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Ask a Jew (and the moderator) anything

airmax1227
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9/18/2016 2:49:27 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
As one of the more interesting and vibrant forums on this website, the religion forum has a lot to offer anyone willing to take part in it. There is perhaps though an understandable aversion some have to participate in the forum for reasons ranging from its general abstract nature, or the less than civil way in which some of its participants participate. While there's nothing anyone can do about the former, I do believe it's necessary to reign in some of the latter.

To that end, a couple of months ago I contacted some members and asked them to participate in what is essentially a forum-specific moderation initiative. Unfortunately, the members I contacted (from both sides of the religion forum ideological divide) ultimately decided against assisting me with this project. I believe this is entirely understandable, and I certainly don't hold that against them in any way, but it does mean I have to pursue other methods in which to, I believe, make this forum a bit more accommodating to everyone.

So with that said, I am exploring options (to take care of conduct issues and some other things), and while I am considering what options would be best to pursue, I figured it wouldn't hurt to participate in the forum a bit. While I don't have any particular topics that I care to create or engage in, I thought doing an AMA about moderation and/or religion might be an easy way for me to engage the forum's membership.

So feel free to ask me anything you like.

Before that though, I think it might be worthwhile to give those unaware some background about me.

I have been this websites head moderator for around 4 years, and I happen to be a Jew. I am not religious, and I call myself an apatheist. How this differentiates me from an atheist is simply that I don't even care enough to define myself and I'm mostly apathetic to religion (though I suppose I do have strong opinions on it, if it's brought up to me), though there's no actual practical difference. I do however find it interesting to engage in religious conversation on occasion, so if one wants to do so, I'm happy to accommodate.

I am a Jew however, and while I'm not religious as I said, I am very proud to be culturally Jewish. This is kind of a complicated thing and I'm sure some might find that idea to be pretty confusing, so feel free to ask me anything you like about that.

I grew up in an orthodox Jewish community, and have over 15 years of formal religious education. I would consider myself an expert in Old Testament linguistics and the Talmud. While some might think that is kind of a waste on someone who isn't religious, I actually find religious texts (especially the ones I mentioned) to be fascinating from a sociological perspective. One does not have to assign divinity to these things to find value in them, and to the contrary, I believe that in the world today, we can gain more interesting perspectives from viewing them outside of religion. Similarly, I believe they can more easily be discussed outside of a religious context, where one is more inclined to critique and explore outside of deeply held religious convictions.

So that's just a brief summary of who I am as it relates to this forum. If you have any questions about that, or anything else, feel free to ask anything you like.

Thanks
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Emmarie
Posts: 1,907
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9/18/2016 3:04:42 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/18/2016 2:49:27 AM, airmax1227 wrote:
As one of the more interesting and vibrant forums on this website, the religion forum has a lot to offer anyone willing to take part in it. There is perhaps though an understandable aversion some have to participate in the forum for reasons ranging from its general abstract nature, or the less than civil way in which some of its participants participate. While there's nothing anyone can do about the former, I do believe it's necessary to reign in some of the latter.

To that end, a couple of months ago I contacted some members and asked them to participate in what is essentially a forum-specific moderation initiative. Unfortunately, the members I contacted (from both sides of the religion forum ideological divide) ultimately decided against assisting me with this project. I believe this is entirely understandable, and I certainly don't hold that against them in any way, but it does mean I have to pursue other methods in which to, I believe, make this forum a bit more accommodating to everyone.

So with that said, I am exploring options (to take care of conduct issues and some other things), and while I am considering what options would be best to pursue, I figured it wouldn't hurt to participate in the forum a bit. While I don't have any particular topics that I care to create or engage in, I thought doing an AMA about moderation and/or religion might be an easy way for me to engage the forum's membership.

So feel free to ask me anything you like.

Before that though, I think it might be worthwhile to give those unaware some background about me.

I have been this websites head moderator for around 4 years, and I happen to be a Jew. I am not religious, and I call myself an apatheist. How this differentiates me from an atheist is simply that I don't even care enough to define myself and I'm mostly apathetic to religion (though I suppose I do have strong opinions on it, if it's brought up to me), though there's no actual practical difference. I do however find it interesting to engage in religious conversation on occasion, so if one wants to do so, I'm happy to accommodate.

I am a Jew however, and while I'm not religious as I said, I am very proud to be culturally Jewish. This is kind of a complicated thing and I'm sure some might find that idea to be pretty confusing, so feel free to ask me anything you like about that.

I grew up in an orthodox Jewish community, and have over 15 years of formal religious education. I would consider myself an expert in Old Testament linguistics and the Talmud. While some might think that is kind of a waste on someone who isn't religious, I actually find religious texts (especially the ones I mentioned) to be fascinating from a sociological perspective. One does not have to assign divinity to these things to find value in them, and to the contrary, I believe that in the world today, we can gain more interesting perspectives from viewing them outside of religion. Similarly, I believe they can more easily be discussed outside of a religious context, where one is more inclined to critique and explore outside of deeply held religious convictions.

