Sunday, October 02, 2005

My Views Today

It's a difficult thing in philosophy to keep the same opinions that you began with until the end of the discussion. The topics are often complex and there are lots of different views to consider. Anyway, I first came into the whole philosophical whirlwind as your typical Modern Orthodox teenager. Well, maybe not your typical one, but not so far off from the average either.

I wasn’t limited in my studies, I could take out whatever I wanted from the library, science and Torah were equally valid truths, could not contradict each other and both came from God. Basic Torah U’Maddah in a nutshell. My views as a child consisted of the Big Bang, deep time, theistic evolution, Adam as a real evolved person but with a qualitatively different soul, a global flood, exodus, revelation at Sinai and other miracles were real events, etc.

Then I began discussing politics and theology online with other people. Christians, agnostics, atheists, Muslims, Pagans, you name it. We discussed everything under the sun but the basic underlying theme in all these theological discussions that could not be denied was that I had no way of justifying my own positions over these others. It was easiest with devout Christians and Muslims, though, because they, for the most part, agreed with the same basic legendary history as Jews. But when debating with the doubters of Abrahamic religions, there really was little to stand on and I was left posturing with empty assertions.

I was then lead naturally to skepticism and eventually to the safety of positivism which says that one doesn’t believe in anything unless the evidence leads one to believe it is true. That’s a good hard basis for your beliefs and generally you’ll win the arguments. Debates turn into solid "show me the evidence" and not endless assertions of dogma or even weak apologetics of dogma.

However, after some time as I read more deeply into philosophy with guys like Kant making it clear that metaphysics isn’t something that we can ignore just because we cannot empirically analyze it, and William James showing me that one is justified in making some decision on these questions even though the physical evidence doesn’t suggest one over the other since in many ways it can determine how we think and how we act in life, I began to rethink my adherence to positivism.

Positivism is very limiting. It may tell us what is, but it can easily fail to include other things that are true as well. Sure it can protect us from falsehood, but by its very nature, it can never supply the whole truth. To thus be a student in the pursuit of truth, one should leave the safety of the positivist nest and face the possibility of accepting some falsehood while gaining all the potentiality of more truth. And I should remind myself, there is nothing so bad in being wrong.

So I’ve faced all the common arguments for the existence of God. Sure, there are none which are free from criticism, but still take the cosmological argument for example. The fact remains that we have no good answers for how the universe got to be here. That the universe spontaneously came into existence is absurd, that the universe has existed for "all time" is a linguistic trick and the many universes hypothesis is as groundless as any other metaphysical view. One can be justified in taking the opinion that there was something (some may call it God) that brought the world into being. Perhaps it was a choice made or perhaps it was an inevitable extension of whatever that "thing" is, but I do think that there was something.

But besides from that, the most convincing evidence of there being something beyond our universe is the fact that our world makes so much sense. As Einstein observed, it follows rational principles and it follows certain laws of logic that our minds can comprehend. While atheism doesn’t necessarily imply a randomly beginning universe, many atheists will say so, and I don’t believe that the rational nature of our universe lends to the belief that it has a merely random origin.

One can defend belief in a purely random, unpurposed universe, but where is the evidence for that belief? Humanity exists in an environment which it can comprehend, shape, and explore. We are intelligent, inventive, imaginative, capable of morality, capable of advanced communication, amazingly dexterous, creative: we produce art, music, poetry, fashion etc., and we have an incredible capacity for abstract thinking. That all these characteristics came together at once in our species by accident, is hard to imagine. There are scores of variables necessary for a universe to admit the possibility of the existence of a civilization and for that civilization to develop that can explore and understand the universe that it boggles the mind to say that it happened by accident.

I don’t know if I am arguing for God’s existence or just against the assertion that the universe and our existence is just the result of some cosmic accident.

So does God exist? I still don’t know. I can’t say. But am I an atheist? I don’t think I’m willing to say that I am. An author, Chet Raymo, had said that there are two types of people in the world: skeptics and true believers. I don’t think I’ll ever be a true believer in either theism or atheism, but how can I not be a skeptic? I don’t think the material world is all that there is - things seem way too neat for that to be - but I cannot make any claims for what that something outside of the material world may be. I don’t even know where to start.

