Comments for Reasonable Doubts Blog http://www.reasonable-doubts.com/blog To those who doubt .... and then doubt themselves Wed, 15 Sep 2010 12:28:17 -0700 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.8.4 hourly 1 Comment on Raise Your Hand if You Believe in Free Will by Jerry http://www.reasonable-doubts.com/blog/2010/07/28/raise-your-hand-if-you-believe-in-free-will/comment-page-1/#comment-109 Jerry Wed, 15 Sep 2010 12:28:17 +0000 http://www.reasonable-doubts.com/blog/?p=130#comment-109 At last an excellent writing about the subject, maintain the good work and therefore I hope to examine more of your stuff in the future. At last an excellent writing about the subject, maintain the good work and therefore I hope to examine more of your stuff in the future.

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Comment on What Creates Holiness? by Cheryl Berman http://www.reasonable-doubts.com/blog/2010/09/13/what-creates-holiness/comment-page-1/#comment-108 Cheryl Berman Tue, 14 Sep 2010 11:56:13 +0000 http://www.reasonable-doubts.com/blog/?p=161#comment-108 I have received requests for the link to the radio interview. Here is the link to the podcast: http://www.rustymikeradio.com/index.php?page=podcasts.php Just scroll down to the podcast entitled "Reasonable Doubts; questioning faith" I have received requests for the link to the radio interview. Here is the link to the podcast:

http://www.rustymikeradio.com/index.php?page=podcasts.php

Just scroll down to the podcast entitled “Reasonable Doubts; questioning faith”

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Comment on Is it wrong to fast on Tisha Be’Av? by noam http://www.reasonable-doubts.com/blog/2010/07/23/is-it-wrong-to-fast-on-tisha-beav/comment-page-1/#comment-70 noam Wed, 11 Aug 2010 16:41:08 +0000 http://www.reasonable-doubts.com/blog/?p=121#comment-70 Bravo You see there are things that we dont understand, yet. And thats OK 'cause one day we will. Bravo
You see there are things that we dont understand, yet.
And thats OK ’cause one day we will.

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Comment on A Fresh Look At Doubt by Cheryl Berman http://www.reasonable-doubts.com/blog/2010/07/06/a-fresh-look-at-doubt/comment-page-1/#comment-22 Cheryl Berman Sun, 18 Jul 2010 20:40:03 +0000 http://www.reasonable-doubts.com/blog/?p=113#comment-22 Jon- I can see from my summary how you could read that into Wettstein's theory but my take on Wettstein is a bit different. I don't think Wettstein would be in favor of eliminating beliefs about God at all. I think he is responding to a certain reality. That reality is that there are many Jews out there who go through periods of faith crisis. Wettstein is simply studying these periods of crises, particularly periods from his own life, and acknowledging that these periods have been very powerful ones in terms of religious life. Would Wettstein shake up other people's belief systems so that they can experience this powerful religious experience? ( I think this is the question you are asking.) It's an interesting question, and nobody confronted him with it that night, But I sincerely doubt that he would. It is a very risky proposition. I think he is just making an interesting point about periods of doubt. He is describing not prescribing. His description is helpful for those who are going through faith crises to understand what they are going through and possibly why. Jon-
I can see from my summary how you could read that into Wettstein’s theory but my take on Wettstein is a bit different. I don’t think Wettstein would be in favor of eliminating beliefs about God at all. I think he is responding to a certain reality. That reality is that there are many Jews out there who go through periods of faith crisis. Wettstein is simply studying these periods of crises, particularly periods from his own life, and acknowledging that these periods have been very powerful ones in terms of religious life. Would Wettstein shake up other people’s belief systems so that they can experience this powerful religious experience? ( I think this is the question you are asking.) It’s an interesting question, and nobody confronted him with it that night, But I sincerely doubt that he would. It is a very risky proposition. I think he is just making an interesting point about periods of doubt. He is describing not prescribing. His description is helpful for those who are going through faith crises to understand what they are going through and possibly why.

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Comment on A Fresh Look At Doubt by Jon http://www.reasonable-doubts.com/blog/2010/07/06/a-fresh-look-at-doubt/comment-page-1/#comment-21 Jon Sun, 18 Jul 2010 00:25:35 +0000 http://www.reasonable-doubts.com/blog/?p=113#comment-21 I'm not sure if taking Wettstein's views to their conclusions is helpful for Torah Jews. Your summary hints at Wettstein *eliminating* said beliefs about God and replacing them with an attitude. Seems as though Wettstein's actual arguments need to be discarded in favor of the conclusion that we can actually make use of. I’m not sure if taking Wettstein’s views to their conclusions is helpful for Torah Jews. Your summary hints at Wettstein *eliminating* said beliefs about God and replacing them with an attitude. Seems as though Wettstein’s actual arguments need to be discarded in favor of the conclusion that we can actually make use of.

