How do the Theists explain the holocaust

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kidwithshirt
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How do the Theists explain the holocaust

Postby kidwithshirt » Tue Dec 04, 2007 2:44 am UTC

First off let me make myself understandable first. I am a high school student who started reading "Night" for an English class. Since I am always interested in fully understanding what I am reading, I tend to ask a lot of questions about the books I am reading.

But back on the topic, how do the Jews like to think why the holocaust happened? I know that a large portion of the Jews who were sent into the camps were very strong in their faith. But I would like to know how they would explain why would God do such terrible thing to their people?

I know that in fact a lot of them lost their faith in God after the holocaust, many of the survivors today don't even believe in their religion anymore. So I think for these individuals, they would just explain that: okay, there is no God, I am just an unlucky person who were born into the wrong race at the wrong time.

But let's go back to the people who still were faithful after their survival, or even the Jewish community today. Do they just believe that Hitler was just one of God's anomalies?

From reading Elie Weisel's Night, I have have found some interesting themes. He explained it as the absence of God caused all this. His entire story alluded the biblical story of Abraham and his son Issac (sorry I m just sticking with the Christian version here, I know some people call it Ishmael), where God intervened and sent an angel to stop the killing at the last moment when Abraham's weapon almost penetrated his son's body. But in Night Elie felt that he was actually the one doing the killing -- to his father -- and that he technically caused his father's death because of the things he didn't do. Thus it's a big reverse on God's promise, to Elie the world was upside down.

So in order for me to understand this further, I want to know more about how the Jewish community interpret or just general deal with Holocaust related issues today. And I know a lot of Christians know about this issue, it would be helpful to learn how this event was received in the Christian churches.

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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby N.K. » Tue Dec 04, 2007 3:28 am UTC

I ask a rather different question, more among the lines of how Christians can justify such a horrid massacre occurring because of a group's relationship with Jesus. Do they just believe that Hitler was just one of God's anomalies?

As to your question? Last I checked, the Jewish were enslaved in Egypt before being freed by Moses or whoever. They went through some pretty rough shit in there too, though not quite the same. It could still be used as an analogy. Mind though, I'm agnostic so I'm not the most, ah, religiously versed.

Also, for the record, I'm not biased against any religious groups.

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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby btilly » Tue Dec 04, 2007 3:32 am UTC

God doesn't need a reason. Haven't you read the story of Job? In the Old Testament there are lots more examples of God being rather nasty to the Jews with a variety of reasons given for his behaviour.

Plus I'll note that any Jew who is surprised that God would permit persecution of Jews needs to review the last few thousand years of Jewish history. What Hitler did was extreme, but it was in line with what the Jews have been dealing with for a long time.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby TheStranger » Tue Dec 04, 2007 3:50 am UTC

N.K. wrote:I ask a rather different question, more among the lines of how Christians can justify such a horrid massacre occurring because of a group's relationship with Jesus. Do they just believe that Hitler was just one of God's anomalies?


The Jewish people were just the most convenient scapegoat for the Nazi party, it had little to do with their relationship to Christianity. Remember that the Nazi party was not a Christian group.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby N.K. » Tue Dec 04, 2007 4:00 am UTC

TheStranger wrote:
N.K. wrote:I ask a rather different question, more among the lines of how Christians can justify such a horrid massacre occurring because of a group's relationship with Jesus. Do they just believe that Hitler was just one of God's anomalies?

The Jewish people were just the most convenient scapegoat for the Nazi party, it had little to do with their relationship to Christianity. Remember that the Nazi party was not a Christian group.

True, and I'm not blaming Christianity here or nothing (Blaming a group with such varying beliefs would be silly either way) but would a true religion be used as a tool for promoting Nazism? And if not, couldn't that shake the beliefs of some Christians?

I'm just saying that there's two sides to the coin here, and that the Holocaust could shake up members of both groups from their beliefs.

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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby ++$_ » Tue Dec 04, 2007 4:09 am UTC

This is related to the problem of evil. Anyone who has faith in a "good" God has wrestled with this problem in some way or another, with varying results. See Theodicy on Wikipedia for an incomplete list of solutions to the problem.

There's also a problem concerning what it means for the Jews to be the "chosen people." There are a variety of interpretations for this, but most emphasize that the Jews were chosen by God to receive the Torah and to keep its laws. Some thinkers say that all nations are chosen for specific purposes: for example, the (ancient) Greeks were chosen to bring art, philosophy, and mathematics into the world. The Jews are special in that they were chosen to be responsible for religion and morality. God does not watch over the Jews any more than he does over other people, except inasmuch as he watches over religion more than his other creations (which could be "not at all more").

Also, see Amos 3:2 : "You only have I singled out of all the families of the earth: therefore will I visit upon you all your iniquities."

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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby andqso » Tue Dec 04, 2007 4:36 am UTC

It should be noted, of course, that many Jews lost their faith in the concentration camps.

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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby 22/7 » Tue Dec 04, 2007 6:30 am UTC

btilly wrote:God doesn't need a reason. Haven't you read the story of Job? In the Old Testament there are lots more examples of God being rather nasty to the Jews with a variety of reasons given for his behaviour.

