One of the dangers of making blanket statements is having to deal with important exceptions to those statements. It's a lot easier to say "Most people think..." or "The majority of people say..." than "Everyone thinks..." or "Everyone says..." The latter statements might land you in an indefensible position and then your argument is lost.
Of course just because that's true it doesn't stop people from doing just that, especially some frum folks who really should know better.
For example, a recent controversy in Toronto illustrates this exact point. The whole thing started with the publication of yet another Kugel-style book, Torah From Heaven. Like others that have come before the author has decided to put greater faith in academics than tradition and has written a book to reconcile his desire to believe in the divinity of the Torah with his intellectual inability to do so. Billed as a book for the skeptical Orthodox it's more another tome for the Orthoprax - those amongst us who talk the talk but don't believe a word of what they're saying. For those who understand the incredible limitations of the Documentary Hypothesis and the weak positions academics based themselves on it's yet another cry of lack of faith hidden as desire for intellectual truth. In other words: yawn.
That hasn't stopped those who share this (lack of) belief in the truth of Torah from gushing over it. Dr. Rabbi Martin Lockshin of Toronto, for example, wrote a glowing review of the book. He goes over the general contents and, in an open concession to the Orthoprax, announces:
Rabbi Solomon argues further that historical scholarship makes it impossible to believe that Moses was the author of Genesis to Deuteronomy, or that our text of the Torah today is identical to the original one. The Talmud often quotes biblical verses whose wording or spelling differs from our own (as do Rashi and basically every other Bible commentator who lived before the days of the printing press).
Really? It's impossible to believe that Moshe Rabeinu, a"h, was the author of the Torah? Impossible? Or would the author and his followers just like to believe that so they can pursue their erroneous thesis? Further, the word "often" in "The Talmud often quotes biblical verses" is also erroneous. It does occur, true, and on a couple of cases this misquotes have halachic implications but it is not often by any serious definition of the word. Rashi's misquotes also number less than a dozen. Hardly a resounding basis of support.
The logic the author of the book uses is quite simple: it's a principle of faith that we believe that the Torah we have today is pretty much the one Moshe Rabeinu finished up before his death (with a few notable exceptions). The Orthoprax can't accept this and so declare it to be impossible because modern secular academics say so. And since it's impossible it can't still be a principle of faith. Presto! You don't have to believe in Torah miSinai to be a good Jew!
As far as that goes it's yet another tempest in a teapot. Dr. Rabbi Lockshin, for example, is the leader of a small-time partnership minyan slowly moving towards right wing Conservatism. His views are hardly going to be bandied about mainstream Jewish institutions in Toronto with any seriousness. Like all the other hard-care Orthopraxers out there who would like to believe that they aren't a small minority he is not a threat to mainstream genuine Orthodoxy.
So what does the Toronto Board of Rabbis do? It's leading lights, Ravs Shochet, Ochs and Miller, issue a blanket condemnation stating: "Halacha rules unequivocally that the denial of the G-dly origin of "even a single word" in the Torah... contravenes this principle (that our Torah is 100% identical to Moshe Rabeinu's) and constitutes kefirah b'Torah".
There are two problems with this response. The first is that it's overkill. Dr. Rabbi Lockshin wasn't suggesting a small part of the Torah, a few verses here and there, have been added, substracted or altered over time. He is endorsing that the document itself isn't min haShamayim at all! Why take such an ideological position when it would have been far simpler to say "Jews must believe in matan Torah in order to be considered Orthodox" and leave it at that?
But the second problem is far more difficult. As Prof. Marc Shapiro shows in his work, The Limits of Orthodox Theology, there is plenty of legitimate evidence that small changes have occured to the text of the Torah over time. Starting with a baraisa in maseches Sofrim which openly discusses Ezra editing the Torah after the return from Babylon in order to produce a reliable text, moving on to the rare times the Talmud misquotes a verse from the Torah and through various Rishonim and Acharonim who openly discuss the problem and its implication for fulfilling the mitzvah of listening to krias haTorah there is enough talk in the mesorah literature about the issue. To state that 98% of the Torah we have today was what was handed to Moshe Rabeinu is doable. To state it's 100% denies Chazal and the subsequent poskim who examined the facts. Yet this is exactly what the Toronto Board of Rabbis does in its proclamation. For them you're either 100% in or you're 100% out.
So here's the problem: their position is vulnerable. Start at a position of 98% and you take away all your opponent's arguments. Through a defense of the integrity of the text through its explanations in the Talmud and Midrash along with genuine scholarship that proves the antiquity and indivisibilty of the Torah the Orthodox position can be maintained. Start at 100% and you're easily disproved and once that happens there is no red line stopping critics from moving from a 98% position to a 0%. What's more, there can be no Orthodox counterargument since the original position was so unworkable.
The mishnah in Avos at the end of chapter 1 tells us there's nothing better than silence. Another mishnah tells the sages to be exceedingly careful with their words lest bad consequences result. Perhaps these mishnayos should have guided the proclamation.