A comment on my last post got me thinking:
There are 2 types of skeptics hanging out in this zone of the blogosphere.
Skeptic type #1:
I only believe what is proven by empirical evidence. There is no logical reason to believe in god or any divine source to Judaism, especially since one can trace the entirely social development of superstitious belief in gods or god in various cultures. Plus, in light of modern science, archeology, and historical research, the divine revelation and many other events related in the Torah could not have happened.
The definition of a rational human being is one who bases belief on observation. I am such a rational being. It would make no sense for me to believe in something intangible like god. That is outside the realm of empiricism and therefore does not exist.
The entire basis of Judaism is riddled with inaccuracies and ancient misconceptions. The Torah is clearly not divine. Therefore, the entire basis of the religion is a myth.
Skeptic type #2:
I believe in God and Torah. It may be that my belief is due only to the fact that I was taught to believe from an early age, yet still, I feel something deep within me that tells me there’s a God and that the Torah has divinity.
However, in light of modern science, archeology, linguistics, and historical research, I realize the Torah, i.e. the 5 books of Moshe, could not have been written by God and the events contained within could not have happened the way they are portrayed. I must accept that, or throw rational analysis out the window.
But I still feel a deep spiritual connection to the Torah and to Hashem. Yes, I know that I have no empirical evidence, but this is another kind of knowing entirely. I KNOW that Hashem exists. I KNOW that the Torah has divine elements, at least as much as the other parts of Tanach do, which even fundamentalists believe were written by people.
So I begin to piece together my Judaism. I look at the documentary hypothesis and see honest human beings cobbling together a document from a combination of prophecies and divine inspirations. I see Ezra presenting this document to the people of Israel and of their building a religion based on it. I see a religion that has evolved but held fast to its basic identity for over 2 millennia. And as I begin to understand more & more how Judaism really came to be, I appreciate its beauty more & more.
I definitely fall under #2. But I certainly respect those who fall under #1 and I understand why so many of them have such a hard time being happy in their relationship with Judaism.
#2 skeptics, if they are successful in reconciling ideas, can have a rich and fulfilling Judaic life.
Where do you fall? Do you think my definitions are faulty? Is there more of a spectrum in between?