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Switch to Forum Live View Do we pray to same G-d?
3 years ago  ::  Apr 30, 2012 - 1:48PM #11
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617

Apr 30, 2012 -- 1:20PM, JAstor wrote:


For a Jew to believe in an corporality to God would be a grave mistake, as clearly enunciated by Maimonides and others. And the problem is not merely one of dogma. One's belief shapes one's view of the world and how to deal with life's challenges. If the belief is impure, for e.g. ascribing to God corporality, the ripple effects of such a belief will perforce spill over into action some point down the line, even if a person was not aware of it at the beginning. E.g. a person might think God has partners and/or is not fully omnipotent or fully omniscient. 



What sort of "action" could holding a mistaken theological opinion lead to?


Now, Judaism believes that God will be the final arbiter of each individual's actions and existence in this world, taking into account all situations which may lead to a divine judgment that human beings would never make or could ever understand. However, in terms of setting up the parameters of a religion, it is still very important to state distinction as to what beliefs a person should have and strive for. In many (maybe all?) cases there will be ripple effects down the line.



Examples of such a ripple effect would be appreciated.


In short, stating catogorically that belief in God's corporeality is a grave mistake does not deny that God can judge even a person who makes a grave mistake very mercifully, but it is still necessary to a) state the truth and b) educate people so that they can improve themselves. 



How does one prove that one's "truth" is, in fact, the truth?


Moreover, if a person believes in the "wrong" number or type of deity yet treats other people decently, how will correcting him or her "improve" them?

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 30, 2012 - 2:23PM #12
JAstor
Posts: 3,957

Apr 30, 2012 -- 1:48PM, nieciedo wrote:


Apr 30, 2012 -- 1:20PM, JAstor wrote:


For a Jew to believe in an corporality to God would be a grave mistake, as clearly enunciated by Maimonides and others. And the problem is not merely one of dogma. One's belief shapes one's view of the world and how to deal with life's challenges. If the belief is impure, for e.g. ascribing to God corporality, the ripple effects of such a belief will perforce spill over into action some point down the line, even if a person was not aware of it at the beginning. E.g. a person might think God has partners and/or is not fully omnipotent or fully omniscient. 



What sort of "action" could holding a mistaken theological opinion lead to?



E.g. Not believing that God is fully omniscient might lead one to think one can do an act in private -- e.g. stealing, adultery, murder -- and his deity will not know or does not care. 


Apr 30, 2012 -- 1:48PM, nieciedo wrote:


Now, Judaism believes that God will be the final arbiter of each individual's actions and existence in this world, taking into account all situations which may lead to a divine judgment that human beings would never make or could ever understand. However, in terms of setting up the parameters of a religion, it is still very important to state distinction as to what beliefs a person should have and strive for. In many (maybe all?) cases there will be ripple effects down the line.



Examples of such a ripple effect would be appreciated.



I think the above would address this too, unless I misunderstood your question.


Apr 30, 2012 -- 1:48PM, nieciedo wrote:


In short, stating catogorically that belief in God's corporeality is a grave mistake does not deny that God can judge even a person who makes a grave mistake very mercifully, but it is still necessary to a) state the truth and b) educate people so that they can improve themselves. 



How does one prove that one's "truth" is, in fact, the truth?


Moreover, if a person believes in the "wrong" number or type of deity yet treats other people decently, how will correcting him or her "improve" them?



It's very possible that people act independently of or even in opposition to their beliefs. Happens all the time. (For good and for bad.) However, assuming people generally act (or refrain from acting) based on their belief systems, it's the same basic idea as above: belief in multiple deities typically (invariably?) entails some sort of dimunition in God's omnipotence and/or omniscience, at least as classic Judaism understands it, with the resultant life choices. 

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 30, 2012 - 3:17PM #13
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617

Apr 30, 2012 -- 2:23PM, JAstor wrote:


E.g. Not believing that God is fully omniscient might lead one to think one can do an act in private -- e.g. stealing, adultery, murder -- and his deity will not know or does not care. 



Got it. A belief that a god does not care seems more plausible than a belief that a god doesn't know what you're up to. Even the Greek and Roman religions presumed that the gods knew what humans did even if they maybe didn't care.


It's very possible that people act independently of or even in opposition to their beliefs. Happens all the time. (For good and for bad.) However, assuming people generally act (or refrain from acting) based on their belief systems, it's the same basic idea as above: belief in multiple deities typically (invariably?) entails some sort of dimunition in God's omnipotence and/or omniscience, at least as classic Judaism understands it, with the resultant life choices. 



