Religion: The Opiate Of The Missus

I am a staunch secular humanist, and in terms of Yahweh, Jesus, Allah, Shiva and Zeus, i suppose you could call me an Atheist, although in terms of an omnicient being of some sort I’m an Agnostic.

Seven years ago i fell in “love” with an orthodox jewish woman, married her and had two children. We keep a strict kosher home, observe the complete set of shabbot and high holidays, and my children will be going to a “day” school, spending a few hours on strictly religious topics. I am still completely secular in terms of my beliefs and always will be, I’m guessing.

I have been able to integrate my wife’s needs with my own needs in this way…

  1. Who really needs McDonald’s?
  2. On Shabbos I lay around reading and eating…cool.
  3. Many kids who go to “day” school end up at harvard, and my wife will not force me to lie about my beliefs when my kids ask my feelings about things.

I entered into the relationship with a lot of malice, anger and confusion…how could anyone actually believe this primitive bullshit? but then i studied it and became more tolerant. I still don’t think there’s enough evidence to make any sort of argument for the authority of the Torah…but it doesn’t even make a real attempt at propositional logic at its foundation. It’s more of an emotional appeal, and I guess I’m immune to that one. Although I’m not immune to believing, or at least living as if, causation and an external universe, were 100% real.

Just sharing. If anyone would like to discuss orthodox judaism, I’m osrt of qualified as an ambassador since I have been studying torah with a mentor weekly.


Hi Gamer,

Welcome, and thanks for the offer to serve as an ‘ambassador’ for Judaism.

It is your need for Rationality that blocks your receptivity. As with many modern people you are trying to do without Mythology, assuming it has no authority that you could use. But if you have accepted that there is such a thing as emotional intelligence, perhaps you could approach the Torah along those lines.

The thing is, you do live a kind of Mythology and you support it with rituals and habits - you also rely upon your emotional intelligence when you can’t understand something rationally, but you have been conditioned to believe that only rational arguments can hold water.


So did you fall in love or not?

As a side note there is an interesting story in the book Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. It relates to how we use emotions in our decision making process. It describes a highly successful lawyer who suffered a bit of brain damage to his amygdala. Although he suffered no decrease in neurological functioning he soon lost his job. His reasoning, memory and such were unaffected. Several tests showed no change in the way the man’s mind functioned.

It wasn’t until the doctor interviewed him and tried to set a second appointment when the problem was pinpointed. The lawyer could analyze the calendar going over all the pro’s and con’s but he could never reach a decision.

The amygdale seems to be an important brain structure that has strong influence over emotions. Basically, without his emotions, the man could make zero decisions.

I’m not sure how “conditioning” has prevented me from believing in the irrational unless you mean I was “conditioned” to be completely honest about what I feel is true and what is highly suspect. I could go into why I think Yahweh, Jesus, Zeus, Isis and Santa Claus are all highly suspect, but I’m sure you could too, for all but one of them, depending on YOUR conditioning. It isn’t for lack of trying to be receptive…which is sort of the point of my email, and my marriage. If someone on the street told me they could shoot fire from their finger, I’d probably give them a chance to show me…I tend to be very patient about these things. But just because I’m always let down by paranormal claims doesn’t mean I won’t hear them out, and it doesn’t mean I don’t want them to be true. It just means that I’ve heard out rational, gentle people who are nonbelievers and I find their argument far more honest, clear and real then the special pleading of religious believers who tend to be dramatic, talk in circles and offer anecdotes and emotions as evidence. I’m perfectly happy not knowing if there’s an extrinsic purpose to my life or the universe. It’s far better than living in a fairy tale constructed by other primates.

I try to approach Torah study on an emotional level, because it’s really the only way to do it without getting miffed or annoyed. And when I do that I find tremendous riches in it that I can apply to my life and my personal beliefs about meaning and purpose. I see it more as poetry than authority and I always will. This is not about emotions or conditioning. It’s about me.

