A Rational Approach to Judaism’s Divine Origin (mp3)

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By Liat on October 1, 2009 -- 9:04am

Interesting; the way the whole speech was said & put together!

By Laurie on January 17, 2010 -- 9:19pm


By Jordon Grubic on April 26, 2010 -- 10:17pm

Hello! I sincerely enjoyed this argument. I, too, am an orthodox Jew and love the idea of the Mt. Sinai revelation being proveable, or at least strongly arguable. I am 23yrs old and have been religious for about four and a half years. I am a student at UMCP and am sitting in the Hillel as I type this. Firstly, I want to say that I do not believe that a Jew’s faith in G-d and Torah should be based on arguments, because anything that can be logically argued for can also be logically argued against.

I have taken time to digest Rabbi Kelemen’s argument and have noted a possible flaw. The two main ideas involved in this flaw are Fred theory and the “bomb.” A light problem with past theory is Fred theory. This is a very good argument that counters the argument that a Fred or group of Freds could have convinced a nation that their ancestors experienced such an event without it being passed down to them. The bomb argument, which states that the principle of history repeating itself says that if a religion’s beginning were natural, then other religions would begin this way as well, is what may not be as credible as I would hope. The difficulty is, as soon as Rabbi Kelemen tells us about that original Hindu group also having a national revelation, the “it’s not natural” argument is dampened and we must rely on Fred theory to take the credibility away from their religion. In other words, even if their religion began from a Fred telling them that their ancestors experienced a national revelation, whereas it is not credible because of Fred theory, it all of a sudden shows us that the “national revelation” model is not as unnatural as we may have though it was. We, therefore, cannot use it to support the revelation at Mt. Sinai. Why? Because it is now more natural than we all thought.

But wait, the Mt. Sinai incident is supported by the fact that we did not have some “Fred” reveal it to us, where as that Hindu group did. We are only saved, however, because of Fred theory. The bomb, however, is dampened because the concept of national revelation is more natural than we thought. So, in an instance where Fred theory does not save us, such as the theory of an “evolving religion/revelation,” which says that the Mt. Sinai story could have evolved over time, is not rejectable by the “it’s not natural argument.” So, neither Fred theory nor the “it’s not natural” argument can save us there!

I will note that there is at least one possible counter argument that I can think of. Rabbi Kelemen said that the claim of a national revelation with a Fred, in the case of the oldest Hindu sect, is a bit more natural, but without a Fred, this is not natural and therefore is a strong claim. I am not sure that this is a strong counter because one could then go and say that our belief in the revelation at Mt. Sinai, which does not have a fred, came to the way it did by evolving. Well, before we would have used the argument that it is not natural, but we cannot do that because we see that a religion based on national revelation came to be from a Fred. So, if it can come about from a Fred, then why is it any less likely that it came about by evolving over time? Both the “bomb” and the Fred theory do not help us here! I would love to hear thought counter arguments here, as I hope I am missing something. Again, I do not believe that a person’s faith in G-d and Judaism should be based on arguments, because anything that can be argued for can be argued against.

Best Wishes,
Jordon Grubic

By Sylvan on July 9, 2010 -- 3:26am

Great! Really brilliant and entertaining to listen to.

By patricia mora on July 12, 2010 -- 7:16am

hola soy patricia y quiziera aprender mucho del judaismo porque estoy empezando en el. quiziera que enviaran audios en español por favor no se mucho ingles gracias por su atencion

By Eric on August 9, 2010 -- 6:08pm

The part about Paul starting Christianity was not correct. He was the persecutor of Christians at first..so he could not have started it..A bit of disinformation there deflated otherwise what was a good lecture.

By loni shar on September 27, 2010 -- 3:30pm

Future Theory: was very unlikely to begin with no need to discuss.

Present Theory.  With all due respect to all Kelemen’s University theories there are many ways it could have happened, when you consider that it could have started with a small group of illiterate peasants who could not read the part of the Torah about the revelation to many.

Past Theory which is much more likely than present theory could also have happened, Kelemen’s simple answer of things being recorded and written down is far from a proof against something being hidden from the textures by the people who made the texts!

His great big bang theory is illegitimate, sure a science experiment should be able to be replicated, a group of people repeating the same experiment scientifically under the right conditions should get the right result, this does not mean that any idea ever thought of has to be or will be repeated, some ideas are more likely to be repeated and others are not. As a matter of a fact the ones that are harder to create are likely less likely to be repeated but more likely to be accepted and stand the test of time.

By Randy on November 17, 2010 -- 3:14pm

I’m not quite sure that’s how statistics works…

For example: just because there’s only a 0.001% chance something would happen naturally, does not mean the other 99.999% would happen “unnaturally”

Let’s just say I apply some chemical to 100 tomatos to see if they grow bigger. 99 of the tomatos do not grow bigger, 1 does. From a scientific perspective I would simply say that the 1 tomato that grew bigger is outlier, perhaps it had some genetic anomaly. Whatever the reason the statistics would indicate that this chemical does not make the tomatos grow bigger. Any rational scientist would admit that yes, one tomato did get bigger but ultimately it most likely was due to some other factor.

Likewise with religion, you have 99 different religions claim many people heard Him speak, but they all just fall apart for reason that Rabbi Kelemen explained. We have 1 religion, however, that makes this claim and holds up. I would say this religion still occured naturally just like the one tomato grew bigger - certainly nothing unnatural made the tomato grow!

I would conclude that this doesn’t mean its unnatural, no more then that tomato growing large is unnatural. It just has something different about it that has nothing to do with the chemical (the tomato) or nothing to do with a group of people hearing Him speak (the torah)

This is the only compelling counter-arguement that comes to mind, would love to hear feedback from others! Must say, it was very nicely done presentation.

By avi on March 22, 2012 -- 4:50am

exceptional content and delivery

By Yochanan Ben Yisrael on July 9, 2012 -- 2:30pm

Awesome! I will be posting a link to this message on my FB group called converts to Judaism.


By Alex on April 29, 2013 -- 1:11am

Incredible lecuture. Can someone please explain the following: Maimonides’s Guide For The Perplexed Part 2 Chapter 33 writes that the Jews didn’t actually understand what God said, and that they required Moses to translate for them. Doesn’t this mean that the revelation naarative was through one man… just like every other religion? If anyone can please explain this to me I’d greatly appreciate it.

By Michael on December 8, 2016 -- 9:22am

To Jordon

I heard the lection now, and read all you wrote, but it seems you missed the point of “the bomb”. If something is natural it will happen twice, which means you will have another religion somewhere claiming that they heard G-d. There are so many religions, and not even one claims it. There is no difference between one person claiming that he heard G-d, or that he was told that 3,000,000 people heard G-d, or that he went to heaven etc., as of course these are easy things for a religion to claim.
But to claim that someone got from generation to generation a tradition that they hear G-d, is something much harder/impossible to create, and that is why no one at all claims that, and this is what “the bomb” is proving. This answers all of your points.

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