Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Religious Struggle

I have struggled for most of my life to qualify my religious belief. I was born and remain proud of my Jewish identity, celebrate many aspects of the culture and relish in the study of its history. Indeed I continue as always to be a strong and passionate supporter of Israel and Jewish Nationalism. While at times I have flirted with benign forms of atheism and deism such indulgence has never held me for too long as the reasonable arguments of theism have been too persuasive. Although I place much credence in science I reject the view espoused by Dawkins, Harris, Russell, Hitchens et al that belief in religion and logic is ultimately inconsistent with faith in a higher power. In fact I have had no problem entertaining both frameworks in my personal psyche.

My struggle though is at a deeper level and involves the step of consolidating my theistic belief with that of Judaism as a revealed religion. My attempts so far have not yielded the progress that I would have liked. Ultimately it seems I cannot accept the idea of revealed religion having any grounding at all. I am not convinced that many of the events described in the Torah (including the critical revelation at Sinai) even occurred and as a person of science I cannot give credence to miracles passed on from ancient times that seem to defy the established well documented Laws of Nature. I realize that there have been numerous arguments made through the ages to substantiate these miracles including a deference to a bygone ‘Age of Miracles’ but such reasoning seems to carry a ‘magic quality suffused with superstition ’ that is more akin to a primitive tribalism than to post-enlightenment reasoning. It is this hurdle that ultimately caused me to reject Orthodox Judaism and its emphasis on the 613 Commandments despite the fact that I have great respect for such organizations as Aish Hatorah and the various Lubavitch groups.

In short I don’t believe that their overall worldview, with its strict emphasis on both the written and Oral Torah as direct instruments from G-d, can be bought into the mix of the science-soft theism maxim that makes sense to me. A part of me wishes that it would as this seems to simplify life but I cannot lie to myself and believe what at the very end I cannot justify.

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