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A fairly accurate, but incomplete INDEX of Posts & good overview of this blog READ SOME REASONS TO REJECT ORTHODOX JUDAISM my April 2014 post or click link above. Highlighted words lead to other posts almost all in my blog. Born into an Orthodox Jewish family (1950's) and went to Orthodox Yeshiva from kindergarten thru High School plus some Beis Medrash.Became an agnostic in my 20's and an atheist later on. My blog will discuss the arguments for god and Orthodox Judaism and will provide counter arguments. I no longer take comments. My blog uses academic sources, the Torah, Talmud and commentators to justify my assertions. The posts get updated. INDEX OF POSTS SEE MAY 2017 or click link above.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Kuzari Argument Part 6

Updated thru 11/5/2015

This is a continuation of my Kuzari argument posts begun at Kuzari Argument Part One , but I think may be read as a stand alone.

The Kuzari argument sometimes takes the ‘uniqueness’ path that the Sinai story is unique and therefore it must have happened. This has been addressed in my prior Kuzari posts explaining that there are parallels to the  Sinai story and moreover uniqueness does not remotely imply the Sinai story  actually happened. 

{ETA 11/5/2015  We find amongst many people claims of Supernatural and mountains, Supernatural speaking, Supernatural giving laws, seeing Supernatural, miracles, masses of people being misled or mistaken to believe inaccurate information, myths or stories becoming embellished over time and nation boasting-propaganda. There is the Pygmy claims, the  WBCW story, and other claimed supernatural events etc: etc: most of which has been documented in my prior Kuzari posts and others. 

Hence,  many if not all the pieces of the Sinai 'puzzle' have known empirical parallels. So, under certain conditions the Exodus - Sinai Nation Foundation Myth could have developed or evolved over time. Maybe it is was not EASY and the Tenach hints at that - all the Idolatry and rebellions. 

To refute the Kuzari - it is not required to show a counter story that has a combination of pieces just like found in the Sinai story. It is sufficient to show that most if not all the pieces of the Sinai story occur among other peoples.}

Sometimes the Kuzari takes the ‘generalist’ path which has been discussed a bit in my prior posts and will be fleshed out a little in this post.

Premise 1 - All national traditions involving an event that occurred to that nation are empirically known to be true or likely to be true and therefore they should not be doubted. Said another way, there are no known such national traditions that are known to be false, hence we should not doubt such national traditions.

Premise 2 - The story of the Sinai revelation is such a national tradition

Conclusion - The Sinai revelation being such a national tradition should not be doubted.

Premise 1 

The terms ‘national’, ‘tradition’, ‘event’, 'occurred to' would have to be more clearly defined, but lets ignore that for now. Also, how many people of the 'nation' are required to make it a 'national tradition'  ? How do we determine if the tradition is a national one ? Even ‘known  to be true or likely be true’ is not clear. For example, perhaps some parts of the national tradition have truth but other parts do not. In short, we  need to refine and qualify Premise 1 much more to determine under what circumstances Premise 1 is valid. For example a particular Native American Indian tribe  may have a tradition that a genocidal war was waged against them by the USA. But many in the USA will say that is not at all how it happened. So we have conflicting views, conflicting evidences etc: 

In addition, historians do not accept such national traditions as having actually occurred, just because they are national traditions. 

Moreover, we don't accept such national traditions as being true or likely true just because we have not found any such national traditions that are false. Maybe if we look harder we may find one. Said another way, we don't accept a premise just because there are no counter examples to the premise. For example:  We should not accept the premise every Gorilla has blackish hair because we know of no non blackish haired Gorillas. (Turns out there has been found at least one Gorilla that is white haired.) 

But for now lets accept Premise 1 as valid. {ETA 10/28/2015  What I mean is disregard the objections to Premise 1 outlined above. }

What are some examples of such national traditions that would probably qualify ? The assassination of the United States of America’s President Kennedy.  The bombing of Pear Harbor by the Japanese in the 1930's. The New York Mets won the 1969 Baseball World Series. 