Do I think this "thing" cares about human behavior? That it sits in judgement of our thoughts and actions? No. Is there such a thing as a soul and immortality? I don’t think so. Was it this thing which spoke to Moses in the desert and proclaimed a set of laws and regulations for a special kind of human to follow? Sounds kinda silly doesn’t it?

But what Judaism is and has been through the ages (along with other religions) is an attempt to connect with this thing, to understand it, to become a part of it, perhaps. It is a human construct, of course, but with a noble goal. With this view, Judaism isn’t a pointless burden, but it speaks of a determination to join in this goal. Judaism is also the cultural bond which connects all Jews to one another, but it is not just that. Perhaps one day, as in the Rambam’s view, we will be able to commit to an intellectual pursuit of this transcendent thing without the rest of the common rituals, but we must admit that they give us opportunities to set our minds and to reflect on what the world might be. Perhaps we are not a nation of priests, but a nation of philosophers.

52 comments:

Paul said...

what Judaism is and has been through the ages (along with other religions) is an attempt to connect with this thing, to understand it, to become a part of it,



Louis Jacobs (if I remmeber correctly, at the end of 'We have reason to believe') states: ' Torat H' temimah, meshivat nafesh - BECAUSE it is 'meshivat nafesh', therefore it is perfect', which sounds to me more or less exactly what you are saying in your last para.

Prince Imrahil said...

You're aren't going to come to any conclusion about belief in any god because such a belief could never mean anything. What is the value of attaching exterior significance to a theoretical fact; i.e. some intelligence ordered the universe, some heavy lifter raised the cosmos etc...What information does that supply?

Torah posits no belief whatsoever. It strives for knowledge. What kind of knowledge? The knowledge of Being. If we find existence (universe being), then their must be an Existence wiich subsumes and emanates what is in Existence continuously. There is no other way for anything to Be. What people unfortunately call God, is the source and ground of all Being. In Torah, HaShem, the name, is the Name of Being Itself. Study Maimonides Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah. What passes nowadays for God-talk and belief is nonsense and has no origin whatsoever in the authentic Torah. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

WHY BELABOR these minor points unless you are really plagued with guilt. The problem as I see it is we are not orthodox yet we have chosen to remain living in their world. so it's when in Rome....If they want me to remove my shoes in a Japanese restaurent, I will. I will go to shul tonight and tomorrow for a while anyway. I have decided that this year I will not wear a kittle

Orthoprax said...

Paul,

I'm not sure what the connection is to Jacobs. What does he mean when he says it is meshivat nefesh?

prince imrahil,

"What is the value of attaching exterior significance to a theoretical fact..."

I give value to a lot of things which exist in the world. If God exists, I would think there's a good chance of me giving value to it.

"What people unfortunately call God, is the source and ground of all Being...What passes nowadays for God-talk and belief is nonsense and has no origin whatsoever in the authentic Torah."

Maybe, so what do you think about the idea of a judging god and a command-giving god? Is that not part of Torah-true Judaism?

"Study Maimonides Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah."

I may just do that.

Anon,

"WHY BELABOR these minor points unless you are really plagued with guilt."

I can't help it. It's not about guilt, but it's about the unending existential wonder of it all. Why are we here, where did we come from, is there something more to life but food and sex? These are questions our own reason drive us to ask. I cannot ignore them.

"The problem as I see it is we are not orthodox yet we have chosen to remain living in their world."

That's one way of looking at things. A better way, which I think I am trying to do, is to take it away from "them" and make it my world as well.

avian30 said...

Orthoprax,

I am tempted to refute your arguments for a quasi-God by pasting some of the arguments you have written against me in the past. :)

Sarah said...

Daniel,

"is there something more to life but food and sex"

After you finish with hilchot yesodei hatorah, flip through hilchot deiot ... those are the two Rambam focuses on as well ... according to him, both are only there in order to enable us to fulfill our higher, godly purpose (ie. learning Torah and/or avodat Hashem and/or however you choose to interpret that portion and procreation so your kids can continue to do the same thing ...) ;)

Comforting post ...

Anonymous said...

