Friday, May 19, 2006

In the Year Ten Thousaaaaand...



I don't hear much about the religious implications of an ancient universe other than the questions about Genesis. If the Earth were really 5767 years old and Genesis were literally true, than Adam was born the first year, Noah was born about 100 years after Adam died (at 930), and Abraham was born while Noah still lived. In other words, by the Biblical timeline, Judaism, or at least proto-Judaism in which people communicated and obeyed YHWH, started from day 6 and has continued through the present. This is pretty much what religious people believed until a couple centuries ago. Similarly, looking forward, people expected the Messiah to come pretty soon.

Now that we know the Earth is four billion years old, it changes things dramatically. Even assuming that Adam, Noah, and Abraham were real people, Adam wouldn't have been created for four billion years! (There's no real flexibility in the timeline of the Bible once Adam is created.) In fact, based on the fossil record, Adam wouldn't have even shown up until other homo sapiens sapiens had already been walking around for 100,000 years or so. If there was no Adam or Noah or Abraham, Judaism is even younger than that.

So if Judaism (in the broadest possible definition) has only existed for, at most, .0001% of the Earth's history and for less than 6% of human history, what does that imply about the future? What will Judaism look like in 8,000 more years? Will it still be around? Will YHWH be seen as we today see Zeus? Even if it is around, it would have to be vastly different than today's Judaism. Look how much Judaism has changed just in the last 2,000 years! Even black hats have only been around for a few hundred! ;-)

Many of the commenters to my posts about intermarriage (and to posts on other blogs which referenced my posts about intermarriage) talked about the importance of Jewish survival, as if Jewish survival were something that could go on forever if only we acted right. It seems to me that regardless what we do, Judaism will eventually fall from practice. It has had a very impressive run, (almost as long as Hinduism's!) but I can't imagine it can go on for even another 5,000 years, let alone another billion.

Worrying about the survival of Judaism seems kind of silly in the grand scheme of things. It will inevitably die out or evolve into something unrecognizable.

17 comments:

CyberKitten said...

JA said: Worrying about the survival of Judaism seems kind of silly in the grand scheme of things. It will inevitably die out or evolve into something unrecognizable.

As will humanity itself.. Nothing lasts for ever.. There was a time before the world religions - and there will be a time after them too. What those religions will be like (if any exist in the far future) is anyone's guess.

Some Guy said...

Worrying about the survival of Judaism seems kind of silly in the grand scheme of things.

Worrying about anything seems kind of silly in the grand scheme of things.

swurgle said...

A billion years from today, regardless of whether there are any Jews, or people left, your parents' disappointment in your shiksa wife will live on....

Sadie Lou said...

Maybe the earth doesn't have that much longer either...maybe the planet as we know it will 'inevitably die out or evolve into something unrecognizable'.
(like a New Earth)
*wink*

R10B said...

Does Judaism's relatively late arrival in universal history have any bearing on it's life expentancy? By similar mathematics a man who today is 100 years old would be assumed to outlive the 3.65-day-old newborn.

Regardless, the important question is not a religion's age but the truth embodied in it's central figure.

Orthoprax said...

JA,

Either you value your Jewish identity or you do not. If you do then you'd probably want to pass that onto your children. If you don't then you're not much good for the Jewish future in any case.

This isn't about millions or billions of years. This is about you and your children and your grandchildren.

We can't control things after we're gone. Maybe Judaism will cease to exist someday, but at least I can die knowing that I fought the good fight.

Godol Hador said...

I think your perspective is off. The Universe is 15 billion years old, but from a social/intellectual/cultural perspective nothing much interesting really started happening until the invention of cities 8,000 years ago. I guess if you are an anthropologist you might find prehistoric caveman burial rituals interesting, but most people probably wouldn't. Plus, with bird flu, global warming and nuclear weapns, we could all be wiped out quite soon. So Judaism might actually have been around for quite a significant part of intelligent societies lifespan. Doesn't prove anything, just saying.

Sadie Lou said...

Regardless, the important question is not a religion's age but the truth embodied in it's central figure.

Good point, as usual. Where have you been?

BaconEating AtheistJew said...

Why go back 8000 years? Lets just go back to when it was confirmed that the earth actually orbited the sun and not the other way around.

BaconEating AtheistJew said...

Better yet, man wasn't really knowlegable until evolution and an expanding universe was discovered and confirmed.
So really, we can argue that enlightened civilization is less than 50 years old.

R10B said...

Where have you been?

Awaiting my evolution.

Sadie Lou said...

r10b--
"Awaiting my evolution."

*laughing* Me too...
you should visit your stomping grounds more often!
In other words, I miss your imput on my blog and Q's blog.

asher said...

Judaism was and is always evolving.I doubt Rambam would be terribly comfortable in a modern orthodox service. However, the amazing thing is that it's lasted this long and that all of .001% of the population of the earth still are jews. More amazing is how often Jews are seen as the source of everything problematic...from neocoms, upper east side liberals,
zionists, communists, socialists, hollywood elites, and of course, Israelis. How troubling is this small band of people to the earth?

Please read "Why the Jews" by Dennis Prager and the lyrics to "Neighborhood Bully" by Bob Dylan.

swurgle said...

Asher - I think you meant to say Upper "West" Side liberals....

Jack's Shack said...

I don't worry about 8,000 years from now. That is too far to be really concerned about.

Let's focus on the next 50 to 100 years. IMO, Judaism will still be here. You don't make it as long as we have without some staying power.

jewish philosopher said...

Judaism is eternal because there will always be some honest people who will seek the truth, and Judaism is the truth. Other religions are temporary because they are based on cultural needs which change as the culture changes.

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