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The Religious man

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Question: Publication date: 15-11-2005
Title:   The Religious man
Content:   Dear members of Daat Emet,

I am an atheist who comes from a very traditional family. For many years I have had sharp debates with my family, who claim that I do not show respect for the family. Because I have chosen a different way, because I allow myself the privilege of throwing in their face that there is no god, and because I complain about religious coercion in the State of Israel I have become one who destroys the Jews.
Do you think it is disrespectful to tell a religious person that there is no god? Is there any way to be different from them and still let them have the sense of respect they demand? Do you think it is fair to suppose that religious people are more sensitive than I am and that therefore I must walk on eggshells around them while they have no obligation towards me -- after all, nothing in my world is sacred, the whole concept of sacred says nothing to me. I am a thinking person who believes in my principles, but I can get hurt, too.
I am asking you as people who have gone from the religious world to the secular -- what's your opinion?


Answer: Publication date: 15-11-2005
Title:   The Religious man
Content:   Dear Galya,

"Man, by his nature, defends by pure reason alone what he understands through pure reason, while what he understands through the activities of the soul he defends through them" (Benedict Spinoza). The religious world is a world of "spiritual activity," abstract and intangible, filled to overflowing with metaphors and symbols. By their nature, symbols address emotions and one who attacks a symbol attacks what is symbolized. What I mean to say is that the religious person sees physical reality as a metaphor for G-d's will, earth-bound Jerusalem is a metaphor for the heavenly Jerusalem, the victory of kings is an expression of G-d's will that the loser be deposed -- Nebuchadnezzar exiled the Jews as a envoy of G-d or, as the Sages put it, "ground wheat which had already been ground" (Sanhedrin 96b).
For the religious person G-d, abstract and incomprehensible, is the true reality which is expressed in symbols, while physical reality is nothing more than a blindfold over the true reality.
Without a doubt, the religious man reacts emotionally in order to protect his emotional world, while the "secular" person, who views his world with pure reason and logic, defends his stances with reason and not with emotion.
As to your question: To tell a religious person "there is no god" is no degradation nor mark against his honor, yet it is clear he will be offended. It is a reality that there can be an offended party without there being an offending party.
We are involved in a cultural war over the character of the State of Israel, be it liberal or fundamentalist. Daat Emet rules that the rule of reason is more important than the affront to the religious person who chooses to feel insulted and does not wish to grow up and accept responsibility for the lifestyle which he himself has chosen.


Daat Emet

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