Orthoprax
You seem at least to put yourself in a permanent position of not knowing something as a position like agnosticism but this doesn't mean there is no answer then. So your lack of an answer doesn't tell you the same thing as arguing that something is a meaningless question. A meaningless question is something that is equivalent in practical terms to saying something does not exist except verbally. Also if you don't believe and yet practice out of some conviction you are still in the same position as before where you are saying you believe to whatever extent in Judaism. You are back to square one. You want Judaism to be continued. The question is still basically to be asked of you why continue to believe in Judaism.
Yisrael Asper

Anonymous said...

Orthoprax
You seem at least to put yourself in a permanent position of not knowing something as a position like agnosticism but this doesn't mean there is no answer then. So your lack of an answer doesn't tell you the same thing as arguing that something is a meaningless question. A meaningless question is something that is equivalent in practical terms to saying something does not exist except verbally. Also if you don't believe and yet practice out of some conviction you are still in the same position as before where you are saying you believe to whatever extent in Judaism. You are back to square one. You want Judaism to be continued. The question is still basically to be asked of you why continue to believe in Judaism.
Yisrael Asper

Anonymous said...

sounds to me like you're a Spinozian

B. Spinoza

Alex said...

"And I should remind myself, there is nothing so bad in being wrong.
"

Unless this world operates a la Pascal's wager.

Orthoprax said...

Avian,

"I am tempted to refute your arguments for a quasi-God by pasting some of the arguments you have written against me in the past. :)"

Ah, well, yes. But the difference here is opposed to arguments for fact I am supplying arguments by which one may believe. I'm not saying "God exists and I prove it thusly," but more like "I don't know how to explain this stuff and some transcendent thing (that some may call God) could be the culprit."

Orthoprax said...

Sarah,

"...flip through hilchot deiot ... those are the two Rambam focuses on as well ... according to him, both are only there in order to enable us to fulfill our higher, godly purpose..."

What always comes to mind with all these proposed divine purposes is to what end? Learn Torah? To what end? Some might say as an end in itself - but one could say that about anything really. I guess we must find (or create) value in whatever we can in life.

"Comforting post ... "

Was it? In a sense, perhaps.

Orthoprax said...

Yisrael,

"So your lack of an answer doesn't tell you the same thing as arguing that something is a meaningless question."

Did I say it was? I actually thought I said the opposite.

"Also if you don't believe and yet practice out of some conviction you are still in the same position as before where you are saying you believe to whatever extent in Judaism. You are back to square one."

In a sense, yes. But it is a Hegelian square one. I've seen the other and have come to understand myself all the better.

"You want Judaism to be continued. The question is still basically to be asked of you why continue to believe in Judaism."

That's easy. Because I'm Jewish. It's important to me because it is part of who I am.

Orthoprax said...

Spinoza,

"sounds to me like you're a Spinozian"

Ha, yeah. Sometimes. ;-)

Orthoprax said...

Alex,

"Unless this world operates a la Pascal's wager."

Well then we're all screwed except for a very select few, likely.

Sarah said...

Daniel,

I agree ... but that's the kind of thing you never really find an answer to. If I'm not mistaken, learning Torah being an end in itself would be comparable to the Greek's philosophy being an end in itself. I actually think it seems like a personal thing, but I would say that part of that purpose has to be making some sort of contribution to the world, and to the extent that we can say morals really do exist, being a moral person. To me, it's the only satisfying answer.

As for being comforting, I guess I should explain that I've found myself feeling quite lost lately. I've said before how uncomfortable I get when people think I learn because I'm super shtark with this perfect faith. There are certain (perhaps subversive) reasons why I do certain, more concrete halachot, and none of them have to do with faith. As for learning (something I'm not even officially commanded to do), I learn hoping with every source that maybe it'll be the one to enlighten me or show me something that I've been looking for, something to elucidate this confusion that I've been carrying around with me. While I'm not naive enough to think it'll ever actually come, I feel like I can't give up until I've exhausted my options, until I really understand Judaism and the position I've taken in it.

Sometimes it seems like others are so sure about God not existing, and that honestly scares me to some extent. Because whatever God means (and I have no idea what that is), the idea is somewhat comforting. Thus, your post, which instead of stating the reasons why it's impossible, stated reasons why it's possible (even if improbable), was somewhat comforting. Don't know how much sense that made, but there it is.

avian30 said...

