Thursday, April 07, 2011

Is God a racist?

Orthodox Jews seem to claim that God made a covenant with them as a nation, as a particular genetic group or race. I doubt that. From Moses on right through the Hebrew prophets, Yahveh (the name of God in the Hebrew Bible, sometimes translated as "Jehovah" in English Bibles) poured out imprecations and condemnations on the Israelites if they strayed from the true religion. It would seem clear that Yahveh defined his people by their RELIGION rather than by their race.

So how does that leave modern Jews in the eyes of Yahveh? As an atheist, I am in a poor position to say but if we assume his existence and read his words in the Bible, it does not look too good. They obey the Torah only selectively (they no longer put homosexuals to death, for instance) and they have not rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem despite being in a good position to do so.

Additionally they have done the exact opposite of what he intended regarding his name. We read in Psalm 83:18 "That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth" (KJV). Yahveh clearly had big ambitions for his name and regarded himself as ruling not only the Israelites but all the earth. And even in the Ten Commandments, he stressed the importance and dignity of his name -- forbidding disrespectful use of it.

Yet what did Israelites, starting from around 200 AD or earlier, do? Far from proclaiming Yahveh's mighty name worldwide, they stopped using it altogether! The Devil must have had his best laugh ever when that happened! And modern Jews go one better and render even the Germanic word "god" as "G-d". I can't see Yahveh being pleased with that! No wonder he let the Romans boot the Israelites out of Israel

So has Yahveh transferred his support to the Christians? It's possible. On numbers alone it would seem so. The descendants (spiritual descendants?) of Abraham were promised that they would be a multitude throughout the earth. "Abraham" means "father of a multitude" and we read: "And he brought him [Abraham] forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be". (Gen 15:5).

The Christians are that multitude but Jews are not. On best estimates there are even 200 million Christians in China these days. So whom does this text best fit? Jews or Christians: "I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 12:2-3)". It's a matter of opinion, of course but it is Christians who have both the numbers and the influence. And has not Christian civilization been a great blessing to the whole world? And "Jew" is much more often a curse than a blessing.

And remember that respect for his law was what Yahveh cared about. He even provided a nifty executive summary of it (or what scientists would call an "Abstract"). I refer of course to the Ten Commandments. And Christians are very zealous about teaching the Ten Commandments. And they distribute Bibles worldwide that contain the Torah in full.

What would I know? Nothing, perhaps. But that is what I see in the Hebrew scriptures. I probably should give theology up.


OK. The post above was a bit facetious and that was probably bad of me. Of greater concern is that the post may be seen as anti-Jewish and pro-Christian. It is neither. I give Christian theology a hard time too -- as you can see from my Scripture blog. It is just that as an atheist I am in a position to read the original texts without religious preconceptions and I like to do that. Doing that does produce some awkward conclusions at times, though.


A rather good news roundup from Fred Meekins

David Frum has mocked Glenn Beck from the standpoint of the 295 million Americans that don’t watch Beck. Wonder if Frum realizes that the number having no idea who David Frum is surpasses even that figure?

Al Sharpton held a rally against the Congressional investigation into radical Islam. Amazing dupes such as him fail to realize he will be among the first eliminated should an Islamist revolution (or any kind of leftist revolution for that matter) ever takes place.

Even if the government gave every ghetto youth a laptop and an IPOD as Jesse Jackson Jr. suggests, they wouldn’t use the devices for educational purposes.

Obama is having his own beer brewed at the White House. Guess it is revealed after all that the thing wrong with homebrewing is not so much the health concerns but rather that the government might not get its cut if you sell it to some friends or neighbors. You let it out that you brew your own beer and see if they don’t torch your place like the Waco compound in the name of public safety.

A true cowboy wouldn’t want the federal government to finance their poetry festival.

If you think it is mean spirited to cut Public Broadcasting, just think how mean spirited it will be when Americans are forced to live in conditions reminiscent of Mel Gibson’s “Mad Max” or Kevin Costner’s “The Postman”.

