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No longer take comments. Post's 'labels' are unreliable for linking or searching. Use the INDEX OF POSTS instead. A fairly accurate, but incomplete INDEX of Posts & good overview and understanding of this blog READ SOME REASONS TO REJECT ORTHODOX JUDAISM my April 2014 post or click link above. 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. IF YOU GET A MESSAGE THAT THE POST IS MISSING - LOOK FOR IT IN THE INDEX or search or the date is found in the address.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Kuzari Argument Part 7

Updated thru 11/16/2015 

This post continues the Kuzari Argument discussion begun in Part One and will provide some salient points from Propp; provide an example of invented tradition;  and Kamikaze attacks a Kuzari argument.

It would probably help to first skim all my prior Kuzari posts.


William Propp’s Anchor Bible Exodus Chapter  19-40 published in  2006  provides a version of the Kuzari argument: Surely the Exodus was common knowledge in Ancient Israel. Who would make up the Exodus ?

Propp  responds:

1) The story conforms to rags to riches stories popular worldwide and conforms to Vladimiar Proppian Archetype.

2) Who would falsely claim ancestors are slaves ? Propp answers this with a counter question - Who would falsely claim their ancestors came to the USA with only a shirts on their back ? 

3) It is not a fact that the average Israelite believed in the Exodus. It is merely a reasonable assumption.

4) Orally transmitted tales often DO NOT reflect actual events. Moreover, historic events may assume mythic guise and visa versa. Stories can move back and forth between the written and oral. Propp writes:  “I would always treat oral tradition with the most extreme caution.” 

5) The Exodus story does not map well against the historical and archaeological record. In fact, it hardly maps at all.

6) Regarding the routes of Exodus - Propp mentions the possibility it never happened.

7) Mytho-historical narratives may be entirely factual or entirely fictional or something in between. 

 Invention of Tradition  

From the book The Invention of Tradition  Hobsbawm and Ranger (editors)1983

Page 1 “Traditions which appear or claim to be old are often quite recent in origin and sometimes invented.”

Page 15 “Today whenever Scotchmen gather together to celebrate their national identity, they assert openly by certain distinctive national apparatus.”  “This apparatus, to which they ascribe great antiquity is in fact largely modern.”  “Indeed the whole concept of a distinct Highland culture and tradition is a retrospective invention.”

This example of inventing tradition occurred in 3 stages.

Stage 1: A culture revolt against Ireland; Usurpation of Irish culture; rewriting early Scottish history.

Stage 2: Creation of a New Highland tradition presented as ancient, original and distinctive,

Stage 3: The new tradition were offered to and adopted by historic lowland Scotland, Eastern Scotland of the Picts, Saxons and Norman.

The book provides other examples of how national traditions can be created and then accepted.  Sometimes a kernel of historical accuracy may provide a seed for the national tradition.

[In short, legends, myths, national traditions, collective memories, social memory may not be reliable.]

Kamikaze Attack on a Kuzari Argument

Here is one version of the Kuzari argument:

Rabbi Gottlieb (RG) : 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 {eta 3/19/2019 of type E} occurred, then evidence must exist for the event's occurrence. 

Les explore how evidence and belief may interact.

1) The Hindu milk miracle: is example how evidence can be misinterpreted (even in modern times) and lead to false beliefs.  And this is occurring in the first generation of the occurrence of the event ! Overtime as the story is told and retold all sorts of embellishments may overlaid.

Using RG:

If people believe the Hindu statues drank milk offerings, then evidence must exist for the statues drinking milk offerings.

Indeed RG’s principle works here. People witnessed the statues imbibing milk offerings.  However, it led them to a false belief.

2) Lets be clear. There is no evidence that Exodus  miracles and Sinai revelation occurred. So what ‘evidence’ is RG  claiming to exist for it  ? Social memory (or collective memory or national tradition.)

So lets rephrase RG 

Let E be a possible event which, had it really occurred, would have left behind a collective memory of its occurrence. If the collective memory does not exist, people will not believe that E occurred.

Said directly this gives: If people believe an event {ETA 10/29/2019 of type E} occurred then there exists a collective memory of the event.

Yet a collective memory of an event does not at all imply the event actually occurred as described by the collective memory. 

Consider the Kamikaze belief. It’s Japanese origins are that divine winds(s) dispersed  the Mongolian invasion fleets around the late 1200's.  I think there were major typhoons that were involved. But the evidence - typhoons was misunderstood as being divine.   

{Literally meaning “divine wind,” the term kamikaze was coined in honour of the 1281 typhoon, as it was perceived to be a gift from the gods, supposedly granted after a retired emperor went on a pilgrimage and prayed for divine intervention. }

Again, superstitious unscientific people can misunderstand the ‘evidence’ thus giving rise to a widely held false belief. It is also an example of people ascribing naturally occurring  events (Typhoons) to the God(s).

Indeed RG’s principle works here. People witnessed the typhoon's destruction. However, it led them to a false belief.

Once a false belief gains traction, it can become embellished over time.  

The RG principle may perhaps have validity to distinguish whether a real world event occurred or not. For example whether a Volcano erupted - we can study the geology etc: But the RG principle can not reliably distinguish between people's beliefs that are true and people's beliefs that are false. 

Continued Kuzari Part 8

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