web analytics
August 28, 2016 / 24 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘God’

July Issue of ISIS’ Dabiq Magazine Celebrates Orlando, Nice, Normandy, Würzburg, Ansbach

Monday, August 1st, 2016

Issue 15, the Summer of 1437 (that’s 5776 or 2016 to the rest of us) issue of Dabiq, the online magazine of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has hit the virtual newsstands, and it is, as always, chock full of hate, promises of murder and mayhem, and, of course, inspirational, blood thirsty stories about the spirit of Islam.

The new issue, with a modern, slick design, very much like your prestigious coffee table magazine, offers the familiar arguments against the authenticity of Judaism and Christianity, repeats the argument of the Crusading Europeans and their Jewish beachhead looking to dominate the Middle East, rehashes the Quran verses that belittle Jews — it’s all very familiar fare. What’s new is the forward section, which is up-to-the-minute and especially vile. So here it is (redacted). For the full version, you’re invited to click here.

“After the attacks in Orlando (USA), Dhaka (Bangladesh), Magnanville, Nice, and Normandy (France), and Würzburg and Ansbach (Germany) led to the martyrdom of twelve soldiers of the Caliphate and the deaths and injuries of more than six hundred Crusaders, one would expect the cross-worshipers and democratic pagans of the West to pause and contemplate the reasons behind the animosity and enmity held by Muslims for Westerners and even take heed and consider repentance by abandoning their infidelity and accepting Islam.

“But the fever and delusion caused by sin, superstition, and secularism have numbed what is left of their minds and senses. Their hedonic addictions and heathenish doctrines have enslaved them to false gods including their clergy, their legislatures, and their lusts. As for worshiping the Creator alone and following His Final Messenger, then that is beyond their consideration.

“… And despite their wretched condition of ignorance and arrogance, we take this occasion of multiple massacres inflicted upon their citizens and interests to call them once again to the religion of pure monotheism, truth, mercy, justice, and the sword.

“Between the release of this issue of Dabiq and the next slaughter to be executed against them by the hidden soldiers of the Caliphate – who are ordered to attack without delay – the Crusaders can read into why Muslims hate and fight them, why pagan Christians should break their crosses, why liberalist secularists should return to the fitrah (natural human disposition), and why skeptical atheists should recognize their Creator and submit to Him. In essence, we explain why they must abandon their infidelity and accept Islam, the religion of sincerity and submission to the Lord of the heavens and the earth.”

The Forward concludes: “We call you to reflect on these questions as the bloodthirsty knights of the Caliphate continue to wage their war of just terror against you. And have no doubt that the war will only end with the black flag of Tawhid (Islamic monotheism) fluttering over Constantinople and Rome, and that is not difficult for Allah…”

Issue 15 also offers a feature article titled “Break the Cross,” about how Islam is the only perfect word of God, which Jews and Christians just didn’t get right (or, in the case of the Jews, falsified — especially that story of the lad Ishmael who was kicked to the desert by Abraham, needless to say that couldn’t have happened…).

Another feature article (p.30) is an opinion piece titled, “Why We Hate You & Why We Fight You.” As you’ll recall, the official Bush White House answer to that question was because they envy our democracy. Turns out ISIS has a different take on why they hate us.

“1. We hate you, first and foremost, because you are disbelievers; you reject the oneness of Allah – whether you realize it or not – by making partners for Him in worship, you blaspheme against Him, claiming that He has a son, you fabricate lies against His prophets and messengers, and you indulge in all manner of devilish practices. It is for this reason that we were commanded to openly declare our hatred for you and our enmity towards you. ”

OK, that hatred is entirely about Christianity, with God’s son and all that business, we Jews never went for that sort of thing. In fact, we are not allowed to set foot inside a church for precisely those same reasons. But we don’t kill anybody, we just stay home and have some tea and biscuits.

“2. We hate you because your secular, liberal societies permit the very things that Allah has prohibited while banning many of the things He has permitted, a matter that doesn’t concern you because you separate between religion and state, thereby granting supreme authority to your whims and desires via the legislators you vote into power. In doing so, you desire to rob Allah of His right to be obeyed and you wish to usurp that right for yourselves.”

That one is especially problematic for faithful Jews in a democratic society, because we actually share the Muslims’ belief that the state apparatus, including the Jewish king (prime minister), must be part of a national religious endeavor. But we have developed a clever rabbinic device called, “The law of the land is the law,” which is our version of “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” The difference is that in the Christian version, Caesar is permanent, while our story has a happy ending with Jewish king who observes God’s law and redeems the nation (and the world). And, of course, instead of killing anyone who disagrees, we have tea and possibly crumpets.

