Monday, September 21, 2009


So as I read "The History of God", one thing seems to be crystallizing in my head.

It seems clear that there is a shared human mystical experience of "God" - meaning some type of otherworldy experience. If you look at famous descriptions of this, the visions of the Old Testament prophets, Muhammad's revelation, Buddha's enlightenment, they all seem to share common characteristics, including the one where this experience cannot be described in human language. This is why Isaiah and Ezekiel, etc, all use these bizarre metaphors, yet at the same time constantly reminding us that these are just their best attempts to describe something indescribable. It is not clear whether this shared experience is actually a reality, or whether it is some kind of shared neuro-psychological phenomenon.

What is clear to me is that any type of logical or theological reasoning about anything beyond this shared experience is pointless and clearly speculative and baseless.

So, I am not sure where this leaves us. I guess the most promising path would be to pour in lots of money into neuro-theological research.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


September 21, 2009 6:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"any type of logical or theological reasoning about anything beyond this shared experience is pointless and clearly speculative and baseless"

Both Heschel and Jacobs use the fact that religous people (especially the Nevvim) have similar spiritual experiences and highs as an argument for the truth of religion and the existence of "God". But I agree with you. All it proves is that human beings can experience something like this. OTOH, we're fooling ourselves if we think that current science is everything there is, so maybe there really is a spiritual plane? Could be.

September 21, 2009 8:04 PM  
Blogger jewish philosopher said...

Who God is is not as important as what God wants.

September 22, 2009 6:20 AM  
Blogger fear from love. said...

I feel that it is very hard for us, in such a physical, materialistic age to realate to times when prophecy was around.
It is like relating to Idol Worship, I often think "how could anyone ever have the desire or need to bow to a piece of stone, it makes no sense" but we are told it was a real yetzer harah, much like a mans desire for women, that was removed from the world.
The world has changed.
Another example is experiences with the supernatural, there is definitely room to believe in the existence of metaphysical forces in Judaism, such as demons etc, but in this physical world we are too far from connecting to a spiritual plane we cant see them.
As the world progresses and beomce murked by the physical our vision is clouded and we are no longer able to link up to the spiritual.
So too with prophecy, the holy books write one cannot experience prophecy unless one is truly happy, in todays day and age we are not happy due to "shibud malchus" so noone can attain such heights.
but we remain with ruach hakodesh, and that belongs to those who are able to see through the cloudy water of todays society and see the other side.
Its there but our connection is faint.

September 22, 2009 8:37 AM  

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