(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Torah Forum (c) Project Genesis

Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 21:52:22 -0400 (EDT)
From: Russell Hendel <  rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu>
Subject: Re: Arguments of NonReligious Intellectual Jews

QUESTION: Can Gods existence  be defined or proved. Here is the
beginning of this question. <  <  ...My point is not that one cannot have a direct
experience of divine reality, which can correctly be termed knowledge. I
was pointing out that the very definition of the word G-d places it beyond
the scope of either the empirical sciences or the science of logic and thus
can neither be proven nor disproved. Trying to establish an argument with
an agnostic/atheist on these grounds will prove fruitless. >  >

ANSWER: The above query presents a clear position. I still disagree. G-d can BOTH
be defined and proved. I define G-d as a Being that can have prophetic
relationship to humans by appearing to them in visions; prophetic visions
have 3 important characteristics: 1) infallability about the future 2)G-d
has the power to carry out anything 3) G-d gives moral norms.

True, we don't necessarily know what a prophetic
vision is like. But we can define them; we can talk about them; and because
they are infallable we can speak about their truth or falsehood. The above
definition is not mine; it goes back at least to Moses Maimonidees who in
Chapter 8 of the Foundations of Torah (in his Mishneh Torah) clearly states
that we Jews believe in G-d because we were mass witnesses to a prophetic

To answer the important question---"What do you tell an agnostic"..I
would answer "To say that G-d exists is to say that Prophecy exists; it is
to assert that certain individuals were able to achieve prophetic status
and receive moral norms and guidelines from G-d" You can then point out the
rich literature that has come down from the Torah to the present---even an
agnostic cannot just dismiss the testimony of half a million people and 4
thousand years.

What I have attempted to do above is to analytically characterize what we
CAN talk and know about G-d. As Moshe correctly points out there is much
most people cannot know (like what Prophecy is like) I hope this clarifies
this important issue.

Russell Jay Hendel; rhendel@towson.edu
Moderator Rashi is Simple Rashi Yomi