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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Atheists in Bubbleland

By Rabbi Yonason Goldson


Jen McCleary
jenccleary.com




Did you miss it? Last month the country celebrated national Blasphemy Day!

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | According to NPR.com, atheists marked Blasphemy Day last month at gatherings around the world, celebrating the freedom to denigrate and insult religion.

Activities included de-baptizing people with hair dryers and an art exhibit in Washington, D.C., which showed, among other titles, Jesus Paints His Nails, in which "an effeminate Jesus after the crucifixion [applies] polish to the nails that attach his hands to the cross." The atheist group Center for Inquiry hosted the exhibit.

Addressing a capacity crowd at the University of Toronto, columnist Christopher Hitchens elicited enthusiastic cheers by commenting, "I think religion should be treated with ridicule, hatred and contempt, and I claim that right." He told NPR that religion is "sinister, dangerous and ridiculous," because it can prompt people to fly airplanes into buildings, and it promotes ignorance.

Hitchens defended atheist incivility this way: "If I said to a Protestant or Quaker or Muslim, 'Hey, at least I respect your belief,' I would be telling a lie."

THE IRRELIGIOUS DIVIDE
However, not all atheists should be painted with the same brush. Stuart Jordan, who advises the Center for Inquiry on policy issues, explain to NPR that Blasphemy Day is symptomatic of a debate among traditional atheists and "new atheists" over whether people of faith should be treated with respect or derision.

Paul Kurtz, who founded the Center for Inquiry three decades ago, was ousted in a "palace coup" last year. "I consider them atheist fundamentalists," he says. "Merely to critically attack religious beliefs is not sufficient. It leaves a vacuum. What are you for? We know what you're against, but what do you want to defend?"

The new atheists counter that they believe in reason, science and freedom from religious myth. And, as Ronald Lindsay, who replaced Kurtz, puts it: "We take the high road, the low road, country roads, interstates, highways, byways, - whatever it takes to reach people."

Truly, it must be a cold day in the infernal regions if atheism can now boast its own ideological schism.

Officials from the Center for Inquiry were unavailable for comment, having hastily cancelled all interviews in the wake of the controversy. Even NPR couldn't escape the irony of stonewalling by a group that defines itself as an advocate of free speech.

Then again, maybe it shouldn't come as a surprise. Any group that worships exclusively at the altar of science and empirical evidence will quickly find itself caught it its own tangled web of faith.

BEHIND THE FACADE OF RATIONALISM
I'll let Professor Bob Berman, columnist for Astronomy Magazine, explain:


[W]hat existed before the Big Bang? I get that question a lot from students, and I'll admit to being guilty of reciting the standard speech. "The Big Bang," I explain grandly, "created time as well as space. Since there was no time before the Big Bang, your question is meaningless."

The student is silenced. The class continues. The professor obviously knows something wonderfully profound. But I can't do it any more. The next time some one asks, I'll tell the truth: "Nobody has the foggiest idea what happened the Tuesday before the Big Bang. That whole domain is part of Bubbleland." Then the class will nod, and really understand. Ah, yes, Bubbleland. The realm beyond the present reach of science.

Anyone attending a cosmology lecture can tell when the speaker arrives at Bubbleland. "It's not galaxy clusters that travel outward," he'll say pedantically, "but space itself that grows larger. The galaxies don't actually move."

So here I am thinking, wait a minute. Are we at a Daffy Duck convention?

The late Carl Sagan, whom I love and admire, nonetheless said "Now that we've explained how life began, there's no place for G0d." Well, let's leave G0d out of this and just address science's explanation of life's genesis. The prevailing account posits a mixing of organic molecules, the arrival of amino acids on comets from space, some accidental combinations, and then the great denouement: "and somehow life arose."

Beep! Hold it! That "somehow" may be only one little word embedded among the thousands comprising the "explanation," but it changes the whole thing to: "We haven't a clue." How consciousness or self-awareness can arise from amino acids remains as deep a mystery as it ever was. But since we do not want our experts to stand mute and nonplussed, we have now supplied an out. They do not have to utter the dreaded "I don't know."

Finally they can explain our origins. We come from Bubbleland.

EXTREMISM, FANATICISM, AND OBSCURANTISM
It's as refreshing as it is uncommon to hear a scientist concede the limits of scientific understanding. But why? Why such dogmatic passion, intensity, and fervor among atheists? Why the overzealous insistence that belief in science is based in undiluted logic where belief and G0d is based in indefensible whimsy?

The great Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik summed it up like this: "All extremism, fanaticism and obscurantism come from a lack of security. A person who is secure cannot be an extremist."

The so-called "new atheists" are really no different from any other fundamentalist ideologues. They are driven by an irrational compulsion to "prove" that they are right by asserting in the most uncompromising terms that others are wrong. But truth be told, they are haunted by the inescapable reality that ultimate certitude is beyond the reach of human beings. They have taken up permanent residence in Bubbleland, and they will fight to the death anyone who threatens their homegrown fantasy.

Compare their fanatic inflexibility with the medieval Talmudist Maimonides, who wrote that the rise of Christianity and Islam have benefited mankind by spreading monotheistic belief throughout the world. Had the revered sage accepted the absolute truth of either of those movements, he would have recanted his Judaism and proclaimed himself a true believer. But his conviction in the veracity of Torah Judaism did not prevent him from acknowledging their value and the sincerity of their practitioners.

Civility makes it possible for people of radically different beliefs to live in harmony and foster peace throughout the world. The religious community has often fallen short of this ideal, but the world before monotheism failed far more consistently and dramatically.

When all is said and done, those who deride others in the name of tolerance are invariably the most intolerant of all. May they enjoy a long and happy residence within the intellectual borders of Bubbleland.

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JWR contributor Rabbi Yonason Goldson teaches at Block Yeshiva High School in St. Louis, MO, where he also writes and lectures. Visit him at http://torahideals.wordpress.com .






© 2009, Rabbi Yonason Goldson