Thursday, December 14, 2006
[dawn from just below the peak of Mount Sinai.]
The truth of Judaism is based primarily on several principles, each of which is so obvious it hardly needs to be explained. No other religion comes close to having such a clear, logical, factual basis.
1 - The Watchmaker Principle
The Watchmaker Principle states: A machine cannot come into existence unless an intelligent being creates it. Therefore an eternal, supernatural intelligent designer must have created life.
This is proven by the fact that we never witness a complex mechanism with many parts all working efficiently for a certain purpose form spontaneously. There is always a designer. A watch must have a watchmaker. Therefore life, in which every organelle in every cell is a complex machine, must have been created by God.
A possible refutation of this is that, while true, complex machines cannot suddenly develop spontaneously, however over huge periods of time, self-replicating living things can become more complex through a very gradual process of variation and natural selection. The main problem with this refutation is that the fossil record, even the marine fossil record which should be fairly complete, does not indicate anything like such gradual evolution having happened in the past. Instead, we find evidence of sudden changes. Evolution is irrational speculation which clearly contradicts the evidence. It also does not explain how the first life originated.
Potential falsification: Present one example of a machine which we have witnessed come into existence spontaneously, without any intelligent designer.
THE EXISTENCE OF A SINGLE NATURAL OBJECT EXHIBITING COMPLEX PURPOSEFULNESS IS PROOF THAT GOD EXISTS.
2 - The Anti-Conspiracy Principle
The Anti-Conspiracy Principle states: If a large group of people, for example 10,000 or more, unanimously claim to have had a certain experience, they must be telling the truth.
This is because most people tell the truth most of the time. If they do lie, they lie as individuals or as small groups. It is impossible to organize a large group to all tell the same lie and not have at least a significant minority eventually reveal the truth.
Our knowledge of history is largely based on the Anti-Conspiracy Principle. Without it, how could we know that the astronauts actually landed on the moon, that the Holocaust actually happened, that George Washington was a real person and that the Normans invaded England in 1066? If large-scale conspiracies were easily created, perhaps all these historical facts were fabricated by a conspiracy of thousands of people.
This proves that the miracles recounted in the first half of the book of Exodus must have taken place, since the entire Jewish people unanimously accepted them as fact since time immemorial up until the 19th century.
It would have been impossible at any time in the past to engineer a conspiracy whereby all Jews unanimously would tell their children “My parents taught me that our forefathers were slaves in Egypt and were redeemed with ten miraculous plagues, etc.” when in fact their parents had said no such thing. Therefore the only plausible explanation for the Exodus tradition is that those miracles did indeed happen.
One possible refutation is that perhaps in remote antiquity most Jews were illiterate and illiterate people can be enlisted in mass conspiracies. I know of no historical or anthropological evidence to support that.
Another possible refutation is that perhaps Judaism began as a small conspiracy, with a small group numbering let’s say a dozen families. From there it gradually expanded, by acquiring converts and by natural increase. This would be similar to Christianity. Originally, there were supposedly thousands of witnesses to Jesus’ miracles. However only the four authors of the gospels, who could have easily conspired together to lie, retold them to the world. There is, however, no record anywhere of such a contraction and then gradual expansion of the Exodus tradition. Again, we would have to resort to a mass conspiracy at some point to cover up that historical fact when, on the contrary, we would naturally expect the founding fathers of the tradition to be remembered with great honor, as is the case with the four Christian evangelists. The archaeological evidence also seems to indicate the sudden appearance of a large Israelite community in Palestine about 3,300 years ago (see “The Bible Unearthed” page 119).
A third possibility is that the events related in Exodus basically did occur; however they were natural events, which were later given supernatural significance. The problem with this, however, is that it is difficult to imagine what those natural events could have been which would have closely resembled the Exodus miracles. And if the actual events were insignificant, but gradually were greatly embellished upon, then we would expect each family and each to village to have developed widely separate traditions about what had happened. We would have to again resort to a nationwide conspiracy to convert everyone to the one accepted canonical version.
