Monday, May 21, 2007

Who Wrote the Bible?

[the Western Wall; night of Shavuos]

The holiday of Shavuos, called by the rabbis the “time of the giving of the Torah”, is coming up tomorrow night, so I think this is an important question to answer.

Of course, God wrote it.

However what about the Documentary Hypothesis – the idea that the Torah was compiled from four earlier documents? Over the past 150 years, scholars have carefully analyzed the text of the Pentateuch and reached the conclusion that different sections are written in different styles, presumably by different authors, and the Pentateuch was then compiled from these documents. The alleged documents are basically known as Jawist or J, Elohist or E, Priestly or P and Deuteronomist or D.

Is there any way to reconcile the Documentary Hypothesis with the traditional belief in divine authorship? I think there obviously is.

First of all, the Talmud many times mentions God’s two character traits – the trait of mercy and the trait of justice. Mercy is represented by the name YHVH while justice is represented by Elohim (see Midrash Braishis Rabbah 73:3). I would suggest that the J document is the portion of the Torah more emphasizing mercy and the E document is the portion more leaning toward justice. The Talmud Tractate Megilah 31b states that Deuteronomy was written by Moses – meaning I would assume it was not dictated to Moses directly by God, but rather it is based on a vision which Moses saw and then interpreted. This is D. P is everything else, primarily the sacrificial laws.

P is God.
J is God writing as a merciful father.
E is God writing as a strictly just ruler.
D is Moses writing with divine inspiration.

This explains why there is no remnant of or reference to J, E, P and D in any pre-modern text anywhere. This also explains why the Samaritans have the same Pentateuch other Jews have. It is because these four documents were never separate. They have always been combined into the Torah.

With the beautiful holiday upon us, let us all renew our commitment as God's loyal followers, obeying all His words.


TigerBoy said...

1. God likes Abel's dead animals better than Cain's fruits and vegetables. Why? Well, no reason is given, but it probably has something to do with the amount of pain, blood, and gore involved. 4:3-5

2. Because God liked Abel's animal sacrifice more than Cain's vegetables, Cain kills his brother Abel in a fit of religious jealousy. 4:8

3. God is angry. He decides to destroy all humans, beasts, creeping things, fowls, and "all flesh wherein there is breath of life." He plans to drown them all. 6:7, 17

4. God repeats his intention to kill "every living substance ... from off the face of the earth." But why does God kill all the innocent animals? What had they done to deserve his wrath? It seems God never gets his fill of tormenting animals. 7:4

5. God drowns everything that breathes air. From newborn babies to koala bears -- all creatures great and small, the Lord God drowned them all. 7:21-23

6. Noah kills the "clean beasts" and burns their dead bodies for God. According to 7:8 this would have caused the extinction of all "clean" animals since only two of each were taken onto the ark. "And the Lord smelled a sweet savor." 8:20

7. To free Lot from captivity, Abram sends an army of slaves to pursue and smite his captors. 14:14-15

8. God tells Abram to kill some animals for him. The needless slaughter makes God feel better. 15:9-10

9. Hagar conceives, making Sarai jealous. Abram tells Sarai to do to Hagar whatever she wants. "And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled." 16:6

10. Lot refuses to give up his angels to the perverted mob, offering his two "virgin daughters" instead. He tells the bunch of angel rapers to "do unto them [his daughters] as is good in your eyes." This is the same man that is called "just" and "righteous" in 2 Pet.2:7-8. 19:7-8

11. God kills everyone (men, women, children, infants, newborns) in Sodom and Gomorrah by raining "fire and brimstone from the Lord out of heaven." Well, almost everyone -- he spares the "just and righteous" Lot and his family. 19:24

12. God threatens to kill Abimelech and his people for believing Abe's lie. 20:3-7

13. God orders Abraham to kill Isaac as a burnt offering. Abraham shows his love for God by his willingness to murder his son. But finally, just before Isaac's throat is slit, God provides a goat to kill instead. 22:2-13

14. Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, is "defiled" by a man who seems to love her dearly. Her brothers trick all of the men of the town and kill them (after first having them all circumcised), and then take their wives and children captive. 34:1-31

15. "The terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them." I don't know what the "terror of God" is, but I'll bet it isn't pleasant. 35:5

16. "And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord slew him." What did Er do to elicit God's wrath? The Bible doesn't say. Maybe he picked up some sticks on Saturday. 38:7

17. After God killed Er, Judah tells Onan to "go in unto they brother's wife." But "Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and ... when he went in unto his brother's wife ... he spilled it on the ground.... And the thing which he did displeased the Lord; wherefore he slew him also." This lovely Bible story is seldom read in Sunday School, but it is the basis of many Christian doctrines, including the condemnation of both masturbation and birth control. 38:8-10

18. After Judah pays Tamar for her services, he is told that she "played the harlot" and "is with child by whoredom." When Judah hears this, he says, "Bring her forth, and let her be burnt." 38:24

19. Joseph interprets the baker's dream. He says that the pharaoh will cut off the baker's head, and hang his headless body on a tree for the birds to eat. 40:19

TigerBoy said...


