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Archive for the ‘G-d’ Category

G-d, Lashon Hara and The Days of Awe

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 20, 2007


three-wise-monkeys-c11765657.jpeg

“Don’t tell the truth, don’t share your opinion about people – or should we call them Main Characters in Torah….because then you are lying, using evil speak and embarrassing them in public…”

This echoes the things we were taught as children, “Don’t speak, don’t feel, don’t rock the boat”, doesn’t it? Isn’t this what keeps so many of us in bondage, sexually, emotionally, physically, spiritually, tied to our abusive pasts, because we are not allowed, not only by our families, but by oversensitive and legalistic interpretations of Torah?

I agree that we should avoid embarrassing living people in public, especially if there is no need, if the issue can be solved some other way – but that one is not allowed to expound on Torah in a manner that shows that indeed the Forefathers and Foremothers were human being just like you and me, with flaws, faults, character defects and dysfunctions, that is simply ridiculous.

People in Torah were some times up shit creek with themselves. That needs to be said, or what use is it to anyone to try and emulate their good sides, if we cannot identify with them on a deeper level, that of shame, fear, suffering and anger?

None whatsoever. It only serves the disease and the abusers.

The prohibition against Lashon Hara doesn’t cover the

“times when a person is obligated to speak out, even though the information is disparaging. Specifically, if a person’s intent in sharing the negative information is for a to’elet, a positive, constructive, and beneficial purpose, the prohibition against lashon hara does not apply. Motzi shem ra, spouting lies and spreading disinformation, is always prohibited. And if the lashon hara serves as a warning against the possibility of future harm, such communication is not only permissible, but, under certain conditions, compulsory.”

So as we clamber through The Days of Awe, and take time to examine our conduct and reason with G-d about it, we shouldn’t be shy about speaking the truth about where we came from, both in regards to our families and in regards to ourselves and remember that

“For the mistakes we committed before You through things we blurted out with our lips” and “For the mistakes we committed before You through harsh speech”(from the Al Chet Prayer)

doesn’t speak about disclosing our parents’ disease, abuse and dysfunction.

Amen

Posted in Al Chet Prayer, Criticism, G-d, Gossip, Lashon hara, Matriarchs, Patriarchs, The Days of Awe, Torah | Leave a Comment »

G-d, Forgiveness and The Days of Awe

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 19, 2007


burning-candles_0preview.jpg

Forgiveness
By Jay Litvin
————-

“These were the days before Yom Kippur. I was lonely and couldn’t figure out why. The loneliness had been there for months.

Things were good with my wife and kids. I’d been on the phone with my sisters and in close contact with my friends.

So, what was the source of this loneliness?

I was missing G-d.

I was and had been feeling distant from Him. A strange feeling for me. Even in my late teens I had been able to connect with Him when I needed to. He always answers my calls. Sometimes I don’t even need to call. I just feel his companionship as I journey through life.

But these last months had been lonely. I had been separate from Him, unable even to call out. And I didn’t know why.

Just before Yom Kippur, I received an e-mail from a friend. He’s not a religious Jew, though we discourse often about G-d and Torah. He’s a writer and has a way with words. We also share the same disease, and talk much about our symptoms, history, fears, treatments and aches. There’s a special something that happens with people who share the same disease. We never have to worry about boring each other. All our concerns and obsessions about the daily changes in our health or symptoms, our latest internet discoveries about new cures and clinical trials may bore others, but are continuously fascinating to us.

At the end of this email my friend wrote: “Jay, this Yom Kippur, I don’t think you should go to shul and ask G-d for forgiveness. This Yom Kippur you should stay home and G-d should come crawling on His knees and beg you to forgive Him for what He’s done to you.”

When I read these lines I laughed. My friend is a sacrilegious provocateur. He believed what he said, but he mainly wrote those words to shock me. I filed his words, but paid them little attention.

As Yom Kippur drew close, I continued to wonder what was taking place between G-d and me. I worried that this day of prayer and fasting would be void of the usual connection that Yom

And then in a flash I realized that I was angry at G-d. And had been for some time. I was angry about my disease and I was angry that I was not yet healed. I was angry about my pain. And I was angry at the disruption to my life, the fear, the worry and anxiety that my disease was causing my family and those who loved and cared about me. I was angry about the whole thing, and He, being the boss of everything that happens in the world, was responsible and to blame.

And so, I entered Yom Kippur angry at G-d.

I put on my kittel and my tallit and I went to shul.”(excerpt from very long article)

I can’t help but feel that this is very apt for me, and I am sure for many in Recovery – one reason we have trouble working the Steps that includes G-d. We are angry with G-d, we feel that G-d has deserted us, cheated us, let us face all kinds of horrible things alone, and you know what?

