Messianic Prophecies – excerpt from Supplement to Contra Brown

Dr. Brown writes:

III. 27. Page 189

“Messianic prophecies are not clearly identified as such.”

This is amazing. Brown believes that the main purpose of the Jewish Bible is to predict the advent of the Messiah, yet the prophecies are not clearly identified?! And on what basis can he make such a preposterous statement? The prophets gave us a clear hope for Israel’s future. There are many prophecies in the Jewish Bible which clearly talk of the Messianic era, and of the Messiah.

These include but are not limited to Numbers 24:14-19, Deuteronomy 4:30, 30:1-10, 32:43, Jeremiah 3:14-18, 16:14,15,19, 23:3-5, 30:3,7-11,16-25, 31:1-39, 32:37-44, 33:6-26, 46:27,28,50:4,5,19,20, Ezekiel 11;17-20, 17:22-24, 20:40-44, 28:24-26, 34:9-16,22-31, 36:6-16,22-38,37:1-28,38:1-48:35, Isaiah 1:26, 2:2-4, 4:2-6, 10:33-12:6, 24:21-25:9, 30:26, 34:1, 40:1-11,41:10-20, 43:5-10, 44:1-5 49:8-26, 51:11,22-52:12, 54:1-55:5, 56:7, 60:1-63:9, 65:17-25, 66:10-24, Hosea 2:1-3,16-25, Joel 3;1-5, 4:1-21, Amos 9:11-15, Obadiah 1;17-21, Micha 4:1-7, 5:1-13, 7:8-20, Zephaniah 3;9-20, Zechariah 2:9, 8:2-8, 14:3-21, Malachi 3:4,16-24, Psalms 51:20,21, 69:36,37, 98:1-3, 102:14-23, 126:1-6, Daniel 2;44, 7:18,22,27, 12:2,3.

Can anyone question the fact that these prophecies are the hope and promise of Israel’s glorious future? How can Brown say that messianic prophecies are not clearly identified?

More important is the question; Why does Brown say that the messianic prophecies are not clearly identified?

The obvious answer to this question is that Brown never seems to have approached scripture with an open mind. It seems that he never asked himself; What would a Jew before Jesus’ times have believed about the Messianic era? What would scripture have taught him about the Messiah? Who and what does God encourage us to hope for?

Had Brown asked himself these basic questions, he would have realized that the scriptures are very clear on these issues. The problem is that Brown started the other way. He first came to believe in Jesus. He then looked back into the Jewish scriptures and tried to understand Jesus’ claim that the prophets predicted his coming. Things tend to get quite murky if you read the book that way. When Brown tells us that Messianic prophecies are not clearly identified as such, he is admitting that the preconceived notions of Christianity cannot be readily seen in the Bible.

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33 Responses to Messianic Prophecies – excerpt from Supplement to Contra Brown

  1. Thank you Rabbi for this precious summary on Messianic prophecies of Judaism. I am also yearning for the day of Israel’s glorious future!

    By the way, I am wondering why the Most of messianic proohecies on your list are subsequent to the suffering of Israel (or sometimes comforts in the midst of suffering) ? I see a certain pattern.

    A: prophecy of punishment, sin, and suffering — and then
    B: restoration and glorious messianic future.
    For example, Isaiah 50 & 51 (A) – 52:6~52:13 (B) – 52:14(A) – 52:15(B) – 53 (A) – 54&55 (B)…

    When the temple was destroyed at AD 70, Israel suffered enormously. Then was the God of Israel pleased because the sin was punished or was He also suffering with His own people?

  2. As before, you’re creating a straw man. Read Michael Brown’s statement in context and any reader will see what a mountain you’ve made of a molehill.
    I like your care in other areas (allowing critics to post for example), but this tendency does undermine your credibility.

    ‘There is not a single verse in the entire Hebrew Bible that is specifically identified as a Messianic prophecy. Nowhere do the Scriptures say, “The next paragraph contains a prediction of the Messiah!” ‘

    How many of the proof texts above specifically include the word Messiah?
    I do think he’s overstated his case. Daniel 9.24-27, which you tellingly didn’t include, does of course. I do agree almost all of these passages refer to the Messiah’s rule, now or shortly in the future.

    • Bible819 says:

      Brother Charles,
      Amen!

      Ancient of Days took His seat.
      His clothing was white as snow,
      and the hair of His head like pure wool.

      All Glory to Yeshua and his Father.

