Monday, October 10, 2005

Living on a Single Philosophy

A question that I've gotten a lot is: How can you be an atheist Jew? It seems totally impossible. It's really not impossible at all; here's the way I think about it.

If you tried to live your life by a single moral, would you be able to do it? Let's take the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would like done unto you. Suppose I lived my entire life just by following that moral until one day when a lie just slips out inadvertently. What do I do then? I don't want people to lie to me, but according to my one and only moral, it's their prerogative.

Basically, I don't feel that I can live my life without having a more than one basis in philosophy. Just as a good research paper needs many good sources and not just one source, philosophy in my mind, requires the same thing. Without having knowledge or a decent understanding of other philosophies, how can you accurately choose your own? The previous post does touch upon this topic slightly.

I don't feel like I can live without religion. And by religion, I mean a set of moral values that happen to come from religious doctrine. However dated the doctrine may be, there's some good lessons to be learned in there. Like during Rosh Hashana when we read the binding of Isaac, where Abraham is so zealous, he's ready to kill his son. I realized that it really is bad to believe blindly in something where there's no proof. Quite a different message from the one that the Rabbi wanted me to take away from that service.

That's the beauty of this whole thing. I've taken the best of both worlds. Or rather, accepted my history as a Jew and just left God out of it.

So my point is, philosophy is much stronger when it's drawn from multiple sources because
you're getting a more objective view of the world and of other people's philosophies without necessarily compromising any of your own personal beliefs.


At 10/10/2005 8:12 AM, Blogger El Penguino said...

well the golden rule pretty much means that you have to be nice to everyone and theyll be nice to you, its not to be taken so literally

but i think its good that you actually accept some parts of religion, the good parts, maybe not ALL the good parts but at least some

At 10/10/2005 8:34 AM, Blogger Advocate of the Browns said...

I finally agree with you El. Maddy when you say " by religion, I mean a set of moral values that happen to come from religious doctrine", is that just how you define your religious beliefs?

At 10/10/2005 9:01 AM, Blogger Enil Edam said...

That's how I define religion. Religion to me is not about the stories that may or may not be true. It's more about the lessons we can learn from those stories.

I just defined it to make it perfectly clear what exactly I was talking about. So yes, my "religious beliefs" involve the lessons we learn from doctrine.

At 10/10/2005 9:56 AM, Blogger Aeger said...

Good post. I was wondering how you defined that paradox you live in. Very enlightening.

At 10/10/2005 10:07 AM, Blogger Enil Edam said...

Thank you kindly.

I love paradoxes, I think paradoxes are the only things that actually make sense in this world.

At 10/10/2005 5:31 PM, Blogger seth said...

But…those aren't Jewish values that you follow. They're just values that most Jews agree with.

At 10/10/2005 6:51 PM, Blogger Enil Edam said...

The values actually are Jewish.

Morality was a concept first introduced by Judaism in written form.

So a lot of the values are Jewish, and it's through Judaism that I've come to know them.

At 10/10/2005 6:55 PM, Blogger seth said...

So because the Jews were the first ones to introduce certain moral concepts in writing, they become exclusively Jewish?

At 10/10/2005 7:27 PM, Blogger Enil Edam said...

Not at all.

But one could say that many basic moral concepts do stem from Judaism.

Everyone will claim that theirs were first though, but Judaism was the monotheistic religion from which Islam and Christianity stemmed.

The morals aren't exclusively Jewish but I call them Jewish because the Jews were the first to write them down.

At 10/11/2005 11:13 AM, Blogger Delta said...

I don't believe any moral concepts were first developed or written down by any of the major religions that exist today. If you think it's the first place they were written down you just haven't looked for them in earlier writings at all.

A philosophy is better when it is internally consistent and when it is in agreement with observations. I don't believe having more "sources" makes it any better. And even if it did, having a religious book as a source is like having a Winnie the Pooh book referenced for a scientific article.

At 10/11/2005 2:38 PM, Blogger Enil Edam said...

You missed my point.

I'm not taking the stories as factual truth. I am taking the lessons from those stories. You can't really deny that there are some pretty good lessons to be learned once you strip away all the bias.

Your point about the morals is fair though.

At 10/12/2005 7:32 PM, Blogger El Penguino said...

but what i think you're all forgeting about the bible is, it can be a hat

heh, sorry couldn't resist


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