I don't think that multiple deities implies a diminution in divine justice, not if one of the multiple deities is charged with watching and judging human conduct. The Egyptians believed that the gods weighed the hearts of the dead, and if their heart was heavier than the feather of ma'at (meaning "truth/equity/justice/right") then they got eaten by a crazy crocodile-type monster; if it balanced they got to go to the afterlife. The Greeks and Romans had different kinds of afterlives based on human's actions and conduct.


Moreover, there are many people who do not believe in any sort of god at all and yet somehow refrain from being completely immoral if they think they can get away things. Most people generally try to do the right thing regardless of their theological opinions.

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 30, 2012 - 5:40PM #14
JAstor
Posts: 3,957

Apr 30, 2012 -- 3:17PM, nieciedo wrote:


I don't think that multiple deities implies a diminution in divine justice, not if one of the multiple deities is charged with watching and judging human conduct. The Egyptians believed that the gods weighed the hearts of the dead, and if their heart was heavier than the feather of ma'at (meaning "truth/equity/justice/right") then they got eaten by a crazy crocodile-type monster; if it balanced they got to go to the afterlife. The Greeks and Romans had different kinds of afterlives based on human's actions and conduct.



I don't claim to fully understand the Rambam and his philosophical nuances, but I think he would say that any corporeality or multiplicity perforce makes the deity less than fully omniscient or omnipotent. The god of the seas may know everything going on in the seas (or not), but not on land and vice versa. If there are numerous deities it can't be that they are all equally powerful and competent, otherwise there wouldn't be a need for a division of labor, so to speak. 


Apr 30, 2012 -- 3:17PM, nieciedo wrote:


Moreover, there are many people who do not believe in any sort of god at all and yet somehow refrain from being completely immoral if they think they can get away things. Most people generally try to do the right thing regardless of their theological opinions.




First, "if they think they can get away with things" is a big exception. Would you want to give a lot of your money to someone who might steal it "if he could get away with it"? (Btw, that's what Abraham meant in Gen. 20:11)


Second, trying to do the right and doing the right thing are not necessarily the same. If you grow up under Hamas you might think that the right thing is to strap a bomb around your waist, walk into a crowded mall of civilians and blow them all up.


Third, even assuming the right thing is really the right thing the question is where does that impulse come from? I would suggest that even a self-proclaimed atheistic (a certainly a not-so-philosophical type) who grew up in a home and a culture steeped deeply in a Christian-Judeo ethic will instinctually gravite toward that ethic, although not necessarily ascribe it to that (we had one on this board a couple of weeks ago). This is the cut-rose theory: even after the rose is cut it retains its beauty for at least a short while. 


From a Jewish-mystical perspective, the soul always knows what is right and what is moral no matter what the person has told himself consciously, and this deeper, unconscious buried soul is capable of erupting from beneath the surface at any moment under any circumstance. There are a lot of Holocaust stories on this theme.


In short, there are lots of reasons why people might do the good and right thing independent of or even in contradiction to their personal philosophy. But best of all is to have the right -- a righteous -- belief system and consciously act off of it. That creates the best odds that a person will a) know what the right thing is to do and b) have the presence of mind and internal fortitude to follow through on his beliefs even when he is under pressure and challenged. 

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 30, 2012 - 6:06PM #15
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617

Apr 30, 2012 -- 5:40PM, JAstor wrote:

I don't claim to fully understand the Rambam and his philosophical nuances, but I think he would say that any corporeality or multiplicity perforce makes the deity less than fully omniscient or omnipotent. The god of the seas may know everything going on in the seas (or not), but not on land and vice versa. If there are numerous deities it can't be that they are all equally powerful and competent, otherwise there wouldn't be a need for a division of labor, so to speak. 



I'm getting confused here if we're talking about gods actually in and of themselves or gods as perceived by human beings. Gods general derive their area of responsibility when people attribute the divine power manifest in a given phenomenon to a unique source from some other phenomenon, and the "power" of the god is generally comparable to the perceived importance of the phenomenon: the god of fatherhood/kingship (who are often either the sky/thunder god or their father) is often the most powerful god, sometimes its the god/dess of fertility and motherhood, sometimes the sun, etc.


On the other hand, assuming the entities are real, it's possible for them to be equally powerful but choose different "divisions of labor" based on their interests. Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades were brothers with Zeus taking precedence solely by birthright. They divided the cosmos between themselves in thirds.


First, "if they think they can get away with things" is a big exception. Would you want to give a lot of your money to someone who might steal it "if he could get away with it"? (Btw, that's what Abraham meant in Gen. 20:11)



I don't generally make inquiries into the religious beliefs the people I do business with. I check references and investigate past dealings to see if they are legitimate, and I make the leap of faith in the good will of other people without which society cannot function. If I get cheated, I then trust in the legal system to redress the wrong.


