Thursday, September 07, 2006

Refuting the Torah deniers




[top: Christian mosaic bottom: Charles Darwin]

Ask an atheist:If there is no god, where did life come from?

If he answers “Evolution created it.” tell him that complex living systems cannot spontaneously grow from simple chemicals and simple animals cannot spontaneously give birth to more complex animals. Therefore evolution is obviously wrong.

If he answers “I don’t know.” ask him “Aren’t you just trying to avoid reaching the obvious conclusion; that a higher power created you and you may owe him something?”

If he asks "Who created God?" answer "God by definition is eternal and needs no creator."

If he says "Religion just doesn't interest me. I'm agnostic." Tell him that it should. If his life does in fact have some cosmic meaning and purpose, wouldn't it be a tragedy to live and die without discovering it?


Ask a Christian:

How do you know that the authors of the New Testament didn’t just make up all the stories about Jesus? Maybe he wasn’t really born in Bethlehem, didn’t heal the sick, didn’t return from death. Maybe his followers just fabricated it all.

If he answers “Millions of people believe it; it must be true.” Answer that millions believe in Islam and Buddhism, but of course as he will agree they are wrong.

If he asks “How do you know that Judaism is true? Maybe someone made it up.” Answer that Judaism is based on the tradition of an entire nation which could not be falsified. A large community of people could not unanimously conspire to create a religion. Christianity is based on the testimony of a few individuals.

If he says "Christianity makes me happy, therefore I believe." tell him that it is foolish to devote his life to something which is obviously a scam.

Ask a Moslem or Buddhist:

The same thing you ask a Christian, just modified appropriately.

26 comments:

happywithhislot said...

JP
not to quibble, but the tradition of entire nation is something that chazal told us. so its a tradition of a few people saying that an entire nation witnessed this.

then you have so small problems like jews documented even by chazal as forgetting stuff all along the way.

tanach has accounts of surprise discoveries.

i think its even in our mesorah that ezra redacted the torah from various scrolls.

dont be so sure of the proof. its simply faith, nothing more than everyone elses.

happywithhislot said...

re God and judiasm
its a far leap to say that if there is a God, he wants us to be busy with not clipping our toenails on shabbos or tying roite bendlech for good luck.

jewish philosopher said...

I think history tells us that since time immemorial until about 1820, 99% of Jews believed in the Exodus and the revelation of Torah at Sinai.

About Talmudic minutiae, if God created the fingernails why shouldn't He also tell us how to cut them? And I'm not sure red strings are a Jewish custom.

Jewish skeptic said...

>"Answer that Judaism is based on the tradition of an entire nation which could not be falsified. "

Answer:A. hundreds of thousands of people claim that they have witnessed the appearance of the Virgin Mary,appearing to them all at once(eg Fatima).Many swear they have seen her shedding tears,& there is much more of the same.

B."

A large community of people could not unanimously conspire to create a religion"
Someone wrote that it all happened at once.Actually,it took many hundreds of years for the bible to take the shape & form we have today.The final redaction took place by Ezra & other priests,700-900 yrs after the supposed events.

jewish philosopher said...

The Bible also records Egyptian magicians performing miracles. However the revelation at Sinai was more than a miracle - it was prophesy experienced by millions of people. This is unique and could not be faked.

Regarding Ezra's authorship of the Torah, I find that to be implausible for several reasons:
- The entire Jewish people in Judea, Babylon and elsewhere would not have unanimously accepted this new book without protest and controversy.
- The Samaritans, who were enemies of the Jews (Ezra 4:1) would not have accepted it.
- The Torah contains no explicit reference to Jerusalem, which the center of Judaism in Ezra's time.

Jewish skeptic said...

> The entire Jewish people in Judea, Babylon and elsewhere would not have unanimously accepted this new book without protest and controversy.


That is if you assume from the start that they possessed the bible we have today.
In Kingsii,22:8-11(&the rest of ch.)we read:8 ¶ And Hilki'ah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilki'ah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it.

9 And Shaphan the scribe came to the king, and brought the king word again, and said, Thy servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of them that do the work, that have the oversight of the house of the LORD.

10 And Shaphan the scribe showed the king, saying, Hilki'ah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king.

11 ¶ And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.

What was this Torah that was found that no one knew anything about?!
All the millions of people, according to you!
Even the king didn't know about it .For if he knew what's written in it ,why would he rend his garments!

And in the book of Nehemiah 8:13-18,we read:
13 ¶ And on the second day were gathered together the chief of the fathers of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, unto Ezra the scribe, even to understand the words of the law.

14 And they found written in the law which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month:

15 and that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written.

16 So the people went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths, every one upon the roof of his house, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God, and in the street of the water gate, and in the street of the gate of E'phra-im.

17 And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Jesh'u-a the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness.

18 Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day was a solemn assembly, according unto the manner.

