This week I had a discussion with Lee, concerning the most fundamental of topics: choosing a religion.
Lee is Jewish, but has researched many other religions. The ideas we covered apply not only to Lee, but all Jews. Many times, one who is raised observant will not voice questions that might invite a harsh critique from teachers and Rabbis. But this is wrong, as it is only the question not asked, that is the poor question. Hebrew schools and Yeshivas fail our children – and our high tuitions – since they do not include mandatory classes on Judaism’s proofs, and the disproof of all other religions. This ignorance places students in the precarious position of not knowing how to answer themselves, when they inevitably will ask, “Why should I be Jewish?”
The following is based on our dialogue last night:
Lee: So what is Judaism’s proof that it alone is Divinely given, that other religions don’t have?
Moshe: Aren’t we really asking for a method of proof that will prove ALL history?
Lee: What do you mean?
Moshe: I mean that the proof of Judaism must be some event in the past, right?
Moshe: So we are seeking to verify that event?
Moshe: Then the method we use is a method that verifies history?
Moshe: OK, so we are in agreement that when seeking to validate Judaism’s claim to exclusive, Divine origin, we are in fact seeking to verify some historical event?
Moshe: So the individual, historical instances are not at question, but it is ALL history that requires some method for validation or disproof?
Moshe: So let’s leave out the issue of “religious obligation” that Torah observance devolves upon us, so as not to complicate the issue. Did you ever question whether Caesar existed, or do you affirm his historical validity without question?
Lee: I accept it.
Lee: I don’t know, but aren’t there documents proving his existence, and that country’s exclusive history?
Moshe: There are. But aren’t there writings about Jesus as well? Are we to say that anything written testifies to the truth of the topic addressed by the writings? Surely we will contradict ourselves, since all religions have writings, yet, they all disagree with each other. Therefore, something in writing is of no proof that it reflects God’s will, or any real fact. God could not have said Christianity is the correct religion, and so is Judaism, and so is Islam.
Lee: OK, so how is Caesar proven to be a historical truth?
Moshe: As you said, there are no other histories of Rome; no other accounts of a different leader during the years of Caesar’s reign; no other country that claims Caesar was THEIR emperor. Masses witnessed Caesar, and it’s not difficult to determine who Caesar was if you lived at that time, just as it is impossible to mistakenly say today that George Bush isn’t president. Do you think anyone back then could make such an error?
Moshe: Do you think thousands of people could unite to fabricate such a story?
Lee: I see your point.
Moshe: So the two ingredients essential for proving any history as true are: 1) mass witnesses, and 2) a subject matter that no one could confuse. A history is false either due to purposeful corruption, or accidental corruption in its transmission. There is no other possibility for any history to be false. Do you agree?
Moshe: Now, masses saw Caesar, and the question of who is emperor is not something people can mistake. Mass testimony removes any possibility of fabrication, since masses cannot possess equal motive to lie. (Any lie requires motive.) So when masses are found at an event, there cannot possibly be a common motive for thousands of people to lie, and suggest Caesar was emperor, when it was really someone else. Motive is subjective by nature, and therefore, masses cannot possibly share one motive. We thereby eliminate the possibility of purposeful corruption – fabrication. But you might ask whether Moses alone fabricated the story of Sinai, and convinced others of its supposed truth. To this I say as follows. If Sinai didn’t occur, we must explain the existence of the story we truly possess today. Moses would have had to approach some people, telling them what is quoted in the Torah: “Your eyes saw Sinai, the 10 Plagues, etc”. Now, since they did not witness the miracles Moses lies about, they will view Moses as foolish, and a liar. They will also most certainly NOT reject their known history, and replace it with Moses’ fabrication. In the end, Moses’ attempt will fail, and will not become world history. No one will pass it on as fact. But the very fact that Sinai IS world history, means that it could only have reached us as the exclusive history of the Jews…if it really occurred. No one can pull off such an attempt at revisionism. No people will replace what they know as true history, with an individual’s fabrication. People might transmit “beliefs”, but not facts witnessed by millions.