    • charles soper I have read Dr. Brown’s statement in context and I stand by what I wrote. Dr. Brown is trying to minimize the force of the true Messianic prophecies so as to get his fake Messianic prophecies to qualify as Messianic prophecies as well. Students of the Bible of all stripes and colors understand that the prophets looked forward to a glorious future world in which mankind is lead by a Davidic King. But the verses pointed to by the Christians are not as clearly Messianic at all. Just take the disciples of Jesus- they believed he was the Messiah but they did not expect him to die, they were shocked by his death. This means that Isaiah 53 was not associated in their minds with the Messiah, neither was Daniel 9 or Psalm 22.

      1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

  3. Concerned Reader says:

    Can any of you give me reasons that you believe in god that DO NOT involve

    Arguments from the Bible

    Arguments from Design

    Arguments for a moral law of the universe, etc.

    Argument from survival

    If anything, could you guys tell me a personal experience that makes you believe that god is actually there?

    • Concerned Reader If you are looking for something from logic then it would be the events in my own life, the lives of those around me and in the lives of communities and nation that seem to be orchestrated But there is more than logic – there is the sense that the concepts of kindness, justice and truth are larger and deeper than existence as we know it. There is the sense that our own existence is dependent on an existence that is truer than ours and the sense of the nobility of the universe in general and man in particular. If you are talking about personal experience – prayer, Sabbath, the depth and the light of Torah, the holiness, the joy and the beauty of the commandments. The light, the truth and the greatness that shines forth from an act of kindness, consideration, honesty and morality. There is so much more but I hope you find this helpful.

      1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

    • CR,
      Let me ask : why do you ask this age-old philosophical question at this particular post?

  4. Concerned Reader says:

    Rabbi, one issue I have is that the major world religions largely agree on ethics, (even the polytheistic, and nontheistic religions,) and yet, everyone has their mutually exclusive claims that get in the way of us treating each other fairly and decently.

    So, its not that I dont see beauty in religion, but I dont see beauty in just one religion, and I dont see just one as containing all the truth there is to contain.

    I see much good in several faith traditions, but I see the bad too. It just all seems so human as to not be worth the argument over whether its true or “divine” if that makes sense?

    • LarryB says:

      CR
      My wife did in a dream. What she was told came true and has stayed that way in our 32 years marriage. What kind of bad are you talking about? Bad people or bad religious practices?

      • Eleazar says:

        I too had a dream; two in fact, Larry. Back to back one after the other. The second dream centered on a very specific object that I did not even know existed at the time, connected to an historical event I did had never heard of and was never taught.The dream not only centered on the object and event, but also the object’s method of manufacture, which again, I had no idea about. So I had a dream about a thing I did not know existed, centered on an event I never heard of and how this thing was made, which turned out to be 100% accurate. This led me to investigate Judaism more closely as a religion during a time in my life when I was not even sure I believed in God any more (having been “burned” by Christianity).

        I know most Jews feel those kinds of experiences and events “no longer take place” and that such an era ended long ago. I have to disagree on that.

        • Concerned Reader says:

          Jules Verne also dreamed (and later wrote in exquisite detail) about humans traveling to and then landing on the moon via rockets, only to return to earth via splashdown. No way he could have known that this would later become a reality.

  5. Concerned Reader says:

    LarryB, both bad people and bad practices. Part of the problem is that since scriptures are books, nobody can control how they are interpreted, even when people claim they have the authority as the exclusive interpreters, the reality is different.

    In fact, any religion can be interpreted in such a way as to spin it for the positive, but the same can be said the other way.

    As I said to rabbi B, the reality is all just too typically human to be divine.

    • LarryB says:

      CR
      Nor should any one person control how scripture is interpreted. I would imagine that would be an even greater disaster as you said, Scripture can be spun either way, good or bad. I believe the Torah was given at Sinai, I also believe god somehow interacts with people all over the world. Would you agree that over the centuries things have gotten better overall?

      • Concerned Reader says:

        I would say that two steps forward, and in different ways two back would be an accurate assesment.

        I have no earthly way of knowing that Sinai happened, and Archaeology has a way of putting a damper on it for me. But even if it did not.

        From the other angle, we have a very good record of the manuscript tradition and the transmission of the Christian Bible, from a very early time, (within 40- 100 years relative to the alleged events of J’s life,) but even with that ability to examine the transmission critically at a relatively early date, problems obviously existed.