So that's just a brief summary of who I am as it relates to this forum. If you have any questions about that, or anything else, feel free to ask anything you like.

Thanks

Glad you decided to join in the religion discussion.
What do Jewish people believe concerning an afterlife, and what criteria, if you believe in one, gets someone to a favorable condition of their soul after the body dies?
PetersSmith
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9/18/2016 3:07:04 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/18/2016 2:49:27 AM, airmax1227 wrote:

Honest opinion.
Empress of DDO (also Poll and Forum "Maintenance" Moderator)

"The two most important days in your life is the day you were born, and the day you find out why."
~Mark Twain

"Wow"
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"Don't believe everything you read on the internet just because there's a picture with a quote next to it."
~Abraham Lincoln

Guide to the Polls Section: http://www.debate.org...
Snazzy
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9/18/2016 3:09:19 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
Do you expect to see your Messiah in your lifetime?
Disclaimer: This post in no way reflects the views of NBC or any of its affiliates.
airmax1227
Posts: 13,223
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9/18/2016 3:25:49 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/18/2016 3:04:42 AM, Emmarie wrote:

Glad you decided to join in the religion discussion.

What do Jewish people believe concerning an afterlife

It depends which Jew you ask...

But the general belief in traditional Judaism is that a world after death exists. Leading a good life makes this after-life better, and leading a bad life requires an accounting for that, and essentially a sterilization of ones soul.

I should mention that Judaism, in contrast to other religions (perhaps most) doesn't focus too much on this since it's focused mostly on this life, and what one can and should accomplish in this life. The idea of Heaven and Hell as reward and punishment aren't a major focus in Judaism, as say it is in something like Christianity. I actually think this is a fascinating concept on its own. There is a lot that can be talked about regarding various religions dogma about the afterlife, how focused it is on that, and how that frames someone's life. By extension, there's potentially an even more fascinating discussion to be had about the origins of martyrdom in Judaism and how that spawned beliefs in Christianity and Islam, for example.

and what criteria, if you believe in one

Let me stop you there. I'm not going to answer most, if not all, of these questions based on what I believe. Since I'm not religious, it wouldn't make any sense for me to answer faith or religious based questions on what I personally believe. But I'm happy to provide answers based on what many Jews and traditional Judaism has to say about it.

gets someone to a favorable condition of their soul after the body dies?

I think this is an excellent way to frame the question.

Traditional Judaism is very much focused on this life, and dedicating this life to the service of god. When framed like that, it makes the traditional Jewish concept of Heaven a lot more easy to digest in contrast to other religions version, or like the Christian/Dante's Inferno version of hell.

So with that in mind, service to god, dedication to god and holiness, is what conditions ones soul to be prepared for "heaven" - or in other words, a return to their original condition as a direct part of god. So someone who directs their life in the service of god and holiness, will easily become joined with god proper and "reabsorb" back into him. Whereas someone who does a lot of evil will have to spend some time having their soul sterilized, separated from god until it can return (there are several views on what exactly this is). I believe this metaphor is what gives us the allusion of fire and such in the concept of hell as Christians and others view it. But to be clear, many (if not most) Jews don't believe in eternal damnation like that.

So a quick answer is that doing good things and avoiding evil things, as defined by traditional Judaisms as good being that which brings one closer to god, and evil as that which makes someone further from god, is what prepares someones soul for the afterlife.
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airmax1227
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9/18/2016 3:28:01 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/18/2016 3:07:04 AM, PetersSmith wrote:
At 9/18/2016 2:49:27 AM, airmax1227 wrote:

Honest opinion.

I thought that the new Independence Day movie was actually pretty good... I mean it's not a great work of writing, or plot, or film, but as far as summer action sci-fi movies go I thought it was good and it kept me entertained. I'm actually pretty excited for the 3rd movie.
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PetersSmith
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9/18/2016 3:29:17 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/18/2016 3:28:01 AM, airmax1227 wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:07:04 AM, PetersSmith wrote:
At 9/18/2016 2:49:27 AM, airmax1227 wrote:

Honest opinion.

I thought that the new Independence Day movie was actually pretty good... I mean it's not a great work of writing, or plot, or film, but as far as summer action sci-fi movies go I thought it was good and it kept me entertained. I'm actually pretty excited for the 3rd movie.