And since the topic is unmistakable, we thereby reject the possibility that everyone got it wrong, concerning who is the emperor, like our Bush example. So we also remove the possibility of accidental corruption of this story. This explains why there exists no other account of Rome’s emperor at that time…since Caesar in fact was emperor, beyond any doubt. And this is not based on the existence of writings or artifacts, but it is proved by the exclusive nature of the transmitted history containing these two ingredients.
It is these two factors – mass witnesses, and simple phenomena – that prove ANY history.
Now, these two factors are found in connection with the 10 miracles with which God plagued Egypt, the splitting of the Red Sea, the Manna, Miriam’s well…and Revelation at Sinai. Population at these events is estimated at 2.5 million Jews; since the number transmitted of men above 20 years of age is 600,000. Add another 600,000 women, men below 20, and all children, and you arrive at quite a large population.
This population – Jews – transmitted only one account of these many years, from Canaan, to Egypt, and to Sinai. This same population testified to hearing intelligent sounds from amidst a fiery Mount Sinai.
Fire is the one element in which no Earthly life may exist. The Jews realized the intelligence they witnessed is not of this world. It must be God.
Moses descended from the mountain with a Torah. And as he wrote more of the Torah about events and laws that took place after Sinai, Moses was endorsed as writing God’s true will, by the miracle of his face shining with light. Such a miracle was witnessed by masses, and God would not endorse Moses, had Moses been fabricating his own Torah.
We end up with a Torah that was witnessed to have been received by the masses, and the event being unmistakably a supernatural, intelligent Being, proved by its coexistence in fire.
No other religion has any claim to mass witnesses. In fact, they base themselves on belief and blind faith, precisely due to their lack of evidence. What’s worse is that Christianity upholds four contradictory Gospels, with conflicting events. Islam does not claim masses witnessed Mohammed’s miracle of flight. Examine any religion, and you will find their foundations are blind faith, and no mass witnesses. We conclude that the same method, with which we verify Caesar, is used to verify religion. It is the big lie, which steers the world to feel religion is not subject to the litmus test of proof. Christianity is to blame for this acceptance. ANY matter we accept, should be done so only when proof validates it.
Lee: But maybe the Jews were brainwashed at what they saw at Sinai!
Moshe: Would you say that about Caesar?
Lee: I never thought about that.
Lee: Why what?
Moshe: Why do you suggest brainwashing in connection with Judaism, but NOT in regards to Caesar?
Lee: I don’t know.
Moshe: I will tell you why. It is because your acceptance of Caesar does not impose any change in your lifestyle, whereas your acceptance of Torah does. You don’t want to have any limitations.
But you have more Christians transmitting Christianity, than Jews transmitting Judaism…so there you go! Christianity is true, based on your own words!
Moshe: Think clearly…I did not say “any” transmission validates the story. I said a transmission that includes 1) mass witnesses, and 2) simple phenomena. Christianity is so much different! It transmits “belief”, not witnessed events! Do you see that clearly?
Lee: I see. But when I was involved in Islam, their prayers were so nice. And what are you going to say…that most of the world is wrong?
Moshe: Well, ask them! The major religions openly dispute each other’s claims to possessing Gd’s real religion. They say so! But yes, I say so too, and reasoning says so as well: most of the world is wrong.
Mass “acceptance” is just that: acceptance, and not validation if fact. Masses can prove that an event took place, but masses do not prove a “belief” to be valid. That only proves the belief is highly appealing. The incomparable difference being that belief is not regarding anything “real”. I can believe Humpty Dumpty was real…but my belief – or the belief of millions – does not in any way affect what is real. Whereas masses, who attest to an “event”, are validating something real.
