Thursday, April 21, 2011

Monotheism: The Genius of Judaism


[proclaiming God's unity]

Perhaps the most striking and original concept of Judaism is monotheism – the belief in one God.

Looking at the world around us, there seem to be endless separate and even conflicting forces – rain, wind, fire, the sun, the moon, plants, animals, disease, birth, death, etc. The conclusion drawn by most people in earlier times was that each of these forces was controlled by a superhuman, but not supremely powerful, being and these beings were constantly interacting with each other and even fighting with each other. Humans might hope to appease these gods through sacrificial offerings or various rituals. This was the early paganism still practiced in some places today.

Modern man laughs at this; however actually, modern science is not much different. The modern scientist still believes that the universe is controlled by laws of nature. If you ask a scientist, what causes lightening, he will not reply “Thor did it”, but rather he will reply that, although we still don't quite know how, the laws of physics cause a lighting flash. Nevertheless, he will be at a loss to explain where these laws came from and why they exist. Some laws of nature seem to be contradictory, such as the laws of quantum mechanics and general relativity. The attempt to create one theory of everything is still very elusive. So instead of gods who must be appeased with sacrifices, we have today laws of nature, which we must simply try to understand and cope with as best we can. That may be a step in the right direction, however it still has its limits.

Judaism from day one has taken an entirely different approach: “Know this day, and lay it to thy heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and upon the earth beneath; there is none else.” Deuteronomy 4:39. We are not at the hands of bizarre superheroes or mysterious forces of nature. Rather, behind the scenes, there is one lord and master who is orchestrating everything. Furthermore, he is a judge and a lawgiver. Mere sacrifice is not enough; he demands obedience, as the next verse states “And thou shalt keep His statutes, and His commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, for ever.”

This is truly the theory of everything and it greatly simplifies our understanding of the universe. Yes, there are many forces of nature, however one Creator made them and one divine Ruler established them and manipulates them according to His wishes. He is the one God whom we must serve and the one Lawgiver whom we must obey. This is an amazing example of Occam’s Razor. This idea is so sensible, that the majority of mankind now accepts it. But it all began with a few Jews in the Middle East several thousand years ago.

33 comments:

Ksil said...

Occams razor? You have to be kidding me

If orthodox rabbinic jews used occams razor, 90% of meforshim would be unecessary

Why does the chumash contradict it self here, why is there an extra word here, why does the tora say this when it meant that,,,,,and so on

Because it aint from god!!!!! Thats why!!!!!

jewish philosopher said...

Atheism completely contradicts occams razor, as I explained

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2011/02/lame-duck-why-atheism-fails.html

Lol

NC said...

"The conclusion drawn by most people in earlier times was that ....Humans might hope to appease these gods through sacrificial offerings or various rituals. "

OK, so OJs try to appease just one god through sacrifices (now prayer) and various rituals.

Big improvement.

" He is the one God whom we must serve and the one Lawgiver whom we must obey. This is an amazing example of Occam’s Razor. This idea is so sensible, that the majority of mankind now accepts it."

Nice try. Sorry to burst your bubble JP, but the majority of mankind does NOT accept that He is the One God who must be obeyed. Every religion believes in its own make believe god who says something completely different than yours. Some of these religions, like Hinduism, evolved completely independently of Judaism.

Don't let the fact that Bible-thumping evangelical Christians happen to be your political allies for conservatism at the moment deceive you into thinking that they believe in the same god as you.

jewish philosopher said...

"OK, so OJs try to appease just one god through sacrifices (now prayer) and various rituals."

That's occams razor: one is sufficient, so leave it with that.

"Don't let the fact that Bible-thumping evangelical Christians happen to be your political allies for conservatism at the moment deceive you into thinking that they believe in the same god as you."

At least they claim to. It's a sensible idea that has been adopted, although perhaps a little corrupted, by most humans. The American dollar even proclaims "in God we trust".

Nate said...

Ksil thinks "it ain't from God", but he goes to shul. In other words, deep down he knows it is from God, all of it, including "Rabbinic Judaism". He just can't accept the responsibilities it entails. So sad.

