Friday, December 28, 2007

Evolution: Another Nail in the Coffin



One of the foundations of evolution is the concept of vestigial organs – meaning organs that have no purpose and therefore represent vestiges of some earlier stage of development.

In “Origin of Species” chapter 13, Charles Darwin calls these “rudimentary organs” and defines them as being either entirely useless or “almost” useless. Ernst Mayr in “What Evolution Is” page 30 to 31 includes vestigial organs as part of the evidence for evolution.

The species about which we know the most is of course our own, so seemingly, according to Darwin, we should be able to find many vestigial organs in our bodies.

After 148 years of searching, however, the results have been a little disappointing.

In 1893, Dr. Robert Wiedersheim, professor at the Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg, Germany, published a list of 86 vestigial organs in man. This was eventually expanded to 180. That sounds very impressive, until one realizes that nearly all of these organs have since been found to have important, even vital, functions. For example, Professor Wiedersheim included the pituitary gland and pineal gland in his list.

One of the remaining holdouts was the appendix – until now. Recently a group of scientists discovered that the appendix probably aids people in recovering from an epidemic of sever diarrhea, something not uncommon in poorer communities.

The more we learn, the more evolution fails.

[This information was kindly brought to my attention by one of my readers, Mr. David Fried.]

88 comments:

natschuster said...

The lack of nascient structures in organism seems to me to be evidence against evolution as well. Every organ, structure, and adaptation that we see is fully functional. We don't have any evolving organs or structures. Why not? To the best of my knowledge, even the fossil record holds no examples of structures in the process of forming. For ,example, the Archeaopteryx shows up with fully formed feathers. Trilobites appear at the base of the Cambrian wiht fully formed eyes. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

jewish philosopher said...

Darwin also mentions nascent organs as being a proof of evolution. He seemed to have believed that apparently useless organs might be "on the way up". However, seemingly this is only in the first edition of Origin, not later editions. I don't why it was dropped. Later evolutionists don't seem to bring it up.

badrabbi said...

Regarding vestigial organs, before we launch into a discussion of same, let's get our declarations straight.

Those of us who accept the theory of Evolution claim the following:

1. Vestigial organs are defined as organs or organ systems that have degenerated and have lost their intended function in part or in their entirety.

2. Vestigial organs exists and that numerous examples can be given throughout plant and animal kingdom.

3. Vestigial organs constitute evidence for speciation by evolution of living organisms.


This is what we as proponents of Evolution say. Now it is important for Creationists to take a stand.

Please answer the following questions:

1. Do you believe that vestigial organs exist?

2. Even if you do not believe that they exist, do you agree that if they existed that they would constitute evidence in favor of Evolution?

Answer these clearly and we can start discussing the matter.

DrJ said...

bad rabbi summarized things well. An appendix is only one example of an organ that causes more problems than its original immune function benefits us. Other good examples of vestiges include fingernails, body hair (including piloerection), canine teeth and the coccyx (tailbone). The importance of these structures/functions in other species is obvious. Evolution doesn't say that these things are necessarily useless in humans, they are simply examples of organs that were important in their original form in other species and have atrophied in humans because they lost their advantage.

jewish philosopher said...

I think the concept of “vestigial organs” is obviously a fiction dreamed up by desperate evolutionists trying to find support for their beliefs. Because of our ignorance, there are of course certain aspects of certain plants and animals whose function is unknown to us. Evolutionists seized upon this as evidence that these plants and animals developed from some earlier forms. As our knowledge of anatomy advances, this fiction is being exposed for the falsify it is, as I point out in this post. If we will ever reach a perfect knowledge of anatomy, there will be no allegedly vestigial organs.

natschuster said...

My undestanding is that the whole arguement about vestigal organs goes something like this "Why would G-d creat something without a purpose?" If we can find a purpose for a structure, then that removes the whole arguement.

DrJ said...

