Originally published 11/17/07, 6:07 PM, Eastern Daylight Time.
Rabbi Ben Hecht:
The following link is to post on another blog by a former Orthodox rabbi who has become a secular humanist:
When this link was first forwarded to me, I was actually looking forward to reading it. Atheism is now all over the news. Books are being written declaring that it is new frontier in human understanding. For Torah Jews, it is the new challenge that must be faced and so it is our call to read such presentations as this one. The famous statement from Pirkei Avot, dah mah she'tashiv l'apikoprus, "know what to respond to a heretic, is to me more that a call to know how to defend the faith. In knowing how to respond to the heretic, one actually gains a better understanding of Torah for, in clarifying principles and concepts in order to respond, one gains further knowledge of it.
Unfortunately, I was somewhat disappointed. He really doesn't say anything new. The historical arguments are all old hat. It seems that on both sides of the fence we find arguments that make everything seem so simple when, in reality, it is not so. There is a reason why the Chazon Ish stated there were no real apikorsim today, as without open miracles, we do not have absolute proofs. Even miracles, the Rambam states, are not absolute proofs. And I think that all the secular arguments have their a prioris which are not questioned, as Rabbi Sholom Carmy described, a secular bias.
I thought that in hearing the path taken by this former rabbi, further issues would unfold. We would see some discussion of how we know truth, of how we evaluate the info placed before us. He touches upon this but only minimally. It is that indescribable personal yardstick within us that has to be viewed in all such discussions. He gave us a glimpse of his. Is that enough to open up our search for ours?