Rationality vs Theology
In short, the core of my question would be: Is there a rational basis for granting authority to scripture as the word of God? Or does it take a “non-rational” (in contrast to “irrational”) act of faith to bridge the gap between logical deductions and religious belief?
A little bit about myself and where this question is coming from:
I was born and raised in Israel as an Ultra-Orthodox Jew. At Young teenagehood I’ve rebelled against the religious lifestyle I was brought up with, and I’ve been living a secular life since. I’m currently in my early 30s and living in the US.
In recent years, I’ve been expanding my interest in comparative religion, psychology and philosophy. All that in the wake of a powerful mystical experiences I’ve had.
I personally find much inspiration and wisdom in the biblical scriptures. And from a strictly critical point of view, arguments for the existence of God, such as the ones made by Ibn Sina, Thomas Aquinas, the Ramba”m and many other epic thinkers, make sense and positively resonate even with a skeptic like myself. However, when it comes to the question of exclusive authority to scripture, the answer I often get would be something along the lines of “What do you mean?! it says so in the Bible!”
I doubt there is any need for me to point out the fallacy in that kind of argument…
The other answer I would often hear, is that the nature of revelation and prophecy themselves are sufficient as proof for the legitimacy of the scripture been the word of God. That actually might be a good argument, however it will fail to explain the exclusivity that is attributed to the Tora for example over other supposed revelations.
In other words, how can one deduct the exclusivity of the revelations to ‘legitimate’ prophets like Moses upon other “false prophets” from Jesus and Muhammad all the way to Shabbatai Tzvi and Jacob Frank? All that without pointing back at the content of the Tora itself as proof.
Mind you, if I were to examine my personal mystical experience from an early historical or even medieval context, there is a pretty good chance I would consider myself a profit. Of course from a contemporary point of view, I can say that it was no more than a naturally occurring altered state of consciousness, or a spontaneous psychedelic trip. (The nature of consciousness and experience, and the place divinity takes within the two is of course a subject for a whole other conversation)
“Faith” is a concept that takes central place in most if not all religions, and in the search for meaning, one might reach a point where there is no other choice but to take that ‘leap of faith’. If that’s the case, it might not be overwhelmingly compelling, but I’ll see that as acceptable. After all, many central things in our life cannot be explained by rationality alone. Love, beauty, art and music are just examples…
I appreciate your time and hope to hear back from you soon.