The Definition of a Miracle

Discussion in 'Judaism' started by Ben Masada, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Messages:
    2,749
    Likes Received:
    4
    *snort* that made me grin.

    ok, it's like this. free will is the ability to make choices, to choose. if there is no such thing as time, then there is no real difference between before you chose and after you chose, they're both existing in the same space. in linear time, therefore, choice can exist, so free will can exist, whereas in non-linear time, this notion is problematic; that's my working theory at present. the second problem is this: there was clearly a time, jewishly, when humans did *not* have free will and this time was before adam ha-rishon ate from the tree of the *knowledge of good and evil*; so of what does this knowledge consist? clearly, that there is a difference between the two, between moral action and immoral action. now, if you become able to distinguish between them, you consequently activate your *moral responsibility* - you can no longer evade responsibility for your actions. therefore, you can now sin. you cannot sin if you do not have this moral responsibility. it seems to me that if you don't live in linear time, there is no space in which choice is "real" and consequently there is no moral responsibility or sin. INSIDE linear time, it may seem that there is, but the "ultimate Reality" in EIN-SOF simply transcends this. so, you see, that's why adam had to leave eden, because once he became a morally responsible being, he could no longer live outside linear time and without sin, so he had to go out and work for a living and take the consequences of his choice. that is real free will - freedom TO, not freedom FROM - and includes freedom TO take the consequences.

    good, because i'm not a literal interpreter, except where literalness is called for, e.g. that david established the capital of eretz yisrael in jerusalem. Torah and, more to the point, halakhah and right action do not depend on miracles; see the story of the oven of akhnai (BT bava metzia 29b. it is not philosophically necessary for miracles to be true for the rest of normative traditional judaism to stack up; only that the Revelation took place.

    whether or not that is the case, it seems to be good that we avoided pinning our identity on them, then, just as it was a good idea not to base it on systematic theology. judaism would have been a very different religion if it had been stabilised between sa'adia gaon, rambam, abravanel and tzemah duran, rather than having been done so on the basis of the talmudic sages.

    i don't know much about einstein, but spinoza's views, though trenchant and important, cannot be separated from the context in which he wrote them. if he had lived at a different time and place and come from a different family, he would probably not have couched them as a direct attack on the society in which he lived which, no doubt, had a great deal wrong with it.

    i agree, which is why "heaven" and "hell" are not really that important in judaism. the sages established that "the righteous of ALL NATIONS inherit a portion in the World to Come" - whatever that is and whatever that means. a number of people, including maimonides, attempted to define what rules you out and what gets you the big prize, but although this was the subject of furious letter-writing and accusations for about a century and a half in the C11th-12th, nobody actually won the argument conclusively and even if they did it would still be a matter of opinion. in the end, though, the only thing we're able to agree on is that your "portion in the World to Come" is a Good Thing and that good ACTIONS (see the noahide laws) not just correct theological views also count. either way, it doesn't depend on miracles and even if you're sloppy, complacent and irresponsible, there is always the option of teshubah or repentance as long as you actually do this at some point and in good time for it to take before you cark it - the sages talk about this in terms of the time it takes for a pot to be shaped, dry and baked; you can't start your project with 5 minutes to go, or as a boss of mine once put it, "you can't make a baby in 1 month by putting 9 women on the job".

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  2. OAT

    OAT Where is the TAO?

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2010
    Messages:
    284
    Likes Received:
    0
    But if heaven and hell are not important, then the argument of "plausible deniability" does not really address the earlier remark of Etu Malku.
     
  3. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Messages:
    2,749
    Likes Received:
    4
    well, ok then - the "plausible deniability", in our view, is there to remind us that no matter what we think, we cannot be *absolutely* sure what G!D Wants, so ascribing something to a "miracle" does not enable us to know precisely what G!D happens to Be up to in any given situation. we cannot even *really* know who gets their "portion in the World to Come" and who doesn't - there are huge arguments over this throughout the Oral Torah; so, if you like, the "plausible deniability" is G!D's Way of making us look into other possibilities. i hope that explains it.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  4. Etu Malku

    Etu Malku Mercuræn

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2011
    Messages:
    1,439
    Likes Received:
    2
    By stating "we cannot be *absolutely* sure what G!D Wants" assumes there is a god in the first place.
    Why don't we just start with 'we cannot be *absolutely* sure there is a god but . . . "
     
  5. Ben Masada

    Ben Masada New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2011
    Messages:
    999
    Likes Received:
    1

    Whatever. What difference does it make? Spherical or obliquity makes no difference for the issue at hand. Only as other matters are concerned in the realm of Astrophysics.
    Ben
     
  6. Ben Masada

    Ben Masada New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2011
    Messages:
    999
    Likes Received:
    1

    I found it!!! I mean... I guess. Anyways, that's a mighty interesting theory you are working on. I just would like to remind you that the reason presented in the Torah for Adam and Eve to have been banned from the Garden of Eden, was not that they could no longer live outside linear time and without sin, although the whole thing is but a huge allegory, but to prevent them from eating of the tree of life and live forever. In other words, the allegory in the Genesis account of Creation was more about a destribution of attributes; what man could be granted with and what he could not.

