Friday, November 04, 2011

Belief in The Creator - Then and Now

It's customary to think belief in a Creator is a matter of faith and not a matter of intellect or logic. As if it's a matter of personal choice; He who wants to, believes, and he who does not want to, does not believe. As if it cannot be a matter proven with rationality, but, rather, a matter of simple, inner conviction.

Man has both a potential for faith and posseses the power to reason. In fact, faith and reason lie on separate planes, for indeed, man's soul can have faith in something that is entirely beyond his intellect and reason.

Nevertheless, recognizing the existence of a Creator need not remain in the domain of faith exclusively. A good dose of reasonable thought will also lead to an inevitable conclusion - that a Creator of the universe exists! Given to such thought, man no longer "believes" in a Creator, he "knows" it!

The first to reach this mental conclusion, our sages tell us, was some four thousand years ago, in the person of Abraham. Maimonides describes Abraham's search for the driving force behind the universe. He began to ask the right questions even as a young child, and concluded that there must be one supreme power that created everything and controls it all. In a world filled with idolatry and statue cults, Abraham discovered faith - in the One Supreme Being.

This belief gave birth to the Jewish people, who then bequeathed this faith in One to all of humanity.

It came a long way. It began with Abraham smashing the idols in his father Terach's store. It made its way through struggles with false prophets during the early history of the Jewish people. And finally it transformed to a heritable monotheism that all of humanity can now accept.

Yet another obstacle not too long ago then materialized, a seemingly formidable roadblock. In the two last centuries major breakthroughs in science gave people something with which they could replace God. Science was quickly cracking the secrets of creation, and formulas and laws could be imputed to displace belief in a supernatural force. Intellect could now outmaneuver belief with intricate explanations of Nature's phenomena.

But here too the new wave of rebellion faded. Just when science became extremely sophisticated, just when it revealed the incredible level of complexity in every tiny factor newly discovered, theory became completely upended and - behold - it was moving inexorably in the direction that Torah and Judaism originally stood for. The further science probed into the secrets of the world, the more it revealed how impotent it stood before the awesome intricacies that existed even in the tiniest morsel under inspection. The claim that things arose by managed randomness or that circumstance played a role became ever more ridiculous and laughable.

Even today, after having split the atom, sent telescopes into outer space and landed on Mars, after creating the greatest and fastest computers, TVs and cellular telephones, we cannot help but remain awestruck at a how little we know about the mechanisms inside - even one cell of the body, or even in one cell of a fly's wing. All that creation entails simply boggles even our "sophisticated" mind.

No question we often come across events when our minds question the Supernal Being. But here we see just how limited our rationale is, and how strong our faith must kick in, for, as the prophet Isaiah (55:8) proclaims, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are My ways yours!"

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