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Comment on A Fresh Look At Doubt by Cheryl Berman http://www.reasonable-doubts.com/blog/2010/07/06/a-fresh-look-at-doubt/comment-page-1/#comment-20 Cheryl Berman Sat, 17 Jul 2010 18:40:55 +0000 http://www.reasonable-doubts.com/blog/?p=113#comment-20 Thank you for your clarification, Danny. I accept that my Jewish world view is somewhat limited to Jews who view religion through highly intellectual lenses. I think that is why I fell so completely in love with the existentialism of Rav Soloveitchik that you mention in your comment. In may ways I am envious of your Chassidic background. I am sorry it took me so long to post your comment. I've been a bit under the weather. Thank you for your clarification, Danny. I accept that my Jewish world view is somewhat limited to Jews who view religion through highly intellectual lenses. I think that is why I fell so completely in love with the existentialism of Rav Soloveitchik that you mention in your comment. In may ways I am envious of your Chassidic background.

I am sorry it took me so long to post your comment. I’ve been a bit under the weather.

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Comment on A Fresh Look At Doubt by Danny http://www.reasonable-doubts.com/blog/2010/07/06/a-fresh-look-at-doubt/comment-page-1/#comment-12 Danny Wed, 07 Jul 2010 15:58:39 +0000 http://www.reasonable-doubts.com/blog/?p=113#comment-12 Excellent post! I think this attitude is extremely enlightening and really broaden our religious horizons. However, just for the sake of accuracy, I'm a bit bothered by the following sentence: "Dr. Wettstein’s point is that when we look at religion from the viewpoint of medieval rationalism (as most people do) we see a very different portrait of religion from the one actually portrayed in the Torah." Yes, people who are philosophically trained and ensconced in a world of western intellectualism might think of G-d this way. Also, traditional Jews who learn their Jewish thought and gemera from the same place (the medieval Jewish thinkers) might be inclined towards this belief. However, if you look beyond this small group, there are groups where both the leaders and lay-people think and speak about G-d in this way. My personal exposure on a large scale has been mostly to Chabad/Breslover/Carlbachian chasidum, but I'm sure its a larger group. Also, a number of modern Jewish thinkers (Heschel, Berkowitz, Soloveitchik and Hartman, to name a few) deal with this issue and anyone exposed/inclined towards such thought would have encountered this before. Nonetheless, I do find the insight about the nature and role of doubt in religious development insightful. Excellent post! I think this attitude is extremely enlightening and really broaden our religious horizons.

However, just for the sake of accuracy, I’m a bit bothered by the following sentence:
“Dr. Wettstein’s point is that when we look at religion from the viewpoint of medieval rationalism (as most people do) we see a very different portrait of religion from the one actually portrayed in the Torah.”

Yes, people who are philosophically trained and ensconced in a world of western intellectualism might think of G-d this way. Also, traditional Jews who learn their Jewish thought and gemera from the same place (the medieval Jewish thinkers) might be inclined towards this belief.

However, if you look beyond this small group, there are groups where both the leaders and lay-people think and speak about G-d in this way. My personal exposure on a large scale has been mostly to Chabad/Breslover/Carlbachian chasidum, but I’m sure its a larger group.

Also, a number of modern Jewish thinkers (Heschel, Berkowitz, Soloveitchik and Hartman, to name a few) deal with this issue and anyone exposed/inclined towards such thought would have encountered this before.

Nonetheless, I do find the insight about the nature and role of doubt in religious development insightful.

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Comment on The Process of Faith by Cheryl Berman http://www.reasonable-doubts.com/blog/2010/06/01/the-process-of-faith/comment-page-1/#comment-6 Cheryl Berman Mon, 14 Jun 2010 13:06:24 +0000 http://www.reasonable-doubts.com/blog/?p=41#comment-6 I believe that intuition is something a person can reconnect with. That has been my life experience. You can be commanded to try to focus on reconnecting with your intuition by prayer, listening to music, learning Torah (yes Torah has a non-intellectual component), and doing mitzvot with the proper intent. But to some extent you are right - reaching God intellectually shouldn't be written off completely. Kant has shown that matters of metaphysics cannot be proven but that doesn't mean that there aren't very convincing arguments for the existence of God. As long as a person is aware that these arguments are meant to convince, not prove - in other words they can be disproved but they are still very good arguments. I'll give you an example. I recently read an article by Professor Nathan Aviezer (a physicist) about the anthropic principle. The Anthropic principle states that the universe seems to have been designed for the existence of man. Even the slightest changes in certain physical laws would make the universe uninhabitable. And human beings exists because of a large number of very improbable physical phenomenon. Here is the article: http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/anthropic-principle/ This is not proof in the technical philosophic sense of the term, and some other scientist might come up with a disproof of this argument, but it is a convincing argument. I don't discount these arguments to help us reconnect intellectually with our belief in God. Thank you for pointing it out. I believe that intuition is something a person can reconnect with. That has been my life experience. You can be commanded to try to focus on reconnecting with your intuition by prayer, listening to music, learning Torah (yes Torah has a non-intellectual component), and doing mitzvot with the proper intent.

