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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.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Proof of God via Jewish Survival, Jewish Suffering, and the Bible Predictor (Part Two) ?

Updated thru 3/23/2106 1/2/2018

Part one outlined the argument and provided some critiques. This post will continue the discussion and provide a note on the Kuzari argument. 

‘Judaism’ is a very old religion, amongst the oldest surviving. Religions evolved over time. The claim that Orthodox Judaism is essentially the same religion as given at Mt. Sinai is so contrary to every single thing we know about religion, society and culture  that it should be treated with the utmost skepticism and rejected outright unless there is overwhelming evidence that it is true.

The Judaism of the ancient Israelites is almost certainly not the same Judaism of any Jewish denomination around today. Even if there was an Avraham Avinu (Abraham),  he did not invent a religion from scratch. The idea of gods and how to worship them predate him.  Nor did Judaism start at an [alleged] Mt Sinai event since some Torah commands predate it and there was a prior relationship between the Jews and El/Yahweh before that date. The same is true for many other religions, there are probably several African, Asian, North and South Native American religions that have prehistoric roots. Also for example when did Christianity start ? With ‘Jesus’ or  with Paul or some other founder ? I would argue no. Christianity  had it’s roots in preceeding religions, including Judaism which had it’s roots in etc: The same would apply to Islam. 

When some Rabbis advocate the Kuzari argument and claim religions require a giver or founder they are either lying or ignorant.  Some religions may have a founder others do not. And ‘Judaism’  has a fare number of potential ‘founders’ as mentioned in my discussion of the Kuzari argument. 

{ETA 1/2/2018 I need to add the obvious. Thousands of religions, myths, legends etc; have no known founder. Consider those from native American Indians, African tribes, ancient near east cultures, ancient Europeans etc: etc: }

Here are some old religions from the book Charts of World Religions by H. Wayne House 2006 

Chart 8

Hinduism  c.1800 BC - founder unknown or none

Zoroastrianism c. 1300 BC founder - Zarathustra

Shinto c. 600 BC founder unknown or none. [However per World Religions MacMillan Compendium  page 995 - regarding Shintoism - it has no founder with the exception of several sects. ] 

{ETA 3/9/2016 And from the book The Great Religions of the Modern World - E.J. Jurji editor, 1947.  Beginning on page 141 - Shintoism lies at the center of an intense nationalism. “For some two thousand years it has furnished an interwoven system of beliefs and ceremonies whereby the Japanese  people have dramatized and suported the chief interests of their national life.”  IT IS THE ONLY EXAMPLE ON EARTH TODAY OF AN ANCIENT TRIBAL FAITH THAT HAS SURVIVED THE CENTURIES AND LIVED ON INTO THE PRESENT AS THE NATIONAL RELIGION OF A CONTEMPORARY STATE. [my capitals. Does this uniqueness imply Shintoism is true ? Does this prove the Japanese gods/spirits has been protecting the Japanese ?  

Shintoism shares some beliefs  with Judaism including:]

Immortal Soul, 
Divinely ordained national destiny, 
Guardianship over the nation by the supernatural - for Shinto it is the eternal ancestral spirits,
Efficacy of Prayer and Offerings
The presence of invisible gods at shrines.}

[ When was ‘Judaism’  founded - Do we begin with the alleged Abraham ? Or the alleged Sinai revelation ?  One or more Jewish Kings or perhaps one or more of the Prophets. Perhaps Ezra ?  Abraham according to the chart is 2100 BC and the chart uses that period.]

Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world 762 million (chart 58) and Zoroastrianism has 2.5 million followers (chart 79). Both are of comparable age to Judaism.

[Longevity of a religion is not evidence of the truth of the religion.]

From Encyclopedia  of Religion and Society 1998 W. Swatos, Jr (Editor) 

Page 226 Hinduism has no recorded founder and has sacred text dating back as far as 1500-1200 BCE. 

P 571 Zoroastrianism formed in the early part of the first millennium BCE. “The Judeo - Christian Idea of the Devil was borrowed from Zoroastrianism at the time of the [Jewish] Babylonian exile.” [This is what is called evolution of religion. It is one reason ‘Judaism’ survived - the Jews  adopted from surrounding cultures and adapts to them. Another good example of this is Philo and Rambam adapting and adopting Greek Philosophy into Judaism. Today ‘rationalist’ or the more scientifically educated Jews twist themselves into a pretzel attempting to adopt to and adapt to modern scientific ideas to Judaism. I will come back to this notion later.] 