Emphasis added by me.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Rovec » Tue Dec 04, 2007 8:03 am UTC

[quote="kidwithshirt"] But I would like to know how they would explain why would God do such terrible thing to their people?
quote]

While I'm unsure how the Jewish people would explain such acts of wickedness, as a Christen (One of Jehovah's Witnesses) questions like this come up a lot. From my understanding, in Eden not only did humans loose their perfection, but the issue of universal sovereignty was brought up. Basically, Satan stipulated that humans could rule themselves without God. Since then, for the most part, God has allowed humans time to experiment with ruling over each other without any intervention from him. That way, he shows to everyone that mankind isn't fit to rule themselves. He's allowed plenty of time so that no arguments to the contrary could be raised.

In that time though, mankind has done horrible things to one another such as the Holocaust. All of them are evidence that mankind is failing at what they thought they could undertake--directing their own steps. To many it might seem cruel, but in the end an infinite amount of people are spared the horrors of that kind of life once Jehovah brings about paradise and those that were killed in dreadful genocides or murders will be brought back to life with a second chance and those that were hurt because of it won't have to deal with the painful mental after effects.

That is why God has allowed suffering to continue, but thankfully it won't go on forever.

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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby kidwithshirt » Tue Dec 04, 2007 8:41 am UTC

22/7 wrote:
btilly wrote:God doesn't need a reason. Haven't you read the story of Job? In the Old Testament there are lots more examples of God being rather nasty to the Jews with a variety of reasons given for his behaviour.

Emphasis added by me.


Sure God is the Almighty. But what do the Jews do to get over this kind of stuff, particularly the holocaust? I mean Judaism is a religion has been around for a while now, and most of them have heard the stories about Job.

But see if I was Jewish (I am a Baptist), I would be pretty mad about all the unfairness that's happening to me since God is apparently biased toward my people.

Even though I am not as devoted to my religion as I should be, but most of the time whenever something happens to me, I would reflected it in a way that I start thinking whether God is a part of this, and if so why he's doing this to me. Now I am really fatalistic I believe that everything happens to me is already planned by him, I m just living mechanically under God's plan.

It would be helpful to listen to the opinion of an actual Jewish individual who's also active in the Jewish community. I want to know how they can euphemize this issue and just get over it. Because for me, I just don't see a way to justify this and let it go.

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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Malice » Tue Dec 04, 2007 8:49 am UTC

A lot of good came out of the Holocaust. The most dire of situations provided the backdrop for some of the most beautiful and noble actions of humanity--the same way that 9/11 presented opportunities for bravery and heroism.

The Holocaust also serves as a harsh warning against racism, totalitarianism, and other problems which led to it.

It's also arguable that without the Holocaust, there would be no Israel. The Holocaust was a great evil, but it led to God's chosen regaining the land promised to them thousands of years ago. That's not bad for a silver lining, don't you think?
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Rook » Tue Dec 04, 2007 12:44 pm UTC

N.K. wrote:True, and I'm not blaming Christianity here or nothing (Blaming a group with such varying beliefs would be silly either way) but would a true religion be used as a tool for promoting Nazism? And if not, couldn't that shake the beliefs of some Christians?

What one of those when it's at home? 'Religion' is just a set of rigorously held core beliefs. It needn't even be an organisation.*

Back on-topic, it's people. Saying 'how could a loving God let this happen' is pointless, because the cause of all this suffering is, directly at least, people. Blame a fallen angel for starting it if you want to; right now that's irrelevant. Having eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we know the difference between good and evil, and can choose between them. The fact is, some people are just like that. Not that they might not have been different with a different upbringing, or in other circumstances, but being able to choose doesn't mean we will always choose correctly.


*Pet Peeve #515: Misappropriation of the word 'religion' to mean Christianity/The Church/one of the major religious groups.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Maurog » Tue Dec 04, 2007 1:37 pm UTC

Are you sure? Do you really think Hitler thought of himself as the bad guy? That he clearly saw that killing Jews is evil, and not killing them is good, and, for his own reasons, chose to side with evil? I find that very hard to believe. It's much more likely that, a deluded person as he was, he seen the Jews as evil, and himself as the good guy, and used any tools he had at his disposal to destroy them.

In fact, I find this whole "punished for abusing your gift of free will" concept of heaven/hell inconsistent with the idea of Devil's influence. The Devil can cloud our judgement so that we can no longer distinguish between good and evil? What kind of crappy fruit of knowledge was that? I want my money back!

For example, while I see a lot of good intentions in the religion of Christianity, my fruit of knowledge senses mark it as very evil indeed. Does anyone else see the contradiction here? How can I mend my "evil" ways if they don't register as "evil"? Why does my evildar work correctly on everything else, but fails to see worshipping God as "good"? Am I broken? Are you?
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Rook » Tue Dec 04, 2007 1:54 pm UTC

Hmm... re-reading, I can see how it sounds like that.

What I meant was simply that there is no reason to blame God, the devil, or anyone but ourselves for all the crap that happens. As to not being able to tell; we do stuff all the time without thinking about it. When I do something wrong, it's *usually* because I'm not thinking about it while I'm doing it. This is why hindsight is so annoying.