Castro’s Twitter account breaks 100,000 followers. His regime heralds it as the first Cuban themed account to reach that plateau. Most Cubans probably don’t even have access to electricity and any with Twitter accounts are probably sent to labor camps or executed before being allowed to attract such a following.

A state park has celebrated Pancho Villa’s attack. Only in America are those out to destroy us lavished with government funds and public accolades.

Representative Keith Ellison broke down during Congressional hearings into radical Islam in recounting the plight of a Muslim rescue worker that perished in the attack on the World Trade Center. Wonder if Rep. Keith Ellison shed any tears for any non-Mulsims that perished on 9/11. Rep. Ellison notes 29 Muslims died in New York on 9/11. I guess adherents of other creeds perishing that day aren’t worthy of this esteemed legislator’s mention. With the name “Keith Ellison”, it’s doubtful the Minnesota representative was born a Muslim. Wonder if a Muslim converting to Christianity would even be allowed to remain alive in an Islamist society much less serve in its legislature. Wonder how many tears Keith Ellison has shed over Muslims killed for converting to Christianity. How come its an emotional act of courage for Ellison to weep but a lack of manhood when the Speaker of the House sheds tears?

Religious fanatics have already categorized the Japanese earthquake as God’s judgment and insinuated the victims got what they deserved. Unless one of the victims was conducting seismic warfare experiments that got the best of them, isn’t such a conclusion a bit presumptuous? It’s not like the Almighty promptly issued a press release as to why this particular tragedy was allowed to occur.

A British mother claims her premature baby was tossed into a room to die. Struggling in his mother’s arms as life slipped from his one-pound body, hospital staff did nothing (as stipulated by hospital policy) to save his life. Apparently there is no money to save you if you have a solid English name like “Godwin” as did this child. However, no doubt bags of cash will be tossed your way if your name is “Akmed” or “Hasan” and intend to defecate all over the Union Jack.

A Florida school has implemented a virtual police state, including gastronomical prohibitions and low tech breathalyzer checks, over the peanut allergy of a single student. Wouldn’t responsible parents instead simply homeschool the child, acquire a tutor, or send their offspring to a special facility? So if a school can ban peanuts because even the aroma of this particular legume might send a single student into fatal apoplexy, if American students are sickened by the stench of the swill eaten by foreigners, will these kinds of victuals be banned as well?

Wasn’t aware votive candles could be eaten. If not, why are they in the aisle listed as “Hispanic Food”? I don’t remember there being an aisle demarcated as “Redneck Food” dedicated to Anglo dietary peculiarities.

On the 3/24/11 episode of “Radio Liberty with Stan Montieth”, privacy advocate Katherine Albrecht warned that electricity rates could go as high as $1,000 per month for those not upgrading their appliances and utilities to “smart grid” technologies.

Farrakhan explicitly insists that Americans (especially the White ones which his sect believes are the result of an ancient experiment in genetic engineering) are beasts and not human. This is so when his minions start killing, in their eyes it won’t be construed as murder since that is a crime committed against human beings and not animals.

Scientists from Harvard and MIT are developing instruments to confirm their preconceived hypothesis that life on Earth actually began on Mars. Yet if one believes the Genesis account as literal, they are laughed out of academia. This is being done for no other reason than to lay the foundation for declaring humanity the greatest invasive species of them all and to justify what will become history’s most notorious campaign of genocide. Mark 13:20 reads, “And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.”



View of U.S. Shapes Lib/Con Divide

Michael Medved

An indignant Democrat of my acquaintance accuses conservatives of hypocrisy when they criticize President Obama for acting with caution and restraint in response to crisis. He accurately points out that caution and restraint represent core conservative virtues, and that most leaders on the right ripped the president during his first two years for pushing too fast for transformational change. How, then, can they attack him now for reacting too modestly, too slowly to Libya, Egypt, Japan, oil prices, or anything else?

