Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Doubt

Even if someone gave me some reasonable arguments in favor of TMS and Orthodox Judaism it probably wouldn't help.

When I was a kid the truth of Judaism was as obvious to me as the existence of the president of the United States. I have lost that childhood naivety. Even if the scales were somehow tipped in favor of Judaism I am now stuck, forever, with that lingering doubt. All those years I looked for answers I was missing the point. It was (and still is) impossible for me to return to that state of naivete which was what I really desired.

The very fact that there are so many religions PROVES that religion just cannot be as obvious as the existence of say New York city. Even the things that conspiracy theorists deny (holocaust, moon landing) are only disputed by a relatively small amount of people with little credibility, while the vast majority of people in the world have ONE unanimous (and totally "doubtless") belief about the subject.

I don't think there is one Jewish apologist out there who will say "I'm 100% sure of the truth of Judaism" at best the apologist will say it is certain beyond a reasonable doubt.

Can one truly be a really devout Jew without absolute faith? Don't you really need 100% NO DOUBT WHAT SO EVER  to be a really good Jew.

Every time a Jew is faced with a test can he consistently stop himself from giving in to his desires when he has that little voice (the little kefira yetzer hara) whispering in his ear "Don't forget, you're not totally positive that Judaism is true. And you KNOW for sure that this <insert illicit activity> will make you happy now but you don't know FOR SURE that Judaism is true." (Wait for a certain blogger to say "AHA! You sex crazed maniac! THAT is why you are skeptical because you want to do <insert illicit activity>")

Perhaps a mere tipping of the scales towards being "pretty sure" of Judaism will convince you to be frum. Hell, it doesn't take too much motivation to do the motions of "being frum" But if your motivation is "that it's beyond a reasonable doubt" could you be more than that? Will you actually be able to truly dedicate your life to Judaism? Would you really be able to give up your life for Judaism.

Are the only tzadikim (righteous) in Judaism those who just happen to be so completely brainwashed that they actually equate belief in a religion with belief in an undisputed fact? Could someone who thinks that there is say a 10% chance that Judaism is NOT true motivate himself to be a righteous Jew?

Even if you believe in Judaism, belief in Judaism (or any religion) is just not equal to belief in a fact. Period. Yet those we venerate (tzadikim, martyrs) treated it that way. Is the "frum ideal" a goal that only somewhat delusional people can obtain?

Can a frum person motivated by "beyond a reasonable doubt" really make a big sacrifice for his religion when he has that nagging that "you don't know it's for SURE true."

42 comments:

E-Man said...

That is the point, there is supposed to be free choice. If it was 100% certain then there would be no evil inclination. If I knew G-D the same way Moshe knew G-D then free will would not exist and then i would get no merit.

Shilton HaSechel said...

E-man,

That is an old argument that God can't be something that we're 100% sure of because that would preclude free will.

Firstly I don't agree. An analogy would be druggies know 100% that they're killing themselves but opt for the quick fix over the long term effects. That is a clear example of people ignoring the obvious. You think if everyone knew about God for sure there wouldn't be the "choice" to say "carpe diem! and I'll worry about hell later".

Secondly: How is our current situation free choice? Yes you have a choice to gamble on Judaism or gamble on non-observance. If we assume Judaism is "beyond a reasonable doubt" then maybe you should gamble on Judaism. But can God blame you for playing the high stakes?

Do you think a gamble really fits the bill of theologically satisfying free choice?

E-Man said...

"Firstly I don't agree. An analogy would be druggies know 100% that they're killing themselves but opt for the quick fix over the long term effects."

They don't know 100%, they do not see themselves dying with their own eyes. They might be told it happens, but they can't see it with their eyes. Have you ever met someone that denied you existed?

The "gamble" is the only way to have free choice. I don't understand how else you would expect to have free choice.

OTD said...

>Firstly I don't agree. An analogy would be druggies know 100% that they're killing themselves but opt for the quick fix over the long term effects. That is a clear example of people ignoring the obvious.

Excellent point. Besides, the dor hamidbar allegedly saw God and according to Orthodox dogma they were on SUCH A HIGH MADREIGA!!!!, yet a few days after the revelation at Sinai they worshipped FUCKING IDOLS. If that doesn't prove free will exists even where there is certainty, I don't know what will.