He has. We have every right to be angry at Him.

But that is not the end of the story. Eventually we realize that what we have been through, as horrible as it was (and still is for many) it has also made us the persons we are today. We have picked some very useful skills, that perhaps originally were meant to protect us as children. Most of what we learned as children is not useful to us as adults.

Hyper vigilance f.i is not useful – but if we look at hyper vigilance we see that trimmed down to functional levels through the Program, it is nothing but a very keen sense of observation, an eye for detail and context – that is useful.

My wife said that being bullied in school has taught her compassion.

My need for control has resulted in a very neat skill – I can read virtually any document up-side down. Being dyscalculic has given me a very good memory for numbers. The fact that my caregivers never bothered to teach me things means that I have a knack for learning by watching others do, this helps me when I need to learn complicated sequences, something I have trouble with because of my dyscalculia.

So while G-d let us go through all the crap, and it wasn’t fair, and we have every right to be angry with Him, at one point or other we have to let G-d off the hook for His shortcomings, because it has made us who we are – and who we are is good, perfectly imperfect and as it should be. As much as we need G-d to reason with us, as much do we need to reason with G-d, so that scarlet and crimson can become snow white and as wool (Yeshayahu 1:18)

The Days of Awe and Yom Kippur is as good a time as any to start.
Amen

copyright Henric C. Jensen

Posted in angry at G-d, Forgiveness, G-d, missing G-d, The Days of Awe, Yom Kippur | 1 Comment »

G-d, Distance and The Days of Awe

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 17, 2007


G-d is Compassion. He looks at our efforts to rectify our ways during The Days of Awe. Even if it seems that while we are taking a hard look at ourselves and attempting to make changes, that He might be distant, He is really never closer than when we seek to correct what we have messed up, because that is when we need Him the most.

If He really was distant from us, then how can He say:

Isa 1:18

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the L-RD; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

“let us reason together” – that is not the words of Someone who has distanced Himself from someone – it’s the words of Someone who desires to bring us through the work of self-reflection and honest assessments of our wrongs, our life stories and our doubts, walking side by side with us. At the end of that walk what used to be sullied, soiled and broken will be clean, pure and healed.

There’s midrash about a king who had a son.

The son had left home a long time ago after a fall-out with his father, and had moved a long way away from where he came from. The king, his father, sent out messages telling his son to come home. One of those messages  reached the son, and he responded “I can’t, it’s been to long and it’s too far to walk”. The King then sent another message saying “It doesn’t matter, you start walking now and I will meet you on the road where ever you are and we will walk the remaining stretch together”.

That’s G-d for us – meeting us on the way, walking with us and reasoning with us about what we have been doing with out lives the past year, so we can come to peaceful, healing and constructive conclusion on Yom Kippur.

Posted in Compassion, Distance, G-d, Isa 1:18, midrash about a king who had a son, The Days of Awe | 2 Comments »

G-d, a Holy Presence and The Days of Awe

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 16, 2007


. SEPTEMBER 15 .

When people are loving, brave, truthful, charitable, God is present.
– Harold Kushner

For many of us, our spiritual awakening began when we first heard our Higher Power might be our group. We learned that God may exist in the connections between people in our group just as well as within each individual. As we members exchange care and help with each other, as each struggles to achieve complete honesty and wrestles bravely with old temptations, God is truly in our midst. Closeness flourishes because we felt so alone but then found friends who suffered in similar ways. It is an expression of a spirit beyond our rational control.

When we ask another member to listen to us, we contribute to the strength of this spirit. When we give someone a ride to a meeting or spread the word about this program to other suffering men and women, we make a contribution and receive its benefits. Even now, if we need a renewal of confidence in God’s presence in our lives, we can telephone another member and just talk. We will quickly sense the spirit.

Today, I am grateful to feel God’s presence in my life and within the people around me.

This entry from Touchstones actually fit very well with part of the Shabbat Shuva Haftarah Text: Yoel 2:15-16

“Blow a horn in Zion,
Solemnize a fast,
Proclaim an assembly!
Gather the people,
Bid the congregation purify themselves.
Bring together the old,
Gather the babes
And the sucklings at the breast;
Let the bridegroom come out of his chamber,
The bride from her canopied couch.”

During The Days of Awe, we spend a lot of time looking at ourselves – in company of others – scrutinizing our lives, looking for renewal of our trust and faith in ourselves, G-d and others, as well as a chance to start all over.

For us as Jews in Recovery the High Holy Days and the Time In Between them is a perfect time to reach out and ask for help, not just from G-d, but from each other. Yoel tells us that we are to proclaim an assembly, gather our people, the young, the old and those in between. And then he tells us in 2:27, the last verse of the Haftarah:

“And you shall know
That I am in the midst of Israel:
That I the Lord am your God
And there is no other.
And My people shall be shamed no more.”

When we go to meetings, attend shul, reach out and gather during the Days of Awe, G-d, the Rock of our ancestors, the Salvation of Israel is right there in or midst. We will shamed no more. Not just as a nation, but as individuals. Shame dies in the light of closeness with others and with G-d.

Adon Olam

The Lord of the Universe who reigned
before anything was created.
When all was made by his will
He was acknowledged as King.

And when all shall end
He still all alone shall reign.
He was, He is,
and He shall be in glory.

 

And He is one, and there’s no other,
to compare or join Him.
Without beginning, without end
and to Him belongs diminion and power.

 

And He is my G-d, my living G-d.
to Him I flee in time of grief,
and He is my miracle and my refuge,
who answers the day I shall call.

 

To Him I commit my spirit,
in the time of sleep and awakening,
even if my spirit leaves,
G-d is with me, I shall not fear.

Amen

Posted in A Holy Presence, G-d, The Days of Awe, Yoel 2:15-16 | Leave a Comment »

G-d, Words and the Days of Awe

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 15, 2007


Forgive!

The Haftarot for Shabbat Shuva (the Shabbat between Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur are Hoshea 14:2-10, Michah 7:18-20 and Yoel 2:15-27. The texts of Michah and Yoel follows on the same page.

“Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God,
For you have fallen because of your sin.
Take words with you
And return to the Lord.
Say to Him:
“Forgive all guilt
And accept what is good;
Instead of bulls we will pay
[The offering of] our lips.”
(Hoshea 14:2-3)

I read this and am in awe at how simple it is.

  1. Return To G-d.
  2. Take with you Words.
  3. Say to G-d: Forgive!

Yup, that simple, that beautiful. Just walk up to G-d with your words and say: “Forgive me”.

There’s more – G-d tells to us to tell Him to look at us and see what in us is GOOD, and that we are giving the best we have – Words of remorse.

  1. Accept that which is good
  2. We give the offerings of our lips.

Then let’s move on to the next part:

“I will heal their affliction,
Generously will I take them back in love;
For My anger has turned away from them.”
(Hoshea 14:5)

At which G-d response is unconditional love, because our words of teshuvah turns away or melts His anger.

That simple.

“Who is a God like You,
Forgiving iniquity
And remitting transgression;
Who has not maintained His wrath forever
Against the remnant of His own people,
Because He loves graciousness!
He will take us back in love;
He will cover up our iniquities,
You will hurl all our sins
Into the depths of the sea.”

Amen

Posted in Forgiveness, G-d, Hoshea 14:2-10, Michah 7:18-20, The Days of Awe, Words, Yoel 2:15-27 | Leave a Comment »

G-d, Intentions and The Days of Awe

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 14, 2007


sanctification.jpg

What really struck a cord with me at that time was the analogy of Homer Simpson. Homer, like us, despite his failings and evident flaws as a human being tried his best to do what was good. He may have failed miserably but he tried his best. And THAT, in my opinion, makes Homer a good person. Why, I asked myself, would a just God punish Homer?

This ties in with what I sent out as a New Years Greeting the other day:

“The world was created on the 25th of Elul… Thus we find that Primal Adam was created on the first of Tishrei…at the 10th hour he disobeyed God’s command, at the 11th he was judged…. The Holy One said to him: Adam, you are a precedent for your progeny. Just as you came before me for judgment and I absolved you, so shall your progeny come before Me for judgment and I will absolve them. When? On Rosh Hashanah, ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month.'”

Somehow we have to approach the Days of Awe with hope, with confidence that G-d will forgive us and write us a New Year. He will, Tradition says, but we have to want it. Teshuvah is more about willingness to change and taking the possible steps towards such change, that it is about actually succeeding in making those changes. G-d forgives. G-d meets us on the road, however far away we are. All we have to do is take one step at a time towards Him in willingness.

G-d really is that simple-minded. Life isn’t about being good or bad, saint or sinner life is about walking with G-d in what ever manner we are capable of, and trust that when the last Neila Prayer is said and the last Shofar has been blown for us, we will be exactly where we are supposed to be, because until then we try our best to get closer to G-d on a personal level, and that is all Life is about.

He will absolve us if we let Him.

Amen

Posted in G-d, Hope, Intentions, Neila Prayer, Rosh Hashanah, Teshuvah, The Days of Awe | Leave a Comment »

On the Matter of Belief in G-d

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 21, 2007


My very good friend Dale Husband commented

if you rely only on scientific methods for knowledge, without any input from any religious dogmas, then the idea of a Supreme Creator might occur to you as a hypothesis, but an untested, unfalsified, and therefore unscientific hypothesis is all that it would ever be.”

