THE RELEVANCE OF RELIGION
I. Taking the question seriously: Does religion [traditional Judaism] advance our goals?
A. social values: statistics on alcoholism, drugs, crime; family success/divorce, literacy and education, contribution to fundamental values and world-view of human civilization [don't trust stereotypes without evidence - e.g. economic crime, throwing stones, etc. Etc.]
B. meaningfulness of life
1. the meaning of individual events as part of a structured life
2. the meaning of a whole life as part of the history of the Jewish people, mankind and the universe
C. the value of truth
1. choosing means to ends
2. evaluating ends - compatibility [and validity]
II. Dissolving the question: relevance is relative to values and goals; the Torah defines values and goals; therefore to evaluate the torah as a tool to realize external values and goals falsifies the Torah's identity - compare questioning (1) the relevance of a person's height to his suitability for a job as an accountant/basketball player; (2) the relevance of the rules of chess to a game of chess; (3) the relevance of a violinist's stock portfolio to his music. The Torah is itself the standard of relevance - the questions is: Is my life relevant to the Torah?