An Unexpected Pesach Present

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6 Responses

  1. Seth Jacobson says:

    I have found the film “What the Bleep do we Know?” to be similar. It may be an oversimplification of both faith and science, and in fact at least one of the scientists in the film seems to be strongly opposed to organized religion, but the general theme is that today’s scientific knowledge and andvancements seem to be leading “science” to merge with philosophy and spirituality.

  2. Greg says:

    In the Moreh Nevuchim, Maimonides lays out a systematic approach for proving God’s existence, predicated on a knowledge of natural science. Indeed, his entire philosophy begins with the presumption that one must first learn natural science in order to obtain the requisite knowledge to progress to divine science, or metaphysical speculation (i.e. knowledge of the Divine). There is, however, much debate about Maimonides “true” position regarding this proof; some feel that he did not believe his proof to be 100% air-tight, and was subversively trying to communicate to the those with a true understanding that proof for God, from the natural world, was impossible. Certainly Artistotle, on whose philosophy Maimonides based his own, believed to have proven the existence of a Prime Mover based on observations of the natural world.

    A complete seperation between faith and reason did not occur until much later, somewhat in the thought of Pascal, and more explicitly in Locke. Culminating, of course, in Nietzsche.

  3. One Christian's perspective says:

    Rabbi Gottleib thank you for sharing such a beautiful post ! Your present became ours as well.

  4. Chizki says:

    Dr. Collins also gave an interview on NPR with Terry Gross (“Fresh Air”) recently on March 29th, covering the much of the same ground. It’s a fully developed conversation lasting ~40 minutes, and I highly recommend it. You can find it on iTunes (free download; search for “NPR Fresh Air” in the podcast section) or on the NPR website (streaming; It’s worth noting that they ran an interview with Dr. Richard Dawkins on the preceding day – I haven’t listened to it yet, but I’m sure it provides an interesting contrast.

  5. Ariel Krakowski says:

    Leap of Faith?

    The “leap of faith” you find so appealing is a Christian concept:

    Christian dogma, according to Kierkegaard, embodies paradoxes which are offensive to reason. The central paradox is the assertion that the eternal, infinite, transcendent God simultaneously became incarnated as a temporal, finite, human being (Jesus). There are two possible attitudes we can adopt to this assertion, viz. we can have faith, or we can take offense. What we cannot do, according to Kierkegaard, is believe by virtue of reason. If we choose faith we must suspend our reason in order to believe in something higher than reason. In fact we must believe by virtue of the absurd.
    –The Stafford Encylopedia of Philosophy

    Maimonides says a person can’t believe irrational things and mentions some Christian beliefs like the one above. This is what he has to say about Emunah Peshutah:

    There are some who think a lot about G-d and mention him frequently but
    have no knowledge and merely follow imagination or accept tradition
    blindly… Such people are outside of the habitation … and do not in truth
    mention or think about G-d. Because that which is merely in his
    imagination… does not correspond to any existing being at all…
    –moreh nevuchim 3:51 translation by D. Eidensohn

    Although religious belief isn’t based entirely on logic, no “leap of
    faith” is necessary to recognize G-d. Part of recognizing G-d may indeed be “hearing the music” and not 100% mathematical proofs. But it is still based on reason. Avraham Avinu looked at the Universe and realized there must have been a Creator. Only than, was there revelation to him. Certainly now, after the revelation to our forefathers, we need no leap of faith.

    Science doesn’t just show the “plausibility of the existence of G-d”, it
    is very strong evidence for it. The perfection of the laws of the
    Universe and of DNA are are far more rational to explain based on a
    belief in G-d than on atheism. Atheism and Christianity require a “leap of faith”, not Judaism.

  6. One Christian's perspective says:

    Ariel, when a Christian speaks of a leap of faith, he/she does not mean a step into blindness but into the light — the light of HaShem. Actually, one of Israel’s Prophets spoke of this kind of faith and his name was Habakkuk. He said “the righteous will live by faith”. I don’t know much about Kierkgaard even though my ancestors are Danish but I know much more about Dr. Collins – without even meeting him – because his words ring true in my heart. When the object of faith is G-d , the believer trusts in G-d’s wisdom and understanding at the sacrifice of their own. Faith cannot be explained by man’s logic but knowledge of who G-d really is…..that is the beginning of faith.

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