Reply to a Skeptic Scholar’s Query Calling the Faith Mere “Magical Thinking”

Artwork by Elhanan ben-Avraham

Dear Dr. Rx: well, if this is all only “magical thinking” then there is really nothing worth explaining, any more than we could explain “Alice in Wonderland.” And the Bible can be put aside in the garage with old Superman comic books, and Mad magazines. But if there is something more to this, then perhaps we can give it a shot, according to my understanding (at least in part, for your queries would require a volume).

First, Life and Existence and Consciousness remains a Mystery, no matter who has ever attempted to solve it in its entirety through science, religion, or philosophy. Second, I’m sure in your long career in psychiatry you’ve encountered pretty much every form of ‘thinking’ under the sun, and categorized and filed them away within that venerable box of ordered scientific thinking.  But I don’t believe you’ve nailed that box shut as have some such as Dawkins and Hawking, but wisely left open an escape hatch- just in case.

Up until 1977 I would certainly have skeptically considered any religious ideas as “magical thinking.”  But since a certain Encounter in 1977 I’ve instead concluded that ‘nothing is too good to be true.’  That amazing encounter in Brazil  proved to this Jew (as nothing else possibly could) that there is indeed another existent dimension in which dwells the Creator, who is called “Holy”- kadosh in Hebrew, which means “separate”- who is not in the trees or the beasts or the human, but is the Creator of all that, like an artist outside his canvas, if you will.  In that dimension dwells the risen Messiah, who like Jacob’s Ladder forged a path between those dimensions, in order that whoever would, may find both the living G-d and solace and eternal Life. It is for any who would humble oneself and accept that priceless gift of forgiveness paid where those two dimensions intersect in the Messiah, and life conquers death. There at that open door my sin is carried away and flushed forever and, like a daily bath in an ever-flowing spring, is always available for renewal and fresh washing.

Yes, I do admit to some very sad human disappointments, and some who have indeed unfortunately turned this into magical thinking, into displays of fantasies of wishful thinking, just as the gift of fire may cook our food, heat our homes and fill them with light, or may be misused to burn down the town and the forest – as we still have free will to do good or evil. And the historic evil performed in his name is not Yeshua’s teaching that caused the evil, any more than if I tell you, as did he, to “love your enemies, do good to those who persecute you, forgive those who have wronged you, bless those who curse you,” but you instead choose to go and murder your neighbor and rape his wife and daughter.

As to your query regarding the future, I do not too much dwell on eschatology, but I do understand that in the latter days the Jewish people would actually  return to the Land of Israel, and through the most devastating hopelessness of the Holocaust that indeed became a significant reality in our time (I am three years older than the State of Israel). And, lo and behold, your humble servant surprisingly ended up here in a place I would have never dreamed of or desired and, called here by Heaven, very blessed in helping to build this young and struggling phenomenon of a nation. It is also my understanding that in all things there is purpose– purpose in design and purpose in history. The return and restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land after 2000 years, and the restoration of the Holy Land to its former glory and strength, is in preparation for that return of the Messiah who, to my greatest surprise and delight, odd as that may seem, is Alive indeed.  That return, which will occur in a world like a woman giving birth after some travail (as the wickedness and rebellion of humanity against G-d finally succeeds to its ultimate fruition upon the Earth as the days of Noah), will be the apocalyptic and glorious intersection of those two dimensions of Time and Eternity, where everything is possible, and a new beginning for those who have sought the Kingdom of G-d.

“May our eyes behold your return unto Zion in mercy; blessed are you Adonai, who returns his presence to Zion”- from the Siddur- the Jewish Prayer Book.