Monday, July 03, 2006

Questions for Atheists

Ten Questions No Atheist Can Answer Convincingly

#1 - If no supernatural Creator exists, how did the universe originate?
Jewish answer: God created the universe.

#2 - If no supernatural universal Designer exists, why is the universe suitable for the existence of life?
Jewish answer: God deliberately designed the universe to be suitable for life.

#3 - If no supernatural universal Designer exists, how did life originate?
Jewish answer: God created life.

#4 - If no supernatural universal Designer exists, what caused the repeated disappearance of more primitive forms of life and the appearance of new more advanced forms of life?
[For example, at the beginning of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic.]
Jewish answer: God created and destroyed several previous worlds before the current one.

#5 - If no God exists who can work miracles and communicate with men, how did the Jewish people come to believe that their ancestors experienced the Exodus and the Revelation at Mt. Sinai?
Jewish answer: The Exodus and Mt. Sinai Revelation did occur.

#6 - If God did not give the Torah at Mt. Sinai, why is Jewish literature divided into five levels and scholars in later levels universally considered themselves to be inferior to scholars in earlier levels? [The levels are: prophets, rabbis of the Mishnah, rabbis of the Talmud, earlier Talmudic commentaries and later Talmud commentaries.]
Jewish answer: The Jewish people were raised to a very high spiritual level at Mt. Sinai, and then gradually declined.

#7 - If we have no soul, why do we feel conscious of ourselves?
Jewish answer: We have a soul.

#8 - If we have no free will, why do we feel that we are making free choices?
Jewish answer: We have free will.

#9 - If no God exists, why are we obligated to be nice other people?
Jewish answer: God obligates us to do to others as we want them to do to us.

#10 – If no covenant exists between God and the Jews, stipulating that the Jews must observe the Torah or be killed, why did the Germans kill 6 million Jews?
Jewish answer: The Jews made such an agreement with God as recorded in Leviticus 26. When European Jews ceased observing the Torah, they broke the agreement and suffered the consequences.

Considering how poorly atheism, compared to Judaism explains the world one wonders how atheism can possibly be more popular than Judaism.

The answer seemingly is quite simple. A rabbi will tell people that they must limit themselves with all sorts of rules. An atheist will tell people that they can do whatever feels good. Who will most people rather listen too?

67 comments:

aaron said...

I just found your blog and it's great. That answer from Dr. Theobold should be required reading. Basically isn't he saying that the proof that all these amazing things can happen by chance is that we're around so it must have happened? This is the best they can come up with?

jewish philosopher said...

Thanks for the compliment.

I didn't find Theobald very convincing either and he is supposed to be a major authority on evolution.

jewishskeptic said...

>"#1 - If no supernatural Creator exists, how did the universe originate?
Jewish answer: God created the universe"

And who created God?
I f God emerged without a cause you can say the same about the univese.

#5 - If no God exists who can work miracles and communicate with men, how did the Jewish people come to believe that their ancestors experienced the Exodus and the Revelation at Mt. Sinai?
Jewish answer: The Exodus and Mt. Sinai Revelation did occur"

Stupid question. How do all mythologies arise?
If you have an answer to this question you'll understand that the Hebrew mythology is no different.

& FYI there were no Jews at Har Sinai,only Benei Israel or Hebrews.
The first time the name yehudi (Judean) is mentioned in the bible is in Zechariah & Jeremiah.
Before you presume to lecture on Judaism you should study the bible
& post bilical lit. & also Hebrew -the strong impression that I have, that more than a smattering,you don't know.

>"Jewish answer: The Jewish people were raised to a very high spiritual level at Mt. Sinai, and then gradually declined"

They were at such a 'very spritual level' that right away they worshipped a golden calf!
Makes sense,doesn't it?


>"#8 - If we have no free will, why do we feel that we are making free choices?"

Feelings don't prove anything.
People have all kinds of feelings.


>"#10 – If no covenant exists between God and the Jews, stipulating that the Jews must observe the Torah or be killed, why did the Germans kill 6 million Jews?
Jewish answer: The Jews made such an agreement with God as recorded in Leviticus 26. When European Jews ceased observing the Torah, they broke the agreement and suffered the consequences"

And that's way most of the Jews killed by the Germans were religious,observant Jews...
Historians of the Shoah tell us that religious Jews fared much worse than the secular Jews.

But arguing with you is like arguing with an ignorant Christian fundamentalit that can only point to verses underlined for him in red.
I think you would make an excellent one!
Arguing with your kind is like arguing with a brick wall!

Anonymous said...

this post is very childish and imature,it is an absolute emmbarasment

Juggling Mother said...

Jewish skeptics answers are good enough. I could give you a dozen more to each question, but since you won't read them, why bother?

I agree with anon. Do you even know what the word philosopher means? Because you certainly aren't interested in looking at philosophies!

jewish philosopher said...

Well, apparently I struck a nerve. I see that none of the God damned infidels out there can think of anything rational to say so they are resorting to insults instead. I must really be challenging some people’s stupid atheistic beliefs. And that’s what my blog is here for!

Now, to get down to business.

God does not need a creator. He is the one, unique non-physical being who is eternal. The universe cannot be eternal because it is a dynamic physical system. A fire must have begun burning at some point. A clock must have been wound up at sometime. Therefore the universe must have originated at sometime.

Hebrew mythology is very different because it is supernatural NATIONAL history which cannot be faked because it’s impossible to create the national conspiracy of lies necessary to start such a myth. That’s how we know the Holocaust is not fake, by the way.

The Golden Calf was to be an intermediary between Israel and God. It was conceived of as a replacement for Moses. It was a bad mistake, however it was done with more purity and good intentions than any of our good deeds are today.

About the Holocaust, as far as the number of Orthodox victims, I don’t have any data at the moment. I would imagine that at most half were Orthodox since so many victims came from countries where Orthodoxy was weak. And I am not aware of claim that Orthodox fared worse than non-Orthodox. That sounds suspicious to me. Orthodox helped each other, rather than collaborate with the Germans as unfortunately many non-Orthodox did.

I do know that Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman, a rabbi from Poland, who himself was killed in the Holocaust, explained before his death that the rise of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party [also known as Nazi] was a result of the Jewish people’s infatuation with the twin fallacies of nationalist Zionism and secular Socialism. In any case, read Leviticus, read some Holocaust history and judge for yourself.

And now would be a good time for us all to repent before it happens again.

Juggling Mother said...

OK, if just saying another commenter said it already is not answering the question, here you go:

#1 - If no supernatural Creator exists, how did the universe originate?
who knows. Atheists don't claim to know everything (and atheists disagree on nearly as many things as "theists" too - do you always assume every theists believes as you do? because you obviously assume every atheist believes as you tell them they do.) The Big bang theory seems to be popular amongst scientists atm. maybe it doesn't exist and we're all just a figment of your imagination?. At least atheists are looking for proof for their theiries (well, actually they find evidence and formulate atheory that fits, but never mind the technicalities) Theists just say "God did it" and wash their hands off any further discussion, exploration, evidence, or information.

#2 - If no supernatural universal Designer exists, why is the universe suitable for the existence of life?
oh come on! In an infinitely large universe (lets not get into a discussion on infinty right now eh?) everything is going to happen. Therefore some of the universe is particularly suited to our life-forms. Surprisingly it's the bit of the universe wwhere we are! Of course some of the universe is particularly hostile to our life-forms, and you know what? We didn't evolve there!

#3 - If no supernatural universal Designer exists, how did life originate?
see my answer to no.1

#4 - If no supernatural universal Designer exists, what caused the repeated disappearance of more primitive forms of life and the appearance of new more advanced forms of life?
every schoolchild knows about natural selection, hunting to extinction, habitat loss, and the various extinction theories. If you look for even a minute or two, you could find a wealth of evidence supporting things like, oh, i don't know, meteor impacts, climate change, sea-level changes.....

#5 - If no God exists who can work miracles and communicate with men, how did the Jewish people come to believe that their ancestors experienced the Exodus and the Revelation at Mt. Sinai?
how did the greeks come to believe there was a pantheon of Gods? how did the Chinese come to believe the world was hatched from an egg? How did the Scientologists come to believe that we were all dumped here by an evil galactic warlord? (OK, I can answer the last one for you actually). What makes you so sure you're myths are correct and their myths are wrong? they were here first!

#6 - If God did not give the Torah at Mt. Sinai, why is Jewish literature divided into five levels and scholars in later levels universally considered themselves to be inferior to scholars in earlier levels? [The levels are: prophets, rabbis of the Mishnah, rabbis of the Talmud, earlier Talmudic commentaries and later Talmud commentaries.]
religions like to keep people in their place, and only survive by having strong hierarchial tendancies.

#7 - If we have no soul, why do we feel conscious of ourselves?
umm, because we have sapience. that is what the term means! We became aware of ourselves when we became able to manipulate the world around us. Apes are aware of themselves as a seperate entity from say their keeper, sibling or parent. does that mean they have souls? if so, why are you not out there trying to convert them?