Premise 2

I argue that every national tradition that we know is true or likely to be true, never involved a divine revelation. (Maybe some would disagree, {eta 11/5/2015 and argue} that the  NY Mets example would be a miracle and indicative of supernatural intervention. Just a little humor. )  Said another way,  Premise 1 at best would only be valid for events not involving supernatural things.  {ETA 11/5/2015 For two ways to support Premise 1, and my response see below. }

Therefore Premise 2 is wrong. The Sinai story involving supernatural events would not qualify for the type of national traditions that we know are true or likely to be true.  So the logic of the argument collapses.

{ETA 10/28/2015 Alternately, for the reasons outlined initially one may argue Premise 1 is invalid or weak even for events not involving supernatural things. Hence the Kuzari argument collapses.}

{ETA 10/29/2015 There is an important consideration regarding Premise 1 that must be mentioned. If there are good reasons to question the historicity of a specific national tradition, we must not use  Premise 1 for those traditions.  In other words Premise 1 would not be valid for certain national traditions. If there are good reasons to question the historicity of the Exodus as described in the Torah, Premise 1 would not apply.  Academic literature provides good reasons to question  the historicity of an Exodus of biblical proportions. } {ETA 11/5/2015 If there is false information in the Exodus - Sinai story, the Kuzari would lose plenty of force. For example -  it is claimed there were 600000 plus people involved and we know that is very improbable. Given that the story most likely  has an important error, then maybe there are additional important errors. It would imply the story tellers were inaccurate. If a story is presented to prove a supernatural being the story needs be supportable. It must not have incorrect information.}

{ETA 11/5/2015 

I provided one version of Premise 1 used by some Kuzari arguments. Here is another.

Premise 1 - All national traditions involving nation changing events are true or likely to be true.

How can somebody support this Premise  ? Because we examine many of examples of such traditions from actual history and they all turn out to be true or likely true.  Yet, every one of those examples did not involve supernatural.  Hence Premise 1 is limited to traditions not involving supernatural.   In short, one can not extrapolate beyond the sample experiences that support Premise 1.

If one tries to support Premise 1 based on ‘logic’ how people ‘should’ behave,  it becomes a very weak premise. People or even masses of people do not behave based on alleged logic or how people ‘should’ behave. For example, if an important Authority tells a nation a good story about it’s people how many people are going to use ‘logic’ and argue, especially if the story is encouraged or is helpful to achieve something for it's people ? This is true today even with widespread information, and would be truer in ancient times when people were not as skeptical and would welcome such stories.}

{ETA  11/5/2015 

I provided two versions of Premise 1 used by some Kuzari arguments. Here is a third.

Premise 1 - All national traditions of a nation changing event,  which claim there were a very large number of people in the event and the tradition provides onerous ritual/commands and are from a literate society are true or likely to be true.

How can somebody support this Premise  ? Because we examine many of examples of such traditions from actual history and they all turn out to be true or likely true.  But the problem we  run into there are no such national traditions to be found in the records. And even if we could find several, the sample space is to small to draw firm conclusions. It may also be the case only one tradition, the Sinai story would even qualify for the premise. So we can not verify the premise based on empirical grounds.

Yet, even if we could find several traditions that did satisfy  Premise 1 every one of those examples did not involve supernatural.  Hence Premise 1 is limited to traditions not involving supernatural.   In short, one can not extrapolate beyond the sample experiences that support Premise 1.

If one tries to support Premise 1 based on ‘logic’ how people ‘should’ behave,  it becomes a very weak premise. People or even masses of people do not behave based on alleged logic or how people ‘should’ behave. For example, if an important Authority tells a nation a good story about it’s people how many people are going to use ‘logic’ and argue, especially if the story is encouraged or is helpful to achieve something for it's people ? This is true today even with widespread information, and would be truer in ancient times when people were not as skeptical and would welcome such stories.}

{ETA 9/16/2015 - my first post on the Kuzari argument/principle has been updated to provide strong evidence that the story of White Buffalo Calf Woman giving the Sacred Pipe to the Lakota was part of the traditional Lakota religion and believed by many Chiefs, Holy Men and common people to have actually occurred.}

Continued Kuzari Argument Part 7

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