Saturday, June 6, 2009

Faith By the Numbers

One thing that has troubled me for a long time is the phenomenon of "faith by the numbers". Why did it take the Holocaust for many Jews to finally question God's existence? During the 1800's alone, thousands of our people were slaughtered in the pogroms in Russia. Yet in the face of this destruction, for most Jews both in Russia and elsewhere during that time it was business as usual as far belief in God and failure to stand up to such persecution.

So why is 6 million deaths a magic number in terms of questioning God? Where was Jewish doubt about God's existence before that time regarding the circumstances and events that served as a precedent and led up to this horror? Why did so many Christians through the centuries blindly believe the blood libel and other myths to justify killing Jews?

And in more recent history where was collective Jewish indignation against the mass murder of other people such as the Cambodians and the Tutsis? Were they any less worthy of our compassion just because they were not Jews ?

The D-day invasion 65 yeas ago was the beginning of the liberation of Europe from the Nazis and ultimately the deliverance of the death camp victims. When will reason invade the mind of humanity and liberate us all from baseless faith and the tyranny of blind obedience to a non-existent God?


Alan said...

After I read this, I added to my entry the question of how many other peoples have repeatedly consented to their own humiliation and destruction.

The Holocaust was beyond imagination. Never had hate, insanity, and technology been brought together to such destructive ends.

The WASPS of the Allied world decided -- after failing to stop the unimaginable slaughter -- to take radical action for the Jews, at last, and allow Israel to be created.

So yes, maybe 6 million was some sort of magic number.

Secular Guy said...

I think that one reason for acquiesence by the victims of the Holocaust is that they couldn't comprehend the notion of genocide while they were being rounded up. Perhaps they were in a state of denial, and really belived that pretext given by the Nazis that they were just being relocated to the East or at worst that they were being sent labor camps, not to their deaths. Maybe this is why they didn't try to overpower the guards at the train stations.

Alan said...

No doubt...disbelief (they can't possibly mean to kill us all -- they need us to work, etc., etc.) played a major role in the acquiescence. I've seen it expressed in almost every Holocaust movie, usually just before they get aboard the cattle cars.

And I can understand. Something so monstrous did indeed defy belief -- until the first-hand accounts started coming in.

Secular Guy said...

I think that this disbelief/denial extended even until the arrival at the death camps.

I also think that this refusal to accept the truth was one reason that the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising happened as late as it did (1943). The first hand accounts from the camps were in and there was no longer any doubt about what what the Nazis were up to.