And who ever said that non-core beliefs had to be consistent? Have you seen how many schisms there are over trivial things like what type of decorations should be allowed in church? It's nuts!
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby 22/7 » Tue Dec 04, 2007 4:03 pm UTC

Maurog wrote:Are you sure? Do you really think Hitler thought of himself as the bad guy? That he clearly saw that killing Jews is evil, and not killing them is good, and, for his own reasons, chose to side with evil? I find that very hard to believe. It's much more likely that, a deluded person as he was, he seen the Jews as evil, and himself as the good guy, and used any tools he had at his disposal to destroy them.

Hitler saw the Jews as a convenient internal scapegoat with which to unite his country.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Kizyr » Tue Dec 04, 2007 4:31 pm UTC

Godwin's La---oh, wait a minute...

22/7 wrote:Hitler saw the Jews as a convenient internal scapegoat with which to unite his country.

Expanding on this... I doubt that there was any idea of 'good/evil' factoring into his use of Jews as a scapegoat. Perhaps more of an idea of what he thought was necessarily or justifiable to reaching his end goals (proving Aryan supremacy, conquering Europe, etc.).

However, there were a lot of other things that he did that, from his standpoint (and from the Nazi standpoint), they would likely have thought of as good. Sterilizing certain segments of the population, like the mentally handicapped, for instance. Or the medical experiments that Dr Mengele and others carried out in the concentration camps. They probably figured it was all serving some kind of greater good, although that "good" was essentially tied to preserving Aryan supremacy. Stretching further back to the era of slavery in the United States, or perhaps feudalistic serfdom, there's a pretty close parallel in terms of this idea: certain segments of society have to be "kept in their place" in order for all of society to function.

This, and many other historical examples, are why I find it just as important to make sure that one's means towards achieving any end goal is justifiable. Ignoring the morality of one's means can very easily jump over into all this business about a 'greater good'. But, I don't want to get all off-topic here.

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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby podbaydoor » Tue Dec 04, 2007 4:56 pm UTC

N.K. wrote:I ask a rather different question, more among the lines of how Christians can justify such a horrid massacre occurring because of a group's relationship with Jesus. Do they just believe that Hitler was just one of God's anomalies?


Someone else addressed this already, but perhaps it should also be noted that Christians were involved in the underground that tried to help Jews escape from Reich territory.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby space_raptor » Tue Dec 04, 2007 6:13 pm UTC

kidwithshirt wrote:But back on the topic, how do the Jews like to think why the holocaust happened? I know that a large portion of the Jews who were sent into the camps were very strong in their faith. But I would like to know how they would explain why would God do such terrible thing to their people?

I know that in fact a lot of them lost their faith in God after the holocaust, many of the survivors today don't even believe in their religion anymore. So I think for these individuals, they would just explain that: okay, there is no God, I am just an unlucky person who were born into the wrong race at the wrong time.

But let's go back to the people who still were faithful after their survival, or even the Jewish community today. Do they just believe that Hitler was just one of God's anomalies?

Not sure about the Jews, but most... well, some Christians believe in free will. IE, God does not control anything in the world directly. His realm is the afterlife.

Hitler and the Holocaust happened because humans are capable of monstrosities. The idea that God controls anything that happens in the world is pretty childish, if you ask me. It's up to humanity to run things on our own.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Pai » Sat Dec 08, 2007 10:14 am UTC

One of the better explanations of 'The Nature of Evil and God' that I've come across, reposted here as the original forum it appeared in is now dead:

In the wake of the Holocaust and the World Wars, we've begun reading a fair bit about the "problem of evil". Or basically, "where was God during the Holocaust?" As I think about it, the more disattached from the question I become. "Where was God?" isn't my problem. Rather, what I find problematic is the fact that this question exists at all. It seems to me that it means that either a chunk of Western civilization lacks theological maturity, or I lack philosophical maturity for not "getting it".

This question faces me because the so-called "problem of evil" is one of the basic and most easy ones to answer, at least for me. It's based on two main faulty premises: what the problem of evil is, and what consitutes God "doing something" about it.

The first faulty premise is that evil is an external force imposed on humanity which God could evaporate were He willing. This is an elementary theological error: the problem of evil is not something imposed on humanity... the problem of evil is humanity. We are the cause of evil in the world. A person isn't forced to work under inhuman conditions in a third world sweatshop for Victorian wages because of externally imposed metaphysical evil. They are forced to do so because you and I want to buy cheap shit at WalMart, and all the political forces that play into upholding that system.

The second is that by God not acting deus ex machina to "solve" the problem, He's effectively not doing anything. However, we must be careful what we ask for. The Bible has a story about God doing just that: it's called "The Flood" and it involves the destruction of humanity. Looking at the previous example, the first step in God solving the evil of sweatshop labor is to kill every North American. I'm sure this is not the solution most critics are looking for, especially since they generally think of themselves as being "basically good" people.