Yes Xander, love has a lot of definitions, I’m not sure we share the same one, so I put it in quotes. This wasn’t meant to be a description of what love means to me, but for most practical purposes, yes, I love her, a lot in fact. Nice amygdila story.

Hi Gamer,

I see you’re already under the influence of your conditioning in this answer. I wrote: “you have been conditioned to believe that only rational arguments can hold water” - the terminology ‘irrational’ is different to ‘not rational’ and it is this conditioning that lumps them together. Your love is not ‘rational’ but is still the bond between you and your wife - and, I assume ‘holds water’ :wink:

Well, that’s what we’re here for. Go into why they are all highly suspect according to your opinion.

Perhaps you should release yourself from the ‘paranormal’ and come back to the ‘normal’ - and the mythology of the Bible is very, very normal.

Again, you are very disparaging about the faith, how you can claim to be receptive I don’t know. Religion is about community on common grounds, with common values, it is about health and vitality with purpose and hope. All of these things are common to humankind, so I don’t believe that you don’t look for purpose for your life.

So Poetry is never authorative? It may not be the best way to explain how your car engine runs, but it can be very authorative on love and affection, memories and feelings, about hope and perspectives.

And when you’ve stopped emulating a block of concrete, you will understand perhaps that you are made of emotions. At least I read emotions in everything you have written.


I acknowledge emotions and the role they play. My relationship with my wife is neither rational or irrational because it’s not an argument. As an action, it is certainly rational, and as an emotion, it is natural and real.

I am a deeply emotional person who believes in community, ritual, poetry, meaning and purpose. I do NOT believe in the divine authenticity of the bible or the torah. I see other’s people belief in these things as a weakness, not a strength. A closedness, not an openness to truth.

Stop equating emotional receptivity to belief in religious doctrines. It’s far off the mark, Bob. Also, keep in mind that there are varying degrees of “non-rational” phenomenon. It’s not an all or nothing proposition, i.e., it may be non-rational to believe in causation, but it’s more non-rational to believe in Jesus’s ressurection, and even more, more, more non-rational to believe in Heaven’s Gate comet. I find the last two to be in a similar category, only separated by degree. Causation is a “necessary” faith supported by experiment, and to believe otherwise would be existentially irrelevant anyway. Religious beliefs, on the other hand, are extremely existentially relevant, what you believe makes a big difference in your life and the world at large, so it’s worth taking a stand.

I’ve heard out everyone on this subject excpet you Bob. So basically I’m saying there’s no evidence for your faith and plenty of evidence that it’s a sham. But be your own judge, since you judge merits of “evidence” on emotion, I suppose anything can be deemed evidence with that kind of loose criteria.

In the old model of epistemology, knowledge equals justified true belief. Religious people justification. Even if it turns out you’re right, you didn’t have enough evidence. Obviously people come across elders who they see as very credible, and these elders, being fallable but oh so smoot and authoritative in way and dress and manner, convince the youngin of the religious truth. The youngin is responding in a natural way. I have every opportunity to become religious, I have nothing to lose. I enjoy studying religion , mining it for value, even though I see it as 100% man-made. I have read nearly every apologetic…finally i see that it’s nothing more than a willful ignorance, or perhaps in your case, a legalized insanity. I don’t know you so I’m guessing, but I think your tight-fisted resolve to stay true to your God no matter what is sort of admirable, more admirable than anything I’ve ever done. But this doesn’t make what you believe in true-- I’m fairly certain it says more about you than the nature of the universe. And for that I am grateful.

Hi Gamer,

Now after reading all of what you have had to say, I realise that you are caught up even more in the standard misunderstanding and even go as far as to claim that my mystical approach is ‘legalized insanity’. At least my faith has led me into a vocation that makes a difference for hundreds of ailing elderly people and into the ability to take responsibility - there’s nothing insane about that. You are right, you know nothing about me.

Your accusations against religious people may have some truth, there are many people who don’t think about their Religion, they just live in it - but that is what Religion is about. Judaism and Christianity is a framework of life on the basis of values transported in literature, values that are very common to most Religions of the world because they constitute what has been recognised throughout thousands of years as being wisdom.

