Why is Noam Chomsky a humanistic Jew? How does he share our philosophy? Judge for yourself. Below are excerpts from interviews about his beliefs. Compare to our philosophy and beliefs.
QUESTION: The spiritual dimension in terms of religion. Is that at all a factor?
CHOMSKY: For me, it’s not. I am a child of the Enlightenment. I think irrational belief is a dangerous phenomenon, and I try to consciously avoid irrational belief. On the other hand, I certainly recognize that it’s a major phenomenon for people in general, and you can understand why it would be. It does, apparently, provide personal sustenance, but also bonds of association and solidarity and a means for expressing elements of one’s personality that are often very valuable elements. To many people it does that. In my view, there’s nothing wrong with that. My view could be wrong, of course, but my position is that we should not succumb to irrational belief.
At the age of 10 I came to the conclusion that the God I learned about in school didn’t exist.
I remember how I did that. I remember it very well. My father’s family was super Orthodox. They came from a little shtetl somewhere in Russia. My father told me that they had regressed even beyond a medieval level. You couldn’t study Hebrew, you couldn’t study Russian. Mathematics was out of the question. We went to see them for the holidays. My grandfather had a long beard, I don’t think he knew he was in the United States. He spoke Yiddish and lived in a couple of blocks of his friends. We were there on Pesach, and I noticed that he was smoking.
So I asked my father, how could he smoke? There’s a line in the Talmud that says, ayn bein shabbat v’yom tov ela b’inyan achilah. I said, “How come he’s smoking?” He said, “Well, he decided that smoking is eating.” And a sudden flash came to me: Religion is based on the idea that God is an imbecile. He can’t figure these things out. If that’s what it is, I don’t want anything to do with it.
And what did your father say?
I was just thinking about that. He just quoted the line to me and then explained, “He thinks he is eating.”
Humanism, according to recent wiki:
Humanism is a group of philosophies and ethical perspectives, which emphasize the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers individual thought and evidence (rationalism, empiricism), over established doctrine or faith (fideism).