I find this argument to be the especially annoying theist argument. When they have rational arguments for their faith, you're expected to believe because it can be *proven*. When it can't be and you're almost certain there is no God? Oh, here's where they stick in free will. With a patronizing glance they'll say, "the whole point is to believe when you have no reason to." Don't forget, believing that which probably isn't true is a major ma'alah in Garnel's head. Talk about having his cake and eating it too...

No word of course on why "faith" in millions of other, equally plausible gods is frowned upon, or in none, for that matter. Ani maamin be'emunah shleimah b'atheism. Now how come I don't get mizrach vant?

Baruch Spinoza said...

I lost you when you started talking about some unnamed fantasies. Shilton, can you tell us about your sexual fantasies please ^.^ , we would be interested to know.

Shilton HaSechel said...

E-man,

>They don't know 100%, they do not see themselves dying with their own eyes.

They KNOW even though they try to pretend it's not happening since it's not immediately affecting them.

That's what I expect in our world: complete intellectual knowledge of reward and punishment BUT preservation of free choice by the lack of immediacy.

OTD,

You make an excellent point. If the Jews who experienced the miracles of the Red Sea could sin doesn't that show that complete intellectual knowledge of God DOES allow free choice?

(If you don't mind tone it down a bit the best way to frustrate your opponents is to reply in a calm and civil manner. That's exactly why Garnel annoys you so much because he tends not to "get mad")

Baruch,
Lol maybe another time

Anonymous said...

SH, most frum yidden do not think about thiese things. They are brainwashed from birth - so to them there is no thinking, discussion, etc.

The ones that do think for themselves, usually end up orthoprax, like us. We go through the motions, but know it aint true - but there are some nice benefits to living this lifestyele, even though i cant smoke on saturday or eat a nice lobster bisque.

ksil lo yavin

Shilton HaSechel said...

ksil,

I understand that they're brainwashed but my main objection is to the apologists who concede "yes, you can't be totally sure, but its beyond a reasonable doubt (BARD)" I think they're sort of shooting themselves in the foot by conceding that they just MIGHT be wrong because they're reducing Judaism to a gamble (albeit a pretty worthwhile gamble according to them.)

I just don't think "BARD" is sufficiently motivating.

Anonymous said...

th apologists are in the minority - if you can even count them.

Shilton HaSechel said...

I think all intelligent Orthodox Jews advocate the BARD approach especially the Modern Orthodox.

MKR said...

Quoting E-Man:

That is the point, there is supposed to be free choice. If it was 100% certain then there would be no evil inclination. If I knew G-D the same way Moshe knew G-D then free will would not exist and then i would get no merit.

E-man, your argument does not actually address Shilton's question. His question was whether it is possible to be an unwaveringly devout Jew without being 100% certain in one's Jewish beliefs. Your reply concerns whether it is 100% certain that those beliefs are true. These are two different questions. The first concerns the strength of someone's beliefs; the second concerns the strength of the evidence for those beliefs.

I think I can make the point clearer by summarizing Shilton's argument thus: (1) you can't be 100% devout in your Judaism without being 100% certain in your Jewish beliefs; (2) there is no rational warrant for 100% certainty; (3) therefore, perfect devotion is possible only if something irrational, such as indoctrination or delusion, makes up the gap between the strength of the evidence and the required strength of conviction.

I see no logical room between the premises and the conclusion, so if you are going to take issue with his conclusion, you must contest at least one of his premises. Evidently, you do not contest (2). That leaves (1). You offer no argument against that. So I don't see how you can avoid the conclusion.

Shilton, what is the "BARD" approach?

MKR said...

Oops -- "BARD" = "Beyond A Reasonable Doubt." I missed that before. So it's not the college.

E-Man said...

MKR,

My point, which I guess you missed, is that it is impossible to be 100% certain about Judaism and believe that there is free choice, a central theme in Judaism.

I thought it was obvious from my statement that I disagree with the notion that 100% certainty is needed to be 100% devout. If I am certain, then there is no way I can have free choice. Hence Judaism would be pointless.

E-Man said...

Shilton, here is the perfect example, I think.