Now you are at odds with the nature of that literature with some believers who want it to be be fact. I say that it is a vast variety of literary sources that have been brought together - much of it oral traditions with mythical storylines giving witness to the development of experience with the Eternal One. A development that is continually leading to a mystical experience with the ontological basis of life in the universe.

No, you can’t honestly claim to be able to judge my ‘faith’ - I have already told you where this faith has led me. There may be people who’s faith is a sham, but you’d have to prove to me that ‘my’ faith is a sham - and that is precisely what you can’t do.

Disagree with me by all means, but accept that I have not attacked you, but have expressed criticism of the mindset of the society you and I live in. You’d think that rationality was the only thing on earth - something that has led to Nagasaki, Hiroshima, the Holocaust and Fundamentalism throughout the world does warrant criticism, don’t you think? And if it this onesided approach has failed, just as the onesided approach with Religion has failed, perhaps you could consider that the two should be complementary to each other,


shit, how did you manage to bag an orthodox jew? she has strange religious priorities… marrying outside faith is fine but pork good god no…?

actually, i have thought about this before. that marrying a very very religious chick would be good for many reasons.
i don’t know if i’d let her have my kids indoctrinated, actually i probably would too… kids grow out of that shit like clothes.

all in all, good work.

but it must be different not being able to connect on certain things. or whatever, maybe you do.

i think a big titted bible thumper is ideal.


From what I understand the woman in question did not marry outside the faith since Gamer is Jewish. Please correct me if I’m wrong Gamer.

  • ben

Bob, for god’s sake, you’re right in thinking I’m speaking out of turn and making blind accusations. But saying religion yields good things (which it can) is different than saying it is true. I am saying it is not true and you keep showing me how it’s brought good into the world. Bringing good into the world doesn’t equal true. Bah!

Anyway, i bagged an orthodox jew because I guess she thought she could change me, and I her. We were both wrong. she is modern orthodox, she doesn’t cover her hair and she wears pants (except on shabbos and holidays). I am jewish though, but not affiliated with any of it, though raised reform.

I think we all tell ourselves lies to sleep at night, me included. Mine are more fundamental like “causation exists.” Hers are “Hashem parted the Red Sea.” Fine. In the end there are more important things that what we believe about what we can’t know. Like chemistry, and day to day ability to click on basic lifestyle issues. She does want to remove my Ayn Rand dollar sign tattoo. maybe some day i will.

True, does that mean ‘authentic’? That is, conforming to fact and therefore worthy of trust, reliance, or belief? Well I have found faith to be trustworthy and reliable - does that make it true in your eyes?

True, does that mean it must be ‘real’? That is, free of pretense, falsehood, or affectation? Yes, I don’t believe that I am trying to pull the wool over your eyes - in fact, I do try to be especially realistic in your case, because you have the problem with rationality.

True, does it mean God exists objectively in the world regardless of subjectivity or conventions of thought or language? I don’t know honestly what exists objectively, since I only know subjective human beings who are bound by their conventions of thought and language. What I do know is that God isn’t available to be put under a microscope.

True, does that mean being or occurring in fact or actuality; having verifiable existence? There are millions of believers - is that verifiable enough? Or are these millions all irrational and not credible? What I do know is that God is not a physical entity, but effective. Can something that effects the physical world not occur in fact?

True, does that mean something demonstrated to exist or known to have existed? I think the fact that Israel and it’s faith has survived the centuries since the dispersal and exile must account for something. Unfortunately I have no control over the Eternal One and can consequently not demonstrate his existence.

Have you seen the film ‘Contact’ or read the book? It deals with exactly this predicament. I think it deals with it in an intelligent way.


True as in the phrase “Yoda is the God of all” is not “true.” Or for instance, “Bob thinks the tenants and claims of the Seventh Day Adventists are less ‘true’ than the tenants and claims of Christianity.” Or true as in “Gamer thinks the tenants and claims of Christianity are less ‘true’ than secular humanism, or science.”