Beyond fleeting politics of the moment, this challenge brings into focus a single explanation to two persistent mysteries:

First, how can conservatives passionately demand a smaller role for the federal government in every aspect of American life, while simultaneously insisting that Washington should play a more activist part in world affairs?

Second, why should liberals who trust the federal bureaucracy to address nearly all our domestic problems feel such powerful, palpable reluctance for that same government to assume a leadership role in the international community?

The answer to both questions centers on contrasting notions of American exceptionalism.

Nearly all citizens of the U.S. believe that our country counts as unparalleled and set apart from the rest of the world. The right views America as exceptionally blessed and righteous — chosen by God (or fate, if you prefer) to inspire humanity with distinctive ideals of liberty, self rule and free markets. The left, on the other hand, expresses an intensifying tendency to see the U.S. as exceptionally guilty (for slavery, "genocide" against Native Americans and arrogant imperialism) and exceptionally backward when it comes to "social justice." Progressives never tire of reminding us that the United States lacks the welfare state guarantees that characterize other wealthy nations, and that it tolerates a vast gap between rich and poor.

These sharply conflicting world views (or nation views, at least) inform dramatically different approaches to domestic and foreign challenges.

For conservatives, sweeping federal action is unnecessary and counterproductive when it comes to economic or social problems here in the USA. On the economy, they argue that normal business cycles would bring recovery if only government got out of the way. They point to more than a dozen downturns, all of which quickly gave way to powerful spurts of growth — except for the Great Depression which, according to the right, FDR needlessly extended with his wasteful New Deal. Republicans maintain an almost mystical faith in the American people and the powers of the market. That's why the only federal reform programs they promote with a true sense of urgency involve tax cuts, allowing more resources to remain in control of enlightened private citizens who can use those assets to repair problems more effectively than bumbling bureaucrats.

When it comes to the rest of the world, however, the right maintains far greater skepticism. The so-called community of nations (a musty euphemism that seems almost laughable today) can't heal itself without American direction and assistance. We tried leaving the world alone to solve its own problems in the isolationist 1920s and '30s, but then had to face Hitlerism and Stalinism, along with 60 million corpses in World War II.

Conservatives passionately embrace the idea that the United States is better than the rest of the world, so the American people need a strong hand from Washington far less than do beleaguered hordes in less fortunate societies around the world.

Progressives also believe that the U.S. stands out from other nations, but they tacitly or explicitly assume that we distinguish ourselves in a negative sense — encouraging greed, environmental pillage, materialism and neocolonialism. This vision of the United States gives rise to the claim that long-suffering citizens of this republic need decisive, reformist leadership from the nation's capital in order to drag the benighted USA into the 21st century, at the same time that the nation will fare better in the international arena by following the lead of multilateral organizations (as in dealing with Libya) and learning from governments with more advanced ideas.

These radically contrasting attitudes toward America and its position in the world shape the polarization at the center of today's politics. The fundamental questions that divide left and right nearly everywhere concern assessments of the United States. It's those questions that determine the point on the spectrum where individuals locate themselves:

•Is America a gift or a threat to the rest of humanity?

•Do American values count as nobler — or more dysfunctional — than, say, European values?

•Should the United States continue to lead the world or would the planet benefit from swaggering Americans learning from more civilized societies of Europe and elsewhere?

Given the sharp disagreements about the very nature of our distinctive national identity, it's not surprising that conservatives want less Washington interference at home and more Washington determination abroad, while liberals hope for less influence by the American government overseas along with a more muscular federal role in reshaping dysfunctional realities of the homeland.

In this context, Barack Obama is perfectly consistent in demonstrating aggressive leadership in stateside politics but a timorous, reluctant role in foreign affairs. His conservative critics also apply their own philosophy with unassailable coherence by demanding more American power abroad but less meddling with citizens here at home.




A good reason to learn English: "When an elderly patient asked Isabela to hand her three tablets, the home health attendant froze. The patient had read the label, which had been translated from English to Spanish, and it instructed her to take three tablets every time she took the medicine. Isabela, who did not want her last name used, knew from experience -- and a phone call to the doctor confirmed her hunch -- that the correct instruction should have been to take one tablet three times a day. The medication label, it turns out, had been wrongly translated."

