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9/16/2018 1:16 am  #31

Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

A series of answers to the question Is Beauty Truth?

It is concerning the object of beauty that wise Solomon says, "Charm is false and beauty is vain." But in the experiencing of beauty we open a window upon the infinite that is synonymous with the experience of truth. Throw out the chaff of the static object and focus upon the inner experience, seeking a beauty that will last forever, and you will find true beauty—and beautiful truth.

And Ugliness? Ugliness is when the mind takes one look and gives up.  Tzvi Freeman

Sometimes truth is ugly.

I don't have a theory regarding their connection. Some of the most beautiful things in existence were inspired by Christianity: Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, Faure's Requiem, Haydn's Seven Last Words of Christ, Mahler's Resurrection Symphony, everything by Bach & Bruckner. Eastern religions have a shattering beauty of their own. If this were evidence on their behalf we'd need to quantify beauty somehow and seek the most beautiful.

Last edited by 119 (9/16/2018 1:55 am)


9/16/2018 6:33 am  #32

Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

John West wrote:

The sheer amount of chutzpah this man must have to say that the English lack a cultural identity (and Londoners and so on various regional identities). Has he ever been to England?

​I'd say (at least among the English themselves) that English identity is most consciously talked about when it's a question of regional identities and sport. Perhaps it's because England has been much the biggest component in the United Kingdom for so long, somehow English identity gets blended into a general British identity. I've read that the same thing happened with a specific Russian identity during the Soviet period.

(I have to say, guys, that I really don't feel much anxiety about supposed lack of cultural identity. There is nothing quite like traveling and being confronted with the thousands of little differences between you and others (and then returning, briefly, and feeling out of joint with your “own people”) to make you realize how different you are. Of course the New World lacks many things that the Old World has. Some things require time to grow.)

​Some voices have recently been raised that, particularly in Western Europe, European culture is running out of stamina and losing direction (c.f. Douglas Murray's recent book 'The Strange Death of Europe'). Murray references the French writer Michel Houellebecq and in my experience at least Houellebecq has been weirdly prophetic about cultural trends that others aren't talking about, and looking at demographic trends there might be something in it.   

​I think you are right about how travel and, probably, learning and speaking other languages reveals the differences in cultural identity, even if they don't feature that much in official discourse. A strange thing I found is travelling to the (relatively obscure, at least from the British perspective) other end of Europe and discovering some major similarities. Not with the England and the UK of the present though, but of the early 1990s. That was disconcerting.


9/16/2018 10:15 am  #33

Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

John West wrote:

I'm curious: What do you gentlemen think the relationship between beauty and truth is? I'm characteristically skeptical about identifying the two (cf. Nietzsche: “Poets lie too much.”), but I think a religion without beauty would be a sad and impoverished thing.

Beauty is truth. Truth is beauty. The two are inseparable. The most beautiful things are those which reflect a deep and profound truth, and the pure truth is more beautiful than anything else in existence. This doesn't mean that beauty can't exist where there is falsehood, nor that falsehood cannot be expressed in a beautiful fashion. Take a Catholic Mass in a majestic cathedral. The religion is a false one, and yet its rites evoke tremendous beauty. But the beauty of those rites is not because they reflect God as a bloody and mutilated corpse, as flesh and blood subject to utter corruption, but because its grandeur actually evokes the opposite: the word of God resounding through the cavernous cosmos, unchanging, majestic, ineffable.
Hence the 'Poets lie too much'. Poets lie in that they evoke wondrous imagery for things which don't merit that sort of wonder, or they do so in a misguided way. The beauty of a lustful poem is in a way true, as such desires are truly beautiful when directed towards God and wisdom (see the Song of Solomon). Even such desire directed towards a person is at times beautiful (even if it's not quite like the beauty of love of God), such as within the framework of matrimony, when to bodies and souls merge as one, bringing forth from their union new life. However, the target of the poets' beauty - mere carnal desire - is unworthy.
I don't know how clearly I am expressing myself. Maybe someone else will be able to express what I am trying to in a clearer fashion. Basically, I consider beauty and truth to be inextricably intertwined, but beauty cannot be evidentiary, as it is very often (perhaps even always) expressed imperfectly and in a misdirected way. But then again, I see geometry as one of the most beautiful sciences in existence, so perhaps my conception of beauty is colored by my perception of truth, which would make what I'm saying a petty truism: what is true is beautiful, but that's only because I've redefined beauty as truth. But still, I believe that the awe inspired by beauty is fairly universal among those who have eyes to see.

Last edited by Etzelnik (9/16/2018 10:32 am)

Noli turbare circulos meos.

9/17/2018 12:46 am  #34

Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

Truth from God, saving truth, may not have sensorially-perceivable beauty in the short term:

The Prophet Isaiah wrote:

Behold, my Servant will act wisely;
He will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.

Just as many were appalled at you—
his appearance was disfigured beyond that of any man,
and his form was marred beyond human likeness—

so He will startle many nations.

Kings will shut their mouths because of Him;
for they will see what they have not been told,
and they will understand what they have not heard.

Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him,
no beauty that we should be attracted to Him.

He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.
Like one from whom men hide their faces,
He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.  (Isaiah 52:13-53:3)

but it always has in the long term (Rev 1:12-16).

And no, the killed (53:7,8,9,10,12) and resurrected (53:10,11; 52:13) Servant is not the people:

The Prophet Isaiah wrote:

By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation,
who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people? (Is 53:8)

Last edited by Johannes (9/17/2018 1:44 am)


9/17/2018 1:42 am  #35

Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

The problem with beauty as a guide to truth is not only that truth may not have sensorially-perceivable beauty in the short term, but also that one may be loaded with wrong preconceptions about what's beautiful and what's not. This is evident in two levels of God's designs: the salvation of mankind and the laws of the material universe.

Re the former, Peter did certainly not find any beauty in God's designs when Jesus made them known to the Twelve right after Peter had confessed that Jesus was the Messiah:

The Evangelist Mark wrote:

And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind Me, Satan, for your thoughts are not of the things of God, but of the things of men.” (Mk 8:31-33)

"Rabbi, what you are saying is at odds with the universally-agreed, scribes-sanctioned Messiah Performance Specifications!"

Re the latter, an infamous case is Kepler wasting a decade trying to fit planetary orbits to circles inscribed in platonic solids until he realized that they were ellipses. In present times, the issue of contemporary theoretical physics getting stuck precisely because sticking to wrong preconceptions of beauty has been beautifully covered in a recent book by Sabine Hossenfelder, reviewed by Peter Woit and in Science, Nature, and Ars Technica. Quoting from the first review:

Peter Woit wrote:

Hossenfelder explains that the concept of “beauty” she is challenging is a specific set of ideas about “symmetry, unification and naturalness” that she sees as dominating physics research. I agree that there’s a problem with this specific set of ideas and how they have been used, but I’d keep them separate and don’t see putting them together as “beauty” to be helpful. At various points she makes it clear that her worry is that we are getting stuck due to outdated notions of “beauty”, while still believing that successful new ideas will come with a new form of “beauty”.


Last edited by Johannes (9/17/2018 1:45 am)


9/17/2018 1:56 am  #36

Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

It's a little-known fact that there are chapters in Isaiah after 53 (a verse by verse exposition). The haftarah for Parshah Ki Tavo is Isaiah 60. It describes the glorious Light, Beauty, and Truth that will be revealed in the Messianic Era. This is not currently perceivable: 

The haftarah opens with Isaiah telling Jerusalem to arise and shine (literally, and not the literally where we mean figuratively, the literally where we mean literally), for the Glory of God will shine upon her. Verses 2 and 3 announce that our light will come at the same time as the non-Jewish nations’ light disappears, leading them and their kings to follow us and our light. …

It also explains why the light of Jacob cannot shine while Esau’s does—these are not alternate sources of light, they are competing ones. As long as Esau’s worldview and ideology are still around and attractive, there is little chance that people will find their way to Jacob’s, and thus little chance that our worldview will shine forth.

In the future, we are being promised, those other nations’ light, the attractiveness of the erroneous parts of their ideologies, will wane, and the Truth (remember that in our prayers, we speak of God giving truth to Jacob) will provide spiritual and physical light to the world, as it did at Sinai and the entire time in the desert. … Isaiah also predicts that the nations will actively participate in recognizing the truth of God’s rule. (The Light of the Future and Joining with the Non-Jews

Isaiah's vision has been partially, but not completely, fulfilled. It will not be realized until the days of the real messiah when the entire world will know there is one G-d.

That has not happened yet.

There are approximately 2 billion Christians in the world -- but there are over 7 billion human beings alive. Of those 7 billion 1.6 billion are Muslims, 1 billion Hindus, 500 million Buddhists and so on. . . Isaiah's vision of global knowledge of G-d has not yet come to pass.

The messiah has not yet arrived.

The nations are not yet walking in the light -- some 2000 years after Jesus' supposed death. …

Isaiah says that Jerusalem will be shocked by the abundance of goodness she will have, and be enlarged by it.

This did not happen in the time of Jesus and within 40 years of his death the Romans destroyed most of the city -- burning it.

Isaiah foresees caravans coming to Jerusalem, carrying wealth and precious goods, as well as praise of G-d.

This did not happen 2000 years ago -- and within 40 years of Jesus death Jerusalem lay in ruins. …

The Jews will return from exile swiftly, like a cloud carried by the wind and doves returning to the coop. 2000 years ago most Jews lived outside of the land -- and until 1948 we were exiled from the land -- thus Jesus did not fulfill this part of the prophecy either.

Unfortunately the prophecies are not yet fulfilled -- because Isaiah tells us that there will be peace, the gates of Jerusalem will be open 24 hours a day and wealth will pour in. Israel is not at peace and terrorism is constantly at hand -- this has not yet happened.

Isaiah also says that the nations will follow the Jews’ example and serve G-d or they will cease to be.

Needless to say -- this hasn't happened yet either.  (Nations Walk In the Light)

Last edited by 119 (9/17/2018 2:29 am)


9/17/2018 12:46 pm  #37

Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

John West wrote:

I'm curious: What do you gentlemen think the relationship between beauty and truth is? I'm characteristically skeptical about identifying the two (cf. Nietzsche: “Poets lie too much.”), but I think a religion without beauty would be a sad and impoverished thing.

Hey John I came across something

that kind of reminded me of your question.

Etzelnik wrote:

 Take a Catholic Mass in a majestic cathedral. The religion is a false one, and yet its rites evoke tremendous beauty. 

I would be very interested to know why it is a false religion.


Last edited by Jason (9/17/2018 12:50 pm)


9/17/2018 3:44 pm  #38

Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

Jason: that is not the topic of this thread, nor is it a topic which I have the time to get to involved in at the moment. Suffice it to say that this thread is predicated on the assumption that Christianity is based on an absurdity, as the opening post will show.
But my point stands regardless. Just substitute 'Catholic Mass' for 'Sufi Ecstasy' or some other beautiful ritual or edifice belonging to a religion you see as false - I'm sure you can find such a thing if you try hard enough.

Noli turbare circulos meos.

9/17/2018 7:51 pm  #39

Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

119 wrote:

[...] thus Jesus did not fulfill this part of the prophecy either. [...]

Viewing any prophecy as having been fulfilled or not depends on your interpretation thereof. The point is: do you allow God any way to correct your interpretation of the TaNaKH?

Clearly, if you adopted the postulates of Torah completeness and "no limit on the miracles supporting a false prophet", then you have placed yourself in a state of absolute epistemic insulation and the answer to the previous question is "No".

But if those postulates are false, as I showed in this post, then establishing the historical truth of the resurrection of Jesus is all that is needed to establish the truth of Christianity, which is relevant for my answer to the question in the title of this thread, "why not Judaism?": IF Christianity is true, because it is incompatible with it. Which applies also to "why not Islam".

Last edited by Johannes (9/17/2018 7:55 pm)


9/17/2018 9:23 pm  #40

Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

Jason wrote:

I would be very interested to know why it is a false religion.

A Noachide's Response To Chr*stianity is one place to start. The burden of proof is on Islam, Christianity, Mormonism, Sikhism, etc. to demonstrate they "fulfill" or replace or update the Torah. In the case of Christianity we aren't even dealing with compatible paradigms. This is often overlooked.

I've been a Noachide about 3 years, a Theist for less than 10. Etzelnik has forgotten more about Judaism than I'll ever know. I want to thank him for writing, "Our job is not merely to transcend this world, it is to transform it from mundane matter to a chariot of HaShem's Glory." This is mantra-tier.

Johannes wrote:

Viewing any prophecy as having been fulfilled or not depends on your interpretation thereof. The point is: do you allow God any way to correct your interpretation of the TaNaKH? 

Your conception of "absolute epistemic insulation" presupposes unsupportable views on the Oral Torah and who is given the authority to interpret Torah Law. From the same thread cited: 

Johannes wrote:

On the one hand, all Christians share with Karaites the view that the traditions that later formed the "Oral Torah" were developed and passed on by Pharisees and scribes starting from around 150 bC without the involvement of divine inspiration. This is a logical conclusion from the TaNaKH, history and the nature of the Mishna text itself. For Christians, also, it was positively taught by Jesus.

Johannes wrote:

BTW, the reason why in the Old Covenant there was no divinely revealed Oral Torah while in the New Covenant there is a divinely revealed Apostolic Tradition and a divinely assisted Church Magisterium is because the Old Covenant was meant to last a short time, just until Jesus came, while the New Covenant is meant to last a long time.  

I’ll repeat what I asked there. If there weren’t any additional instructions, how did Israel observe the following:

This month shall be to you the head of the months; to you it shall be the first of the months of the year. (Exodus 12:2)  Which month did He have in mind? The catholic church wasn't there to tell him and there's nothing in the written text.

Therefore, on the sixth day, He gives you bread for two days. Let each man remain in his place; let no man leave his place on the seventh day (Ex. 16:29) What place? His home, neighborhood, city?

How much "work" shouldn't they do on Sabbath? Define “work.”

[This is] an eternal statute for all your generations, in all your dwelling places: You shall not eat any fat or any blood. (Lev. 3:17) What did He mean by “fat”?  Aren’t there different types. Are some okay and some prohibited? How do they tell? Where are the written instructions?

What’s the deal with circumcision (Gen. 17:10-14) and booths (Lev. 23:42)?  There’s no details given. What’s a “booth”? How much needs to be cut off in circumcision? Sure hate to botch this.

"And you shall admonish them concerning the statutes and the teachings, and you shall make known to them the way they shall go and the deed[s] they shall do." (Ex. 18:20)  If the written law is all that was given, what was Moses supposed to tell them?

And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for ornaments between your eyes. And you shall inscribe them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates. (Deut. 6:8-9) What does this refer to? The text – all by itself – is baffling. There must have been additional instructions given to clarify. Are any specific verses important here? Are they optional? Can you write yourself a note? The written text says nada.

If the place the Lord, your God, chooses to put His Name there, will be distant from you, you may slaughter of your cattle and of your sheep, which the Lord has given you, as I have commanded you, and you may eat in your cities, according to every desire of your soul. (Deut. 12:21) The verses before and after 21 prohibit the eating of blood and certain animals. How should the critters be killed? "As I have commanded." Commanded where? And how? With a club, a knife? How should the meat be prepared? The text is either referencing something that doesn’t exist, or citing something not written but taught by other means.

If a matter eludes you in judgment, between blood and blood, between judgment and judgment, or between lesion and lesion, words of dispute in your cities, then you shall rise and go up to the place the L-rd, your G-d, chooses. And you shall come to the Levitic kohanim and to the judge who will be in those days, and you shall inquire, and they will tell you the words of judgment. And you shall do according to the word they tell you, from the place the L-rd will choose, and you shall observe to do according to all they instruct you. According to the law they instruct you and according to the judgment they say to you, you shall do; you shall not divert from the word they tell you, either right or left. (Deut. 17:8-11)

It sounds like HaShem is giving someone the absolute authority to interpret Torah Law as it applies to cases not already covered, like a Torah equivalent of the Apostolic Church: “You shall not divert from the word they tell you, either right or left.” Wouldn't such cases accumulate over the years? Wouldn't wise judges compare case X with a similar case from the previous year? That's how courts work.  

The concept of Torah completeness is a caricature. G-d dictated the Torah to a Nation and gave them the authority to interpret it. It's the Heritage of Jacob, not Esau. Where, anywhere in the TaNaKH, does it say word-one about non-Jews interpreting it? Catholics say only the church can. Lutherans say even a milkmaid can. The Torah gives authority to neither. Nor does Jeremiah's new covenant, which says it's with Israel and Judah.

We should clarify something. If you don't accept the traditional position that G-d wrote the Torah and dictated it to Moses, define "inspiration" and how you know the Torah is "inspired" in that sense. That it was literally written by G-d and entrusted to one particular tribe is the answer to Why Judaism.

Last edited by 119 (9/18/2018 12:17 am)


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