Believers, you would be well advised to keep religion in the realm of the spirit and morality, and leave understanding of the physical world to science, whose method has advanced understanding of our world in the past 150 years more than all of the thousands preceeding it. After all, if the Good Book was meant to be a science text, why didn't the good Lord happen to say, "by the way, guys, the earth is round and goes around the sun, diseases are caused by bacteria, electrons make up electricity and lightening, rain comes from clouds (not the "gates of firmament"), schizophrenia is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, there lie other continents beyond the "great sea", and pi= 3.14159265359

The fact is, God left discovering the secrets of nature to man, so, for the sake of human progress, leave religion out of scientific arguments. Openness and debate can be part of the process of scientific discovery and correction of mistakes, but don't use a 2000-3000 year old books, with their flawed understanding of the world, as an argument.

Religionists are simply out of their league when discussing these things (as are many scientists when discussing religion, who often don't know what they're talking about).

badrabbi said...

I noticed that, as usual, JP did not answer the questions. How typical is the tactic of never answering questions, hoping to hide behind the veil of vagary. But if I can read between the lines, I think Nat and JP have taken the stance that there are no such things as vestigial organs - that the idea of vestigial organs is a product of 'desperate evolutionists"!

Before we deal with your assertion, one more question is in order:
What evidence do you require to accept that vestigial organs exist?

badrabbi said...

Dr J,

Regarding pi = 3.1415..., you may want to see the Bible in Kings 7:23, where the value of pi is given as 3! There is no indication that there is any approximation; King Solomon's cylincrical 'bath' is given to have a diameter of 10 cubits and a circumference of 30 cubits, making the value of pi = 3!

How amazing it would have been - given that the Hebrews of the time had no idea of the irrational number of pi - for the bible to have provided the value of pi, or had approximated the value while admonishing that the exact value of pi is never ending. How spectacularly would something of the sort spoken for the supernatural existence of God. Alas it did not, and consequently I am not a believer.

jewish philosopher said...

Bad, what if it would turn out that the Biblical commandment of circumcision has amazing therapeutic value - in fact it prevents the spread of HIV. Would that make you a believer? Just curious.

DrJ said...

Lots of commandments, biblical or rabbinic, may have therapeutic value. This of course doesn't prove or disprove anything. The authors of the Torah were wise men indeed and included the cumulative wisdom of many generations. If we were find a mitzvah that is overtly harmful, this might provide an argument against divine origins of the Torah. I can't think of anything like this, although there have been a number of mitzvot that have become incompatible with modern society, such a Levirate marriage, tribal divisions or the prohibition against lending with interest. I can't really call these "harmful", since we try to preserve the spirit or intent of these mitzvot if not the practice.

With regards to Bad's biblical reference to pi-- either the measurement was inaccurate or the tub wasn't completely round...

JP, why does evolution bother you so much? We Jews have never been literalists of the Bible. The Christians until the enlightenment were the dogmatists, not the Jews. You know as I do that its impossible to understand the Torah literally. True, the rabbinic commentaries don't mention evolution, but how could they have known? Just because they don't mention general relativity does it make GR contradictory to them or the bible? God created Day and night before the sun, so what? He created woman from Adam's rib, but what about other species' females?

The whole story is allegory, it needn't bother the believing Jew.

natschuster said...

Badrabbi:

Could you give provide us with examples of clearly vestigal structures? Of course even if you do, we can always take a page from the skeptics book and say "we'll have an answer for you someday. Science will discovewr a use for that structure." It did with the tonsils, the appendix, the pinealgland, and the pituitary.

As far as the value of Pi in the book of Kings the Meforshim offer various approaches. One answer is that the diamterer given is that of the outer rim. The circumference is that of the inner rim.

natschuster said...

drj:

I don't have probelm with accepting science. I only start to question if it seems to contradict the Torah. Most of the obejctions I've raised here against evolution have been primarily scientific. It seems to me that the evidence for evolution is spotty at best. The problems it ahs to overcome are huge. The best answer that I get is "we hope to have an answer for you someday." I want an answer now.

natschuster said...

Badrabbi:

How about this? The posuk, Melachim 1, perek 7, posuk 23 uses the term vekov for circumference. It is spelled in the posuk vov, kof, vov, he. The Mesorah, the Kri uKosiv reads it vov, kof, vov. The gematria of vov, kof, vov, he is 117. The gematria of vov, kof, vov is 112. 117/122=1.04464. Now
Pi/3=1.0471. Thats pretty close.

badrabbi said...

