Thursday, July 16, 2009
Imagine that the all Australian aborigines since time immemorial claimed that space aliens had appeared to them at Ayers Rock one spring day 3,300 years ago. Those aliens left the aborigines with a book which contained unique, extremely insightful advice for living (just as the Torah contains unique wisdom). The later history of the aborigines was also unique and indicated some massively influential, ancient event (as does Jewish history and Jewish literature).
I think that most people, including most scientists, would regard this as credible evidence that intelligent life does exist elsewhere in the universe. Indeed even much less evidence, for example a narrow-band radio signal, would be considered by scientists to be solid evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence.
However, once we mention “religion”, everything changes. In regards to the Torah being revealed at Mount Sinai, although similar evidence is presented, the majority of the scientific and academic community rejects it as being insufficient and unconvincing.
I think the explanation for this is very simple: massive denial. The book of advice left by the space aliens would not obligate anyone to do anything. The Torah makes demands, sometimes huge demands, on people. Suddenly, all evidence is insufficient, so it’s all dismissed as myth.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 3:20 PM