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Critique of Intelligent Design

Evolution vs. Creationism

The Art of ID Stuntmen

Faith vs Reason

Anthropic Principle

Autopsy of the Bible code

Science and Religion

Historical Notes


Serious Notions with a Smile


Letter Serial Correlation

Mark Perakh's Web Site


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Title Author Date
Applying Meiri's shita to today's atheists Goldstein, David Oct 08, 2008
Dear Mikha'el,

What you suggest is a possible Halakhic development, which, as you admit, relies only partially on Meiri's opinion -- viz., it accepts Meiri's view that gentiles "restricted by the ways of religions" should be treated, in
matters of what we may term civil and criminal law, the same way as Jews, and it modifies Meiri's definition of who falls into the category of people "restricted by the ways of religions." However, I have two reservations
about this:
1) Although I would like this approach to be adopted formally in Halakhic verdicts, it should not be presented as "the opinion of Meiri" pure and simple, which it is not.
2) It is by no means clear, historically, that adherents of polytheistic religions have been less bound by moral imperatives than the adherents of monotheistic creeds (however exactly we define the boundaries of monotheism). There is no lack of examples of adherents of monotheistic religions appealing "to any number of... authorities for approval of whatever course they had chosen."
What is true is that each society (and how to define that, is a separate and a complicated question; suffice it to say that religion is not the only criterion) has its own set of moral norms, which are subject to change with the change of time and circumstances. The question, then, may become: what are the moral norms which people should profess (or deserve being assumed to profess) in order to be treated the same way, in matters of civil and criminal law, as Halakhically-observant Jews? However, asking the question this way would lead the discussion too far from the conceptual framework commonly shaping Orthodox Jewish discourse. This framework divides the world, "by default," into Jews and Gentiles; if sub-divisions are admitted
(e.g., "normative" vs. "non-normative" Jews), they are formulated in the terms of compliance with the religious norms of traditional Judaism. From discourse proceeding along these lines, it is hard to expect a consideration of moral norms of different societies, Jewish and gentile, in terms independent of the concepts of the divine prevalent in those societies.


David Goldstein
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