Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Why Are You Testing Me, God?

Moshe Bernstein discussing Biblical Scholarship*:
What if anything would cause me to say, well maybe I'm wrong? So the answer is if somebody showed me a piece of J from the 8th century BCE and there was no P with it, and I was convinced that it was from the 8th century and that this was an individual thing... and I believed that, so I'd look up and I'd say, HaKadosh Baruch Hu, why are you testing me? ... If it's a question of emunah, I am perfectly willing to be a fundamentalist... and to say that those are the parameters within which I operate. I may push the envelope as far as I can, I may choose to operate in a broader way than many others whom I know, but that's where I draw the line.
A true OrthoFundie can never be challenged with facts that contradicts his beliefs. Regardless of how overwhelming the evidence is, one can always brush it aside as a test of one's faith. And this, of course, is true of any fundamentalist, regardless of religion.

*Unfortunately, I cannot find the original web source for this audio lecture. I believe that it was from YUTorah.org, but if so, it is no longer available there.


Joshua said...

I can't tell if he is saying that would or would not convince him. On the one hand the part in bold suggests that it wouldn't. On the other hand, he does say at the the end "that's where I draw the line."

jewish philosopher said...

And what would convince you that evolution is false?

Frum Heretic said...

Joshua - he is basically saying that emunah trumps all.

Frum Heretic said...

JP: I refuse to believe that by now you have not grasped the simple concept that scientific assertions are falsifiable and that scientific disciplines are constantly being refined and modified to take into account the results of new research and discoveries. This is the exact opposite of religious belief, which is static and almost never changes in response to empirical evidence that challenges said beliefs.

I am also not sure why you feel so threatened by the theory of evolution (after all, this was not even the topic of this post.) Even if you maintain a disbelief in it, surely you realize that a number of Jewish Orthodox theologians and scientists have made their peace with evolution and have integrated it into their world view. I can only posit that in your case, Rabbi Tendler is correct and that the Christian church has irrevocably affected your critical facilities regarding this matter.

Joshua said...

If that's what he means then yes, that is appalling. I'm then puzzled by what he means about where he draws the line in the last part.

JP, to list a variety of things which would likely convince FH or me that evolution was wrong:

If we finish working out the genomes of the various great apes and they don't fit in a nested hierarchy, that would be a serious problem.

If we found a large number of fossils that were in situ from the wrong time periods (the standard line is rabbits in the Pre-Cambrian).

Those are but two examples. It isn't that hard to give other examples. So JP, next question what would make you admit that you are wrong about anything at all?

Bern Gurion said...

The late Prof. Moshe Weinfeld proposed that P actually is before J. I think he based on the fact that the cultic elements of religion should precede the legalistic and mythic. Religion begins with the primal cultic and ritualistic in order to contact the divinity, it's latest development is D, a fully developed state religion with a constition and centralising of worship, de-emphasizing the cultic elements and codifying the moral relations between people in a holy nation.
Wellhausen was probably wrong thinking the Jews invented the temple cult after ezra(this is probably due to a certain bias in Wellhausen's thinking).

Baal Habos said...

>he is basically saying that emunah trumps all.

Once an individual resorts to that,in affect admitting that belief is not based on anything real, that individual can not in good conscience fault anyone who does not believe.

(Yet, Chazal also makes claims such as Lo Uvdo Avodah Zarah Ela .... And thus Chazal get knocked off their pedestal as well.)

It's another form of slippery slope.

Yitzhak Bronstein said...

It's from a exchange with James Kugel in the YU commentator.

Anonymous said...

The theory preceded Weinfeld z"l, and was foremost the proposal of Yehezkel Kaufman.