Gravity, you would like Judaism/G-D's reality to be 100% certain like gravity. Well, like I said, then there would be no free choice. You disagree. Here is my example:

A person who witnesses gravity, will they jump off of the empire state building? They are 100% certain of what will happen. The answer is, no sane person will jump off the empire state building, only lunatics and people that want to die (not mentally healthy). So there is no desire to jump off of the empire states building.

If we knew that G-D existed and we knew that Judaism was correct and we knew that the Gemorah and Torah were straight from the mouth of G-D then how could there be an evil inclination? First, the only way to know this 100% is if G-D tells every single one of us in person that these statements I just made are all true. That didn't even happen at Mt. Sinai! According to the most giving opinions G-D only told the nation the first two commandments and the rest was transmitted from Moshe to the people. Every other prophet in the history of the Jews only received messages from G-D in visions, like dreams, they were not face to face like Moshe was with G-D.

So even the people at Mt. Sinai, according to the orthodox Mesorah, did not hear every law from G-D. They heard enough to realize who He was and that Moshe was His prophet, but that is about as far as it went. You know why according to the Mesorah this is true? Because the Jews would not have been able to survive as human beings with free choice if He went any further. Ok, I am done, if you want to disagree, then let's agree to disagree.

Shilton HaSechel said...

>I disagree with the notion that 100% certainty is needed to be 100% devout. If I am certain, then there is no way I can have free choice. Hence Judaism would be pointless.

Let me see if I can understand your reasoning here

Your argument rests on these assumptions:

1) Free choice is a crucial component of Judaism

2)100% certainty would take away free choice

3) Judaism is "True" (implicit in this is Judaism does not have expectations we cannot meet. Therefore 100% devoutness is possible.)

THEREFORE:

less than 100% certainty would not necessarily equal less than 100% devoutness

Your argument rests on the a priori assumption that Judaism is true. However the very point of my argument is to decide if 3) is indeed true.

Therefore your assumption of 3) essentially misses the point of my argument because it assumes the very thing I am trying to disprove.

If we take Judaism as a given than BY DEFINITION everything that contradicts it will be not true - including my whole post.

As for 2) that 100% certainty takes away free choice:

My objection is that the current state of affairs is not really free choice either.

Let's assume that some sort of concept of "free choice" exists in general.

I would say a free choice is a choice based on COMPLETE INFORMATION. A free choice is when I have a choice between an Ipod and a Zune and I know EVERYTHING about both of them.

Okay maybe the Ipod/Zune controversy is not as black and white as Heaven and Hell still THAT is a free choice.

Just because the alternative to our present situation would be according to you non-free choice does not mean by definition that our current situation IS free choice. I argue that it's not because of the LACK OF INFORMATION is BIASING US UNFAIRLY.

Shilton HaSechel said...

As to your second post

The gravity analogy is not good because I'm not asking for IMMEDIATE PUNISHMENT for sins. All I'm asking for is COMPLETE KNOWLEDGE that some day somehow I will be punished for such and such.

You're attacking a strawman of my "demand".

.

MKR said...

My point, which I guess you missed, is that it is impossible to be 100% certain about Judaism and believe that there is free choice, a central theme in Judaism.

I suspect that I am still missing it, because what you have written here does not make sense to me. You say that believing in Judaism with 100% certainty makes it impossible to believe in free choice. That would only be the case if Judaism denied free choice, which is the opposite of what you say in the very same sentence. I have to assume that what you meant was that it is impossible to be (i.e., to feel) completely certain in one's Jewish beliefs and at the same to have free choice in holding those very beliefs.

If that is so, then what you are asserting is true, but irrelevant to Shilton's argument. To the extent that belief is a matter of free choice -- hardly an unproblematic notion -- the only freedom that could pertain to it would concern the course by which one arrives at a given belief. Of course, if one is in a state of perfect certainty about some belief then, trivially, one is not "free" to believe otherwise: but not because one is somehow enchained in one's belief; rather, simply because to have perfect certainty (in the subjective sense) means to have no disposition to think otherwise. It is like saying that if you are completely healthy then you can't be sick.