NC said...

"That's occams razor: one is sufficient, so leave it with that."

Occam's razor would say that even one God is unnecessary, given that it adds nothing to the naturalistic explanations that we already have.

"It's a sensible idea that has been adopted..."

Sensible ideas, as we learn more, tend to spread and be refined over the long haul and improved upon, not corrupted. (If we take examples from other fields of knowledge)

So by your own logic Christianity or Islam should be the "real" monotheistic religion.

Face it, JP. Judaism and Jews are a tribe like any other group, just a very small one. They have their own practices, history, myths and ethnic identity. And people switch religions and tribes, as you did. Jews suffer misfortunes sometimes like everybody else. The fact that you, as a member of that tribe, feel special and claim to have the unique truth, while prevalent among fanatics, is not only unconvincing, but makes you seem racist, bigoted, foolish, or all three.

You appear to have very little insight into your own biases. Don't you see how every religious person of every persuasion is totally convinced of the undeniable truth of his special religious authorities and "truths", and that you are doing the same thing? You are simply unable to recognize that you delude yourself like everybody else.

Since we skeptics do not base our beliefs on an authority based system, we cannot be accused of doing the same thing. We simply reject all religious authority.

NC said...

"Ksil thinks "it ain't from God", but he goes to shul. In other words, deep down he knows it is from God, "

No, we go to shul because we are social creatures and part of a community.

jewish philosopher said...

"Occam's razor would say that even one God is unnecessary, given that it adds nothing to the naturalistic explanations that we already have."

There are no naturalistic explanations for a lot of things, such as the origin of life, the universe, the soul, etc nor is there any indication that there ever will be.

"Sensible ideas, as we learn more, tend to spread and be refined over the long haul and improved upon"

Was Nazism an improvement on Darwinism, the Spanish Inquisition an improvement on the early church, Stalinism an improvement on Marxism, etc etc

"Since we skeptics do not base our beliefs on an authority based system, we cannot be accused of doing the same thing. We simply reject all religious authority."

Sure you do. You're based on Darwin. You believe you alone are special and possess the truth. Anyone not toeing the orthodox party line is persecuted as has been amply documented.

http://www.discovery.org/expelled/

"No, we go to shul because we are social creatures and part of a community."

Or because you're cowards and liars.

Nate said...

If you went to shul because you're just socializing, you wouldn't have an open siddur in front of you. Fight as hard as you want, there's a frum Jew inside you that will come out soon enough, black hat and all.

Anonymous said...

NC:

The best naturalistic explanation for the exquisite fine tuning of the universe is multiverse. Which says that there are an infinite number of unverses. This is the exact opposite of Occam's razor.

Ksil said...

Nate, black hat? What does that have to with being frum?

You think dressing like a man from poland in the 1700s makes someonw frum? Ooookkkkkaaaaaaayyyyy

Rotfl

Nate said...

No, but is certainly an indicator of what group he identifies with. Those that don;t wear them make a statement as well, that they don't want to be identified with the more right wing, ie Torah true, Yidden. Stop running away from Torah, Ksil. It won;t work.

NC said...

"Was Nazism an improvement on Darwinism, the Spanish Inquisition an improvement on the early church, Stalinism an improvement on Marxism, etc etc"

Your statement proves my point. These movements did not survive, and that is because there were not improvements. My point is that if an idea is shown to be true or successful in some fashion, that it spreads and perpetuates. On the other hand a belief or idea that does not ring true or does not work, it tends to wither or remain the belief of a small group of loyal followers.

"You're based on Darwin. "

Darwin is not an authority. Neither is Newton or Einstein.

But their ideas remained and spread because they were compellingly true and worked.

"Or because you're cowards and liars."

When you obey common courtesy and politeness, are you a liar?

NC said...

Here's the inherent contradiction in your claim, JP.

On one hand, you claim that monotheism spread because it is sensible, and sensible ideas spread. I would agree with that claim, with the proviso that the ideas evolve over time as we learn more and learn from mistakes. Something that is really true and works is simply not forgotten. Now that atheism is spreading the same could be said for that.

