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The Taboos of Criticizing Religion

As a critical thinker, I criticize a lot of ridiculous ideas. 9/11 Truthers, grand conspiracy theorists, ghosts, aliens, psychic powers, etc. are all things which I am critical of even though I actually believe in some of them to some degree. But when it comes to religion everyone gets offended.

Let’s start with Christianity. I probably spend the most time criticizing Christian ideas and ridiculous beliefs. As soon as I start criticizing Christianity, Christians complain that I spend so much time “attacking” them personally. I have to inform them that these criticisms are not personal attacks but rather criticisms of ridiculous ideas which can and often do become dangerous. In fact, I think Christianity is the most dangerous set of ideas humans have ever conceived.

This is when Christians whine about being persecuted (despite the fact that 80% of the nation identifies themselves as Christian) and bitch that I never criticize other religions. The truth is that I do criticize other religions and when I do I get other forms of whining.

Enter the Muslims. I criticize the religion of Islam often enough and when I do, I get more liberal Muslims whining in much the same way more liberal Christians whine when I point out the absurdities in their holy book. I also get Christians and even atheists warning me of the risks of criticizing Islam. Yet to date I have received more death threats from Christians than Muslims.

But the religion that is the most taboo to criticize is the very religion I left so many years ago. Judaism cannot be criticized and Israel can do no wrong apparently. Whenever I do attempt to criticize either I receive massive amounts of hate mail labeling me “anti-Semitic” despite the fact that I was born into the Jewish culture and indoctrinated into the ridiculous ideas of the Jewish religion at near birth.

My issues with Judaism as a religion are criticisms of the ridiculous beliefs that Jews are supposed to hold. The fact is that most Jews in America find much of those beliefs as ridiculous as I do. Many just believe in some vague higher power concept (rather than he character described in the Torah) and follow traditions which have become just a meaningless part of their culture. It is when I point out the meaninglessness of those traditions that many Jews get annoyed. Also, when I point out that much of the culture that was taught through the Torah is actually not true many Jews get offended.

For example, the Jews were NEVER slaves in Egypt. The book of Exodus is a total and complete lie. It is fiction and when Jews use that fiction to incite guilt I have to call them out on it. As for Israel, that is a little more complicated because the Nazis were real. Christianity did start the belief that Jews were no longer God’s chosen people because Jews killed their imaginary savor, Jesus. As a result, most countries in Europe did not like the Jews for that reason and do continue to discriminate against them even today.

Ideally, the Allies should have forced Germany to reintegrate the Jewish population the way the North forced the South to reintegrate former black slaves after the civil war. The US even offered a small part of Alaska to the Jews. But ultimately, the Jews wouldn’t settle for anything less than the worthless piece of desert that their imaginary God promised them. Unfortunately, that same imaginary God promised that same worthless piece of desert land to the Palestinians.

When I point out the ridiculousness of this situation and inform people that God (which doesn’t exist) did not promise that land to either group and that both groups should relocate, I become the anti-Semitic. For the record, there is actually real anti-Semitism out there. There are real people who hate Jews because they believe that the Jews killed Jesus or for some other reason. But when some Jews and former Jews throw that term around at anyone (including a former Jew) every time the Jewish religion, culture, and/or the state of Israel is criticized, they dilute the term and attempt to stifle legitimate criticisms.

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  • Brian

    “Unfortunately, that same imaginary God promised that same worthless piece of desert land to the Palestinians.”

    Is that the best description of Islamic beliefs? I was under the impression that for them land was under a heirarchy approximating this:

    1) Core cities where infidels may not even visit: Mecca and Medina,
    2) Land conquered by Islam where any new, non-Islamic government is a religious abomination: e.g. the Islamic world, Iberia, Israel, the Caucuses, Kashmir, Sinkiang, parts of the Balkans,
    3) Land promised to Muslims: the entire rest of the world. On this land non-Islamic governments are not religiously offensive so long as their eventual overthrow is endorsed.

    In other words, “promised land” isn’t the best best description of the Muslim relationship to “the holy land”. If I am wrong about any of this, I’d be happy to learn!

  • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

    I really don’t see a difference here. I think you are just trying to create an issue of contention where non-exists.

  • Brian

    Not really. I’m arguing that Islam and (the Zionist half of Orthodox) Judaism have very *similar* approaches (outside of Islam banning infidels from its holy cities, which is beside the point I am making).

    Both see an imperative for there to be a religious state of their persuasion in that small subsection of the Levant, and most of all to not give up the land it has. It can be “moderate” and fudge how adamantly it pursues the rest of its promised land. However, upon losing land it’s subsequently forced into a real revanchism.

    The difference is that Islam’s promised land has a different physical extent than Judaism’s. I think that “Unfortunately, that same imaginary God promised that same worthless piece of desert land to the Palestinians,” is technically true in the same sense that “Unfortunately, that same imaginary God promised that same worthless piece of desert land between Ramat Gan and Bnei Brak to the Jews,” is true. (Those are cities right next to each other). However that misses two important points:

    1) The Jews claim much more land than that (the few acres I cited) as fervently and (in)validly as they claim that place.

    2) Problems would arise regardless of anyone else’s reasons for wanting that land if they lived there, no matter specious or sound, since the cited Jewish claim to it is invalid and not very flexible.

    So:

    1) The Islamic claim to that subsection of the Levant is just part of its claim to the whole Levant, the whole Middle East, the Ummah, the whole world, just as Israel’s claim to the acres I cited is part of its claim to the land of Israel.

    2) Even one of these (very similar) claims is sufficient to cause conflict. To say “There is conflict because god promised the land to two groups,” is technically true mostly because it would also be true to say “There is conflict because god promised the land to one group.” So saying “two” is misleading, it’s merely a small factor exacerbating the conflict that there is a multiplicity of these claims.

  • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

    I think you are really nitpicking here. I really don’t see a difference at least not one worth arguing over. It reminds me of when in a previous blog I talked about how original sin started because Adam ate an apple and someone wanted to start a long protracted argument proving that it wasn’t an apple.

  • Brian

    I frequently find liberals disagree when I assert:

    a) Islam and Judaism have extremely similar problems qualitatively, while Islam has larger ones quantitatively.
    b) Either religion would be sufficient to ruin Palestine, regardless of physical issues of culture, resources etc.
    c) Without either religion, ethnic and other issues would also be sufficient to ruin it, so religion is not exactly responsible for the current situation.
    d) Israel is often unjustly criticized.
    e) Religion is not a dominant factor in Israeli policies.

    It’s a fascinating topic.

  • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

    1. I won’t agree or disagree with that statement. It seems to vague and I lack the necessary knowledge to have an opinion.
    2. This may be true, but it is the combination of the two which is at the heart of the current hostilities so speculation about a different situation is just speculation.
    3. I disagree with that. But I think it might be hard to boil down the cultural aspects from the religious aspects in the first place. Many atheists who came from the Jewish tradition still hold onto some of those traditions. But even still the line is a thin one. I do think that if we could nullify the religious underpinnings of the situation, we could establish a one state solution which would be livable for both groups.
    4. By who? I rarely see any one criticize Israel without being labeled anti-Semitic. At least that is the case in America.
    5. Religion is a dominant factor in the background. Most of the Jewish history of captivity is a religious myth and it was in large part because of this myth and the myth of the divine deed which looms over this whole situation. So while Israeli leaders don’t consult religious leaders and Holy Books when dealing with everyday decision making (like many American leaders do), it is the backdrop for everything that is going on here.

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