The God Particle

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  1. Shlomo Argamon says:

    A great analogy due to Moshe Koppel, in commenting on a book by Daniel Dennett, one of the big atheism-boosters of our day, is that thinking that science obviates religion is like understanding how the lighting and mechanisms on a theater stage work and thus thinking that you understand the play.

    • micha says:

      A similar error is to think that knowing that it’s normal for 102 year old men to die obviates the need to explore why R’ Elyashiv happened to die just now and what is it Hashem is trying to elicit from us with it.

      • Bob Miller says:

        Micha, what would you suggest?

        • micha says:

          Wouldn’t the question on what Hashem is trying to elicit from us depend on who “us” is in ways I don’t know you personally well enough to answer? The gemara says “yefashpeish bemaasav”, it asks you to take an internal inventory of your actions, or perhaps omissions (the last possibility suggested in the gemara is bitul Torah). A quick-and-easy answer is inherently wrong.

          • Bob Miller says:

            So you’re saying that every Jew should react according to what he can determine about his own spiritual condition, but there is no way to generalize further?

          • micha says:

            What he can determine in light of how he reacts to the event. Yes.

            Many of us are not capable of this, and we need mentors. And many of us don’t have such mentors, so rabbis who lead communities might help a pathetic shadow of the ideal process along by speaking about reactions and issues he sees as common among those who choose to look to him.

            But I don’t think what I’m saying is novel. It’s the gemara that calls upon the person to explore his own deeds, not me.

          • Bob Miller says:

            I’m thinking of a sequence like this:
            1. Gut reactions to event
            2. Reflections as what personal corrections should follow
            3. React to reflections by doing something

  2. Shlomo Argamon says:

    Indeed. “maasav”, and not “maasei acherim” (others’ actions). A principle often overlooked.

    • micha says:

      I would say that’s the biggest of three mistakes people make.

      The second is that people just pick whatever sticks out in the mind, instead of an actual pishpush bemaasav and thinking about where the real problems lie.

      The third is to think that because I am obligated to harness my response to a tragic event constructively, to find what it motivates me to improve and make that improvement, that implies that there is some causal connection. That the sin I am looking to do teshuvah is being blamed as the cause of the tragedy.

  3. micha says:

    Y’all seem more interested in my earlier post He Should Inspect His Deeds, on the gemara I’ve been citing.

    This post intended to make a point that I don’t want buried, that understanding the world scientifically ought to bolster our faith, not challenge it. Yes, there is overlap with the idea of understanding disease medically and yet still treating it as an Act of G-d. But this post intended to be more positive than that.

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