Wednesday, June 22, 2005

p ∧ ¬p

Around Purim-time, the then-Godol Hador was going through a series of Theories, Approaches, and Answers to the questions of Life, the Universe, and Everything — or at least Science and Torah. One of his theories was the Tired-Taiku Theory.

In his own words, the Tired-Taiku approach to contradictions can take a number of possible forms, including:
  1. We have some reasonable answers, but no way of knowing which is correct, so lets just leave it.
  2. Any hope of finding any answer seems remote, so lets just leave it.
  3. I don't know enough about this topic, so lets just leave it.
  4. The obvious answer is clear, but we really don't like it, so lets just leave it.
  5. I can't be bothered to discuss this anymore, so lets just leave it.
  6. I don't want to to discuss this at all, so lets just leave it.
  7. This is not worth discussing, so lets just leave it.
  8. For some unrelated reason, I don't wish to answer right now, so lets just leave it.
In the comments, I suggested a similar approach:
A Biblical History professor i had claimed that the existence of contradictory stories in Tanakh show that our ancestors weren't fazed by contradictions or held back by the limits of Greek "P or not-P, but not both" logic.

So to the people who received (if you're traditionally-minded) or wrote (if you're biblical criticism-minded) the Torah, it didn't matter one bit whether plants were created before humanity (Bereishit ch.1) or afterwards (Bereishit ch.2) -- they were both true, without any high-falutin' commentators or Slifkins necessary to reconcile the seemingly irreconcilable.

Supposedly, many contemporary Native Americans follow this model, believing in their native spiritual traditions, foreign imposed religions like Christianity, and/or the findings of contemporary science all at the same time, without worrying about how to fit them all together in some so-called "logical" manner, and without feeling a need to semi-deligitimate one side at the expense of another.

You could call this the Walt Whitman
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
I am large, I contain multitudes.

So i'm thinking, next time someone asks me if i believe that the world is 5765 or Billions of years old, or if i believe in Creation or Evolution, i'll just answer "yes". And pretend to be confused when they don't understand how i can believe two contradictory things at the same time.
Side Point:
I expected some kind of Creation/Evolution controversy to come up during each Geology class i took in college, but it never did!
The only problem is, i can't really honestly say i believe that. I mean, i admire my ancestors' ability to accept two contradictory versions of events as true, but it just doesn't feel right. One version has to be the primary one, and the other has to be somehow allegorized or reinterpreted, or pushed off to the side. It just doesn't make sense otherwise.


Blogger AMSHINOVER said...

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6/22/2005 4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post. Hinduism is famous also for synthesizing multiple contradictory religious traditions. However it probably speaks to a lack of rigor. I'm not willing to accept that two contradictory statements can both be true. That would be 'Wierd Wacky' Theory.

6/24/2005 11:47 AM  
Anonymous A friend of your brother said...

They can all be true, becaue someting being meaningful and True, is not the same as historical accuracy. Cosmology can explain the scientific way the universe was formed. It cannot teach you the True moral and ethical way to live, or help you to understand your moral and ethical relationship to the rest of creation.

6/29/2005 12:25 AM  
Blogger ADDeRabbi said...

reminds one of the line from Carroll's 'Through the Looking Glass':
'Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.'

1/02/2006 7:13 PM  

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