Tuesday, November 28, 2006
[Field Museum dioramas depicting simple, fixed marine life before the Permo-Triassic extinction, below, and the complex organisms that dominated later.]
An interesting article appeared in today’s (virulently pro-evolution) New York Times entitled Marine Life Leaped From Simple to Complex After Greatest Mass Extinction. This article is based on an article published in Science magazine, which demonstrates that a “great extinction” which occurred 251 million years ago “erased 95 percent of species in the oceans (and most vertebrates on land). But new research suggests that it was followed by an explosion of complexity in marine life, one that has persisted ever since. Moreover, it happened quite suddenly, according to the study, which was led by scientists at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago…The shift to complicated, interrelated ecosystems was more like a flip of a switch than a slow trend.”
Perhaps I am missing something here, however doesn’t this totally contradict evolution? The American Heritage Dictionary defines evolution as “A gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form”. That’s “gradual” not “quite suddenly”.
Darwin wrote in Origin of Species Chapter 10: “New species have appeared very slowly, one after another, both on the land and in the waters.” And “The process of modification must be extremely slow.”
I have my own theory about prehistory, but Darwinian evolution is now certainly a scientific fallacy.
Richard Dawkins , are you listening?
Posted by jewish philosopher at 12:25 PM
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
One interesting document supporting the truth of the divine origin of Pentateuch is the Samaritan Pentateuch.
The Samaritans are a community of people who are today quite small however in ancient times they were far more numerous. According the Hebrew Bible, 2 Kings 17, they are not authentically Jews at all, but rather are Judaized gentiles who were settled in Palestine by the Assyrians, following the exile of the Ten Tribes. At their request, a priest of the Ten Tribes instructed them in Judaism. According the Samaritan tradition, they are simply descendents of the Ten Tribes who never went into exile. DNA analysis seems to indicate descent from Jewish priests who intermarried with Assyrian women. In the time of Second Temple, the Bible portrays the Samaritans as being the enemies of the Jews. According to the New Testament, Jews had no dealings with Samaritans. The Talmud calls them “Cuthim”, referring to Cuthah, were some of them had originated, and does not consider them to be Jews. According to the Samaritan tradition, they broke away from the rest of the Jewish people at the time of Eli, or slightly before the reign of Saul and David. According to Jewish tradition, their tradition diverged permanently from other Jews at the time of King Jeroboam, after the reign of Solomon.
At any rate, there exists a community of people, who, according to all accounts, have been separated from the Jewish people by mutual hatred for approximately 3,000 years. Nevertheless they possess and revere the Pentateuch in a form almost identical to the Masortic text, the most major departure being the inclusion in the Ten Commandment of a command to build the altar on Mt. Gerizim, which is obviously a sectarian interpolation. This would seem to date the Pentateuch to no later than 500 years after the Exodus. This of course makes it even more incredible that the Exodus miracles are mythical and ficticious. Can we imagine someone today writing a book claiming that Columbus split the Atlantic Ocean and crossed on dry land to America, and all Americans unanimously believing this?
According to the Documentary Hypothesis, the Samaritans should only possess the so called "E document", as has been pointed out by others.
I corresponded yesterday with Professor Richard E. Friedman, author of “Who Wrote The Bible”. I asked him as follows:
I have read your book, Who Wrote the Bible, where you state that the redactor of the Pentateuch was probably Ezra. I am curious to know how this could be the case, since the Samaritans also possess the Pentateuch with almost no substantial differences, although they were not followers of Ezra. In fact, Samaritan and Jewish traditions only diverged following the period of King Solomon, making it appear that the Pentateuch at latest dates to the time of the United Monarchy.
He was kind enough to reply:
Dear Mr. Stein:
Thank you for your letter. Perhaps I misunderstand you, but it appears that you take the Samaritans to be Israelites who lived in (Northern?) Israel as far back as the United Monarchy. The Samaritans are rather understood in the biblical text to be non-Israelite people who were brought into the territory of the northern kingdom by the Assyrians after they had conquered it and deported and/or displaced the Israelite population. This is described in 2 Kings 17, especially verses 23 to 34. As for the question of when these Samaritans came to accept the Torah as their sacred text, that is an old and complex problem in biblical scholarship. If you are interested in pursuing it, I suggest that you start with the articles on "Samaritan Pentateuch" and "Samaritans" in volume 5 of The Anchor Bible Dictionary. These articles include substantial bibliography for further study.
I wish you well in your continuing studies of these interesting questions.
