Rabbi Wolpe's response to the New Atheists is a historical look at traditions of faith and the good they have done.
His examination also reflects on the difficult questions faith cannot always answer, including the many instances when religions have resorted to violence.
Rabbi Wolpe will be in conversation with Jeffrey Goldberg of The New Yorker. This event is co-sponsored with Politics & Prose- Sixth and I Historic Synagogue
Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent of The Atlantic. Before joining the magazine in 2007, he was Middle East correspondent and Washington correspondent for The New Yorker. Previously, he served as a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York Magazine. He has also written for the Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post. His book Prisoners has been hailed as one of the best books of 2006. Goldberg is the recipient of the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism. He is also the winner of an International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist, an Overseas Press Club award for best human rights reporting, and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism. He is also the recipient of 2005’s Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize.
Named the #1 Pulpit Rabbi in America and the second most influential Rabbi in America by Newsweek magazine, David Wolpe is the Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California. He previously taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York, the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, Hunter College, and he currently teaches at UCLA. In 2003 Rabbi Wolpe was named one of the hundred most influential Jews in America by Forward. He is the author of seven books, including the national bestseller Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times. His new book, Why Faith Matters, is largely a response to atheist theories.
Rabbi David Wolpe percieves the arguments against religion from atheists like Christopher Hitchens as mockery, saying they hold believers in contempt. He cites harsh criticism against Sarah Palin's religious beliefs as an example.
In discussing a supposed connection between violence and religion, Rabbi David Wolpe says that while Islam has some violent elements in its scripture, it shares that trait with all religions. He points out that large Muslim nations like Indonesia are neither radical or violent.
Critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or divine beings. Unlike agnosticism, which leaves open the question of whether there is a God, atheism is a positive denial. It is rooted in an array of philosophical systems. Ancient Greek philosophers such as Democritus and Epicurus argued for it in the context of materialism. In the 18th century David Hume and Immanuel Kant, though not atheists, argued against traditional proofs for God's existence, making belief a matter of faith alone. Atheists such as Ludwig Feuerbach held that God was a projection of human ideals and that recognizing this fiction made self-realization possible. Marxism exemplified modern materialism. Beginning with Friedrich Nietzsche, existentialist atheism proclaimed the death of God and the human freedom to determine value and meaning. Logical positivism holds that propositions concerning the existence or nonexistence of God are nonsensical or meaningless.
By his own story, can I assume that Wolpe never answered the original question - "why do they hate us?". A simple and fair answer would be because many religious people claim to know things that they simply do not know, at all. They make claims of special knowledge and then try to thrust it upon the rest of us.
As for Roberts in particular, I can see many reasons why a rational person would have nothing but bitter and acrid loathing for such a huckster. A huckster who claims, among other equally ridiculous/religious things, to have raised a child from the dead, to have had a conversation with a 900 foot Jesus, and to have foreseen the "end of days". All the while bilking the ignorant, the elderly, and the generally hopeless out of what little material possessions they have, as well as their common sense.
I saw the Wolpe Harris debate. Wolpe whines incessantly about the "intangible". Obviously, because it's intangible, he can't define it for us, so we have no idea of what he's talking about. The only conclusive statement that I can glean from his side of the debate is that there is something else out there, other than what we can measure. But then he turns right around and makes claims about what this unmeasurable thing actually is, what it wants from us, and how we should live our lives to gain favor with it. He claims to know it's thoughts, and that he is qualified to "relay" them to you and I.
Wolpe and Roberts may not be equally as evil, but they are cut from the same cloth. Both claim irrational believe as a virtue and, at best, puzzle over the scorn from those that simply cannot convince themselves of the seemingly impossible without a single shred of proof. Polar opposite to these men is Haldane who summed it up when he said that the universe is "queerer than we can suppose". Why can't religious people just leave it at that?
I can't speak for others, but I do not hold believers in contempt because they believe in the supernatural. What I do find contemptible are actions such as denying life saving medical treatment to children in favor of prayer. People have every right to believe what they want so long as it doesn't interfere with our rights, doesn't cause harm to individuals, or enters into public law.
what is it that they want us to believe, and why don't the various religions and denominations agree on what that is? and if they do agree on what we are supposed to believe, then why are there so many different religions?
Despite his best efforts to argue the case for religion I feel he does not offer enough to win that argument against atheism and the logic of scientific reasoning. Regardless of what he or anyone else might think about the personalities or argumentative style of the people he debates (Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens) they seem more than capable and up-to-the-task to debunk, repudiate, rationalize, and intelligently discuss and topic within the debate – and make more sense than Wolpe. Wolpe’s beliefs about religion and morality are handled quite well by Harris and Hitchens by the way. I urge you to find their debates and make up your own mind. Also check out Marc D. Hauser, PH.D. and his insight into the morality issue.