“3. In the case of the atheist fringe, we hate you and wage war against you because you disbelieve in the existence of your Lord and Creator. You witness the extraordinarily complex makeup of created beings, and the astonishing and inexplicably precise physical laws that govern the entire universe, but insist that they all came about through randomness and that one should be faulted, mocked, and ostracized for recognizing that the astonishing signs we witness day after day are the creation of the Wise, All-Knowing Creator and not the result of accidental occurrence.”

OK, but to hate and kill over these disagreements? Isn’t it a little extreme? Also, those atheist types often write the code that enables ISIS to slash those infidel throats on live TV, while ISIS scientists are yet to produce the first, well, anything.

Numbers 4, 5, and 6 I hate-you’s are about the fact that the West has been mocking and killing hundreds of thousands of Arabs in the Middle East, and for that how can we fault them. All we can do is try harder to take those repugnant ISIS folks out in large groups and on a daily basis. If only because the article concludes with this money line:

“The fact is, even if you were to stop bombing us, imprisoning us, torturing us, vilifying us, and usurping our lands, we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam.”

And so, as any clear thinking human being would conclude, the only cure for ISIS is to eliminate them physically from the face of the earth. Nothing short of that will do.

Joyous reading.

JNi.Media

God, Evolution, And Darwin: An Interview with Molecular Biologist Douglas Axe

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

“Religion vs. science” conflicts are generally depicted in popular culture as battles between narrow-minded bigots and tolerant truth-seekers. From the Galileo Affair to the Scopes Monkey Trial, religious authoritarians are cast as the force of darkness attempting to stifle the light of science.

In recent decades, though, this narrative has arguably been turned on its head. Instead of religious authorities persecuting free thinkers, today, more often than not, it is “free” thinkers who persecute believers who dare challenge the popular consensus on such hot-button issues as evolution or global warming.

Douglas Axe, director of the Biologic Institute in Seattle, knows this first-hand. As a post-doctoral researcher at the prestigious Medical Research Council Centre in Cambridge in 2002, he was experimenting on protein structures when his superiors discovered that his research was being funded in part by an intelligent design organization. The science was solid – he later published his findings in a prestigious journal – but his association with intelligent design was considered unacceptable. He was asked to leave.

In his first book, “Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designed” (HarperOne) – published two weeks ago – Axe recounts his experiences at the Medical Research Council Centre and presents his objections to the theory of evolution as it currently stands.

Axe holds a PhD from Caltech and has published in such scientific journals as Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and the Journal of Molecular Biology. He recently spoke with The Jewish Press.

The Jewish Press: You write in Undeniable that you harbored doubts about evolution even as a college student. What were those doubts?

Axe: I perceived there to be a deep contradiction between the materialist worldview – which is the idea that everything is matter and energy – and our notion of human free will. If we are nothing but large machines made out of atoms and molecules, all of which are slaves to the laws of physics, how is it that we can decide to do this or do that?

You write that you were convinced at the time that if you could prove the evolutionary theory was flawed, scientists would be forced to agree since they value truth above all. You now say you were naïve to believe this. Please explain.

It’s a utopian view of science. It’s this idea that although scientists have their own personal preferences, when they put on their white lab coats they’re ultimately about the truth – and nothing else – and if their theories are proven wrong they will concede. But scientists are 100 percent human, and all the things that other humans find hard – like admitting you’re wrong – are hard for scientists. Also, scientists survive in their profession by getting the approval of other scientists, so that gives rise to peer pressure.

You write that philosophical hindrances might also be holding scientists back from acknowledging the flaws with evolution.

Yes. I start the book with the question “Where did we come from?” and lay out the two possibilities: Either we’re cosmic accidents or we’re the product of purpose. If we’re cosmic accidents, we basically end up with this nihilistic position – that there is no moral right and wrong and we’re here today and gone tomorrow, so live how you want to live. But if that’s false and instead we’re a product of purpose and intent [conceived by a Creator], then you have a completely different view of who we are as human beings and how we ought to live our lives.

Elliot Resnick

What Makes God Laugh

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

There is an old saying that what makes God laugh is seeing our plans for the future. However, if Tanach is our guide, what makes God laugh is human delusions of grandeur. From the vantage point of heaven, the ultimate absurdity is when humans start thinking of themselves as godlike.

