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Thursday, May 10th, 2007

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Jewish: Proper Application of Law and Expertise
Recently, I was having an argument about the nature of rabbinic authority and application of principles: notably "hasagas g'vul." Hasagas g'vul is a concept that where one Jewish rabbinic court has authority, another should not intrude. This issue has acquired a great deal of importance as various courts of Jewish authority and individual Rabbis operate on different local, regional and national basis -- particularly in the area of granting rabbinic supervision/certification on products and services.
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Philosophical reflections on atheism and religion
Sparked by this report of Hitchens and Sharpton debating atheism.

Sharpton makes, I beleive, a number of good points (odd as it may be for me to say that). But I believe he also stumbles on a critical issue: that God must exist because only that way is there an objective right or wrong. This argument has the same flaw as Hitchens argument that religion exists to explain the universe, and is therefore no longer necesary. It presumes that because something I ardently desire must be so, that it is so.

For reasons I explain below the cut, I argue that the effort to prove or disprove the existence of God must ultimately fail. The argument that God does not exist because God is not necessary to explain the universe is as much a logical fallacy as the argument that God must exist. Indeed, even the argument that the Jewish God or Christian God or any other set of religious beliefs cannot exist because of an internal irationality or inconsistency all run afoul of the same error.

This leaves, as the chief argument in favor of atheism, that the unverifiable and unprovable nature of God proves the irrationality of belief. But this argument, as I will seek to demonstrate below, also fails for critical reasons. First and foremost, inherent all complex human action is the same level of faith-based irrationality. If belief in God is irrelevant or dangerous because believers rely upon unverifiable and non-disprovable axioms and are motivated by them to irrational and dangerous behaviors, then atheism is equally irrelevant or dangerous.

Where this leaves me as a logical conclusion is neither a refutation of atheism or an affirmance of religion. Indeed, either outcome is inherently impossible. Rather, in grumpy Osewalrus fashion, I conclude that it is the debate itself, rather than either position, that is inherently irrational and dangerous, because it causes athiests and believers to regard one another as inimical.
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