#8 - If we have no free will, why do we feel that we are making free choices?
how do you jump to the conclusion that God is the only way to get free will? Surely God's plan for us all means we do not have free will! From an atheists perspective we have absolute free will within the bounds of our society, as there is no master plan to follow.

#9 - If no God exists, why are we obligated to be nice other people?
some people are patently not obligated to be nice:-) Man is a social animal - we live in packs. Therefore we must work together and do what is best for the pack, even if it's directly to our immediate benefit. for example, back in the hunter/gatherer days, the lone hunter who caught hisw own food & ate it himself would eat smaller/less healthy animals & less frequently. when he was ill or old he would die. the pack hunters, would eat bigger, healthier animals & so recieve more benifits from them, they would eat more regularly as there would be surplous food for storage, and when they were ill or old, the pack would care for them. Altruism pays off! it's coded into our genes by now.

A question here for you: If there are "Universal truths" laid down by god 5,000 years ago, why has our perception of good & evil changed so much during those years?


#10 – If no covenant exists between God and the Jews, stipulating that the Jews must observe the Torah or be killed, why did the Germans kill 6 million Jews?
the common answer is that hitler was a maniac! Also, he was content to let Jews go if they converted, or even just ate a bacon sandwich or two (at the beginning anyway!). Also, genocides have been happening (and are still happening) throughout history. People are stubborn - especially when it comes to recanting their beliefs. that is not the perogative of Jews.

are you really cliaming that God sent Hitler to wipe out all the naughty jews who didn't follow the torah properly? Doesn't that make him an instrument of God's will 7 therefore good in your eyes? Now I'm really worried!

thanbo said...

Philosophy is love of thought. Philosophy is not dogmatism. The author of this blog clearly prefers statements of dogmatic faith to actual thought about the issues presented, because, if he thought about the issues he raises, he would see how his "answers" are no more than statements of faith, in a particular version of creation which has only become popular in Jewish circles since Darwin.

Genesis was not taken as a literal description of cosmogony and the development of the biosphere by anyone in the rabbinic world: kabbalists, philosophers, anyone. Listen to the first tape on Revelation by R' Alan Brill on http://www.yutorah.org/ for a catalogue of how the Rishonim & Acharonim viewed Genesis.

R' Elchonon Wasserman was wrong about a lot of things. The Rebbeim who told their people to stay put, while they escaped on Zionist visas, demonstrate the invalidity of the Daas Torah concept developed by R' Elchonon Wasserman. The idea that "those guys over there" in Western Europe were responsible for the Nazi destruction of the entire Torah community is morally bankrupt. And for all of its triumphalism, yeshivish and chasidish Orthodoxy have not nearly regained their prewar greatness. We have no gedolim, those who are called gedolim today are invariably enmeshed in, and distorted by, politics.

And by the way, in the spirit of "stupid, childish":

I see that none of the God damned infidels out there can think of anything rational to say so they are resorting to insults instead. I must really be challenging some people’s stupid atheistic beliefs.

It takes one to know one. "Jewishskeptic" was not insulting or stupid, s/he raised completely reasonably responses to your dogmatic statements.

Your initial post, as a statement of faith, was in fact childish and immature. Anon was correct. And your responses to your challengers don't enlighten.

Golden Calf? Moshe and Hashem clearly treated it as the idolatry it appeared to be. In fact, in halacha we treat apparent idolatry as real, regardless of the personal opinions of the person who is doing the action: one who bows to an idol, or throws stones at Markulis, or defecates before Baal Peor, even in a mocking way - these are the proper modes of worship for these idols, and one is liable to punishment. Review Hilchos Avodah Zarah in the Rambam.

The Holocaust, I've already covered. It's oh so convenient, and morally bankrupt, to blame "those guys over there who we don't like anyway, and who survived in far greater proportion than we did".

Your response on the eternity of God vs. the eternity of the universe was simply dogmatic. More honest is the Rambam in the Moreh II:25 - that if the philosophers had a proof of the eternity of the universe, we would have to accept it, and allegorize many pesukim that chazal took literally. Thank God that there is no proof, then.

As for Hebrew mythology of the national redemption,

1) there are one or two other cultures that have a myth of national revelation;

2) such a myth could have been injected at the time of Josiah, based on a reality of escape from Egypt and a known history of living a Torah life for the preceding several centuries.

Your answers are simplistic and dogmatic. Think about them some more and get back to us.

jewishskeptic said...

>"Well, apparently I struck a nerve. I see that none of the God damned infidels out there can think of anything rational to say so they are resorting to insults instead"

Oh my goodness,I see you have become a 'God damned infidel'yourself.
Writing God without a dash!

jewish philosopher said...

First of all, JM, thank you for your long and thoughtful comment. I appreciate it. However I have to admit that I am not very convinced by your arguments.

Regarding #1 and #3: I think you are agreeing with me that atheists do not have a convincing answer to these questions.

Regarding #2: Please click on the link I provided. My point is that if the laws of nature where even very slightly different, there would be no planets, no stars, no water, no carbon, etc. I think you see the problem. Obviously someone planned this.

Regarding #4: The fact is that the causes of all the major extinction events are still very speculative. And the cause of the regeneration of life in more advanced forms afterwards is completely a mystery. Imagine that a thermonuclear war would wipe off 90% of life on earth; would we imagine that a few million years later life would be back and more be advanced than it had been previously? But this is what the fossils tell us about the Permian-Triassic extinction event and the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event, for example.

Regarding #5: All other religions are based on supernatural events whose occurrence is known because of the testimony of one or a few witnesses. For example, Christianity rests on the testimony of the four authors of the Gospels. Judaism is unique in that it is based on the testimony of millions of witnesses who saw the events of the Exodus and Mt. Sinai. There is no parallel in any other religion. Imagine if someone today would claim that William the Conqueror had conquered England by splitting the English Channel, marching through on dry land and bringing ten plagues down on the Anglo-Saxons. No one would believe such stories; it’s obviously false because if it were true it would already be well known. Personal history, stories about individuals, can easily be falsified. However national history cannot be substantially changed or fabricated. It would mean a conspiracy of falsehood involving many thousands of people, which can never be arranged in practice.

Regarding #6: For several thousand years, Jews have been dispersed in many different countries and have had no central government. There was no way to force all Jewish leaders to accept the authority of all leaders living before a certain arbitrary date. Such acceptance was caused by a universal recognition that earlier generations were actually on a far greater spiritual level.

Regarding #7: My computer also has intelligence, however is it conscious of itself? And animals also have a soul, on a lower level. Converting monkeys to Judaism would probably be easier than converting some of the close-minded atheists on the Internet. Unfortunately, they cannot read.

Regarding #8: Atheists generally do not believe that humans have free will.

Regarding #9: I think you are agreeing with me that according to atheism we are not obligated to be nice to other people; we just may do so instinctively.
Morality has changed throughout history since it is usually based on what people feel like doing, not God’s will as should ideally be the case. I hope my blog will help remedy this.

Regarding #10: Hitler actually was a very rational, intelligent person. Have you read Mein Kampf? And he didn’t do it alone. Why did millions of other, civilized and intelligent people, cooperate in this pointless barbarism? No one can explain it naturalistically.
Yes, he was the instrument of God’s will. However he chose to be God’s instrument of destruction, which is the wrong choice to make. He could have chosen to be a nice family man, and the Holocaust would have happened through other means; for example a plague.

jewish philosopher said...

Dear Thanbo,

"The Rebbeim who told their people to stay put, while they escaped on Zionist visas, demonstrate the invalidity of the Daas Torah concept"

Care to name names and provide documentation on this?

"there are one or two other cultures that have a myth of national revelation"

Who?

Juggling Mother said...

Regarding 1 & 3. Nor do theists

regarding 2, if the laws were different and the universe wasn't suitable for (our) life, we wouldn't be here to argue the existance of God. The fact that we are here, just proves that we are here, not that anyone put us here.

Regarding 4. At least scientific causes of extinction events have SOME basis in evidence. Theists evidence is just "some bloke said so. And he's dead so you can't ask him how he knew" Scientific evidence is there for everyone to see, test & theorise about.

Regarding 5. What, how many of those million wrote down what they saw, or spoke to you personally? Your myth is based on the say so of a couple of old (as in a long time ago) men, just as everyone elses is.

regarding 6. doesn't the number of different jewish factions (not to mention break-away religions) rather prove that they didn't all accept said leadership?

regarding 7. thats doesn't answer my comment. We have self awreness because we evolved sentience & sapience. i expect other lifeforms will too.

regarding 8 please don't tell me what i belive. Theists generally believe God has a plan we are all part of that plan, therefore our place in the world is already decided. I don't believe there is any plan and everything we do is based on our own choices within social, cultural & physical restarints.

regarding 9 I am agreeing with you that we ARE obligated to be nice to each other. just for different reasons. i also think we out-grew instinct in most things some millenia ago.

If God's universal truths are laid down in the Torah, i assume you agree with the murder of all non-jews, all adulterers, all women who do not show respect to their husbands, all children who do not show respect to their parents etc ect. ? lets hope your blog doesn't go too far towards rectifying that then eh?

regarding 10. as i said, genocide has been & is happening throughout history. People co-operate with it out of fear, bigotry, incomprehension, social conditioning etc.

I don't think I have ever heard a Jewish apologist for Hitler before. congratulations on being the first person in a long time to make me feel physically sick from reading an opinion.

jewish philosopher said...

Dear JM,

Until about 1840, the vast majority of Jews since time immemorial were Orthodox rabbinical Jews. Since that time, observance has fallen off as result of the continuing spiritual decline of the Jewish people.

I’m curious about your reference to Jews and murder. Actually the Torah prohibits murder – it’s in the Ten Commandments. There is no Orthodox rabbi today who would condone taking a human life for any reason except in a case of immediate, obvious self-defense. I know of only one Orthodox Jew currently serving time for murder anywhere in the world – Rabin’s assassin. And that’s from a community of about a million people. How does that compare to the murder rate for atheists?

You do not state that we are obligated to be good to others – but rather that it is profitable to do so. This might come as a surprise to the millions of successful, unpunished criminals walking the streets of the world at this moment.

Regarding your other comments, I think I’ve already covered those issues. Just reread my original post and comments. If in your judgment my arguments are not convincing, there isn’t anything I can do about that.

To me, atheism is just deranged nonsense like “aparentism” – the belief, which I just made up, that I have no parents. So where did I all come from? Who cared for me in infancy? I don’t know. But I’m not just going to say, “My parents did it.” Why should I believe something silly like that?

And by the way, I’m sorry if my comments nauseate you. This blog is not for the faint hearted. It is for the strong stomached, stalwart seekers of the Truth wherever it may lie. If you, as a sensitive lady, feel that you may collapse, then you may wish to read something else.

jewishskeptic said...

>" jewish philosopher said...
Dear Thanbo,

"The Rebbeim who told their people to stay put, while they escaped on Zionist visas, demonstrate the invalidity of the Daas Torah concept"

Care to name names and provide documentation on this"


A good example is the Satmar Rebbe who escaped Nazi Hungry on the infamous 'privileged train',organized by the Zionist Dr.Kastner in collusion with Eichman.
On trial in Israel in the eary 50's,Judge Halevi described Kastner as one who sold his soul to the devil.
The famous Satmar Rebbe (Yoel Teitelbaum),in spite of his ranting against Zionism & advising his Hasidim against making aliyah to the 'accursed Zionist entity',he himself made sure to be on the 'privileged train'organized by the kofer treifene Zionist Kastner... leaving all his Hasidim go up in smoke.
Yes,a great courageos leader!...
Another good example is the Belzer Rebbe. He too escaped (If I am not mistaken to the Zionists in Palestine...),leaving his communities to perish.
The captain never leaves his ship while there are passengers on board!
There were many others.these are the most famous.
They were all considered great tsaddikim by their people.
Dont write about things you don't know.
A word of advice:
"seyyag lachochmah shetikah'
Now go & ask someone to translate it for you.

Juggling Mother said...

JP, the torah specifies the death penalty for:

insolent children (Deuteronomy, 22:21)

people who eat shellfish ( Leviticus 11:10)

people who work on Sunday ( Exodus 35:2)

Taking another's life (Genesis 9:5)

Fathers who allow their son's to leave the faith (leviticus 20:21)

Adulterers (of both sexes) (leviticus 20:10)

Mediums/spiritalists (leviticus 19:31)

And that's not even going into incest, beastiality, or anything so icky!

Of course, when you start looking, you find the death penalty advocated for the simplest of crimes:

the Siddur mentions death twice in connection with the Qetoret: "If one omitted from the spices, he was liable the death penalty," "If even one of its spices was left out, [the one compounding it was] liable the death penalty."source


As for Jews as murders, I'm not sure if anyone has ever done a world-wide religion check on all criminals. It would have to be looked at in terms of % or international population practising that religion & the variation in international definitions of crimes......

But here's some famous Jewish murders for you. i didn't really want to go searching the net too hard as the search paramators tend to bring up some pretty unsavoury sites, but feel free to do so yourself.

Aparentism can be disproved by any amount of repeatable evidence - not least talking to your parents. I have never met a theist who could deliver a single piece of empirical evidence for their God. "I feel him" is not empirical evidence, as it can not be reproduced for others. I can offer empirial evidence for your parents existing. and for evolution - there's some fascinating bacterial experiments out there!

And don't worry about my stomach. I have met holocaust denyers & apologists before. just never a Jewish one. But then again, you do have your very own little brand of judaism here don't you?

jewish philosopher said...

Dear Jewishskeptic,

Thanks for the updates on chassidish rebbes [I'm not chassidish by the way]. However are you sure the Satmarer and Belzer told their Chassidim not to leave Europe in the 1930's? Or did so few leave because the Zionist organization, which gave out visas to Palestine, refused visas to the ultra-Orthodox? The Satmarer and Belzer seem to have been quite popular for having been such heartless cowards as you allege.

Juggling,

I'm glad to see you're reading the Bible, however just like there is more to evolution than "Origin of Species" there is more to Judaism than the Bible. In fact, no Jewish court has imposed a death penalty in nearly 2,000 years [unless you want to include the Eichman trial]. About murderers I said "Orthodox Jew currently serving time for murder". When you find one, other than Yigal Amir, let me know.

About my parents, well there is some old lady who claims she's my mother and it even says so on a piece of paper somewhere, however she could be a liar and the paper could be a forgery. How do you know?

On the other hand every single organelle in every single cell in every single living thing which has ever lived on earth proves the existence of a supernatural intelligent designer.

My “very own little brand of judaism” happens to be the same one which your ancestors practiced for thousands of years up until probably the First World War or so. You might find it’s really totally cool.

Juggling Mother said...

What my ancestors thought & belived hundreds of years ago is no basis for my own belifs & understanding of the world. THAT is the worst thing about religion in general - it teaches us to follow our forefathers blindly, doing whatever they did, without questioning if it still has value & meaning in our world.

Take the kosher rules for example. Bloody good set of rules to follow when living in a hot country, without access to modern food hygeine or medicine. Fortunately I a)don't live in the middle east (been there, done that, came home), and b) do have access to hygenic food preparation facilities, refrigeration, packaging etc & simple and free medical intervention if I do screw up & get food poisoning. Traif is good for me - full of healthy protein & low in fat & particularly yummy! These rules have no place in modern Judaism, but they lie at the very heart of it's teachings!

Grow up! Belief in a higher being is a personal choice that everyone can make for their own personal reasons. I doubt that anyone will ever "prove" it's existance either way. But blindly following dogma & rules "because we always have" is wrong for individuals, wrong for society & wrong for the world as a whole!

jewish philosopher said...

Being evil or good is certainly a personal choice.

About proof, read my blog. I proved it.

Juggling Mother said...

Yes

You didn't.

aaron said...

JM, people who eat shellfish get the death penalty? Working on Sunday? Father's who let their sons leave the faith? Where was I when they taught that? It sounds like you're just repeating stuff you heard from a website without looking it up yourself. Ignorance is bliss.

Juggling Mother said...

Nope, taking the bible literally, it says all those things. I gave you the references, go look them up yourself.

I did not say this was "normal" jewish practise, just that anyone who says everything in the bible is the absolute literal truth, should believe in those parts of it too.

Why do we get to ignore those death penalties, but still observe the food rules?

thanbo said...

Discussions of other cultures with mass revelation myths:

http://groups.google.com/group/soc.culture.jewish/browse_thread/thread/d4b4b9cdd0a902c9/166c57ec5716ca85?lnk=st&q=Crisans&rnum=1#166c57ec5716ca85

See the references to the Locrians and the Crisans; Dr. Levene acknowledges the Thebans were a bad example.

thanbo said...

Note, I consider myself Orthodox as well, after a long struggle with my beliefs about Revelation and the Oral Torah vs. what various Rishonim held. There are a lot of areas in my life where I need improvement, ritually and ethically, but as far as doxos goes, I have an understanding of the 13 Principles that I can accept.

I just think it's necessary to have all the information, to hear all the questions, and to have better replies (or at least to consider replies) to issues than "That's just wrong".

That's generally how a Jewish philosopher thinks, after all - about Jewish philosophy, about the hard issues, considering different angles. A Jewish doctrinarian, on the other hand, present flat opinions, dismissive of other ideas.

aaron said...

JM, I looked it up. Did you? Please qoute right here the entire verse that says that the penalty for eating shellfish is capital punishment. After you give up looking, take a piece of advice and go to a real rabbi or to an organization that deals with people who did not recieve a formal jewish education to discuss these issues and get real answers. With all due respect, you sound like your entire knowledge of religious jewry is based on information from people who are are hostile to that way of life. To give an example of how this sounds, imagine a 10 year old deciding that school is 'dumb', backed up by conversations with his like-minded friends, and deciding right then and there to drop out, without getting any opinions from people who were successful in school. Please hear both sides of the story from real people-not from hearsay.

jewish philosopher said...