What I’m getting at is that there is a hierarchy of what we deem worthy of our thought, and what we deem malarchy. If somebody came up to you and claimed that his Suzi-Q just spoke to him and that the religion to follow is Suzi-Q-ism, where we must warship Suzi-Qs, you’d probably say that the man’s claims about the Suzi-Q and about the claims and tenants of Suzi-Q-ism are just plain not true. Sure it may be true to him, meaning to him it’s not just a fairy tale, but you would be the better person for disbelieving his claims.

Clearly, with this example, I have demonstrated my position of how one can take the stance of nonbeliever. Now apply this same nonbelief to Judaism or Christianity.

Yes, Judaism relies on all sorts of arguments, the weakest of which being “can 20,000 million hebrews be wrong?” the answer being an obvious, um, yes. Also, the fact it has lasted so long…this is evidence? It hardly qualifies as hunch-inducing. I may be going out on a limb here, but I bet things can actually survive for say, some thousands of years, WITHOUT divine intervention. What a concept!

Bottom line is some beliefs are more true than others. Religious beliefs are less true than nonbeliever beliefs. You will never admit it because you are too deep into it…that’s the way the meme works. Make no mistake, it is not me who has been conditioned. It is you.

I reiterate, I am an emotional, artistic, loving person. I belief in relationships, charity and all the rest, and I don’t need hocum to be this way. ll your examples are charlatanism used to rope in the untrained thinker, which is most of us.

If God does exist, I would be surprised if he actually wanted me to buy into such flimsy, anecdotal, circumstantial evidence…given that he’s given me a mind, I would think he’d want me to use it.

At least my wife admits there is no evidence and that it is highly problematic to make the leap of faith. I think at some point the faith grafts itself so tightly to your lens of the world that you could never imagine life without it, so you set upon justifying it with reasons that never add up to anything. It is a relinquishing of control to your primate brain’s most unimaginative infantile emotional wishes, and the subsequent shameless clinging to them…nothing more.

here here.

Hi Gamer!

It is quite obvious that we are not getting very far. I believe that we will probably never have a common ground this far apart. As I have told others before, you can’t just argue faith – you have to trust, just like love should really only be a verb. There are lots of pseudo-philosophies being bantered around, but they are very often trying to keep their distance to real life, instead of rolling up sleeves and getting on with it.

I’ll tell you what keeps me going: The fact that there is something, rather than not. When I think about all of the things that we can see today, how the universe is so full of creativity and diversity whilst apparently guided by physical laws, I ask where that initial spark came from? Where did the physical laws come from? What had to be available for ‘coincidences’ to occur that led to life? This creativity fills me with more questions than the masquerade of asking where ‘evil’ came from.

The diversity of life on this planet, the complexity of life forms, from the amoeba to humankind, the ‘coincidence’ of our orbit around the sun, the fact that we are capable of reflecting experiences and find our way ahead – all of these things enthral me to such a degree that I just want to say ‘thank you’ to someone. It may be that I am unable to cope with all facets of life, I am after all a mollycoddled modern westerner, but when I am told about the developments of civilisations throughout the ten thousand years of cultured society, I am amazed at what the ancients already knew.

Creativity is in everything I see, abounding inspiration and inventiveness, originality at every turn. It seems out of the question to say that something is impossible – for somewhere it may be possible. The fact that this universe is so full of principles and values, laws and rules, shapes and forms is sometimes too much to comprehend. The further technology proceeds, the more stimuli we gain, but how much do we need to understand? How much do we need to see to appreciate what love is? How much do we need to know to be able to live peacefully? What knowledge is required to build a future for our children?

The whole argument of rationality is an attempt to get away from basic truths, which are what Religion is about. What proofs do people need to understand these words:

Love is patient and is kind;
love doesn’t envy.
Love doesn’t brag, is not proud,
doesn’t behave itself inappropriately,
doesn’t seek its own way,
is not provoked,
takes no account of evil;
doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness,
but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.

