The Courage To Believe: Wisdom of Kahana
One can expect in my professional circle that it is only natural that my colleagues will challenge my unswerving faith in God, considering Science has become their golden idol and they have little tolerance of anything or anyone they can’t see, taste or feel. But equally, I am challenged by those belonging to the more established religions, deeming Karaism irrelevant and lacking the formal structures and trappings of ‘organized’ religion that they treasure so much. It does take courage to follow a path that is contrary to the pressures exerted by our peers, society, and the world in general. Following the path of Karaism does take true faith, determination and the strength of conviction in what you hold sacred and important. In both aforementioned situations, I clearly see two bipolar communities, not much different from one another because each has their own false idols to worship. Though the scientists will never admit they see a supreme hand working the mechanisms of the universe even though they chase after an elusive subatomic particle with creator capabilities, those on the opposing end of the scale cannot admit that their excuses for festivals, holidays, lavish gift-giving, and exotically dressed and well provided for clergy have nothing to do whatsoever with true faith.
The Science Argument
Let’s put the first debatable point on the table. There is no scientific proof that God does not exist. It is the other side of the coin that you never hear. All that you are constantly drip fed from science worshippers is the reverse statement that there is no proof that God does exist but I strongly disagree with that point, as did Albert Einstein. There is an order to the universe. There is a cosmic infrastructure that keeps us from disestablishing ourselves into utter chaos. Science made a physical law that all matter will break down towards chaos, all energy will leach until it is barely perceptible, yet our reality, our continued existence says that this is not the case. Whether it be the cosmos, the galaxies, the solar system, the ecosystem, and our own lives as well as those of other organisms, we actually attempt to achieve balance and cohesiveness. A continual striving to prevent what is deemed an eventual and unavoidable degradation or devolution. The actuality is in fact opposite to this Law of Entropy. Life is a constant effort to move forwards, not backwards. To do so, whether we acknowledge it or not, means there is a force, a power, that constantly strives against the return to chaos. So there is absolutely nothing by which they can prove that God does not exist, yet the burden of proof is constantly placed on the shoulders of those who wish to exclaim their belief in the Almighty. Those with faith are forced to defend their faith while those that challenge it in the name of science merely pretend to know what they do not know, without any proven hypothesis.
The Religious Myth Argument
As for those that claim to have faith in the Almighty but as part of much larger organized religions, they are simply admitting they are unable to live without myth, unaware of true purpose in life and accepting the routine drudgery of existence as some sort of penance until they receive a reward after they have left this earthly realm. Clearly, they too, just like the science party, have not understood the essential meaning of Faith in God. Theirs is a religion of political policy, of social welfare, of finding a means to fight their own personal emptiness and loneliness. It is a self-serving religion that most often leads to violence because it cannot tolerate any other claim that someone might make that they too have filled that emptiness with a different supreme being. Theirs is a faith not based in the moral and ethical foundations of God’s commandments through the Torah but instead they are nothing more than scared and befuddled men huddling together in the dark and shouting in unison into the blackness in order to provide themselves with courage. Theirs are religions incorporating myth more than logic, seeking comfort in tales where the metaphors have been stripped and the message lost. One can only chase a myth so long before they become a casualty of the emptiness they have been seeking to avoid. So when one proclaims that the only true path is through religious orthodoxy, whether it be Christian, Muslim or Jewish, then I can only say that their words are shallow, since their beliefs follow trends and idioms that have more to do with the charisma of certain men than they ever had to do with a true belief in God. Where is the self-assurance, the quiet dignity and the inner peace that illuminated the spirits of those that marched alongside Moses as he journeyed through the desert? Those that proclaim they possess such inner peace do so from their high powered SUVs, their beachfront Condos, their penthouse apartments, while wearing their designer clothes. It is not their understanding of God that has provided them with inner peace but the trappings of luxury that they consider their just rewards for having such faith. Meanwhile those cut from the same religious fabric that do not share in the prosperity possessed by some have no inner peace as they feed off their envy, desires, to be rewarded similarly, opining God with their complaints of his indifference and inequality. Theirs is a belief in believing in a reward which they believe they are due and God has become only a means to an end, serving their justification for any action undertaken as a means to seeking those rewards. It is a religion of wants and desires, unable to find inner peace because there is no acquisition of complete satisfaction.
Lights, Camera, Action
Those that challenge my simple belief in Karaism are victims of their own frustrations, their own need to feed their addiction for stimulation of their senses. This is true of both the scientist and the ‘true’ believer in organized religious circles. They feed off the panorama of life, the thrills of seizing as much as possible in the shortest available time. The adage of “he who dies with the most toys, Wins!” providing their sense of value and purpose. Real life to them is a vicious cycle of performing jobs they resent, tasks that are boring, purchasing ‘essentials’ they don’t really need, all the while convincing themselves that this is the true meaning of life and justified either through their science or religious observance. There is a choice though. You can either pursue these new myths, these false gods in the name of science or religion, only to find that even as you reinvent these myths, that life does not improve and the futility of existence becomes even more burdensome, or you can return to the past, where beliefs and understanding were clear and perceptible, and knowing right from wrong was more important than finding shades of grey. The Karaite faith in today’s world is revolutionary. It proposes that the best way to move forward is to ground yourself firmly in the past. The original word of God is ground breaking, refreshing and as I mentioned revolutionary to a world that has abandoned it for the most part long ago. Both science and religion as expressed by my detractors have made the common error of replacing the original teachings with symbols and instead of relying on the word of God as it was directly written, they chase after these symbols that are but pale imitations. Symbols are hollow, in many cases merely false representations of the original, and thus only further amplifying the emptiness that plagues today’s societies. Without a direct reference to the concrete reality to which all these symbols point, their journey becomes one of misadventure and misdirection.
So in answer to why there is only the one path, that being Karaism, that I would ever follow, then I can only point to the emptiness, shallowness and false pursuits of all those that wish to point out my error and say to them, “Do you even understand the meaning of inner peace? I do.”
Avrom Aryeh-Zuk Kahana