The most plausible scenario might be something like this:
A group of a few thousand Semitic slaves escaped from Egypt about 3,300 years ago under the leadership of an Egyptian nobleman named Moses. After they settled in the highlands of Palestine, these Israelites as they called themselves, began retelling and embellishing the story of their escape. [Which is in itself a little bizarre – wouldn’t escaped slaves rather not advertise that fact?] Numerous different versions arose. Other Canaanites joined the Israelite community. The community grew. Versions of the story became more and more fantastic. Moses became a great lawgiver and miracle worker. Ten Plagues struck the Egyptians. Ten Commandments were given at a mountain in Sinai. In the time of Josiah, these stories, as well as Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings, were edited and became closer to their present form. Finally, a couple of centuries later, Ezra the Scribe finalized the Hebrew Bible, which was then universally accepted by Jews (Nehemiah 8:1) . Ezra had the power (Ezra 7:26) to punish all those who disagreed with him. The Samaritans as well, enemies of Jews (Ezra 4:1) , for some reason decided to accept the Pentateuch, although no other writings.
The main problem with this story is, if this is true, why were all the earlier versions, which were in the possession of the tens of thousand of Jews throughout the Persian Empire, and the Samaritans too, immediately, totally and silently disposed of once Ezra presented his scroll? There should have been “Pentateuch police” busy for many years destroying other, not canonical, writings. We know that the early church leaders had to suppress many apocryphal gospels and some have survived to the present. Something similar even happened with the Koran. In Judaism as well, certain books, such as the Book of Ben Sira, were excluded from the Biblical canon and banned. However there isn’t even a record of any command to disregard other versions of the Pentateuch; they are simply unmentioned anywhere, as if they never existed. We again must violate the Anti-Conspiracy Principle and say that all Jews, and Samaritans (!), unanimously and immediately agreed to lie and to say, “This is the only scroll of the Law of Moses which we received from our forefathers”, although they knew that it wasn’t. There was a perfect, empire wide cover up.
Potential falsification: Present one example of a successful conspiracy of 10,000 people who knowingly all told the same lie, which was later somehow discovered to be a lie. [Bear in mind that falsifying the Anti-Conspiracy Principle brings into question the truthfulness of the Holocaust, the moon landings and many other events as well, not only the Exodus tradition.]
THE FACT THAT JUDAISM COULD NOT HAVE ORIGINATED VIA A FRAUD, DELUSION OR HALLUCINATION IS PROOF THAT GOD WROTE THE TORAH.
3 – Ordinary Claims Do Not Require Extraordinary Evidence
[implied by Carl Sagan’s famous principle]
If something seems likely to have happened, we do not require extraordinary evidence to prove that it happened. Since, based on the Watchmaker Principle, we know that a God exists; we might expect that at some point in history he would reveal his identity and wishes to the human race in a public announcement. Therefore, extraordinary evidence is not required to prove that the revelation at Mount Sinai happened.
(Evolution, on the contrary, is making an extraordinary claim – that simple life spontaneously transformed itself into complex life. Extraordinary evidence is needed to support that, however the fossils offer little if any support.)
In addition to this, the rabbinical tradition, as opposed to the Samaritan and Karaite traditions, is validated by the successive levels of rabbinical literature. We can actually see the “shock waves” of the Sinai revelation rippling through and gradually decreasing in the structure of rabbinical literature.
It would seem obvious that Judaism has not been popularly rejected due to any lack of evidence, but rather because it is too burdensome – it contradicts people’s natural laziness, lust and arrogance.
The most popular refutation of the divine origin of the Torah is that the Torah states that the world was created 6,000 years ago. This has been proven wrong by the fossil evidence. Therefore, since the Torah contains a clear factual error, it cannot be divine. In fact, according to ancient rabbinical commentaries, only this phase of the world began 6,000 years ago; however other phases came and went before this one. The fossils are remnants of them. This also provides an explanation for the sudden changes in life during the earth’s natural history, which we see in the fossil evidence.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 1:08 PM