Richard Elliott Friedman
Davis Professor of Jewish Studies, University of Georgia
Katzin Professor of Jewish Civilization Emeritus, University of California, San Diego
I also inquired of Dr. Israel Finkelstein, Professor of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University:
“Why do the Samaritans accept the entire Pentateuch, rather than only the E document?"
He kindly responded:
"I don't have a definite answer to this question, with which many great scholars contemplated. In any event, it needs to be asked on the background of the 5th or 4th centuries BCE, when the Pentateuch was put in writing including P and R; at that time the schism with the Samaritans was not final"
My understanding is that secular scholars would like to date the schism between the Samaritans and Jews to be from the time of Ezra, or even somewhat later. I don’t see any basis for this, other than a desire to assign a later date to the Pentateuch. However if anyone has access to a reference library and can provide me with more information, I would be grateful.
In fact, taking it a step further, I would say that since the Pentateuch includes no mention of Jerusalem, which was central in the times of David and Solomon, it must date from the time of Samuel at latest, or about 400 years after the Exodus.
In any case, anyone wishing to deny the historical accuracy of the miracles recounted in the first half of the book of Exodus must be able to explain why the Jewish people, fanatically and unanimously, believed in those miracles from just a few centuries after they allegedly occurred up until the time of the Jewish Enlightenment.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 1:14 PM
Monday, November 13, 2006
[float at San Francisco Gay Pride Parade 2005]
I proudly support the death penalty for men engaging in anal sexual intercourse with other men.
The reason for my opinion is simply because this is what the Bible teaches and as a Jew I believe in the Bible.
Leviticus 20:13 states "If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them."
Even if God would command me to slaughter my own precious son, I would be obligated to do so, as indeed Abraham was willing to slaughter Isaac at God’s command (Genesis 22). If God commands that, after a trial and due process of law, male homosexuals must be put to death, I am ready to obey.
The fact is, however, that many homosexuals are not necessarily so precious.
First of all, male homosexuality represents a huge public health problem.
Because the rectum is designed to hold feces and not to receive a penis, the walls of the rectum are thinner, dryer and more rigid than the walls of the vagina. This makes anal intercourse an ideal way to transmit disease and infection. Click here for additional information.
In addition to this, male homosexuals are usually promiscuous.
It doesn’t take a lot of medical knowledge to realize that a community of millions of men who are randomly having anal sex with each other is the ideal breeding ground for sexual diseases and for the development of new, more dangerous, ones. The AIDS epidemic may be a divine punishment for homosexuality, but only in the sense that breaking ones neck is a punishment for jumping out a window. It’s worthwhile noting that the United States, which has completely legalized homosexuality, has an HIV rate 60 times higher than Saudi Arabia, which has a death penalty for homosexuality. Encouraging condom usage has not really solved the problem.
The American Red Cross will not accept a blood donation from practicing male homosexuals.
Unfortunately, homosexuals do not keep these diseases to themselves, since many have sex with woman as well and then these infections spread to the larger community.
Just as an aside, it would appear that about 90% of AIDS cases are caused either by anal sexual intercourse or unsanitary hypodermic needles. The former is the primary method of transmission in the United States while the later may be the primary method in Africa. It would seem very generally that in developed countries, AIDS is a gay/heroin problem and in developing countries it is an unsanitary medical clinic problem. It follows that societies possessing modern medical facilities, no heroin users and no homosexuals should have virtually no AIDS and that does seem to be the case. It is believed that the disease originated about 1940 when an African hunter ate a chimpanzee infected with a similar virus. Following that, a few isolated cases appeared in a few places. However apparently the large and, since the Stonewall Riots, increasingly open and liberated American gay community nutured the first large scale outbreak of AIDS, which then spread back to Africa. The Gay Liberation Front was established in New York City in July, 1969. It generally takes 10 years for HIV infection to develop into AIDS. The first cases of AIDS were reported in New York City in March, 1981. By 1990, Africa had more AIDS victims than the US. Theoretically, it is of course quite possible that future catastrophic pandemics might develop along a similar pathway, God forbid, using the gay community as an incubator.
In addition, homosexuals represent a public safety problem.
A far greater percentage of homosexuals are pedophiles than are heterosexuals; a study shows 1/3 of pedophile victims are males while only about 5% of the population is homosexual. For more details click here. Obviously, the high rate of STD infections among homosexual men makes this even more disturbing.
From a purely scientific point of view, a fixation with male on male anal sexual intercourse should be regarded as a sexual disorder having serious negative health consequences both for the practitioner as well as for others. It is possibly comparable to heroin usage.