Which gave me reason to say:

“Correct. Which is why it’s both bad science and bad religion to mix them with each other. But it is equally bad science and bad religion to claim either redundant.

To me this is where Philosophy enters the scene – it is apparently possible to arrive at the hypothesis of a Prime Cause through experience, as well as it is to arrive at the hypothesis of a Non-Prime Cause through experience – but both are dependent on further elaboration of the experiential evidence from a personal stand point to have any meaning. From a philosophical point of view both are equally valid.
It is when we elevate unfalsified hypothesis’ to doctrine that we enter the realm of bad theology and bad science.”

I then had the idea that:

“One of these days I am going to give the justifications behind my personal beliefs, *lol* I seem to be running into the issue a lot these days.”

So I’ll have a go at it…:-)

I agree that there is no scientific evidence either to prove or disprove the existence of G-d, and in fact such evidence is not needed. Why is that? Because when we enter the realm of theology we also enter the realm of Belief, where there is nothing to guide the human mind but circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence is defined as ‘evidence providing only a basis for inference about the fact in dispute’. Basically what it means is that there is no hard, physical – scientific – evidence for the hypothesis of G-d being a reality in the Universe, but that it is possible to understand experiential evidence in such a manner. Circumstantial evidence is a weak form of evidence, but it is nevertheless a valid form of evidence. In matters of Law and Science it needs physical evidence to back it up, but for the purpose of personal meaning it works just fine.

When the Author of Tehillim/Psalm 8 says:

“When I see Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and stars that You have established, 5. what is man that You should remember him, and the son of man that You should be mindful of him? 6. Yet You have made him slightly less than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and majesty. 7. You give him dominion over the work of Your hands; You have placed everything beneath his feet. 8. Flocks and cattle, all of them, and also the beasts of the field; 9. the birds of the sky and the fish of the sea, he traverses the ways of the seas. 10. O L-rd, our Master, how mighty is Your name in all the earth!”

he is looking at the Universe and all the wonders it holds and from this experiential evidence he concludes that SomeOne is ultimately responsible for this abundance of wonders. That is my personal position. To me the existence of all those wonders, from the microscopic one-celled organism to the Planet Itself and the Space beyond it is inference enough to spark a Belief in G-d as the Ultimate Cause of it all.

I find it difficult to accept the idea that the Universe as it appears to me on a daily basis is the result of chemical and physical laws, without any form of Ultimate Source.

Carl Sagan wrote:

How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, ‘This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant’? Instead they say, ‘No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.’

I feel that he was mistaken on one point – what the Hebrew Scriptures actually convey in terms of the Magnificence of our Universe and its Creator and what we are told it means are not the same thing. What is the basic dogma of a religion and what is what its Scriptures actually say is rather divergent matters. The seeming limits of experiences in the times when those Scriptures were presented to the world are just that SEEMING. We assume that because there is no detectable preserved Scientific understanding of the Universe among the authors of the Hebrew Bible that such Scientific understanding didn’t exist. The arrogance of such assumptions is staggering, in my opinion.

I would also like to disagree with the assertion he makes about what people of Faith say about G-d. I disagree simply because as one of those People of Faith I do not describe my G-d as little, nor do I disregard what Science says about the Universe and it’s intricate and magnificent mechanisms and laws, on the contrary I accept Science’s assertions of these matters, and in my mind it only increases the Magnificence of what I believe to be the Ultimate Source.

As I have said in other posts:

Many years ago I resolved the seeming conflict between Science and Religion by looking at what questions they answer respectively on the matter. I think perhaps I intuitively knew that the conflict lies not between the two Disciplines, but between the Disciples of both, because the answer to the conundrum of Science vs Religion I found looks as follows:

Torah/The Bible/Religion answers the Questions “Who and Why?“
Science/Evolutionary Theory answers the Questions “How, When and Where?“

in my opinion Science as such doesn’t give MEANING to human existence. It provides us with a basic idea of what we are in terms of biological, chemical and physical set-up, but it doesn’t explain the ontological aspects of human existence. It doesn’t explain why we, as a cultural species seem to be on the constant look-out for something beyond ourselves. It doesn’t answer the existential questions of human reality.

Correctly or incorrectly, Faith does explain and answer these queries to an extent that to most people seems satifactory, or at least enough to keep us looking.

Belief or non-belief in an Ultimate Source is a matter of personal preferences.

Ultimately I believe in G-d because I want to, because I need to and because I have found no reason not to. Belief in G-d as a statement is extremely personal and while the theological workings of such belief can be questioned and should be, ultimately it all boils down to very personal and very fundamental reasons, that cannot be questioned other than by the individual.

