Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Kabbalah is a Science. No Really.

Madonna's husband Guy Ritche (director of the "movie" Swept Away) has added his famous wife's religion to the lists of sciences. Yes, Kabbalah is now, according to this Guy guy a science.

Quick Guy, what qualifies something as a science?

Rather than subject you all to an infinite expanse of Jeopardy music I will give Kabbalah a quick evaluation. Are the elements of Kabbalah ever subjected to the scientific method. Do practitioners ever formulate experiments which have the potential to support or falsify the statements of Kabbalah? Have their statements ever been altered due to the results of such experiments? Do practitioners of Kabbalah publish their statements and experiments testing them so as to solicit criticism from their peers? Three strikes. While we are at it maybe Tom Cruise could answer the same questions about Scientology. Are their any celebrities out there who are interested in real science? Even the televised holy folk have Dr. Pat Robertson to hold up the science end of their world.

Now this is not saying that Kabbalah is without any factual knowledge or that it is not based on the experience of those who invented it (though what I have been able to discover about it makes it sound somewhat fluffy in the knowledge department). Local tribal shamans in the rain forests have a good deal of knowledge about local medicinal plants and other technical knowledge yet shamanism is not a science because it has nothing resembling a scientific method or peer review. Trial and error can discover a lot of knowledge but it can also result in some pointless and potentially dangerous practices being incorporated into your culture as traditions.

What is interesting is that when some movements or followers of a belief (astrologers, pet-psychics, dowsers etc.) wants to be considered legitimate they claim to be a science but when the rules and obligations of science are put to them they claim that science and scientists are closed-minded and oppressive by nature (that never includes themselves).

Oh well. (I seem to have no other response to life these days.)

UPDATE: It gets worse. It always gets worse doesn't it? Guy's latest movie Revolver is in the running against Swept Away for worst movie ever. ("Clever people get it.")

That last link is to an article which reminded me that this new modern "Kabbalah Center" Kabbalah is like a Scientology version of the old Kabbalah sect:

"Other revenue is raised from the sale of dubious merchandise, such as an Pounds 18 red string wristband and special water costing Pounds 2.80 a bottle. And the path to what the organisation's leaders call 'the divine light' does not come cheap. Visitors to the London HQ are asked to pay Pounds 151 for an initial consultation.

Rabbi Berg himself is a controversial figure. Among his many wild claims is the assertion that a 'positive flow of energy' can cure illness and make people rich, and that Jews would have survived the Holocaust had they only studied Kabbalah."

Really? Maybe the "special water" helps you fly over barbed wire barricades and makes you impervious to bullets. No wonder it costs 2.8 pounds for a bottle. What a deal! But if Hamas ever gets hold of this stuff there will be suicide air raids. Don't fire until you see the red of their wrist bands.

Does this new Kabbalah involve smoking crack for "ceremonial purposes"?


At Fri. Sep. 23, 09:45:00 a.m. 2005, Anonymous Josia said...

Hello fellow Canadian! Keep researching .... :)

At Fri. Sep. 23, 10:56:00 p.m. 2005, Blogger Apesnake said...


Actually, between the fact that Kabbalah takes ancient Jewish scriptures more seriously than I do and the whole numerology thing, I doubt that I will be doing all that much research into it in the near future. There are a number of other things I am far more interested in.

I think I will wait and see which movement, Kabbalah or Scientology gains the most celebrity adherents and then join the winning team. Oh hell - who am I kidding? I was born a snake handler and I will die a snake handler.

Thanks for your comment.

At Sat. Sep. 24, 03:29:00 p.m. 2005, Blogger Robert said...

I was born a snake handler and I will die a snake handler.

Some admit it and the rest lie about it.

At Sun. Sep. 25, 12:53:00 a.m. 2005, Blogger Apesnake said...

Not exactly what I meant... I'm not saying the shoe doesn't fit but that's between me and my biographer. I loose more biographers that way than I care to mention.


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