21 September 2009

'Wrong again' & Rosh Hashona thoughts

Wrong again.

I met another hidden Frum skeptic. But for me, Reuvein is different from all other skeptics I've encountered. Very very different. Reuvein is someone I know in real life outside the skeptic world; someone I have known for more than thirty years!! Someone who is fairly close to me. No, not a relative but someone between acquaintance and good friend.

Several things about this underscores an important message to myself, namely how often I can be wrong about things.

Firstly, I call this friend Reuvein. As in - Reuvein borrowed a hundred zuzim from Shimon ("lent" if you're from a Chareidi Yeshiva ;).

While I did suspect Reuvein of harboring heretical thoughts, he was, like me, the perfect "Baal Habos".

Reuvein has been a skeptic since before he got married, well over thirty years. And this destroys one of my most basic assumptions. See, I always assume that I'm a typical person. If I act one way, then my behaviour is typical. Not that everyone thinks exactly like me of course, but that I'm, well, typical. And reasonable. And that if someone similar to me (same background, personality, etc) would encounter the same set of events or circumstances as I, that we'd react in basically the same manner. And here's where I'm totally wrong. And it's not even a Chiddush to me. Yet, the lesson needs to be constantly hammered into me. Because had I been in Reuvein's shoes, I think I'd be long gone. And the long gone of my Starting Over post, is probably not as far gone as I'd really be!

Yet Reuvein, a hardened skeptic, made the decision to stay put, practically in the heart of Chareidi-land. Not out of an Orthprax sense of idealism. Rather, he decided that for purely social reasons (parents, friends, etc), that he'd stay put and marry a (more or less) typical Bais Yaakov girl. And that is completely mind-boggling to me. So that makes me re-think my stance on what I'd have done in his shoes, had I found out before I got married. Of course, it makes not a shred of difference, but it makes me realize how my assumptions about others are very often wrong.

And here's another shocker to me. I happened to see him in action, in shul. And this just really blows me away. Unlike me who spends a lot of his shul time surveying the shul or learning something , he usually is literally sitting and looking in the siddur, practically following along line by line. (What's going on in that big brain of his, I don't know, but it's definitely not Perush Hamilos). And that destroyed an important assumption of mine which is that I'd easily recognize a fellow frum koifer in shul.

So that's good news and bad news. The good news is there may be others out there; but the bad news is they're not be so easy to find.

Reuvein, unlike me, has no interest in blogs, computers, etc or other skeptic companionship. He had long ago "given" up on society and does not follow skepticism the way many of us do. I.e. he has no fixation on skeptic issues, such as DH, Philosophy, etc. It's pure science for him. That's another case of "Al Hatam V'all Hareyach".

Another bit of disheartening news is I'm the only full blown Frum skeptic that Reuvein has ever met. Maybe that's because Reuvein is not on the prowl the way I am. Still, thirty years is thirty years.

Wrong Again & Rosh Hashana thoughts.

The upshot of this post, is how wrong I can be about things. And it's not just me who is often wrong. It's amazing how often popular thinking, even scientific thinking can be wrong. For example, a recent article explains that a long held assumption about the evolution of dinosaurs was destroyed with the discovery of a smaller T-rex with the same features as larger ones. And scientific assumptions like this come tumbling down almost every day.

And that leads to an important question which is: "Am I wrong about OJ?".

Unfortunately, the answer is still a clear and resounding no.

What these turnabouts do, at least for me, is turn me into a more critical thinker, not a less critical one.

No matter how many mistakes and false starts science makes (and unlike religion, admits to), the indisputable advances of science testify to the credibility of the scientific method.

The only thing religion will get you is peace of mind and a good social circle. I'm not knocking these, but they're clearly subjective.

Rosh Hashana thoughts

As an exercise, the next time you lain the story of Akeidas Yitzchok, try inserting your own son's name instead of Yitzchak. I guarantee you that Sarah Imeinu would never have passed failed the Nisayon.

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