Orthoprax,

Ah, well, yes. But the difference here is opposed to arguments for fact I am supplying arguments by which one may believe. I'm not saying "God exists and I prove it thusly," but more like "I don't know how to explain this stuff and some transcendent thing (that some may call God) could be the culprit."

In our discussions I argued basically the same. I never argued that God's existence can be proven, but rather that the existence of some sort of God is a plausible explanation for some aspects of the universe.

alex said...

"Well then we're all screwed except for a very select few, likely."

Many, actually. (I said "a la" Pascal's Wager to indicate that I'm referring to his TYPE of wager, not the exact wager itself.)

avian30 said...

Orthoprax,

These are the relevant discussions:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thefrumskepticsgroup/message/4243
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thefrumskepticsgroup/message/9034

Prince Imrahil said...

Forget, or rather erase everything you think you know about God.
Study, not flip, through Hilchot Teshuva (in hebrew) and you'll discover Being in the same way that you know your own Being.
All this God talk comes from the west, and most of it is nonsense. No theoretical fact actually makes a difference to anyone. There is no teleological 'proof' to HaShem. Its much deeper than that and requires mature and serious searching. There is no mitzvah to believe in anything and there never was - these are foreign concepts that filtered there way in to Torah through the generations. There is a path to searching that really does make a difference.

Prince Imrahil said...

"I give value to a lot of things which exist in the world. If God exists, I would think there's a good chance of me giving value to it." -
You proved my point, you said exists in the world. Hashem doesn't exist in any world.

Maybe, so what do you think about the idea of a judging god and a command-giving god? Is that not part of Torah-true Judaism? -
Of course there are Mitzvot that are the organs of connection to the Source.
The judgement issue is more complex and requires more focus. Rest assured, its much deeper and meaningful than the way it is portrayed on the street. And be more assured no one is out to get you.

Orthoprax said...

Sarah,

"...but I would say that part of that purpose has to be making some sort of contribution to the world, and to the extent that we can say morals really do exist, being a moral person."

That's pretty much the answer you'll get from anyone who isn't overended by religion. I've taken informal polls. One can justify their life by showing that the world became a better place with them than without them.

"I've said before how uncomfortable I get when people think I learn because I'm super shtark with this perfect faith."

I can understand that, but I avoid those kinds of misunderstandings by not (for example) reading a gemara in public. Most of the people who know me suspect that I am knowledgeable about a great deal, but that I don't think as they do. The tend to chock it up to my Flatbush education, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.

"I feel like I can't give up until I've exhausted my options, until I really understand Judaism and the position I've taken in it."

I can certainly appreciate that.

Orthoprax said...

Alex,

"Many, actually. (I said "a la" Pascal's Wager to indicate that I'm referring to his TYPE of wager, not the exact wager itself.)"

It doesn't matter. Pick just about any form of the wager and the wide majority of humankind is screwed.

Orthoprax said...

Avian,

I know. I can see the arguments of both sides. Sometimes I'm more sympathetic to one side of things over the other. Nothing is conclusive.

Orthoprax said...

Prince,

If I get it, I'll read it. Care to give me some fascinating points that it contains to pique my interest?

"You proved my point, you said exists in the world. Hashem doesn't exist in any world."

Eh, exists in existence. The "world" is all that exists. That's what I meant.

"Of course there are Mitzvot that are the organs of connection to the Source."

How's that?


"The judgement issue is more complex and requires more focus. Rest assured, its much deeper and meaningful than the way it is portrayed on the street."

How so? Is this good philosophy that makes sense or endless sophistry going nowhere? I've seen the "spiritual" gobbledegook arguments before and found them very disagreeable.

Prince Imrahil said...

Well for one: Maimonides doesn't mention at all any type of creation by any god. What he opens his book with is that you must know that there is a complete and total Existence that gives existence and existentiates (not a word, I know) all other things in existence. This Existence is the only true existence and is what we call generically God etc... We don't know anything about this Existence other than that it is true and that everything is an expression of it. That is principal number 1 and it is radically different than what passes for theology or religion on the street.

Prince Imrahil said...