{ETA 2/22//2016 From the Book How The Great Religions Began by Joseph Gaer 1951 New and Revised Edition

Beginning on Page 201 “Zoroaster was the first religious leader in the world to teach the belief in an abstract god, a god one could not touch or hear or smell or see.” 300 years after Zoroaster dies, Alexander the Great conquers Persia and sets up the Greek religion. People secretly teach Zoroastrianism to their children. 500 years later Zoroastrianism religion is restored. 400 years later Arabs force a new religion on to them under the threat of death. Some choose death, some accept the new religion, and some flee and practice their own religion  in new places. Zoroastrianism prohibits anyone joining their religion; you have to be born into it. [This last requirement should sound familiar to Jews, however Jews do allow converts.]

Beginning page 267 Regarding Judaism - At the time of Cyrus the Zoroastrian Persians were friendly to the Jews and the Jews studied the Persian religion and learned from it. Yahweh the god of several tribes and protector of Israel now becomes the creator of the world, the latter  similar to a concept in Zoroastrianism. Jews also learn from Zoroastrian life after death, heaven and hell and carried these beliefs into Judaism.  From the Zoroastrianism Saoshyant (redeemer), the Jews invent the coming of their own redeemer and give him additional attributes not found in Zoroastrianism.  By the time the Jews return to Israel with the help of Cyrus Judaism had greatly changed. 

[The book argues that Zoroastrianism influences Judaism and that argument has merit.  But Judaism most likely was also influenced by  Egypt and other ancient near east cultures. Cultures that may have influenced Zoroastrianism.]}

So what additional mechanisms (reasons I may not have previously provided - I can not remember) can account for Judaism’s survival ?

A) There is an element of Jewish Tribalism.  Also an element of nationalism/patriotism - that Israel is their land  given to them by their God.

B) The ‘Jewish’ God can adapt  to all sorts of fancies. The State God, The Divine Warrior, The Fertility / Rain Giver God, The Vengeful God, The Loving God, The Mighty God, The Threatening God , The Mystical God, the Redeemer God, The Just God, The Merciful God, The Law Giving God etc: etc: . He can be the Creator God, The Philosopher’s God, The Metaphysical God, The Theologian’s God, The Source of Morals God etc: etc etc. In short, a flavor to suit just about anybody’s taste (except us skeptics and atheists) and in any period of history.  

C) Judaism includes a mix of miracles, holidays, magic, amulets,  harvest (fertility) festivals, spirits, demons, angels, prayers, incantations, superstitions, holy objects, rituals and souls.  There are fascinating legends and myths passed on in the Torah, holy texts and oral traditions. There are alleged holy people who have special powers and abilities. {ETA 2/28/2016 - Some Orthodox Jews give credence to dream visitations from dead ancestors and relatives.} Those provide a sort of mass folk appeal. In addition they create social cohesion and alliances. 

D) For the Jewish elitists, they may find refuge in ‘rationalistic’ Judaism, which tends to pooh pooh some of the things mentioned in C), things  that have so much folk appeal. Philo and Rambam accommodated Judaism to Greek Philosophy.  In more modern times the rationalists try to accommodate Judaism to science ending up twisting themselves into pretzels in the process.  Typically these innovators are  first disparaged but eventually find a stream where they can fit in and eventually are accepted by most more or less.

E) Eventually Judaism becomes essentially Monotheistic with one God Yahweh. By definition that means no other gods. Polytheists when captured by another ‘tribe’ can readily usually adopt to that new god, so their religion can more readily change and  individuals can more easily adopt the new religion.  However, the monotheistic Jews would have a difficult time changing their God. 

{ETA 2/22/2016 F) Judaism is not monolithic. Part of it's staying power is the numerous denominations ranging from Humanistic Judaism to the numerous sects of Ultra Orthodox. Jews can usually cross from one denomination to another. Again providing a sort of menu. This same situation was most likely true in ancient times - the various forms of the ancient Israelite religions or for example Hellenizing  Jews versus the Maccabees. 

A  mix of stiffness and flexibility characterizes Judaism and this likely plays a role in it's survival. }

{ETA 3/23/2106  Orthodox Jews consider the future resurrection of the dead and the world to come as important principles of Judaism. 

From the Book Understanding Judaism - Jacob Neusner Editor- Beginning Page 35 The [Rabbinic Jewish] belief in the world to come with it’s concomitant belief in bodily resurrection is an importation from Zoroastrian civilization. Both stem from non Jewish sources. }

The essential ideas of A) thru F) most likely provide staying power for Christianity and Islam. 

Related Posts Proof of God from Prophecy , Proof of God from Israel  , The Tenacity of Unreasonable Beliefs 

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