JP continues to banter on in his post and comments about the Kuzari argument, and equating non-believers with holocaust deniers and believers in conspiracy theories. Most of you who have followed discussions such as these have seen the following counterarguments:
1. There are other examples of claims of mass revelations but without any historical basis.
2. There is no independent corroborating evidence.
3. All religions started with a myth which spreads, and people believed it.
While these are good arguments, they are subtle and also subject to endless debate by believers who will make all kinds of claims to circumvent them. So I tried to think of something else.
I think that I have a novel way of rebutting this argument. I call this the "who gives a shit argument". Here it goes:
We argue about the past, because anything from the past no longer exists. It isn't here now, so we can argue in circles forever whether or not something existed. The important question is, what does it matter now? Now apply this to any religious claim. Lets take the revelation at Sinai. I'm not saying it happened, but for argument's sake let's say it did. But where did it go? God revealed himself 3500 years ago, then disappeared. There is no revelation now. Did the Holy One, Blessed Be He, go on vacation? Did He die? Did He convert to another religion? Is He sleeping? Did he say "I don't give a shit about the world?" So if the revelation no longer exists, why should I care? Does it matter to me now?
Think about how we Jews apply this to other religions claims. Of course, we usually claim that their stories are false, but that, of course, is unprovable because they relate to events in the past, which as I said, can't be DISPROVEN with certainty. We can't prove that Joseph Smith DIDN'T find the Golden Plates and translate them. We can't disprove the claims of Mohammad. We simply wave it off as irrelevant, without going through much of an exercise to prove or disprove it. We say, "who cares?" Of course, other religions do this to Judaism, too. The original Christians, of the Holy Land, may have believed that there was a revelation, but that it was no longer relevant (in their present). They had something new. So the revelation didn't matter, it was just history.
There is another aspect. Suppose someone did see a UFO. Most of us people don't give a shit. We're the non-believers. Maybe they saw something, maybe they didn't. The ones who do care become the Believers. In ancient Judea, not everybody believed in revelation or Torah. (That is clear from archeology and the Torah text itself). The ones who accepted the claims, we called "Jews". The ones who didn't, we called heathens or Christians. We didn't start off with Jews who believed in nothing and suddenly someone came along and made up a story. It happened in reverse order. The believers became Jews. This is a powerful element of the rebuttal, because the Kuzari argument emphasizes that credibility of Jews regarding their own story, but it ignores all of the people who DIDN'T accept or believe it or care about it. The Kuzari argument hinges on that ALL Jews accepted the story. But by definition only those who believed in the story were called Jews. In otherwords, we can define Jew as "he who believed in the Torah revelation story and cared about it". Gentiles were "those who didn't believe or care about the Torah revelation story". What would the Kuzari say about all of those ancient inhabitants of the land who said, "the Torah revelation story is bullshit"? We know they existed. Ditto for the Christian and Muslim stories.
An interesting element in all religions is that many of their claims are either things in the past or in the future, neither of which exist now. But, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence which in the case of religion, is lacking. If they make claims about things now (or in recent, verifiable history) , they would be subject to verification or being disproven. But by emphasizing some unknown future or hazy past they can claim whatever they want.
What do you guys think?