Reading Midrashes (definition below) has been a wonderful experience for me and sometimes an astonishing experience. For example, some sages had to determine whether an oven was ritually pure. Rabbi Eliezer said no, the others said yes and apparently there had to be total agreement; a holdout had veto power. Eliezer called upon God to prove him right, and the proof came in the form of miracles and when the sages did not accept such evidence, a voice from on high declared Eliezer to be correct . . . and still they did not agree. Think about this. Supernatural events occurred all confirming that Eliezer was correct. How could anyone reject such powerful support? But, the sages argued that once God had provided divine law, He no longer had a voice in interpretation because the law was perfect. It was up to human beings exercising free will to do their best to understand God’s law and that meant a vote.
This was a remarkable transformation. Human beings were responsible; they could not turn to God for His opinion they had to rely on themselves. For better or worse, they had cast aside seeking his guidance for their own understandings. When God was questioned about their action, he responded laughingly, “My children have defeated me. My children have defeated me.” In other words, humans had made God irrelevant; all of life had to be decided by humans trying to understand what made sense. Divine law only had meaning provided by human understanding.
You must understand that a Midrash is a story designed to get at some truth about Jewish theology, or law or daily existence. They usually begin with some trivial issue and come to conclusions about major topics that are often clearly fantastic. The word, Midrash, means search; a Midrash is an exploration.
The story is ostensibly about a power struggle between the rabbi and his colleagues, but the stakes are quite high. It is not about the stove or ritual cleanliness but about how Jews should orient themselves to the universe. That is a big issue indeed, but the sages, never daunted, took it on.
Understanding the relationship between humans and God must have been a major struggle between the sages. Where was truth? Did God provide it or did humans have to stumble around it to try to get some semblance of divine reality. Was the universe understandable or did humans have to rely on themselves to circle around it, make mistakes before finally reach some approximation of it. And, did the one man who spoke in God's name control everything or were decisions reached by a vote. If the former, it presaged tyranny. Rulers notoriously ruled as gods, in god's name or by divine right; their dicta could not be challenged nor could they be deposed. If the latter, there could be no such leaders.
The rulers created parliaments or similar bodies who voted to raise taxes for whatever enterprise the ruler wanted. In spite of the despots’ attempts to eliminate them, they began to place conditions on providing funds and ultimately they were successful. (Actually, it was chancy. The British Parliament was the only such European body to survive. It took a long time for other countries to create viable alternatives)
More important, science became possible. The days when Truth was dispensed by God or His representative were numbered. Science doesn't seek the truth but knowledge and the knowledge is always conditional awaiting new ideas and new evidence to supersede it. The difference between received knowledge and discovered knowledge is profound and understanding the difference has produced what we call science.
Wow, all of that packed into one Midrash. I don't know whether any of the above can directly be traced back to it, but it does speak about a Jewish perspective that raised important questions about humans’ relationship to the universe. Not all Jewish religions would adhere to the above, and certainly, other religions might take umbrage, but the sages, hundreds, perhaps thousands of years ago knew what they were about.