Posted in On the Matter of Belief in G-d | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

On the Matter of Belief in G-d

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 21, 2007


My very good friend Dale Husband commented on “The G-d Delusion Part 1” on my other Blog:

if you rely only on scientific methods for knowledge, without any input from any religious dogmas, then the idea of a Supreme Creator might occur to you as a hypothesis, but an untested, unfalsified, and therefore unscientific hypothesis is all that it would ever be.”

Which gave me reason to say:

“Correct. Which is why it’s both bad science and bad religion to mix them with each other. But it is equally bad science and bad religion to claim either redundant.

To me this is where Philosophy enters the scene – it is apparently possible to arrive at the hypothesis of a Prime Cause through experience, as well as it is to arrive at the hypothesis of a Non-Prime Cause through experience – but both are dependent on further elaboration of the experiential evidence from a personal stand point to have any meaning. From a philosophical point of view both are equally valid.
It is when we elevate unfalsified hypothesis’ to doctrine that we enter the realm of bad theology and bad science.”

I then had the idea that:

“One of these days I am going to give the justifications behind my personal beliefs, *lol* I seem to be running into the issue a lot these days.”

So I’ll have a go at it…:-)

I agree that there is no scientific evidence either to prove or disprove the existence of G-d, and in fact such evidence is not needed. Why is that? Because when we enter the realm of theology we also enter the realm of Belief, where there is nothing to guide the human mind but circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence is defined as ‘evidence providing only a basis for inference about the fact in dispute’. Basically what it means is that there is no hard, physical – scientific – evidence for the hypothesis of G-d being a reality in the Universe, but that it is possible to understand experiential evidence in such a manner. Circumstantial evidence is a weak form of evidence, but it is nevertheless a valid form of evidence. In matters of Law and Science it needs physical evidence to back it up, but for the purpose of personal meaning it works just fine.

When the Author of Tehillim/Psalm 8 says:

“When I see Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and stars that You have established, 5. what is man that You should remember him, and the son of man that You should be mindful of him? 6. Yet You have made him slightly less than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and majesty. 7. You give him dominion over the work of Your hands; You have placed everything beneath his feet. 8. Flocks and cattle, all of them, and also the beasts of the field; 9. the birds of the sky and the fish of the sea, he traverses the ways of the seas. 10. O L-rd, our Master, how mighty is Your name in all the earth!”

he is looking at the Universe and all the wonders it holds and from this experiential evidence he concludes that SomeOne is ultimately responsible for this abundance of wonders. That is my personal position. To me the existence of all those wonders, from the microscopic one-celled organism to the Planet Itself and the Space beyond it is inference enough to spark a Belief in G-d as the Ultimate Cause of it all.

I find it difficult to accept the idea that the Universe as it appears to me on a daily basis is the result of chemical and physical laws, without any form of Ultimate Source.

Carl Sagan wrote:

How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, ‘This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant’? Instead they say, ‘No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.’

I feel that he was mistaken on one point – what the Hebrew Scriptures actually convey in terms of the Magnificence of our Universe and its Creator and what we are told it means are not the same thing. What is the basic dogma of a religion and what is what its Scriptures actually say is rather divergent matters. The seeming limits of experiences in the times when those Scriptures were presented to the world are just that SEEMING. We assume that because there is no detectable preserved Scientific understanding of the Universe among the authors of the Hebrew Bible that such Scientific understanding didn’t exist. The arrogance of such assumptions is staggering, in my opinion.

I would also like to disagree with the assertion he makes about what people of Faith say about G-d. I disagree simply because as one of those People of Faith I do not describe my G-d as little, nor do I disregard what Science says about the Universe and it’s intricate and magnificent mechanisms and laws, on the contrary I accept Science’s assertions of these matters, and in my mind it only increases the Magnificence of what I believe to be the Ultimate Source.

As I have said in other posts:

Many years ago I resolved the seeming conflict between Science and Religion by looking at what questions they answer respectively on the matter. I think perhaps I intuitively knew that the conflict lies not between the two Disciplines, but between the Disciples of both, because the answer to the conundrum of Science vs Religion I found looks as follows:

Torah/The Bible/Religion answers the Questions “Who and Why?“
Science/Evolutionary Theory answers the Questions “How, When and Where?“

in my opinion Science as such doesn’t give MEANING to human existence. It provides us with a basic idea of what we are in terms of biological, chemical and physical set-up, but it doesn’t explain the ontological aspects of human existence. It doesn’t explain why we, as a cultural species seem to be on the constant look-out for something beyond ourselves. It doesn’t answer the existential questions of human reality.

