Why are humans religious? As an aspiring rabbi, this is a central question of my life.
As we discover more and more about the brain, will neuroscientific “explanations” about moral behavior become “excuses”? How “free” are we, and how would we even know?
If we are aiming to truly change the world, we need to think more broadly and more rationally.
As medical technologies continue to grow, we are able to save many more people than in the past. But the ethical challenges will only increase.
Technologies penetrate every aspect of our lives, often in ways we aren’t even aware of. What Jewish values can and should guide our use of technology?
As someone whose shelves are overflowing with books about cognitive science, and who often integrates these findings with Jewish teachings, I want to share three books that teach Jewish ideas.
Passover reminds us that we are free, which means that we have the freedom to choose how we act. Yet those actions will ultimately define who we are.
Different forms of stealing have different “feels” to them. Physically taking money from another person feels more violent, more immediate, and less justifiable of an action. “Cooking the books,” however, can easily feel explainable by the perpetrator.
There often is tension between our religious beliefs and our religious identities — between our religious teachings that tell us to be compassionate to all people, and the way religious groups can create an “us” and “them” mentality. But “who we are” is very much “what we do.”
There’s naturally a fear that a rise of moral individualism will lead to moral relativism, where the rules and norms that define our society will no longer hold. But while an ethic of “do what you feel” would obviously be disastrous, there may be a way to transform this “moral individualism” into “moral ownership.”