Rabbi Michael Shevack Creeping Finitism

Rabbi Michael Shevack says either we learn one ancient Hebrew lesson or Western Civilization runs the risk of imploding on itself.

In this, Article #4 on “How to re-JEW-venate civilization”, it’s time to take off the gloves. This may upset many Jews, of all varieties. This may upset Christians and Muslims. It may upset secular humanists or atheists. But, upsetting as it may be, either we learn one ancient Hebrew lesson or Western Civilization runs the risk of imploding on itself.

It’s the serpent in the Garden of Eden. It tempts Adam and Eve. It’s a creeping, slithering tempter toying with our minds and hearts, dividing us against ourselves, condemning each other to banishment from Goodness in Life.

It’s creeping FINITISM— the contemporary form of idolatry which creeps so insidiously into our thoughts, words, and deeds, that we are becoming ensnared but unaware.

We study biology and create finite views about living systems. We study economics and create finite models of economics. We study politics and create finite philosophies of governance. We study physics and create finite theories, classical or quantum, of infinite universes. Creep . . . creep . . .creep . . .

Rabbi Michael Shevack

Rabbi Michael Shevack

We are, like Adam and Eve, digesting the fruit– the result of– God’s Tree of Knowledge– our material universe. Bit by bit, bite by bite, byte by byte, we are catabolizing our world into infinitely finite fragments, forming a broken mirror of our thoughts. Indeed, we are forced to store this un-godly accumulation of finite-views on artificial minds, because our finite brains cannot do so.

Certainly, this is resulting in knowledge that is reaching new, never-before-seen levels. We now do, consciously, what nature did for us subconsciously. Our minds have become so powerful that we are reaching the stage of being god-like: re-engineering the human genome; altering the direction of planetary evolution; devising artificial intelligence on a nano-scale.

But, where is the wisdom? Creation’s harmony has been digested into mere disjointed “information.” We govern through tweet. And human knowledge is now so dizzyingly-split into so many “disciplines,” there is no way it can re-synthesize the original Unity from which it was extracted. There is no coherence.

Wisdom is not present, because Truth is getting lost. The Living Oneness of Existence is a dead multiplicity. The God who is Abundant in Truth (Exodus 34) is in exile. An epistemological-paganism has taken place. The soul of Israel— “old” or “new”— cries out, choked by the creeping serpent of finitism.

Ironically, creeping finitism has ancient religious roots. Oftentimes we are terrified to face creeping finitism because it could slaughter some of our dearest sacred cows.

With respect to my Jewish brothers and sisters, we permit in creeping finitism when we have an excessive “idealization” of Torah, where the earthly scripture is reverentially-viewed as an absolute “blueprint” of Creation. An excessively-stringent Jewish authority-system can now be metaphysically justified by a pre-creational cosmological assertion.

With respect to my many Christian brothers and sisters, creeping finitism enters into their faith when, by a distorted theology, God the Creator is totally replaceable with a co-equal Son— who is taken out of the Trinitarian Mystery in order to prophetically-endorse imperial decisions. This is how we justify mass-slaughter in Crusades.

With respect to my many Muslim brothers and sisters, creeping finitism enters their faith, when the spiritual-fact of the absolutely-perfect dictation of Q’uran is not properly interpreted.

This assertion, if not correctly balanced by the “Sayings” in a non-partisan, God-based, non-idolatrous way, can be lethal.

And lest science be smug with their supposedly greater “rationality”, let’s remind ourselves that the chromosomal anomaly of Down Syndrome was once explained as the person being stuck in an earlier, more primitive stage of human evolution, “Mongoloid”, what we’d call “Asian” instead of the colonial “Oriental”. These “mongoloids” were somehow less evolved than “Caucasian”, “God’s anointed”.

Let us cure creeping finitism with the eternally non-finite words of Deuteronomy 6:4:

Hear O Israel, the Lord is Our God, the Lord is One.

There is only One Power, One Potency. This Power is Invisible. It is beyond finite human thought, finite human imagination, finite faculties or finite senses, finite human equations (classic or quantum). It is beyond finite human intelligence to know all its ways and aspects completely. It is also beyond mere finite love.

It is beyond all human representation: to mistake a human representation– any word of our hands or mind as absolute– is Idolatry. Can you hear the voice of the ancient prophets?

There is only one ultimate (infinite) answer to creeping finitism? An Infinite Progressionism! It’s time for a return, a teshuvah, to a New and True History of human and world salvation, without the creeping finitisms of delusional and dangerous human views, religious or secular.

It is time to return to Sacred History! Not just “Western” history. That’s how we crush the head of the serpent.

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter