"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Torah, Uncut

Not a thesis here, let alone an argument, and let alone a coherent one. Just "musing," an activity that the great and greatly underappreciated American scientist/philosopher, the Father of Pragmatism, Charles Sanders Peirce said one should dedicate a few minutes to every day. Undoubtedly wise.

Aristotle was the great thinker about the order of all things. He was wrong about some and even many of them---the sun doesn't revolve around the earth, for instance. Still, he derived a lot of principles and truths by the purity of his thought alone that we still use today.

Although Western Civilization had mostly lost Aristotle, the great 12th century Jewish thinker Maimonides learned of him from the Muslims, who didn't.

Although he adored Aristotle, Moses Maimonides wrote that Aristotle's idea that the universe was eternal---always was and always had been---conflicted with Genesis. Maimonides wrote that if Aristotle were proven correct, he could live with that, but in the meantime, he'd hang with Genesis.

Ex nihilo, creation, ostensibly by Someone or Something, out of nothing.

800 or so years later, man in his scientific progress detected proof of a Big Bang. How 'bout that? Genesis was right after all. Weird.

Now, one can poke through the Mosaic Law and find a utilitarian explanation for say, keeping kosher. Some bad pig or rotten clams could do you in, and damned quick.

But the circumcision thing seems a bit perverse. It's reasonable to conclude that developing a layer of callous on the most sensitive part of a fellow's favorite protrusion decreases his sexual pleasure. But what would be the point of that? Genesis urges that man be fruitful and multiply, and the ancient Jews were not Puritans. (Sex is the proximate cause of human multiplication. You could look it up.)

Science, which is often synonymous with reason and fact, kicks up again lately in support of the Torah. In fact, the results were so exciting, clear, bold, and important that the researchers felt morally obligated to announce their findings immediately without waiting for further testing and peer review:

In the circumcized community, the transmission rate of the HIV virus seems to be chopped at least in half (and I suspect it's trimmed even more than that, as individual embarassments take a little off the top of surveys). Why, doesn't a tree live longer, render more fruit, and be less vulnerable to infection if it's pruned?

It stands to reason. Science and reason strike again, yet somehow the Bible got there first.

Not arguing, just musing, and wondering. Awed, perhaps. That's one Good Book, in a pragmatic sort of way.


Evanston said...

Before God changed my heart (at age 37) I definitely noted the number of matters where the Bible was somehow...correct. Still, it's just a book of Good Advice until you really understand that a sinner is what you are, everything tainted, and what you need is a savior. Of course, it's better to get Good Advice from God than not. Which is what makes our nation's growing hatred for Biblical ethics so frightening for our future. As a Christian I don't look for the messiah to come in Air Force One, but I must live somewhere and to be in a nation that increasingly wants to smear itself with dung, and then eat it and call it "good" is a troubling prospect.

Jay D. Homnick said...

Perhaps I should add one piece of anecdotal evidence to prove that, to the contrary, being circumcised INCREASES sexual sensation.

An uncircumcised Hispanic fellow needed to have his foreskin removed at age 20, due to a venereal infection. He told me the increase in sensation afterwards was significant.