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Featured Jews: "Toxicity" of Abrahamic God?

Discussion in 'Religions Q&A' started by Eddi, Oct 13, 2021 at 12:04 PM.

  1. Eddi

    Eddi Eddifying

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    This is aimed at the RF Jews, so Jews only please

    @RabbiO in particular

    I have recently rejected the Abrahamic God concept, after years of struggle and confusion

    And I don't see myself ever going back to him

    In another post I claimed that the Abrahamic God Concept was "toxic" due to all the harm it has done over the past two millennia - by the adherents of the various faiths who believe in it - including my own

    Note: "God Concept", not "God"

    The Rabbi accused me of believing that the Jews are blind, ignorant and stupid for holding on to such a God Concept

    I do not believe you are, as I explained to him elsewhere

    That is simply not how Jews are defined in my brain

    But I can no longer accept the Abrahamic God Concept as something that I believe in

    I think it is 1) false and 2) harmful - hence I believe it to be toxic

    I understand that the goodness of God is central to your Jewish identity and I understand how you may take this personally, but my intention was to engage with ideas and concepts, not individual people or groups and I'm truly sorry if you take this some other way

    Also, I arrived at this conclusion based (mainly) on the way Christians have used the concept, which makes it seem pretty toxic to me, and that is what I was going on when I said it was a "toxic" - that and how God is said to have behaved in scripture

    I say: To me it seems as though The Abrahamic God Concept is toxic yet I must emphasise that I do not believe the various religions it has inspired to be toxic or that those who believe in it are fools (or worse)

    Question: As a Jew, what do you think about the accusation that the Abrahamic God Concept is somewhat toxic? I know you don't believe that it is, but could you please explain why? Please, provide me with your perspective. Basically: Why is the concept not toxic?

    I do not want to argue with you, I want to listen what you have to say as I want to better understand the situation
     
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  2. Harel13

    Harel13 Am Yisrael Chai
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    First off, I didn't see anywhere in your post an explanation of what you find problematic in "the God concept" as you put. Could you clarify?
     
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  3. Eddi

    Eddi Eddifying

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    Two things mostly:

    1) The things that are done in its name - it is used as a means of justifying things, as a concept it has not always been put to good use, to say the very least (see next point) - "God wants X so do Y"

    2) The things that its scripture inspires - war, slavery, the subjugation off women, the persecution of gays, the persecution of other religious groups (even those who share the same God Concept). It seems to me that a lot of blood has been spilt that wouldn't necessarily have been spilt without its influence

    I think that the concept can do a lot of good in the right hands, but that historically this has been put in the shade by various forms of evil - which is why in my assessment it is not such a wonderful thing

    I don't think that it is either inherently good or bad - I see it as a phenomenon rather than a person, so my opinion is based on how it is used rather than an assessment of its charachter
     
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  4. Harel13

    Harel13 Am Yisrael Chai
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    Okay, next question: How do you differentiate between "God" and a "God concept"?
     
  5. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    I can understand why it would be toxic. Jewish traditions and how Judaism is practiced minimize this. These traditions have a grounding effect. Things like observing Shabbat and holidays with family and friends, daily prayer and study, giving charity, have a way of connecting a person to what's happening day to day and not focusing on God's aspects which can be just as dreadful as they are uplifting.
     
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  6. Eddi

    Eddi Eddifying

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    God = a being who is considered a "God" by other people. The being may be supernatural or it may be a person (e.g. a kind of God King) - and it may or may not exist

    God Concept = how a supernatural being (who is said to exist) is understood by those who believe in it. What people mean when they call an entity "God". For instance, with the Abrahamic God a part of that God Concept is omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence

    And with the Abrahamic God there are further characteristics: the things he has said and done in various scriptures

    How people understand what they recognise as their God or Gods (which are real to them) is determined by what concept they have of them (which is independent of the reality of their God or Gods)

    With the God of Abraham: "God" relates to the reality of his existence. And "God Concept" relates to the details of his existence. I believe that the Abrahamic God Concept is toxic, but that the Abrahamic God himself does not exist - hence to me "God" is neither toxic or non-toxic, but the God Concept through which he is understood is toxic as the God Concept has been put to use for some pretty shameful things
     
  7. rosends

    rosends Well-Known Member

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    Strange. I share the God concept and yet I haven't developed the urge to have war or such. Am I just doing it wrong or, maybe it isn't a function of the God concept, but of the human psyche that looks to find a scapegoat for its natural (inhumane) tendencies.
     
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  8. Eddi

    Eddi Eddifying

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    I'm sure you haven't

    I'd say that you not having the urge to war could be both because of your own nature and also the content of the God Concept that you maintain. But that overall, I'd say that same God Concept inspires people with weaker natures (and weaker minds) to do things that are clearly wrong - and it is used by some people to make others act contrary to their nature
     
  9. Harel13

    Harel13 Am Yisrael Chai
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    I wouldn't call these "characteristics". These are actions. Hence I do not think it is correct to blame whatever you do not like about God on His characteristics.

