This Rabbi Says Atheists Make 3 Mistakes – Do You Agree?

There’s a rabbi, a priest and a Mormon blogger at HuffPost. I know that sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it’s the truth. Often, the triumvirate of nonsense write blog posts that conflict with all rational thought, and today we’re going to look at one such post.

It’s all about mistakes atheists make. This one is written by the Rabbi, so I can’t even use my arsenal of names for fundie Christians. I’m going to do my best here though, to try and find some funny names for our shmaltzy shlemiel. It should be fantastic writing exercise.

Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie begins his schpiel by letting us know how much being wrong bores him:

The God Wars mostly bore me. In my younger days I enjoyed, at least for a while, the intellectual back-and-forth of the God debates. For me, these exchanges had a game-like quality, and it was fun to play the game.

Funny, because for me, “The God Wars” refers to something entirely different, much more firey, and more killy and it begins with Israel and ends with Palestine. It’s covered in children’s blood and the brutal, undeniable fact that your schmuck god ain’t there. That’s “The God Wars”. But perfectly fine for you to consider debating atheists, a war. That doesn’t belittle the real bullshit wars fought over god at all… I could seriously just plotz.

When Richard Dawkins claims that biology and evolution demonstrate that God does not exist, I must take notice, even if his arguments do not work for me.

Feh! As much chutzpah as you imagine you might have saying that, you look like a shmendrik. Science doesn’t care whether the arguments work for you. They are still facts. These aren’t Dawkins’ arguments, so much as they are his knowledge, based on centuries of accumulated scientific study and discovery. So, they don’t work for you? You can deny findings discovered in repeated controlled experiments and through observation all you want, but that doesn’t actually lessen their factuality. It just makes you a delusional goof ball.

Eric the friendly Rabbi finishes up his kvetshy intro to this triad of infidel errors, by letting us know that these mistakes make us atheists sound defensively desperate. This is, of course, a perfect exercise in projection. We say facts, and we are defensively desperate. You say wild guesses based on zero evidence, and it’s Rabbinic wisdom. Gotcha. Oy Vey!

So, what are these mistakes we make, according to Mr. Yoffie? Let’s take a look:

1. They dismiss, often with contempt, the religious experience of other people.

Yes, of course we do. If we did not dismiss all of it, we would have to draw a line somewhere, wouldn’t we? Which religious experiences should be respected and which should not? Who determines where that line is drawn? We have plenty of people in history who have clearly lost their shit in the throes of what they believe is some deep, religious experiences. Shall we look at a few examples?

Dora Tejada – Suffocated her 3 year old daughter because God told her to. She shoved a fucking flower down the tiny child’s throat, to exorcise the devil.

Boyce Singleton Jr. – Believed God ordered him to kill his girlfriend.

Thomas Hammer – Compelled by a higher power to attack a kid on a skateboard.

Victoria Soliz – Tried to drown her son in a puddle because Jesus told her.

Levi Daniel Staver – Archangel Michael told him to stab his grandmother.

Rachel Armstrong – Beat her grandmother because she thought she was possessed.

Tammi Estep – Killed her husband because Jesus and Mary told her he was Satan’s spawn.

Marshall Applewhite – Convinced 39 people to take their own lives so they could party on Hale-Bopp.

Robert Pickton – Quite possibly the most prolific serial killer in all of modern history, asserted that he was put on Earth to rid people of their evil ways. Some who worked on his case estimate he may have killed upwards of 150 women.

This list is, of course, just a tiny sampling of all the people in history who have committed heinous acts because they had a religious experience. So where do we draw the line? Do we draw the line at violence? Conflicts in the Middle East certainly don’t reflect that notion. Should we draw the line at mutilation? Nope, that would put a wrench in the works for your next bris, wouldn’t it? Should we draw the line at discrimination? It doesn’t appear that Israel agrees with that. Do we draw the line at murder? Someone ought to let the Israeli army know, then.