But to some extent you are right – reaching God intellectually shouldn’t be written off completely. Kant has shown that matters of metaphysics cannot be proven but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t very convincing arguments for the existence of God. As long as a person is aware that these arguments are meant to convince, not prove – in other words they can be disproved but they are still very good arguments. I’ll give you an example. I recently read an article by Professor Nathan Aviezer (a physicist) about the anthropic principle. The Anthropic principle states that the universe seems to have been designed for the existence of man. Even the slightest changes in certain physical laws would make the universe uninhabitable. And human beings exists because of a large number of very improbable physical phenomenon. Here is the article: http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/anthropic-principle/
This is not proof in the technical philosophic sense of the term, and some other scientist might come up with a disproof of this argument, but it is a convincing argument. I don’t discount these arguments to help us reconnect intellectually with our belief in God.

Thank you for pointing it out.

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Comment on The Process of Faith by david http://www.reasonable-doubts.com/blog/2010/06/01/the-process-of-faith/comment-page-1/#comment-5 david Mon, 14 Jun 2010 11:27:53 +0000 http://www.reasonable-doubts.com/blog/?p=41#comment-5 your quotation from the rambam is accurate but to my mind misleading. According to the rambam there is a clear proof for G_d in his belief system and intelectual failings are perhaps the worse form of moral failings. You however are basing faith on intuition and feeling. Well if someone is missing that intuition of feeling how can you command them to get theat feeling? your quotation from the rambam is accurate but to my mind misleading. According to the rambam there is a clear proof for G_d in his belief system and intelectual failings are perhaps the worse form of moral failings. You however are basing faith on intuition and feeling. Well if someone is missing that intuition of feeling how can you command them to get theat feeling?

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Comment on The Process of Faith by Cheryl Berman http://www.reasonable-doubts.com/blog/2010/06/01/the-process-of-faith/comment-page-1/#comment-4 Cheryl Berman Fri, 04 Jun 2010 07:11:23 +0000 http://www.reasonable-doubts.com/blog/?p=41#comment-4 You make an excellent point and thinkers and halakhists disagree over the mitzvah to believe for that reason. According to the Rambam the mitzvah to believe in God is the first mitzvah of the Aseret Ha'Dibrot, but the Halakhot Gedolot doesn't list it as a mitzvah at all. As someone who has struggled with her faith I can understand the Rambam's position. But how do you do it? How do you "convince" yourself to believe in something? For the Rambam the answer was simple. He had a list of proofs for the existence of God. For him studying, understanding and ultimately accepting those proofs would constitute fulfillment of the mitzvah. But for some, it is not as simple. Modern philosophy has shown that you can't prove matters of metaphysics (like God) through the intellect alone. We need to learn to draw from something a bit more elusive - our intuition. We have to draw from our experiences of God, from moments that we can sense His presence. For me the best example of such moments are from Yom Kippur. Thanks for your comment Eliezer and for raising an issue that people have struggled with for so long. I look forward to reading more of your comments. You make an excellent point and thinkers and halakhists disagree over the mitzvah to believe for that reason. According to the Rambam the mitzvah to believe in God is the first mitzvah of the Aseret Ha’Dibrot, but the Halakhot Gedolot doesn’t list it as a mitzvah at all.

As someone who has struggled with her faith I can understand the Rambam’s position. But how do you do it? How do you “convince” yourself to believe in something? For the Rambam the answer was simple. He had a list of proofs for the existence of God. For him studying, understanding and ultimately accepting those proofs would constitute fulfillment of the mitzvah. But for some, it is not as simple. Modern philosophy has shown that you can’t prove matters of metaphysics (like God) through the intellect alone. We need to learn to draw from something a bit more elusive – our intuition. We have to draw from our experiences of God, from moments that we can sense His presence. For me the best example of such moments are from Yom Kippur.

Thanks for your comment Eliezer and for raising an issue that people have struggled with for so long. I look forward to reading more of your comments.

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