Second, trying to do the right and doing the right thing are not necessarily the same. If you grow up under Hamas you might think that the right thing is to strap a bomb around your waist, walk into a crowded mall of civilians and blow them all up.



Very true. Or you might decide that the right thing to do is to build and illegal settlement in territory that doesn't really belong to you, and respond with violence if anyone tries to stop you.


Third, even assuming the right thing is really the right thing the question is where does that impulse come from? I would suggest that even a self-proclaimed atheistic (a certainly a not-so-philosophical type) who grew up in a home and a culture steeped deeply in a Christian-Judeo ethic will instinctually gravite toward that ethic, although not necessarily ascribe it to that (we had one on this board a couple of weeks ago). This is the cut-rose theory: even after the rose is cut it retains its beauty for at least a short while.



It's the nature or nurture question, and unless we have the opportunity to do an experiment raising a child completely without any social input whatsoever we'll never really know. It's understandable, though, that if a society is going to survive without imploding, it will evolve a set of morals that basically amount to the "golden rule," whether you call it the social contract or the Categorical Imperative or simply enlightened self-interest. The individual benefits more if he and everyone else plays by the rules; if he doesn't play by the rules, there's a chance that he could get more than he could otherwise and lots of people break the rules accordingly, but it doesn't lend itself to security or stability and often doesn't turn out well.


In short, there are lots of reasons why people might do the good and right thing independent of or even in contradiction to their personal philosophy. But best of all is to have the right -- a righteous -- belief system and consciously act off of it. That creates the best odds that a person will a) know what the right thing is to do and b) have the presence of mind and internal fortitude to follow through on his beliefs even when he is under pressure and challenged. 




Fair enough, but it's still not clear how theological beliefs on the number or nature of deities informs ethics.



 

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3 years ago  ::  May 01, 2012 - 1:32AM #16
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,921

It is one thing for one brand of monotheists to regard the other's One God an alien deity. It's another thing altogether how different monotheists view the revelation of the One God.


The way I see it, the world currently offers roughly two mutually contradictory modes of belief in the Divine. Within those two modes there are countless of mutually contradictory theologies and religious observances. The two modes of faith are as follows:


(1) Faith focused on direct divine revelation to oneself. A direct personal enlightenment resulting from purity of heart, disciplined meditation and virtuous life. The emphasis is on self-reliance, effort to become a better person, independent use of our intelligence, covert or overt assertion of one's own spiritual enlightenment and non-communal religious practice. (This type of faith is more prominent in Far-Eastern "dharmic" religious traditions as well as monastic traditions the world over)


(2) Faith focused on an indirect divine revelation through an earthly mouthpiece of the Divine (Prophet, Messenger or a God-Incarnate). The emphasis is on other-reliance, obedience, downplaying of human reason, humble assertion of one's imperfection and emphasis on communal worship and fellowship. (This type of faith is more prominent in Middle Eastern "Abrahamic" religious traditions)


A category 1 faithful may also hold the words of selected prophets in high regard, but he/she will never commit himself/herself to a particular Book. A category 2 faithful may also believe in direct personal revelation, but he/she will always regard it secondary to a Book. In the event of a discrepancy, the Book prevails.


The downside of category 1 faith is an underlying confusion and uncertainty about the true will of God for oneself. One can never be quite sure whether the Inner Voice is one’s own whim, imagination, wishful thinking, selfish desire or the Divine speaking. The Inner Voice may tell you rather confusing and silly things on different occasions. Such faith also misses out on the benefits of belonging to a genuine fellowship of like-minded faithfuls.


The downside of category 2 faith is the considerable under-use of human reason and intuition as the greatest gifts of the Divine. It is also more conformist and doesn’t give much room for personal, individual and eccentric expression of one’s faith. Community-life may involve abuses of religious authority, gossip, competition and moral judgement. The Book itself may tell you rather confusing and silly things and to follow it without question seems unreasonable.


Personally I am convinced it is possible to believe in the best of both worlds while avoiding their pitfalls.


It's possible to regard the Book as the sole authority. Unquestionably. But the Book shouldn't even be accepted in the first place if you find it counter to reason (reason) and if it doesn't speak to your heart (intuition). The Book itself should encourage the maximum use of human reason and insist that religious truth, in its purest form, never runs counter to reason. If it does contradict reason, it is not of God. The Book itself should see both independent effort and the humble acceptance of one's limitations as key to enlightenment and spiritual progress. The Book itself should recognize the validity of unity in diversity in religious expression, and the significance of personal spiritual inspiration arising out of pure-hearted meditation and the disciplining of one's carnal desires. But the Book should also be well-grounded in solid principles and caution against superstition, fanaticism and the over-emphasis on one's inner voices and whisperings. The Book should ultimately prevail.