Thanbo, other than the first half of the Book of Exodus, I am not aware of any other record of:
- thousands of people witnessing a supernatural event and
- thousands of people telling others (in this case, their descendents) about that event.
-
Exodus is a unique document.

The reason why is apparently because to falsify such an event, thousands of people would have to all agree to tell the same lie and no one could reveal the secret that it’s a lie. In other words, you would need a perfect conspiracy of thousands of people, which is extremely impractical if not impossible.

The Exodus and Mt. Sinai events are mentioned in many books of the Bible and then later in the Mishnah, Talmud, Midrashim, etc. How many books would like it to be mentioned in? Do you need a video tape? And if you had a video, couldn’t that be a fake as well?

This is exactly how we know that the Holocaust actually happened. THINK!

As far as your counter examples go from “Crisans” and “Locians”, Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica have no reference to them. I am inclined to believe that their existence is actually mythical, unless some documentation can be located regarding them.

jewish philosopher said...

Dear Juggling,

I don’t believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible and neither do any Orthodox Jews. For example, we don’t believe literally in an “eye for an eye”. We believe that mayhem must be compensated financially. This is a rabbinical tradition.

The point is that Jews consider human life to be sacred. Jews do not kill. Once we did, however that was then, this is now. Now we don’t, based on the teachings and traditions of our revered rabbis.

Atheists do not consider human life to be sacred and do not believe that human life has any more value than animal life or any value at all, for that matter. Therefore, atheism is a very dangerous belief system. Atheists have killed, do kill and, given the chance, will kill on a massive scale.

jewish philosopher said...

I think I found it. The Crisan thing is an incident mentioned in the Homeric Hymns:
"(ll. 440-451) Then, like a star at noonday, the lord, far-working
Apollo, leaped from the ship: flashes of fire flew from him thick
and their brightness reached to heaven. He entered into his
shrine between priceless tripods, and there made a flame to flare
up bright, showing forth the splendour of his shafts, so that
their radiance filled all Crisa, and the wives and well-girded
daughters of the Crisaeans raised a cry at that outburst of
Phoebus; for he cast great fear upon them all. From his shrine
he sprang forth again, swift as a thought, to speed again to the
ship, bearing the form of a man, brisk and sturdy, in the prime
of his youth, while his broad shoulders were covered with his
hair: and he spoke to the Cretans, uttering winged words:"

So that's it! That's the closest you can come to a Mt. Sinai revelation outside Judaism!One ancient Greek poet mentioned a public revelation; he just made it up himself. No one knows if the all citizens of Crisa believed this or even had heard of it. This is really lame.

Juggling Mother said...

ah there you go, telling me what I believe again.

actually, my personal atheism believes human life to be very sacred, what with it being the only chance we get to do anything useful in the universe. Animals do not do anything useful in the universe as individual beings and therefore are completely sacrificial.

I don't presume to say what other atheists believe, but certainly most revere human life.

Aaron, like so many theists, you proceed to tell me to read the bible (done that), while promptly mis-quoting it at me. The eye for an eye quote, specifically says DO NOT KILL, in one of the many, many contradictions within its text. If you read the whole quote it finishes with "Vengence is mine said the lord", or in other words, do nothing, it's up to God to sort out the bad & the good later.

As to my Jewish knowledge, i've researched enough to feel comfortable offering reasoned debate. I was brought up jewish, although not orthodox, since most of my mothers family were wiped out in the holocaust, and both parents lived through the blitz, i was regularly told about how my jewishness was innate & incontrovertble. At 18, i went off to Israel & lived there for nearly a year. I spoke to many Jews, of all persuasions. Actually, it was that which solidified my decision to leave judaism completely (although my atheism came about much earlier). How much research have you pout into my beliefs & knowledge before you decided to belittle it?

aaron said...

JM, I'm still waiting for the verse that says the death penalty for eating shellfish. You seem to be strangely avoiding my challenge.

Cameron said...

Ten Questions No Atheist Can Answer Convincingly

#1 - If no supernatural Creator exists, how did the universe originate?
Jewish answer: God created the universe.

Actual answer: Natural processes that science is in the process of investigating. No Gods required.

#2 - If no supernatural universal Designer exists, why is the universe suitable for the existence of life?
Jewish answer: God deliberately designed the universe to be suitable for life.

Actual answer: Life is contingent on the nature of the universe not the reverse.

#3 - If no supernatural universal Designer exists, how did life originate?
Jewish answer: God created life.

Actual answer: it evolved from simpler forms over billions of years.

#4 - If no supernatural universal Designer exists, what caused the repeated disappearance of more primitive forms of life and the appearance of new more advanced forms of life?
[For example, at the beginning of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic.]
Jewish answer: God created and destroyed several previous worlds before the current one.

Actual answer: disasters (meteor strikes, famine, ice-ages, etc.) caused the periodic extinction of species over time.


#5 - If no God exists who can work miracles and communicate with men, how did the Jewish people come to believe that their ancestors experienced the Exodus and the Revelation at Mt. Sinai?
Jewish answer: The Exodus and Mt. Sinai Revelation did occur.

Actual answer: They are the victims of superstition and hogwash, no more special or different from the peoples of any other nation who have religious beliefs.

#6 - If God did not give the Torah at Mt. Sinai, why is Jewish literature divided into five levels and scholars in later levels universally considered themselves to be inferior to scholars in earlier levels? [The levels are: prophets, rabbis of the Mishnah, rabbis of the Talmud, earlier Talmudic commentaries and later Talmud commentaries.]
Jewish answer: The Jewish people were raised to a very high spiritual level at Mt. Sinai, and then gradually declined.


Actual answer: Theological masturbation.

#7 - If we have no soul, why do we feel conscious of ourselves?
Jewish answer: We have a soul.

Actual answer: we have consciousness (the awareness of ongoing mental processes) but no soul.

#8 - If we have no free will, why do we feel that we are making free choices?
Jewish answer: We have free will.

Actual answer: We have free will because we do not possess the infinite ability to process all of the deterministic variables.

#9 - If no God exists, why are we obligated to be nice other people?
Jewish answer: God obligates us to do to others as we want them to do to us.

Actual answer: And the tanks roll into Lebanon. We are good to each other out of altruism - which is a non-religious concept.

#10 – If no covenant exists between God and the Jews, stipulating that the Jews must observe the Torah or be killed, why did the Germans kill 6 million Jews?
Jewish answer: The Jews made such an agreement with God as recorded in Leviticus 26. When European Jews ceased observing the Torah, they broke the agreement and suffered the consequences.

Actual answer: the homicidal madness of the holocaust isn't an argument for God's existence.

Considering how poorly atheism, compared to Judaism explains the world one wonders how atheism can possibly be more popular than Judaism.

Actual answer: I suspect it's the requirement that you obey stupid dietary restrictions, beleive in invisible intangible nonsense, and the whole thing with baby penis mutilation.

jewish philosopher said...

That's interesting. But:

#1 - If science is still investigating, how do you know it's natural and no god is required?

#2 - So it's just lucky coincidence that the stars, planets, water and carbon exist? If natural laws were slightly different, none would.

#3 - How is evolution possible? Has any experiment ever been done showing that complex machines can evolve spontaneously from simple chemicals? Each organelle in each cell in each living thing which has ever existed is a complex machine.

#4 - Scientists aren't too sure about the meteor strikes. Do some research. And exactly how did life revive in even more complex forms afterwards?

#5 - What other religion has beliefs even remotely similar to Judaism, which involves thousands of people experiencing a prophesy and all those thousands telling others about it?

#6 - I don't get it.

#7 - Do computers have consciousness? Why not?

#8 - I don't get it. Most atheists don't believe we have free will.

#9 - I don't get it either. Altruism obligates anyone? How?

#10 - All Germans became temporarily homicidal madmen? Why? Any psychological explanation for that?

Not one convincing answer. Care to try again?

Cameron said...

> #1 - If science is still investigating, how do you know it's
> natural and no god is required?


The natural world is available to our senses (and hence our instruments), God however, is not. If God were available to our senses or instruments (or by looking really really hard to see if things are designed), we would have found her already.

> #2 - So it's just lucky coincidence that the stars, planets, water
> and carbon exist? If natural laws were slightly different, none would.

And if a meteor hadn't struck the earth 65M years ago the dinosaurs would still be the dominant species. Humanity isn't the purpose of the universe, we are a happy accident of it. We are contingent. Get over it.

>
> #3 - How is evolution possible? Has any experiment ever been done
> showing that complex machines can evolve spontaneously from simple
> chemicals? Each organelle in each cell in each living thing which
> has ever existed is a complex machine.

Complex carbohydrate molecules (ie. amino acids) are not difficult to create from basic chemistry. Comets contain these building blocks (which lead some scientists to speculate about pan spermia). Add them to a water environment, sprinkle with heat, bake for a few million years and presto - organic chemistry.


> #4 - Scientists aren't too sure about the meteor strikes. Do some
> research. And exactly how did life revive in even more complex
> forms afterwards?

Actually they are certain about the meteor strikes (craters, iridium deposits, etc.), but I am always encouraged by your desire to see me read more about science.

