- Reaction score
- London, UK, Malkhut she'be'Assiyah
i think you're kind of flying in the face of the way the Oral Law works. remember, when you look at a piece of mishnah and then a piece of gemara, the sages are trying to establish not what the halakhah is, but why it is the way it is, by examining the reasoning of the sages in whose name the teachings are given and by analysing their consistency and integrity to a minute degree. you'll have a mishnah which appears to be contradicted by a baraita which appears to describe the same situation, so the gemara will spend its time trying to establish if they contradict each other or not or if they are actually describing subtly different cases, in order to conclude that the baraita or mishnah concerned contain no redundancy.gooduser07 said:in the end, one ends up with the question, how could such a claim be started?
the argument I'm pointing to here is by the force not of the claims themselves, but of historical logic of how claims get started and what kinds of outrageous claims are allowed by humanity to get started and persist without even direct contradiction.
the point is that nobody is questioning what is *assumed axiomatically* to be true - ie, that moshe received Torah at sinai and passed it on to joshua, etc all the way down to the zugot and tannaim. by the time it is written down, the original claim is in fact *mythic* - which is not to say untrue, but not subjectable to verification by historical means. there is no such thing as an "outrageous" claim in the context of religious myth, because each thing is as outrageous as the next. in other words, it is pointless arguing about whether it is impossible or not for something to get started or not because actually, the examination fails if you can't even verify the chain of tradition, which, in fact, is precisely what the sages are struggling with when they're trying to work out whether it was rabbi meir or resh lakish who made a particular anonymous ruling by comparing it to other rulings which are agreed to be by those persons and assuming moreover that there is consistency throughout unless there is some reason to suppose that the rulings refer to different situations.
you'd be far better to ask yourself why, if the texts are supposedly later than the exodus, they take the trouble to record the conditions of a nomadic camp in such detail when these conditions would not have been applicable for a thousand years by the time the rules were supposedly written. you might also ask why it is we assume that one "person" could not have written all of this based on apparent stylistic differences, when lord macaulay verifiably wrote not only poetry but the indian penal code.
then there seem to be 2 reasons to repudiate polytheism:
1) accepting the claim of sinaitic revelation, there may be no good reason to doubt the validity of the bible as the legacy of that revelation and its status as the word of god. in the bible it says that god is the one god above and below (I could find chapter and verse if you want).
but that is also a classic "argument from authority" based upon the fact that you have to be able to accept that the Torah wasn't lying in the first place, G!D Forbid.
if that is true, then what is your reaction to the book of job and the problem of theodicy - when bad things happen to good people? is that not "evidence" of two powers?2) accepting the claims, there was a revelation of a supernatural power at the time of the exodus to mankind. the quality of miracles during the exodus period paint a picture of a power that is in charge of many aspects of nature (such as water, animals, lice, precipitation, sunlight, human life). if there is evidence of one supernatural power, who seems to be in charge of quite a lot of what's in nature, if not all of it, and no evidence of any other such power, why would one believe in another such power.
but philosophically, it cannot be established that *anything* corresponds to absolute "truth" that does not rely on axiomatic beliefs. you sound like a mediaeval rationalist insisting that there have to be demonstrable proofs for everything. i suggest that you get a copy of rambam's "guide for the perplexed". in fact, while we're on the subject, have a look at his 13 principles of faith and you'll see a precise and comprehensive list of the things that are necessarily based on pure faith alone and cannot be demonstrated logically. everything else in Torah follows on from them. even rambam, considered (erroneously in my opinion) as an arch-rationalist exclusivist, conceded that some stuff just *can't* be proven.if one believes in a single ultimate truth and believes that the variety of belief systems are truly at odds, then it means that it doesn't make sense to believe based on what's in the heart alone, if one is interested that his beliefs correspond to what is absolutely true.
the critical objection is that the same level of proof based on the claims of the Torah itself can be adduced to show that almost any belief system is true if it itself says that it is. furthermore, the internal experience of other texts and belief systems can be reliably shown to produce comparable feelings of 'absolute truth' when applied to the Qur'an, for example - the quality of the arabic is said to be of a supernatural nature by those who are familiar with the language.is there a critical objection to the argument, are there arguments for other belief systems of equal or superior compelling nature, or something else.
to sum up, historical logic proceeds in all cases from *axioms*, whether religious, scientific, aesthetic or otherwise. to deny the existence of such axioms and their philosophical function puts you in disagreement with some of the most rational sages in the history of judaism.