What are your thoughts? Is one of the two categories of faith more valid than the other, are they equally valid or do both contain some validity as well as error? Or is my reasoning all wrong to begin with?


Kind regards,


LilWabbit

"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
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3 years ago  ::  May 01, 2012 - 10:10AM #17
Bunsinspace
Posts: 5,929

May 1, 2012 -- 1:32AM, Lilwabbit wrote:


It is one thing for one brand of monotheists to regard the other's One God an alien deity. It's another thing altogether how different monotheists view the revelation of the One God.



BS"D


The way I understand our holy texts, each people has its own independent "revelation" and they are responsible for following it.


May 1, 2012 -- 1:32AM, Lilwabbit wrote:

The way I see it, the world currently offers roughly two mutually contradictory modes of belief in the Divine. Within those two modes there are countless of mutually contradictory theologies and religious observances. The two modes of faith are as follows:



In Judaism both of these categorizations are active and are not contradictory as they are two simultaneous requirements of following the revelation given to each individual as well as an entire people.


May 1, 2012 -- 1:32AM, Lilwabbit wrote:

Personally I am convinced it is possible to believe in the best of both worlds while avoiding their pitfalls.



I believe Judaism provides precisely that.


May 1, 2012 -- 1:32AM, Lilwabbit wrote:

It's possible to regard the Book as the sole authority. Unquestionably.



In Judaism it is the Jewish people that are the ultimate authority, not the text we wrote.


May 1, 2012 -- 1:32AM, Lilwabbit wrote:

The Book itself should see both independent effort and the humble acceptance of one's limitations as key to enlightenment and spiritual progress. The Book itself should recognize the validity of unity in diversity in religious expression, and the significance of personal spiritual inspiration arising out of pure-hearted meditation and the disciplining of one's carnal desires. But the Book should also be well-grounded in solid principles and caution against superstition, fanaticism and the over-emphasis on one's inner voices and whisperings.



Torah is all those things.


May 1, 2012 -- 1:32AM, Lilwabbit wrote:

The Book should ultimately prevail.



That concept is alien to Judaism, but I understand your perspective.  In Judaism it is the Jewish people who prevail, not their book.  A book is inert.  It cannot really do anything.  It is the people who do and succeed or fail.

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3 years ago  ::  May 01, 2012 - 10:13AM #18
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617

May 1, 2012 -- 1:32AM, Lilwabbit wrote:


What are your thoughts? Is one of the two categories of faith more valid than the other, are they equally valid or do both contain some validity as well as error? Or is my reasoning all wrong to begin with?


Kind regards,


LilWabbit





Neither kind of faith can be objectively proven, therefore they are both equally valid as their validity is subjective relative to the faith and belief of the individual.

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3 years ago  ::  May 01, 2012 - 10:24AM #19
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,921

May 1, 2012 -- 10:10AM, Bunsinspace wrote:


May 1, 2012 -- 1:32AM, Lilwabbit wrote:


It's possible to regard the Book as the sole authority. Unquestionably.



In Judaism it is the Jewish people that are the ultimate authority, not the text we wrote.



It is my understanding that in traditional Judaism Torah prevails over personal "inspiration" if the latter contradicts the former. Unquestionably.


I do understand of course that many Jews believe they were somehow present at Sinai with Moses to receive a direct revelation from God. Yet in practice it was that Sinaitic revelation, and that alone, which authoritatively guides all Jews forever anon, and no further personal revelation from God. Hence, it is the Book that prevails for traditional Jews, not the people. The rest is semantics.


Kind regards,


LilWabbit

"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
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3 years ago  ::  May 01, 2012 - 10:31AM #20
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,921

May 1, 2012 -- 10:13AM, nieciedo wrote:


May 1, 2012 -- 1:32AM, Lilwabbit wrote:


What are your thoughts? Is one of the two categories of faith more valid than the other, are they equally valid or do both contain some validity as well as error? Or is my reasoning all wrong to begin with?


Kind regards,


LilWabbit





Neither kind of faith can be objectively proven, therefore they are both equally valid as their validity is subjective relative to the faith and belief of the individual.




The historical influence of a specific book on millions of people can be more objectively measured than personal revelation on any number of people, whatever be the causes of such demonstrable influence.

"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
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