To the best of my knowledge [and if I’m wrong, please correct me] the claim that gay men are, on the average, just as healthy and as law abiding as any other men is simply an unsubstantiated claim made by gay men. It is not based on any substantial, respected, independent research.
The question arises however – how can we ban homosexuality when some men may be born with a homosexual orientation and can only find sexual satisfaction in anal sex with another man? We could ask a similar question: How can we ban pedophilia when some men may be born with a pedophilic orientation and can only find sexual satisfaction in sex with a child? The answer is that if therapy will not help them, we insist that pedophiles lead lives of celibacy and sexual frustration. The same should apply to homosexuals.
In conclusion, the ban on anal intercourse between men is God’s will and therefore in my opinion needs no further explanation. However, in fact science has now demonstrated that this is far from being an arbitrary prohibition which will victimize millions of innocent people; rather it is a very wise and humanitarian measure which would on the balance save mankind from a great deal of misery.
In spite of all our civil liberties, Western governments have no problem banning many substances because they may be abused and cause harm. I see no reason why the same should not apply to homosexuals. Can we imagine a Drug Addicts Pride Parade?
Posted by jewish philosopher at 1:14 PM
Friday, November 10, 2006
[Timeline of the Big Bang]
The existence of our universe implies the existence of an incorporeal and infinitely powerful Creator.
Obviously nothing physical can come into existence from nothing spontaneously; all objects are merely rearrangements of preexisting substances, but are never really new. Also it is obvious that the universe is not infinitely old. The universe is constantly changing and dynamic and change cannot continue forever. After however many billions or trillions of years the stars would have to burn out; everything would have to wear out, wind down and disintegrate. Just as it is obvious that a burning fire must have been lit at some point in the past or a working clock must have been started at some time so too it is obvious that at some point in the past the universe was created and set in motion by an omnipotent, eternal and incorporeal Creator, who exists forever, unbound by time and space, whose power is unending and without limit.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 12:10 PM
Thursday, November 02, 2006
The following is a passage from Leviticus:
11:1 God spoke to Moses and Aaron, telling them
11:2 to speak to the Israelites, and convey the following to them:
Of all the animals in the world, these are the ones that you may eat:
11:3 Among mammals, you may eat any one that has true hooves that are cloven and that brings up its cud.
11:4 However, among the cud-chewing, hoofed animals, these are the ones that you may not eat: The camel shall be unclean to you although it brings up its cud, since it does not have a true hoof.
11:5 The hyrax shall be unclean to you although it brings up its cud, since it does not have a true hoof.
11:6 The hare shall be unclean to you although it brings up its cud, since it does not have a true hoof.
11:7 The pig shall be unclean to you although it has a true hoof which is cloven, since it does not chew its cud.
11:8 Do not eat the flesh of any of these animals.
This passage has been used by skeptics to disprove Judaism.
First of all, it is argued that the hyrax and hare do not chew a cud. Second of all, the Talmud (Chullin 59a) states that that the animals listed here are the only ones possessing one sign of purity – either hooves or a cud, but not both. Modern zoologists however have discovered that warthogs, babirussas, peccaries, and llamas also possess this characteristic.
In my humble opinion, this type of argument indicates the desperation which atheists resort to in trying to convince themselves and others that the Bible is bogus.
The Bible is teaching the Jewish people to eat only animals that possess both signs of purity. In order to avoid errors, the Bible then lists all those animals native to the Middle East, which is where the Bible was given, which possess only one pure sign and are therefore forbidden but which might be mistaken as permissible. Warthogs are native to sub-Sahara Africa, babirussa to Indonesia, peccaries to the southwest United States and llamas to South America. No Jews lived in those regions until modern times. Do skeptics really believe that the Bible should have listed the llama and for the next 3,000 years until Europeans reached Peru, Jews would have been scratching their heads each time they read the Bible, having no idea what this animal is? The Talmud also presumably means that these are the only Middle Eastern animals with one sign of purity. [The Talmud Megillah 11a states that Achavshveros ruled "from one end of the world to the other". This obviously means "the Middle Eastern world".]
The hare and the hyrax do appear to chew a cud and were believed until modern times to have chewed a cud. Therefore the Bible warned Jews to avoid them although they appear to have one sign of purity.
Leviticus 11:5-7 therefore perfectly accomplishes it obvious purpose – which is not to deliver a modern day zoology lecture, but rather to teach the Jews to avoid consuming animals which could have easily been mistaken as pure.
This is completely in conformance with the well known Talmudic principle “The Torah was written in ordinary conversational language”. See Maimonides, Hilchos Yesodei haTorah 1:12 for similar cases.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 12:58 PM