Regarding circumcision, the controversy of the health versus detriment of the practice has been with us for a while. Lately it has been shown convincingly that the practice helps protect against infections from HIV. In fact, in the book 'Supercrunchers', it mentions that the Urologist who had a hunch that this is so and strongly advocated that every male be circumcised has been credited with saving over 100,000 lives so far!

Now, the religious reason for circumcision is that God made a covenant with Abraham and the practice is a symbol of that covenant. My understanding is that Jewish boys are circumcised at 8 days of age.

If Hashem had written that he requires circumcision of all males as a public health measure, then I would agree with JP that such a practice would be evidence for divine wisdom. Further, if in the bible it mentioned that there someday would be a virus (or a disease) that would be sexually transmitted and such transmission would be made less likely with circumcision, then, indeed, this would have been strong evidence in favor of God.

But, no, the practice is clearly a ritual, and it is intended to be so. Further, the ritual is advocated for Jewish boys only. The torah does not state that circumcision is required of non-Jews. It should have required it, perhaps as a Noahide law, if the intent was to save lives through disease prevention.

Neither was the practice of circumcision begun by the ancient Jews. It is not only true that the Edomites, a brother nation of the Jews (descendents of Esau) also practiced circumcision, but also according to the Bible itself, the Egyptians and the Amonites, whom we characterize as having Gods other than Hashem also practiced the ritual. So, circumcision and its merits, if deserving of heavenly credit, must be shared with other gods too!

badrabbi said...

Netchuster,

I mean no disrespect but this explanation of the value of pi is so absurd is to be laughable!

Did you come up with that explanation or is it circulating in rabbinic circles?

Just curious though. Why did you decide to divide pi by 3?

jewish philosopher said...

OK, Bad, how about this. The Talmud Shabbos 86a states that if a woman emits semen for the first three days after intercourse she is ritually unclean. Apparently, during that period, the semen is still vital and therefore is considered “seed”. This would seem to correspond to the latest scientific studies indicating that pregnancy almost always occurs when intercourse takes place within three days of ovulation, not earlier.

jewish philosopher said...

DrJ, evolution is no different than any other myth. The more we learn about nature, the more it will be discredited.

badrabbi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DrJ said...

JP said:
"DrJ, evolution is no different than any other myth. The more we learn about nature, the more it will be discredited."

Yes, discredited just like relativity, quantum mechanics, and the double helix model of DNA. Let's poke fun at those stupid myths, too.

Evolutionary biology theory has survived over 150 years of scrutiny. In the modern scientific world, this is enough time to discredit something and throw it away. Unlike in the realm of religious dogma, which is not subject to testing, verification or observation, scientific theories can be openly studied, questioned, challenged and verified or disproven.

In the scientific world the overwhelming majority of biologists accept the truth of evolution. Yes there are questions, and the theory is being refined and fleshed out, but the basic ideas are correct and amply supported by the evidence (anybody can read up who is interested). JP can call it a myth if he likes, but if he were a biologist he would be laughed at. The only people who disbelieve the theory bring a religious agenda into the equation. If it were up to these folks we be working not with a periodic table of elements but with fire/wind/water/earth.

DrJ said...

Another problem with the religionists who meddle with science is the selective use of science for their ends. The very same science that they will ridicule and dismiss regarding evolution, cosmology, etc, will suddenly be rehabilitated to prove this or that point about the bible or creation. (like using special relativity to reconcile the big bang with the bible such as what Gerald Schroder does, or JP digging up some theory about the use of an appendix). Why do these religionists believe anything from the scientists, since its all a big lie and conspiracy?

badrabbi said...

“OK, Bad, how about this. The Talmud Shabbos 86a states that if a woman emits semen for the first three days after intercourse she is ritually unclean. Apparently, during that period, the semen is still vital and therefore is considered “seed”. This would seem to correspond to the latest scientific studies indicating that pregnancy almost always occurs when intercourse takes place within three days of ovulation, not earlier.”


Let’s review: I bring up the subject of pi to show the startling ‘un-divine’ nature of the bible. You counter with circumcision as an example of a practice prescribed by god in order to give evidence of divinity of the Torah. I tell you that circumcision can hardly be divine scientific revelation. You now give me an example of “latest scientific studies” saying that the study shows pregnancy…occurs when intercourse is within 3 days of ovulation!

