When debating the divinity of the Torah, Jewish apologists will inevitably bring up the Kuzari Hypothesis, a proof from mass revelation. Apologetics range from the simple "3 million people saw it so it must be true" to the more sophisticated arguments.
The simple version can be refuted by pointing out that the argument is simply circular reasoning:
- We know the Torah is true because 3 million people saw the revelation.
- How do we know that 3 million people saw the revelation?
- Because the Torah says so and the Torah is true!
The more sophisticated version, as formulated by Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb, goes like this:
"Let E be a possible event which, had it really occurred, would have left behind enormous, easily available evidence of its occurrence. If the evidence does not exist, people will not believe that E occurred."
What he is saying is that people will not believe in an event if there should be evidence of the event but that evidence is lacking. He calls it the Kuzari Principle.
Does Gottlieb provide any evidence for this principle? Not really. It seems to be merely an Argument from Ignorance on his part. He does point out that there are no parallels. But that's simply a red herring. The existence of parallels is irrelevant. What we need is evidence of this hypothesis's truth.
Moreover, it seems that we actually have evidence that the hypothesis is false. Millions of Jews and Christians believe in a worldwide flood and a mass exodus of Jews from Egypt. These events, had they occurred for real, would have left enormous easily available evidence behind. But they didn’t. Yet people still believe in it anyway.
Most will try to rationalize away the evidence for these historical events by claiming that "it was a miracle so it didn't leave evidence behind". Similarly, when presented with the revelation story, the ancient Israelites would have reasoned that the sinful ways of their forefathers, who were idol worshippers, caused them to forget the revalation.
Let's further analyze Gottlieb's hypothesis.
What does Gottlieb mean by "enormous, easily available evidence"? The Jewish tradition? I'm not sure how that could be enormous evidence. And as for easily available, most of the people in those days didn't have a clue of their own history. How many people these days know what their ancestors were doing 500 years ago? And this is in the age of modern recording and documentation!
So in sum, what we have is a story, written in one book by one or more unknown authors, that many people believe to be true. Judaism is no different than any other religion in this regard.
This blog post is has only focused on one aspect of the argument. Much more can be said about it, including the process of myth formation, the gaps in Jewish tradition, and the presence of parallels.