TigerBoy said...

20. Moses murders an Egyptian after making sure that no one is looking. 2:11-12

21. God threatens to kill the Pharaoh's firstborn son. 4:23

22. God decides to kill Moses because his son had not yet been circumcised. 4:24-26

23. God will make sure that Pharaoh does not listen to Moses, so that he can kill Egyptians with his armies. 7:4

24. "And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD." Who else could be so cruel and unjust? 7:5, 17

25. God tells Moses and Aaron to smite the river and turn it into blood. 7:17-24

26. The fifth plague: all cattle in Egypt die. 9:2-6

27. The sixth plague: boils and blains upon man and beast. 9:9-12

28. "For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth." Who else but the biblical god could be so cruel? 9:14

29. God kills all Egyptian cattle with hail. 9:19-20

30. The seventh plague is hail. "And the hail smote throughout the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast." 9:22-25

31. These verses clearly show that the mass murder of innocent children by God was premeditated. 11:4-6 (see 12:29-30)

32. God will kill the Egyptian children to show that he puts "a difference between the Egyptians and Israel." 11:7

33. God explains to Moses that he intends to "smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast. 12:12

34. After God has sufficiently hardened the Pharaoh's heart, he kills all the firstborn Egyptian children. When he was finished "there was not a house where there was not one dead." Finally, he runs out of little babies to kill, so he slaughters the firstborn cattle, too. 12:29

35. To commemorate the divine massacre of the Egyptian children, Moses instructs the Israelites to "sacrifice to the Lord all that openeth the matrix" -- all the males, that is. God has no use for dead, burnt female bodies. 13:2, 12, 15

36. After hardening Pharaoh's heart a few more times, God drowns Pharaoh's army in the sea 14:4-28

37. Moses and the people sing praises to their murderous god. 15:1-19

38. "The Lord is a man of war." Indeed, judging from his acts in the Old Testament, he is a vicious warlike monster. 15:3

39. God's right hand dashes people in pieces. 15:6

40. Joshua, with God's approval, kills the Amalekites "with the edge of the sword." 17:13

41. "The Lord has sworn [God swears!] that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation." 17:14-16

42. Any person or animal that touches Mt. Sinai shall be stoned to death or "shot through." 19:12-13

43. God gives instructions for killing and burning animals. He says that if we will make such "burnt offerings," he will bless us for it. What kind of mind would be pleased by the killing and burning of innocent animals? 20:24

44. A child who hits or curses his parents must be executed. 21:15,17

45. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. 21:24-25

46. If an ox gores someone, then both the ox and its owner must die. 21:28-29

47. "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." Thousands of innocent women have suffered excruciating deaths because of this verse. 22:18

48. "Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death." Is it really necessary to kill such people? Couldn't we just send them to counseling or something? 22:19

49. "He who sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed." If this commandment is obeyed, then the four billion people who do not believe in the biblical god must be killed. 22:20

50. If you make God angry enough, he will kill you and your family with his own sword. 22:24

51. "The firstborn of thy sons thou shalt give unto me." (As a burnt offering?) 22:29

52. God promises to "send his fear before the Israelites" and to kill everyone that they encounter when they enter the promised land. 23:27

53. Moses has some animals killed and their dead bodies burned for God. Then he sprinkles their blood on the altar and on the people. This makes God happy. 24:5-8

54. Get some animals, kill them, chop up their bodies, wave body parts in the air, burn the carcasses, and sprinkle the blood all around -- in precisely the way God tells you. It may well make you sick, but it makes God feel good. 29:11-37

55. Have your killed and offered your bullock for a sin offering today? How about the two lambs you are supposed to offer each day? 29:36-39

56. Wash up or die. 30:20-21

57. Whoever puts holy oil on a stranger shall be "cut off from his people." 30:33

58. Those who break the Sabbath are to be executed. 31:14

59. God asks to be left alone so that his "wrath may wax hot" and he can "consume them. 32:10

60. God orders the sons of Levi (Moses, Aaron, and the other members of their tribe that were "on the Lord's side") to kill "every man his neighbor." "And there fell of the people that day about 3000 men." 32:27-28

61. But God wasn't satisfied with the slaughter of the 3000, so he killed some more people with a plague. 32:35

62. If you can't redeem him, then just "break his neck." Hey, it's all for the glory of God. 34:20

63. Whoever works, or even kindles a fire, on the Sabbath "shall be put to death." 35:2-3

TigerBoy said...