The solution that Christian theology believes God upholds is that of compelling us rather than leading us. The whole point of this exercise is the reconciliation of humanity in love, and you can't force that, and without the fullness of humanity it becomes impossible. Therefore, God's doing something about it is what He did do about it: became Jesus to lead us in the path of suffering sacrificial love. Anything contrary to that is merely compounding the problem.

This lack of self-examination, not realizing that humanity is the problem and that the solution lay in the transformation of humanity in the Spirit, is a decidely Modern habit. The whole Modern era has been one of external motivations, looking for freedom from that outside ourselves by controlling that outside ourselves. Evil is seen as being outside ourselves, and if God's solution is not what we would do (the heavy hand of peace through tyranny), then we don't imagine Him to be doing anything at all.

In respects to the Holocaust, the emotional cry of those who suffered somehow rings hollow. Easy for me to say since I haven't suffered in any real sense any day of my life. But would the anguish of those who suffered in the Nazi Holocaust in the 20th century be easy compared to the Roman Holocaust in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd centuries? I can only imagine that the question of "where was God" being asked by people who, even professing a civil religion, have no real sense of God's meaningful involvement in their lives in the good times. As I wrote for a Lenten liturgy once: "In affluence we turn away from You/And in poverty we turn against You."

Too easy for me to pontificate about how they should have felt? Well, the early Christians never asked the question of "where was God" when they were getting crucified, ripped apart by animals, slain by gladiators, burned alive as torches in Nero's garden or left out on the ice to freeze to death. They knew exactly where God was and knew that it was for Him that they were being killed.

Furthermore, I can't even relate to the concept of God which they speak of. Another text I read asked the question of whether a truly contemporary person couldn't be an atheist. Though it was written by a Borg-esque, Spong-esque bishop with the best interests of the Church at heart, I had to stop reading because the message was utterly irrelevant to me. Basically, he was talking about how the the Church has to get beyond an image of God that is intellectually unecessary and morally repugnant, to drift into atheism to be reborn into a deeper and meaningful image of the Ultimate Reality.

I suppose... But I have issues with that because this has never been my conception of God. I've never believed or been raised to believe in a god who was arbitrary, who's role was to fill in scientific gaps and who exercised brute power concepts by sending to Hell people who didn't believe in some dogmas about Him. But the echoes of this ring in the words of 50 year old academic theologians... Marcus Borg, John Spong, John Crossan and so on. They keep trying to "strike back" against these ideas about God, and all I see them doing is shadow-boxing. And their solutions to this grand non-problem seem to me worse than the non-problem itself: a theology based on being an antithesis to a faulty idea of God to begin with. Against an intellectually unecessary and morally repugnant God that is totally alien to me, they raise a tepid and generic "spirituality" for affluent Westerners. And we already know where that leads us...

So it goes on. People raise the spectre of science and say that old beliefs like the virgin birth and resurrection are no longer tenable in this age, to which I respond "well no shit, that's why they're miracles." A trite response, but to me it's a pretty daft objection. I've also lost patience for academic theologians who take a long time and use unintelligible language to state points that I just take for granted, as though somehow they're making a radical discovery. I dunno'... It's like they have to go to university for 10 years to catch up for not being born 20 years later.

Where this poses a real problem for me is that I find I can't relate to the world around me anymore. How can I express meaningful ideas to a society still anxious over the meaningless ones. I find it both irritating and sad that people, whether faithful or faithless, are still harping on ideas they know to be wrong, know to be absurd and unfulfilling, but still treating them like they were legitimate theology. Part of me is heartened by the encounter of more and more people in my general age group who take the same things for granted as I do and find the same 20th century ideas as irrelevant as I do. That means the tides are shifting. However, I also feel a bit of melancholy and frustration that I also meet so many people of my general age group who still labor under 20th century ideas and think they've conclusively figured religion out.

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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby schmiggen » Sat Dec 08, 2007 11:06 am UTC

space_raptor wrote:Not sure about the Jews, but most... well, some Christians believe in free will. IE, God does not control anything in the world directly. His realm is the afterlife.


Just curious -- it just occurred to me -- do we not retain free will in heaven? (or what do you imagine those Christians would say?) If we do, then what does God do in the afterlife? Maybe he doesn't do anything there, and his part is entirely in the transfer of people from the world as we know it to heaven?
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Ghandi 2 » Sat Dec 08, 2007 11:20 am UTC

schmiggen wrote:
space_raptor wrote:Not sure about the Jews, but most... well, some Christians believe in free will. IE, God does not control anything in the world directly. His realm is the afterlife.


Just curious -- it just occurred to me -- do we not retain free will in heaven? (or what do you imagine those Christians would say?) If we do, then what does God do in the afterlife? Maybe he doesn't do anything there, and his part is entirely in the transfer of people from the world as we know it to heaven?

Once you are dead, your choices are fixed because there is no time with which to make them. Time does not exist anymore, there is only one moment of eternity. That's why you can't simply repent once you're in Hell or Fall once you're in Heaven. I know I probably sound like an idiot, but it's a difficult thing to explain because the human mind can't really grasp eternity.

