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About 18 months ago, I began contemplating earnestly investigating converting to Judaism, which three years of casual thinking and reading about god had engendered.

I regard this interest in converting as a consequence of reason and intuition. That said, in writing, I can express my rationale more effectively than I can convey my sentiments. For that reason, I've rendered that rationale below. In points one through five, I emboldened the important elements; please feel free to skip the rest.

  1. A god, as commonly conceived, exists: Three years ago I read an argument for the existence of an omnipotent entity that created the universe. The arguments convinced me.
  2. This god has preferences: Later, I reasoned that omnipotence depends on having preferences: Not all things are possible. For instance, without equivocating, I cannot exist and not exist. So an omnipotent thing can do anything, but not everything. Without preferences, a (pseudo) omnipotent thing might effect one set of mutually possible things. However, that entity does not have preferences, so it could never have preferred to do other than what it did, and so would only ever effect everything it effected, which necessarily excludes it from doing somethings. However, an omnipotent entity must have the capability to do all things. Accordingly, we cannot call an omnipotent entity that has no preferences omnipotent; at most we we might call it maximally efficacious.
  3. This god intended to create us: Considering the entity's omnipotency and that we exist, he must have preferred to create us. So he created us, neither by accident, nor from necessity; rather, he must have chosen to create us.
  4. It seems probable that this god prefers that we know about him: Considering that, and that we knew about this entity before we had arguments for his existence; that much of the world independently came to believe in a god similar to the one who I've described above. (Note that I acknowledge that there are inconsistencies among the various conceptions of god, and that most people who believe in the god I described above have that belief because the Jews had that belief before them.)
  5. It seems probable that Judaism has the most accurate conception of this god: As I wrote above, the various conceptions are inconsistent. So it seems implausible that one could derive an accurate conception of the concept of god from syncreticism. Maybe some minor religion has the most accurate conception of god, but for a number of considerations, that also seems implausible. So only the major religions remain. I spent an appreciable amount of time studying each of them. Buddhism does not believe in an omnipotent god; Hinduism believes in manifold gods. But the argument I referenced in my first point precludes the existence of multiple gods. That leaves the Abrahamic religions: Islam depends on rewritten scripture; accordingly, I doubt its fidelity. Much the Christian New Testament contradicts the Old Testament. However, the New Testament depends on the Old Testament; accordingly, either both, the Old Testament and the New Testament, are inaccurate, or only the Old Testament is accurate.

I have read what a gentile must do to be regarded as righteous; needless to say, it's pages less than what a Jew must do to be regarded as righteous. While the former seems easier, it also strikes me as less fulfilling.

Saying all that to say, I have thought about this. I'd really like to take the next step. What should I do?

marked as duplicate by Monica Cellio Mar 9 '14 at 21:26

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    Hi Hal and welcome to Mi Yodeya. We don't give personal advice here (that's a matter for a rabbi, not a collection of anonymous Internet people), so this question may get tweaked a bit to change the "what should I do?" aspect to be more general. Speaking personally, it sounds like you've thought about this and that you should be seeking out a rabbi to work with; see the answers on the other question for some other advice there. I wish you success in your journey! – Monica Cellio Mar 9 '14 at 21:21
  • @Hal Hey, out of curiosity, what was the argument/article that convinced you of God? I'd love to give it a read. :) – WhoKnows Mar 9 '14 at 21:43
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    @devirkahan Hm. It was a collection of arguments in concert. Consider Bertrand Russell's (an atheist, if there ever were one) response to Godel's ontological proof: "The Argument does not, to a modern mind, seem very convincing, but it is easier to feel that it must be fallacious than it is to nd out precisely where the fallacy lies." That to me seems to characterize contemporary philosophical comments about god. 'We don't need to refute the idea, it's just silly to begin with.' I say that to say, it's very hard to find philosophers giving theistic arguments a fair shake. – Hal Mar 9 '14 at 22:25
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    So, in this case, I think it's important to be careful not to defer to the 'experts' as we often do. (I.e. critically consider their rebuttals). I know the Catholics have a fairly robust (and under appreciated) extant philosophical tradition. I've never examined their journals, but I suspect they have published some good arguments. I don't know, but I suspect, that Judaism has a similar body of philosophical work. (That said, no matter who publishes a good argument for god, both benefit.) – Hal Mar 9 '14 at 22:30
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    Finally, here's a link to Godel's ontological proof: math.stackexchange.com/questions/248548/… Also, the argument for idealism is at least as strong as the argument for materialism. Moreover, prima facie, idealism wins (you have to prove materialism, idealism is self-evident by definition). Idealism makes god very probable, if not necessary. There are luculent three or four line arguments for idealism, it's worth a google. – Hal Mar 9 '14 at 22:34

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