There are several pointed examples in the Torah. One whose full import has only recently become clear occurs in the story of the Tower of Babel. Men gather together in the plain of Shinar and decide to build a city and a tower “that will reach to heaven.” As it happens, we have archeological confirmation of this fact. Several Mesopotamian ziggurats, including the temple of Marduk in Babylon, have been found with inscriptions saying that they reach heaven.

The idea was that tall buildings – man-made mountains – allowed humans to climb to the dwelling place of the gods and thus communicate with them. The Mesopotamian city states were among the first places of civilization, itself one of the turning points in the history of human life on earth. Before the birth of agriculture, the ancients lived in fear of nature: of predators, of other tribes and bands, and of the vicissitudes of heat and cold, drought and flood. Their fate depended on matters beyond their control.

Only with the spread of domesticated animals and agriculture did people gather in towns, then cities, then empires. A tipping point occurred in the balance of power between nature and culture. For the first time humans were not confined to adapting to their environment. They could adapt their environment to suit them. At this point they – especially the rulers – began to see themselves as gods, demigods, or people with the power to influence the gods.

The most conspicuous symbol of this was buildings on a monumental scale: the ziggurats of Babylon and other Mesopotamian cities, and the pyramids of Egypt. Built on the flat land of the Tigris-Euphrates valley and the Nile delta, they towered over their surroundings. The great pyramid of Giza, built even before the birth of Abraham, was so monumental that it remained the tallest man-made structure on earth for four thousand years.

The fact that these were artificial mountains built by human hands suggested to their builders that humans had acquired godlike powers. They had constructed a stairway to heaven. Hence the significance of the phrase in the Torah’s account of the tower, “And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built.” This is God laughing. On earth, humans thought they had reached the sky, but to God the building was so infinitesimal, so microscopic that he had to come down even to see it. Only with the invention of flight do we now know how small the tallest building looks when you are looking down from a mere 30,000 feet.

To end their hubris God simply “confused their language.” They no longer understood one another. The entire project was turned into French farce. We can visualize the scene. A foreman calls for a brick and is handed a hammer. He tells a worker to go right and he turns left. The project foundered in a welter of incomprehension. Men thought they could climb to heaven but in the end they could not even understand what the person next to them was saying. The unfinished tower became a symbol of the inevitable failure of vaunting ambition. The builders achieved what they sought but not in the way they intended. They wanted to “make a name for themselves” and they succeeded, but instead of becoming a byword for man’s ability to reach the sky, Babel became babble, an emblem of confusion. Hubris became nemesis.

Similarly, we can explain the otherwise curious episode of Bilam’s talking donkey. This is not a fanciful tale, nor simply a miracle. It arose because of the way the people of Moab and Midian thought of Bilam – and perhaps, by extension, the way he thought of himself. Balak the Moabite king, together with the leaders of the Midianites, sent a delegation to Bilam asking him to curse the Israelites: “Come now, curse this people for me, since they are too mighty for me … for I know that whom you bless is blessed, and whom you curse is cursed.”

This is a pagan understanding of the holy man: the shaman, the magus, the wonder-worker, the person with access to supernatural powers. The Torah’s view is precisely the opposite. It is God who blesses and curses, not human beings. “I will bless those who bless you and those who curse you I will curse,” God said to Abraham. “They shall place my name on the children of Israel and I will bless them,” he said about the priests. The idea that you can hire a holy man to curse someone essentially presupposes that God can be bribed.

The narrative is admittedly obscure. God tells Bilam not to go. Balak sends a second delegation with a more tempting offer. This time God tells Bilam to go with them but say only what he instructs him to say. The next morning Bilam sets out to go with the Moabites, but the text now states that God was “angry” with him for going. That is when the episode of the donkey takes place.

The donkey sees an angel barring the way. It turns aside into a field but Bilam hits it and forces it back to the path. The angel is still barring the way and the donkey veers into a wall, crushing Bilam’s foot. Bilam hits it again, but finally it lies down and refuses to move. That is when the donkey begins to speak. Bilam then looks up and sees the angel, who had been hitherto invisible to him.

Why did God first tell Bilam not to go, then that he should go, and then was angry when he went? Evidently God could read his mind and knew that Bilam did really want to curse the Israelites. We know this because later, after the attempt to curse the Israelites failed, Bilam succeeded in causing them harm, advising the Midianites to get their women to seduce the Israelite men, thus provoking the anger of God (Num. 31:16). Bilam was no friend of the Israelites.

But the story of the talking donkey is another instance of Divine laughter. Here was a man reputed to be a maestro of supernatural forces. People thought he had the power to bless or curse whomever he chose. God, the Torah tells us, is not like that at all. He had two messages, one for the Moabites and Midianites, another for Bilam himself.