If you're wondering about the angels, we don't know. People guess that they were given a choice at their creation, and then that would be set forever.
N.K. wrote:I ask a rather different question, more among the lines of how Christians can justify such a horrid massacre occurring because of a group's relationship with Jesus. Do they just believe that Hitler was just one of God's anomalies?

Free will.

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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Anpheus » Sat Dec 08, 2007 11:33 am UTC

Malice wrote:A lot of good came out of the Holocaust. The most dire of situations provided the backdrop for some of the most beautiful and noble actions of humanity--the same way that 9/11 presented opportunities for bravery and heroism.


No.

Lives aren't worth the either the opportunity or the result of bravery and heroism.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby 22/7 » Sat Dec 08, 2007 11:55 am UTC

Anpheus wrote:
Malice wrote:A lot of good came out of the Holocaust. The most dire of situations provided the backdrop for some of the most beautiful and noble actions of humanity--the same way that 9/11 presented opportunities for bravery and heroism.


No.

Lives aren't worth the either the opportunity or the result of bravery and heroism.

Well, the next time someone is giving you the option of one or the other, then you be sure and take the "not killing anyone" route. However, as it normally goes with most genocide, an option was not given. You only have two options at this impasse. Either you can accept that some good came out of such a horrible event or you can stick your head in the sand and say "somebody died, nothing good can come of this."
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Anpheus » Sat Dec 08, 2007 11:59 am UTC

22/7 wrote:
Anpheus wrote:
Malice wrote:A lot of good came out of the Holocaust. The most dire of situations provided the backdrop for some of the most beautiful and noble actions of humanity--the same way that 9/11 presented opportunities for bravery and heroism.


No.

Lives aren't worth the either the opportunity or the result of bravery and heroism.

Well, the next time someone is giving you the option of one or the other, then you be sure and take the "not killing anyone" route. However, as it normally goes with most genocide, an option was not given. You only have two options at this impasse. Either you can accept that some good came out of such a horrible event or you can stick your head in the sand and say "somebody died, nothing good can come of this."


Did you read his post at all?

Malice said, "A lot of good came out of the Holocaust."

I am saying that no, nothing good came out of it. Those people who were brave and heroic did so with the honor they deserve, but the world would be a better place had they not needed to be brave or heroic.

Don't strawman me!
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby 22/7 » Sat Dec 08, 2007 12:22 pm UTC

Anpheus wrote:Malice said, "A lot of good came out of the Holocaust."

I am saying that no, nothing good came out of it. Those people who were brave and heroic did so with the honor they deserve, but the world would be a better place had they not needed to be brave or heroic.

Don't strawman me!

I didn't strawman you. You're just wrong. Even if one person in the world learned that you shouldn't always accept authority and do as you're told, something good came out of it. If one person came away from it saying "we've got to make sure something like this never happens again" and really meant it, then something good came out of it. If the world was given a reminder of just how cruel human beings can be to each other and that served as a warning to future generations, then something good came out of it. Can you honestly say that you believe that nothing even remotely good came from something that lasted years?
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Umlaut » Sat Dec 08, 2007 2:55 pm UTC

Don't the Jews pretty much know by now that if anything bad is going to happen, it's going to be to them? I mean, talk about a study in being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Germany or Egypt, it doesn't matter, some fucker is going to take out all his emo on the Jews.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Anpheus » Sat Dec 08, 2007 6:15 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:
Anpheus wrote:Malice said, "A lot of good came out of the Holocaust."

I am saying that no, nothing good came out of it. Those people who were brave and heroic did so with the honor they deserve, but the world would be a better place had they not needed to be brave or heroic.

Don't strawman me!

I didn't strawman you. You're just wrong. Even if one person in the world learned that you shouldn't always accept authority and do as you're told, something good came out of it. If one person came away from it saying "we've got to make sure something like this never happens again" and really meant it, then something good came out of it. If the world was given a reminder of just how cruel human beings can be to each other and that served as a warning to future generations, then something good came out of it. Can you honestly say that you believe that nothing even remotely good came from something that lasted years?


I don't know if you haven't noticed, but that wasn't worth the cost of millions of lives. I wouldn't trade in ten percent of Germany's population to convince someone that fascism is wrong. I wouldn't trade in millions of lives for a reminder of how cruel people can be.

Nothing good came from the Holocaust. From the actions of the people who tried to prevent it? From the people who helped the Jews and others escape? From the soldiers who fought it? Those actions were good. But not necessary had the Holocaust not happened. The 'net' result here, is NEGATIVE.

The Holocaust was not fucking never neverland...
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby 22/7 » Sat Dec 08, 2007 6:58 pm UTC

We're going to go through this very slowly.

Anpheus wrote:Nothing good came from the Holocaust. From the actions of the people who tried to prevent it? From the people who helped the Jews and others escape? From the soldiers who fought it? Those actions were good.

... Dude.

Anpheus wrote:I don't know if you haven't noticed, but that wasn't worth the cost of millions of lives. I wouldn't trade in ten percent of Germany's population to convince someone that fascism is wrong. I wouldn't trade in millions of lives for a reminder of how cruel people can be.

