To My Agnostic Cousin

“Could you delve one day into the difference between belief and knowledge? It’s one of those very uncomfortable topics that takes harsh honesty. I’d like to hear your thoughts. Love, your very agnostic cousin (who believes most people are agnostic but can’t come to terms with it because of societal pressures and upbringing).”

I LOVE the person who wrote me that!  She’s my first cousin and my soul.  We grew up like sisters.  I love her bravery and her spunk and her hair is awesome too.  She’s responding to the blog I posted “39 Reasons Moshiach Is Only Human”.  Her question is basically, “How do you know?”

How do you know any religion is true?

What’s the difference between “believing” and “knowing”…

This makes me think of my amazing sweet Southern mama with her drawl and her passion who says, “I JUST BELIEVE!!!”

Belief is in your heart. It is the place beyond intellect.  It is the place where your brain shuts off. Ha. That could sound like I’m saying believers (Jewish, Christian, the religion doesn’t really matter) are brainless.  And I’m not! Belief is a feeling of confidence, when certainty is impossible.

Knowledge is provable.  We know two plus two is four.  That’s not a belief; it’s kind of a fact.  We know Donald Trump is president and the sky is blue.  Here’s where is gets a littttttle sticky for my conspiracy-minded brain.  Well, do we really know Donald Trump is president?  I mean, we saw an inauguration on TV, but Hollywood makes great movies, and was I actually there?  Am I seeing him in the White House doing anything presidential?  No.  It takes a level of “belief” in our media to feel confident “knowing” that he is President.  And even if I “was” there at the Inauguration, how do I know what is really happening?  Could this all be just one big act?

Do I know the White House exists?  Yes, because I have seen it.  Do I know exactly what happens there?  H-E-double-hockeysticks no.  Do any of us really?  Does anything happen there?  Wink. Do I believe this country is even governed by a President?  Ehhhhhh, this is belief territory.  I don’t really believe so.  We have a bunch of other leaders both above and below Donald Trump who are running things probably more than him.

I believe, and this is a personal belief (and why did I take this to a political place when I could have picked any example in the universe?!), I believe that the President Donald Trump (and any President) is more of a Face than anything else. Someone else may believe he’s the Moshiach.  Someone else may believe he’s Hitler reincarnated.  Do I know Trump actually exists?  Yes, I do know, but the more I think about it the more I doubt.  So even in knowledge there is room for doubt, room for another possibility.

Same with the sky, I know it is blue because I know what blue is.  But really, how do I know? Because someone taught me thirty-plus years ago when they held up a crayon, that “this is blue”.  I believed them.  But what is blue?  What is the sky?  Do I really know?  There is a lot of science in there that could say that the sky is everything BUT blue.  Some remote villages I’ve heard of don’t see the sky as blue, they see it as green.  I do NOT know what that is all about.

We all think the earth is round and that Columbus or Galileo or whoever it was (I’ll Google later) discovered it.  Remember from history class how much of a scandal that was to say the world was round?  Religious leaders wanted Galileo’s head!  I’m pretty sure my history is right here, but please Wiki it yourself.  Recently I discovered some pretty convincing theories about the earth being flat. (NASA image of earth was Photoshopped they say.. Why do we only have ONE image they say?)  Guess what? Have I been to the moon and looked down on a round earth?  No. This type of stuff fascinates me, because Cousin, I think we are all trying to know.  We’re searching for knowing.  But the more we learn, the more we don’t know.

Do I KNOW that G-d exists?  No.  I have not seen Him.  It is absolutely impossible for me to rewind back to the Garden of Eden and spy on him walking around with Adam and Eve when humans were capable of that.

Do I BELIEVE that He exists?  Obviously, and that belief has helped me in my personal life.

Have I asked the question if religion is just a made-up thing for people to feel okay about life?   Of course!  Do I know the answer?  No.

At some point you choose who and what you believe, because YOU are right Cousin, we don’t know.  We can’t know.

I tried to stop believing in G-d once.  It was over something extremely petty.  I wanted to visit my parents for a holiday in South Carolina, and we couldn’t afford the plane tickets, and I prayed for the plane tickets and He didn’t answer, and I was really annoyed.  And pouting.  And just sad about not being able to go home.  I remember sitting in this canyon in Lawton, Oklahoma and trying to become an unbeliever.  I was like, “I don’t believe.  I don’t believe. I don’t believe.”

But then I realized I was telling that to the One I believed in.

I’m hopeless (or full of hope) because I was very successfully brainwashed as a child to believe in G-d.

I was JUST talking to my friend the other day about how amazing it is that we can brainwash our children to believe anything we want.  Her daughter had questioned why a man in their home had done something to break Shabbos, a small thing that you Cuzzy would find silly so I’m not even mentioning it here.  But I marveled that that little girl BELIEVED the man was breaking Shabbos.  (The man was not Jewish.)  She knows he was.  That is childlike faith.  Childlike faith is knowing.  Believing so much that you know.

Here’s a crucial crucial problem and solution I faced when I was introduced to Judaism, first through the lens of “Messianic Judaism” (which is basically a blending of Judaism and Christianity).  The more I learned about  Judaism, the more I saw it very much based in historical and biblical fact.  I believed the Bible because of brainwashing, and I loved it so much I didn’t feel the need to search elsewhere, other than that one atheist attempt. Others will tell you how they came to believe through logic and other proofs.  There are so many of those.

I wanted to KNOW who wrote the New Testament books?  How do we know?  Why did we drift so far from Jesus’ Jewish roots?  What happened in that 40-100 years between the time Jesus lived and the time those “Gospels” were actually written.  I wanted to KNOW the history.  So I researched and found out a lot and was disappointed a lot.  The early Christians kept horrible records, let’s just say that, and in the end it demanded a lot of faith to even believe Jesus existed as a real person. (I’m sorry to offend anyone; this is my personal experience.)

Then I remember sitting in Rabbi Abrams “Breakneck through the Bible” class when we were in the conversion process and how completely stunnnnnnned I felt, when he said, we know exactly who Moses gave the Torah to, and then who Joshua gave the Torah to, and then every single leader since up until today.  We know the names of all those leaders, and the dates they were in charge of the Torah.  The Jews kept amazing records.

Jews believe that we received the Torah at Mount Sinai.  We believe there was thunder and lightning and shaking and darkness and fire and flowers and craziness when G-d showed himself.  We believe it partly because we read it in our Book.  But partly because Judaism is a family lineage, and Moses was actually everyone’s great great however many greats grandfather or cousin.  And the people back then SAW those holy mountain events with their own eyes, and they told their kids, who told theirs, until now.  Our ancestors are like the CNN reporters of today, saying, “Moses is real, G-d is real.  The Torah is real. We saw it happen.”

We’re still doing the things in that Book that Moses told us to do, exactly how he told us to do.  Why?!  How is it possible that a group of people continues doing these ancient things for thousands of years?  That is something I know.  I know, because I see, Jews doing the exact things the Torah told us to do.  That’s convincing evidence for me.  I grew up believing it was impossible; the Torah was history, the Torah was fulfilled, and no one can do it.  Now I know otherwise.

These things and others made me believe in Torah Judaism.  I already believed in G-d before that from upbringing.

Below is a picture of the actual physical Mount Sinai, which is on the earth today. I don’t fully know, because I haven’t been there.  But I’m pretty sure, and I believe Google images enough to post it.

Love you Cousin,

Rina

Posted with permission from my cousin, who says that I just proved that I was an agnostic, and I had to agree.  I’m just a very religious Jewish believing agnostic!

mount sinai