a sense religion and racism relie on faith. And the more I think about it the more I am forced to concede that the two forces are inextricably linked. In other words the hatred against jews is both for religion and ethnic and cultural differences. (I dont think your 9/11 analogy is spot on since muslims are not of one ethnic group.)
The hatred is a result of the nature of human nature and major religion. The religion is an amorphous power hungry vacuum cleaner which seeks to augment its power by absorbing incompatible elements (convert) or crushing the instransigent strains (Jews). Jews are religiously and culturally intransigent. And they tend to be more successful and yes the stereotype about intelligence probably has a grain of truth. Consequently there is tremendous jealousy among the masses of christians and muslims. Thus the sickening scapegoting of Jews for world war one and the german economy.
I'm not sure even converting jews to christians would end the conflict, RB.
It seems that christians of this stripe are always making distinctions, picking nits and finding differences between themselves and everyone who is NOT them. Create a homogeneous society and I seriously doubt that behavior would change. Instead of christian vs jew it would be Presbyterian vs. Baptist or congregationalist vs. catholic, but I have no doubt that the "my-belief-is-better-than-yours" bullshit would go on unabated.
I mean, it's what they DO.
"If jewish israelis transitioned to become atheists all would the endless enmity and hatred end?" No, but if they converted to Christianity, then I would argue, yes it would end. Your question of religious vs. Jewish blood is, I think misapplied. When it comes to the level of hate necessary to commit the various atrocities committed against the Jewish people, reason and rationality are not present. I would argue that people assume the religiosity of the person they are targeting. This can be seen in the vitriol against many people of Arabic descent post 9/11 in the U.S. The people pushing that hate did not ask if a person was religious, they hated based solely on the fact that they were from the Middle East and assumed they were devout Muslims. If we remove religion from the equation, I am not sure that we still have anti-semitism. If we remove religion from the equation, where does the historical hate against the Jewish people originate?
RB, did they ask that kid if he went to synagogue? Did the germans want to know whether their victims were religious or did they want to know whether they had any jewish blood? If jewish israelis transitioned to become atheists all would the endless enmity and hatred end?
It is racism.
Glen---thanks for the comment. I am not sure that I agree with you though. Anti-semitism, throughout history, has often been the product of religious beliefs and not ethnicity or race. It has often been propagated by Christian and Muslims groups against Jews because of their denial of the divinity of Jesus or Mohammad.
While I understand that one can be Jewish and not be a practitioner of that faith, I do not think that is where anti-semitism has its roots.
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