Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rav Kook and Proofs of God

R. Avraham Kook has an approach towards faith and intellect that is worth considering. His writing is generally indecipherable to me and I am relying here on secondary literature, sepcifically, an article by R. Itamar Cohen titled "The Concept of 'Faith' in the Teachings of Rav Kook" in his recent book Eisan Maginekha.

R. Kook believed that faith is an inherent part of a person's soul (Cohen, pp. 23-27). In his panentheistic worldview in which God is in everything, it is the Divine in every person's soul that yields this faith (pp. 27, 30).

Click here to read moreHowever, this does not mean that there is no room for the intellect in perceiving God. A primal, mystical faith must be the basis of the relationship but afterwards the intellect can be used to supplement faith (pp. 39-41).

If I understand this correctly, which is perhaps unlikely, R. Kook is saying that a person must find deep inside himself a faith in God and then deepen and intellectualize this faith by looking at the beauty and order in the world, the history of the Jewish people or his own human nature. Proofs are not necessary to create faith but can serve to support it. Therefore, they do not need to be absolute proofs (i.e. irrefutable) and are sufficient if they are merely plausible or convincing.

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