I watch people: young people, old people, nervous people, flamboyant people, happy people, sad people, optimistic people and pessimistic people – and I feel their soul. You might think that I am highly imaginative, but I use this gift professionally and people know that I can feel them. It requires responsibility to cope with such a gift and not misuse it, as I did in younger years, but responsibility grew with age. There is nothing I could write on paper that would prove it to you, but I see more that meets the eye – empathy they call it.

Watching people shows me that many of the things they claim to need, they don’t need really. There isn’t one of us who isn’t a sham to the outside world and on the inside quite someone else. Mysticism tries to create a congruence between the inner and the outer person and there are many different methods to achieve this. Religion is like the people who practice it, it has an inside and an outside.

The ‘sons of God’ as Jesus called them, are peacemakers and redeemers. They are people who try to reconcile the inner person with the outer person and with the source of the creative force that lies behind what we can see. They are traditionally ‘Seers’ who have often lost their lives in the hands of the pious and irreverent alike, accused of ridiculous notions of witchcraft or similar things – but really they have been feared for what they see.

I feel that the hostility towards Religion today is partially to be explained by this instinctive fear, even if there are reasons to be critical. It is this that causes people to flee into the ‘safe’ philosophy of rationality with it’s fences and high walls built against intuitive faith. It was rational Religion that caused e.g. the horrors of the Inquisition - they were the wolves dressed in sheepskins.

But then again, I don’t think we are going to get far on this one anyway.


Well, like all good religions, you’re saying a great many things, in fact, a great many great things, except the one thing you need to say, which you’re avoiding, and that’s fine. Obvious to me that you’re a smart, open and kind person and more people should be like you. But when you say we won’t get anywhere with this conversation I know with perfect clarity that progress at this point is your burden, not mine. reread my last post and when you’re ready to actually provide reasons for buying into specific doctrines, let me know.


How is this:

compatible with this:


Nothing self-evident there.

Trust is a verb. Love can be a verb. What’s the point? Trust ought to be earned, or else the word trust loses distinction. How has trust in any particular religion been earned?

Your poem is nice, really, but basically it picks a bunch of attributes, loosely related and arbitrary in some cases, and bundles them together and assigns the word love. I think a lot of the stuff in that poem can lead to a happier existence.

But what of religion here? What of believing in Christ our Savior or the parting of the Red Sea? What of omnipotent/omniscient/benevolent?

There is nothing coherent in any of your posts. Maybe I really don’t get it after all. Even if I did open myself up to non-rational beliefs and experiences, how would I discern which is for me, since so many doctrines are mutually exclusive? Or would I just let it select me. How magical.

It sounds like the opposite of thinking, the opposite of seeing, the opposite of living.

Given my human qualiities, and the perceived qualities of the universe, it follows that I’d think something mysterious is going on beyond my perception. This much I concede…even if the mysteriousness happens to be nothing, that would be just as mysterious. There are questions I can;t answer hat seem to defy my basic intuitions and certainly rationality. But why stuff these vacuums with such obvious bullshit?

I believe the way we relate to the gaps in our knowledge defines us most. I try to relate to as many gaps as I can with unflinching, unconditional acceptance and open eyes. I don’t stuff them full of mass-produced folkstales and primitive heresay…I wouldn’t desecrate the holy gaps in this way.

I believe sometimes in John lennon. All you need is love. But I also believe him when he said I don’t believe in jesus. i just believe in me. Yoko and me. And that’s reality.

I opened this thread saying religion is the opiate of the missus. But that’s not really true. In the end, I am the opiate of the missus, and she of me. It’s the opiate you keep mentioning…love.

When Carl Sagan lay on his deathbed, his wife kept whispering in his ear “brave man, beautiful life…” in this moment it was as if the universe itself had spoken to him…in hommage of his gentle skepticism. He acknowledged mystery, but knew when to say “I don’t know.” (See the movie Contact.) He was not a religious believer and would not endorse or even deem intelligible any of your well-meaning posts.

