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9/13/2018 2:51 pm  #21

Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

On this:

119 wrote:

Levity aside, there's a tremendous sense of urgency. Christianity is on life-support and people are turning to crazy stuff.

Jeremy Taylor wrote:

In my opinion, religion is about more than basic morality and belief. It's about ritual, devotion, communal worship, leading to a mystical path (though I don't pretend to have come close to living this path myself).

​I was clearing out some boxes of old books the other week and came across one by the Anglican vicar Alisdair McGrath (The Twilight of Atheism, 2003). Rereading bits, I noticed he develops the idea that certain types of Protestantism prepared the way for atheism and agnostic secularism in Western societies because they made God completely separate from the world and religion just about holding certain propositional beliefs and abiding by a divinely inspired moral code.

​There might be something in this idea (at least, it would be neat if Latin Christianity turned out to have laid the foundations for 'secular world' views because in those debates about whether Western civilisation is based on Judeo-Christian values that arise sometimes you could add... and our secularism is based on the Western Judeo-Christian inheritance too).


9/13/2018 5:21 pm  #22

Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

As a Platonist, in my opinion the point of religion is to transform us entirely, to unite us with God through the divine spark within us. As the Orthodox say, it is to be God-like, or, in Shakespeare's terms, to wipe away mortality. We must have very different spiritual anthropologies (and, obviously I don't take Judaism as proven to be the only true faith - which might overcome my scruples on this point). I have very little interest in a path that doesn't offer not just community, ritual, and worship, but a veritable mystical path, as in Orthodox Heyschasm and the Sufis and Shia Batin of Islam, as well as the Eastern religions. I don't think I could be a Noahide. Orthodox Judaism itself is far more interesting to me, given its much greater supports to a religious life and the Kabbalah, though I understand it is hard to convert.


9/14/2018 2:00 am  #23

Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

Jeremy Taylor wrote:

the point of religion is to transform us entirely

If this is your standard, then ALL religions fail. There is no such thing as complete transformation in this life, no matter which path you follow. You will continue to sin until you die: 100% guaranteed. You will wrestle with doubts, hatred, lust, and every other nasty mortal weakness. Any path that promises total transformation is lying. You’re holding Noahide observance up to a false standard that no religion can satisfy.

Jeremy Taylor wrote:

  to unite us with God through the divine spark within us

This is exactly the position I’m advocating. Humans channel G-dliness into this world by following G-d’s commandments. A Noahide can attain the same spiritual and moral level as a High Priest (Talmud, Bava Kamma 38a). Observant Noahides earn a place in the World to Come. It doesn’t get any more spiritual, mystical, unifying or transformational than that.

Jeremy Taylor wrote:

  [The point of religion] is to be God-like , or, in Shakespeare's terms, to wipe away mortality.

Regarding Imitatio Dei, testify! Regarding the wiping away of mortality, this won’t happen until you die and any system that promises anything to the contrary is lying.

Jeremy Taylor wrote:

I have very little interest in a path that doesn't offer not just community, ritual, and worship, but a veritable mystical path, as in Orthodox Heyschasm and the Sufis and Shia Batin of Islam, as well as the Eastern religions.  

Note well: your subjective interests bespeak nothing of objective truth. This is a statement about you. I agree with this statement. You aren’t interested. Interesting is not the criterion. Truth is the criterion. The games of Mikhail Tal are more interesting to me than anything in philosophy. I reluctantly concede they’re not as important as questions of Theism and free will. This is the argument you need:

1) Platonism entails that accessing the Divine requires community, ritual, worship, and a veritable mystical path.
2) Platonism is true.
3) Noahide observance lacks community, ritual, worship, and a veritable mystical path.
Therefore Noahide observance is an ineffective means of accessing the Divine.

One problem with this argument is that Torah Judaism knocks the ball out of the park regarding #1 and it entails Noahide observance for 99% of mankind. Another problem is that the alternative systems listed have contradictory foundations: G-d is One, G-d is three persons, G-d’s existence is not conducive to enlightenment. How can these be held up as exemplary paths to the Divine by virtue of their methodologies when they disagree on the destination? (I'd also argue that #3 is false depending on how we define worship and mystical and community. I would also challenge #1.)

