Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Renew our days as of old

A great comment about traditional Judaism from "Igor:"

I'm a graduate student in medieval Jewish philosophy. This kind of position was quite common among educated Jews in Spain, Italy and the South of France, including many in the rabbinical elite, and the Rambam comes quite close to it in the Moreh Nevukhim (Guide of the Perplexed). It's just an unfortunate fact that after the gerush from Spain and the rise of kabalah traditional Judaism became increasingly ossified. It's also unfortunate that some of the best philosophical writing by otherwise popular medieval authorities-Ibn Paquda, Ibn Ezra, the Rambam, the Ralbag-is no longer taught. In 13th century Italy they actually taught secular science and philosophy at yeshivot:

- Thanks.

One reason philosophy and science are no longer taught in Yeshivot is this: In the 13th century the facts of science and the facts of Torah were nearly identical. You weren't likely to learn anything in science class that undermined the old interpretations. Following the development of more reliable methods for acquiring information about the natural world, the facts of science and the facts of the old interpretations no longer coincide. Instead of disregarding the old interpretations, which to a large extent, were never "Torah" but simply deductions and interpretations based on bad facts, the Orthodox community has chosen to disregard the new facts (*). And as the Sages warned, one sin leads to the next. The sin of ignoring the truth leads, alas, in many schools, to institutionally sanctioned cheating on science regents, and to lies to Board of Education authorities about curriculum. 

(*) The facts are disregarded when convenient. Flu vaccines, for example, which testify to the truth of evolution, aren't banned by the Orthodox, nor are any technologies which undermine traditional understandings of cosmology.

Search for more information about sinful science  at 4torah.com.

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