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8.6.13

While people think many laws of the Torah seem counter to objective reason I think it can be shown that most of the time critiques of the Torah are based on ideas of morality that are based on false views like empiricism or moral relativism.

From a philosophical point of view  what is of value in the Torah and Talmud and what is not?First we have to establish a philosophical point of view to start with. and we have to establish a set of ground rules for what constitutes evidence.
I do not start out thinking that everything in the Torah or Talmud is true and then work backwards to eliminate things I don't like.  I start out like Descartes with zero assumptions and then build up.
This is a significant difference between me and Orthodox Jews.
But to get to my point I start with Moral objectivity. I holds that moral claims assert propositions that are at least sometimes objectively true. What is meant here by the qualifier "objectively" is that their truth does not depend on beliefs, feelings, or other attitudes of observers towards the things evaluated.
 I will not here try to counter moral relativism or relativism in general. Nor the lunatic American British Analytic Linguistic schools of thought. [Most serious modern philosophers have awoken to the fact that all twentieth century philosophy is "obviously false" (in the famous words the Professor of philosophy at Berkley John Searle) and so there is no need here to bother with them.]

So we start with Moral objectivity.. From that standpoint I think there are two things of great value in the Torah and Talmud: the Laws of Morality that can be defended by objective reason and Fear of God.

While people think many laws of the Torah seem counter to objective reason I think it can be shown that most of the time critiques of the Torah are based on ideas of morality that are based on false views like empiricism or moral relativism.


But I do not think that the fanatic  Orthodox approach is right either. We can't assume the whole tradition is right against evidence.  [For example where would the Tyrannosaurs Rex have fit into the ark? Afetr all Noah was commanded to take all living things into the  ark.]

I think the best approach is to combine the two approaches (1) start from the philosophical way from zero assumptions and work up. (2) Work with the basic content of Torah and Mitzvot and only reject what is clearly contrary to evidence. (3) Assume that even you evaluations of evidence and of the Torah itself are flawed and that we all have to listen to people smarter than ourselves.  None of anyone reading this blog are going to examine the Talmud with more rigor than the Tosphot or Rambam or Chaim Soloveitch. \


We are not going to understand evolution better that Stephen Gould or Steve Dutch. We all have to realize our limitations. Aish HaTorah is not going to disprove evolution.


Then you end up with Straightforward Conservative Judaism.