Unfortunately, the Jewish communityâs religious writers have often replied with little subtlety and much defensiveness. Dennis Prager, for example, debating Harris in the online journal Jewcy.com, trotted out the old medieval proofs for the existence of God and then argued essentially that if so many people believe something, it simply has to be true. (Surely, by that reasoning, Christianity is right and Judaism is wrong, but I digress.) David Klinghoffer, in these pages, argued for ahistorical fideism: Forget the hard textual evidence about the authorship of the Bible and the Zohar, he said, weâve got to stand up for what we believe â as though religion would become âindefensibleâ (his word) if the Orthodox claims of authorship ever turned out to be false.
But these are just the kinds of flimsy arguments that Harris, Dawkins and Hitchens love to hear: faith, surrounded by fallacy. They validate the atheistsâ claims that religion is for the soft-minded and thick-skulled. Itâs either something you believe or something you donât, and once you take away the preposterous truth-claims at its foundation (for example, the world is 6,000 years old, or that a self-contradictory text was authored by an omniscient deity), the edifice of religion crumbles.
These are also poor allies for real religious moderates â by which I mean the sort of people who donât believe the fundamentalist myth but do cherish the power of myth; who keep the mitzvot as spiritual practices, not as commandments from a rewarding-and-punishing God; who have a notion of the Divine in their lives, but not necessarily the traditional image of judgmental Yahweh ready to strike down sinners. Where is a Jewish moderate to turn in a polarized world where our allies are so disagreeable and our adversaries speak the words we ourselves long to hear?
Letâs admit it: Thereâs an attractive ebullience in the new atheism.
RECENT POSTS ON The God Blog
Praying the depression away
And for your summer reading list ...
Sudanese woman who had been sentenced to death for Christianity escaping to U.S.
“No, no, no. Prophet Jonah is gone. God, these scoundrels”
UCLA Hillel, a student government candidate and outside money
Miami Beach eruv attracts unwanted attention
The God Blog ARCHIVES
The allure of atheism for a liberal Jew
October 2, 2007 | 12:05 pm
PUT YOUR AD HERE
Trending Blog Posts
I don’t know how we got here… but I’d sure like to move on!SHARES
The Knesset NGO Transparency Bill is not what its right-wing backers say it is!SHARES
Women of the Wall Abandons its MissionSHARES
Confronting Anti-Semitism on American College Campuses TodaySHARES
A Little Torah and Chill?SHARES
We sought to change the State of Israel, not to change Orthodox Judaism!” Rabbi Rick JacobsSHARES