Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"Skeptics Are Third-Graders"

I get tired of reading that "skeptics only attack their third grade notions of God and Judaism. They think it's all as they were taught back then, or it's nothing."

Rubbish. When I was still 'dox, I was a rationalist. I argued for the Rambam's position of treating outrageous stories in Tanach as allegories. I argued for the Maharal's style of decoding outrageous statements of Chazal as hidden, coded, allegorical wisdoms. I went through "the Torah is not a science textbook," followed by "the Torah is not a history textbook," and so on. I did everything you could expect from a Modern Orthodox intellectual trying to make Orthodox Judaism rational and understandable.

I reject that. Don't tell me Breishit is metaphorical: tell me what the metaphor stands for, and why I should accept that as true. Tell me why I should believe in any supernatural claims whatsoever, including dualism. Tell me why I should believe any form of Divine revelation occurred--not just the sort they teach you in third grade. Tell me why I should accord any intellectual authority to Chazal, not just simple belief or disbelief in their sayings.

And so on.


G*3 said...

What prompted this?

JewishGadfly said...

Take a look at the comments on XGH's most recent post. But generally, it's a sentiment I've seen from other MO bloggers.

mitchell said...

Every facet of the universe is so unbelievably complex, that any single element within the whole sufficiently testifies to the handiwork of the Creator. If a magnificent work of art cannot be formed by merely spilling paint, certainly the entire world cannot have been fashioned by accident. For the logical mind, seemingly there is nothing more irrational than suggesting G-d not create the world.

JewishGadfly said...


Funny you should post that just now--take a look at my newest post. My general response, to paraphrase Dennett: don't confuse intuition or a failure of imagination for an insight into logical necessity.

James Jordan said...

I guess atheists are created by stupid rabbis and pastors who claim that the Bible is just blowing smoke up our butts when it says God has emotions or has human form despite being an incorporeal spirit, and so on. When you try to be all Greko-philosophical about God the result is you turn your young into little Dawkinses.