        The earliest copy of the Torah that we have by contrast is from just 200 BCE preserved by a sectarian group, thousands of years after the proposed events of the Torah.

        If the Jesus movement could go sideways within a single lifetime, and we cant be sure whats what even after rigerous examination of the New Testament’s very very early textual transmission, how on earth is it rational to conclude that the Torah (whose chain of transmission we cannot possibly scrutinize nearly as closely to its origin point,) is in any way a better transmission? We simply cant! At most, a person can have the national/cultural connection to the Jewish people, and faith that its true. Thats it.

        If we cant ascertain the accuracy of an account with written record from around 40 years after the alleged event, then we can in no way look at a book that is way older, that chronicles even older events, and say its accurate. You can have faith, that is fine, but its faith, and everyone has faith in what they are raised in, or faith im elements they already believe in.

        Thats my whole thing. Faith has all these documented issues (sectarianism, difference of interpretation, internal power play and politics,) just like every human phenomenon, but unlike every other human phenomenon, it claims a special transcendent knowledge, and authority.

        If a secular authority, law, or concept is lame, society chooses to take or leave it. There may be war, but nobody secular can claim a damn thing about the state of your eternity, soul, etc.

        If there are issues with a religious authority or concept, it takes war, sectarianism, and massive internal conflict happening induvidually to MAYBE throw it off.

        I only walked away from Christianity because I decided to look into it really closely. If I had just accepted the authority of pastors and tradition, I might still be a Christian.

        As you know, there are aspects of that tradition which can be defended. But does it mean its true? No.

        I mean, if the reason for maintaining faith is, “well its not all bad,” then the same can be said for the secular world.

        Thats the genuine realization here. EVERYONE is human and imperfect, religious and not, so why then elevate yourself over another, or disparage a differing worldview because you have faith (which is not knowledge,) that you are right?

        It makes absolutely no sense to do that.

        • Concerned Reader Let us for argument’s sake accept your position – the Jew could still disparage the Christian world-view because the Christian world-view accepts that the Jewish faith is a valid construct. Thus by its own admission, the Christian faith subjects itself to the standards imposed by the Jewish faith.

          1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • Concerned Reader says:

            Im aware the Christian accepts the Jewish faith as a valid construct. On the flip side, Judaism is perfectly capable under the right set of circumstances of creating a Christian like construct in a sectarian setting. So, while I take your point, my other point still stands.

            Why is the argument (which itself has been bloody,) even worth it? I was not saying that you are not within your rights to defend your position, merely that the juice isnt worth the squeeze.

          • Concerned Reader Its worth the squeeze because the squeeze itself is striving for truth. Your questions are also striving for truth and the journey towards truth, kindness, goodness and holiness is what makes life worth living.

            1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

        • Sharon S says:

          Hi Concerned Reader,

          You argued that every faith system are human and imperfect. There are good and not so good elements to all faiths. So why the need to disparage a differing worldview when the faith one is advocating may not be perfect?

          You questioned the historicity of the Sinai revelation and textual transmission of the Torah.

          In my opinion, your argument does have merit if we assume that there is no such thing as a Divine revelation .

          In addition, even if a revelation had indeed taken place, then there is a possibility that the message revealed might have been lost ,tampered with or misinterpreted over time .

          However , had the revelation been authentic and verifiable historically , then your argument doesn’t hold water. The Divine standard has been communicated to humanity. That standard is the truth . The teachings of other worldviews (religions )should be measured against that standard.

          Competing worldviews do acknowledge the historicity of a revelation , but questioned the transmission and credibility of those to whom the message was revealed to. Hence the necessity of a new revelation and additional scripture. We see clear examples of this in the message of Christianity and Islam.

          I agree with you that the transmission of scriptures in these religions are also not immune to criticism.

          How do we handle all these facts? To be honest, they can be overwhelming . The easiest solution is to stop delving into it and to accept that there is no truth to revelation . To accept that there are many paths that lead to the same spiritual destination. That truth is relative.

          If we go along this line of thought, the conclusion is that G-d is not involved and left creation to its own devices.

          The ultimate question one has to confront is-does G-d exist? If He exist but does not intervene at any point then it is as good as He does not exist at all.

          In a nutshell , I see your arguments as asking the ultimate question-does G-d exist?

          To be honest, this line of thought does bother me. I believe in G-d . It’s like believing that there is such a thing called air even though we can’t see it. I need air to breathe. I exist because G-d created me.