Correctly or incorrectly, Faith does explain and answer these queries to an extent that to most people seems satifactory, or at least enough to keep us looking.

Belief or non-belief in an Ultimate Source is a matter of personal preferences.

Ultimately I believe in G-d because I want to, because I need to and because I have found no reason not to. Belief in G-d as a statement is extremely personal and while the theological workings of such belief can be questioned and should be, ultimately it all boils down to very personal and very fundamental reasons, that cannot be questioned other than by the individual.

Posted in Belief, Belief in G-d, Carl Sagan, Circumstantial evidence, G-d, Non-Prime Cause, On the Matter of Belief in G-d, Religion, Science, Torah | 7 Comments »

The G-d Delusion Part 1

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 20, 2007


The First Chapter of The God Delusion:

Also available here at NYTimes.com

“The boy lay prone in the grass, his chin resting on his hands. He suddenly found himself overwhelmed by a heightened awareness of the tangled stems and roots, a forest in microcosm, a transfigured world of ants and beetles and even – though he wouldn’t have known the details at the time – of soil bacteria by the billions, silently and invisibly shoring up the economy of the micro-world. Suddenly the micro-forest of the turf seemed to swell and become one with the universe, and with the rapt mind of the boy contemplating it. He interpreted the experience in religious terms and it led him eventually to the priesthood. He was ordained an Anglican priest and became a chaplain at my school, a teacher of whom I was fond. It is thanks to decent liberal clergymen like him that nobody could ever claim that I had religion forced down my throat.

In another time and place, that boy could have been me under the stars, dazzled by Orion, Cassiopeia and Ursa Major, tearful with the unheard music of the Milky Way, heady with the night scents of frangipani and trumpet flowers in an African garden. Why the same emotion should have led my chaplain in one direction and me in the other is not an easy question to answer. A quasi-mystical response to nature and the universe is common among scientists and rationalists. It has no connection with supernatural belief. In his boyhood at least, my chaplain was presumably not aware (nor was I) of the closing lines of The Origin of Species – the famous ‘entangled bank’ passage, ‘with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth’. Had he been, he would certainly have identified with it and, instead of the priesthood, might have been led to Darwin’s view that all was ‘produced by laws acting around us’:

Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

Carl Sagan, in Pale Blue Dot, wrote:

How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, ‘This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant’? Instead they say, ‘No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.’ A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.”

Dawkins draws some weird conclusions about Einstein and his faith later on in the Chapter – I will get to those as I go. Initially (in the quoted section above) he makes the same mistake that many other Religionists do – he assumes that if the experience is similar, the out-come must necessarily be the same. That is actually a logical fallacy, common, but one would expect a scientist like Dawkins not to make it.

He equates “similar” with “same”, when he relates the stories of the two boys and questions why the Anglican Priest didn’t become an Atheist Scientist, like himself.

Similar= Related in appearance or nature; alike though not identical.

Same= Identical with what is about to be or has just been mentioned.

From Dictionary.com

No two people experience their surroundings identically. That is simply not possible. But the same Aurora Borealis can very well evoke completely contradictory responses. To argue that similar experiences by necessity should lead to the same response in two different people only shows the Dawkins in his quest for proof that he is right, rather than a scientific exploration of the evidence – which at best would lead him down an agnostic path, is very much employing presuppositions about the nature of empirical data arrived through non-scientific means. Or in short – Dawkins assumes that the interpretation of the experience of the Anglican Priest, which lead him to belief in G-d is wrong, simply because it lead to something Dawkins cannot accept.

Dawkins prejudice against religion, and thus, I guess, his need to disprove it becomes very visible in the first paragraphs: “It is thanks to decent liberal clergymen like him that nobody could ever claim that I had religion forced down my throat.”

That smacks of dishonesty, and makes me wonder if Dawkins isn’t in all actuality re-acting to exactly the kind of force-feeding that he claims he was not exposed to. He equates religion with force – despite the fact that he also claims that the Anglican Priest he starts his first chapter with has not represented any such force.

Employing Giants like Carl Sagan and Albert Einstein (I’ll get to him later 🙂 ), and twist them to fit his own agenda, is not only dishonest – it’s immoral.

Carl Sagan’s ideas is very clearly reflected in Psalm 8:4-10:

“When I see Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and stars that You have established, 5. what is man that You should remember him, and the son of man that You should be mindful of him? 6. Yet You have made him slightly less than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and majesty. 7. You give him dominion over the work of Your hands; You have placed everything beneath his feet. 8. Flocks and cattle, all of them, and also the beasts of the field; 9. the birds of the sky and the fish of the sea, he traverses the ways of the seas. 10. O Lord, our Master, how mighty is Your name in all the earth!”

