Unlike 99% of all non-clerical Jews, I read the Torah (first 5 books of the Bibole, sacred to Jews) in its most authoritative translation.
The first thing to note, once you get past the notions that God or Moses wrote it, is that research into the text shows that it is the product of four authors, whose documents were edited together. This "documentary hypothesis" is as well-established as evolution, but many religious believers reject it. But that's why there are so many duplications -- sloppy editing. Deuteronomy was probably the work of one person.
Second, it's really primitive. Jews who make this document the center of their lives are fixated on the distant past. Successive waves of liberal Judaism have attempted to spin or whitewash the Torah, but it remains a document where women have no rights, slavery is acceptable, God urges the Israelites to commit ethnic cleansing, and much more gruesome stuff.
Third, NONE of it happened! The story -- exodus, Sinai, promised land -- is central to Judaism, but there's no evidence for any of it. There is no record of the Jews in Egypt, as slaves or in any other capaciity.
Atheists should know what's in the Bible and how the various parts got included. So when Christians get that beatific smile and talk about it being the word of God, you can give them a few kernels of truth about this document (about which they are largely ignorant, so it won't be hard to know more than they do).
Awesome post. You are so right. They are ignorant though, and want to remain so. They don't want make-believe-land disturbed with something such as facts.~ Melinda
BTW I am ashamed to admit I have a relative that is a big-shot rabbi in NYC, and his daughter is married to a brain-surgeon who walks to the hospital on the sabbath. They also took all their own kosher food to DisneyWorld. How FUN for the kids!!!!
Melinda...thanks for the kind words. The intentional ignorance is practiced by Jews of all stripes, including educated, sophisticated people who should know better. I find this incredible and inexplicable!
A few years ago some Jewish guests brought their own food to a party at my house. The buffet included fish and vegetables - but my food was so unclean that they couldn't touch it? I found out too late; otherwise, I would have told them they really didn't want to eat in my unclean house and that they must take their special food and their piety out to the patio (it was six degrees that night). I really would have done it, in front of everybody. I have no patience for these people.
Alan, what used to make me so mad was that when my Grandpa was alive and we'd go into Chicago for the annual "Family Club" we called it, everyone paid the hosts a certain amount according to whatever food was ordered. Now, everyone had to pay a LOT because, even though only a few people ate kosher, they only ordered kosher food which was more expensive! This really pissed-off my Atheist Grandpa too! I miss him, he was awesome.
Seriously, this brain-surgeon cousin-in-law of mine is a religious idiot, and I never even finished my associate in arts degree and I am SO much more intelligent than he is. He's just better at math and science (except I'm sure he believes we were 'created'.) I wouldn't want him operating on my brain! He needs to examine his own head first! lol.
Melinda...it's the mystery of the brain, which we may never penetrate. The cognition can be split between the real and the unreal, with both seeming equally real to the brain. This is perhaps how a brain surgeon can be a religious idiot. That's what Modern Orthoodoxy is about - these people pretend they can live in both worlds.
Hi Alan! I know, but it's just SO WEIRD! lol.
Hi Melinda...sorry for the belated reply - I haven't been back to this thread recently. Religious belief (or the appearance thereof) in otherwise intelligent, rational, secularly-educated people is a mystery I haven't solved because I'm disinclined to do the actual research and question such people about their religious behavior. Replies might be a bit defensive, even hostile.
It seems there's a way the brain can regard the fictional as real. We all do it when we read a novel or watch a movie - we suspend disbelief. Educated religious folks just take it a step further. Just a guess.
You're probably right Alan! I wouldn't care to research it either. I'll just shake my head and let it remain a mystery to me! ~ Melinda
No, no...as a lover of science and truth, you have to understand what people have done to this primitive document over the centuries. There's no mystery - that's what I found out. It's just a collection of stories.
I love how some groups of archaeologists working for the religious right are trying to use excavations to 'provide' connections to the biblical stories. Excuse me for pointing out the obvious, but what happened to letting the artifacts tell the story rather than trying to fit them to the narrative of a particular agenda?
They do the same thing as with the Bible - try to spin it to their advantage. I remember a History Channel (what a joke) documentary about a big piece of rock in Turkey or someplace - "Could this be the remains of Noah's Ark?" Short answer: no.
LOL I was thinking about them when I replied to you! How many Arks are they up to now? LOL I swear every time I hear or read something about them, I hear the voice of Bill Cosby as Noah!
How long ... can you tread water?!?