- Posted March 7, 2013 by
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First Person: Your essays
GOD AND THE JEWS: A sequel to “Why I Cannot be an Atheist”
“Belief in an unseen God is like belief in unicorns—no one has seen unicorns. Belief in God is therefore totally irrational; that is, blind faith without evidence.”
In this stale expression, the words “without evidence” must clearly refer to both direct and indirect evidence. This has to be the case since the unseen realities enumerated below are in themselves always invisible. Yet, who in all rationality can deny their real (or empirical) existence:
(1) the air as wind (or air in motion) that moves the branches of a tree; (2) the pressure that air exerts under the wings of an airplane to lift it from the ground and keep it in flight; (3) the human mind, its thoughts, emotions, and motives; (4) electronic audio and video signals, and human speech, traveling through space; (5) microwave and nuclear energy; (6) gases, like the gas which flows into a hospital patient’s oxygen tent.
Because all these realities enumerated above are invisible at all times, no direct evidence can exist to prove their presence or existence. That is to say, in themselves, no one has ever seen these things directly. We become aware of their empirical presence and existence only through the indirect evidence they provide; specifically, through the corresponding effects provided by their presence. For this reason, we see in such cases the validity of indirect evidence to prove the empirical existence of invisible realities.
Hence, it becomes obvious from these examples that simply in itself, invisibility does not necessarily prove non-existence; it may do so, but not necessarily in every case. Indirect evidence, which in these examples is sufficient and permissible as such, is what makes the difference in proving the empirical existence of the invisible realities enumerated above.
For this reason, to state that the invisible (or unseen) God of the Bible has failed to provide either direct or indirect evidence to prove his empirical existence, makes evident in such a statement a gross uninformed assumption. The assumption is actually three-fold. The statement assumes, first of all, that the God of the Bible, if he is real, has never shown interest in making himself known—that is, of his own initiative, independent of the people who wrote the Bible. Secondly, it assumes that the God of the Bible has never cared for the real and vital need that his human creatures have to know and be assured he is real and not a make-believe (or imaginary) reality. Finally, it assumes that the God of the Bible has never actually shown, at least indirectly, that he is real. Yet, as four thousand years of Jewish empirical history demonstrate, none of these assumptions are true.
Not only through their perpetual and miraculous preservation—which has proven to be indestructible—but also throughout their entire history as a persistently distinct race of people, the Jews have been first-hand eyewitnesses of the empirical reality of the biblical God. Referring for example to how the biblical God revealed himself empirically to the Jews at Mt. Sinai, the renowned Jewish medieval sage, Maimonides, referred to this empirical event as “the personal eyewitness experience of every [Jewish] man, woman and child, standing at Mount Sinai 3,300 years ago.”
It was this same biblical God who gave the Jews the exclusive privilege of being first-hand eyewitnesses to the rest of humanity of his empirical reality. Why give this only to the Jews and not equally—in the fair democratic way—to the rest of humanity? The most concise and straightforward answer to this question must be that this is because the biblical God has revealed himself to the Jews as a God who asserts his sovereignty as one who has created and owns all that exists and, as such, does whatever he pleases with his universal creation and allows no one to prevail against him. This is why he is called “God”; he can do anything he wants and get away with it.
All this is what leads me to say that the highest value to be found in the four thousand years of Jewish empirical history is its most important testimony—a testimony that proves indirectly that the biblical God is no imaginary God, although in himself (or in his spiritual essence), like the realities enumerated above, he remains invisible at all times.
Given this, to prove that the biblical history of the Jews is nothing but a pack of myths and legends and not a record of actual empirical events is to prove that Jewish testimony to the reality of the biblical God is all worthless make-believe. Such a demonstration is virtually impossible since the Jews are not a mythical people and their national character and cultural peculiarities are to a most significant degree the effects and reflection of the supernatural events they have experienced with their God. In other words, who and what the Jews consistently have been and are today is like a mirror that faithfully reflects the supernatural aspects and nature of their 4,000 years of past history.
Faith in the reality and reliability of the biblical God cannot therefore simplistically be characterized as make-believe. In addition to the Mt. Sinai event mentioned above, of the other numerous events in their history that Jews as a race have witnessed—indirectly testifying to the reality of their biblical God—the following is only one of the many typical examples that can be mentioned here:
MOSES' EMPIRICAL TEST ON THE REALITY OF THE BIBLICAL GOD
To quell a rebellion led by three men, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, Moses called upon God for help. Following is the biblical record of how the sovereign God stopped the uprising:
Numbers 16:25-34 NIV – “Moses got up [from before God] and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. He warned the assembly, ‘Move back from the tents of these wicked men! Do not touch anything belonging to them, or you will be swept away because of all their sins.’ So they [all the Jews] moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing with their wives, children and little ones at the entrances to their tents.
“Then Moses said, ‘This is how you will know [empirically] that the Lord has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: if these men die a natural death and experience only what usually happens to men, then the Lord has not sent me. But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the grave, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt.’
“As soon as [Moses] finished saying all this, the ground under [the rebels] split apart and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, with their households and all Korah’s men and all their possessions. They went down alive into the grave, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community. At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, ‘The earth is going to swallow us too!’”
Incidents like these in the recorded history of the Jews assure us that the God of the Jews does not come out of ancient mythologies, renowned fables, or empty esoteric mysticism. Nor is the God of the Jews just another fictitious idea similar to those ideas of imaginary divinities and gods we find in the classic writings of pagan Greeks and Romans. Based on these experiences with their God, the Jews therefore know reliably, in truth—even scientifically—the empirical foundation of their religion and faith.