Regrading judgement and Din, I could recommend a fascinating book called Patterns in Time Rosh Hashana by R. Matis Weinberg.

Unique!

Orthoprax said...

Prince,

Re: Maimonides, that sounds almost Kantian with a twist and I have read as much about Maimonides in that respect already. How does he deal with prayers and brachot that are supplications to a false impression of this Prime Existence?

Re: Patterns in Time, I read that it's basically an exposition based on Midrash. Is that accurate?

Shtern_Zeyer said...

Ben Melech,
I just want to say that I happen to agree with what you write.
Let me also add another point, I'm curious if we will be in agreement on this too.
It's common knowledge that man is the sum total of his consciousness. An example to prove this point is by asking ourselves what if there is another man with all the experiences, and i mean "all" the experiences as myself, right up to this present moment, then he will actually be me, there will be no distinction at all. Now if that's the case then we agree that there is no "self in itself" there is ONLY a sum of consciousness. But the word consciousness implies the concept of there being an 'entity' that "has" consciousness, yet we have just seen that there is 'nothing' other than these collective consciousness. So we will have to use the word 'existences' and say that there is here a sum of certain existences that we call 'self'.

Through a process of logic we have annihilated the concept of an 'entity' that 'has' consciousness. We have realized that it's a contradiction in terms. For on the one hand we understand that there is nothing more to consciousness than the fact of being conscious yet on the other hand it implies a 'thing' that is conscious, as if there is something out there even before it is conscious.

So if we will eliminate the word conciousness from our dictionary we will have to do the same when we talk about God. There is no Entity out there which we shall call God that 'has' consciousness for that is a contradiction in terms as above (Hu Ve'yedioso Chad). We can only call It Existence. And we really need no proof that Existence Exists.

Prince Imrahil said...

If I, who am a limited and contingent form of Existence contain and express consciousness and will and love, than surely those 'qualities' are evident in Complete-Existence Itself. Anything we find in the universe must be an expression of Existence Itself, including the supra-persona that I am.

Truth is: when you know yourself, you know HaShem, quite literally. One of the kabbalistic names of Hashem is Ani, I. And the way you know yourself is the way you know Being Itself. There is no other way.
In my opinion, Maimonides goes way beyond Kant and Hegel and the German scholastics. And if you study the prophets carefully, you see that there always was a conception of HaShem as Existence itself.
Brachot are exactly what the word means. Breicha - pool. It is tracing the particular expression that your are experiencing to its Source in Being itself. It is not thank-you or gratitude, though it sure contains that. Bracha touches on the concept of Yichud Hashem, the Oneness or Singularity of Being that encompasses and contains all plurality and complexity.

Prayer also is a misnomer.

The Hebrew concept of Tefilah is quite unique, it kind of falls in between the Eastern manta and the Western supplication. The root of the word Tefilah is Palal, wonderous connection. It is a meditation and it also is a direct communication to the Source.

Shtern_Zeyer said...

Prince,

According to Kabbalah, 'self' is an illusion. I think I have explained above why that is so.
Real Dviekus is when we understand completely that we have no "I" at all. As above, with some thought we can see that it truly is the case that we have no self.

Now in relation to God,
We are projecting a concept on God, namely consciousness, yet that concept is an illusion. That is why Kabbalists when talking of God would use terms like "Ein Sof" etc. terms that do not connote consciousness.

When I'm saying that consciousness is an illusion I mean the aspect of there being some Entity that 'has' consciousness, I think that if we peel away this misconception we will stay only with the word existence we won't find any use for the word consciousness.

To put it in another way, if we will call ourselves conscious beings although we know that we are nothing more than certain forms of existence doing their thing then go ahead and feel free to use it on God but don't add to it anything more, Say that God is conscious but say that it's Existence doing its thing.

Prince Imrahil said...

Shtern Zeyer,
Actually. in Kabbalistic thought Self is the opposite of illusion - take a pun - its an allusion to true Selfhood.
Real Devikut is actually the polar opposite of annihilation of "I", its the conjoining of the deepest part of I with the Ultimate Selfhood that dreamt up the universe.
"Make your will, His will, etc..."

Abraham's calling (Lech Lecha) was a call for Selfhood. 'Go for your own good, for your own pleasure' (see Rashi - Lech Lecha). Interestingly, Lech (go) and Lecha (to you) are the same word.

