At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

LIKUTEI BLOGGOS

Respondingtojblogs, whose picture looks so much like Butters from Southpark that they could be twins, except that one of them isn't real, raises some interesting points, eloquently, in a recent posting (http://respondingtojblogs.blogspot.com/2006/02/lone-and-level-sands-stretch-far-away.html).


Regarding his discomfort with demands that Judaism makes on his worldview, he writes:
"The first and most obvious is the conflict between Torah and Science. I’ve seen cute ways of getting around this problem, from linguistic gymnastics to typical “kiruv klown” attacks on established scientific theory. I am not going to debate the contours of this conflict. Suffice it to say that the Torah, read literally, makes stark assertions of fact (e.g., six days of creation, existence of firmament, geocentrism, young universe, global flood, etc.) that are at odds with any modern understanding of the world. "

[Oh dear. Am I to take this as meaning that Intelligent Design isn't going to find favour with him? A pity. ]


But more to the point, "Far more disturbing then outright conflict with physical law, however, is the assumption that Judaism somehow transcends the law of time."

He clarifies what he means by saying: "My point, however, is that time does more than shape our physical surroundings. It changes culture as well. Every culture develops myths, complex social interactions, economic markets, religion, and political systems. These institutions in turn feedback on themselves and their complexity grows over time. Political and economic systems grow more complex. Some myths are forgotten, while some gain central importance to the culture. "


In short, the Judaism of today is not the Judaism of the past. So it is ridiculous to act as if it were.

To those who have rejected religion, this is so obvious as to be self-evident, but it is perhaps surprising how many people of only moderate intelligence in this world are unable to see how their own creed has changed over time - consider the Muslims who look back on a golden past, fantasizing about the companions of the prophet and the caliphate, or the Hindus who insist that the cow has been sacred for as long as there have been Hindus, or Protestants who are convinced that Luther somehow got the real deal on Christianity despite centuries of Catholic thought forming the Western Christian worldview.


Judaism today would be unthinkable without Rashi, the Rambam, and the GRA.
Yet two thousand years ago, they would have been unthinkable, and their thoughts would not have been thunk.


More to the point, while at every stage the faithful have made changes to the belief system, knowledge has increased and shattered some of the once firm bedrock on which much dogma was built. So much so for instance that one is unable nowadays to believe that the earth is flat, or this globe is the center of the universe - and these were once unassailable facts.

Science and faith are at odds. It was not science that picked this fight, and given how little of anybody's sacred scripture can be proven or is scientifically verifiable, science often seems happily unaware of the contradiction.


Not so the religious world. As is proven by the comments appended to a recent posting by the Gadol Hador (Noach Lo Hoyoh Veloh Yihyeh http://godolhador.blogspot.com/#114006908489895990 ).

Regarding the great flood, the Gadol protests "When are you guys going to get it?! - From a rational perspective, IT DIDN'T HAPPEN."

He concludes his posting with the words "Personally, I would say it's just as logical to claim that Zoboomafoo planted all the evidence. But if you want to have faith in a bizzarre set of miracles then go right ahead. But at least admit it's all faith. There's no reason anywhere to be found."


With the entire post some of his readers take issue. There are already over two hundred comments.

Some of them argue that a local flood is consistent with midrash - but not with Torah.

Others daringly go out on a ledge.

A very high ledge.

And jump.

Such as Lakewood Yid, who said: "what about dinosaurs? In my opinion, they existed just they didn't survive the mabul."

Note that this posits that there were dinosaurs running around five thousand years ago, before the flood (mabul). Never mind that the geologic evidence that proves their existence places dinosaurs a distance from our own time of millions of years (and never mind that the Republican Party only dates from the nineteenth century).


Happywithhislot (http://happywithhislot.blogspot.com/) spotted the contradiction, and after hinting at the sheer ancientness involved, asked "By the way, lakewood yid, are you admitting there were dinosaurs? Dont you know that is kefirah in some circles?"

S. (http://onthemainline.blogspot.com/) asked: "Dinosaurs lived 5000 years ago?"

To which Lakewood Yid responded: "Prove it that they didn't."


At this point I dropped my coffee cup, I was laughing so hard.

For which I apologize.

It isn't nice to make fun of someone else's lack of knowledge.

Especially as having already met us half-way (by acknowledging the existence of dinosaurs), he very likely may come further along this path, over time, and accept several other fundaments of modern knowledge - such as evolution, big bang, trilobites, and gravity.