TigerBoy said...

64. God gives detailed instructions for performing ritualistic animal sacrifices. such bloody rituals must be important to God, judging from the number of times that he repeats their instructions. Indeed the entire first nine chapters of Leviticus can be summarized as follows: Get an animal, kill it, sprinkle the blood around, cut the dead animal into pieces, and burn it for a "sweet savor unto the Lord." Chapters 1 - 9

65. Wringing off the heads of pigeons for God. 5:8-9

66. The holy law of trespass offering: Find an animal; kill it; sprinkle the blood around; offer God the fat, rump, kidneys, and caul; burn and eat it in the holy place, for "it is most holy." 7:1-6

67. The priest must sprinkle the blood of the peace offerings. 7:14

68. Be careful what you eat during these animal sacrifices. Don't eat fat or blood -- these are for God. (And he doesn't like to share!) 7:18-27

69. God gives instructions for "wave offerings" and "heave offerings." He says these offerings are to be made perpetually "by a statute for ever." Have you made your heave offering today? 7:30-36

70. Moses does it all for God. First he kills an animal; wipes the blood on Aaron's ears, thumbs, and big toes. Then he sprinkles blood round about and waves the guts before the Lord. Finally he burns the whole mess for "a sweet savour before the Lord." 8:14-32

71. More killing, sprinkling of blood, waiving animal parts, and burning carcasses "before the Lord." 9:8-21

72. Two of the sons of Aaron "offered strange fire before the Lord" and "there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord." 10:1-2

73. If priests misbehave at the tabernacle by uncovering their heads, tearing their clothes, leaving with holy oil on them, or by drinking "wine or strong drink", then God will kill them and send his wrath on "all the people." 10:6-9

74. God's treatment for leprosy: Get two birds. Kill one. Dip the live bird in the blood of the dead one. Sprinkle the blood on the leper seven times, and then let the blood-soaked bird fly off. Next find a lamb and kill it. Wipe some of its blood on the patient's right ear, thumb, and big toe. Sprinkle seven times with oil and wipe some of the oil on his right ear, thumb and big toe. Repeat. Finally kill a couple doves and offer one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. 14:2-32

75. God explains the use of scapegoats. It goes like this: Get two goats. Kill one. Wipe, smear, and sprinkle the blood around seven times. Then take the other goat, give it the sins of all the people, and send it off into the wilderness. 16:6-28

76. If you upset God, he'll cause the land to vomit you out. 18:25

77. "Whosoever shall commit any of these abominations ... shall be cut off from among their people." I'm not sure what being "cut off" means exactly, but I bet it isn't any fun. 18:29, 19:8

78. Kill anyone who "gives his seed" to Molech. If you refuse, God will cut you and your family off. 20:2-5

79. "For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall surely be put to death." Couldn't we try spanking first? 20:9

80. Both parties in adultery shall be executed. 20:10

81. "And the man that lieth with his father's wife ... both of them shall be put to death." Which? The man and his father? The father and his wife? Or the man and his father's wife? Oh heck, just kill all three. 20:11

82. If a man "lies" with his daughter-in-law, then both must be killed. 20:12

83. Homosexuals must be executed. 20:13

84. If you "lie" with your wife and your mother-in-law (now that sounds fun!), then all three of you must be burned to death. 20:14

85. If a man or woman "lie with a beast" both the person and the poor animal are to be killed. 20:15-16

86. People with "familiar spirits" (witches, fortune tellers, etc.) are to be stoned to death. 20:27

87. A priest's daughter who "plays the whore" is to be burned to death. 21:9

88. God gives us more instructions on killing and burning animals. I guess the first nine chapters of Leviticus wasn't enough. He says we must do this because he really likes the smell -- it is "a sweet savour unto the Lord." 23:12-14, 18

89. Don't do any work on the day of atonement or God will destroy you. 23:29-30

90. A man curses and blasphemes while disputing with another man. Moses asks God what to do about it. God says that the whole community must stone him to death. "And the children of Israel did as the Lord and Moses commanded." 24:10-23