What is uncertain is how big a role they played in the extinctions. Were the strikes the direct cause? Or just a proximate cause? Did the impacts themselves lead to the extinctions? Or was it the weather changes that followed?

Fortunately, these are exactly the kinds of questions science can attempt to answer. Whereas I note, your religion doesn't even seem to cover this ground.

As for how complex life evolved after the mass die-off, not all life was obliterated, and what remained reproduced. Given the numer of ecological niches that would have been opened up, the spread of new species could occur rapidly (see Stephen Jay Gould's Punctuated Equilibrium theory).

>
> #5 - What other religion has beliefs even remotely similar to
> Judaism, which involves thousands of people experiencing a
> prophesy and all those thousands telling others about it?

The number of people affected by a delusion (i.e. the miracles of Lourdes, etc.) does nothing to make it more true. There are a billion or more members of Islam, and half a billion Catholics - yet the two religions are not compatible. Clearly one or both of them must be wrong, and yet both sides still hold up the size of their membership as proof of their legitimacy.

>
> #6 - I don't get it.

I called it theological masturbation, but 'priestcraft' might be just as accurate. How does one rank the levels of spirituality? It is akin to counting angels on the head of a pin, which is to say, it is incoherent.

>
> #7 - Do computers have consciousness? Why not?

Conciousness in part implies awareness, and computers are not (yet) aware. There have been some interesting experiments with neural networks, and other artificial intelligence, but the results have yet to be anything other than speculative. That said, I see no reason to a priori conclude that artificial intelligence or conciousness is impossible.

> #8 - I don't get it. Most atheists don't believe we have free will.

I am not 'most atheists', nor would I ever pretend to speak for or against them.

>
> #9 - I don't get it either. Altruism obligates anyone? How?

Alrtuism is an animal trait - we see it when mothers feed their children, when co-operative hunting behaviour is exhibited, when soldiers return to the field of battle to retrieve a fallen comrade, etc.

It is not an obligation, it is a choice (recall we have free will). In genetic terms this is 'kin selection', or 'group selection' where the actions of an individual may not enhance its own fitness, but nevertheless enhances the fitness of the group.


> #10 - All Germans became temporarily homicidal madmen? Why? Any
> psychological explanation for that?

The Germans under Hitler were transformed into a totalitarian state with secret police, endemic racism, hyperbolic militarism, unrestrained nationalism, and the worst kinds of jingoism.

Not all Germans became homocidal madmen as a result, but enough did.


>
> Not one convincing answer. Care to try again?

Considering that you still cling to teleological arguments, and that your grasp of science seems to come from Saturday morning cartoons, I am convinced nothing will convince you.

Doesn't stop me from trying though.

jewish philosopher said...

Oh we have found God. Read Exodus chapter 20.

Any slight change in laws of nature would have made any type of life impossible. Obviously God designed this.

Organic chemicals are not complex machines.

The uniqueness of Judaism is the number of witnesses, which obviously increases it's credibity, not the number of believers, which obviously proves nothing.

the junior said...

juggler:
there's no point arguing with fuckwits.
total waste of time.
this guy is a moron - just leave him to wallow in his self-righteousness.

jewish philosopher said...

So junior, I guess my questions don't have answers?

the junior said...

arguing with you is like bashing a blacmange
total waste of time
please get an education and come back then? ok?

jewish philosopher said...

Junior, so why don't you just agree with me if you can't argue?

Cameron said...

JP said: Oh we have found God. Read Exodus chapter 20.

- Is that a royal 'we'?

JW: Any slight change in laws of nature would have made any type of life impossible. Obviously God designed this.

- Nothing 'obvious' about it, in fact the truth is the harder we look we find the exact opposite.

I may marvel at how the universe exists at all because the mass of an electron is what it is, or consider with humility the Deep Field Survey photos from Hubble, but I don't see God's fingerprints anywhere. Each and every time people have claimed a special feature of the world as 'obviously designed' some killjoy scientist comes along to give a reasonable explanation by natural un-directed processes (the eye being my favourite, but the idea that blod clots was proof of God's divine interference with nature was also amusing).

Given that astrophysics and cosmology are still in their infancy, I hold that it is far more reasonable to expect an explanation by natural processes for the weight of an electron, rather than hold out the ridiculous notion that some supernatural finger tweaked things here and there to make things work. The first is a hope based on a reasonable extrapolation of the facts - science has discovered much and with great rapidity by ditching supernatural explanations and focussing on natural ones, the second is a of saying 'we don't need to look, God did it' - which is not just question begging (how can we be sure it's not Vishnu?), it's intellectually lazy.

The 'intelligent design' movement such as it is, is a reflection of a peculiarily American cultural sceintific illiteracy. In no other country has the argument even been taken seriously, let alone threatened to interfere with the scientific education of the young. By contrast, the Brits put Darwin on their ten pound note.

JW: Organic chemicals are not complex machines.

- Not sure what your point is intended to be by that statement, except that on its face I agree with it. Complex machines are man made designed objects. Organic chemistry is not.

Which brings me to another point about your teleological blind spot. How does being able to distinguish between a man made object (say a watch) and a natural object (say, a rock), translate across to, 'lack of scientific proof for how process 'A' evolved (say, blod clotting), means there must be a supernatural explanation for process 'A' (it was designed by a Christian God)?

The premises and conclusions of the design argument even in analogy don't make sense on their face.

JW: The uniqueness of Judaism is the number of witnesses, which obviously increases it's credibity, not the number of believers, which obviously proves nothing.

- Gotcha, it's the volume of people who witnessed an ancient miracle that matters, not the quality. If figured you'd go for the double whammy, the witnesses were large in number AND unimpeachable in character. Why leave a stone unturned eh?

The fact is you are claiming the ridiculous (Christian miracles) and suggesting that these ridiculous claims are somehow different and seperate from other ridiculous claims (the miracles of all other religions) because, well because you like your authorities on these miraculous events and trust them. Not because you've actually considered the miracles of other religions (I presume you consider them false on their face), but because you have no desire to consider religious claims other than your own - that might afterall lead to troubling things like 'doubt'.

More of post-hoc rationalisation for closemindedness than an argument for the special nature of Jewish miracle claims.

jewish philosopher said...

Cam, thanks for your comments. They are very thought provoking.

First of all, just by the way, I’m not a Christian. I believe in a Jewish God, not a Christian God.

Secondly, yes I am aware of Europe’s devotion to Darwin and to secularism in general. I am also aware that one of the primary causes of two horrific 20th century European wars was social Darwinism. Read “From Darwin to Hitler” by Richard Weikart for more details. In both instances, we Americans with our old fashioned theistic beliefs saved Europe. And it was American troops who probably averted a third world war between the atheistic Soviet Union and secular Western Europe.

Besides that, the United States still leads the world in scientific research and development. I’m sure you’ve heard of NASA, MIT, Princeton, IBM, Intel, the Internet, etc.

Perhaps Europeans should learn from us, not us from them? That’s just a thought.

At any rate, as I understand it, your main point is that the entire idea of God is ridiculous. Anytime something is observed, in nature or in history, the last possible conclusion should be “God did it”. Any explanation, or no explanation, is preferable. This, of course, is classic atheistic thinking.

My only problem is: why?

After all, we do know of the existence of intelligent beings – they are called humans. Why is the idea of an intelligent supreme being at all improbable? Is it just because you don’t like the idea of someone being able to tell you what to do? That doesn’t bother me.

And incidentally, I realize that scientists have created some wonderful new technologies – for example antibiotics and vaccines. They have also created some horrible new technologies – for example, nuclear bombs and gas chambers. However in any case, I don’t believe that scientists’ opinions about religion and morality are any more valid than the opinions of an electrician or a plumber. They are technicians and that’s all.

Shlomo said...

This is post is a little late, but better late than never ....

As much of the dialogue on this blog demonstrates, it is very hard to convince someone of the truth. G-d created the man in such a way that he is completely free and if he chooses to concont some cockamamie theory and give it weight - one will be hard pressed to refute it in a way that is like 1 +1 =2. No one can deny that. Not so Faith. Those who want to see the truth – will, those who do not – can always find some cockamamie theory and call it ‘Sophisticated’, ‘Science’, ‘Modern’ etc ad nauseum in order to further his ‘theory’ . This ability to deny is essential for man to have an existence distinct from G-d; a concept hard enough for us to understand as is it.

That being said enough of this giving the ‘atheists’ the upper hand by accepting the premise that we have to prove something to them. We have nothing to prove to you since you are not interested in being proven too anyway. When you are ready to talk give us a call. Let us change gears a bit and put the athiests on the hot seat.

It would seem that all ‘atheists’ despite their protests as being searchers of truth unbiased scientists and other literary well-poisoning descriptions ad nauseum are the most intellectually dishonest group on the face of the earth.

Before analyzing why let us point to a verse in the Bible (Samuel 15).

Samuel is about to execute Agag the king of the nation infamous for being the archenemy of the Jews, Amalek.

The bible Describes Agag as walking towards his death in a ‘pampered’ way (based on Targum quoted by Rashi). What a strange way to walk to one’s death!! A stroll on the beach. Fun Fun Fun.

Even stranger is Samuel’s exclamation immediately thereafter and immediately prior to the execution – “Just like your sword made many women bereft of their son’s, so too shall your mother be made bereft of her son”. Samuel is about to kill the most vile enemy of the Jewish people and his statement to the press about this “His mother is going suffer.” How about something more depictive of the eternal struggle between the Jews and Amalek (see Exodus end of Chapter 17 or 18 but certainly end of Parshat BeShalakh).

OK, back to our good friends the so-called ‘atheists’. Mr. Atheist, if that is your real name, if you really believe that the world always existed/banged itself into existence etc. etc. etc. you do realize that in that case life is patently absurd. I do not mean simply that after we die it is all over I mean that our current existence is meaningless. OK, now you might be thinking Yes! That is exactly what I am saying genius! Well then, Mr. Atheist is that really so? In your heart of hearts can you really tell me that you live life as being absurd? Do you take part in political process with gusto? Do you do good deeds (however you define them)? DO you have intellectual moral systems (I know not the Jewish one’s) that govern how you live? If you do, then you are a fake, a fraud and a phony as that mean-spirited Bob Grant would say. Life is meaningless and you should have the intellectual guts to live it (or kill yourself which to an intellectually honest person who really thinks things through would do) that way. No wimpy human stupidity to make himself feel good.

Now of course no one really lives as though life is meaningless, we all have ‘thought systems’ which give sense to the world in our minds making it possible to live (this is called Avoda Zoro in Torahspeak) without G-d, cholilo.

Well not everyone. There once was a semi-honest ‘athiesit’ named Camus (he also had a friend named (Jean-Paul Sartre ).

Mr. Camus founded the philosophy of the absurd. Meaning – yes the world is absurd and we should live it that way. Of course his theory pretty much died with him. Not very popular. Sheesh, he takes all the fun out of life. Now of course Mr. Camus at least for most most of his life was a faker too. While Mr. Alber ‘the moose’ Camus had the guts to write a book called “The Stranger”, where the protagonist on the day his mother dies debates wheather or not this event should stop him from going to the beach and then at a trial on his own life is quite apathetic - this was just a novel, not real life. We all know Superman is wonderful but unfortunately he does not come off the silver screen.

So getting back to Agag and Amalek. Now the Torah tells us that Amalek is the nation that is the source of heresy. Unlike other nations that accept some aspect in very varying degrees of G-ds dominion over the world Amalek plays a zero sum game. They won’t have any of this medieval unsophisticated childness.

So naturally Agag even though he sees his end coming near – he is going to give his final parting shot – so Samuel, you think that you are going to spread G-d’s name by wiping me out? Well I will show you that I really do not care – I am not afraid of death and the rest of your life you will be haunted by the memory of me – the denier of meaning in the world as I scoff at death since life was meaningless anyway, I am glad to get it over with.

Samuel being quick to parry does not lose his footing (he was a Prophet after all) and he tells Dr. Agag You fake phony fraud, you are really pathetic and you should be ashamed of your intellectual dishonesty. Dr. Agag – you fought wars, yes? I see. You took pleasure in seeing your enemies slaughtered and the pain of their bereaved mothers, yes? I see. One question Doc, did you kill your own mother’s or just the bad guy’s mothers’? The Doc: uh.. uh… uh… And so Samuel before getting into some pointless long winded argument (this is Amalek he is supposed to play devils advocate) that leads to nowhere just chops his head off.

Rebbe Nachman (from Breslov) zy”a writes that atheists spend their whole lives trying to think of ways to prove their heresy (this was written before 1810 the year of the Rebbe’s passing, before Darwin i.e. atheism is nothing new) cuz even though they are completely enslaved to their base desires they cannot enjoy them fully cuz that G-d thing in their heads leave them no rest. SO they fight it and fight it and fight it. Sometimes they are successful writes the Rebbe and Borukh Hashem achieve full and complete Heresy.



And then G-d Kills them and they see the truth.




The Camoose mentioned above was known to have said for some strange reason that the most absurd way to die would have been in a car accident. He died in a car accident. I guess he achieved his goal in life.

Did anyone ever say G-d does not have a sense of humor?

jewish philosopher said...

Thank you for the reference to Camus. That's interesting.

Shannon said...

Ten Questions No Atheist Can Answer Convincingly

#1 - If no supernatural Creator exists, how did the universe originate?

Atheist answer: The Big Bang. See scientific data here

#2 - If no supernatural universal Designer exists, why is the universe suitable for the existence of life?

Atheist answer: The universe is BARELY suitable for the existence of organic life, in fact, there are more black holes in the universe than ANYTHING else, so if you look at it in respect to what is more abundant in the universe, us or black holes, you will find that it is more likely that the universe was created for black holes, not us.

Plus, 99.9999% of the universe is uninhabitable for life, even in our solar system we have 9 (well, now 8, RIP Pluto) planets, only one of which we can exist on without human created technology to survive, and that only adds about 3 AT BEST, so in our solar system alone, we can only live on 12.5% of our planets, and on the one we can survive on, we have the 70% covered in water that we cannot live in/on, then the deserts, then the polar ice caps... so yeah, really looks like a universe suitable for our existence.

#3 - If no supernatural universal Designer exists, how did life originate?

Atheist answer: Through the chemical reactions that can create life from simple amino acids that came about under the right conditions on this planet billions and billions of years ago.

#4 - If no supernatural universal Designer exists, what caused the repeated disappearance of more primitive forms of life and the appearance of new more advanced forms of life?
[For example, at the beginning of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic.]


Atheist answer: I don't even know what the hell you are asking here, but I think you mean the extension of a large number of species at a particular time leading into an era of new species emerging... there are various reasons: massive global climate change brought upon by any number of reasons, excessive volcanic ash in the air, a shift in the global oceans due to continental drift over time, asteroids or comets crashing into the earth... the possibilities are endless and should not be ended with "I dunno, I guess god did it".

#5 - If no God exists who can work miracles and communicate with men, how did the Jewish people come to believe that their ancestors experienced the Exodus and the Revelation at Mt. Sinai?

Atheist answer: What started as a fable, became oral mythology, became written mythology, then was taken too seriously for way too long and became history. This type of thing has been shown over and over through history, even in American history, where a tale is told so many times that people actually believe it to be historical truth.

For example, did you know that The Wright brothers were not the first to fly an airplane? (It was actually a Bavarian immigrant by the name of Gustave Whitehead, 2 years before the Wright brothers flight at Kitty Hawk, NC); or that there was most likely not a "Midnight ride of Paul Revere"? (I would recommend picking up this book for further information on how folklore can become history.)

#6 - If God did not give the Torah at Mt. Sinai, why is Jewish literature divided into five levels and scholars in later levels universally considered themselves to be inferior to scholars in earlier levels? [The levels are: prophets, rabbis of the Mishnah, rabbis of the Talmud, earlier Talmudic commentaries and later Talmud commentaries.]

Atheist answer: If the Torah is a work of fiction, this question is completely irrelevant. It is like saying that earlier Star Trek books are better than the newer ones.

#7 - If we have no soul, why do we feel conscious of ourselves?

Atheist answer: Because our human brains have evolved over billions of years to reach the point in which being conscious of ourselves has become a very useful adaptation in order to survive in this harsh world.

#8 - If we have no free will, why do we feel that we are making free choices?

Atheist answer: There is nothing to suggest that we do not have free will, when has an atheist ever claimed anything on the contrary to this?

#9 - If no God exists, why are we obligated to be nice other people?

Atheist answer: In case you haven't noticed, not many people feel obligated to be nice to other people. In the case of us actually taking care of each other and being kind to others, this is a social adaptation that was helped along by, you guessed it, evolution.

Those early primates that stuck together and helped each other out were much, MUCH more likely to survive in the world and therefore the traits that perpetuated survival, such as positive social interaction, were passed down either through genetics or through teachings of parents to their children to understand the importance of treating others with kindness.

(I just wish that more people that do NOT treat each other kindly would not breed and pass their bad behaviors to their offspring.)

#10 – If no covenant exists between God and the Jews, stipulating that the Jews must observe the Torah or be killed, why did the Germans kill 6 million Jews?

Atheist answer: The Germans massacred 6 million Jews because they believed them to be inferior due to their heritage, a heritage based almost completely on religion, which is just ridiculous in the first place and just shows the destructive impact that religion has on humanity. So this was almost a back-firing point.




Considering how poorly Judaism (or any religion for that matter), compared to atheism explains the world, it's no wonder that atheism is more popular than Judaism.

The answer seemingly is quite simple. An atheist will ask society to think rationally and take responsibility of themselves, not fall back on some supernatural deity, when a rabbi will just tell people that they must limit themselves with all sorts of rules based off of a magical book. Who will most people rather listen too?

Jon said...

Hi. As a Atheist and a Jew, I thought I ought to give you a quick response to your questions.

I do note that most people have already given similar or identical answers, and I will attempt to address some of your concerns when possible.

Please do note that everything can be debated, even things which appear to be facts from someone's point of view. Hopefully we agree on basic facts, such as the existence of the world.

#1 - If no supernatural Creator exists, how did the universe originate?

Well, atheism says nothing about the origin of the universe. Science's Big Bang Theory addresses the how, but not the why.

Understanding why the universe exists comes up against a wall - we know nothing about anything outside the universe. It may be impossible to know anything about conditions out there. Cause and effect may not rule outside this universe.

Thus, speculation takes over. Theism (God as creator) is just one speculation, upon which the Abrahamic religions found their theologies. Atheism denies Gods without giving an answer, which is its weakest point.

#2 - If no supernatural universal Designer exists, why is the universe suitable for the existence of life?

Well, the trivial answer is the Weak Anthropomorphic Principle: if the universe wasn't suitable, we wouldn't exist to see it. This is not satisfying to you, but it does demonstrate the limits of human knowledge as such.

#3 - If no supernatural universal Designer exists, how did life originate?

The science of abiogenesis attempts to answer this question. Unfortunately, it is still very much up in the air as to which theory is correct. We can't go back in time and find out the answer, according to our current understanding of the universe.

One may also point out that even if the probability of life forming is assumed to be small, the universe is large enough that the overall probability of life's emergence on at least one planet is reasonable, if not approaching unity.

#4 - If no supernatural universal Designer exists, what caused the repeated disappearance of more primitive forms of life and the appearance of new more advanced forms of life?
[For example, at the beginning of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic.]


Well, science is just now trying to answer that question. There's still a lot of debate about which theory correctly accounts for the disappearances and proliferation of various life forms. It seems clear that some change occurred to the environment at those points, wiping out those animals and necessitating the further evolution of the survivors.

One may as well ask why God would need to create and destroy many worlds before settling on this one. Would a perfect God have to try multiple times to get it right?

#5 - If no God exists who can work miracles and communicate with men, how did the Jewish people come to believe that their ancestors experienced the Exodus and the Revelation at Mt. Sinai?

Two Jews, three opinions. Not every Jew agrees about Sinai today. Give the way we Jews like to argue, we may never have agreed on exactly what happened there, if anything.

Remember, national mythologies spring up in many cultures. The Hindu myth of the Kurukshetra War involves every nation in ancient India and several Hindu gods and left only 10 warriors alive. The Aztecs were guided to Tenochtitlan by Huitzilopochtli. Gucumatz told the Quiche to build Gumarcah and made them adopt elaborate rituals.

Each nation agreed about the truth of the myths above. Does that make the myths true? I think not. So, too, is Moses and Mt. Sinai.

#6 - If God did not give the Torah at Mt. Sinai, why is Jewish literature divided into five levels and scholars in later levels universally considered themselves to be inferior to scholars in earlier levels? [The levels are: prophets, rabbis of the Mishnah, rabbis of the Talmud, earlier Talmudic commentaries and later Talmud commentaries.]

That's not a problem with Atheism, that's a problem for Jews. And you already answered it for the Jews.

A simple answer that any non-Jew might give is that the divisions are simple, clear breaks by time of writing and compilation. Reverence of tradition and unwillingness to go against the past explains why Orthodox Jews formed those divisions and do not cross them.

#7 - If we have no soul, why do we feel conscious of ourselves?

Neuroscience is working on that one. Consciousness appears to be an emergent property of brains. Quite similar to how a single logic gate cannot do every computation, but enough of them put together can form a general computer.

Animals seem to have various lesser versions of this consciousness, but we could be wrong about how conscious they really are.

Note that in the field of neuroscience, materialistic explanations for the human mind are the only ones given credence. Supernatural theories need to be testable, which they often aren't.

If we humans create or meet a conscious, intelligent, material being which is not human, must it have a soul like ours?

#8 - If we have no free will, why do we feel that we are making free choices?

Atheism doesn't say anything about free will. Determinism, which can be theistic, deistic, atheistic, or any other -istic, is what says you have no free will.

I personally fall more into the deterministic camp. However, I also believe nothing in the universe can perfectly predict what will happen next, because in order to do so perfect knowledge is required.

#9 - If no God exists, why are we obligated to be nice other people?

Not an issue for atheism, more a problem for ethical philosophy. Our moral compass appears to be inborn. One explanation for that is that there was selective pressure for cooperation within the social group, leading to the evolution of built-in morals.

#10 – If no covenant exists between God and the Jews, stipulating that the Jews must observe the Torah or be killed, why did the Germans kill 6 million Jews?

Why are the people of Darfur being killed by the Jungaweed? Surely, they must have broken a compact with God!

All satire aside, it seems obvious to me that man's cruelty to man will continue unabated for all of our existence. We destroy the outsider, make war upon those who are different.

(Judaism's best point is made in parsha Mishpatim, "And you shall not mistreat a stranger, nor shall you oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." [Shemot 22:20]. Better summarized as part of Hillel's "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow." [Shabbat 31a].)

Considering how poorly atheism, compared to Judaism explains the world one wonders how atheism can possibly be more popular than Judaism.

Sorry, I see it the other way around, otherwise I would not be an atheist. I've discussed this with my orthodox friends many times, to no avail on either side.

The answer seemingly is quite simple. A rabbi will tell people that they must limit themselves with all sorts of rules. An atheist will tell people that they can do whatever feels good. Who will most people rather listen too?

Atheism says nothing about what to do, how to act, and so on. Atheism is denial of God(s). That's the domain of Religion/Philosophy, which are founded upon one of the -isms. Pure theism, deism, etc., doesn't tell you how to live either.

That said, I embrace a bit of existentialism and Jewish philosophy when choosing how to live my life. Life is inherently meaningless, but that does not mean that I choose to do whatever I want.

I create my own meaning for my life. Tzedakah and teshuvah are important, but not because God says so. Charity and a return to a good life are necessary for my happiness.

I'm happy when other people around me are happy. I gladly help other Jews make a minyan, because it makes them happy. I would make a mezuman for you if you wished it.

I'm open to being wrong about the universe, too. If I die and there is a God and an afterlife, obviously I will not deny such truth. In fact, it would be a blessing to be proven wrong about such a matter. Yet I remain an atheist because it makes perfect sense.

jewish philosopher said...

Jon, it sounds to me as if you are basically agreeing with me, that atheists cannot give convincing answers to these questions. The only problem is that you don't like the Jewish answers either and I'm not sure why.

Regarding the Book of Exodus miracles, I don't see how a nation wide belief in them could have begun without a nation wide conspiracy, which is implausible. I don't think this applies to other myths.

Avi Alpert said...

I don't need to rehash the absurdity of your assertion here but would just like to add that your website's substance is an insult the legacy of philosophical thought in Judaism. You are a disservice to the likes of Saadia Gaon, Rambam, ibn Gabriol, the Kuzari, Ralbag to Berkovits, Katz and Rav Joseph Soloveitchik among others who provide coherent philosohpical underpinnings for Judaism.

Sergey said...

"The universe cannot be eternal because it is a dynamic physical system. A fire must have begun burning at some point."

First, who decides wether the answer is convicing? Give your definition of a convincing answer.
Second, are you a christian?
Now to your words. Look at this. Imagine it rains but not now, but many years ago, when man didn't know where the rain comes from. Atheist cannot give a convincing answer. But some guy says - God creates every rain AS A DYNAMIC PROCESS - gives a start to it. Then atheist says: Then who created God? But the guy answers - God is an eternal being and doesn't need to be created, but rain is a dynamic process, and the running water should be started by someone - God.

You get the hint. The thing is - later we found out, that waters of Earth go through the cycle. And now why don't you think that the whole universe can be a CYCLIC transformation of energy and substance, rather than a ONE WAY dynamic process? And if it's cyclic - why can't cycles go eternally?

Sergey said...

"This is the best they can come up with?"

Aaron, if you see some logical mistake - point at it in the theory. "Best" - is too relative to argue. But if there's a mistake, you'll be able to show it. Otherwise, this is nothing but same style words of atheists - "God? Yeah right, is this the best they can come up with?" - which i also disrespect.

jewish philosopher said...

Sergey, the sun causes the water cycle. How did the sun start? What caused the Big Bang?

Sergey said...

Nice remark (about the sun).
But - the sun causes watercycle same as the Earth. Do you disagree?

And the question is then how did both originate.

Then - did i say i can prove it is a big bang? No, i didn't. Actually a theory in science is never a fact, as it can be theoretically disproven any moment if the mistake is found... Yet, while being so doubtful, people created so much by means of it. The PC you are working on was made with the help of scientific approach.

What I say is - scientist never know for sure. They give theory (talk) and let it then be used and this way proven (prove), which happened many times, and could be observed. While believers only talked, not prove. The strenth of the science is not in that say they know smth for sure.

But just to satisfy what you said -yes probably Big Bang cannot be proven to the fullest now, but then - centuries ago NOTHING AT ALL WAS CONVINCINGLY PROVEN BY SCIENTISTS, but later it was. Step by step. How universe originated is just a rtegular step, that hasn't been fully finished.