So, let me take a stab at it: we’re supposed to draw the line at precisely the spot you tell us to, based on absolute bupkes? Am I understanding correctly? Before you reach for your your Torah, Matzo Ball, let me remind you of the story of Abraham, so eagerly willing to sacrifice his own son because God said so.

So, yes, Rabbi ridiculous, I will dismiss, with absolute and utmost contempt, the religious experiences of others… because I have a moral code that doesn’t stand for violence, murder, discrimination or mutilation and your own holy book doesn’t even know where to draw the line.

2. They assert that since there are no valid religions but that religions do good things, the task of smart people is to create a religion without God — or, in other words, a religion without religion.

Maybe a handful of slower-thinking atheists assert such nonsense, but I am firmly with Hitch on his stance that religion poisons everything and every good thing done in the name of a religion can just as easily be done without religion. Lest we forget Hitchen’s challenge:

Christopher Hitchens Challenge

3. They see the world of belief in black and white, either/or terms.

I may be too goyish for you, but that ain’t kosher, buddy. You’re confusing seeing the world of belief as black and white, with having absolutely no use for the world of belief at all. There are plenty of knowable things out there that lead to a solid moral code. There is plenty of observable phenomena in our world and the cosmos that leads to awe anchored in science and curiosity and wonder. We simply have no use for belief. We have reality on our side.

Rabbi, you appear to cling to the idea that these are mistakes so as to further your delusion about a magical man in the sky who commands you to nosh gefilte fish. Your assertion that you are bored by these debates on the existence of God is a cop out, because you clearly can’t hack them. Next time you engage in a “God War”, my fluffy potato latke, I want you to keep these things I’ve said in mind. You sound rather desperate and perhaps even a little… defensive. Mazel Tov.

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  • Your response to #1 is spot on. He says atheists reject the religious experiences of people outright… Doesn’t he do the same for people who don’t ascribe to his own religion? How seriously does he take the religious experiences of a Muslim or Buddhist? Atheists just take the same stance toward all religions. He’s being disingenuous with his first point.

    Point #2: Uhh, I personally have never wished for a religion without a god. What does that even mean? Is he referring to like, universal unitarians or whatever, or “atheist churches” that want a community but no god-worship? A religion without a god isn’t really a religion is it? You don’t call a bunch of men who get together every Sunday to play golf as belonging to the religion of golf and people who don’t golf “a-golfists”. Point #2 is just silly.

    I lol’ed at point #3. Religious people often accuse atheists of moral subjectivity… Never heard that atheists think in black and white before 😛

    Anyways, spot on as always and props for working in so many Jewish phrases, ha.

    • Thanks Nancy! You know I’m going to work all those Yiddish words into my everyday life now… lol

  • Bad Girl Bex

    Oh how I hope that @CosmicallyInept happened to have happened upon this awesome spiel. He’s gone AWOL from Twitter lately, but I hope he comes back soon, because I love him; he’s a total mensch and he promised to let me be an honorary yente (as long as I promised to tell his mother I was Jewish!) He would love your kvetching shtick about this whole motherload of mishegas and I’m sure if we tell him we’ve got a brisket on the go, he’ll eventually sniff it out…and I hope so, because he’s adorable.

    Hilarious post btw GM!

    Much love

    Bex

  • His problem is like that of so many others — he assumes all atheists are the same, and follow some kind of “atheist creed”, and forgets that atheism simply means not believing in gods. #3 is certainly true for some athiests, but not for me. It was religion that made me see things that way, and atheism that helped me stop. #2 is something I’ve never heard of. #1 is not true for me either, because I’ve had those experiences myself, when I was younger. Now I recognize them for what they were: something besides god.

    • So many theists just can’t seem to wrap their minds around a person with no religious doctrine to follow. Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Margaret Tombs

    Number one for me isn’t so much contempt as exasperation. And as you say it’s a bit rich for a theist to accuse atheists of seeing the world in black and white.

  • Richard Corey

    You’re right on every point (as usual) but don’t be so hard on the guy. He has to sing the party line or he would be out of a job and have to look for more honest work.