          If G-d exist then He must have revealed His Will at a certain point ( or points) in history. How will man know who is ultimately in charge ?

          If there is a revelation that is attested by other worldviews (religions) then it is my duty to assess that revelation objectively , independent of what other competing worldview has to say about it.

          If my assessment shows that the views espoused on that revelation ( by these religions) are false or that the teachings of these religions contradict the message from that revelation then its a cause for concern. I must question the authenticity of these religions if their foundation rests on this revelation. Go back to the source.

          Ultimately I have to consider this revelation seriously. If this event is attested in other religions then there is a strong chance it may be true.

          If the revelation event is true then I have to accept that those who are entrusted with its message have transmitted it faithfully , despite human imperfection.

  6. Concerned Reader says:

    “However , had the revelation been authentic and verifiable historically , then your argument doesn’t hold water.”

    Indeed, but that question is an unresolved issue. Ask any historian or Archaeologist.

    The only systems that attest to the revelation event are those who already believed it, IE Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and these groups hold that the event happened on faith, on the basis of what their scriptures tell them. And also, each faith that attests to this event says of the other faith “such a one cannot be trusted ”

    If Sinai had the same level of historical attestation as say, Jesus of Nazareth, then I wouldn’t need to ask if it happened to the sane degree. But even though Im aware Jesus existed, thats not enough to verify the myriad miracle claims. The same would hold for Sinai.

    What makes the historical Jesus historical is that you dont need to trust the religious Christian narrative text to know whether he was real or not.

    If Tommorow, someone found a hyroglyph in Egypt that said “Moses and Aaron were here, the Sons of Amram, and Pharoah can go suck eggs!”

    I would need to reevaluate my position, not to mention smile. Even when I was a Christian the story of Moses was my favorite one

    The problem with revelation is

    1. If it is clear at all, It is only very clear to the “in group” that allegedly experienced it 1st hand. Everyone else gets it second hand.

    2. All of the traditions admit to themselves (often against each other) that revelation can be fake.

    3. Everything else I mentioned about how religious people seem to be capable of being just as good or bad as anyone who is not religious.

    Its as I said to rabbi B, the question is not, “does god exist?” Or “which group has a right to defend or hold what view?” It is a question of, is the juice worth the squeeze?

    In the course of all these argunents with one another about who is right and on what grounds? Are we actually behaving in the way we say is essential for living?

    Do you see what Im getting at Sharon?

    • LarryB says:

      CR,
      You originally asked,
      “If anything, could you guys tell me a personal experience
      that makes you believe that god is actually there.” Then,
      “ Thats the genuine realization here. EVERYONE is human and imperfect, religious and not, so why then elevate yourself over another, or disparage a differing worldview because you have faith (which is not knowledge,) that you are right? It makes absolutely no sense to do that.” And “Is the juice worth the squeeze”
      I’m trying to understand what your driving at here so correct me if wrong.
      To answer your original question, I’m sure there are dozens of miracles books out there if you think that would help. Your other points, why aren’t people nice about their disagreements. You said it yourself, “Everyone is human and imperfect”. I would expect these questions from you, your one of the politest people here.

    • Sharon S says:

      Hi Concerned Reader,

      Thank you for your feedback.

      I do see where you are trying to get at.

      I too had come to a point where I questioned the Sinai revelation,
      an event that any adherent of the Abrahamic faiths believe without any doubt.

      If I doubt this revelation , then I have to face the possibility that there is no such thing as a Divine revelation. If there is no revelation then I have to face the possibility that G-d is not concerned with His creation.

      If these facts are true then is there any reason to believe that G-d exist? I am aware that there are ancient beliefs which teaches that G-d is not involved in the affairs of His creation . However to be honest I am not able to accept this fact.

      I can accept that my cherished beliefs are false .I may even doubt His kindness, but I cannot accept the fact that G-d is not involved or take interest in His creation. I see revelation as proof of this involvement.

      In addition , man need to know ultimately who’s in charge.

      I also had to ask questions such as “does the ill conduct of follower XYZ an indicator that XYZ is a false religion?” or about those of no religion whose conduct may be better than those who are religious. I have even
      raised these questions in this blog.

      I remember stating this to you in one of our conversations- I believe that no one has the right to impose their beliefs on others. However I believe every human being is called to seek the truth with the gift of intelligence and reason that G-d has blessed them with.

      I believe that truth is absolute. Absolute truth can only come from the Divine. Though revelation cannot be verified historically , the fact that its occurrence is attested by other religions is a strong enough reason to conclude that it is true.

