Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Monday, 10 September 2007

A Cult is A Cult is a Cult

I'm on record as saying that I admire R' Yonasan Rosenblum and enjoy his writing. Sometimes I do disagree with him but he always makes an excellent point back up with copious facts. Being human, however, it was inevitable that he would stumble and in a recent column, he did just that.

Now, keep in mind what Rosenblum's job is. He is paid to present the Chareidi world in a positive light. Some days that's not an easy thing to do, especially given the propensity for main-stream media to highlight every fault in that community and ignore their positive aspects. However, he always rises to the charge with great aplomb.

That's why I was shocked by a statement he made in this column. To summarize it, he points out the problems with the whole concept of global warming and how it has become more a religion than a scientific subject. On this point, I fully agree with him. I'm not an expert on the subject, but then again, neither are the vast majority of global warming activitists. If that's the case, why do I disagree with the cause? Mostly because of how it's presented. In any debate about global warming, those who believe it is happening demand, as a prerequisite, that the fact that global warming is happening be taken as given. In other words, it is impossible to discuss with them whether global warming is occuring or not. Cast doubt on that sacred fact and you are a heretic not worth speaking to any longer. When that kind of certainty exists, I get nervous and back off. They can't tell me what the weather is going to be tomorrow but they know what it'll be in 20 years?

Rosenblum expresses a similar point but then writes something which I never expected:

The awakening of all these figures resonates with me. As a consequence, alarms go off in my head every time I hear that the words "debate closed," and that anyone who does not subscribe to a particular view is a moron or morally flawed.

I wrote to Rosenblum after reading this because, amongst other things, he has written before in defence of the current Chareidi leadership and their propensity to make decisions based on "Daas Torah", a fuzzy concept that implies that the Gedolim of that community, through their extraordinary level of Torah learning and piety, have been imbued with a kind of ruach hakodesh that enables them to make the right decisions every time even if halachic discussion might not reach the same conclusions. Daas Torah, in other words, has become a trump card in discussions with Chareidi authorities. Disagree and have sources to back up your position? Daas Torah! And how dare you disagree with that?

Now look at that paragraph again and substitute Daas Torah for Global Warming. Doesn't that sound scary?

1 comment:

Neandershort said...

Bad analogy. Global warming, like any scientific concept, is tested against reality. Not revelations, not "Daas Torah," but empirical evidence. The evidence indicates, beyond a reasonable doubt (but, as always, subject to change in light of new data), that the earth is in fact getting warmer. A bit less certain is that human activity is a principal cause, if not the principal cause. Whether that is the unmitigated catastrophe that it is often played up to be is debatable (I hope to have a post on that soon).
As for not knowing what the weather will be tomorrow but knowing what it will be in 20 years, you sound disturbingly like Rabbi Uren of Slifkingate infamy ( We cannot predict weather, but we can predict climate. Three months from now it will be colder than now. Promise. But the climate is changing, and most parts of earth, especially higher latitudes, are heating up. If you wish to cast doubt on this, you are welcome to. You will not be dismissed as a heretic (that word does not exist in science), as long as you come with hard data and not the rantings of greybeards who know absolutely nothing about the subject.