web analytics
November 29, 2014 / 7 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

What Happens When We Remove God From The Picture

When one denies the objective source of value, the very meaning of those values becomes problematic.
sunlightthroughthetrees.jpg

“All eras in a state of decline and dissolution are subjective; on the other hand, all progressive eras have an objective tendency.” — Goethe

The Greeks, at the origin of man’s unaided independent quest for truth, thought of “thoughts” as literally being placed in man by gods, and/or by “reality,” whose source was outside oneself. This objectified mindset allowed the Greeks to deal with the world directly, to hold up their tentative efforts to an objective standard – reality itself. This allowed for progress in all areas of intellectual endeavor – mathematics, physics, biology, astronomy, and philosophy.

With the Greek Sophists came what many regard as even greater progress, but what was really the beginning of the downfall of ancient Greek civilization – truth as subjective and therefore relative. “Man is the measure of all things,” the Greek philosopher Protagoras declared. This led to an increasing awareness of the involvement of man himself in the origin of his thoughts, his decisions, indeed, even his perceptions.

But man as the “source” of reality inevitably led to a deprecation of truth and morality as objective – or even objectifiable – entities. The disastrous social as well as philosophical consequences of this development were perceived by Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle, who attempted to once again place truth and the good, virtue as well as happiness, on an objective basis.

The western world over the past 300-400 years has replayed, so to speak, the experience of the Greeks. Modern man has achieved remarkable advances in knowledge and has literally transformed nature itself. This achievement was predicated on a mindset defined by the objectiveness of reality in the world around us and by our ability to freely decide our own thoughts and speech and actions in it.

And yet, during this same period of time, modern man has undermined his progress by increasingly battling its very basis: religion. For when one denies the objective source of value, the very meaning of those values becomes problematic. The natural consequence of man left to himself as the ultimate source and arbiter of reality is the very denial of objective truth, value, and virtue – all those concepts in whose name our achievements were undertaken.

Secularization, the intellectual stripping away of the religious, God-based origin of value and of reality itself, has manifested itself in various ways, most recently and most radically as logical positivism and subjectivism. These “philosophies” have as their effect, if not indeed as their underlying motivation, the provision of an excuse for the lack of personal authority over and responsibility for the world, both outside ourselves, as well as our own thoughts and actions. What I want – my passions, drives, desires, whims – becomes the standard of reality, an internalized reality. Therefore, “ethics,” “nobility,” and “honor,” especially “virtue,” become meaningless (indeed “meaning” becomes meaningless).

What I “should” do or think about something becomes synonymous with whatever I want to do. Even the notion, hedonistic as it is, of what’s “good for me,” cannot be defined in any terms but “what I feel like.” What the Bible called bishrirus libi elech – “in the dictates of my own heart I will walk,” reminds one not only of Pharaoh, who was worshipped as a god and who, according to the commentators, claimed “I made myself,” but of modern man, who is taught that all men should worship themselves as gods.

Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud are responsible for having added a scientific “imprimatur” to this secularization. Briefly, what Marx did for man’s relation to the world Freud did for man’s relation to himself. In each case, man without God must of necessity be the passive recipient of influences beyond his control. For Marx, therefore, man’s history is determined by the economic structure of society, by the means of production. Freedom is a hoax, religion is an opiate.

About the Author: Dr. Lawrence Resnick was a professor of medicine at Cornell University Medical Center and one of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s personal physicians. He passed away 10 years ago this week – on the 15th of Iyar – at age 55. This essay is derived from one of several notebooks of writings he left behind.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “What Happens When We Remove God From The Picture”

  1. When we remove G-d we remove His love which is warmth
    Kindness,and the greatest closness to something u really can’t put into words. I know without G-d I feel lost. Like He’s your best friend. Like He makes you smile when you think about Him!

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry .
NYT Ignores US Condemnation of PA Incitement, Prints Info on Ferguson Cop
Latest Indepth Stories
Kessim (religious leaders) mark the opening of a synagogue in the village of Gomenge, Ethopia, one of five built in Gondar with JDC aid, 1988
Courtesy of American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, New York.

In a world where people question whether they should be engaged, we are a reminder that all Jews are responsible for one another.

Greiff-112814-Levaya

My son is seventeen; he didn’t want to talk about what happened, or give any details of the Rosh Yeshiva’s words of chizuk.

Protesters in Ferguson, Missouri

All involved in the Ferguson debate should learn the laws pertinent to non-Jews: the Noahide Laws.

Charley Levine

Prominent Jewish leaders acknowledged that their predecessors had mistreated the Bergson Group.

Abbas has been adding new layers of rhetoric to his tactical campaign to de-Judaize Jerusalem

The Jew’s crime is his presence.

Hamas’s love for death tried to have as many Palestinian civilians killed as possible

Israel recognizes the fabrication called a Palestinian nation; So what do we want from the Swedes?

Arab attacking Jews in the land date back a century, long before Israel was created or in control.

Creativity without clarity is not sufficient for writing. I am eternally thankful to Hashem for his gift to me.

Golden presents a compelling saga of poor but determined immigrants who fled pogroms and harsh conditions in their homelands for a better life in a land of opportunity.

It seems to us that while the Jewish entitlement to the land of Israel transcends the Holocaust, the Jewish experience during that tragic time is the most solid of foundations for these “national rights.”

Too many self-styled civil rights activists seemed determined to force, by their relentless pressure, an indictment regardless of what an investigation might turn up.

Unfortunately, at present, the rabbinate does not play a positive role in preventing abuse.

More Articles from Dr. Lawrence Resnick
sunlightthroughthetrees.jpg

When one denies the objective source of value, the very meaning of those values becomes problematic.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/what-happens-when-we-remove-god-from-the-picture/2014/05/15/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: