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Claim

Judaism is a religion that fits into the third model of ultimate reality, Transcendence. Those of the faith believe that the perfect being, God, exists and transcends the universe. People are not God but will one day be resurrected after death to stand trial in front of Him. Like all religions in the third model, it claims a person’s body is who they really are and indicates if you’re male or female. It also claims that what you do with your physical body has eternal ramifications, meaning the consequences for your good and evil deeds. Regarding the world, in the age to come God will transform the universe to receive its paradisiacal glory and remain eternally. Its religious text is called the Torah and contains part of what Christians call the Old Testament.

The first thing to note about Judaism, is the fact that it is a very unique religion. While many components are similar to forms of Christianity and Islam, many things set it apart. For instance, Judaism emerged from a pantheistic time where everyone in Egypt worshipped multiple gods. Obviously, Judaism has quite the opposite claim. There truly is no religion like it on the earth.

Secondly, Judaism is an Abrahamic religion. Abraham was a prophet of God in the middle east in 2000 BC. He also is the father of the covenant, meaning the relationship the Jewish people have with God that leads them to believe that they are His chosen people. God worked through Abraham to bring about His work. In their scriptures, God made Abraham an important promise that him and his seed would be blessed forever. That promise has many implications that I’ll elaborate on later.

Next, Judaism is a historic religion. To quote From Plato to Plantinga, “By claiming to be a historical religion, Judaism is not simply saying that the events it depicts in its documents are historical; rather it is claiming that God revealed Himself to the Jewish people in acts of history, not simply through meditation (intuition) as seen in the eastern systems, bit in actual acts of history.” So, their knowledge and faith in God comes from historical acts, meaning sensory perception. Also, the history of our actions comes into play because God is going to judge us for what we’ve done on earth.

Finally, the core claim of Judaism is that they are God’s chosen people. God chose to reveal Himself and his purposes to them and spread his gospel throughout the world. Going back to Abraham and God’s promise to him, the Jews believe that “the seed” refers to them. Abraham’s son Isaac begat Jacob and the twelve tribes of Israel. Jewish people think that Isaac and his descendants are the seed, while Muslims believe that Abraham’s first son, Ishmael, is. Although Ishmael was the first son which traditionally obtains the birthright, he was the son of Abraham and the slave Hagar, while Isaac is the son of Sarah, Abraham’s wife. Also, Isaac was conceived through a miracle because Sarah was much to old to have had a son, just like John the Baptist’s mother Elizabeth. This all points to the Jewish people being God’s chosen people.

Evidence and Logical Support for Judaism

Now onto the evidence and reasoning for Judaism. The main argument is the fact that in spite of being persecuted everywhere they go and having no place to call home for 1800 years, the Jews still kept up their traditions and beliefs. They lived in Israel until it was destroyed, and they were kicked out. For the next 1800 years they were not able to reestablish their nation and wandered from place to place looking for a new home. Everywhere they went they were turned away and discriminated against. The most extreme and horrible example of this is the Holocaust, where millions of Jews were killed in horrible conditions. It was only after the Holocaust that the world finally realized that the Jews needed their own nation to be safe and they were allowed back to Israel. But throughout those 1800 years they continued to stick to their traditions and never gave up on the hope that one day they would be back in Jerusalem. It shows evidence for Judaism that despite all these persecutions they were still able to make it through and God supported them.

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Ethics are very important to Buddhism and all the third model religions, especially Judaism. The Ten Commandments were given to the prophet Moses on Mount Sinai around the time the Jews fled Egypt. Moses also gave them many different rules and laws (literally called the Law of Moses), that all Jews are supposed to abide by. God is going to judge in the age to come based on your works and ethics, so Jews are very particular to make sure their ethics are pleasing to Him. Ethics being impertinent furthers Judaism’s credibility and is the second major argument.

Response to Challenges to Judaism

The main claim of Judaism is how it’s based on historical events. When God appeared to Moses or when he parted the Red Sea are examples of this. Historical events show that they are God’s chosen people. But philosophers have been questioning the legitimacy of these events. The bible claims they happened, but how can we know for sure? Depending on what model your perspective is based on, whether it’s logical or not can differ. Materialism stands to reason that God parting the Red Sea is highly illogical, but the second and third models is the opposite. Scientists have also investigated if the parting of the Red Sea and other claims of miracles could have just been natural occurrences. But some argue that we shouldn’t put limitations on what God can and cannot do, He is the divine creator and can do as He pleases without being questioned. It goes against the claim that He exists.

Also, do we have enough documental evidence that the Jews were even in Egypt and not Canaan? Nothing from Egyptian Records point to this happening. It isn’t a strong claim, however, because it follows the logical fallacy of an argument from silence. If the events of Jews fleeing Egypt happened, there’s no way they’d want to publicize and acknowledge their defeat. Additionally, everything from the Torah and Bible documents needs to be taken with a grain of salt because of the way the Bible has been translated and distributed. A group of men sat down and decided which books would be classified as the Old Testament and which stories weren’t necessary. It’s also been translated numerous times, so who’s to say things weren’t lost in translation? This argument requires faith and intuition to accept that the events did happen until proven otherwise. There has also been archeological evidence that points to the events in the Old Testament being completely plausible.

The next challenge to Judaism is the suffering of the Jewish people. Since the Jews claim to be God’s chosen people, why have they had to endure so much? Suffering isn’t always such a bad thing though. The concept of birth pangs explores that we must suffer in order to get more blessings and have more good things in our life. The movie Mulan claims, “The flower that blooms in adversity is the most beautiful of all.” God could just be testing the Jewish people and letting them grow.

Thirdly, an extreme challenge is that they may have been God’s chosen people in the past, but because they constantly rejected God they aren’t anymore. That claim is warranted because there are numerous examples in their scriptures of this. Right after God delivered them from Egypt, the Jews made a false idol and worshipped that, completely disregarding what the Ten Commandments say. Many opposed to Jews use this to justify cruelty. But just because the Jews need to keep being chastened, the Lord didn’t just give up on them. Judaism claims that we can repent for our mistakes and try again, which is what the Jews have done throughout history when they’ve rejected God. Also, the way the Jews have reacted to God doesn’t change his choice. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, so He can’t take back His choice of the Jews if it contradicts His original choice.

The final challenge is the low number of Jews there are in the world. Why would God’s chosen people be such a small percentage of the world’s population? Judaism has many similar claims to Christianity (Christianity stemmed from Judaism into its own religion), so if it is true then Judaism will also be true, just missing a few details. Christianity makes up 31% of the population, so it makes sense. But otherwise, why does number matter? Going back the argument earlier, we have no right to question God’s ways and choices. Another point is that millions of Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, so the number has gone down drastically and isn’t as high as it would have been otherwise. Most of the challenges are easily refutable, so it just goes back to faith and intuition as to what is true or not.

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