If you are referring to Ein Sof in Kabbalistic terms, than you must also relate to the Sefirot because we have absolutely no way of relating to True Existence as it is. Its an impossibility, true Existence would preclude us being here to discuss it!. The only way we know True Existence is in the expression of Existence into Becoming. And that becoming contains consciousness thats why it is proper to say that Existence is not unconscious.

Your last paragraph isn't clear to me. What do you mean?
And your forgetting Love which is the point of the whole thing and only comes from consciousness and is the pinnacle of Brit-relationship.

Shtern_Zeyer said...

"its the conjoining of the deepest part of I with the Ultimate Selfhood "

Doesn't this annihilate the 'I' right here?
Conjoining with the whole being, you and me and everything is all one, doesn't that make for loss of individuality?

Above I have tried to explain why I think there is no "I" without even using any esoteric kabbalistic terms please help me see where I'm wrong there.

I elaborated a bit differnetly on it here http://hydepark.hevre.co.il/hydepark/topic.asp?topic_id=1584752
in the seventh comment on that page.

I am not interested in proving my point, on the contrary, I want to see if and where I'm wrong.

Shtern_Zeyer said...

Oops,
It's actually the fifth comment on the page
http://hydepark.hevre.co.il/hydepark/topic.asp?topic_id=1584752

Shtern_Zeyer said...

I am rereading my first post on that page and I actually agree to your point that God is conscious becuase we who are part of existence are conscious too....
Where I have changed my opinion lately is that I realized that our own consciousness is seeminly an oxymoron, we say that all we got is consciousness yet by saying the word consciousness we imply an entity in itself that 'has' consciousness as an addition to its being. If that is not what consciousness says then why not just say existence? what are we adding when using the word consciousness.

Prince Imrahil said...

Your bring up a great point.
I think this is where postmodern philosophy goes off. When we gaze at existence and try to understand what is in it, we have no problem granting that there are discreet particles and individuals in existence. But the subjective human experiences, the epiphenomena that cannot be reduced once they emerge to the substrata that they emerge from : things like love, consciousness, beauty. Those things are as much part of existence as quarks and neurons. The only difference is that quarks can be 'objectively' (no really, though) investigated, and love and thought cannot. So it is very importatnt not to describe an individual as an existent being that has consciousnesss as a quality. Man is consciousness itself that has emerged out of the biological and nuerological process of life. That is a fundamentala element of Brit in Torah - to go beyond biology. Consciousness, by definition, redefines what led to it.

Prince Imrahil said...

"Conjoining with the whole being, you and me and everything is all one, doesn't that make for loss of individuality?"

Actually, poetically, and ironically, no. The same with love. When you are sharing love do you lose yourself in your lover? Or is their a new you built, a meta-personality that subsumes both partners. To connect with Reality is to join in the mutuality of sharing Creation. From the dream to the reality. To be cut off from that dream and be self-involved (idolatry) is not to be at all. There can be no authentic selfhood outside the domain of relationship. It has taken the world ages to realize this, no?

Shtern_Zeyer said...

"I think this is where postmodern philosophy goes off. When we gaze at existence and try to understand what is in it, we have no problem granting that there are discreet particles and individuals in existence. But the subjective human experiences, the epiphenomena that cannot be reduced once they emerge to the substrata that they emerge from : things like love, consciousness, beauty. Those things are as much part of existence as quarks and neurons."



I’m fine with love and beauty being the same as quarks and neurons, but consciousness is a different story. Love, beauty and quarks are all forms of consciousness. I assume that you agree that quarks are a form of consciousness. Every type of existence is all about sensation and perception which is consciousness. My point here is that consciousness is not a form of existence; it’s not yet another kind of existent, it’s the name we gave the whole of existence (a wrong name in my opinion) and my argument is don’t call “existence” consciousness and you’ll all of a sudden find the whole consciousness meaningless.

When interpreting existence as consciousness we are not explaining anything anyway for consciousness is just here period and so is existence. But we are misleading ourselves by thinking that there is an entity that “has” consciousness; we are creating something out of whole cloth.
Not so with love, and quarks we are just living with the facts of existence.

