AP Photo/Keiko Niwa

Back to the Middle Ages

Op-ed: Growing religious tendencies among Israelis bad news for country’s future

Last week, God was happy. A serious poll found that the number of believers in His existence is growing. Israelis who define themselves as “haredim,” “religious” and “traditional” currently comprise an overwhelming majority among the population.


The responses provided to questions regarding faith in the Messiah’s coming, the existence of a soul, the Jewish nation’s uniqueness and so on showed that most Jewish Israelis hold views that entail belief in God. We are the most faithful population among Western nations.


On the other hand, God’s disappointment with the Jews who live outside of Israel continues. About half of all American Jews, and according to some studies even more, say they do not believe in God’s existence. Moreover, the younger, more educated and wealthier they are, the weaker their faith.


As America’s Jews are the world’s most educated ethnic group and among the richest too, one may wonder about God’s negligence in meting out justice. After all, he happens to spoil the heretics of all people.


A statistical correspondence between education and economic status on the one hand and the lack of faith on the other is reflected by the data collected in Israel as well, even though statistics is a crude measure of the truth. After all, there are many faithful among those who succeeded in life and possess great wealth and plenty of knowledge. This does not undermine my unfaithfulness, but rather, boosts my concern.


I wonder whether the extensive and growing spread of faith in God is good for us. Some argue it serves as national glue. This is a tempting claim, yet we should keep in mind that many nations disappeared from this world while incredibly united by beliefs that shattered in the face of changes. It’s more important to look into the products of faith in God, and given the poll’s results I believe this faith comprises major intellectual flaws.


Chosen people?

For example, most Jews in Israel believe in the coming of the Messiah. Had I been convinced that their faith expresses longing for a better world, I would say it’s a constructive force. Yet based on what I see around me, this isn’t the case: For many, the “Messiah” is a noble person who shall revive the dead, bring the Temple down to our world, produce a heaven on earth, and while at it make sure that Maccabi Tel Aviv wins the European Championship. I shall cautiously say that the probability of such Messiah’s arrival isn’t high.


Or, for example, the faith in the existence of a “soul” that is separate from the body. Most believers do not view the “soul” as a metaphor for emotions, but rather, are certain that it is an entity lacking weight or volume that flies out of one’s body upon his death, exists forever, and is absorbed in the bodies of people who are yet to be born. I doubt whether a society where most people believe in such nonsense can produce an enlightened nation.


Yet despite most of us being subjected to this nonsensical rule, we still cling to the belief that we are the “chosen people.” Even those who doubt that God chose us to lead the world and impart positive traits believe that we hold a unique hereditary and cultural tradition that enabled us to reach exceptional intellectual achievements, such as disproportional representation among Nobel Prize laureates.


Yet the truth is that almost all Jewish Nobel laureates greatly distanced from Jewish culture and most of them were and still are complete heretics. It was only the willingness to leave faith behind that enabled Jews to excel. Hence, the poll’s results show us that the path for going back from “enlightenment” to the Middle Ages has been paved.


This process bodes badly for the State’s existence. Luckily, our neighbors espouse Allah more than we cling to God. The qualitative gap between us and them will be eliminated once the last Israeli atheists disappear as well.



פרסום ראשון: 01.30.12, 12:31
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