Monday, December 24, 2007

Faith vs. Evidence

Is there any evidence for believing in Hashem & Judaism other than faith?

It depends on one's starting point. Someone who was raised in a secular humanist household and whose identity is invested in secular humanism will undoubtedly see no reason at all to accept any sort of higher being or revelation.

On the other side of the coin are many of us who are starting from a point of faith in God and faith in Torah MiSinai.

We don't have this faith because we have deduced it from logical processes. Rather, we feel it deeply, in a way that is not subject to logic or rationalism. It's a different kind of belief, not based on empirical evidence. We simply KNOW.

Being intelligent individuals raised on modern western rationalism, we confront evidence that the Torah is not what traditional Judaism claims it to be.

What do we do? Rather than throw out all of our deeply held beliefs, we must modify them to fit the empirical evidence.

That is, emunah still has a place in our thoughts and hearts. It's still the place where we start from. We simply must adapt aspects of our belief to the incontrovertible evidence that we are faced with.

I don't claim to speak for everyone who comments and posts on this and like minded blogs. But I think most think as I do.

Coming from a firm belief in God, I see no need to jettison that belief. There is nothing in the documentary hypothesis to force me to reject God's existence.

The traditional views about the text of the Torah are another thing. I cannot, based on what modern scholarship presents me with, accept that the exact text of the Torah, word for word, was given to Moshe at Har Sinai.

Does that mean I must accept the conclusions of the DH? Certainly not. Much of the DH is simply intelligent speculation. The evidence requires me to modify my thinking somewhat. But it doesn't in any way prove the nonexistence of God or that no part of the Torah has its source in divine revelation.

I guess in the end part of it does come down to blind faith. But if we were only interested in what can be proven by logic, then this topic wouldn’t be so popular in the blogosphere.


  1. good post. At a certain level we are all fundamentalist. We let dogma trump our rational, critical thought.

  2. Thanks. I actually don't see a problem with dogma except where it contradicts rational evidence and causes people to blatantly ignore that evidence.

  3. Great blog. I came across it accidentally, but well thought out and thorough posts.

    Anyway, I don't think your generalization in the 2nd paragraph holds. I came from a pretty religious family, from an early age as I can remember I always valued logic and reasoning more than blind faith.

    But anyway, on to your statement that "There is nothing in the documentary hypothesis to force me to reject God's existence". If you are accepting scientific reasoning, as your post seems to suggest (e.g. you are refer to documentary hypothesis, which is a scientific construct), then you are going about it from the wrong angle. Extraordinary claims required extraordinary proofs. Thus, you have to prove God's existence rather than wait for someone else to disprove it. Otherwise, I could just say that there is nothing in the documentary hypothesis to force me to reject the existence of exquisite set of Fabergé eggs traveling in orbit of Jupiter.

    Moreover, as far as adjusting belief to fit empirical evidence... Sorry, either you believe in God or you do not. Adjusting your belief based on the soup du jour makes the belief invalid.