I do not know where to begin with this one! Hmm, let me begin first by correcting your amazingly inaccurate reading of the ‘latest scientific study’ that you mentioned. First the ‘scientific study’ you cited was an article by ‘Fertility Friend’, a FAQ for women who wish to get pregnant. There, it states that for fertilization to take place, you must have a viable egg and sperm. It turns out that the egg is viable for about 24 hours following ovulation. Sperm tend to be viable for about 5 days within the womb. Their recommendation, therefore, is that if a woman wants to get pregnant, she should have intercourse a few days prior to her ovulation. It also recommends that sexual intercourse not be limited in the fertile period. This, I think, is a fair summary of your cited article, and I invite the readers to review it for themselves.

Next you cite the Talmud at Shabbos where it is written that when a woman has a semen discharge (what does that mean? Does it mean that 3 days after intercourse the woman ejects the male’s semen? Does that happen? Or is it referring to a woman’s seminal, ie., vaginal discharge?) she is ritually impure.

Let us grant that the woman is ritually impure following seminal discharge. So? How does ritual purity relate to ovulation? What is the relation between ritual purity and fecundity? I want to know JP, how you relate these 2 concepts?

If anything, the article recommends unlimited sexual intercourse within the period of fertility as this maximizes the chance of pregnancy. The Talmud prohibits sexual intercourse once she has been declared sexually impure.

Let’s say that on the 20th day following menstruation the woman has sexual intercourse. 3 days later, on the 23rd day, she has a semen discharge. Now she is ritually impure. So? What does that mean now? That she can get pregnant? Clearly she can not as her ovulation is already completed.

Let’s be clear. The Talmud is not talking about pregnancy, but merely ritual purity. One can be ritually pure and not get pregnant. One can be impure and become pregnant, etc. What relation are you making between these concepts?

In your desperation for finding something in the Talmud’s with scientific merit, you grasp at straws, which only serves further to demonstrate your obtunded intellect.

Furthermore, sometimes I think that you are in fact an atheist incognito, posing as an orthodox zealot. Consider, for example, your citation of Shabbos 86a. You knew that people were going to click on your link and find doozies! Here are some quotes from the Talmud that you cited:

Regarding intercourse with a non-Jew, the Talmud writes:

R. Papa asked: What of an Israelite's semen within a Cuthean woman?12 Do we say, Because Israelites are anxious about the observance of precepts, their bodies are heated,13 but not so Gentiles, who are not anxious about precepts; or perhaps, as they eat creeping crawling things, their bodies too are heated? Now should you say, as they eat creeping crawling things their bodies are heated, what of semen within an animal?14 Do we say. A woman, who has a fore-uterus, causes it to become foul, but not so an animal, who has no fore-uterus; or perhaps there is no difference? The questions stands over.

Regarding intercourse during the day, the Talmud writes:

“Surely R. Huna said: The Israelites are holy, and do not cohabit by day!23 — But Raba said: If the house is in darkness, it is permitted. Raba also said others state, R. Papa: A scholar may cause darkness with his garment, and it is then permitted. “

JP I once wrote this before, but it is once again apropos: With friends to the orthodox Jewish cause like you, who needs enemies?

jewish philosopher said...

Bad, the way it works is like this.

You seemed to say that if the authors of the Bible would demonstrate a knowledge of modern science, then you would be a believer in Orthodox Judaism.

First, I cited the remarkably prescient knowledge of hygiene which the Biblical author seems to have had by commanding Jews to circumcise. We now know for instance that circumcision may prevent HIV. You disqualified that because the Bible says “circumcision is a sign of the covenant” not explicitly “circumcision is hygienic”. Although actually, we could speculate that particular surgery, rather than some special tattoo let’s say, was chosen because of the hygienic benefits. After all, Deut. 6:24 does state “And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.” This seems to imply that the commandments may have significant health benefits. But anyway, you didn’t like that one.

