The unfortunate thing is that, if our ancestors of the BCE and early CE time periods were to be magically transported somehow into the present, they would most probably not even recognize modern rabbinical “prayer” Judaism as being Jewish to begin with. It would take a moment of getting to know these non-nationalistic religious Jews, before realizing they are a descendant variation on their ancient way of life. But, don’t tell religious Judaism this and expect understanding. For, translations of our ancient literature and projections of our modern ways upon the past (as if this is what they said and did) would not be so biasedly influence by modern hermeneutics on things quite old and set in a different worldview time period, if they did. The actual history of our people does matter as much as our mythologized history of our people, and both should be taught in Jewish communities with equal reverence. Torah says, it’s not about a “faith based life,” but about having the love to continue all of what makes Jews Jewish, thus preserving Israel till sky is no longer over the land.
The Psychological Mechanisms that Protect Unreasonable Faith Claims
We have all experienced the futility of trying to change a strong conviction, especially if the convinced person has some investment in his belief. We are familiar with the variety of ingenious defenses with which people protect their convictions, managing to keep them unscathed through the most devastating attacks. But man’s resourcefulness goes beyond simply protecting a belief. Suppose an individual believes something with his whole heart; suppose further that he has a commitment to this belief, that he has taken irrevocable actions because of it; finally, suppose that he is presented with evidence, unequivocal and undeniable evidence, that his belief is wrong: what will happen? The individual will frequently emerge, not only unshaken, but even more convinced of the truth of his beliefs than ever before. Indeed, he may even show a new fervor about convincing and converting other people to his view. – When Prophecy Fails, p. 3
“The concept of Torah-Mi-Sinai, that God dictated the entire Torah word for word to Moses at Mount Sinai or during the wilderness sojourn, is a core faith claim (עיקר אמונה) in Orthodox Judaism. … Another central belief of Orthodox Judaism is that the events described in the Torah, like the ten plagues, the splitting of the Red Sea, and 2-3 million Israelites (600,000 males) wandering the Sinai wilderness for forty years eating manna from heaven are events that actually occurred in history. … Despite the overwhelming amount of evidence for the Torah as a composite document describing Israel’s mythic origins, the academic model has made little if any impact on the way Orthodox people study the Torah… even Modern Orthodox people. Why and how do so many Modern Orthodox individuals who participate in the modern world so fully, turn to fundamentalist apologetics in order to justify their belief in Torah-Mi-Sinai?” – Dr. Solomon Schimmel is Professor Emeritus of Jewish Education and Psychology at Hebrew College
One could ask these questions to any believer of theistic faith … but, the answer one is likely to get is a scripted denial of the self-evident in favor of the emotionally invested personal/social belief. My question is, “how can you believe in your god (-image), how can you worship and revere him, knowing that reality shows that he didn’t even exist?” Except in the literary creations of what is known as the bible and the modern theologies that grew out of this? No matter how much the majority of humanity believes that the world is flat, this never had and never will make it anything less than round and with a gravity to keep us on it. So, it is with the myths and beliefs of theistic religions. No matter how much you believe in them, this doesn’t necessarily make them true. Rather, only your truth, and the truth of those who believe similarly with you. Sorry if this upsets, but it is the facts of life. Wouldn’t it be better to accept the facts demonstrated in reality and refashion our myths and beliefs to be motivating for us within intellectually honest awareness of life?