I will answer you in the next post, separately.

Sergey said...

"What caused the Big Bang?"

Ok, let me give you the answer, and you disprove me if you can. This is just an attempt.

Centuries ago we didn't know physics at all. now we know much more. It lets us assume that we'll know much more following the same direction. Much more means new laws of physics. Why not?

Big Band is this kind of process. The explosion takes place, then all the particles return together in one place and the explosion takes place again. Now the question what makes the particles gather again? - The law of physics that will be later discovered, same as provious laws were discovered. This way the bang happens over and over, being a cyclic process. Cycles repeat eternally if there's nothing stoping them.

Here is my answer, if it can be disproven, please do so, only logically.

jewish philosopher said...

There is proof supporting Judaism and the universe cannot be eternal because it would have reached entropy.

Sergey said...

Jewish phylosopher, i'm sure that you understood me, as i think you're a pretty developed personality, logically too, as you are a programmer.

BUT in case you didn't i will show you: You say
"the universe cannot be eternal because it would have reached entropy."
The idea of entropy is based on TODAY'S LEVEL of development of PHYSICS as a science.

And now look at my words:
"Centuries ago we didn't know physics at all. now we know much more. It lets us assume that WE'LL KNOW MUCH MORE following the same direction. ... what makes the particles gather again? - The law of physics that WILL BE LATER DISCOVERED, same as previous laws were discovered.

Thus, by your link about entropy you only proved todays physics can't answer well (which WASN'T MY variant of answer). But you didn't disprove logically MY variant. So do this if it is possible.

jewish philosopher said...

Every decision we make in life is based on today's knowledge.

What if you told a prosecutor "According to today's forensic science I am guilty, however future science might prove me innocent."

Sergey said...

"Every decision we make in life is based on today's knowledge."
Show me exactly the place where and how i am using NOT TODAY'S KNOWLENGE. I'm using my today's knowledge of what happened in the past in order to logically assume about the future. So what you say makes no sense.

"What if you told a prosecutor "According to today's forensic science I am guilty, however future science might prove me innocent." "

Irrelevant example. That's why it seems to be ironic.
Let me extend it to make it more or less relevant:
The prosecutor (religion) says "guilty", and the attorney (science) says "i don't know for now." Suspect is punished, and some time afterwards attorney says: "now i know!" - and proves him innocent(but too late). Then the new case and again Prosecutor says "guilty". Attorney says "Again, i don't know for now!". Suspect is punished and some time later, attorney says "Here i know now! - Take a look at this" - and again he proves that proseculor was wrong. Than it happens over and over again. Each time. And then one day prosecutor says again:"Guilty". And here comes Sergey and says - "hey you know what, the experience from the past lets us logically assume, that the attorney will prove the suspect innocent again, like it happened in all the previous cases."

Here, now it is more relevant.

So you didn't disprove me for the SECOND TIME. I will help you: I didn't say what would happen in the future. I expressed my assumtion. If it is possible, prove that what i said CANNOT happen. Some people say: you cannot prove there's no God! So what i am basically saying: You cannot prove, that what i said cannot not happen.

jewish philosopher said...

I think you are referring to the "argument from precedent". I am not impressed by this.

Sergey said...

So it is the THIRD TIME you didn't disprove my statements.

"I am not impressed by this."
What is this? Are we trying to impress you here? In what i say i never try to say more than i mean. Reread again my statements, and again see if you have a disproof. If you have it - say "what you said cannot happen because..." If you don't have it - admit it - "yes it can happen". Otherwise this is childish.
I personally am not so PROUD of a person, and can easily agree that i cannot prove there's no God.

jewish philosopher said...

I mean I don't agree with the argument from precedent, as you can see in post I linked to.

Sergey said...

That's the FOURTH TIME you avoid answering.

Once more i'm repeating you to pay attention to the words. "If it is possible, prove that what i said CANNOT happen". Say - can you prove it or not?

And as for your link. It doesn't prove that what i said cannot happen. If you think it does - show how. And just for the record: I said only what i said, and i never said i was using "argument from precedent".

jewish philosopher said...

You want me to prove that in the future laws of physics will not be discovered which will make an eternal universe possible?

Sergey said...

I want you to say whether it can happen, that in the future laws of physics will be discovered which will explain that the universe is eternal.

jewish philosopher said...

I don't think so.

Troy said...

On what basis is Darwinian evolutionary theory a valid model of scientific enquiry?

Anonymous said...

What is it about the human condition that makes us feel the need to have tidy little answers to big questions, even if the answers are based on no real evidence of any kind other than word of mouth from centuries past?

Religious people struggle to understand how the non-believer can function without having some stated belief in things that are not knowable. Why are we here? How did we get here? I don't know, and neither does anyone else. The only difference is that I'm willing to admit it and I do not feel compelled to latch onto an explanation in order to soothe myself.

None of us feel guilty in not having an opinion about what horse will win the Kentucky Derby in the year 2087; we cannot know and there isn't a shred of evidence to suggest an answer. As an agnostic I often feel like I live in a world full of people who have a very definite opinion on the name of that horse, and they want their opinion respected and validated by society. Of course that would be totally absurd, but so is religion.

Accept what we know and seek evidence to learn of what we do not, but be willing to experience the discomfort that comes with not knowing. It's ok to not understand the origin of things. Perhaps someday we will understand more, but in the meantime we would all be SO much better off if our religious friends would stop pretending to have answers. You're fooling fewer and fewer people with each passing year.

JD

jewish philosopher said...

Why are so many things "unknowable"? I think that's just an excuse to ignore what is very knowable.

Sammy said...

Dear Sir,

Here are my answers:

1. The big bang created the universe, out of matter that has always existed. That is a much simpler answer than "who created God?"

2. Most galaxies aren't suitable for life. In the almost infinite universe, according to probability we are one of several rare instances of life.

3. It is much more logical that simple processes begat more complex ones than a massively complex creator figure started life. I think your position is much less convincing.

4. The most simple forms of life, single cell organisms, are still in existence. A more difficult question is surely, why isn't the Mesozoic mentioned, and doesn't it contradict how old the Torah says earth is?

5. This question is easy to answer. Old books are very flawed documents. A more difficult question is, why do the Hindus believe what they believe, if they didn't actually occur?

6. I don't understand how this is a question that refutes atheism. Again, a more logical question is, why is this "decline" turning more and more Jews into atheists?

7. Because we have brains.

8. Why does atheism preclude belief in free will? The concept of free will is much more problematic in a theistic world view, especially if you believe that God causes things like wars to happen.

9. We aren't obligated to be nice to each other, but certain socio-evolutionary traits mean that we are predisposed to it. Doesn't religion cause people NOT to be nice to people in different religions? In fact, doesn't the Torah command it?

10. That is an absolutely horrible thing to say, and dishonours the memory of my relatives, as well as yours. Many righteous Jews died, including Rabbis: a more complex question is, why didn't God only kill the non-righteous with a disease. Also because Hitler caused the Holocaust, doesn't it refute the concept of human free will in religion you mentioned above?

I hope these have provided adequate answers to your questions.

Sammy Mendel

jewish philosopher said...

I think that the Big Bang theory implies that nothing existed before it. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2007/07/01/what-happened-before-the-big-bang/

If the laws of nature were slightly different no stars would exist, and therefore no life. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropic_principle

"It is much more logical that simple processes begat more complex ones than a massively complex creator figure started life." Why?

"The most simple forms of life, single cell organisms, are still in existence." The fossils indicate several special creation events, not evolution.

"why isn't the Mesozoic mentioned, and doesn't it contradict how old the Torah says earth is?" I explain that http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/09/how-i-understand-genesis.html
"Old books are very flawed documents." More than new books?
"why do the Hindus believe what they believe" What do they believe?
"I don't understand how this is a question that refutes atheism." According to atheism there should be only the Torah and commentaries on it, as in other religions.
"Because we have brains." So does my computer but I don't think it's conscious of itself.
"Why does atheism preclude belief in free will?" How did free will evolve from a chemical soup?
"The concept of free will is much more problematic in a theistic world view" God let's us choose, but then decides if we can fulfill our wishes or not.
"certain socio-evolutionary traits mean that we are predisposed to it" There is no kindness or peace instinct.
"That is an absolutely horrible thing to say" So? It's still true. http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/06/holocaust-clear-evidence-of-gods-hand.html

Uri Wald said...

The earliest source for the Crisan myth, the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, is estimated to have been composed at 522 BC (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeric_Hymns), perhaps even later. Whereas Crisa was destroyed between 590 to 600 BC (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrisso,_Phocis). In addition Crisa was abandoned and re-inhabited before its destruction (http://www.chrisso.gr/istoria_en.html).

As Crisa was destroyed long before the hymn was written it's not a parallel to a national tradition. Also being only a possible municipal tradition it differs from a national tradition, as breaks in tradition are explained by abandonment (we happen to know about earlier abandonment in this case (ibid), but the possibility of previous abandonment in folks' minds is perhaps also a factor).