Last edited by 119 (9/14/2018 3:14 am)


9/14/2018 3:18 am  #24

Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

I don't think you understand what I meant by transformation. I meant it in the sense of deification in Orthodoxy or enlightenment in Buddhism. I'm not saying that I hold out much hope of achieving such a transformation myself in this lifetime, but I think it is what is ultimately expected of all of us, and many religious and mystical figures do hold out it can occur in this life. Indeed, I wonder in what way we can ever be united with God, if we are not always potentially so united. Such a position seems to threaten the divine immanence, and create an unbridgeable gulf between creator and creation, not to mention to put an unnecessarily temporal condition on an eternal relationship. As St. Maximus the Confessor put:

"He conceals Himself mysteriously in the interior causes of created beings... present in each totally and in all all diversity is concealed that which is one and eternally identical".

As far as I know, though it is expressed in different terms, this is much the same viewpoint as you will find expressed in the Kabbalah.

The word mortality here, as in Lear, simply means the untransformed being and outlook.

Your objection to my position rather depends on the Noahide/Jewish faith being true, in an exclusive and total sense, but I don't see that you have made a sustained case for this. In fact, some of what you have said seems questionable, such as the implication (or what I took it to be, since you attacked Islam on this point*) of the superior historical claims of the revelatory nature of the Old Testament.

Whether different traditions are contradictory depends on how you take them, whether as absolute and total truths or relative, partial expressions (upaya is the Indian term) of a total inexpressible truth. Though I'm not sure that this strictly matters here. I simply listed mystical sub-groups of various religious traditions. That the various traditions might contradict each other doesn't take away from the general point I was making, given we can clearly recognise similarities amongst these mystical sects (initiation, discipline and praxis aimed at the kind of transformation mentioned above, etc.).

* That source was somewhat questionable, given traditionally Uthman was supposed to have aimed to eliminate slight differences in pronunciation in different verses by those who knew the Quran off by heart. That source implies it was very different versions he was worried about. As far as I know, no searching has turned up verses significantly different to the standard version.


9/14/2018 10:06 am  #25

Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

I think it a very shallow interpretation of Noahidism to maintain that it does not have a place for community and the mystical path. Although the depths of Kaballah wouldn't be revealed to Noahides they would still be able to connect with God and transform themselves from being mere flesh and blood to being a receptacle of the Holy presence - which is ultimately the duty of every individual, Jew or gentile.
I agree with Jeremy with regards to the mystical path, although I would interject that as important as transcendence is, we are also placed in this world not as prisoners, but as agents of change. Our job is not merely to transcend this world, it is to transform it from mundane matter to a chariot of God's Glory. As such, service of God that is limited to good works and is short on contemplation shouldn't be sneezed at either. It is deficient, yes, but it is still precious. It raises up the entire universe and brings it closer to God's intent.

Last edited by Etzelnik (9/14/2018 10:08 am)

Noli turbare circulos meos.

9/14/2018 10:41 am  #26

Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

John, I would be happy to explain whatever it is that you would like to know about Judaism, which is more or less what I've been studying all day every day since the age of 10 or so, as long as you ask specific questions and not the more general "Why is Judaism true?" sort of questions. I have a difficult time tackling those owing to the necessary complexity of the answer.

Noli turbare circulos meos.

9/14/2018 1:26 pm  #27

Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

Arguably the most distinct and original voice in the Noahide community belongs to the Redneck Rastafarian. He has a quasi-prophetic* status in some circles: 

Admittedly, "The Redneck Rastafarian" may seem at first glance to be an unusual title for a Noachide web site. However, in addition to the standard Noachide message this web site wishes to stress three principals: Theonomic positvism, Theocratic Judaism/"Palaeozionism," and "Redneck Rastafarianism." Actually, the first two should be implicit in any Noachide philosophy. The latter, however, is admittedly an idiosyncratic position of this web site maintainer. It arises, however, out of not only careful thought but also personal experience. I beg the reader’s indulgence while I now attempt to define and explain the philosophy which provides the title of this web site.