Finally, you call me not open to the non-rational. You call me conditioned. But it is you who are too rational. being religious, in the end, is far more rational. Being a nonbeliever, when you’ve experienced solipsism, suffering and pure beauty…that takes courage, not a loyalty to rationality.

Thanks for your time Bob. Shalom to you too.

It was a quote so I didn’t change it, but you can translate_

To love is to be patient and kind,
and not to be envious.
When we love we can do without bragging, and without pride,
one doesn’t behave oneself inappropriately,
and doesn’t seek ones own way,
and is not provoked.
To love means to takes no account of evil;
and not rejoice in unrighteousness,
but to rejoice with the truth;
bearing all things,
believing all things,
hoping all things,
enduring all things.

The poem is a quote from a letter of Saul of Tarsus to the Church in Corinth, in which he is trying to contain the disagreements between the rivalling groups and show them what the Church is based upon.

It is commonly called the canticle of Love.


It has been earned by the experience of those who have trusted. Long before people started to try and prove the Bible is to be taken literally, people understood the message intuitively and found that it was trustworthy. Societies were built up on this trust and values were shared, social changes were brought about and finally a higher acceptance was achieved - albeit there was opposition from the ‘high’ church who were usually associated with those in power.

Christ is regarded as a saviour or redeemer in old testament terms, someone who foots the bill, who takes the responsibility upon himself, who frees someone from oppressive debt. He is recorded as having said that the ‘Sons of God will be peacemakers’ - that is read as meaning the Sons of God will be Redeemers, spreading an ambience of forgiveness and breaking the viscious circle of attack and counterattack.

The story of the parting of the red sea is so obviously a myth that Rabbi Lawrence Kushner told a story about two people, Reuven and Shimon, who couldn’t open their eyes to what was happening. They hurried along among the crowd crossing through the sea without looking up. They only noticed that the ground beneath their feet was still a little muddy - like a beach at low tide.
“This is terrible!” said Reuven. “There’s mud all over the place!”
“Disgusting!” said Shimon. “I’m in muck up to my ankles!”
“You know what?” replied Reuven. “When we were slaves in Egypt, we had to make bricks out of mud, just like this!”
“Yeah!” said Shimon. “There’s no difference between being a slave in Egypt and being free here!”
And so it went, Reuven and Shimon whining and complaining across the bottom of the sea. For them there was no miracle, only mud. Their eyes were closed. Even they had walked right through it, they might as well have been asleep. (Midrash Exodus Rabba 24.1)

Magic is really the gentile expression for the grace of God. How do you think Abraham recieved his calling, do you think there was a selection comittee?

How would you know, since you have never tried it?

Obviously because people like your wife don’t think it is bullshit!

There goes your conditioning again - A process of behaviour modification by which a subject comes to associate a desired behavior with a previously unrelated stimulus. The desired behaviour is to regard scripture as “mass-produced folkstales and primitive heresay” and the stimulus is the acceptance found amongst affiliates. By doing this you commit yourself and burn your bridges - really the fact that I am trying to prove to you more than the existence of God.

… you assume. The thing is that I understood what he wrote and I have a feeling that he would understand me if we could talk. I am far closer to Ellie Arroway than you think.


My affilliates? You ARE my affilliate Bob! My WIFE is my affilliate. My friends…oh forget it.

Look, the desire is to be as honest as I can with the available info I have. If I have come to the wrong conclusion, then it’s not conditioning but stupidity that’s the culprit. And if I’m being stupid, then I’m too stupid to notice how I’m being stupid, and you’re too stupid to demonstrate how I’m being stupid. Because from where I’m standing, my posts are clear, cogent and well-informed, and yours are near-complete mush. You keep saying that religion has brought good things and that I am conditioned. You are not speaking in a language I understand. It is definitely not the language of rationality or philosophy. It is the language of hippies, drug addicts, poets, conformist soccer moms and priests. It’s designed to sound good, but it sounds bad to me. It’s not for me.