S. responded to the demand for proof that dinosaurs did not exist five thousand years ago by writing: "Whatever. It's an accident of birth that you don't believe that Jesus died for you or that Moloch wants your first born as steak."

Which prompted an unknown whom we all know and love to come out of the woodwork under the name Moloch and say "Feed me your babies, lakewood yid! I know you have very many!"


Shortly thereafter, Lakewood Yid posted what is essentially his haskafa:

"Not only here in Lakewood but also the entire orthodox jewry who firmly believe that the ENTIRE torah was given to Moshe at Har sinai. All of us stand up and say SHUT UP to a person who doesn't believe in even one part of Torah Shb'csav. You are even worse than the Tzedokim. They, at least believed in Torah Shb'csav.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a born and bred lakewooder and if I were to meet you face to face, I would sit down with you and have a nice polite mentchliche discussion with you.

But anonymously on the web I sayKEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT.

Is there evidence that the red sea split???????

Is there evidence that all the water in egypt turned into blood????

Is there evidence that a mountain was uprooted and held over the jews heads at sinai?????

Is there evidence that avrohom avinu walked into the fire (kivshin ha'eish) and survived????????I could go on & on & on....Sure you may question if Noach existed. But not to declare that it never happened."


Amazing!


How can emunah even exists if doubt is removed from the picture? Faith lives only when one can doubt but finds a reason to suspend that doubt. Doubt is essential to the process.

Isn't such absolute certainty, within the context of an ethical belief system, a form of heresy?
Doesn't doubt have a validity for faith that absolute certainty lacks?

Perhaps equally valid is the question whether there is any way of combining two seemingly contradictory worlds.


In arguing Torah, the real world must be set aside, and in discussing the real world, the Torah must fade into the background. It is the confusing of these two mostly contradictory realms (scripture vs evidence) that bulgars up most of the public debate.


One either takes the mythos, or one takes the facts. Each approach turns the other into an intellectual construct, but neither approach allows for great flexibility in interpretation. There are parameters which limit the options.


For me, it isn't a question of trying to prove one right and the other wrong, but of logical rigidity. Specifically of applying the rules of the game exactly. And for me, being both anally retentive AND neurotic, it is also a matter of great fascination.



In reality, the flood never happened.

In the Torah, history and geology do not exist.


There is a time and a place for reality, and there is a worth and a purpose for the Torah.




--- --- --- --- --- --- ---



On an entirely different subject, I have just discovered the most amazing blogger! Yehupitz!

His blog (here:
http://yehupitz.baltiblogs.com/) is, like only a few other blogs, devoted entirely to his own gentle tongue in cheek attempt to make people think.

In a posting dated December 27 ('Dovbear: no sense of decency'), the Yehupitzer writes: "...this Dov animal has no decency. His unwarranted attacks on good people he disagrees with, such as Rabbi Emanuel Feldman and Toby Katz"

Toby Katz, you will recall, is the name of a hatemonger who writes for Der Sturme...., I mean Crosscurrents (a neo-Christian apologist blog which carefully screens the comments people post, and then selects which ones not to publish).

He writes further "That this sheigetz deserves condemnation is nothing new. What is newly deserving of condemnation is Gil's benign tolerance of such scum."

As heaven forfend I would not want to assume that der Yehupitzer redt lashon horo, it is clear that he meant this in jest.
http://yehupitz.baltiblogs.com/archives/2005_12.html


If it weren't for Dovbear, der Yehupitzer would not exist.



Surely he is grateful to this creator?




---------------------------------------------


Blogs mentioned in this post:

[He often makes good points, and his blog is well worth cruising into.]
...
Not The Gadol Hador:
http://godolhador.blogspot.com/
[Despite his disclaimer, he very well may be the Gadol Hador. One of the greats.]
...
[A sense of humour. A realist.]
...
S. (Mississippi Fred MacDowell):
http://onthemainline.blogspot.com/
[One of the stellar team of Maven Yayin (http://mavenyavin.blogspot.com/).
A good writer on his own as well as a member of an excellent collective effort.]
...
Lakewood Yid does not have a blog. Yet.
...
The unknown whom we all know and love, aka Moloch, wishes to remain anonymous - and if we blow his cover, a sting operation that took several years to engineer will be blown, and the TeoChew gangs will waste him. And you will have blood on your hands. Don't ask.
...
Oh, and you already know who Dovbear is, and where to find him. I read him on a daily basis. It's good for the circulation. http://dovbear.blogspot.com/
[Warning: Dovbear may cause dyspepsia for some of you Republicans, but you'll be better for it, as you had better! realize. Yes, you may thank me.]
...

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