It must first of all be understood that in choosing this designation I do not mean to endorse the actual "rastafarian" religion, which worships a deceased emperor of Ethiopia. No, this site endorses only the most orthodox Torah Noachism. Why then that particular designation? Because the rastafarian religion of Jamaican Blacks developed in response to a deep and legitimate need of that ethnic group. It is my thesis that the poor Anglo-Saxon Fundamentalist Protestants of the rural American heartland have that same need, and that Nochut can legitimately fill this need (in addition to being the objective responsibility of all non-Jewish humanity). In fact, in the absence of having Nochut presented to them, some members of this community are turning to other things to fill the void—things that are at best totally vain and at worst, downright evil and dangerous. ... (this essay was written 15 years before the Alt-Right was a thing)


AKA the Zionist Conspirator. He grew up as a fundamentalist Protestant, converted to Catholicism, sought a "truer" faith in the Greek Orthodox church, and then became a Noahide. This is a logical progression. My path was more like The Cannonball Run.

*There are no contemporary Prophets in the Biblical sense. Prophecy is not what I'd thought

Last edited by 119 (9/14/2018 2:14 pm)


9/15/2018 7:56 pm  #28

Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

The sheer amount of chutzpah this man must have to say that the English lack a cultural identity (and Londoners and so on various regional identities). Has he ever been to England?

(I have to say, guys, that I really don't feel much anxiety about supposed lack of cultural identity. There is nothing quite like traveling and being confronted with the thousands of little differences between you and others (and then returning, briefly, and feeling out of joint with your “own people”) to make you realize how different you are. Of course the New World lacks many things that the Old World has. Some things require time to grow.)

     Thread Starter

9/15/2018 11:07 pm  #29

Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

That essay is almost chutzpah-free compared to others:  

With the recent anti-sodomy ruling, a ruling on "gay marriage" pending, and even more blatantly propagandistic shows for our "entertainment" next television season, the homosexual juggernaut seems unstoppable.  Indeed, the only thing more depressing is the stuttering, unsure responses of the homosexual movement's opponents.  Over and over again spokesmen invoke populism (the right of the people to decide what they want to consider moral and immoral), tradition, family, and the consequences to society . . . everything but the one and only response to the issue:  homosexual activity is forbidden (and decreed a capital offense by) HaShem.

But what else was to be expected?  The vast majority of spokesmen for "family values" cannot tell the world about HaShem because they have never heard of Him.  And they cannot invoke their own "gxd" because American law does not now, and never has recognized, any deity as its basis except perhaps for Thomas Jefferson's "nature's gxd."  And "nature's gxd" is not HaShem.

American law cannot enforce the Will of HaShem because it does not recognize Him and never has.  One may piously invoke the Pilgrim Fathers from sunup to sundown but the fact is that the people who actually created our government some one hundred sixty years later were a different breed than their ancestors.  Relativistic "conservatism," with its false doctrine of a different truth for all peoples, cannot condemn these men for their irreverence because it demands that they be treated almost as chr*stian apostles.  No matter how much these "conservative" people attack the liberals' "misuse of" separation of church and state, they cannot attack the principal itself, since it was bequeathed to us by our sainted founders.  Yet it is the principal itself, with its enlightenment and chr*stian ancestry, that makes it impossible for the United States of America to recognize the Will of HaShem as the standard of law and morality. ...

Finally, if any feel a hostile reaction to the facts I have presented about America's own inherent flaws, allow me to point out a curious coincidence.  Technically, the United States of America became independent on July 1, "1776" (corresponding to 14 Tammuz, 5536) when nine colonies voted for Richard Henry Lee's resolution, two voted against, one was divided, and one abstained.  The next day another vote was taken in the interest of unanimity, with twelve yeas and one abstention.  On July 4, "1776", the Continental Congress adopted as its official justification of what it had done the Declaration of Independence, the work of deist Thomas Jefferson.  That document invokes the false deist "gxd" ("nature's gxd").  On the Hebrew calendar, this was on 17 Tammuz.

On the Jewish calendar 17 Tammuz is a fast day commemorating a series of tragedies.  The first of these was Moses' breaking of the original Tablets of the Covenant when he came down from Mt. Sinai and found the people dancing around the golden calf!


Last edited by 119 (9/15/2018 11:12 pm)


9/16/2018 12:13 am  #30

Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

I'm curious: What do you gentlemen think the relationship between beauty and truth is? I'm characteristically skeptical about identifying the two (cf. Nietzsche: “Poets lie too much.”), but I think a religion without beauty would be a sad and impoverished thing.

     Thread Starter

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