So you see the people never heard of succot before that ,nor of hadas or lulav...("it was found written").
They have never heard of these things. Ezra & Nehemiah & other priests told them that a book was found in which those commandments were written & they accepted it.
That was the religious view of things of a certain political party headed by Ez&Neh.
They were powerful enpowered by the Persian king to enforce their their religous ideology even by ruthless force as it's written in the Letter of Authority given to Ezra. we read in Ezra 7:26


26 And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment

People had to do what they were told... & the priests' cencorship made sure that no other documents survived...

Avi said...

dont be so sure of the proof. its simply faith, nothing more than everyone elses.


There are more Christians then there are Jews. There are more Muslims and Hindus and Chinese. Everyone has their own religious belief. They are all wrong and we are right??? Lets stop being ridiculous. Judaism is based on the torah which was written by men, who then expounded on it and made up more laws.

jewish philosopher said...

Jskeptic, Regarding Josiah having written the Torah, I have a post about that as well. And which priest told the Samaritans what to do?

Avi, a lot of people lying doesn't make it true. How many worshipped Thor, Jupiter and Zeus?

Jewish skeptic said...

J.P.
You didn't address the problem of the people not knowing about succot,lulav & hadas In Ezra's time,which I quoted above.

jewish philosopher said...

I also reviewed the laws of sukkos today. So what?

Jewish skeptic said...

> also reviewed the laws of sukkos today. So what?

Your sentence doesn't make sense.
I wrote that the people in Ezra's time didn't know about succot.Not that they reviewed it.That's deliberately distorting the words of the bible. But I suppose it's only to be expected of you.

jewish philosopher said...

I'm sorry, however there is no reference in the text to the discovery of any novel document, not in Kings or Nehemiah. It is explicitly stated that they were merely studying the law commanded by Moses

Baal Habos said...

JP,


> If he answers “Evolution created it.” tell him that complex living systems cannot spontaneously grow from simple chemicals and simple animals cannot spontaneously give birth to more complex animals.

There definitely is a God of the gaps. You don't know for sure that what you said is true.

>Therefore evolution is obviously wrong.

It's certainly not obvious.



> If he answers “I don’t know.” ask him “Aren’t you just trying to avoid reaching the obvious conclusion; that a higher power created you and you may owe him something?”

And what exactly would that be?

> If he asks "Who created God?" answer "God by definition is eternal and needs no creator."

That is double talk and evades the issue.

> If his life does in fact have some cosmic meaning and purpose, wouldn't it be a tragedy to live and die without discovering it?

I agree see

http://baalhabos.blogspot.com/2006/06/what-does-god-expect-of-me.html

True Believer said...

You should add Newton to your list of heretics. He said that physics explains how the planets move, but we know that God does it and that physics is nonsense.

Even Truer Believer said...

Plus you can add all doctors to your list. They say that medicine makes you better, but we know that Hashem is the Royfei Choilim and this so-called "medicine" is nothing other than the cunning devices of the Sitra Achara.

jewish philosopher said...

I'm not making a list of heretics. Although intriguingly the Talmud does state "the best doctors will go to hell". ;-)

jewish philosopher said...

Dear Bos,

I am not suggesting a God of Gaps; I suggesting that all machines are made by designers, therefore obviously living creatures were designed. That is clear logical proof, not an argument from ignorance.

Evolution is based on gaps - since theists allegedly cannot explain why pandas have awkward thumbs, then it must be God didn't do it, evolution did it.

SearchingForMeaning said...

That's the Teleological argument. It is far from clear and logical; in fact, a very basic internet search will reveal the controversy of this "watch/watchmaker" argument, and hiw it is a gorss oversimplification, and yea, a distortion, of a much more complex issue. But hang tight, first a longer comment on your original post.

SearchingForMeaning said...

You must have interviewed a very ingorant and archaic atheist indeed. How the conversation should have progressed, with anyone remotely familiar with modern evolution:

Ploni: If there is no god, where did life come from?

Atheist: "Abiogenesis laid the foundation; Evolution is how it got from there to here."

Ploni: "Complex living systems cannot spontaneously grow from simple chemicals and simple animals cannot spontaneously give birth to more complex animals. Therefore evolution is obviously wrong. And...what is Abiogenesis?"

Atheist:"Whoah, slow down there. Firstly, no modern scientist EVER claims something so proposterous as complex living things suddenly climbing out a a pot that previously held some gases. This is a gross simplification, and a misunderstanding.

The current understanding, supported experimentally (most notably the famous Urey-Miller experiment), demonstrates how simple molecules can be synthesized, under the right conditions, from the premordial elemental material that was present on the young earth. Even organic molecules can be formed this way, and research is under way examinind how simple protiens, and even RNA, the cellular protien factory and precursor to DNA, can develop from further natural processes present on the developing planet. While this is a young field, and many kinks have to be worked out, we are on the way to understanding how, at very least, the eventual development of simple life forms may have come about from natural processes. This is not spontaneity, it is a matter of processes, trials, and time. We are talking about spans of millions of years; plenty of time for the eventual formation of life. That's abiogenesis.

