Jonathan Sacks

Appendices from Summa Metaphysica II : God & Good
relating to -

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

author, The Great Partnership




Framing Beliefs


“There are many other unprovable framing beliefs, and they have perplexed philosophers since humans first thought systematically about such things. Is there really a world out there, or are there only our sense impressions? Are there other minds? Do we have free will? Has the universe existed for billions of years, or did it come into existence five minutes ago, together with false memories and evidence? These are staple topics of any introductory course of philosophy. Framing beliefs – that there is an external world, and other minds, and free will – lie beyond the scope of proof. Nonetheless, they are what give meaning to the chaos of experience.*”

from the author -

I am proposing the Summa hypothesis/theory/paradigm –
Q4P / Extraordinariation – as a “Framing Belief”


* Jonathan Sacks, The Great Partnership, New York: Random House, Inc. 2011, p.33




The Goldilocks Dilemma***


“As we were leaving, a stranger came up to me, gentle and unassuming, and said, ‘I’ve just written a book that I think you might find interesting. If I may, I’ll send it to you.’ I thanked him and some days later the book arrived. It was called Just Six Numbers [© 2001], and with a shock of recognition I realized who the stranger was: Sir Martin, now Lord, Rees, Astronomer Royal, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge and President of the Royal Society, the world’s oldest and most famous scientific association. Sir Martin was, in other words, Britain’s most distinguished scientist.

The thesis of the book was that there are six mathematical constants that determine the physical shape of the universe. Had any one of them been even slightly different, the universe as we know it would not exist. Nor would life. It was my first glimpse into the new cosmology and the string of recent discoveries of how improbable our existence actually is. James Le Fanu, in his 2009 book Why Us?, adds to this a slew of new findings in neuroscience and genetics to suggest that we are on the brink of a paradigm shift that will overturn the scientific materialism of the past two centuries.

The new paradigm must also lead to a renewed interest in and sympathy for religion in its broadcast sense, as a means of expressing wonder at the ‘mysterium tremendum et fascinans’ of the natural world. It is not the least of the ironies of the New Genetics and the Decade of the Brain that they have vindicated the two main impetuses to religious belief – the non-material reality of the human soul and the beauty and diversity of the living world – while confounding the principle tenets of materialism: that Darwin’s ‘reason for everything’ explains the natural world and our origins, and that life can be ‘reduced’ to the chemical genes, the mind to the physical brain. (James Le Fanu, Why Us?, p.258)

There may be, in other words, a new synthesis in the making. It will be very unlike the Greek thought-world of the medieval scholastics with its emphasis on changelessness and harmony. Instead it will speak about the emergence of order, the distribution of intelligence and information processing, the nature of self-organizing complexity, the way individuals display a collective intelligence that is a property of groups, not just the individuals that comprise them, the dynamic of evolving systems and what leads some to equilibrium, others to chaos. Out of this will emerge new metaphors of nature and humanity, flourishing and completeness.”*



*** Jonathan Sacks, The Great Partnership, New York: Random House, Inc. 2011, pp.75-76


from the author –

As noted in the 2001 Sir Martin Rees book Just Six Numbers, there are at least 6 cosmological constants, (and, actually maybe a dozen+) which, if adjusted by even 1 decimal point would preclude the cosmos having life, among other things, as we know it.

Thus, “life” – and existence – exists at the “knife-edge” of the precision of these constants.

By-and-large the scientific community and the theological community is
not-quite-sure exactly how to understand this “synchronicity.”

However, from Summa’s perspective the resolution is clear. Obvious. The cosmic order orients itself – and its crucial/integral cosmological constants – to advance inter-related goals of life, potential and extraordinariation.







“God is the distant voice we hear and seek to amplify in our systems of meaning, each particular to a culture, a civilization, a faith. God is the One within the many; the unity at the core of our diversity; the call that leads us to journey beyond the self and its strivings, to enter into otherness and be enlarged by it, to seek to be a vehicle through which blessing flows outwards to the world, to give thanks for the miracle of being and the radiance that shines wherever two lives touch in affirmation, forgiveness and love.”*




*** Jonathan Sacks, The Great Partnership, New York: Random House, Inc. 2011, p.94




Man: Mortal or Divine***


“When I behold Your Heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and stars that You set in place,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
Mortal man that You take note of him?
Yet You have made him little less than the angels
And adorned him with glory and majesty.”

Psalm 8:3-5
(c. 1000 BCE)

“Pico della Mirandola (1463-94) was one of the moving spirits of the Italian Renaissance. Born into an aristocratic family, he was a child prodigy, mastering Latin and Greek at an early age and winning the title of papal protonotary when we was only ten. Initially intending a career in the Church, he went to the University of Bologna to study law, but widened his interests to include philosophy, which he pursued at the universities of Ferrara and Padua.

In 1486 he completed his monumental 900 Theses, Conclusiones philosophicae, cabalasticae et theologicae, on the entire range of human knowledge. To accompany them he wrote his Oration on the Dignity of Man, widely regarded as a manifesto of the Renaissance. In it he argued that the human person was the centerpiece of creation, the one being other than God himself who had no fixed nature. Endowed with freedom, he could rise higher than the angels or fall lower than the animals. This is how he imagines God addressing the first human:

Adam, we give you no fixed place to live, no form that is peculiar to you, nor any function that is yours alone… All other things have a limited and fixed nature prescribed and bounded by our laws. You, with no limit or no bound, may choose for yourself the limits and bounds of your nature. We have placed you at the world’s center so that you may survey everything else in the world. We have made you neither of heavenly nor of Earthly stuff, neither mortal nor immortal, so that with free choice and dignity, you may fashion yourself into whatever form you choose. To you is granted the power of degrading yourself into the lower forms of life, the beasts, and to you is granted the power, contained in your intellect and judgment, to be reborn into the higher forms, the divine.”*

*Oration on the Dignity of Man (1486), the text available at: See Ernst Cassirer, Paul Oskar Kristeller and John Herman Randall, Jr, The Rennaissane Philosophy of Man, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1948; M.V. Dougherty (ed.), Pico della Mirandola: New Essays, Cambridge University Press, 2008.




*** Jonathan Sacks, The Great Partnership, New York: Random House, Inc. 2011, pp.111-112




New Interpretations***


“I end with a fascinating comment by the nineteenth-century Jewish mystic Rabbi Zadok haCohen of Lublin (1823-1900).

‘Every day there are new interpretations of Torah, because every day, continually, God renews the work of creation.’ Since the world was created according to the Torah...presumably, the renewal of the world comes about through new aspects of Torah. That is why after the blessing [in the morning prayers] ‘creator of the heavenly lights’ which speaks about the daily renewal of creation, the sages instituted a second blessing which is a form of blessing over the which we ask to know the new interpretations of Torah which come about through the new aspects of creation....’

Rabbi Zadock haCohen, Tzidkat ha-Tzaddik, 92
(c. 1870)

According to Rabbi Zadok, since the God of creation is the God of revelation, and since the Torah is itself a commentary on the natural world, every new scientific discovery generates new religious insight. By daily renewing creation, God is daily renewing, our insight into his creative will.”





*** Jonathan Sacks, The Great Partnership, New York: Random House, Inc. 2011, pp.111-112

See also David Birnbaum philosophy Theory of Everything.

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