I meant of me. Also, you're objectively wrong about that opinion.
Empress of DDO (also Poll and Forum "Maintenance" Moderator)

"The two most important days in your life is the day you were born, and the day you find out why."
~Mark Twain

"Wow"
-Doge

"Don't believe everything you read on the internet just because there's a picture with a quote next to it."
~Abraham Lincoln

Guide to the Polls Section: http://www.debate.org...
uncung
Posts: 3,431
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9/18/2016 3:30:34 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/18/2016 3:09:19 AM, Snazzy wrote:
Do you expect to see your Messiah in your lifetime?

what about you? people still await their messiah since 2000 years ago.
Snazzy
Posts: 117
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9/18/2016 3:32:27 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/18/2016 3:30:34 AM, uncung wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:09:19 AM, Snazzy wrote:
Do you expect to see your Messiah in your lifetime?

what about you? people still await their messiah since 2000 years ago.

I believe that the Messiah is Jesus Christ. I do believe that I will see him in my lifetime seeing how many of the end times prophecies have been fulfilled so far.
Disclaimer: This post in no way reflects the views of NBC or any of its affiliates.
airmax1227
Posts: 13,223
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9/18/2016 3:33:01 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/18/2016 3:09:19 AM, Snazzy wrote:
Do you expect to see your Messiah in your lifetime?

I'm not religious, and my opinions on general religious assertions of this type vary from skeptical to even more skeptical.

So do I believe the messiah will come in my lifetime? I think the better question is do I even believe in the concept. I think it's a very interesting concept, especially as it relates to general human nature and what it can tell us about the human condition.

But no, I do not believe that a messianic Jewish figure as described in Jewish texts will be arriving and bringing in a new era of the world in my lifetime.
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uncung
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9/18/2016 3:34:44 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/18/2016 3:32:27 AM, Snazzy wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:30:34 AM, uncung wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:09:19 AM, Snazzy wrote:
Do you expect to see your Messiah in your lifetime?

what about you? people still await their messiah since 2000 years ago.

I believe that the Messiah is Jesus Christ. I do believe that I will see him in my lifetime seeing how many of the end times prophecies have been fulfilled so far.

I hope also i can see your Jesus in my life time. and of course my grand children will hope so as well.
airmax1227
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9/18/2016 3:36:17 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/18/2016 3:29:17 AM, PetersSmith wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:28:01 AM, airmax1227 wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:07:04 AM, PetersSmith wrote:
At 9/18/2016 2:49:27 AM, airmax1227 wrote:

Honest opinion.

I thought that the new Independence Day movie was actually pretty good... I mean it's not a great work of writing, or plot, or film, but as far as summer action sci-fi movies go I thought it was good and it kept me entertained. I'm actually pretty excited for the 3rd movie.

I meant of me. Also, you're objectively wrong about that opinion.

It's subjective... I thought it was a fun movie. Bad movies might just be a guilty pleasure of mine though... and I don't mean just awful movies that are easy to enjoy with a few drinks and a group of friends.... but all of these cheesy alien sci-fi and apocalypse movies. I guess I enjoy the spectacle and craziness of it all.
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Snazzy
Posts: 117
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9/18/2016 3:36:21 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/18/2016 3:34:44 AM, uncung wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:32:27 AM, Snazzy wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:30:34 AM, uncung wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:09:19 AM, Snazzy wrote:
Do you expect to see your Messiah in your lifetime?

what about you? people still await their messiah since 2000 years ago.

I believe that the Messiah is Jesus Christ. I do believe that I will see him in my lifetime seeing how many of the end times prophecies have been fulfilled so far.

I hope also i can see your Jesus in my life time. and of course my grand children will hope so as well.

That would be quite a sight to see indeed.
Disclaimer: This post in no way reflects the views of NBC or any of its affiliates.
PetersSmith
Posts: 5,804
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9/18/2016 3:38:30 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/18/2016 3:36:17 AM, airmax1227 wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:29:17 AM, PetersSmith wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:28:01 AM, airmax1227 wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:07:04 AM, PetersSmith wrote:
At 9/18/2016 2:49:27 AM, airmax1227 wrote:

Honest opinion.

I thought that the new Independence Day movie was actually pretty good... I mean it's not a great work of writing, or plot, or film, but as far as summer action sci-fi movies go I thought it was good and it kept me entertained. I'm actually pretty excited for the 3rd movie.

I meant of me. Also, you're objectively wrong about that opinion.

It's subjective... I thought it was a fun movie. Bad movies might just be a guilty pleasure of mine though... and I don't mean just awful movies that are easy to enjoy with a few drinks and a group of friends.... but all of these cheesy alien sci-fi and apocalypse movies. I guess I enjoy the spectacle and craziness of it all.

Where's that honest opinion?
Empress of DDO (also Poll and Forum "Maintenance" Moderator)

"The two most important days in your life is the day you were born, and the day you find out why."
~Mark Twain

"Wow"
-Doge

"Don't believe everything you read on the internet just because there's a picture with a quote next to it."
~Abraham Lincoln

Guide to the Polls Section: http://www.debate.org...
Snazzy
Posts: 117
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9/18/2016 3:38:32 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/18/2016 3:33:01 AM, airmax1227 wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:09:19 AM, Snazzy wrote:
Do you expect to see your Messiah in your lifetime?

I'm not religious, and my opinions on general religious assertions of this type vary from skeptical to even more skeptical.

So do I believe the messiah will come in my lifetime? I think the better question is do I even believe in the concept. I think it's a very interesting concept, especially as it relates to general human nature and what it can tell us about the human condition.

But no, I do not believe that a messianic Jewish figure as described in Jewish texts will be arriving and bringing in a new era of the world in my lifetime.

I hope that you shall be able to see a Messiah in your lifetime, whether it be mine or yours.
Disclaimer: This post in no way reflects the views of NBC or any of its affiliates.
airmax1227
Posts: 13,223
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9/18/2016 3:46:10 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/18/2016 3:38:32 AM, Snazzy wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:33:01 AM, airmax1227 wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:09:19 AM, Snazzy wrote:
Do you expect to see your Messiah in your lifetime?

I'm not religious, and my opinions on general religious assertions of this type vary from skeptical to even more skeptical.

So do I believe the messiah will come in my lifetime? I think the better question is do I even believe in the concept. I think it's a very interesting concept, especially as it relates to general human nature and what it can tell us about the human condition.

But no, I do not believe that a messianic Jewish figure as described in Jewish texts will be arriving and bringing in a new era of the world in my lifetime.

I hope that you shall be able to see a Messiah in your lifetime, whether it be mine or yours.

I don't. If my understanding of Christian teachings about the second coming of Jesus are accurate, then I will be destroyed with everlasting destruction because I did not know God or obey the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).

In the Jewish version, even the most flowery and nice version of it, then there's going to be a very bad war, and then the world as we know it will be over.

I recognize that the world is a messed up place for a lot of reasons, but I believe I am a good person, and I do what I can to improve the world around me. I am hopeful that by the time I die, I am able to, to some degree, improve the world in some way.

I'd rather not have that upended by a messianic figure just destroying the world as we know it.

So I disagree. I hope that neither of us sees anything close to resembling our traditions messianic figures in our lifetimes.
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airmax1227
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9/18/2016 3:47:28 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/18/2016 3:38:30 AM, PetersSmith wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:36:17 AM, airmax1227 wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:29:17 AM, PetersSmith wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:28:01 AM, airmax1227 wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:07:04 AM, PetersSmith wrote:
At 9/18/2016 2:49:27 AM, airmax1227 wrote:

Honest opinion.

I thought that the new Independence Day movie was actually pretty good... I mean it's not a great work of writing, or plot, or film, but as far as summer action sci-fi movies go I thought it was good and it kept me entertained. I'm actually pretty excited for the 3rd movie.

I meant of me. Also, you're objectively wrong about that opinion.

It's subjective... I thought it was a fun movie. Bad movies might just be a guilty pleasure of mine though... and I don't mean just awful movies that are easy to enjoy with a few drinks and a group of friends.... but all of these cheesy alien sci-fi and apocalypse movies. I guess I enjoy the spectacle and craziness of it all.

Where's that honest opinion?

I'm not doing that in this AMA.... this is for moderation or religion related questions... or possibly something else... but definitely not HOMs.
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Emmarie
Posts: 1,907
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9/18/2016 3:48:21 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/18/2016 3:25:49 AM, airmax1227 wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:04:42 AM, Emmarie wrote:

Glad you decided to join in the religion discussion.

What do Jewish people believe concerning an afterlife

It depends which Jew you ask...

But the general belief in traditional Judaism is that a world after death exists. Leading a good life makes this after-life better, and leading a bad life requires an accounting for that, and essentially a sterilization of ones soul.

I should mention that Judaism, in contrast to other religions (perhaps most) doesn't focus too much on this since it's focused mostly on this life, and what one can and should accomplish in this life.
This is cool. I wish more Christian Denominations were "here and now" oriented faiths. I don't go to church because so much of the focus is on what happens when we die. I think God wants us to be empowered to live life on this beautiful earth he created, and do good for ourselves and fellow humans. I am a Christian, only because my soul was in need of forgiveness, and accepting that Christ would have forgiven me, if I would have been able to meet him in person, helped me to feel redeemed and turn away from the guilt that was keeping me from engaging in life.

The idea of Heaven and Hell as reward and punishment aren't a major focus in Judaism, as say it is in something like Christianity. I actually think this is a fascinating concept on its own. There is a lot that can be talked about regarding various religions dogma about the afterlife, how focused it is on that, and how that frames someone's life. By extension, there's potentially an even more fascinating discussion to be had about the origins of martyrdom in Judaism and how that spawned beliefs in Christianity and Islam, for example.
I wasn't aware of this. Thanks for sharing this. It's interesting to hear a Jewish perspective, because we (Christians) generally are only taught about Christian history, since the AD calendar was established. I've often wondered what happened to Jewish people after Rome converted to Christianity, and how the faiths intersect.

and what criteria, if you believe in one

Let me stop you there. I'm not going to answer most, if not all, of these questions based on what I believe. Since I'm not religious, it wouldn't make any sense for me to answer faith or religious based questions on what I personally believe. But I'm happy to provide answers based on what many Jews and traditional Judaism has to say about it.

gets someone to a favorable condition of their soul after the body dies?