91. Anyone who blasphemes or curses shall be stoned to death by the entire community. 24:16

92. God tells the Israelites to "chase" their enemies and make them "fall before you by the sword." He figures five of the Israelites will be able to "chase" a hundred of their enemies, and a hundred will be able to "put ten thousand to flight." 26:7-8

93. God describes torments that he has planned for those who displease him. The usual stuff: plagues, burning fevers that will consume the eyes, etc. but he reserves the worst for the little children. He says "ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it", "I will send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children", and "ye shall eat the flesh of your sons .. daughters." 26:16-39

94. All "devoted" things (both man and beast) "shall surely be put to death." 27:28-29

TigerBoy said...


TigerBoy said...

95. God displays his hospitality with the admonition: "The stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death." 1:51

96. Two of Aaron's sons are killed by God for "offering strange fire before the Lord." 3:4

97. God repeats his order (see 1:51) to kill any strangers who happen to come near. 3:10

98. Once again (see 1:51 and 3:10) God tells his favorite people to kill any strangers that come near. 3:38

99. Don't touch or "go in to see when the holy things are covered." God kills people who touch or look at uncovered holy things. 4:15, 4:20

100. "And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it." (He had his hearing aid on.) He then burns the complainers alive. That'll teach them. 11:1

101. "And wile the flesh [of the quails] was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord smote the people with a very great plague. "The Bible isn't too clear about what these poor folks did to upset God so much; all it says is that they had "lusted." 11:33

102. More plagues and pestilence sent by God. God repeats one of his favorite promises: "your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness." 14:12, 29, 14:32-37

103. God gives more instructions for the ritualistic killing of animals. The smell of burning flesh is "a sweet savour unto the Lord." 15:3, 13-14, 24

104. The Israelites find a man picking up sticks on the sabbath. God commands them to kill him by throwing rocks at him. 15:32-36

105. Because of a dispute between Korah and Moses, God makes the ground open up and it swallows Korah and his family. And then, just for the hell of it, God has a fire burn 250 men (friends of Korah?) to death. 16:20-49

106. After God killed Korah, his family, and 250 innocent bystanders, the people complained saying, "ye have killed the people of the Lord." So God, who doesn't take kindly to criticism, sends a plague on the people. And "they that died in the plague were 14,700." 16:41-50

107. God threatens to kill those who murmur. To which the people reply, "Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish .... Shall we be consumed with dying?" 17:12-13

108. According to this verse, it is wise to stay away from holy things and places -- like churches. God will kill you if you get too close. 18:3

109. God shows us how to make new friends by saying : "The stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death." 18:7

110. God describes once again the procedure for ritualistic animal sacrifices. such rituals must be extremely important to God, since he makes their performance a "statute" and "covenant" forever. Why, then don't Bible-believers perform these sacrifices anymore? Don't they realize how God must miss the "sweet savour" of burning flesh? Don't they believe God when he says "forever"? 18:17-19

111. Don't get near holy things or "pollute" them. If you do, God will kill you. 18:22, 32

112. The purification of the unclean. These absurd rituals, cruel sacrifices, and unjust punishments are vitally important to God. He even insists that they are to be "a perpetual statute" to all humankind. 19:1-22

113. "And the Lord hearkened to the voice of Israel, and delivered up the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities." This verse demonstrates the power of prayer: If you ask God, he will destroy entire cities for you. 21:3

114. God sends "fiery serpents" to bite his chosen people, and many of them die. 21:6

115. God delivers the Amorites into Moses' hands. (You're in God hands with Moses.) So Moses does the usual thing, killing everyone "until their was none left alive." 21:34-35

116. God's people will kill like a lion and then "drink the blood of the slain." 23:24

117. God, who is as strong as a unicorn, will eat up the nations, break their bones, and then pierce them through with his arrows. What a guy! 24:8

118. After the people "commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab," Moses has them all killed. Then God tells Moses to hang their dead bodies up in front of him; God says that this will satisfy him. 25:1-5

119. When one of the Israelite men brings home a foreign woman, "Phinehas (Aaron's grandson) sees them and throws a spear "through the man .. and the woman through her belly." This act pleases God so much that "the plague was stayed from the children of Israel." But not before 24,000 had died. 25:6-9

120. God tells Moses how to care for his neighbors by saying: "Vex the Midianites, and smite them." 25:16-17

121. The ground swallow Korah and his companions and a fire consumes 250 men. 26:10

122. "And Nadab and Abihu died when they offered strange fire before the Lord." When you go camping avoid making any unusual fires. 26:61

123. In these chapters, God provides ridiculously detailed instructions for the ritualistic sacrifice of animals. The burning of their dead bodies smells great to God. Eleven times in these two chapters God says that they are to him a "sweet savour."