Secondly, I cited the Talmud Shabbos 86a. The Talmud states that if a woman has sex, and then the semen drips back out within three days, she is ritually unclean. The Talmud learns this from a Biblical verse, Exodus 19:15. On this Talmudic passage, Rashi explains that the rationale is that until three days the semen is still capable of fertilizing the egg. I pointed out that this is correct, based on current scientific studies. Woman will almost never conceive unless they have had intercourse within three days of ovulation.

So how’s it going? Believing yet?

natschuster said...

Badrabbi:

I divided Pi by three because that is the value that the Gemora says to use, and that is the value that the Posuk seems to use. It might be laughable, but its an interesting coincidence. I believe that I heard it in the name of the Vilna Goan.

jewish philosopher said...

DrJ, the pity is that secularists continue meddling in the study of God’s handiwork. At least after enough bumbling the truth inevitably emerges, otherwise we would still have professors cutting out your “vestigial” pituitary gland.

The only people who believe in evolution are those who bring their secular bias into the equation

natschuster said...

Drj:

Many scientists believe in evolution because there is no other naturalistic explanation. Even if it doesn't answer the questions, and is full of holes, it wins by default. This is why many scientists believe it.

badrabbi said...

Nat,

Why would you divide it by 3 again? Please explain more fully.

badrabbi said...

JP,

First you say the Talmud said something. Then you say Rashi in fact said it. Do you realize that Rashi is not Torah? And further, do you realize that Rashi lived some 1000 years after the Talmud was written?

Finally, what does Rashi's comment on fertility have to do with being ritually impure?

I know, you will ignore the questions and go off on your tangents, but I thought I'd ask anyway.

jewish philosopher said...

Just forget it Bad.

natschuster said...

The Gemora says that we use 3 for Pi. The posuk also use seems to use three. So the ratio of Pi divided by 3 is very close to the csiv (which is for darshening) in the posuk divided by the cri (which is for pshat.) Its a remez to the fact that the Novi really new that Pi wasn't three.

natschuster said...

Anyway, how about this tidbit? In Yehoshua 10:12-13 it writes that Yehoshua commanded the sun and the moon to stand still. This implise that the Novi knew that the motions of the sun and moon are related. Other ancient people that their motions were completely independent. But the Novi new better.

badrabbi said...

Nat, you are right. I am now convinced. Why didn't you tell me about the sun and the moon before?

Cameron said...

First, for JP from the last thread:

http://www.mos.org/evolution/fossils/

Some more 'transitional' fossils for you.

But by far my favourite new argument from you is the idea that sexual mutilation of male chidlren is somehow a good thing because it lowers the aquisition of HIV.

This is in fact true. However, circumcised partners who have been infected with HIV make the the transmission of it more likely to others.

The reason why it's my favourite argument is that given that if we are perfect by God's design, why is it necessary to remove the foreskin? Doesn't that make the foreskin vestigial?

Speaking of vestigial organs - their presence isn't proof of evolution, but it is confirmatory. Further their presence is difficult for design enthusiasts to explain. Why is the coccyx fused into a vestigial tail-bone? JP suggests that it is for sitting on it. Which is silly of course, but what is he going to say? That he has no answer for why we were imperfectly designed?

As for the latest studies of the appendix, it's clear from those studies that the purpose the appendix now serves (as a way of rebooting the bacterial cultures of our gut when we get infected) is not in fact the purpose it originally had (to digest the tougher plant materials of our primitive diets).

Seriously JP, you are completely inconsistent. On the one hand you feel free to admit that morality has changed and that Orthodox Judaism has changed along with it (child brides anyone? Slavery?, etc.) but on the other hand you want to insist that the science of the Torah and bible are somehow completely accurate - despite the fact they were written by a people without electricity, telescopes, helio-centrism, or toilet paper.

So why is it you are willing to give your supreme books a break on child rape, but not on evolution?

DrJ said...

"DrJ, the pity is that secularists continue meddling in the study of God’s handiwork."

Are you arguing against the legitimacy of ALL scientific inquiry? After all, EVERYTHING NATURAL is God's handiwork so any science would be "meddling" to you.


"At least after enough bumbling the truth inevitably emerges, otherwise we would still have professors cutting out your “vestigial” pituitary gland".

Would you like me to enumerate the thousands of ludicrous errors, misconceptions and statements made by the talmudic scholars, rishonim and achronim? Just go to the daat emet site.

