Friday, July 22, 2005

I. Rambam's 1st Principle of Faith

Rambam's 1st Principle of Faith is

To believe in the existence of the Creator, may He be blessed, i.e., that there is an Existence that is perfect (and absolute) in all facets of existence. He is the cause of all that exists, the sustenance of all, and through Him all is maintained. There is no possibility that He does not exist because without Him, all existence would cease to be and nothing would remain. [Whereas] if we would imagine the absence of all existence other than His, the existence of God would neither cease nor diminish. For He is self-sufficient in His existence, He suffices in Himself, and His existence requires nothing other than Himself. [For] among the intelligences -- the angels and the constellations and all that they contain and all that is below them -- they all need Him for their existence. This is the first Principle, as affirmed by the verse (Exodus 20:2) "I am God, your Lord..."

In summary, God exists and is perfect in His existence and is the primary cause of all that exists.
This one is easy. Yes. Well it isn't easy, but if the answer was "no" then I could hardly continue the series.
At the outset I want to mention that even though I think about theological matters a lot and struggle with faith, for whatever reason I've never doubted God's existence or what the Rambam says that implies. I just haven't. Seriously. Evidently, for me, that isn't the issue to deal with. Someone recently told me to "try debating a[n knowledgable] atheist and watch what happens", meaning then I will then have doubts. Actually that doesn't interest me. Not because I'm afraid of doubts, but because it so happens that this is something I've always been sure of.
Why? Don't expect any new ground to be broken here, obviously. I find the Intelligent Design argument compelling. The Talmud attributes this very realization to Avraham's "discovery of God". Now is it evidence beyond a reasonable doubt? Let's put it this way: if I was on a jury I would not have a reasonable doubt. And yet I believe we would have a hung jury, since some would have reasonable doubt.
Now I must be honest with myself though and point out that I am something of a skeptic by nature. I have to recognize that if I wasn't raised religious (whatever the religion) in all likelihood I would not reach the conclusion that God exists from the apparent intelligent design on the intricate universe and all within it. If I had lives 4000 years ago I might have doubted the pagan pantheon, but sadly I must admit that I probably wouldn't have discovered God myself.
This is a bit troubling to me. Doesn't that indicate that socialization is responsible for my belief? Well, yes. But it also tells me that my own skepticism should be employed in doubting myself (until the day I die I could become a Sadduccee ). Since I believe in God and am glad I do that reminds me that leshitasso I should also doubt my own doubts and be cognizant of the fact that there but for the grace of God go I.
The issue of whether God exists is actually quite separate from the issue of whether God is the God of Torah, but that can be addressed by a good point made by Abraham Joshua Heschel

It may seem easy to play with the idea that the Bible is a book like many other books," a "fairy tale," but "consider what such denial implies. If Moses and Isaiah have failed to find out what the will of God is, who will? If God is not found in the Bible, where should we seek him? If God had nothing to do with the prophets than He has nothing to do with mankind."

Putting aside the issue later to be addressed that Avraham didn't have the Bible to discover the God, I believe that is a powerful statement. Are there holes in it large enough to drive a pachyderm through?
Emunah peshuta? Emunah complexia.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts with Thumbnails