It seems to me that the author of Psalm 8, Carl Sagan, the Anglican Priest and Richard Dawkins are all describing similar experiences!

I suppose that the portion of Carl Sagan’s work “The Blue Dot” that I linked to above, didn’t fit Dawkins ideas – but the portion that he quotes in his book, certainly doesn’t reflect the entirety of Carl Sagan’s Scope. It is also worth to note that two Giants Richard Dawkins choose to quote are both Jewish, and had a Jewish up-bringing. This does put their statements about G-d and the Universe in a slightly other light.

Judaism has the existence of G-d, or a Prime Cause, as an axiom. This is never questioned in Judaism – not in modern Judaism, and definitely in the Judaism brought to Carl Sagan. Carl Sagan lived an died a skeptic, an agnostic and a freethinker, but nowhere does he deny the existence of G-d. The manner of thinking, unique to Judaism and thus to its adherents is exactly the attitude of questioning and analyzing everything from a point of view of finding the truth of things and align those thoughts along lines of logic. It is very unlikely that someone Jewish would look at the Universe and come to the conclusion that there is nothing out there – it would be intellectually dishonest and a logical fallacy in and of itself, something Carl Sagan wouldn’t be guilty of, I am sure.

The thinking Dawkins ascribes to Carl Sagan (and later Albert Einstein) comes from an ignorance of the inner workings of intellectual Judaism and the manner in which Jews of Sagan’s and Einstein’s generations were trained from an early age to deal with intellectual problems, it is further driven by his need to prove the truth of Atheism.

Dawkins is a Religious Atheist – a Fundamentalist Atheist – which means he will be making the same logical mistakes Fundamentalists, whatever their Creed (and don’t be fooled – Atheism is a Creed to Dawkins) make and he is Preaching his Creed as well as ever any Evangelical Fundamentalist.

It was put very nicely in one of the Big Morning Papers here in Sweden on Saturday: “G-d doesn’t exist and Dawkins is His Prophet.”

It doesn’t mean that his message shouldn’t be taken seriously, or that Atheism as such is bad, but one need to realize that this is a man with an ego larger than his logic. He even has a page he calls “Converts Corner” with testimonial letters from readers who have converted to Atheism as a result of reading his books. In the end he is the one who comes across as delusional – not because he denies the veracity of Religion, but because he doesn’t draw the LOGICAL conclusions from the scientific evidence he is supposed be so well acquainted with. It shouldn’t land him in Fundamentalist Atheism, it should by all logic land him in Agnosticism.

I will come back and deal with the rest of the first chapter of Richard Dawkins’ book.

Posted in On the Matter of Belief in G-d, The God Delusion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

The G-d Delusion Part 1

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 20, 2007


The First Chapter of The God Delusion:

Also available here at NYTimes.com

“The boy lay prone in the grass, his chin resting on his hands. He suddenly found himself overwhelmed by a heightened awareness of the tangled stems and roots, a forest in microcosm, a transfigured world of ants and beetles and even – though he wouldn’t have known the details at the time – of soil bacteria by the billions, silently and invisibly shoring up the economy of the micro-world. Suddenly the micro-forest of the turf seemed to swell and become one with the universe, and with the rapt mind of the boy contemplating it. He interpreted the experience in religious terms and it led him eventually to the priesthood. He was ordained an Anglican priest and became a chaplain at my school, a teacher of whom I was fond. It is thanks to decent liberal clergymen like him that nobody could ever claim that I had religion forced down my throat.

In another time and place, that boy could have been me under the stars, dazzled by Orion, Cassiopeia and Ursa Major, tearful with the unheard music of the Milky Way, heady with the night scents of frangipani and trumpet flowers in an African garden. Why the same emotion should have led my chaplain in one direction and me in the other is not an easy question to answer. A quasi-mystical response to nature and the universe is common among scientists and rationalists. It has no connection with supernatural belief. In his boyhood at least, my chaplain was presumably not aware (nor was I) of the closing lines of The Origin of Species – the famous ‘entangled bank’ passage, ‘with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth’. Had he been, he would certainly have identified with it and, instead of the priesthood, might have been led to Darwin’s view that all was ‘produced by laws acting around us’:

Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

Carl Sagan, in Pale Blue Dot, wrote:

How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, ‘This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant’? Instead they say, ‘No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.’ A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.”

Dawkins draws some weird conclusions about Einstein and his faith later on in the Chapter – I will get to those as I go. Initially (in the quoted section above) he makes the same mistake that many other Religionists do – he assumes that if the experience is similar, the out-come must necessarily be the same. That is actually a logical fallacy, common, but one would expect a scientist like Dawkins not to make it.

He equates “similar” with “same”, when he relates the stories of the two boys and questions why the Anglican Priest didn’t become an Atheist Scientist, like himself.