      If we believe that G-d revealed His Will to man who is imperfect, we also have to believe that man is capable in living and transmitting that message faithfully .
      G-d entrusted His Will to man , why can’t we do the same?

  7. Concerned Reader says:

    the journey towards truth, kindness, goodness and holiness is what makes life worth living.

    I agree with you on this 100% rabbi.

  8. Concerned Reader says:

    LarryB, I was asking the rabbi and everyone for unique experiences that make them believe because everything else you can throw at the question in terms of “reasons” for God’s existence, fall flat in that any religion can use them to prop up any hypothetical position.

    If someone believes in an incorporeal celestial teapot, they can use the argument from causation, just as a monotheist can.

    For example, the 1st cause argument can be used by Jews, Christians, Muslims, etc. and each group can then try to claim “this is proof of my conception of God,” when it doesn’t prove any such thing.

    The reasons people give for belief in general are bad reasons. For example, people say there has to be an absolute moral goodness, in spite of the fact that no religion ever has been able to attain this 100% moral good that they tell everyone else must exist, and they must accept.

    Plain and simple observation shows you that religious people are no worse and no better (except maybe with charity,) at being moral then any secular human. So, (to me at least,) those kind of arguments also fall flat, hence the realization that nobody is perfect.

    This becomes very clear when someone goes through the whole process of searching for a “truth” about god, only to come out as agnostic or atheist, then someone says “hey wait…why throw out the baby with the bath water.” or “Hey..better to be any kind of religious then an atheist.”

    Its like, are you freaking serious? Take this blog. Absolutely devoted to demolishing Christian claims about God, which is totally within rights, but then if a Christian loses faith, someone says “hey, don’t throw the baby with the bath water,” even though you may have demolished any personal reasons that individual had to believe in ALL OF Scripture by demolishing Christianity, at least for some people.

    • Sharon S says:

      Hi Concerned Reader,

      “The reasons people give for belief in general are bad reasons. For example, people say there has to be an absolute moral goodness in spite of the fact that no religion ever has been able to attain this 100% moral good that they tell everyone else must exist, and they must accept.”

      Breaking traffic speed limit is a common offence the world over and no governing authorities are able to attain 100% compliance. Is it right then to conclude that the laws on speed limit is not effective and should be repealed?

      If your answer is no , then why is argument for absolute moral goodness a bad reason for belief? Is it right conclude that absolute moral goodness does not exist because religions are unable attain 100% moral good?

      The laws on speed limit is absolutely necessary , despite the fact that it is the most common traffic offence . The speed limit is a standard to assess if drivers are complying with or breaking traffic laws.

      We notice the existence of laws and regulations, of standards , goals and measurements in life ,work or business. We see these concepts at work all the time. Isn’t it logical and reasonable to conclude that there must be an absolute standard of moral goodness as well?

      I do agree that the search for truth about G-d may lead one to the path of agnosticism and atheism. However this outcome is totally dependent on the individual.

      The search for truth may cause one to question the preconceived ideas they have of G-d. That does not mean that it will lead one to doubt G-d’s existence or to conclude that no religious traditions possess true knowledge of Him.

      Challenges in the search for truth can be seen as opportunities for spiritual growth . There is no need to “throw out the baby with the bath water”.

  9. Concerned Reader says:

    “Plain and simple observation shows you that religious people are no worse and no better (except maybe with charity,) at being moral then any secular human. So, (to me at least,) those kind of arguments also fall flat, hence the realization that nobody is perfect.”

    Take for example Judaism and Christianity. In terms of the ethics we are meant to follow, we have the same exact ones. Both groups share the Tanakh, and even in their interpretations (when you put messianic issues of Jesus aside, and just look at expected norms and behavior) are roughly analogous.

    Jesus was adding here, taking away there, but he wasn’t saying “hey go injure those you disagree with.”

    Its not as though Christians say stealing is golden while Jews say it is not, you know? But, in reality, in spite of sharing the ethics, theology issues always get in the way, and end up over riding the ethics.

    So, when Sharon said, “If these facts are true then is there any reason to believe that G-d exist?”

    the point is, its not that I was even framing the question as “does god exist?” In fact, I will grant the premise, and in my question, I do.