124. Under God's direction, Moses' army defeats the Midianites. They kill all the adult males, but take the women and children captive. When Moses learns that they left some live, he angrily says: "Have you saved all the women alive? Kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves." So they went back and did as Moses (and presumably God) instructed, killing everyone except for the virgins. In this way they got 32,000 virgins -- Wow! [Even God gets some of the booty -- including the virgins. (31:28-29)] 31:1-54 28-29

125. God killed all the Egyptian firstborn. 33:4

126. "The revenger of blood" must murder the murderer just as soon as he sees him. 35:19, 21

127. When a murder is committed the blood pollutes the land. The only way to cleanse it is to spill more blood by killing the killer. 35:33

TigerBoy said...


TigerBoy said...

"Let us all renew our commitment as God's loyal followers, obeying all His words."
I don't usually follow the advice of maniacs.

jewish philosopher said...

Tigerboy, thank you. All the examples you have given here display graphically how God, excuse the expression, kicks the shit out of those who do not listen to Him.

So let's avoid making that type of mistake.

And, just by the way, God does do some nice things too. Are you breathing? Did you eat today? Thank God.

badrabbi said...

What an unbelievable summary of the Torah and God's wrath!!! It makes you think doesn't it?

The question I have is - do we really learn morality from this Dude (with a capital D)?

badrabbi said...


Tonight is Shevuut. I have a question. Please answer just the question.

What was given to us on this night? Was it the 10 commandements, or the entire Torah?

jewish philosopher said...

Bad, I think the answer is obvious. You better learn.

The Ten Commandments were spoken by God on Shavous.

badrabbi said...

Thanks JP, I am learning. Its just that I get many different answers.

avrum68 said...

"The question I have is - do we really learn morality from this Dude (with a capital D)?"

Atheists like Tiger dude would be more honest if he printed all the headlines from all major newspapers documenting what people do to each other every day. Or perhaps we can print mission statements from every secular company and how they contribute to misery and ecological destruction. Or how entertainment fill our heads with all sorts of nasty ideas i.e. a 45 year old man gets a hard-on for a 13 yr old in a school uniform...that idea comes from somewhere. I can go on and on.

BTW...y'all think it's a delusion anyway, so why the concern. I mean, if God does these things, and God is a figment of our imagination, why be upset?

badrabbi said...

We are not that upset - Its just that the idea of God and religion is very pervasive in this society. Like a thick yoke, religion has surrounded our existence. But, like little chicks, we are slowly pecking at the eggshell and are coming out of our shells.

avrum68 said...

"religion is very pervasive in this society".

Which society are you living in...Mea Shearim?

"are coming out of our shells."

Which is important. Most of the atheists I know are miserable sorts, and depend on their SSRI's for a bit of a boost. Any sense of community would be a bonna fide serotonin booster.

TigerBoy said...

We ARE coming out of our shells.
Actually, I think your friends the Christians are MORE to blame than the Jews.
For most of history, the MILLIONS of atheists in this land have felt it prudent to keep their collective mouths shut.
(Who likes getting burned at the stake?)
But, lately, Christians have become SO STRIDENT, in their attempt to convert the world, that they are driving atheists out into the streets.
It's a GOOD THING, as Martha Stewart likes to say.

Spike said...

I have a question: If god wrote the bible, did he create the animals and then Adam (genesis chapter 1) or Adam then the animals (genesis chapter 2)?

jewish philosopher said...

Spike, I have a novel interpretation of Genesis 1. If this doesn’t help, let me know.

Spike said...

This doesn't help. Are you sayong that God created the animals, then Adam, then destroyed all the animals without anyone thinking that this was important enough to write down, then created new animals? This seems a little convoluted.

As regards your other post, why does "star world" only run until the developement of bacteria? What happened to the stars when bacteria emerged to stop the processes of stellar evolution? As regards your claims that there are no transitional fossils, I suggest you browse this faq.

jewish philosopher said...

Spike, Genesis 1 – 2:3 is describing a cycle of spiritual energies which emanate from God each week, sustaining on each day different aspects of creation. Genesis 2:4 and afterwards is describing historical events. That's why there is no contradition between the two texts.