Science is not immune to mistakes (unlike your conception of religion) so at least with time it is CAPABLE of identifying its own mistakes and correcting them. Your fundamentalist brand of religion, on the other hand, sees itself as immutable absolute truth, given by God himself, and is therfore incapable of true and honest inquiry, introspection, and correction of mistakes.

Therefore, as a lifestyle or moral system, religion may have its advantages, but I, along with Cameron and Bad, have definitely proven that as a way of discovering truths about the world, religion cannot "hold a candle" to science.

DrJ said...

Cameron said,
"But by far my favourite new argument from you is the idea that sexual mutilation of male chidlren is somehow a good thing because it lowers the aquisition of HIV."

"Mutilation" is in the eyes of the beholder. You could just as easily call it "enhancement" or "procedure". Personally I don't think we're worse off for it...

You need to put some things in perspective. In my view, many of the biblical or rabbinic commandments were practices that developed that people observed to have some social, personal or health value. Religion then institutionalized it and made it holy. Think about even sacrifices. When an ancient Hebrew wanted to eat meat, instead of eating it raw in the field, would sluaghter it fresh, thoroughly roast it, make a community ritual in order to eat it, and burn the remains. Doesn't sound too shabby. So religion comes along and sanctifies it. Same with ritual immersion and washing, family laws, etc.

If its hard to imagine that process, think about what we do in "modern times". Examples include Bar Mitzvah celebrations, chavra kadisha (ritual treatment of the dead), mechitza (divider between men and women in synagogue), and laws of modesty. I'm sure you can think of others. These are things that have or had social value, which we then imbue with religious significance. Although JP might disagree, this is in fact how Halacha developed.

jewish philosopher said...

Cameron, I wouldn’t worry so much about the coccyx. A purpose will be found for it. But you still owe me about 999,999,960 intermediary fossils.

Who says morality has changed? I would love to own a few slaves, as my Christian ancestors did until it became illegal in New York State in 1828. And I think Jewish girls seldom married before puberty in any time or place and any marriage was with the consent of all parties. “Child rape” seems to be your interest, Cam. Show me that in the Bible.

And Cam, just as a parting shot, did you know that if you eat a proper diet, rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, you need very little toilet paper? It’s true. You’ll end up with firm moist pellets. I challenge you to experience this.

DrJ, the wise King Solomon said in Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge”. Without a fear of God, secularists draw all sorts of nutty conclusions. Secular science has brought us such gems as scientific socialism and scientific racism. Rabbis generally take current secular scientific theories as correct, unless they contradict the Bible. However, if atheists were entirely in control, we would probably all be waiving Little Red Books.

Cameron said...

JP: Cameron, I wouldn’t worry so much about the coccyx. A purpose will be found for it.

CH: I have no doubt that lacking one you will invent one.

JP: But you still owe me about 999,999,960 intermediary fossils.

CH: On the contrary I promised you a list of over 20 for just the hominids, and gave you logical reasons for why we should not expect a representative of every creature from every era to be fossilized in stone. Of course, you conveniently forget any arguments that run counter to your thought processes, I expect nothing less than evasion from you now.

JP: Who says morality has changed?
I would love to own a few slaves, as my Christian ancestors did until it became illegal in New York State in 1828.

CH: Orthodox Jews are pro-slavery. I'm sure that this moral stance will keep you in good standing with the rest of the community.

JP: And I think Jewish girls seldom married before puberty in any time or place and any marriage was with the consent of all parties. “Child rape” seems to be your interest, Cam. Show me that in the Bible.

CH: Children can't consent to sexual relations or marriage as they not of the age of majority. Suggesting that they can puts you in the company of the pedophiles. Not that I am surprised you would advocate pedophilia having advocated slavery, but I think we can all see how worthwhile your God's morality is.

JP: And Cam, just as a parting shot, did you know that if you eat a proper diet, rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, you need very little toilet paper? It’s true. You’ll end up with firm moist pellets. I challenge you to experience this.

CH: As a comedian once noted 'if you are checking your stool for consistency you have way too much time on your hands'. But upon learning that you abuse evolution, defend slavery and endorse child rape, should we really be shocked you eschew toilet paper?

