A Scientific Religion

Moshe Ben-Chaim

This week's Torah reading, Va'Eschanan, includes Moses' command, "Lest you forget what your eyes saw," referring to Revelation at Sinai. "You have been shown to know" is another warning to accept this proof. Clearly, God orchestrated a provable event — mass witnesses and supernatural phenomena — and Moses recalls these provable elements as they both desire mankind to use our gifted intelligence and trust only reason and proof. Had Revelation never occurred, and instead, Moses lied to some people telling them "not to forget what they saw," they would dismiss Moses as psychotic, as they saw nothing. Judaism would never have reached us, had Revelation never occurred. However, the unanimous transmission that reached the entire world — the Bible — testifies to Torah's authenticity. Would anyone try to perpetrate such a grandiose lie today, that millions heard an "intelligent voice emanating from fire", not a single person would accept such a story without corroborating mass witnesses. And 3000 years from now, that lie will not be a world religion. It won't even be known 3 hours from now. But Torah is alive 3000 years later. It is the singular history of the Jews.

We understand the necessity for God's Revelation. Without it, future generations have no proof, and God desires man to accept only proven matters.

God designed man with senses, precisely so we can determine what is real, and what is not sensed. God and Moses demand we accept only matters that are provable, thereby teaching we discount unproven matters. Maimonides states this openly in his Letter to the Community of Marseilles (tinyurl.com/ccn2cyj).

God's words are true, they are sensible and proven. In contrast, Jews and Jewish organizations endorse segulas, amulets, prayers to the dead, astrology, superstitions and Rabbis as miracle workers…things not found in the Bible, Prophets or Writings, and actually prohibited throughout all three. In violation of Sinai's message, reason and proof are not engaged when it comes to Jewish practice today. Jews plan the most intelligent business strategies, but in religious practice, the mind is absent. Not only are these trinkets and practices foolish violations, Moses says in our Torah reading this week that any addition to religious practice is prohibited (Deut. 4:2). 

The truth is, we have no choice but to adhere to reason. The world operates in a reasonable, cause and effect fashion; as do our very minds. We cannot deny that our legs are the cause and our motion is the effect; this acceptance of cause and effect is not learned, but is natural and inextricably part of our design. Another two examples are the mental acts of "comparison" and "identification." An infant does this innately and thereby determines the woman in front of him is not his mother, and so he cries. "Identification" is not a learned process, but like breathing, it's part of our natural design. These and other processes unveil God's plan that thought be our primary tool. So valued is intelligent thought, a wise Rabbi said that God named this human faculty after Himself, "Tzelem Elohim" – "form of God." Of course God is not "inside" man, as Maimonides and all great leaders teach. God is not physical, and therefore not subject to division or location, that He might have parts or place. That is heretical. "Form" of God merely refers to that faculty that can perceive or relate to "ideas", similar to God, unlike the five senses that are limited to perceiving physical phenomena.

Some think religion and science operate in separate realms of understanding. Va'Eschanan teaches otherwise: God wishes man to uses the scientific approach in his religious beliefs. The world operates through cause and effect, and the human mind does as well. God engaged both to prove Judaism as the only true religion.

If we use our minds in lesser areas like wealth, which although valuable and necessary, is still temporary…we should certainly be intelligent when it comes to our religious decisions, as God teaches, which directly impacts our eternal lives.