The fossil gaps actually seem to be quite real and glaring; that's why puntuated equilibrium had to be invented.

Spike said...

Do you know anything about punctuated equilibrium? Or are you just guessing from the name that it agrees with your arguments? As is shown in the wikipedia article, your view that evolution implies a constant rate of change is a strawman.

Cycle of spiritual energies? What? How do you know that this is describing a cycle of spiritual energies? A link to the verse in the torah explaining the spiritual energies would be nice.

jewish philosopher said...

"Evolution" means gradual change and improvement. 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.”

The fossils show a series of revolutions, which is something entirely. Therefore atheists have invented punctuated equilibrium. It must be nice to believe in something which cannot be falsified.

Genesis 1 and 2 seem to be contradictory which indicates that they are referring to different things.

Spike said...

Nice. Start with a good strawman, follow with 200 year old book. Oh, right, yes, Darwin may have been mistaken about something, therefore evolution must be wrong. No, sorry, doesn't work like that. Iterative process. Did you read the explanations of how the fossil record could be expected to show this "series of revolutions" whilst the species still developed gradually? Yes, it is non-inutitive. But so are lots of things.

Oh, right, the book can never be wrong. "It must be nice to believe in something which cannot be falsified." What are the different things? Can you please point to the verse explaining the differences. Also, what do you mean by a cycle of spiritual energies? Or are you retracting that?

jewish philosopher said...

The fossils contradict Darwin and prove that evolution did not happen.

When two Biblical passages appear to be contradictory, they can be reconciled by explaining how they are actually referring to two different topics. That is what I have done here. The book "Mysteries of Creation" by Rabbi Dovid Brown from Feldheim Publishers explains this at much greater length.

Spike said...

How do the fossils prove that evolution never happened? All you have pointed out is that the fossil record is incomplete. Big surprise. Or did you think that every animal that dies becomes a fossil, and that this fossil has been perfectly preserved, and found already? Can you give me examples of fossils of animals that are completely unrelated to any earlier animal?

If two contradictory Biblical passages are intended to refer to different things, why is this not made clear? Or are you just redefining the meaning of these passages because they are contradictory? What you appear to have done here, is make up some sort of guff about "spiritual energies" with no evidence, then use this as a complete get out clause for any sort of rational argument. If the bible can refer to different topics without any explanation in the text, how do I know that any of it applys to me? After all, it may be referring to a completely different universe the whole way through, or just be an extended metaphor for the importance of wearing sunscreen. Why should I regard it as the word of god, if the meaning of that passage is open to redefinition?

jewish philosopher said...

The fossil evidence is not merely incomplete. Rather it contradicts Darwinian evolution and demonstrates a series of biological revolutions.

Studying the Bible is like studying nature. It’s hard work. Not every nuance is obvious to casual observer. Why not take an advance physics textbook, skim over it quickly, and tell the professor "You know, this is crap. It just doesn't make sense." How brilliant.

Spike said...

What series of biological revolutions?

You do understand why people modified their ideas about evolution after the discovery of DNA, right? You have some idea that science is a dynamic process, and that refuting minor points in the Origin of Species means nothing, right? After all, the biologists have already modified the theory. Oh, but I forget, you want to raise Darwin up to Prophet status, so that when he is wrong, you can point to this and say "ner ner ner, you are all wrong, it must be like this!" Fine, but you are arguing against a strawman, like so many creationists.

If the bible is like a physics textbook, then it really needs an editor. After all, the first chapter states A==B, and the second A!=B. If you can find a physics textbook that contradicts itself with no word of explanation in the first two chapters lets hear it.

jewish philosopher said...

About the revolutions, check this out.

"What Evolution Is" by Ernst Mayr is pretty up to date, however it doesn't differ fundimentally with Darwin.

The Bible, like many great books, can be understood on many levels, not merely the most simple and literal.

Spike said...

Oh, look, Darwin got there before you:

[N]atural selection will generally act very slowly, only at long intervals of time, and only on a few of the inhabitants of the same region. I further believe that these slow, intermittent results accord well with what geology tells us of the rate and manner at which the inhabitants of the world have changed (Darwin 1872, 140-141, chap. 4).

"But I must here remark that I do not suppose that the process ever goes on so regularly as is represented in the diagram, though in itself made somewhat irregular, nor that it goes on continuously; it is far more probable that each form remains for long periods unaltered, and then again undergoes modification (Darwin 1872, 152).

It is a more important consideration . . . that the period during which each species underwent modification, though long as measured by years, was probably short in comparison with that during which it remained without undergoing any change (Darwin 1872, 428, chap. 10).