Shilton's claim is that one must have perfect conviction (I will use that term rather than "certainty" because I think it avoids the ambiguity of the latter) in order to be perfectly devout. You deny this, on the ground that perfect conviction excludes free choice, which must exist in order for there to be merit in believing certain things. But the only free choice that can possibly be relevant to the merit of one's holding certain beliefs concerns how one arrives at that state of conviction. And nothing in Shilton's argument excludes this. His point is that you have to be in that state of perfect conviction -- however you may arrive at it -- in order to be perfectly devout.

E-Man said...

My gravity analogy was comparing complete knowledge to complete knowledge. Complete knowledge of gravity leads to no free choice of jumping off a building and complete knowledge that Judaism is correct and all that entails would lead to no free choice. That is why I am saying complete knowledge must be unattainable.

Also, I don;t understand why someone who is convinced beyond a reasonable doubt is considered brainwashed? I look at the universe, there must be a G-D. I look at the religions of the world, Judaism makes the most sense, I learn about Judaism and actually study everything about it in depth and it all makes perfect sense. Is that person really "brainwashed." Or do you consider him stupid? What would you call that person?

E-Man said...

MKR, no, I mean it would be impossible to sin. Like the gravity analogy. No one is jumping off the building because they know the consequences. So too, if you have 100% certainty in Judaisms truth there would be no free choice to be able to sin. I think I already said this, sorry if it was unclear.

Shilton HaSechel said...

E-man,
I think my druggie analogy above is better than your gravity one. Gravity is an immediate problem the bad effects of drugs less immediate. Humans can delude themselves (if they CHOOSE) into ignoring things which are not immediate

>Also, I don;t understand why someone who is convinced beyond a reasonable doubt is considered brainwashed?

I never said that. What I said is someone who is is 100% devout is brainwashed.

I assume that people who actually BASE their practice on BARD are not 100% devout

>I learn about Judaism and actually study everything about it in depth

I hope you're not implying that I don't ;)

Note: This whole post it really theoretical because I do not believe that Judaism is true beyond a reasonable doubt. This post is just saying EVEN if Judaism WERE BARD it still would not help too much (IMHO)

Shilton HaSechel said...

Just a clarification: The reason the druggie analogy is better than the gravity one is BECAUSE IMMEDIATE punishment is not prerequisite for free will according to E-man no? Gravity is different because of its immediacy

E-Man said...

Again, I don;t think the druggie analogy is a good one because the druggy does not see how the damage occurs, he is told by a third party that this will happen to you if you use drugs. So it is not complete certainty.

We are talking about certainty, not immediate or delayed.

Shilton HaSechel said...

>We are talking about certainty, not immediate or delayed.

My POINT is there is a difference. Given certainty a person is more willing to do something CERTAINLY detrimental but not immediate but less likely to do something CERTAINLY detrimental but immediate

This SPECIFIC discussion is really a matter of psychology (the whole gravity/druggie/ immediacy argument) so I'm not sure if either of us are really qualified to make any serious assertions one way or another.

But hey we're Americans so let's keep at it ;)

JewishGadfly said...

E-Man's point is taken as an explanation of why room for doubt would be consistent--or possibly mandated by--Jewish theology. I'm not sure that fixes Shilton's point, though, which seems more about awareness of one's fallibility:

>Can a frum person motivated by "beyond a reasonable doubt" really make a big sacrifice for his religion when he has that nagging that "you don't know it's for SURE true."

It seems to me that this sense of fallibility could extend even to the proposition that Judaism requires room for doubt to establish free will. Does one know that theological truth with 100% certainty any more than the rest of it?

However, I believe that factually speaking people do make big sacrifices for religion despite that nagging voice or doubt. How? [Shrug.] Human psychology is complex.

OTD said...

There's something a little rich about religious people preaching about freedom and free will and all that. I wonder if their understanding of free will is along the lines of the great Talmudic dictum: "kofin oso ad she'yomar rotzeh ani", and it brings to mind an old maxim: "arbet macht frei." (ducks)

It also raises the question that if this concept of freewill is such a ancient Jewish concept (rather than one borrowed from modern Xtian apologetics), why would there be punishments in the Bible for "spiritual" crimes such as blasphemy, heresy, and eating pork? What happened to your freewill there, E-Man? If eating that ham sandwich will get your head separated from the rest of your body, how different could it possibly be than jumping out the window (screw druggies)?