    Knowledge, yes, in the access to the tree of knowledge which was, in a catch-22, so to speak, almost a demand that they should take possession of. But of the tree of life, they had really been forbidden to eat from; because man was not supposed to live forever. Hence, the attribute of eternal life belongs with God only. (Gen. 3:22)
    Ben
     
  7. Etu Malku

    Etu Malku Mercuræn

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2011
    Messages:
    1,439
    Likes Received:
    2
    The Original Sin as the tradition of the Fall from the Garden of Eden' is an archetypal structure embedded deep within our unconsciousness. The Original Sin is Man's guilt of being carnivorous and lycanthropic.

    We are all descended from males of the carnivorous lycanthropic variety, a mutation evolved under the pressure of hunger caused by the climatic change at the end of the pluvial period, which induced indiscriminate, even cannibalistic predatory aggression, culminating in the rape and sometimes even in the devouring of the females of the original peaceful fruit-eating bon sauvage remaining in the primeval virgin forests.

    It was the 'clothes of skin' and the 'aprons of fig-leaves', that produced the nakedness of man, and not the other way round, the urge to cover man's nudity that led to the invention of clothing. It is obvious that neither man nor woman could be 'ashamed' (Gen. ii. 25) or 'afraid because they were naked' (Gen. iii. 10 f.) before they had donned their animal's pelt or hunters' 'apron of leaves', and got so accustomed to wearing it that the uncovering of their defenseless bodies gave them a feeling of cold, fear and the humiliating impression of being again reduced to the primitive fruit-gatherer's state of a helpless 'unarmed animal' exposed to the assault of the better-equipped enemy.

    The uncovered body could not have been considered 'indecorous' or 'im-moral'.
    The very feeling of sin, the consciousness of having done something 'im-moral', contrary to the mores, customs or habits of the herd, could not be experienced before a part of the herd had wrenched itself free from the inherited behaviour-pattern and radically changed its way of life from that of a frugivorous to that of a carnivorous or omnivorous animal.

    - from a lecture delivered at a meeting of the Royal Society of Medicine by ROBERT EISLER - First published in 1951 by Routledge and Kegan Paul Limited Broadway House, 68-74 Carter Lane, London, B.C.4
    Printed in Great Britain by Butler and Tanner Limited Frome and London
     
  8. Dream

    Dream New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2008
    Messages:
    3,677
    Likes Received:
    1
    When something is oblate it is like a squashed conversation or sphere which can no longer roll without wobbling. Its center is no longer well defined and so has no longer any directional stability much like derailed threads. I've no desire to derail this one.
     
  9. Dream

    Dream New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2008
    Messages:
    3,677
    Likes Received:
    1
    This is what I understand: If two people whose life's work is to study the Bible are discussing miracles in the Bible, then I don't actually know what I'm talking about. Still I get drawn in to conversations sometimes. In the last couple of years I've come to agree (with Thomas and others) that the Bible should not have been translated to be read plainly by the uneducated. I'm all for learning and for enabling people. I've nothing against learning.
     
  10. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Messages:
    2,749
    Likes Received:
    4
    because then i wouldn't be answering that question as a traditionally-minded jew. naturally, i cannot expect that everyone else has the same assumptions as myself.

    yes, so you keep saying on numerous threads, but, not even you can be *absolutely* sure of that.

    and, indeed, the original text does not suggest this in those kind of terms - not until the translation into greek does it begin to become that simplistic. in hebrew, the term for "clothes" is related to the word for "betrayal", for instance.

    presumably that is based on some form of fossil evidence, or the behaviour of our nearest relatives; it doesn't sound like gorillas or orang-outangs to me, although i am aware that chimpanzees will certainly eat other monkeys from time to time (don't know about bonobos) so this sounds to me like you're flying a kite. in any case, that is a "how" question, it has no bearing on what makes a human a human, which is the concern of the Torah in this area.

    i disagree, because i don't think you can assert that with any degree of certainty. it's about the philosophical base of humanity, the operating system, if you like. at no point is it made clear what the tree of life actually does, whereas the prohibition is eating from the *other* tree. the only assertion made is by the serpent. check the text again. also, i think "allegory" is an utterly inadequate description of what is going on there in literary terms; as far as i can tell, you are overlooking vast areas of subtlety in this most recondite of subjects.

    hmm, i don't know about that. you can't stop progress, but it certainly requires clear teaching and interpretation if it is not to be horribly screwed around with.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  11. Etu Malku

    Etu Malku Mercuræn

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2011
    Messages:
    1,439
    Likes Received:
    2
    The article is about proto Indo-European man not about apes. The take over by carniverous man and the wearing of animal hides.
     
  12. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Hunter-Gatherer

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2011
    Messages:
    660
    Likes Received:
    2
    You don't think Jesus' words (i.e. the red parts of the NT) stand alone?

    If you need the "educated" to teach you what's in the bible, aren't you then subject to their biases and prejudices? i.e. their particular views on slavery, contraception, homosexuality, infant baptism, etc.

    You seem to imply that there is only one correct interpretation of the bible.
     
  13. Etu Malku

    Etu Malku Mercuræn

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2011
    Messages:
    1,439
    Likes Received:
    2
    I've never understood why your god chose a land where the majority were illiterate and uneducated, why didn't he go to China, who already were very educated, literate and had several philosophical systems already in place.
     
  14. Yefet

    Yefet New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2011
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    IowaGuy,
    There are 600,000 ways to interpret Cumash alone,if the level of peshat works for you then by all means go with it, almost all of Rashi's teachings are of Pshat exegesis.
    It is not the education level or temperament or opinion,you will find your own,but it helps greatly to have someone that can guide in a way that you understand, I have had many teachers that to me, made it lose all flavor and become bland. Its up to you and your teacher to add the right spice and keep you focused on whats important to you
     
  15. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2011
    Messages:
    3,212
    Likes Received:
    2
    EM -- at the time, the majority of Chinese (probably ahigher percentage than the Galileans) were illiterate and uneducated. The clash between various Greek, other Middle Eastern, and as as Judaic philosophies (oh, and toss in Roman for SAG) probably resulted in more philosophical conflicts than China had (by this time Kungfu-zi was paramount).

    Besides, this "your god" issue (for some of us at least) is no real issue. The same divinity, the same G!d underlies all paths (see Guenon and Schuoun for this viewpoint).
     
  16. Etu Malku

    Etu Malku Mercuræn

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2011
    Messages:
    1,439
    Likes Received:
    2
    The Chinese have had established culture, written language and recorded history since 6600 bc (8600 years ago and 2600 years before Adam and Eve).

    Yahweh chose a group of illiterate people from a desert who had no culture and a very basic way of life. They were inferior to other cultures around them at the time, namely the ancient Egyptians and ancient Greeks.
     
  17. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2011
    Messages:
    3,212
    Likes Received:
    2
    Ah! I thought you were discussing Jesus, not the "God of Israel." My bad. However, if their culture was so inferior, why do they still walk among us and ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Chinese do not?
     
  18. Dream

    Dream New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2008
    Messages:
    3,677
    Likes Received:
    1
    They're highlighted red in many Bibles to stress importance. If they stood alone that wouldn't be necessary. Why don't the printers leave out the black lettering, and why do the red letters quote from Deuteronomy and Isaiah?

    People are taught now just like they always have, but now there are low standards and ignorant newbies are considered seasoned Bible teachers. Remember that an estimated 1% of the population are psychopaths (see Robert Hare). All it takes is a certificate, a little psychology and a trip to the Christian bookstore.

    No, it is not in the Bible's nature to have only one interpretation. I'm saying Bible teaching shouldn't be such a half-assed hobby that psychopaths line up for the job -- like they do. I do know men in the ministry that have killed before. I know several. Guess who works in the nurseries and takes up assistant pastor positions in order to learn the business? I know who. You seem to imply that you don't.
     
  19. Dream

    Dream New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2008
    Messages:
    3,677
    Likes Received:
    1
    I think the logic is that the Chinese were too good, and that's why. Like, they just were not crude enough to properly demonstrate God's gift. It is getting very far off topic. We're in the Jewish forum, and I'm not Jewish; plus we're talking about China, and I'm not Chinese. Why don't you come over the Christianity forum and talk with me about ham sandwiches? I know a little about those.
     
  20. IowaGuy

    IowaGuy Hunter-Gatherer

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2011
    Messages:
    660
    Likes Received:
    2
    Why do you think it's superior to learn the bible through a teacher, rather than just reading it for yourself and coming to your own interpretation? If the bible's nature is open to multiple interpretations, why would a teacher's interpretation (subject to their particular biases) be any better for me than my own interpretation?

    The reason that bible teaching is a half-assed hobby is due to the followers (sheeple) of those half-assed teachers. Not anything to do with the translation of the bible itself. If those sheeple were encouraged to think for themselves, and form their own interpretations, the half-assed teacher psychopaths would not have a job.

    Jesus' teachings seem pretty straightforward to me, I don't understand why they shouldn't be "translated to be read plainly by the uneducated". Your comment comes across as elitist. And Jesus (or Moses or Abraham before him) was anything but elitist.
     

Share This Page