Rubin, Israel Netanel
Junior Fellow: November 2017–October 2018
Research Project: Scepticism and Use of Sceptical Methods for Theological Purposes
Beside the classical scepticism for the sake of scepticism, sceptical methods have been used throughout history for other reasons as well. This happened as philosophers and theologians used sceptical arguments to doubt the ability of reason to recognise the world, when their true purpose was not scepticism per se, but rather the establishment of alternative, irrational ways of knowing reality. It can be said that in such cases, scepticism is used cynically, but it is still important to investigate this special use of scepticism and to understand its connections to classical scepticism.
One of the common cases of the tendentious use of scepticism occurs when science and religion clash. In such cases, several apologetic theologians attempt to beat rationality at its own game by using sceptical methods as a tool to challenge the scientific worldview. Historically, the first widespread use of such scepticism was made, beginning in the eighth century, by the Islamic Kalam. This approach continues to this day and is heard, for example, during debates between evolutionists and their religious opponents.
In this context, I would like to explore the historical use of scepticism and sceptical methods as part of Jewish rabbis' and theologians' confrontations with the contradictions between reality as described by science and the reality described in Halachic literature.
Israel Netanel Rubin received his PhD from the Hebrew University, in which he discussed the limitation of God’s omnipotence and the problem of God’s subordination to laws of logic and mathematics in Jewish philosophy and theology.