Al korchoch yesh lomar, that all this nice blah blah blah about freedom and free will in the Jewish religion is a pile of malarky. If not for the radically secular Enlightenment and other heresies such as humanism none of us would have ever heard of freedom or free wil, assuming we'd actually be alive. These post hoc imaginings that faith and free will actually have a connection would be lame if they were less offensive.

Shilton HaSechel said...

Jewish Gadfly,

>It seems to me that this sense of fallibility could extend even to the proposition that Judaism requires room for doubt to establish free will. Does one know that theological truth with 100% certainty any more than the rest of it?

I don't know if you're talking to me or E-man (you quoted me) I don't agree with E-man's entire premise that we need doubt to have free will so I'm not quite sure what you're saying.

>However, I believe that factually speaking people do make big sacrifices for religion despite that nagging voice or doubt. How? [Shrug.] Human psychology is complex.

Do they? I doubt martyrs have any doubt.

Shilton HaSechel said...

OTD,

>It also raises the question that if this concept of freewill is such a ancient Jewish concept (rather than one borrowed from modern Xtian apologetics), why would there be punishments in the Bible for "spiritual" crimes such as blasphemy, heresy, and eating pork? What happened to your freewill there, E-Man?

I think you misunderstand our argument we are discussing free will in the theological sense not freedom of religion or religious toleration in the social sense.

OTD said...

Yes, but the Torah frames it as a choice between life and death, and it says "choose life!" Ironically, some of us saw a similar choice between life and death, and we chose life, which required giving up religion...

Shilton HaSechel said...

OTD,

That's still free choice. When one says Judaism believes in free will one means freedom to chose between heaven and hell. As opposed to a religious doctrine of being "controlled by God"

JewishGadfly said...

Shilton--

I meant to say that, IMHO, E-Man's point doesn't really answer your point in that quote. That is, someone like E-Man can also doubt the very proposition that doubt is necessary for free will, so I don't think his answer gets rid of the sense of fallibility you're talking about.

"Do they? I doubt martyrs have any doubt."

For the most part, I agree with you. When someone realizes the fallibility of their beliefs, it can lead to a sort of pluralism--after all, if my beliefs are infallible, how can I hold them over anyone else? (This is a point John Stewart Mill makes in "On Liberty.") And this realization is definitely not so conducive to religion: one simply cannot feel willing to kill an Amalekite baby if one recognizes the fallibility of their religious beliefs. In fact, this realization--sparked by reading Mill--was an important step in my changing beliefs (part of my "Pandora's Box," I suppose).

However, I just meant to point out that the above assumes rational thought and decisions going into all of the above. In reality, I think people can still make religious sacrifices for other reasons--i.e., perhaps they want to convince themselves that they do believe despite the doubt. So if you just had in mind a case of rational self-examination, then for the most part I think you're right about the rational consequences. But if we admit emotion and unexplored quiet, nagging doubts, then I think there are some other possibilities in reality.

OTD said...

>I doubt martyrs have any doubt.

I wouldn't be so sure. Read some of the ex-Muslim stuff out there. The people raised to be suicide bombers lead such miserable lives they can hardly be blamed for putting themselves out of their misery.

My point is not that suicide bombers are innocent, just that their lives are hardly worth living anyway.

Shilton HaSechel said...

JG,

>So if you just had in mind a case of rational self-examination, then for the most part I think you're right about the rational consequences.

Well firstly when I originally came up with the post I intended it to be talking about me specifically but it turned (mid-typing) into a universal discussion.

>In reality, I think people can still make religious sacrifices for other reasons--i.e., perhaps they want to convince themselves that they do believe despite the doubt.

My point is does God or Judaism expect THAT to be our motivation?

Even assuming people have weird irrational reasons for huge religious sacrifice DESPITE their doubts still the question remains is THAT the Jewish ideal - weird irrational reasons.

Shilton HaSechel said...

OTD,

>I wouldn't be so sure. Read some of the ex-Muslim stuff out there.

I don't think the Jewish martyrs in the Middle Ages had such a raw deal. Maybe all the rich ones who had a lot to lose became marranos. I don't know.

OTD said...

About free will, I guess I agree that free will is irrelevant. Yes, if there was 100% certainty, free will would be compromised. Fortunately, there is nothing even approaching any kind of certainty (at least within a theist framework), so the question remains what is most plausible, from a purely objective viewpoint, to be true? I would posit that Judaism doesn't even come close. Theists only harp on free will to pretend that the only reason we're not frum is because of ta'avos, and it's a diversion from the real issue, and that is that their religion makes no friggin sense.

OTD said...

>I don't think the Jewish martyrs in the Middle Ages had such a raw deal.

Everyone had a raw deal back then. There was no Internet.

Anyway, peopl,e give their lives all the time for the silliest little things. People have sacrificed their lives for ages by going to war. How many of them were promised afterlife for that? I think you take human intelligence too seriously if you think 100% certainty is required to give up one's life.

Shilton HaSechel said...

>Fortunately, there is nothing even approaching any kind of certainty

Well the whole post is theoretical anyway and assumes for arguments sake that Judaism is true beyond a reasonable doubt

>Everyone had a raw deal back then. There was no Internet.

Lol those poor souls

MKR said...

Quoting E-Man:

MKR, no, I mean it would be impossible to sin. Like the gravity analogy. No one is jumping off the building because they know the consequences. So too, if you have 100% certainty in Judaisms truth there would be no free choice to be able to sin. I think I already said this, sorry if it was unclear.

This still makes no sense to me. How is it the case that knowing that if you jump from a high building you will fall and be killed means that you have no choice in whether or not to jump from the building? That is surely a non sequitur. Of course one has choice: one is free to jump or not to jump. People who do not wish to kill themselves choose not to jump; some people who wish to die do jump.

If we knew that G-D existed and we knew that Judaism was correct and we knew that the Gemorah and Torah were straight from the mouth of G-D then how could there be an evil inclination?

The claim implied by your rhetorical question—viz., that if we knew that Judaism was correct etc., then there would be no evil inclination—seems to me no more compelling than your other claim. Your idea seems to be that if someone knows that he is commanded by God not to do X then, eo ipso and necessarily, he has no inclination to do X. I can understand your saying that someone in such a case will not do X, i.e., will choose not to do X. That would be a defensible claim. But that only means that, if he has any contrary inclination, he will not follow it. It does not mean that he has no contrary inclination.

Perhaps what you mean to say is this: If we had perfect knowledge that God has given us certain commandments, then the inclination to act otherwise would have no effect on our actions, for we would be moved far more strongly by our fear of God. The point then is not that in such a case there would be no free choice, but that free choice would be superfluous, since there would be no point in disobedience. If this is your claim, then I think it is more defensible, but it still does not tell against Shilton's argument as I understand it. In fact, I don't think that even your version of your claim tells against Shilton's argument. I repeat my reconstruction of that argument:

(1) You can't be 100% devout in your Judaism without being 100% certain in your Jewish beliefs.

(2) There is no rational warrant for 100% certainty.

(3) Therefore, perfect devotion is possible only if something irrational makes up the gap between the strength of the evidence and the required strength of conviction.

Your reply to this is that you reject the conclusion because you reject (1). But what is your argument for rejecting (1)? As far as I can make out, it is this:

(1) If we had perfect certainty about divine commandments (i.e., certainty that God exists and has given us such and such commandments, whose application in practice we understand perfectly), we would have no free choice in obeying them.

(2) Therefore, being perfectly devout in one's obedience does not require perfect certainty about the commandments.

Setting aside my objections to (1), I simply don't see how you get from (1) to (2). Even if we add to the argument the premise that being perfectly devout requires free choice in one's obedience to commandments, (2) does not follow. All that follows is that being perfectly devout in one's obedience to the commandments requires that one not have perfect certainty about them. Such a conclusion is entirely compatible with the supposition that perfect devotion is impossible.

Shilton is arguing that you can't be perfectly devout without perfect certainty. You are arguing that one can't be perfectly devout with perfect certainty. Even if your argument is successful (which, as I have said, I don't think it is), it does not tell against his position. The most that you can say is that in combination with his position, it entails that perfect devotion is impossible. I don't know if Shilton would reject that implication.