I think this is an excellent way to frame the question.

Traditional Judaism is very much focused on this life, and dedicating this life to the service of god. When framed like that, it makes the traditional Jewish concept of Heaven a lot more easy to digest in contrast to other religions version, or like the Christian/Dante's Inferno version of hell.

So with that in mind, service to god, dedication to god and holiness, is what conditions ones soul to be prepared for "heaven" - or in other words, a return to their original condition as a direct part of god. So someone who directs their life in the service of god and holiness, will easily become joined with god proper and "reabsorb" back into him. Whereas someone who does a lot of evil will have to spend some time having their soul sterilized, separated from god until it can return (there are several views on what exactly this is). I believe this metaphor is what gives us the allusion of fire and such in the concept of hell as Christians and others view it. But to be clear, many (if not most) Jews don't believe in eternal damnation like that.

So a quick answer is that doing good things and avoiding evil things, as defined by traditional Judaisms as good being that which brings one closer to god, and evil as that which makes someone further from god, is what prepares someones soul for the afterlife.

So how do Jewish people view people who have gone astray but repented and changed their ways? Will they return to God, or will they need to pay for their mistakes, even if they changed before they die?
PetersSmith
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9/18/2016 3:48:35 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/18/2016 3:47:28 AM, airmax1227 wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:38:30 AM, PetersSmith wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:36:17 AM, airmax1227 wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:29:17 AM, PetersSmith wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:28:01 AM, airmax1227 wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:07:04 AM, PetersSmith wrote:
At 9/18/2016 2:49:27 AM, airmax1227 wrote:

Honest opinion.

I thought that the new Independence Day movie was actually pretty good... I mean it's not a great work of writing, or plot, or film, but as far as summer action sci-fi movies go I thought it was good and it kept me entertained. I'm actually pretty excited for the 3rd movie.

I meant of me. Also, you're objectively wrong about that opinion.

It's subjective... I thought it was a fun movie. Bad movies might just be a guilty pleasure of mine though... and I don't mean just awful movies that are easy to enjoy with a few drinks and a group of friends.... but all of these cheesy alien sci-fi and apocalypse movies. I guess I enjoy the spectacle and craziness of it all.

Where's that honest opinion?

I'm not doing that in this AMA.... this is for moderation or religion related questions... or possibly something else... but definitely not HOMs.

Only a Jew would be so Jewish about an AMA.
Empress of DDO (also Poll and Forum "Maintenance" Moderator)

"The two most important days in your life is the day you were born, and the day you find out why."
~Mark Twain

"Wow"
-Doge

"Don't believe everything you read on the internet just because there's a picture with a quote next to it."
~Abraham Lincoln

Guide to the Polls Section: http://www.debate.org...
PetersSmith
Posts: 5,804
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9/18/2016 3:51:32 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/18/2016 3:47:28 AM, airmax1227 wrote:

What's your solution to the Mind-Body problem?
Empress of DDO (also Poll and Forum "Maintenance" Moderator)

"The two most important days in your life is the day you were born, and the day you find out why."
~Mark Twain

"Wow"
-Doge

"Don't believe everything you read on the internet just because there's a picture with a quote next to it."
~Abraham Lincoln

Guide to the Polls Section: http://www.debate.org...
Casten
Posts: 391
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9/18/2016 3:51:41 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
It sounds like you were raised in Judaic religion and then left it. What made you put it aside in favor of apatheism?
ThinkBig
Posts: 1,567
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9/18/2016 3:53:59 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/18/2016 3:09:19 AM, Snazzy wrote:
Do you expect to see your Messiah in your lifetime?

I can't speak for Airmax, but as a (reform) Jew, I do not believe in a literal messiah.

My interpretation of the messianic times is an idea - one of peace, human unity, and utopia.

While the ideas are probably not very realistic, I believe we ought to try to get as close to that as possible and should strive to make peace. This is the idea of Tikkun Olam - Repairing the world.
ThinkBig
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Snazzy
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9/18/2016 4:03:07 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/18/2016 3:53:59 AM, ThinkBig wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:09:19 AM, Snazzy wrote:
Do you expect to see your Messiah in your lifetime?

I can't speak for Airmax, but as a (reform) Jew, I do not believe in a literal messiah.

My interpretation of the messianic times is an idea - one of peace, human unity, and utopia.