How much all those lives is worth doesn't play into the equation. The question is, "is there a plus sign anywhere in that equation?" And the answer is a resounding yes. Hell, even you said that good things came out of it in the form of good actions by people trying to defeat those who were perpetrating the acts. Again, it's not a matter of whether or not there was a net gain, I doubt many people would argue that there was, but whether anything good came of it. You can't simultaneously say that people did good things because of it and that nothing good came out of it. Those people doing those good things came out of it, and that is a good thing, even if it is outweighed by the high cost of all those lives.

Edited as noted below.
Last edited by 22/7 on Sat Dec 08, 2007 7:48 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Anpheus » Sat Dec 08, 2007 7:16 pm UTC

I'm sorry, I refuse to argue this any longer. Not only is it insulting to the people who actually had to fight that fucking war, it's insulting to the people who died in it.

HOLOCAUST != GOOD.

And you misquoted me to make me appear to say something I would never say. ~_~
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby 22/7 » Sat Dec 08, 2007 7:30 pm UTC

Anpheus wrote:I'm sorry, I refuse to argue this any longer. Not only is it insulting to the people who actually had to fight that fucking war, it's insulting to the people who died in it.

HOLOCAUST != GOOD.

And you misquoted me to make me appear to say something I would never say. ~_~

I'm sorry if you didn't like the way I quoted you, I was basically just showing you both ends of the same paragraph. However, it was something that you did say, and were right about, namely that good things happened because of the Holocaust. However, if it dismays you that much I'll change the quote so that it is the entire paragraph, not just the first and last sentences.

And dude, seriously. No one is saying that the Holocaust is a good thing, just that good things came out of it. If a guy gets shot and dies, it's a bad thing, right? Well if that guy donates his organs and three people's lives are saved because of his death, that's a good thing, right? That's a good thing coming out of a bad thing. It doesn't trump that the guy died, but it is good and it did come from a bad thing. The scenario with the Holocaust is no different. Lots of bad things happened, and lots of good people (and maybe some bad ones) did good things because of it.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Anpheus » Sat Dec 08, 2007 7:37 pm UTC

Malice wrote:A lot of good came out of the Holocaust. The most dire of situations provided the backdrop for some of the most beautiful and noble actions of humanity--the same way that 9/11 presented opportunities for bravery and heroism.

The Holocaust also serves as a harsh warning against racism, totalitarianism, and other problems which led to it.

It's also arguable that without the Holocaust, there would be no Israel. The Holocaust was a great evil, but it led to God's chosen regaining the land promised to them thousands of years ago. That's not bad for a silver lining, don't you think?


22/7, read that.

Those things do not, in any way, and never will justify millions of deaths. That's a silver lining like having one fewer person killed in the Holocaust is a silver lining. It's a silver lining like saying that liberating Auschwitz and preventing another round of executions that particular day was a silver lining.

Fuck that. In comparison to the Holocaust, anything can be seen as a silver lining.

I'm not going to argue that any good came out of the holocaust because you can literally point to just about anything and it will pale in comparison to the holocaust. You know how sunspots appear black through telescope filters? Those sunspots are brighter than any of the lights in your house. In comparison to the rest of the sun, though, those sunspots are deep, dark pits that stand out like sore thumbs. They're still perhaps, extremely bright, but in comparison to everything else: not at all.

The sun : the holocaust :: Sunspots : ?

The sunspots, if you haven't noticed, due to their temperature, don't affect the luminosity of the sun, just like the actions of a few good people don't turn something like the Holocaust into something good. Sure, if someone dies and then their organs are donated, you can see, oh yeah, hm, there's proportionally more good coming out of that than bad, and he even has the possibility of saving more lives as a result of dying than he was living. Still, we consider the bad to outweigh the good, as someone died. But the scale is vastly disproportionate in terms of the Holocaust.

That's offensive to believe that any good, proportional to the Holocaust in any way, at all, came out of it. It's vile.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby 22/7 » Sat Dec 08, 2007 7:46 pm UTC

You can vilify me to your heart's content, but what you're really doing is putting your own set of rules on what can and cannot be considered good and under what conditions and then claiming that what I'm saying is horrible and awful because it doesn't meet your arbitrary conditions. Of course there was a shit-ton more bad happening in the Holocaust than the good that came out. But THAT DOESN'T MEAN NO GOOD HAPPENED. All we're arguing is that "GOOD HAPPENED" as a result of the bad. We never said how much good, or how it compared to the atrocities that occurred, only that it happened as a result of them. Your reply for that is and consistently has been "no, good didn't happen because it wasn't good enough (or enough good) to outweigh all the bad that happened." You're right that there wasn't a net gain in good things happening, but you're wrong that that net gain indicates in some way that there was no good. Surely you can see how those two things are different?
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Malice » Sun Dec 09, 2007 12:48 am UTC

I never said, or intended to say, that the positive side-effects of the Holocaust were worth the negative effects. All I was trying to say was that the Holocaust did have positive side-effects.