On the other hand, Judaism itself, being your prototype ultimate sensible idea, does not spread. The reason you have given is because Judaism is "hard". This is a classic case of exception by special pleading. Also, it is very hard to be part of some cults. Of course that doesn't make them true.

jewish philosopher said...

Darwin is as much an authority for atheists as Jesus is for Christians or Mohammed is for Muslims. Check this video out

http://www.break.com/index/door_to_door_atheists_bother_mormons.html

Gentiles have borrowed some easy stuff from Jews distorting them in various ways, for example the alphabet and monotheism, while leaving the rest.

"When you obey common courtesy and politeness, are you a liar?"

Fooling people into thinking you believe in something you don't has nothing to do with being polite. It really bugs me that there are atheists walking around with yarmulkes on and then when they get caught committing some crime the headline is going to say "Orthodox Jew indicted etc etc" These fakes must be caught and expelled before they hit the evening news.

"The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked" proverbs 15:8 

Ksil said...

I am definately one of those fakers, but you'll never catch me doing something that you deem bad - even break shabbat.

Nate, learn some history before you start spouting about truisms

NC said...

"Darwin is as much an authority for atheists "

I can't speak for other people, but Darwin is not an authority for me any more that Sir Isaac Newton is.

Is Thomas Edison an "authority" for light bulb manufacturers? Are we all Edison worshippers, in your opinion?

The whole claim is ridiculous.

"Fooling people into thinking you believe in something you don't has nothing to do with being polite. "

Excuse me, but do you go around telling everybody everything that is going through your head? When you see an ugly person, do you tell him?

What I believe about God doesn't seem to interest anybody, unless I choose to discuss it with them.

And your "No True Scotsman" argument is really silly, as though nobody who commits a crime actually believes in god. Here in Israel the prisons are full of traditional or religious Sefardis who are definitely not atheists. (Like Aryeh Deri, Yigal Amir and Shlomo Ben Ezri to name a few famous ones).

"Gentiles have borrowed some easy stuff from Jews distorting them in various ways,"

I think that they would argue that they were improving upon, not distorting. Kind of like Einstein improving upon Newton, etc.

jewish philosopher said...

"Darwin is not an authority for me any more that Sir Isaac Newton is"

The only difference being that Darwin founded a religion, Newton didn't.

If you're going to insist that atheism is not a religion I can just as well insist that neither is Judaism: Judaism is simply a fact, not a theory. Moses is as real as George Washington, Mount Sinai as the American Revolution and Watchmaker Analogy as solid as gravity. In Biblical Hebrew there is no word for religion: there is just truth or lies.

"Excuse me, but do you go around telling everybody everything that is going through your head?"

Definition of HYPOCRITE: a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hypocrite

I guess I'm just not a big fan of hypocrites.

"I think that they would argue that they were improving upon, not distorting."

I'm merely pointing out that monotheism is so sensible that most of mankind has accepted it as true. Why haven't they accepted the remainder of the Torah? Because being a Noahide

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Laws_of_Noah

would mean admitting the superiority of Jews. And converting to Judaism would be too difficult. However certain Jewish ideas (monotheism, altruism, the weekend, the alphabet, for example) are just too good to pass up. What to do? Well, start a new religion. God has conveniently come back and in a private revelation to Jesus, Mohammed, Joseph Smith or whomever has revealed that He changed His mind and the Jews are no longer the chosen people, the far more righteous Romans, Arabs or Americans are. Rome, Mecca or Salt Lake City is the new Jerusalem. The New Testament, Koran or Book of Mormon is the new Torah. Problem solved.

ksil said...

"Judaism is simply a fact."

no its not!

"Why haven't they accepted the remainder of the Torah"

becasue it is ABSURD!

jewish philosopher said...

You mean compared to bread turning into the body of Jesus or worms turning into people, which makes so much more sense. Lol.

natschuster said...

ksil:

What the scientists would have us believe is more absurd than anything we find in the
Torah. There's a universe popping out of nowhere, there's multuiverse, there's small moloecules somehow spontaneously formiing a cell, there's bacteria tunring into blue whales, there's fine pound on brain tissue containing a mind. Don't get me started on quantum stuff.