While the ideas are probably not very realistic, I believe we ought to try to get as close to that as possible and should strive to make peace. This is the idea of Tikkun Olam - Repairing the world.

That's an interesting take on it.

My internet suddenly stopped working and I'm not really sure why so I guess I'll be using my phone
Disclaimer: This post in no way reflects the views of NBC or any of its affiliates.
airmax1227
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9/18/2016 4:12:30 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/18/2016 3:48:21 AM, Emmarie wrote:

This is cool. I wish more Christian Denominations were "here and now" oriented faiths. I don't go to church because so much of the focus is on what happens when we die. I think God wants us to be empowered to live life on this beautiful earth he created, and do good for ourselves and fellow humans. I am a Christian, only because my soul was in need of forgiveness, and accepting that Christ would have forgiven me, if I would have been able to meet him in person, helped me to feel redeemed and turn away from the guilt that was keeping me from engaging in life.

I believe there's certainly an important aspect to the focus on life as it is, and not focusing on things beyond that. There's certainly some of that in Judaism (Traditional Jews do recognize that this life is but a stepping stone to the next, but that only in this life can one do good deeds and so it must be focused on), but I think it's kept in better proportion that some belief systems. I do believe that having a major focus on death, can have unfortunate social consequences

The idea of Heaven and Hell as reward and punishment aren't a major focus in Judaism, as say it is in something like Christianity. I actually think this is a fascinating concept on its own. There is a lot that can be talked about regarding various religions dogma about the afterlife, how focused it is on that, and how that frames someone's life. By extension, there's potentially an even more fascinating discussion to be had about the origins of martyrdom in Judaism and how that spawned beliefs in Christianity and Islam, for example.

I wasn't aware of this. Thanks for sharing this. It's interesting to hear a Jewish perspective, because we (Christians) generally are only taught about Christian history, since the AD calendar was established. I've often wondered what happened to Jewish people after Rome converted to Christianity, and how the faiths intersect.

There's certainly an interesting historical conversation to be had there, and Jews (especially traditional Jews) don't focus a lot on other religions dogma, but to some degree Jewish educators have to. Young Jews are often told to challenge everything that they are being taught so that they can be better equipped to argue about it. Especially in America, young Jews are targets of Christian missionaries so in some communities learn from a young age what the Christian arguments and rebuttals are.

and what criteria, if you believe in one

Let me stop you there. I'm not going to answer most, if not all, of these questions based on what I believe. Since I'm not religious, it wouldn't make any sense for me to answer faith or religious based questions on what I personally believe. But I'm happy to provide answers based on what many Jews and traditional Judaism has to say about it.

gets someone to a favorable condition of their soul after the body dies?

I think this is an excellent way to frame the question.

Traditional Judaism is very much focused on this life, and dedicating this life to the service of god. When framed like that, it makes the traditional Jewish concept of Heaven a lot more easy to digest in contrast to other religions version, or like the Christian/Dante's Inferno version of hell.

So with that in mind, service to god, dedication to god and holiness, is what conditions ones soul to be prepared for "heaven" - or in other words, a return to their original condition as a direct part of god. So someone who directs their life in the service of god and holiness, will easily become joined with god proper and "reabsorb" back into him. Whereas someone who does a lot of evil will have to spend some time having their soul sterilized, separated from god until it can return (there are several views on what exactly this is). I believe this metaphor is what gives us the allusion of fire and such in the concept of hell as Christians and others view it. But to be clear, many (if not most) Jews don't believe in eternal damnation like that.

So a quick answer is that doing good things and avoiding evil things, as defined by traditional Judaisms as good being that which brings one closer to god, and evil as that which makes someone further from god, is what prepares someones soul for the afterlife.

So how do Jewish people view people who have gone astray but repented and changed their ways?

The concept of T'shuva (essentially, in short, repentance) is a very important one in Judaism. So someone can er, but make amends for it. There is even a Jewish holiday (Yom Kippur) dedicated to this concept, or in other words, atoning for ones sins.

Repentance in Judaism is a very deep concept, but I think it could best be described as follows:

If someone is truly repentant about some bad they have done, god will obviously know this. Through that genuine repentance, that very act, can actually make someone closer to god. Someone not being genuine though, wont become closer to god, they'll just keep sinning and saying sorry but not really meaning it.

An easy to understand example of this is a guy who is unfaithful to his wife or girlfriend (or really we could pick anything for this, but this is an easy example). If the guy beforehand thought to himself, 'well I'll do this, and just ask for forgiveness later', they aren't really going to be sincere about it. But if they make a mistake, and they genuinely and sincerely apologize in such a way that they recognize the wrong they have done to the other, then that has the potential of actually making the couple closer to each other than before - and it's unlikely he will error in that way again.

The girlfriend, assuming she is of sound mind, will either recognize the guy is full of it, or realize that it was a mistake, and that error and repentance can make them an even closer couple.

