900.20c Divine Intervention and Man’s Freedom (pps.143-144)

hard cover page 144

concepts of man’s freedom; possibilities of Divine intervention aggravate the problem of theodicy. Although Judaism is certainly receptive to the concept of miracles, in fact Judaism does not need miracles to prove the Deity’s munificence. Creation, nature’s wonder, and ongoing life-cycles are more than sufficiently wondrous. That is, the “mundane” is indeed miraculous in and of itself. 559

To take matters one step further, one can fairly posit that in the context of an all-merciful God (El Moleh Rachamim), a God always watching in the here-and-now poses almost as severe a problem as a God intervening in the here-and-now. For the rahamim (mercy) aspect will presumably impel intervention at a given threshold (if Divine mercy is even remotely similar to human mercy). And intervention, or the possibility of intervention, leads us into the philosophical dilemmas noted above.

Emphasizing the concept of intervention raises a plethora of philosophical problems, many already interconnected with theodicy.560

Why is there evil extant at all, especially during periods of manifest Divine intervention?
Does man rule the earth or not?
To what extent will the intervening Deity violate the laws of nature?

Thus Divine intervention, while emotionally gratifying, is philosophically problematic.

——————- NOTES ——————-

558 See Fackenheim, To Mend the World, p. 29.

559 See also Henry Drummond, The Lowell Lectures on the Ascent of Man (London, 1894), chap. 10, p. 428. A God who gradually reveals His nature to man “is infinitely grander than the occasional wonder worker, who is the God of an old theology.” As cited in Passmore, The Perfectibility of Man, p. 25 1.

560 Even independent of the freedom problem of intervention—and the associated problems of man’s responsibility, privacy, and selfhood.

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