Friday, July 11, 2008

Intellifundie Cookbook

1. C"V You encounter evidence that doesn't fit your assumptions/belief about reality (Torah is divine, Judaism is true, G-d exists)

WARNING! Do not attempt to challenge your beliefs fully or to add up all the evidence. Rather, handle each piece of evidence piecemeal. If you feel yourself at any point "adding up the evidence" or challenging your beliefs (C"V), consult your local Halachik authority ASAP!
In the meantime, feel free to tell yourself any of the following:
G-d is just testing you.
It's just your Yetser Hara. Fight it!
You know it's true.
You have a loving community.
You have a loving family.
You have a responsibility to your people.
You want your kids to be Jewish etc.

2. Classify the evidence. If it's old evidence (ie. it was noticed by Midrash/Talmud/Medieval rabbis):

a. Claim it's been handled 'many times' already and that the issue has been beaten to death.
b. Follow one or several of the above sources.

3. If it's modern evidence (no good sources are available):

a. Claim it's been handled 'many times' already and that the issue has been beaten to death.
b. Challenge the methodology of the evidence.
c. Evidence = problem? Nope, evidence = Deeper meaning!
Rather than challenging your assumptions, claim it's obvious that the problem was there all along (despite the fact no-one was capable of knowing it until modern times) and clearly it was meant as a sign to understand things metaphorically (Or as Sod or Mashal or whatever you want to call it).
d. Use philosophical tricks. What is truth? Who knows anything anyway? What is evidence next to the knowledge of truth (which you, of course, have)? Go PoMo if you want! Go crazy!
e. Last resort: If you must, change your assumptions/beliefs a teeny bit to suggest the possibility of the evidence being right while keeping your beliefs mostly intact.
Try to find an obscure source, which you can reinterpret to support your view! Your view will be that much more legitimate!
Remember the card up your sleeve called G-d! G-d can do anything!
Remember also, you don't ever have to commit to these changes in your belief, just suggest that you can accept the possibility of them being true when pressed about this evidence in public.
4. Avoid confrontation: One additional option you should consider, is to hold off reconciling evidence with your beliefs in the first place. Why deal with the headache of contradiction when you can just avoid it altogether?

a. Compartmentalization. It works for some, it drives others batty, but it may be worth a shot. If you can't square the evidence with your belief, just place it in another part of your mind. Preferably a part you'll never find again. If you're really skilled, you can switch back and forth at will... Like schizophrenia, the more you do it, the easier it gets! Just don't expect to keep this up for long... in that case, you might want to go back to the previous options.

b. Live with the contradiction - Similar to a, expect you recognize that a contradiction exists and face it by... stalling. The saying "you don't die from a kashya" is typical of this approach. You recognize the fact that mankind still doesn't have answers to many questions, and you hope that mankind either a) doesn't get too much of a clue about this particular question or b) mankind finds an answer that you actually like. In the meantime, just push this issue aside.

Tip: We know we've said it before, but especially if you choose this path, please remember never to add up the masses of questions you've been saving for later.

5. Rinse, repeat.


1. If you used only 2, 3a and 3b then we're very sorry but you're still just plain old Charedi. You have yet to master the art of the Intellifundie.

2. If you've used a lot of 3c, 3d and especially 3e then congratulations! You're now an Intellifundie! You're the one person who knows how to reconcile the one true faith with the one true reality! All Gedolim now teach nonsense as far as you're concerned, 'common' Jewish teachings are drivel to you, but Judaism itself (as envisioned by YOU) is intact!

(3. If you used 4a, you may be the most stable-looking person in the world, but you're really a ticking time bomb! OK it's true that some people are good with avoiding confrontation with the evidence or living in alternate parallel worlds in their minds, but for goodness' sakes lad, yer gonna blow! 4b is a far better choice, and we recommend shifting to the other strategies ASAP.)