Does It Matter Which Religion an Atheist Rejects?

Although most professed atheists reject religion in general, they usually have a specific religion in mind. The sociologist Peter Berger argues that today’s atheism has roots in “Abrahamic” monotheism, and the term applies only to those who reject the theologies of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. Usually they do so when confronted with the problem of theodicy: the idea of a just and benevolent God in a world manifestly filled with evil and suffering:

Suffering is endemic to the human condition, and so is the urge to overcome or at least to explain it. Different attempts to satisfy this urge are not neatly divided geographically. Theodicy in its full force is unlikely to appear in contexts shaped by the religious imagination of the Indian subcontinent, as manifested in Hinduism and Buddhism (the latter could only arise from the former). I have long argued that the most interesting religious dichotomy is between Jerusalem and Benares (now called Varanasi)—the city in which the Jewish Temple stood, where Jesus was crucified and resurrected, where Muhammad began his nocturnal journey to heaven—and that other city, where millions of pilgrims continue to immerse themselves in the holy waters of the river Ganges, and near which the Buddha preached his first sermon after attaining Enlightenment. . . . The fundamental assumption of the Indian view of the cosmos is reincarnation—the linked realities of samsara and karma, the endless cycle of rebirths and deaths, and the cosmic law that the consequences of human actions, good or bad, are carried from one life to the next. I would propose that in this view the “Jerusalem” problem of theodicy evaporates.

Read more at American Interest

More about: Atheism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Religion, Theodicy

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7