"it might require a long succession of ages to adapt an organism to some new and peculiar line of life, for instance, to fly through the air; and consequently that the transitional forms would often long remain confined to some one region; but that, when this adaptation had once been effected, and a few species had thus acquired a great advantage over other organisms, a comparatively short time would be necessary to produce many divergent forms, which would spread rapidly and widely throughout the world (Darwin 1872, 433).

And look, Transitional fossils: Horses What a wonderful series of revolutions. Although it is misleading to portray horse evolution in that smooth straight line, for two reasons:

1. First, horse evolution didn't proceed in a straight line. We now know of many other branches of horse evolution. Our familiar Equus is merely one twig on a once-flourishing bush of equine species. We only have the illusion of straight-line evolution because Equus is the only twig that survived. (See Gould's essay "Life's Little Joke" in Bully for Brontosaurus for more on this topic.)
2. Second, horse evolution was not smooth and gradual. Different traits evolved at different rates, didn't always evolve together, and occasionally reversed "direction". Also, horse species did not always come into being by gradual transformation ("anagenesis") of their ancestors; instead, sometimes new species "split off" from ancestors ("cladogenesis") and then co-existed with those ancestors for some time. Some species arose gradually, others suddenly.

jewish philosopher said...

Horse fossils are probably the most solid evidence of evolution available (see "What Evolution Is" page 16), however even that appears to be very shaky.

In my humble opinion, the arguments in favor of evolution are very reminiscent of the arguments in favor of Christianity. People who already believe in something ridiculous (that man developed spontaneously from mud) scrape together any scrap of "evidence" possible and then present this as irrefutable proof

Spike said...

Ah, back to the "kinds" claim. Could you please define a kind for me?

jewish philosopher said...

I don't think that's the main issue.

jewish philosopher said...

To make Darwinian macroevolution credible to me, I would need to see numerous cases in the fossil record of animals gradually, in thousands of tiny incremental steps, being transformed into entirely different animals, for example shellfish into fish, however this in fact is never found or anything even approaching this.

Spike said...

To make evidence of design credible to me, I would like to have a definition of kinds, an explanation of why evolution must be impossible outside of kinds, and a complete description of how the designer came about, what he uses to interact with the things he designs, why we can't detect these interactions, why we should choose jehovah as the designer, with all the attendant questions about why he doesn't do stuff anymore, and why we should worship a designer at all.

jewish philosopher said...

Spike, I don’t have the time or the patience to run a free tutoring service for every human being who has an Internet connection. Before I take the trouble of answering your questions, I would like to see you spend 2 years studying in an Orthodox rabbinical seminary and making a serious effort to do your own research. When you have finished that, if you still have further questions, give me a call.

Spike said...

So, you have no answers to these questions, and are in fact copping out, whilst throwing all your toys out of the pram at the same time. Convincing. I show you why we wouldn't expect to see the fossils you expect. I show you that Darwin himself didn't expect these fossils. You respond by asking me to go to a religious school. Fine. I'll go to the seminary after you successfully defend your PhD thesis in paleontology. If you still have questions after that, go fuck yourself.

SimchaGross said...

With all do respect, you clearly know nothing about biblical criticism. There are not only 4 documents, there are many more (for instance, Vayikra has been divided into P as well as Holiness code, there are many redactors, there are more then 2 Isaiah's etc).
And let me understand how your superficial theory works. You used the Midrash to explain J and E, something which Rabbi Mordecai Breuer did, something I really hope you knew, and then.. what? You don't explain what P is, but simply say "P is God" which is the entire point of contention, and then you say "Talmud Tractate Megilah 31b states that Deuteronomy was written by Moses" - well, newsflash, the Torah tells us that Moshe wrote down Deuteronomy... as well as the other books. You may have meant to say it is Moshe's speech and not Gods and therefore had a different, now that would have made a bit more sense. Finally, you haven't disproved biblical criticism at all, but have simply accepted the "problems" seen by the scholars, and given your own baseless theory to justify it. Thats not a response, nor an explanation. For instance, Homer was written, by scholarly consensus, by multiple authors (see Cassuto's comparison of scholarly studies on Homer and biblical criticism... something else I hope you read before writing this post). Now you can obviously come along and say "how foolish of you guys, Homer was writing it based on his varying moods, this time he was holy, this time he felt angry, and this time he felt nice and cuddly. You could say that, but its completely not founded in the text nor in history. A response to biblical criticism must DISPROVE their theory, not simply say "well, lets try to just explain the problems as though they aren't there" without any basis whatsoever.

jewish philosopher said...