Prince Imrahil said...

I'm still not too sure hat you mean by not calling Existence conscious. Is consciousness not a fact too?

Anonymous said...

Honarable Prince
I'm trying to set aside a few minutes in these hectic days to better explain myself.
On a different note, you surly realize that we are basically having a one on one discussion on someones blog. A discussuion not necessarily of interest even to the 'Baal Ha'blog'. We are slowly relegated lower and lower on the blog page, shotly we can fly off the page completely. What with the chance of our host going 'Bederech Kol Ha'aretz and closing down the blog complely a la Misnaged Koton Hador and now A Hasid and Heretic. I therefore suggest that we continue our discusion on the English Atzor Kaan Choshvim. The above is said only if our host Ortho is ok with it, and obviously only if you are ok with it too.
I happen to know a few writers there and I think they may contribute to the discussion.
In any event, unless instrcted otherwise by you I will paste our discussion on that forum and we may be pleasntly surprised by some enlightening input.
Thanks

Prince Imrahil said...

Sounds good to me.
Can you post here a direct link the the discussion? Thanks.

Adam Shajnfeld said...

There are billions of other celestial bodies out there. You claim that it is hard to think that the apparent rationality/order/capabilities of those on earth could come about through some random process. But think of this possibility: on all these other celestial bodies, it doesn't work. Give it a billion tries, something may come about.

When you look at a pencil, standing upright on a gym floor, you might think that it could never have landed on its eraser and stood up. Someone must have placed it carefully. Now, step back, and look at the millions of pencels that are strewn about, not standing. Is it shocking that one, falling together with millions, would end up standing?

Orthoprax said...

Adam,

Can you explain where our very convenient physical laws of our universe came from which makes anything and everything in our universe possible? You can't play the odds game with that one. As far as anyone knows, there is only one universe.

You can argue that we are all the luckiest of lucky recipients of the winning lottery ticket in terms of the size of the universe, but we have in fact only one universe and only one set of laws in it (as far as we know). That such a singularity was able to bring about our existence accidentally boggles the mind.

Adam Shajnfeld said...

Is this the only universe? Were there ever any other universes? Can we answer these questions, and are they intelligble? If they are, we cannot draw conclusions about the laws of physics and their coherency.
I'm going to think about your point a bit though. Also, please feel free to contact me. I'm 21, and, formerly orthodox.

Adam Shajnfeld said...

As your comment suggests, we know very little about any other universe. That knowledge would either confirm that we are suspiciously lucky, or that are absolutely not lucky.

Orthoprax said...

Adam,

I'm really not offering anything new. This is the classical Fine-Tuning and Anthropological Principle argument. The point is that we don't know what the odds are. Do other universes exist? Maybe, but we'll probably never know.

Scientists, however, are suspicious of coincidences since it often means that they're missing a causal principle. And I find the universe and our place in it to be very very suspicious.

So, Adam, what brought you from Orthodoxy?

Shtern_Zeyer said...

Dearest Prince,
Here's the link to the English Atzkach.
I posted our dialouge. I see that someone already added his own two sense.
I can email you the password to your name over there Prince_Im (shortend your name a bit they didnt allow the full name)
Please respond, clarity on this issue is very helpful.
Thanks
Oh, whats your email address?

Ortho,
Pullleeeese give me your thought on this matter too.

Shtern_Zeyer said...

why do I always forget to give the link?
Here it is
http://hydepark.hevre.co.il/hydepark/topic.asp?topic_id=1615919

Orthoprax said...

Shterenzeyer,

It occurs to me that consciousness is a process and not something that an unchanging object can have. To change, to grow, is to be in flux and to be alive and to be conscious.

God, which is argued to be perfect and unchangeable then defies consciousness. And defies normative definitions of life as well.

You guys were getting a little too mystical for my tastes though...

Prince Imrahil said...

The anthropic quandary is really interesting. The Rambam defines a Tzaddik as one who sees every action as being supremely effective in the universe. He is the one who ties the cutting edge to the whole story and sees everything as extraordinarily impactful. Like the butterfly effect. So he seems to contain the whole history of the cosmos, all of the development and evolution that led to This moment within his conceptual space and then acts on it.

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