Immutability vs Adaptability
Submitted by orange yonason (United States), Jan 25, 2006 at 03:34BS"D
First, thank you for those personal insights into Pope vs. Cardinal. Fascinating.
Also, thanks for that wonderful "tellthechildrenthetruth" website. I refer to and recommend it often.
As to your comments above, you say:
"Moreover, orthodox Jews believe about the Torah exactly the same thing which Muslims believe about the Koran: it is not the word of Moses, but the word of God which was revealed to Moses. Judaism should be irreformable, too."
The bottom line is that adherents who hold their religion as Truth revealed by an infinite un-erring G-d, also hold that it is an "all-or-nothing proposition." A fundamental precept is forever, otherwise one must throw out the whole package. The only change allowed is whatever is permissable within the existing framework.
I can only speak for Orthodox Judaism when I say, we have 2 Torahs. We have the Written Torah, which is the same in every Synagogue around the World, and is the same as that received through Moses at Sinai 3500 years ago. We also have the Oral Torah, which was also received at Sinai, and which has remained unchanged since. It is the Oral Torah by which we are instructed in all the minutiae not explicitly stated in the Written Torah. And, we can no more change what the Oral Torah says, than we can edit the Written Torah. As evidenced from the adaptability of Judaism, it's inherant immutability has posed no problem adapting to nearly all cultures at all times. Since I hold by the addage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," I view with suspicion the motives of anyone advocating that I change. (Also, anyone like the Pope who sees the Prophets as agents of change, which they most definitely were not.)
As I understand it, and as confirmed by yourself, Islam is also immutable in certain respects, though I don't know the details. The question regarding reform of Islam, because it harbors some of the most embarrassingly antisocial segments of humanity, is an urgent problem. To solve it peacefully requires positive answers to two questions. First: Is the essential nature of Islam compatable with a multicultural civilization? ...and... Second: If so, how can whatever is keeping Islam from meeting that standard be modified appropriately? If the answer to either of these questions is negative, Islam will remain forever at odds with whatever it cannot dominate.
As to Christianity. What is immutable in it is limited to a great degree, thus offering a greater flexibility in adapting as the need arises. In fact, it is probably that very freedom, coupled with thier numbers and wealth, that enabled the Western World to achieve a leadership role in defining modernity. Unfortunately, it isn't adaptable enough to prevent the secular-religious divide from growing ever wider as history unfolds. The disadvantage of limited immutability is that it's fundamentals are too general to provide a basis on which to unite the explosion of diversity and channel it with force and duration. Consequently, it is getting harder to maintain any fixed direction for long enough to deal with more than short-term goals whose scope is limited by mutually perceived necessity.
Paradoxically, and somewhat ironically, an immutable morality without a connection to Truth can't adapt, it can only destroy. And adaptablility, including initiating an effective response to an existential threat, requires an immutable morality. The life-style and ideals of the Christian West are based on funcitional adaptability and the "new", and those of the Islamists supremists on their immutables. But the West can't adapt, and the Islamists can't endure.
As I see it, we are at a crisis point in world history involving all three incompatable ideologies, the resolution of which should be on everyone's 'short list'. Mutual understanding and open communication are essential to reaching a solution. Unfortunately, the most barbaric elements seem to be much more aware of that fact than are their victims. And there can be no dialogue with death, a fact lost to those societies which lack a functioning collective moral compass.
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