He showed the Moabites and Midianites that Israel is not cursed but blessed. The more you attempt to curse them the more they will be blessed and you yourself will be cursed. That is as true today as it was then. There are movements throughout the world to curse the state and people of Israel. The greater the malice of Israel’s enemies, the stronger Israel becomes, and the more disasters its enemies bring upon their own people.

God had a different message for Bilam himself, and it was very blunt. If you think you can control God, then, says God, I will show you that I can turn a donkey into a prophet and a prophet into a donkey. Your animal will see angels to which you yourself are blind.

Hubris always eventually becomes nemesis. In a world in which rulers engaged in endless projects of self-aggrandisement, Israel alone produced a literature in which they attributed their successes to God and their failures to themselves. Far from making them weak, this made them extraordinarily strong.

So it is with us as individuals. I have mentioned before a beloved friend, no longer alive, about whom it was said that “he took God so seriously that he didn’t need to take himself seriously at all.” Pagan prophets like Bilam had not yet learned the lesson we must all one day learn: that what matters is not that God does what we want, but that we do what He wants. God laughs at those who think they have godlike powers. The opposite is true. The smaller we see ourselves, the greater we become.

Adapted from “Covenant & Conversation,” a collection of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’s parshiyot hashavua essays, published by Maggid Books, an imprint of Koren Publishers Jerusalem, in conjunction with the Orthodox Union.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

The Parsha Experiment – Chukat: A Turning Point In Israel’s Relationship With God

Friday, July 15th, 2016

This week, we get even more complaining from Israel – this time, about the lack of water. How can they continue to complain after everything God had done for them? Join us as we explore the baffling story of Israel’s complaints.

 

Video:

This video is from Rabbi David Block and Immanuel Shalev.

Immanuel Shalev

The Special Relationship Of Children To God

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

The Talmud in several areas stresses the effects of studying a subject when one is young. At one point it quotes an incident of a sage who forgot a Jewish law and attributed his lapse in memory to the fact that he didn’t study it when he was very young.

Pirkei Avot compares the acquisition of knowledge of a child to writing on a blank piece of paper that has never been erased, while that of an adult to a paper that is full of erasures. The muddled and ambiguity of the adult mind pales to the lucidity and the innocence of the mind of a child. Wordsworth in his famous poem “Intimations of Immortality” alludes to the uniqueness of a child and the unique relationship that they have to their creator. Indeed Jewish tradition speaks of the singular connection that children have with almighty God. Their prayers are accepted more readily because of their innocence and because of their uncanny ability to understand the unlimited powers of the creator. For children time is endless, with no beginning or end. So too our creator has neither beginning nor end; for Almighty God, time is boundless. Children identify uniquely with their creator by the sheer fact that they are closer to their birth time. The further we move from our birth, the more we fill our minds with doubt and question regarding our creator.

At the same time that they are so close to God, a child’s mind is so impressionable. What we teach our children-the impressions that we place upon their minds-become indelible in shaping their future existence and destiny. Often, remarks that are made to children when they are young never leave them and are their source of strength or weakness in the years to come.

I remember vividly as a young third grader sitting in class and being actively involved in the Chumash lesson of my teacher. At one point the text was confusing to me and I raised my hand to ask a question. For me the question that I was about to ask had value and I was always taught by my parents that one must ask questions to gain knowledge. I believed that the answer was essential for me to understand the lesson. However when I asked the question the teacher innocently and without malice or forethought laughed and said that my question was stupid and the answer was obvious. He called it a klutz kasha, an idiot question.

That remark, as innocent as it was, remained with me even until today. When I sit at a shiur I hesitate to ask a question because of that remark that was made to me decades ago. Though there is no logical reasoning behind my fears, that feeling of inadequacy that I received as a young lad remains with me even today.

We all know that sibling relationships reenact themselves when in the presence of parents. Even when we are older and married, we slip back to the times that we were children. The same child, who was looked upon as the smartest, again takes on the same role that he had when he was growing up, regardless of how successful he has become or whether his siblings have surpassed him in their intellectual abilities.

The Talmud in Taanit states that if you see a student who is not successful in his studies it is because his/her teacher did not smile at him/her. Once again stressing the delicate and impressionable minds of our children and the enormous responsibility that educators have in assuring that these imprints are wholesome and positive.

Rabbi Mordechai Weiss

Shelach: How Can I Trust God When I Don’t See Him?

Friday, July 1st, 2016

This week, we read about the tragic sin of the spies. It’s a very frustrating story. Every time we read it, just as the spies are about to give their report, we want to scream out, “NO – DON’T DO IT!” How could they have doubted God? How could they have sinned so egregiously?

 

Want More?

Join our growing community: https://goo.gl/xv0UbG
Help us grow and support what we do: https://goo.gl/NRLN3d
Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Aleph.Beta.Academy
Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Alephbeta123

Rabbi David Fohrman

Gateway to Temple of the ‘God’ Pan May Have Been Excavated at Golan National Park

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Has the gate to the compound of the god Pan been discovered at Sussita (Hippos) National Park in the Golan? A monumental Roman gate discovered in the excavations by the University of Haifa at Hippos may cast light on the bronze mask of Pan – the only object of its kind found anywhere in the world – that was discovered in the same site during last year’s excavation season. “Now that the whole gate has been exposed, we not only have better information for dating the mask, but also a clue to its function. Are we looking at a gate that led to the sanctuary of the god Pan or one of the rustic gods?” wonders Dr. Michael Eisenberg, the head of the expedition.

Last year, researchers from the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa made one of the most unique and unusual findings of recent years. They unearthed a bronze mask representing Pan, the god of shepherds. Half man and half goat, Pan also represents fields, music, and merriment. The discovery was huge on a global scale. It also seriously complicated efforts to date the item or explain its possible function.

Dr. Eisenberg notes that for the time being it has only been possible to suggest hypotheses regarding the mask’s original functioning and to use artistic and stylistic criteria to propose a possible date for its casting.

Hippos saddle side – an accurate photogrammetric model of the gates' structure, the two towers and the gate between them. The mask of Pan is placed where it was found. (Photo Credit: Dr. Michael Eisenberg, Photogrammetry: Eli Gershtein)

Hippos saddle side – an accurate photogrammetric model of the gates’ structure, the two towers and the gate between them. The mask of Pan is placed where it was found. (Photo Credit: Dr. Michael Eisenberg, Photogrammetry: Eli Gershtein)

The mask was discovered in the remains of a large basalt ashlar building, and the researchers assumed that uncovering the building would provide additional information about the unique object. As happens almost every year, Sussita did not fail to yield some surprises. The researchers were working on the hypothesis that the building formed part of the fortifications of the city, but as they dug deeper they found two square basalt towers with dimensions of approximately 6.30 meters x 6.30 meters and a portal of 3.7 meters wide in-between. The researchers concluded that the original gateway was over six meters high, while the building (propylaeum) itself was even taller. The propylaeum can probably be dated to the period of the Emperor Hadrian, who reigned from 117 to 138 CE, or slightly earlier. The mask was presumably fixed to a wall or altar at the compound, as its rear side included remnants of lead used for stabilization purposes. Now, however, the researchers can offer a fuller analysis regarding not only the mask’s dating, but also its function.

The team that exposed the portal at the end of the day, next to the structure of the gate (Photo Credit: Dr. Michael Eisenberg)

The team that exposed the portal at the end of the day, next to the structure of the gate (Photo Credit: Dr. Michael Eisenberg)

“When we found the mask on its own, we assumed that it had filled a ritual function. Since we found it outside the city, one of the hypotheses was that we were looking at evidence of a mysterious ritual center that existed outside the city. However, as we all know, monumental gate structures lead to large compounds. Accordingly, it is not impossible that this gate led to a large building complex – perhaps a sanctuary in honor of the god Pan or one of the other rustic gods – situated just before the entrance to the city of Hippos,” Dr. Eisenberg suggests.

“The mask, and now the gate in which it was embedded, are continuing to fire our imaginations. The worship of Pan sometimes included ceremonies involving drinking, sacrifices, and ecstatic rituals including nudity and sex. This worship usually took place outside the city walls, in caves and other natural settings. We are very familiar with the city of Paneas to the north of Hippos, which was the site of one of the best-known sanctuaries for the worship of Pan. But here we find a monumental gate and evidence of an extensive compound, so that the mystery only gets stranger. What kind of worship of Pan or his fellow Dionysus, the god of wine, took place here in Hippos? To answer that question, we will have to keep on digging,” concludes Dr. Eisenberg.

Since 2000, the ancient city of Hippos has gradually being unearthed by an international expedition under the auspices of the Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa. Hippos lies within Sussita National Park, which is managed by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. The next excavation season will be held in July 2016, with the participation of dozens of researchers and volunteers from Israel and around the world.

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/gateway-to-temple-of-the-god-pan-may-have-been-excavated-at-golan-national-park/2016/06/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: