Jan 1, 2018

Arguing with God

I came across this from Eliezer Yudkowky in my Twitter feed today:

People who call me arrogant must seriously not know anything about Jewish culture. Every Orthodox Jew grows up hearing stories about all the famous Jews who got into arguments with God, and the most admired figures of all are those who, like Moses, won their arguments.
I'd never seen this idea expressed before, but as soon as I did, I realized that this was true for me. Of course, argue with God! Make a good argument. You think God's going to respect you if you don't use the power of reason that you were given? If you don't stand up for what you believe is right?

I grew up knowing that I was one of the Chosen People. That made me special and it also meant that I had special obligations--to study and to acquire knowledge; to fight injustice; to fight for truth; to use my gifts to better humanity. I haven't always lived up to those obligations, but I've always felt that I had them.

I grew up believing that it was important to find out what's right and to stand up for what was right. And if God was wrong, then my job to set Him straight--or have him explain why something stupid was actually smart. When I was a believer, the God that I believed in would have wanted me to do that. Arguing with God was part of my job. I might not win, and I might discover that I was wrong. But I would never be punished for arguing.

I don't believe in God anymore--or at least not in the God that I was raised with. But that's no obstacle. I still argue with God.

Who says that God has to exist in order to argue with Him. Or Her. God? Then She's wrong.

In this post, Miles Kimball says:

I decided that despite my imperfections, I would not punish one of my children harshly for not believing in me.  Therefore, a perfect, loving Father in Heaven would not punish me if—doing my very best to figure things out—I came to doubt that he existed.  Deciding that God—if he existed—would not punish me for my honest beliefs was and is a key ingredient to my being an atheist.
Same for me. The kind of God who would punish someone for rejecting His or Her existence would be unworthy of respect and undeserving of love. Still, if there was a God, then there's no preventing God from being the biggest Asshole ever.  She just wouldn't get my vote.

And if that was Her attitude, then I'd argue with Her, because, I'm sorry, but She'd be wrong.

Eliezer and I are not the only people who feel this way. Here's a book "Arguing with God: a Jewish Tradition"