Shilton HaSechel said...

MKR,

E-man's argument is something like this (If I understand correctly)



1) 100% certainty takes away free will

2) Free will is an integral part of Judaism

3)The ability to be 100% devout is an integral part of Judaism

4) Judaism is "true" (implying that 2) and 3) MUST coexist)


THEREFORE

5)100% is NOT required for 100% devoutness BECAUSE Judaism being true requires both A. Free will and B. the ability to be 100% devout. Since 100% certainty is does not provide free will the only other alternative POSSIBLE is uncertainty. And since 100% devoutness must be possible therefore 100% devoutness IS possible even if there is not 100% certainty.


This is the best way IMHO to explain E-man's argument. (Though I'm not sure that he planned it out quite like this)

The problem with this line of reasoning should be immediately apparent: If you take it as a given that Judaism is true then BY DEFINITION anything that would be problematic for Judaism is NOT true.

In other words E-man is basically telling us that if you believe that Judaism is true then anything that contradicts THAT belief is not true, which is not really a novel idea and kind of misses the point of the discussion which is to ascertain IF Judaism CAN be "true" (or rational) given the above problems.

E-Man said...

The point I was trying to bring up is that 100% certainty about a religion would mean that this would no longer be a religion, it would be a fact. If any religion were knowable to the degree that it was as clear as gravity then everyone would be following it, there would be no free will and everything would be pointless. So, the evidence that you would require would ipso facto (I know, it's impressive when I use these phrases) make the religion pointless. So there is nothing short of a revelation froom G-D that would allow you to believe in this religion. I would then ask you to demand the same amount of proof for anything and everything. Are you certain evolution occured or are you only 99% certain and therefore should not believe in it with 100% devoutness. Also, anything else that is not 100% certain. Heck, even gravity is not 100% certain, it is the theory that fits the known universe the best, but it is possible that there are other factors involved that have not been discovered yet, no?

In the end of the day I was trying to make the point that what you desire would make any religion pointless and life in general would be pointless since we would all essentially be robots.

I don't really understand MKR at all. In what way is it free choice just because there are two options if I can only choose one option all the time. If I have two doors in front of me and one is locked, is that a choice?

MKR said...

I don't really understand MKR at all. In what way is it free choice just because there are two options if I can only choose one option all the time. If I have two doors in front of me and one is locked, is that a choice?

I don't see how you get that analogy. If a door is locked, your not going through it is not a choice. If you choose not to go through a door, it is a choice. All you are doing is repeating your assertions instead of offering arguments for them. Maybe that is why we understand each other so poorly. I keep trying to find arguments in your comments, and identifying faults in the arguments that I find. If there are no arguments, then my attempts are misguided.

Shilton HaSechel said...

E-man,

You are making a false dichotomy. You say that my demand for a religion of certainty is untenable. Okay. Fine. I claim that the current state of affairs is untenable. (And you're only argument against that assertion is that it the only remaining option left)

There is a 3rd option that you're forgetting i.e. that Judaism is NOT true.

So the combination of your claim + my claim = No Judaism. And the only reason you deny MY claim is because of the undesirable conclusion.

Just because my desired religion of certainty is impossible does not mean that the current state of affairs is any better.

G*3 said...

E-Man said...
> The point I was trying to bring up is that 100% certainty about a religion would mean that this would no longer be a religion, it would be a fact.

That’s very interesting. You seem to be assuming that for a set of beliefs to be classified as a “religion” there MUST be a fuzzy grey area of doubt.

A grey area may be a feature of most modern religions, but it is by no means a necessary component of religion. Christianity makes faith itself into the ultimate virtue and the thing to strive for, so for a Christian absolute certainty, which would negate the need for faith, might be a problem. For Judaism, where the point is carrying out the myriad rituals of everyday life in accordance with God’s will, faith for its own sake just isn’t that important.

Early Judaism likely resembled today’s tribal religions, in which the existence of the supernatural is assumed and is no more remarkable than the existence of trees. In such religions, faith or doubt-to-allow-free-will are irrelevant concepts. OF COURSE there are gods and demons, and living your life in such a way as to not upset them and to try to get on their good side is just good sense.

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