Similarly, obviously god would know if someone's repentance is sincere (and that person will know too). Someone could just go through the motions, but if their prayer is heartfelt and genuine, then even the sin ultimately had some benefit because it brought them closer to god.

Will they return to God, or will they need to pay for their mistakes, even if they changed before they die?

There isn't any kind of "sorry for all my sins" wildcard a person can play just before they die. They either used their lifetime to build a mansion of holiness, or they didn't. The metaphor here essentially means that while everyone will return to god (literally) eventually, some will be absorbed in a better place - in other words their holiness will be recognized eternally.

Take from that what you will, but that's the abstract explanation from some Jewish scholars. Even if true, I don't necessarily think this should mean someone has to be particularly religious. Everyone should believe in any belief system that simply doing good things, and being good to people is what matters, and that's what matters most about the above. Anyone who is a good person by helping people, and bringing joys to others, is bringing holiness to this world, and should by any reasonable standard, be granted whatever it is I described above.
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airmax1227
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9/18/2016 4:15:00 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/18/2016 3:48:35 AM, PetersSmith wrote:

Only a Jew would be so Jewish about an AMA.

I'll take that as a compliment.

Naturally you meant "be so Jewish" as efficient, reasonable, and likely someone with a well diversified portfolio.
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airmax1227
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9/18/2016 4:15:46 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/18/2016 3:51:32 AM, PetersSmith wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:47:28 AM, airmax1227 wrote:

What's your solution to the Mind-Body problem?

I don't have one.
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PetersSmith
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9/18/2016 4:18:41 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/18/2016 4:15:00 AM, airmax1227 wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:48:35 AM, PetersSmith wrote:

Only a Jew would be so Jewish about an AMA.

I'll take that as a compliment.

Naturally you meant "be so Jewish" as efficient, reasonable, and likely someone with a well diversified portfolio.

Is that an insult?

What do you think is the "best" argument for the existence of God (Kalam cosmological argument, Argument from contingency, Ontological argument, etc.)?

What do you think is the "best" argument against the existence of God ("No reason" argument, Russell's teapot, Omnipotence paradox, First-cause argument, etc.)?
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airmax1227
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9/18/2016 4:26:27 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/18/2016 3:51:41 AM, Casten wrote:
It sounds like you were raised in Judaic religion and then left it. What made you put it aside in favor of apatheism?

That's a good question, thanks for asking it.

I grew up in a religious community, and in a religious family. I think that has a huge impact on keeping someone in religion, so when I got older, and I didn't live in that community, and my family was no longer religious, I no longer felt that connection to it.

There's also the issue that Judaism very much so teaches its adherents to question everything. Even religious Jews, that were born into religious communities, as part of their education, are taught it in a way that asks them to challenge what they are being taught. For a lot of Jews they challenge certain things, and they get the answers that still accommodate them being Jewish. For others, those answers don't necessarily do so.

In my case, I don't believe religion is the answer to pretty much anything. While I do believe it has a role to play in society (in terms of social cohesiveness and shared beliefs - until something better exists, if it ever will), I don't believe it answers any of the questions that matter in the modern world.

I believe most questions about life, human origin, and even morality can have their answers found elsewhere, and thus I believe that as those answers become more and more found outside religion, religion becomes more and more obsolete. Certainly at one time, religion really did provide the best answers to these questions, and it especially provided people with a purpose, but today, and just for me personally, religion doesn't provide any of that.

So I think there is some value to Judaism to some degree, especially in contrast to some other beliefs, but like every religion, I have my criticisms of it, and the bottom line is that I don't believe that as a religion, or belief system, it adds any value to my life.
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Emmarie
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9/18/2016 4:27:16 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/18/2016 4:12:30 AM, airmax1227 wrote:
At 9/18/2016 3:48:21 AM, Emmarie wrote:

This is cool. I wish more Christian Denominations were "here and now" oriented faiths. I don't go to church because so much of the focus is on what happens when we die. I think God wants us to be empowered to live life on this beautiful earth he created, and do good for ourselves and fellow humans. I am a Christian, only because my soul was in need of forgiveness, and accepting that Christ would have forgiven me, if I would have been able to meet him in person, helped me to feel redeemed and turn away from the guilt that was keeping me from engaging in life.

I believe there's certainly an important aspect to the focus on life as it is, and not focusing on things beyond that. There's certainly some of that in Judaism (Traditional Jews do recognize that this life is but a stepping stone to the next, but that only in this life can one do good deeds and so it must be focused on), but I think it's kept in better proportion that some belief systems. I do believe that having a major focus on death, can have unfortunate social consequences

The idea of Heaven and Hell as reward and punishment aren't a major focus in Judaism, as say it is in something like Christianity. I actually think this is a fascinating concept on its own. There is a lot that can be talked about regarding various religions dogma about the afterlife, how focused it is on that, and how that frames someone's life. By extension, there's potentially an even more fascinating discussion to be had about the origins of martyrdom in Judaism and how that spawned beliefs in Christianity and Islam, for example.

