Thursday, October 14, 2010

Why DovBear isn't a heretic

My answer to those who accuse me of heresy, or of undermining the mesorah is best summarized as follows:
  • The world, like the Torah, is divine revelation. 
  • If something is true, it's not heresy, even if Chazal weren't aware of it. 
  • It's not heresy to say that Chazal were unaware of a fact about the natural world. The Geonim and Rishonim said it first. 
  • It's not heresy to say that the statements Chazal made about the natural world aren't part of the Mesorah. The Geonim and Rishonim said it first. 
  • The policy of the Sages, the Geonim, and the Rishonim was to respond honestly to facts about the natural world as they understood them. They ran into trouble only because some of those facts were wrong.
  • Its no insult to Chazal to say they were working with bad facts; some of the Geonim, Rishonim and Achronim have already said it. 
  • If we can say that Chazal made mistakes because they were working with bad facts about the natural world, we can say the same about the Rishonim and Achronim.
  • The error people make is assuming that Chazal and Razal reached irreproachable conclusions about the natural world, when all they were really doing was responding honestly to the truth as they knew it.
  • Now that old facts about the natural world have been defeated, and replaced with new facts...
    •  the right thing to do is to respond honestly to them, as Chazal and Razal did in their own time; whereas
    • the wrong thing to do is to cling to old results which were based on bad facts, or to cling to the bad facts themselves.
  • If this sounds like heresy to you, there are two possible reasons:
    • You're not aware of what Razal said on the subject
    • You're not aware that old facts have been defeated, or that new facts have been discovered
Perhaps one day, I'll expand this into an essay.

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