Monday, April 28, 2008

Disappointed Again

So a little while back, on XGH's blog, our favorite obscurantist and obfuscationist Daganev dropped his typical cryptic aside in response to XGH's comment:
"ALso Yus I'm sure you'll agree that God is pretty awesome wouldn't you say? Awesome enough to back up the assertion that an Intelligent Being created Him?
XGH | 04.15.08 - 5:59 pm | # "


Seriously... read Derech Hashem or something... (I think that is simple enough)
So having read some of Derech Hashem a couple years back, I thought - did I miss something key in that book? Did RAMCHAL have some chiddush that I didn't catch? But when I asked Daganev, what precisely he was alluding to, he replied:
Actually, I don't remember at all what the Ramchal wrote, I read it back in 9th grade. I do however remember the conversation I had with my math teacher regarding infinity and god after I read it. So I thought it would be a simple enough book to go over the necessity of inifnity outside of creation.
You'd think that someone who read a book as a fourteen year old may want to review it before using it in an adult argument, but I decided to give Daganev the benefit of the doubt and I decided to re-visit Derech Hashem.

I'll skip the suspense - it was a disappointment. Here is how the book starts:
[1] Every Jew must believe and know that there exists a first Being, without beginning or end, who brought all things into existence and continues to sustain them. This Being is God.

[2] It is furthermore necessary to know that God's true nature cannot be understood at all by any being other than Himself. The only thing we know about Him is that He is perfect in every possible way and devoid of every possible deficiency.

These things are known by tradition from the Patriarchs and prophets. With the revelation at Sinai, all Israel perceived them and gained a clear grasp of their true nature. They then taught them to their children, generation after generation until this very day. Moshe had thus commanded them (Devarim 4:9), "You shall not forget the things that you saw with your own eyes...and you shall make them known to your children and your children's children."

These concepts can also be logically verified by demonstrable proofs. Their veracity can be demonstrated from what we observ in nature and it's phenomena. Through such scientific disciplines as physics and astronomy, certain basic principles can be derived, and on the basis of these, clear evidence for these concepts deduced. We will not occupy ourselves with this, however, but will rather set forth the well-known basic principles handed down by tradition.
The rest of the book doesn't really seem to deal with anything related to what Daganev implied. It seems to be a fairly conventional exposition of Judaism with a kabbalistic bend. RAMCHAL goes into concepts such as Angels which control trees being overwhelmed temporarily by Angels which control wind, the advent of the Forces of evil during the night time, the way that the stars are used to influence events on Earth, and all sorts of other goodies.

I don't have anything against the RAMCHAL. In the context of his time, his framework seems perfectly reasonable. But to use him as the trump card for arguments of the origin of God and the Universe seems at best misguided and at worst disingenuous.


Blogger The back of the hill said...

If the existence of Hashem could be proven, I would be utterly disappointed.

In Him.

On a related note, the coming of Moshiach would be just as disappointing, if not more so.
How can one still wrestle with the ideas if doing so has become pointless?

April 29, 2008 6:29 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

If the existence of Hashem could be proven, I would be utterly disappointed.

In Him.

BOTH, I hear this all the time and it makes absolutely no sense to me. Please elaborate until I understand?

April 29, 2008 6:33 PM  

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