Ryan budget: A huge opportunity to improve healthcare: "On Tuesday, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., will release a budget blueprint that tackles the three big health care challenges facing the federal budget — ObamaCare, Medicare and Medicaid — with a strategy of repeal, vouchers and block grants. Done properly, those steps would simultaneously improve health care and help balance the budget within a decade."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)



Anonymous said...

Mr. Ray, as always you have fascinating insights about religion.

The Christians have not replaced the Jews. You will find the answer to your question in the New Testament in the writings of Paul.

What is the difference between a Jew and a Christian? Essentially there is only one difference. And so, there really isn't one at all. Or at least, there won't be in the future.

David Silva said...

Greetings, Mr. Ray.

I just read your article and would like to point out some things:

As a Jew, I believe that God made a covenant with the Jewish *people*. The Jewish people is (as you might know, these days being even multiracial) very diverse, and I have reasons to think it has always been this way. Indeed, being a Jew is more alike to belonging to a big family rather than a religion. As being children of Abraham, Isaac and Israel.

If you read the covenant as a contract and the history of how that covenant was followed, you will see that:

a) There are great blessings for the people of Israel, *if they fulfill the covenant*, and great curses if they did not.

b) Historically, there have been times when most of Israel did behave good and were blessed (like in King David and King Solomon times, like in Hasmonean times before the Romans, like in Spain before the expulsion, like in 1948 and specially 1967), and times when most of Israel didn't behave and were punished.

At all times, and like in all peoples, there have been good and bad *individuals*.

Division has been a problem for our people since ancient times: take for instance the division of the two kingdoms, the strife between hellenists and maccabees, between pharisees and saducees, modernly between ashkenazim, sephardim, mizrahim and ethiopians; and between right and left and between believers and atheists -i gladly see you are not a militant atheist as most Israelis are-.

The pronunciation of the divine name is -as many other mitzvot (commandments) are- on hold until the rebuilding of the Temple (may it speedily be rebuilt). The division of our people plays a crucial part on why it has not been rebuilt until now.

The promises made to the children of Abraham are being given now to Ishmael, in my opinion due to the fact they still really believe in God (albeit in their own fashion) and do as they believe. If only the children of Israel were as united as our cousins and did what it needs to be done...

About your religion: I will only repeat with all due respect what a wise old man said in 1263: if the messiah has already come, then where is the peace? Of all denominations, sir, yours is the most warlike. And since Ben Yosef's times more wars have been waged than before him.

In sum, I do not believe God was racist. I do not believe the Jews as a whole, as a people, are racist. Not even the so-called "settlers" (I invite you to visit some Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria): all they want is to live in *their land*. I do believe some Jews, some among them there are who don't even want to be called Jews but Socialists, are racists against their own kin, for they want to create a Judenrein Judea. They wept when the red flags were lowered at the kibbutzim and the Israeli flag was raised. (search for that video, it was in Begin's times).

An interesting passage from the Torah:
Dt. 32:21 "(21) They have roused Me to jealousy with a no-god; they have provoked Me with their vanities; and I will rouse them to jealousy with a no-people; I will provoke them with a vile nation."

Interesting indeed. It does not mention a false god, nor an idol. It mentions a *no-god* (godlessness?). And the punishment for that is to have to fight a no-people. One who has no language of its own, no culture of its own. A false, fabricated people.

Let us hope this situation will change in some years, when the Communist brainwashing stops and the tinoke' she nishba (the captive children who know nothing about themselves) wake up.

As the birthrate of the observant religious population in Israel is very high, that day could come soon.

Check the URL I will post for a rational and sustainable peace plan (for those obsessed with "peace") that proposes to keep a united Jerusalem, all the Jewish towns in Jewish hands, and in fact to build more towns. Written by a rightwinger? None other than Yitzhak Rabin, about a month before he was murdered.