Now, if multiverse is true, then there are an infinite number of universes, all different.
So that means that therr is a universe where all the miracles of the Torah did happen. So the Torah is a fact.

ksil said...

"worms turning into people"

I thought you studied the "theory" of evolution, JP? I guess not.....

nat, "What the scientists would have us believe is more absurd than anything we find in the
Torah."

how someone can believe that some great zeus, thor, god, budha, whatever-up-in-the-sky and deciding one day to create the entire universe and one tiny little planet and give a book (book!) to some nomads in the desert full of false, misleading and unreasonable information and rules is beyond me. (other than indoctrination, duh!)

whats wrong with saying "we dont know how we got here, or why or what, if any, the purpose of all of this is?"

as far as morality is concerned, this has been addressed numurous times (here and elsewhere) - you dont need this book to teach morality - in fact you should IGNORE it.

jewish philosopher said...

Actually, ksil, it's much worse than that. Atheists believe that nothing became chemicals, which became microbes, which became worms, which became fish, which became lizards, which became mice, which became monkeys, which became men all by themselves, magically.

If you can believe that, you should be able to believe anything. Thor and Zues would be the pinnacle of rationalism by comparison.

natschuster said...

Why is the Torah more absurd than a infinite number of universes that have unicorns, leprechauns and fairies? Again, if the scientific theor of multiverse is true, then the Torah must ne true

And what is the source of your morality? What s yur basis for saying the Torah is immoral?
I'm still not clear.

Now, if we ignore the Torah, ten we should ignore tzedaka, chesed, Veohavto Lerecha Komocha. But, that shouldn't bother an atheists because thy have no basis in logic for morality.

ksil said...

Jp, i urge you to read up on that theory a bit before simplifying it into something completely false.

And thats besides the pont anyway! One does not have to believe anything!

One can say, " i dont know"

There is nothing wrong with this answer! I wish more people would use this instead of making shit up like your rabbis do

jewish philosopher said...

Ksil, like many devout believers, you don't know your own religion. This is exactly what atheists believe.

And I freely admit that I don't have all the answers.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2011/04/contradiction-in-torah.html

ksil said...

Say it with me jp, i DONT KNOW

Now waant that eaay?

But please please dont just make up shit

jewish philosopher said...

I don't.

natschuster said...

Ksil:

The problem with saying "I don't know" ia that the truth doesn't just go away. The evidence is still there, and it points to G-d.

And its not just that things like the origin of the universe is inexplicable just using natural laws, it is impossible.

And you don't seem to have a problem with scientists making things up.

ksil said...

nat, no one said anything about truth going away, but rabbinic orthodox judaism is not truth. sorry. i know you were taught that it is. but its not.

scintists make things up? interesting.

just remember, religion is man made. anyone that thinks differently is either clinically disturbed or indocrinated from birth.

ksil said...

JP, "Atheists believe that nothing became chemicals..."

what exactly do you believe? that something created chemicals?

so what created that something? nothing you say? it always existed? why cant you just say that about the universe...it always existed....

what created god?

natschuster said...

ksil:

Scientist amke up all kinds of theories , e.g. multiverse. And don't get me started on all the scientific fraud out there.

And you keep on making assertions, but never provide evidence. How very unscientific.

jewish philosopher said...

"what exactly do you believe? that something created chemicals?"

I believe in God.

As you know, in Hebrew God is called YHVH and Adonai. YHVH means "the eternal one" and Adonai means "the lord". I believe in the existence of an eternal lord who created everything else.

"why cant you just say that about the universe...it always existed...."

A couple of reasons.

First of all, the physical evidence indicates that the universe is 13.7 ± 0.13 billion years old.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2011/04/monotheism-genius-of-judaism.html

Second of all, an eternal universe would be a perpetual motion machine which would violate the known laws of physics

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perpetual_motion

- laws which God created and is not limited by.