But I wish to point out what you are doing. In a brief time span, you have shifted your arguments to various, unrelated claims. You must listen to yourself as you talk. You are evading one line of argument, then another, in an effort to justify your rejection of Torah observance. This unveils your emotional rejection, not an intelligent rejection. You must be aware of your inner workings, and not fool yourself that you have made rational arguments. Had you truly desired to follow reason at this point, you would not quickly voice another argument, but you would have thought through your initial premise, and the response. You would have then agreed, and ventured down the path of exploring the results and ramifications of that belief. But when a person quickly voices a new argument, it displays a need to cover up a previous error, by attempting to be right about something else.
Do you want proof or not? Will you live by proof, or not?
Lee: Yes, I would love nothing more than proof. I just wish some miracle would happen so I would know Judaism is true.
Moshe: But do you think God gave you reasoning, so you should ignore it, and live by miracles? What would you do if two miracles appeared to endorse conflicting religions?
Do you think a scientist in a laboratory will make a claim that a certain theory is true, if every time he writes it down, a lightning bolt flashes next to his window? Do you think that verifies a truth? What if the experiments conflicted with the sign of lightning: would he be correct to ignore the experiments’ repeated results, or the lightning?
As Rabbi Reuven Mann once posed to another person: would you accept Jesus if he made a miracle, returning the Twin Towers to their location…but then tells you the Holocaust was a lie? Does a miracle have the ability to reject fact?
Lee: No…but that’s one strong question!
Moshe: Yes it is. But do you see the point, that once a fact is proven, other inexplicable phenomena have no affect on the proof? The proof remains as solid as before the other miracles took place.
Lee: Yes, I see that…but you just said that we accept Judaism based on the “miracle” of Sinai!
Moshe: Again, think clearly. Does Sinai come to verify anything outside itself?
Lee: What do you mean?
Moshe: I mean that in the case of someone miraculously causing the Twin Towers to reappear, we would not deny our senses…we see the Twin Towers. We don’t know how he did it, but we see them standing there. However, his following claim that the Holocaust was a lie is not concerning the Towers, but something other than the Towers. In that case, we don’t say a miracle rejects known facts.
Now, in the case of Sinai, it is different. God did not say to ignore any facts with the miracles at Sinai. No, He said to simply accept your senses…AT Sinai. Nothing external to Sinai was being validated. So we accept that validation. Our eyes saw a fiery mountain, and heard intelligent sounds. But most significant, is that we heard God say “Moses, Moses, go tell the people etc.” We heard intelligent words. Other miracles testify to a questionable phenomenon, but Sinai testifies to the Creator Himself. A tangent, but a primary one…let’s return.
Sinai did not seek to reject known facts, so we accept it. But a miracle seeking to reject known facts, cannot do so. The Holocaust transpired, and no miracle can deny that. A miracle can only prove its miraculous nature, and nothing more.
This is a primary difference between other religions, and Judaism. Other religions attempt to gain belief, by lying about miracles that supposedly occurred hundreds of years before the lies were committed to writing. The very fact that Christianity’s claims were not written at “the time” of the miracles is because no miracles took place. But in retrospect, Christianity’s fabricators had an easier time getting others to believe those lies. And if in addition, Christian beliefs provide forgiveness for all your sins, then there is an added benefit if I believe in Jesus. But belief does not mean it is true. Miracles – recorded or otherwise – cannot affect reality and known facts.
But Judaism does not seek to gain belief in anything external through miracles. Rather, it simply seeks to validate itself. The miracle is for itself, and no other purpose. Maimonides teaches the lesson in his Mishne Torah (Yesoday HaTorah, chapter VIII) that once we were convinced of Sinai, no other miracle could deny that reality. And all other prophets were not believed to possess God’s word based on their miracles alone, but based on their upholding of Moses Torah.
Judaism clearly differs with all other religions as the only religion possessing proof of its Divine origin; the only religion that demands proof for all our actions and beliefs.
Do you know someone who might benefit from this dialogue? Email this document to him or her: http://www.mesora.org/jewishtimes279.pdf