    Okay, now for your questions:

    Okay, I've got nothing to say on this. Some people will look anywhere to justify what they do. Is that God's fault? Well, no, not in a world with free will.
    In Tanach there's only one sort of war that's commanded as a necessity. In transliterated Hebrew it's called "Milchemet Mitzvah" - "commanded war". There are two types: Wars to conquer the Land of Israel, and defensive wars. I'm sure that you have no qualms against defensive wars. The first type is a bit different. The first type you may view as tying into your previous question, because seemingly the Israelites used God's commandment as justifying why they attacked the Canaanites. That and God's promise that the land, which He created, was to be given over to them. But now you would have to ask yourself: Do you believe that a person that owns something has the right to give it to whoever he wants? And if so, do you think that God, who owns the whole world, has the same right to allot any land to whoever he wants? By the way, the Canaanites were offered peace and partial rights if they quit idolatry and surrendered. Most refused.

    On slavery, I don't recall slavery being a necessity, i.e., something that must be done. The Torah often gives commandments for cases that may or may not happen. Should they happen, you'll know what to do. Should you get a slave - you must treat him in such and such a manner. By the way, per Jewish laws, slaves received 1000 times better treatment than those enslaved by non-Jews.

    On the subjugation of women - this isn't really a thing. It's more about recognizing that men and women have different qualities and each has a different path in life.

    Persecution of homosexuals- nowhere is it said that these people should be persecuted. In fact, homosexuality is not a sin. What is a sin is acting upon one's homosexual nature.

    Persecution of other religious groups - We are commanded to rid the Land of Israel of idolatry. If those groups want to leave the country, they can. Generally they chose not to. Groups that share the same God concept? Well, some might still be considered idolaters. Depends what their beliefs are exactly. In the last 2000 years there have been two main groups. The thing is, you're right. Judaism is not a live and let live religion. It's not individualistic, it's not pluralistic. The main focus is on doing God's will in the world and assisting in bringing the truth of God to light.
     
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  10. Eddi

    Eddi Eddifying

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    You have mounted a credible defence of Judaism

    But truth be told, I was thinking much, much more of the other "Abrahamic" faiths in my criticism of the Abrahamic God Concept

    And also I'd say that God's actions can be counted as being amongst his characteristics. Because they reveal his true nature. The fact that I started this thread is a characteristic of me.
     
  11. rosends

    rosends Well-Known Member

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    Then as that God concept comes via my identity as an Orthodox Jew, that should speak volumes.
    So that is a problem resident in the people, not the concept.
     
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  12. Eddi

    Eddi Eddifying

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    I'm willing to meet you half way on this:

    Yes, the problem can be looked at in terms of people

    But I still maintain that historically the problem has been encouraged and spread by the concept

    And I'm not just talking about Jews here, please be aware of that
     
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  13. Harel13

    Harel13 Am Yisrael Chai
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    Would've been better if I wasn't so tired (physically, not because of this thread's subject)...:cool:
    I don't think there's any divine concept that has all the loopholes worked out in a manner that makes sure that no one would ever be able to justify their actions on the commandments of the divine entity in question. It really all comes down to whether you're following God's word or not, and if not, are you truthful about it or not.
     
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  14. Eddi

    Eddi Eddifying

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    But some divine concepts are more bloody than others

    I think God's word has been twisted a lot though, that is has been used to cause some truly atrocious things

    And I think this is made all the worse by the fact that God does not provide us with any updated message, to right the wrongs done in his name
     
  15. Harel13

    Harel13 Am Yisrael Chai
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    Are they?
    Take a god that is uninvolved in the happenings of the world. The essential message is: Do whatever the heck you want. That's less "bloody" than God telling you: Fight only under specific circumstances for specific reasons?
     
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  16. Eddi

    Eddi Eddifying

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    By that I was not at all implying that Judaism is more blood-thirsty than other traditions :)
     
  17. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    imo, any update provided would compromise free-will and undermine the beauty of pure faith.
     
  18. IndigoChild5559

    IndigoChild5559 Loving God and my neighbor as myself.

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    Well, I think it is unfair for you to judge the Jewish concept of God based on the way that Chrsitians have handled things. Remember that Chrsitians think J is God, so tehy have an entirely different concept of God.

    It would help the discussion if you would give several examples of what you think are harmful things caused bya belief in a Creator God who cares about how we treat each other.
     
  19. IndigoChild5559

    IndigoChild5559 Loving God and my neighbor as myself.

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    This is an unfair standard. Just because someone does something in the name of God doesn't mean they even have a good understanding of who God is or what their religion teaches. For example, we have muslims who fly planes into skyscrapers killing thousands in the name of God, but I don't for a second think that these muslims are good example of what Islam actually teaches.

    But ALSO scriptural is for example the ideas of just war and abolitionism. I'm not trying to downplay the fact that scripture falls short and just basically accepts i.e. slavery as inevitable. I'm saying that there are OTHER passage of scripture that teach an ethic directly contrary to chattel slavery -- the whole dignity of every human because we are made in the image of God.

    Most wars are not fought over religion. They are fought over land and resources. The muslim terrorism that we have seen in this century is actaully a very, very unusual thing.
     
  20. IndigoChild5559

    IndigoChild5559 Loving God and my neighbor as myself.

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    Thank you. You saved me from having to point this out. It's kind of an obvious thing.
     
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