Similar= Related in appearance or nature; alike though not identical.

Same= Identical with what is about to be or has just been mentioned.

From Dictionary.com

No two people experience their surroundings identically. That is simply not possible. But the same Aurora Borealis can very well evoke completely contradictory responses. To argue that similar experiences by necessity should lead to the same response in two different people only shows the Dawkins in his quest for proof that he is right, rather than a scientific exploration of the evidence – which at best would lead him down an agnostic path, is very much employing presuppositions about the nature of empirical data arrived through non-scientific means. Or in short – Dawkins assumes that the interpretation of the experience of the Anglican Priest, which lead him to belief in G-d is wrong, simply because it lead to something Dawkins cannot accept.

Dawkins prejudice against religion, and thus, I guess, his need to disprove it becomes very visible in the first paragraphs: “It is thanks to decent liberal clergymen like him that nobody could ever claim that I had religion forced down my throat.”

That smacks of dishonesty, and makes me wonder if Dawkins isn’t in all actuality re-acting to exactly the kind of force-feeding that he claims he was not exposed to. He equates religion with force – despite the fact that he also claims that the Anglican Priest he starts his first chapter with has not represented any such force.

Employing Giants like Carl Sagan and Albert Einstein (I’ll get to him later 🙂 ), and twist them to fit his own agenda, is not only dishonest – it’s immoral.

Carl Sagan’s ideas is very clearly reflected in Psalm 8:4-10:

“When I see Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and stars that You have established, 5. what is man that You should remember him, and the son of man that You should be mindful of him? 6. Yet You have made him slightly less than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and majesty. 7. You give him dominion over the work of Your hands; You have placed everything beneath his feet. 8. Flocks and cattle, all of them, and also the beasts of the field; 9. the birds of the sky and the fish of the sea, he traverses the ways of the seas. 10. O Lord, our Master, how mighty is Your name in all the earth!”

It seems to me that the author of Psalm 8, Carl Sagan, the Anglican Priest and Richard Dawkins are all describing similar experiences!

I suppose that the portion of Carl Sagan’s work “The Blue Dot” that I linked to above, didn’t fit Dawkins ideas – but the portion that he quotes in his book, certainly doesn’t reflect the entirety of Carl Sagan’s Scope. It is also worth to note that two Giants Richard Dawkins choose to quote are both Jewish, and had a Jewish up-bringing. This does put their statements about G-d and the Universe in a slightly other light.

Judaism has the existence of G-d, or a Prime Cause, as an axiom. This is never questioned in Judaism – not in modern Judaism, and definitely in the Judaism brought to Carl Sagan. Carl Sagan lived an died a skeptic, an agnostic and a freethinker, but nowhere does he deny the existence of G-d. The manner of thinking, unique to Judaism and thus to its adherents is exactly the attitude of questioning and analyzing everything from a point of view of finding the truth of things and align those thoughts along lines of logic. It is very unlikely that someone Jewish would look at the Universe and come to the conclusion that there is nothing out there – it would be intellectually dishonest and a logical fallacy in and of itself, something Carl Sagan wouldn’t be guilty of, I am sure.

The thinking Dawkins ascribes to Carl Sagan (and later Albert Einstein) comes from an ignorance of the inner workings of intellectual Judaism and the manner in which Jews of Sagan’s and Einstein’s generations were trained from an early age to deal with intellectual problems, it is further driven by his need to prove the truth of Atheism.

Dawkins is a Religious Atheist – a Fundamentalist Atheist – which means he will be making the same logical mistakes Fundamentalists, whatever their Creed (and don’t be fooled – Atheism is a Creed to Dawkins) make and he is Preaching his Creed as well as ever any Evangelical Fundamentalist.

It was put very nicely in one of the Big Morning Papers here in Sweden on Saturday: “G-d doesn’t exist and Dawkins is His Prophet.”

It doesn’t mean that his message shouldn’t be taken seriously, or that Atheism as such is bad, but one need to realize that this is a man with an ego larger than his logic. He even has a page he calls “Converts Corner” with testimonial letters from readers who have converted to Atheism as a result of reading his books. In the end he is the one who comes across as delusional – not because he denies the veracity of Religion, but because he doesn’t draw the LOGICAL conclusions from the scientific evidence he is supposed be so well acquainted with. It shouldn’t land him in Fundamentalist Atheism, it should by all logic land him in Agnosticism.

I will come back and deal with the rest of the first chapter of Richard Dawkins’ book.

Posted in Agnosticism, Darwin, Fundamentalist Atheist, G-d, Pale Blue Dot, Psalm 8, Religious Atheist, Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, The Origin of Species | 6 Comments »

 
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