Secondly, you obviously don't understand what evolution is. Evolution, simply put, is "a change in the gene pool of a population over time". Evolution is accepted fact today, with incontrovertable evidence. It is not a "theory" as such. We have seen evolution in our own days; think of the famous case with the white and black moths in England during the industrial revolution. Within 50 years, in certain areas, dark moths jumped from 2% of the population to a whopping 95%. This is a form of evolution.

Look at the fossil record. In the earliest fossils, we find the simplest plants and organisms. We don't find apes nor humans. Over time (millions and millions of years), we find a gradual trend towards more and more complex life forms. Our species has evidently undergone quite a bit of change in the last 100,000 years, based on what we find. Yes, we are related to apes, and probably branched off somewhere along the line. The evidence is more than extensive, it is overwhelming. How it happens, is the grayer area. We have come a long way from Darwinian evolution, and today have more complex and probable theories on the exact mechanisms involved (genetic mutation, natural selection, etc.) But the basic premise is fact: Evolution takes place.

Ploni: Oh. They didn't tell me any of that in yeshivah. I'm going to have to think about this. Tell me then, where did everything come from? The Big Bang? Who created it all?

Atheist: That question stems from a false premise - that everything must have a creator. What makes you think anything needs a creator? In this world, nothing physical ever begins or ends. The watch and the watchmaker of fame, both are constructed of atoms that have always existed. The very food you eat, your own body, may be the recycled atoms of a 10,000 year old tree or a 100,000 year old asteroid. And who says any of that had to come from anywhere? If god can "always exist", so can atoms. There is nothing in science to say that such a thing could not have been. The Big Bang, which is also pretty much incontrovertible fact, may have followed a Big Crunch, or an infinite series of compression-expansions, Big Bangs and Big Crunches. It doesn't have to have "come" from anywhere.

Ploni: I don't know. If what you say is true, I am going to have to talk to my Rabbi about this. Is it impossible to say that god is in the picture somewhere?

Atheist: Certainly not, you can certainly say that God started the universe with the Big Bang, and then let nature do the rest of the work. While the god theory is just as unprovable as any other, it can be somewhat meshed with the facts.

Ploni: So,if his life does in fact have some cosmic meaning and purpose, wouldn't it be a tragedy to live and die without discovering it?

Atheist: Certainly so; but the better question is, if the truth is that there is no meaning, no cosmic purpose, or even that we cannot possibly ever discern if there is a god or true meaning, would you ever be honest enough to admit it? Moreso, would you have the personal strengh to accept the painful truth, or at best the uncertainty, and go on living in the absence of cosmic meaning?

Ploni: Uhh...

saul shajnfeld said...

Jewish Philosopher said:
>Ask an atheist:If there is no god, where did life come from?

If he answers “Evolution created it.” tell him that complex living systems cannot spontaneously grow from simple chemicals and simple animals cannot spontaneously give birth to more complex animals. Therefore evolution is obviously wrong.<

You haven't been reading your Talmud, which states that certain insects may be killed on Shabbat because they are not born as a result of sexual reproduction but rather by spontaneous generation from non-living matter.

Don't even bother trying to answer this--you'll only dig yourself in deeper.

jewish philosopher said...

Dear SearchingForMeaning,

Thank you very much for your very long and thoughtful post. I really appreciate it. However allow me to point out what I believe is the weakness in your argument.

A machine is a device containing many parts all of which work together efficiently to accomplish a specific purpose.

I am not aware of the existence of any machine which has been observed to come into existence spontaneously. Every machine whose origin we know about has had an intelligent designer.

Every organelle in every living cell of every living thing which has ever existed is a machine.

Therefore obviously life was created by an intelligent designer.

Dear Mr. Shajnfeld,

The statement in the Talmud regarding spontaneous generation was written based upon the science of Talmudic times. Today we know that this is false. However the halochah does not change once it has been codified in the Talmud.

Adam Shajnfeld said...

I am shocked that you think that an appropriate reply to "who created god" is to simply quote its dictionary meaning, as if that conferred some power on it. Your answer is essentially this: god needs no creator because the definition of god is something without a creator. Thus, if I define earth as a planetary body that needs no creator, then I don't need a god!

Ultimate power to lexicographers, dont you think?

God having no creator is as problematic as the universe having no creator. You can't just rid yourself of the problem by saying that god needs no creator.

Jeez.

jewish philosopher said...

I think the "who created God" question is something people pick up in college in their "Introduction to Philosophy" class, but it's really a very silly question. Who says anyone has to create Him?

Adam Shajnfeld said...

Well, you didnt respond to the substanct of my argument, so I will repeat. You ask "who says anyone has to create him?" Why can't I simply say "Who says anyone has to create the universe?"

In philosophy class we learned that you cannot answer one question-begging answer with another.

jewish philosopher said...

In recent centuries, science has discovered that life has not existed eternally. Someone apparently created it.

Anonymous said...

The majority of Christians outside your country do not believe on the authority of the bible, they believe on the authority of the church. They believe in the scriptures, Old and New Testaments, because the church tells them it is a reliable text, but they still resort to the authority of the church as regards the interpretation of that text.