I wasn't aware of this. Thanks for sharing this. It's interesting to hear a Jewish perspective, because we (Christians) generally are only taught about Christian history, since the AD calendar was established. I've often wondered what happened to Jewish people after Rome converted to Christianity, and how the faiths intersect.

There's certainly an interesting historical conversation to be had there, and Jews (especially traditional Jews) don't focus a lot on other religions dogma, but to some degree Jewish educators have to. Young Jews are often told to challenge everything that they are being taught so that they can be better equipped to argue about it. Especially in America, young Jews are targets of Christian missionaries so in some communities learn from a young age what the Christian arguments and rebuttals are.

and what criteria, if you believe in one

Let me stop you there. I'm not going to answer most, if not all, of these questions based on what I believe. Since I'm not religious, it wouldn't make any sense for me to answer faith or religious based questions on what I personally believe. But I'm happy to provide answers based on what many Jews and traditional Judaism has to say about it.

gets someone to a favorable condition of their soul after the body dies?

I think this is an excellent way to frame the question.

Traditional Judaism is very much focused on this life, and dedicating this life to the service of god. When framed like that, it makes the traditional Jewish concept of Heaven a lot more easy to digest in contrast to other religions version, or like the Christian/Dante's Inferno version of hell.

So with that in mind, service to god, dedication to god and holiness, is what conditions ones soul to be prepared for "heaven" - or in other words, a return to their original condition as a direct part of god. So someone who directs their life in the service of god and holiness, will easily become joined with god proper and "reabsorb" back into him. Whereas someone who does a lot of evil will have to spend some time having their soul sterilized, separated from god until it can return (there are several views on what exactly this is). I believe this metaphor is what gives us the allusion of fire and such in the concept of hell as Christians and others view it. But to be clear, many (if not most) Jews don't believe in eternal damnation like that.

So a quick answer is that doing good things and avoiding evil things, as defined by traditional Judaisms as good being that which brings one closer to god, and evil as that which makes someone further from god, is what prepares someones soul for the afterlife.

So how do Jewish people view people who have gone astray but repented and changed their ways?

The concept of T'shuva (essentially, in short, repentance) is a very important one in Judaism. So someone can er, but make amends for it. There is even a Jewish holiday (Yom Kippur) dedicated to this concept, or in other words, atoning for ones sins.

Repentance in Judaism is a very deep concept, but I think it could best be described as follows:

If someone is truly repentant about some bad they have done, god will obviously know this. Through that genuine repentance, that very act, can actually make someone closer to god. Someone not being genuine though, wont become closer to god, they'll just keep sinning and saying sorry but not really meaning it.

An easy to understand example of this is a guy who is unfaithful to his wife or girlfriend (or really we could pick anything for this, but this is an easy example). If the guy beforehand thought to himself, 'well I'll do this, and just ask for forgiveness later', they aren't really going to be sincere about it. But if they make a mistake, and they genuinely and sincerely apologize in such a way that they recognize the wrong they have done to the other, then that has the potential of actually making the couple closer to each other than before - and it's unlikely he will error in that way again.

The girlfriend, assuming she is of sound mind, will either recognize the guy is full of it, or realize that it was a mistake, and that error and repentance can make them an even closer couple.

Similarly, obviously god would know if someone's repentance is sincere (and that person will know too). Someone could just go through the motions, but if their prayer is heartfelt and genuine, then even the sin ultimately had some benefit because it brought them closer to god.

Will they return to God, or will they need to pay for their mistakes, even if they changed before they die?

There isn't any kind of "sorry for all my sins" wildcard a person can play just before they die. They either used their lifetime to build a mansion of holiness, or they didn't. The metaphor here essentially means that while everyone will return to god (literally) eventually, some will be absorbed in a better place - in other words their holiness will be recognized eternally.

Take from that what you will, but that's the abstract explanation from some Jewish scholars. Even if true, I don't necessarily think this should mean someone has to be particularly religious. Everyone should believe in any belief system that simply doing good things, and being good to people is what matters, and that's what matters most about the above. Anyone who is a good person by helping people, and bringing joys to others, is bringing holiness to this world, and should by any reasonable standard, be granted whatever it is I described above.

That is very deep and I agree with the concept. I'm glad forgiveness for REAL repentance is a focus. Those ideas are very similar to what the Gospel (Jesus' words in particular) actually preaches. I wonder why this concept gets so "buried" in fundamentalist Christian doctrine in exchange for the whole, "I'm completely powerless to do anything about changing my actions, and need a saviour so that I don't have to worry about the effects of my sins and can still be rewarded when I pass."