I believe that most religion is stupid! Truly stupid.
I believe when faced with truly stupid religion that agnosticism– which has the humility to at least admit that they cannot know God– defying exaggerated and nonsensical views of “God”– is a virtue.
I also believe when faced with truly stupid religion, that atheism– which flatly denies a stupid way of thinking about God– is really more religious, in the true sense, than religion.
Indeed, from the traditional Jewish perspective, I think both are SACRED viewpoints, because they hinge on the very ancient notion of idolatry. A god-of-human-making– fabricated of clay, or wood, but, which first must impress itself upon the human mind, before the hands are sent to the molding the image, is flatly denied by the prophets. Jeremiah declares it “no god”.
Here is truly where the rational tendency of today’s world, and the ancient world of the Hebrew intersect, and where Universal Judaism is born.
A stupid religion is not Hebrew. It is not rational. It is not anything worthy of any kind of reverence or worship.
Now, here we must stop and get honest. We have images in our mind of God on Mount Sinai. Is that not an idol? We have beliefs in the so-called revelation of the so-called Torah to Moses? We have images of burning bushes, cherubim flanking the Ark of the Covenant, and all sorts of ritualistic paraphernalia surrounding the Temple cult, which our scripture calls “holy”.
And we all have this great reverence, often a simplified sentimentality, for scripture and so-called “tradition”, such that even if there is no true credible relationship with anything we might call “deity”, people become flat-out hypocrites by getting together with families, year after year, generation after generation, to enjoy their tribal rituals and sacred meals.
It is very interesting that, as Rabbi Bemporad (one my mentors) noted, the word “Stupid” comes from the Latin, from the same root word as “stopped”. (See our book “Stupid Ways, Smart Ways to Think about God”) It is not that there is nothing sacred at all about an idol. After all, the impression of an image upon an object projects a certain spiritual power of the human individual upon the substance, and to deny that this power has any real-ness would be ludicrous if not a prejudice of the so-called “modern”. It is just that a stupid religion has STOPPED GROWING. It has stopped maturing, stopped thinking. It acts on reflex. It reflects not upon its own teachings and its own pronouncements, but, dispenses them more like an ATM (Automatic Teller Machine, in a bank).
Stupid religion ceases to evolve. It becomes a little precious “bubble” which, should you attempt to question it, brings all sorts of adamant responses from people, including the nonsensical notion that one must have FAITH, meaning— even though something is flatly absurd, one should believe it anyway. Belief in absurdity becomes the ultimate declaration of piousness. That’s not just stupid. That’s dumb and dumber!
Once again, and again, for it is something I keep repeating constantly—- the problem is this notion of “revelation” that people maintain, that somehow the heavens opened up, and a book or a law “came down”, which is then worshipped as absolutely sacred—- and subject to no changes, or mutations, or evolutionary advancements. That something like this is false is obvious, or, there would be no need to interpret!
No, No. No. Revelations seen this way ARE stupid! They have become little idols of human thought. If we wonder why people tear down things as sacred (and I believe they ARE sacred) as the Eser dibrot, the so-called Ten Commandments, it is not because they are worthless, but because they have become idols which enslave people, rather than teachings which free them. Tearing them down is a declaration of Freedom! Freedom is
“God”: Unlimited, Unrestricted, Unboundaried except by its Own Nature!
Knowledge is certainly revealed to us. There is no doubt that we are capable of sudden insights and knowledge that prior did not exist to us. There are new dawns of thoughts and insights about everything, whether science or spirituality. To deny that there can be revelation really is silly.
But the insistence that a “canon” IS revelation, or that the insistence that a particular religious or governmental authority IS the continued revelation, is something else entirely. Indeed, that is how idolatry works. When it is taken to an excess, where it has become STUPID, where it has stopped growing and maturing— it is ALWAYS there to bolster some kind of authority figure that requires some seemingly super-natural power in order to justify its insanities. The revelation is fixed so the authority is fixed.
Sadly, today, even in the Reform community which had, at one time, prided itself on “rational” thinking, one sees all sorts of return to religious-idolatry of accoutrements, which are called “Jewish”, because basically the Reform ideology, which was formed in a radical “revelation” of sorts, which permitted the European Enlightenment and modernism to integrate with Jewish teachings into a single viewpoint— has become bankrupt in its identity and no longer able to see itself as “Jewish”. In short, they went so far away from their origins, that they experience their own emptiness, and now must appropriate, higgedly-piggedly (not kosher) the accoutrements of other denominations, which they themselves had foresworn.
Universal Judaism is radical and defiant. I do not know how strong you are, because if you are not, this is not for you.
There is no God that anyone can know. Therefore, there is nothing BUT revelation. There is only the Living Revelation of “How the World operates”, “How Reality works”, “How Life is experienced”, “How Existence is Designed”.
There is ONLY a spiritual peoplehood dedicated to learning, teaching, “How Life Works” FOR GOOD, or God.
There is only experience of the so-called “Living God” of Jeremiah, which is Life Itself!
The rest is all made up.
There is nothing BUT revelation. There is nothing but continuous Creation giving birth to new creations within Creation, which may come to understand (receive a revelation), about this Creation. Going even, even further into a realm that others might call
Mystical (though it is quite commonsense)—- the very act of receiving a revelation and understanding “it”, IS ITSELF part of the world and existence and reality, we find ourselves in.
There is no God APART. There is no revelation APART. There is no human understanding APART. There IS NO APART!!!!!!! Or, there is no ONE. There is no ECHAD.
We are all of God become more God, and yet, we ourselves, while God, are not merely God. This is how “pantheism” and “theism”, merge, without idolatry, and how a rational God of Natural Science and a God of Revelation, merge!
What keeps this essentially Spinozist idea from lapsing into idolatry?
Only one thing, said two different ways:
Whether we DENY our ability to know the totality, or assert a TOTALITY which is beyond us, is the same humility, or, I think FACT!!!!!
FACT!!! Non-idolatry is a FACT. Not a religious precept! Or, rather, it is a TRUE religious precept because it IS FACT! Actually FIAT!!
How can one understand a universe, or these days a multi-verse, which continuously brings newness into existence? The so called “transcendent God” really means LIVING, continuously productive, NON-STOP.
Non-stop, i.e. NOT STUPID
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