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    Reasonable convictions of my own – Va’era

    Hands aloft by APalkoIt was obvious that Pharaoh would challenge Moses, “This God whose name you quote to tell me to let your people go – who is He? Prove to me that He is who you say! Demonstrate His authority to me!”

    Moses of course had no personal problem with belief. But is it ever enough to tell a questioner, doubter or cynic, “Of course God exists – look, I’ve encountered His Presence at many crucial points in my life”?

    The questioner is unlikely to be satisfied with this argument. Where is the objective evidence, the scientific demonstration, the logical proof?

    Maimonides, scientist and logician as well as philosopher and believer, made an impressive attempt to prove the necessary existence of God, but even in his more religious age it was impossible to argue people into belief, and less and less is it possible in our own age.

    Are we as believers therefore being unreasonable when we continue to believe? Are we flying in the face of the evidence?

    The answer depends on what is meant by evidence. Surely evidence does not have to be scientific or mathematical. As far as Judaism is concerned, the evidence of God is largely evidence from encounter – our national encounter with God in history, our personal encounter with God in daily experience.

    John Fiske wrote, “It is not likely that we shall ever succeed in making any of the great teachings of religion a matter of scientific demonstration, for we lack the requisite data. The belief must, therefore, ever remain an affair of religion rather than of science.

    “In other words, it must remain one of that class of questions upon which I may not expect to convince my neighbour, while at the same time I may entertain a reasonable conviction of my own on the subject.”

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