    The point is, several groups DO IN FACT take God’s existence as axiomatic, but even they are actually not that much better at being good humans then those who don’t believe in god’s existence at all. In fact, odds are that a secular guy wont injure you for your theological ideas, whereas its demonstrable from things like the inquisition or present day political struggles that many people in many religions will injure you for disagreeing with their unique theological opinion, and wont see it as at all ambiguous or problematic to do so. Often, when you ask the reason why they would do this to someone who believes differently, disagreement with their unique revelation is the justification.

    • Sharon S says:

      Hi Concerned Reader,

      I find your recent comments interesting . You started by asking reasons to believe in G-d other than the arguments you listed. You don’t see truth in any one religion . Every religion has its good and bad points so there is no point to argue .

      You also argued that groups who believe in G-d’s existence are no better human beings than those who do not believe .

      You downplay your initial question-reasons to believe in G-d but I see that this question is relevant to your argument on the conduct of those who believe in G-d /religious.The message I am hearing from you is belief in G-d’s existence does not make one a better person , in fact this belief breeds intolerance for those who does not subscribe to one’s theology.

      Have you considered that the secular person may also subscribe to ideologies that promotes exclusivism,intolerance and hate? There have been acts of “terror” committed by those who follow these ideologies , the most recent one just happened in New Zealand .What do you think would be the justification by the pepretator of these acts? I think reasons given will be much worse.

      You asked me “Are we actually behaving in the way we say is essential for living?”-I understand it to mean that arguing over religious differences shows intolerance for the other and that is not the way to live. Why not apply this same question to those subscribing to these hateful ideologies?

      I sense some bias in your argument.Do correct me if I’m wrong.

  10. Concerned Reader says:

    No bias is intended. You may find it interesting to note that I did not question faith much, until I studied Judaism.

    I was mostly content with my Christianity. I had no desire to harm people who did not share my beliefs.

    It took me a great deal of study to see that my tradition’s history was immensely bloody. I am very cautious of any system of “values” that claims to have the answers, and also tries to legislate those answers.

    Judaism’s teachings against idolatry have played a great role in understanding things that way.

    What I have noticed is that every person has to live in accordance with their conscience (which is shaped by their experience,) and I see folks acting differently one from another even within a single tradition.

    Arguing differences doesn’t need to breed intolerance, but you must admit that it is rare to find people willing to look past a dearly held belief, particularly if its seen as divine.

    You mentioned the abomination in New Zealand today. (May that evil man never see light again.)

    I dont see that guy as indicative of someone who doesn’t believe in a god, I see that as a guy with mental issues who has surrendered his identity to one sick, twisted, White Supremesist ideology.

    I dont want you to think that I see secularism as some antidote to all problems. In fact, humans, (as beings who see patterns everywhere,) love to pick a given thing to have their life revolve around, to give them meaning.

    IE if there were no religion, there would still be religiosity, because its a thing humans do.

    I think Judaism did the world a favor in showing most of us how bad most forms of religiosity can be.

    Hero worship? Nature Worship? Ancestor Worship? All pretty bad. (Notice how most political cults of personality like from North Korea, China, or the cult around Stalin in the Soviet Union fell somewhere between the above bad catagories?

    • Dina says:

      Con, you’re asking a tough question. There is no evidence, in a concrete, scientific, physical sense, of the truth of any religion. We can only offer compelling, usually philosophical arguments from the Bible, from design, from survival, etc.–all the items you crossed off the list.

      To my mind, there are two options and only two:

      1. All the world religions are false.

      2. Only one of them is true (because they all contradict each other on some fundamental point).

      Thus, in our search for truth we have to determine whether number one or number two is correct. If we deem that number one is correct, then our search is over. If we deem that number two is correct, then begins the messy work of figuring out which religion is true.

      It is true that individually, adherents of any religion are morally no better or worse than people of no faith. However, I recommend that you take a step back and look at the big picture, at the huge arc of history. How have secular societies, pagan societies, and different religious societies fared overall morally? Not as individuals but as societies? Is there any ideology or religion that has consistently produced a morally superior society over, say, the last two thousand years?

      I ask these questions because while you are right to say that people are the same all over, you haven’t considered that societies are not.

      For myself, there are a great many philosophical arguments for the truth of the Torah that I find intellectually satisfying.

      As for personal experience: while I believe that personal experience does not prove the truth of any religion at all, the experience of living as a religious Jew is uplifting, inspiring, and ennobling, at least for me. The observance of Sabbath is an indescribable religious experience. I live for the Sabbath, looking forward to it from day one and sorry when it’s over.

      Hope this helps!

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