From time to time I am approached either in person, via email, comments in our chat room on our website, or from those who follow us on our Locals Community site with a variety of questions. We thought why not put those questions with our answers on Shmu’s Views when we get them. This will be the first in what we hope is an ongoing addition of messages and lessons, articles and essays.
Q: Can we prove there is a G-d?
A: Not bad for the first question and one that has a definitive answer, albeit a complicated one. We have already addressed this in an ancillary way in an earlier essay we did titled “God! Who? What? Where? and Why?” However, we will give the short answer here:
No! We cannot ever absolutely prove the existence of G-d from a totally empirical methodology. G-d is outside of the empirical limits established by the scientific method and also outside the limited logic of human reasoning or understanding. This doesn’t mean that G-d cannot be experienced but He/She/It cannot be proven from the human legal concept of “beyond reasonable doubt.”
We currently are living in and experiencing a dualistic creation, one in which certain of its creatures, namely us human beings, have the ability to choose. This kind of set up by its nature will always lead to the inability to prove the unprovable making it the responsibility of those with free will to choose between knowing and proving, between faith and doubt. While we cannot prove G-d, we can know G-d and we also are free to trust and believe in a G-d or to doubt His/Her/Its existence.
Q: Has Judaism remained the same or has it changed over the course of years?
A: Another great question. As a religion Judaism has maintained its core while changing and adapting to outside changes in the world in which it exists. Looking at the path that Judaism has taken since the first person who ventured on that path we can see a clear movement of Judaism from its most simplistic form to its current intricate patchwork we see in the early part of the 21st Century.
If Judaism had not changed and adapted to the forces and world surrounding it it would have likely died out centuries ago. Yet, at the heart of the religion it has remained unchanged. That heart can be summed up in one sentence expressed in the Torah found in Deuteronomy 6:4:
“Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheynu, Adonai Echad!”
“Hear O Israel, the Lord is G-d, the Lord is One!”
This one idea of the Oneness of HaShem began with Avraham and has continued through the lineage of his two sons Ishmael and Isaac and through the offspring of Isaac down to this very day has been at the core of Judaism (and Islam) and never wavered, changed or been digressed from by those Jews and Muslims dedicated to the Oneness of G-d.
While views within Judaism may vary greatly leading to factions and different branches of the religion such as those known as Sadducees, Pharisees and Essenes from ages past to the modern divisions we today call Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist; the heart and core has remained unchanged for over four thousand years.
In the beginning with Avraham Judaism was a family religion, then from Jacob to Moshe it was a tribal one. From Sinai at the giving of Torah it became a national religion centered mainly around Temple and sacrificial ritual. Starting by the end of the Maccabean period and culminating with the destruction of the Temple by Rome in 70 CE and the scattering of the Jewish people across the globe in 135 CE Judaism became a religion of Torah learning with the stress now on the sacrifice of prayer instead of animals at the Temple altar. The synagogue became the new House of G-d where Jews gathered for learning of Torah, ritual prayer and the all important need to socialize with likeminded Jews. But at the heart of all these changes over thousands of years the one binding glue that has held Judaism together is the same original concept held by Avraham, Isaac, Jacob, Ishmael and Moshe — G-d is One!
When the Moshiach arrives Judaism will become the one true world religion centered on all aspects of the religion — the Oneness of HaShem, Temple animal sacrifice, prayer, Torah learning and obedience to all 613 mitzvoth.