I can, if you like, argue that the positive side-effects may have been worth it; the God (or the universe) works in mysterious ways, and thanks to the butterfly effect we don't really know what the Holocaust might have did, or might still do (as long as we continue to teach our children about it). The Holocaust was bad, yes, but you simply don't know what would have happened without it. Maybe if Hitler had used the resources involved in perpetrating it in his war effort instead, he would have won. Maybe one of those Jews, if he/she had lived, would have grown up to perpetrate something just as or more horrible than the Holocaust. Maybe somebody, somewhere, did or will nip totalitarianism in the bud, recognizing the warning signs because they learned about the Holocaust in school.

You. Don't. Know.

Neither do I. What you and I know now is that, as it appears, the equations look like this:

Holocaust = x + y
x = horrible shit
y = good stuff
x > y

All I'm really trying to say is, there is a "y" there, and you must take it into account.

And since this topic is dealing with God, who is to say they know God's plans and judgements? You can say, "I look at that equation, and see that x means far more." You cannot say for sure that God thinks that way.

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Anpheus, I don't think your sunspot analogy is quite correct. I don't think the brave actions during the Holocaust "seem" braver. I think they WERE braver, because of the situation they were in. It takes a great deal of courage to run into a burning orphanage and start saving children. It takes a great deal more courage to stand up to the Nazis, even in secret, and save people from their camps and killing jars. The difference between a firefighter sacrificing his life for another's in a burning building and a man sacrificing his life for another's in a Nazi concentration camp is not an optical illusion: there is a real difference between the two. It is harder to stay brave and strong and good in the face of monstrous, titanic, almost incomprehensible evil.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Anpheus » Sun Dec 09, 2007 2:03 am UTC

No one gets my analogies. I try to make it obvious, by saying things like, "Those sunspots are brighter than any of the lights in your house..." But no, it's completely missed on people.

I'm not saying the actions weren't brave. I'm not saying that there were no heroes.

I'm saying that in comparison to the Holocaust, first, anything can be considered a silver lining, and second, those acts of heroism that are few and far between, while great, pale in comparison to the atrocity of the Holocaust.



I'm not arguing for or against a religious justification for the holocaust, I'm saying that you can't argue for a positive justification for it. You can't say, "God weighed all the options and the best one he had was to kill millions of people and send the world reeling into a war that would shock generations." Sorry, the alternatives, for an omnipotent being, are better. The simple fact is, if you choose to believe in a god, you have to acknowledge that god does not intervene.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby Malice » Sun Dec 09, 2007 9:21 am UTC

Anpheus wrote:I'm saying that in comparison to the Holocaust, first, anything can be considered a silver lining, and second, those acts of heroism that are few and far between, while great, pale in comparison to the atrocity of the Holocaust.

As to the first part, no, not anything. Secondary effects of the Holocaust which were bad (maybe we lost another Einstein) or neutral (maybe we lost some good musicians) are not silver linings, but ones which were good (maybe we lost another Hitler) are silver linings. That's what "silver lining" means.
In terms of that equation, just because "x" is large doesn't mean I'm over-inflating "y".

As to the second part, I think that is likely true.

I'm not arguing for or against a religious justification for the holocaust, I'm saying that you can't argue for a positive justification for it. You can't say, "God weighed all the options and the best one he had was to kill millions of people and send the world reeling into a war that would shock generations." Sorry, the alternatives, for an omnipotent being, are better. The simple fact is, if you choose to believe in a god, you have to acknowledge that god does not intervene.


This goes beyond the question of the Holocaust and into the question of evil.
What I'm trying to say is that you define the Holocaust as "evil", but who is to say what God finds evil*? We find death wrong because we're afraid of it. But to God, maybe it is simply his creation returning to him. Don't murdered souls go to Heaven? What's so terrible about that?

Arguing about these theological matters is tricky because your conclusions are almost entirely due to which assumptions you choose to make. If you choose to believe that God is all-powerful and all-loving and that he thinks the Holocaust was evil, of course you're going to run into some logical contradictions. But that might just mean your assumptions are wrong.

*Yes, he told us in the Bible. But even assuming you can trust that book, you can't necessarily trust him. Nobody ever said God was "all-honest".
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby zar » Sun Dec 09, 2007 7:16 pm UTC

The free-will response never made much sense to me. It seems to be reasoning that because god wants us to be free, he will never interfere with our actions. But often times people take away the freedom of other people and he is nowhere to be seen. God seems to be sitting back and letting the Nazis be free while neglecting to care about the freedom of the Jews being sent to concentration camps.

And we too care about freedom, but we also recognize that we have an obligation to help preserve the freedom of people being oppressed, even if it takes away choice from the oppressor. If a person is trying to rape someone, we don't sit back and say "we must let the rapist be free to decide." No, we get help, or try to stop it ourselves. We are morally obligated to try to stop such heinous acts. Why does god not have the same moral obligation?

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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby yelly » Sun Dec 09, 2007 11:36 pm UTC

space_raptor wrote:Not sure about the Jews, but most... well, some Christians believe in free will. IE, God does not control anything in the world directly. His realm is the afterlife.

Free will is one of the main ideas in Judaism. I have yet to encounter a Jewish doctrine that argues against it (and I've encountered a few). Free will dates back to at least the major bodies of bible interpretation, if not to the bible itself.
As to how Jews deal with the Holocaust, some will tell you that it was a punishment for Jews loosing their faith etc. (some will even point at the the new secular/reform movements in particular), but these are mostly the very orthodox, and it is not the common view. It is also important to note that the Holocaust was not the only time Judaism asked "how could god let this happen?", one of the early examples is Egypt, then both temples and all of the persecutions throughout the years. Most times it is seen as a punishment for various things. One more view worth presenting is that some people believe that the Hebrews were placed on this earth to take the flak for all of it's wrongdoings. Israel suffers on behalf of the world. This system does go on a bit more, but this is the relevant bit of it.
Of course, the above views do not account for all of the Jews (not even for most of them), but it is the way some people try to explain it.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby TheTankengine » Mon Dec 10, 2007 12:43 pm UTC

andqso wrote:It should be noted, of course, that many Jews lost their faith in the concentration camps.

It should be noted that you need to provide a source of reference if you are going to throw out a huge generalization like that. You are stating your mere speculation as fact. That is not SB.

Furthermore, your original question is flawed. "how they would explain why would God do such terrible thing to their people?" Being Jewish does not necessitate that a person believes god "does" anything to them, or is even active in any way.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby mosc » Mon Dec 10, 2007 5:39 pm UTC

kidwithshirt wrote:But back on the topic, how do the Jews like to think why the holocaust happened? I know that a large portion of the Jews who were sent into the camps were very strong in their faith. But I would like to know how they would explain why would God do such terrible thing to their people?

I will try to stay out of most of this topic's discussion on religion, free will, and the nature of good and evil but I can answer this question pretty well.

First off, understand that Jews like to discuss and argue. They are also not fond of universal truths. We are not a religion that says just one thing on ANY subject. Where Catholics have a single man who can literally speak for god, Jews have interpretation of interpretation of interpretation spanning thousands of years with a great allowance for each individual to decide for themselves.

Next, the Holocaust is very recent. Survivors still live. Many people here like to talk about it in the same fashion as they would the crusades or the Egyptian exodus. In fact, the initial reaction to the holocaust was largely one of self deprecating shame. I had a great deal of first hand experience with this when I was growing up. The surviving generation mostly was so... horrified that they wanted to avoid looking back. It was too horrible. The next generation were the ones who said "never forget" and stressed education and exposure. I like to explain the denial movement in some cultures as a direct byproduct of this. At first, Jews did not want to talk about it and thus many were lead to believe it must not have happened.

Justification from the almighty is a very complex notion in Judaism. We are many years since the days of prophets. Any one who is said to know the will or opinion of god is not considered very sane these days. Why did it happen? Good question. Why do YOU think it happened? More importantly, what can we learn to prevent it from happening AGAIN. That is the Jewish response. Christian society doesn't like unanswered questions, Jews do.

Do most Jews think god was punishing them for something? No, but some do. Do most Jews think it was for some greater good (like the state of Israel)? No, but some do. Do most think god had nothing to do with it? No, but some do. There's a great passage in the reformed prayer book for the Yom Kippur mourning service which hits this issue squarely. It covers more than the holocaust. It literally asks "why did this happen to US of all people when WE are chosen people?" over and over about everything from the Babylonian exile to the holocaust. As a religion, Judaism continues to ask that question.

Personally, the holocaust is one of the reasons I became re-constructionist as opposed to some of the larger movements. The concept of being "the chosen people" does not sit well with me.
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Re: How do the Jews and other Christians explain the holocaust

Postby 22/7 » Mon Dec 10, 2007 6:10 pm UTC

Anpheus wrote:No one gets my analogies. I try to make it obvious, by saying things like, "Those sunspots are brighter than any of the lights in your house..." But no, it's completely missed on people.

I'm not saying the actions weren't brave. I'm not saying that there were no heroes.

I'm saying that in comparison to the Holocaust, first, anything can be considered a silver lining, and second, those acts of heroism that are few and far between, while great, pale in comparison to the atrocity of the Holocaust.



I'm not arguing for or against a religious justification for the holocaust, I'm saying that you can't argue for a positive justification for it. You can't say, "God weighed all the options and the best one he had was to kill millions of people and send the world reeling into a war that would shock generations." Sorry, the alternatives, for an omnipotent being, are better. The simple fact is, if you choose to believe in a god, you have to acknowledge that god does not intervene.


What I've been arguing against from the starting gun were statements that look like these.

That's offensive to believe that any good, proportional to the Holocaust in any way, at all, came out of it. It's vile.
Nothing good came from the Holocaust.
I am saying that no, nothing good came out of it.

All quotes by you, in backwards order. The last one (first in the list) is at least getting there. But your denial that anything good at all happened as a result of the Holocaust is simply untrue, and that was what I argued every single time.

And technically, if you are not an omnipotent being, you are unable to make a declaration like "the alternatives, for an omnipotent being, are better," because you simply don't know that. You can certainly say something like "I can't believe that there wasn't a better alternative," but to outright say that there is/was none is stating unsupportable opinion as fact.
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