Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: HaShem Has No "Has To"s, We Have Only "And Therefore"s

I happen to be a Calvin & Hobbes fan.  The strip uses the vehicle of a six year old (my guestimate) and his imaginary (or is he?) tiger to explore all sorts of philosophical issues.  (At this point I know with certainty that many, if not most, of my friends and acquaintances are wondering why I can't just enjoy the comics like a normal person; 'cause I can't.)  Free will, in particular, is addressed from many different angles.  The sport known as Calvin Ball (only rule: can't do anything you've done before), in particular, is a thrilling romp exploring free will at its most unfettered.

However, there is something even beyond free will, and that is will itself.  One of the seminal points in my journey to Orthodox Judaism (aka Reality) was a full appreciation of Pascal's wager.  (In case you need a refresher, my summary is here, Making a Rational Choice to Embrace Orthodox Judaism; feel free to google if you think you need more, but I really believe that covers the essentials.)  I find Pascal's Wager so compelling that I don't really understand how one can come to any other rational conclusion.  Of course one can ignore the whole question of "why do I exist?", but that, of course, is irrational.  I appreciate that many, many live their lives that way, but their (irrational) lack of interest in that most fundamental of all questions does not make the question go away nor does it offer an alternative with which I feel logically compelled to reckon.

I once looked to find serious and reasoned challenges to Pascal's Wager; and I found some!  They all came to the conclusion that the christian view of god/creator is not a rational alternative to atheism.  One commentator noted, "If one were to use Pascal's Wager to come to be religious, one would have to give up certain fundamental facts [sic] about the {christian, my emendation} god; one of which being that he is just and good."

Excellent!  I could not agree more!  Becoming Christian, Mormon, or Muslim is certainly not a rational conclusion from Pascal's Wager.  Of course, neither is atheism.  There are oodles and oodles of falsehoods; there is only one Truth.  HaShem is not "forced" to be good nor just.  The statement doesn't even make sense.  HaShem created both justice and goodness, they therefore can't possibly be traits that describe the Ein Sof -- that real essence of the Creator that is absolutely beyond our ability to grasp at all.  HaShem has not "has to"s, no "must respond"s; He is simply and utterly able to do (or not do) whatever He Wills.

That means that I also have no "have to"s; except one: therefore.  Every moment is perforce a new creation; fundamentally unrelated to anything that came before or that will come after.  That being the case: what's a person to do?  There is only one rational choice: look in the instruction manual and learn what the appropriate response is to each stimulus.  I didn't create this world, but I am living in this world.  I don't know the grand scheme, I only know what is happening to me.  Anything but using the manual makes no logical sense.  I may do the wrong thing, but at least I have a frame of reference to know right from wrong.

Now it's easy.  There is exactly one group who even claims to have instructions straight from the Creator and Author of Reality.  There are many who argue that we made a mistake or that (their version of) god changes his mind.  None, however, offer a G-d given replacement.  They offer their own version of what they think good and evil is all about, but none offer a statement from god.  (The New Testament, for example, has zero quotes from the father.  The Book of Mormon claims to be copied from gold plates brought by an angel; not god.)

There is only one Toras Chaim; Instructions for Life.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…

Thought for the Day: Hydroponically Grown Humans... I Feel Sick

I am quite openly not at all objective about abortion in particular and the treatment of human embryos and fetuses in general.  I am, after all, the survivor of a failed abortion attempt.  Not "thought about it, but couldn't go through with it"; not "made appointment, but then chickened out at the lost moment"; but, "tried a procedure, but was unsuccessful in attempt to abort".  Nonetheless, I try very hard to listen to the liberal arguments (which I also used to chant as part of the general liberal catechism), and am genuinely empathetic to the plight of women who find themselves in that difficult position.

What I heard on NPR this morning, however, has left me feeling physically ill.  You can read about it, if you like, but here's the bottom line:  Scientists in Cambridge have achieved a new record, they fertilized a human ova and then kept it alive in vitro (that is, in a test tube/petri dish in a laboratory) for 14 days.  The scientist involve…