To the best of my knowledge, how many documents there were and which text is part of which is highly controversial. There are no hard and fast rules.

Second of all, no separate documents have ever been discovered or were ever mentioned anywhere until modern times.

I think the explanation is obvious. The documentary hypothesis is bogus. How then can I explain the differences in styles between different sections of the Pentateuch? That's what I have attempted to do in this post.

SimchaGross said...

I am not claiming that Biblical Criticism is correct, I am simply explaining how your rather ambitious undertaking should be left to those who actually have done their research outside of Wikipedia. Your claims are nothing new, and therefore should not be presented as such. Nor are your claims substantial, they are simply your own personal feelings, which, with all do respect, don't hold much weight. The fact that you think the "explanation is obvious" is wonderful, but many people, not all of whom have dubious motives, find the problems far more substantial. And Bible Criticism is not simply stylistic - it includes historical problems and gaps as well. Only someone who has never read any serious piece of Biblical Criticism would be able to give such a superficial explanation with such a superficial response.

jewish philosopher said...

It would be interesting to hear something more substantial than an argumentum ad hominem.

SimchaGross said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SimchaGross said...

A few examples:
a) Sefer Yehoshua is highly unsupported by archaeological findings. This leads scholars to date it differently then it purports to be.
b) Az Yashir and Deborah's song are two examples where scholars examine the song in comparison with the narrative within which it is embedded and come to the conclusion that they have a quite different account of the story. This leads scholars to date one (usually the song) earlier then the other.
c) Parallels outside of Torah: Breishit 1 is nearly identical to the Enuma Elish, Noah to Gilgamesh, Moshe to another ANE myth etc. These, alongside other facts, lead scholars to believe the Torah was compiled of various different (etiological) tales.
d) Stepping outside of the Pentateuch for a second, from Archaeological finds we see that Tehillim was a different compilation in various places. Some had more Tehillim, some less, and some had Tehillim that we don't have altogether. Moreover, in Qumran the Psalm scroll has constant refrains added to the Tehillim. With the above two facts scholars conclude that Tehillim is actually a compilation of various liturgical poems and prayers, few of which are dated back very early.
e) The wisdom literature is very parallel to other late Bait Sheni concepts, but not those that came before it, hence they choose to date them later as well.
f) Shir HaShirim from a literary stand point seems to simply be a compilation of 7 or so songs into a book.
These are just a few examples of things which have nothing to do with Shem Hashem vs. Shem Elokim or the like. I apologize if my comments earlier seemed ad hominem, and I hope these are more helpful.

jewish philosopher said...

Different stories about the Creation and Deluge may all be based on the same historical incidents.

I am not aware of other ancient near eastern myths resembling the biography of Moses.

Archeological evidence must be examined skeptically.

SimchaGross said...

The problem isn't only that there are extra-biblical accounts of the Creation and Deluge; the problem is that it is written nearly the same exact way and that the extra-biblical ones precede the biblical.

For the parallel between Moshe and Sargon, see here: (scroll down a little)

I agree that Archaeological evidence should be examined skeptically, but I did not cite it for that reason. The point was that biblical criticism relates to far more then just the different names of God. On a different note, just because Archaeological evidence should be treated skeptically does not in any way mean it is wrong. This is similar to your theory on biblical criticism: you can take any set of facts and try to explain them in a way that gets rid of the contradictions, but that in no way means that you are CORRECT.

jewish philosopher said...

If the Creation and the Deluge were indeed historical, we would expect other nationalities to have those traditions, as indeed they do.

I don’t mean to be facetious, however there is a parallel between Moses and myself as well. We were both adopted and later in life found our birth families. Perhaps the Jacob Stein myth is based on the Exodus myth?

A great deal of this “criticism” is very speculative.

alex said...

Simcha Gross refers to wiki entry on Sargon of Akkad. The story there was indeed very close to Moshe's story. But I noticed an introductory line that said the following: "A Neo-Assyrian text from the seventh century BC purporting to be Sargon's autobiography asserts that the great king was the illegitimate son of a priestess."

Should you assume this is a real autobiography, or, that it was actually written in the 7th century BCE? Seeing how you probably believe the Zohar was written 1200 years after Shimon bar Yochai, you might as well, for consistency, attribute this story to the 7th century BCE, too.

alex said...

(The 'you' in the previous comment was directed at Simcha Gross, not JewishPhilosopher.)