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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.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Kuzari Argument Part 8

It would be helpful to skim my prior Kuzari posts begun in Part One

Lets examine one version of the Kuzari 'proof' that the Exodus with all the miracles and the Sinai revelation really occurred.

Rabbi Gottlieb (RG) Principle: Let E be a possible event which, had it really occurred, would have left behind enormous, easily available evidence of its occurrence. If the evidence does not exist, people will not believe that E occurred.

This can be briefly restated as: If people believe an event occurred, then evidence must exist for the event's occurrence. 

Lets try to apply this principle to the ‘Event’ =  Miracles of Exodus and Sinai Revelation.

If the ancient Israelites believed the Miracles of Exodus and Sinai Revelation occurred, then evidence must have existed for  the Miracles of Exodus and Sinai Revelation occurrence.

My Kuzari Post 7  post  mentions the Hindu Milk Miracle and Kamikaze are examples showing people can misinterpret Events. In ancient times people would ascribe natural occurrences to supernatural. So something similar could well have occurred to the ancient Israelites - the first generation.  

Lets assume it was not possible those ancient Israelites could have mis-categorized the  Miracles of Exodus and Sinai Revelation. Then I raise this issue. How do we know the Ancient Israelites actually believed in the stories ? We cant go back in time and ask them about their beliefs.  Just after the revelation they claimed  the Golden Calf took them out of Egypt.  How could they claim such a thing ? In any event we just don’t know if the ancient Israelites actually believed in the Exodus miracles and Sinai Revelation. Thus the RG principle is inapplicable.  

The Kuzari proponent may argue that at some later point in time many Jews believed the Miracles of Exodus and Sinai Revelation occurred.  Lets assume that is true. However, it does not imply the original ancient Israelites believed the events to have actually occurred. So still RG principle does not apply. 

The Kuzari proponent may then argue it was impossible for the later generation of Jews to ever come to the belief in the story unless there is an unbroken chain back to the original witnesses.

But this is a different argument - it is not the RG principle. 

We know national traditions are not reliable. Also, there is something called myth formation. Over time for numerous different reasons a national foundation myth could have evolved and may have   been built around some kernels of historical memory. Some ancient Israelites may have been escaped Egyptians slaves. They may have found food and water in their wanderings. Maybe a leader called Moshe gave them laws at a mountain during a storm and or volcanic eruption and or earthquake. Even while all that was occurring some it could have been attributed to the divine, such was the nature of some ancient near east cultures. 

As the story is told and retold embellishments are added for various reasons. Our ancestors did not just find food it was miraculous food etc: etc: 

To summarize: the RG principle can not be used to ‘prove’ the Exodus etc: because we have no convincing evidence that the first generation of Israelites believed it. Rather, RG's  real argument is that myth formation is not a reasonable explanation of the alleged acceptance by many Jews of the Exodus stories. Given that we know myths (even when false) can evolve and become accepted and given that we know national tradition, collective memories, social memory are not reliable - RG’s Kuzari argument is very weak. This is not to say the entire Exodus story is all a fabrication, just that we need not accept the story as being the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Continued Proof of God from Miracles or Kuzari Argument Part 9

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