DrJ, the wise King Solomon said in Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge”.

CH: So Chinese science isn't science because they can't have knowledge without a fear of God? That's insane. Knowledge has nothing to do with fear.

JP: Without a fear of God, secularists draw all sorts of nutty conclusions.

CH: Conclusions that mapped the genome, put us on the moon and provide you with comforts like civilization. And toilet paper.

JP: Secular science has brought us such gems as scientific socialism and scientific racism.

CH: Socialism isn't the fault of science. It's a failed (more or less, there are still successful socialist systems) approach to politics, not on off-shoot to science.

JP: Rabbis generally take current secular scientific theories as correct, unless they contradict the Bible.

CH: Because a book thousands of year old written before any modern scientific accomplishments MUST be more accurate than our current knowledge. Madness.

JP: However, if atheists were entirely in control, we would probably all be waiving Little Red Books.

CH: And if Orthodox Jews were in control sexual mutilation, child rape, slavery, geocentrism and the theory of the phlogiston would still be common.

DrJ: "Mutilation" is in the eyes of the beholder. You could just as easily call it "enhancement" or "procedure". Personally I don't think we're worse off for it...

CH: Taking a knife to the private parts of a child in order to remove healthy tissue counts as mutilation in my book. I can understand your reluctance to see it this way, but it seems no different than female genital mutilation (except in degree), or the ritual scarification that African tribes practice.

As for its reputed origins as a practice amongst a desert people where problems with cleanliness and sand would be common place, I suggest that this is likely true. Does that make the practice in the modern age defensible?

More to the point, if as JP suggests we are all perfect creatures designed by God (fused tail-bones and all), then why cut off healthy sexual tissue? Why didn't God just design the Jewish males properly to begin with?

DrJ said...

Cameron,
"More to the point, if as JP suggests we are all perfect creatures designed by God (fused tail-bones and all), then why cut off healthy sexual tissue? Why didn't God just design the Jewish males properly to begin with?"

I'll have to leave that one to JP, who could come up with something more original than anything I can...

I would still maintain that this is a cultural issue, rather than something intrinsically moral. You don't have to think too hard to come up with examples of practices that one culture views as normal and healthy (like mixed nude saunas in Finland) that others view as barbaric (as Americans do).

Bottom line: Morality is relative! Like Dawkin's shifting moral zeitgeist.

Rich Perkins said...

I am clearly not that knowledgeable in evolution matters, but i was just wondering the following:

Do you think it is against OJ belief to say that God created the world, but did it millions of years ago?

Why do we have to resort to "other worlds" to explain the dinosaurs?

badrabbi said...

"I would love to own a few slaves, as my Christian ancestors did until it became illegal in New York State in 1828."

A few things:

1. JP, shame on you for saying something as terrible as wanting to own slaves. Perhaps in a society where you would love, you yourself can be a slave.

2. I am getting a bit tired posting on this biggoted homophobic, pedophile blog. What's worse is that he calls himself an orthodox Jew blemishing an otherwise good group of people.

3. I enjoy reading comments of rebel Jew, Cameron, Spike, and even Natschuster (who it seems is interested in respectful discourse). Can any one of you start another blog so that we can get off this one? How about a more reasonable Jew who is open to reason and discourse?

Happy New Year!

jewish philosopher said...

Cam, you must realize that I am a religious moral absolutist. Is Jewish morality identical to present day American morality? No. It’s also not identical 15th century Japanese morality or first century Roman morality. So what?

Does Jewish morality condone harming innocent people? No. Of course, that brings in the issue of who is “innocent” and who is a “person”. I would say that a fetus is an innocent person, while a slave who refuses to work is not. You might say the opposite. Prove that your definitions are more valid, not just in vogue.

I assume the foreskin was created to make circumcision possible.

Rich, I think the current scientific evidence does indicate earlier distinct worlds before this one; in other words a series of special creations, not evolution.

jewish philosopher said...

Bad, I am a slave. I'm married.

Cameron said...

JP: I assume the foreskin was created to make circumcision possible.

CH: Absolute genius JP. Of course. How could I have missed that. God designed us to have fully functioning tissue to cover our penis so that we could have a weird old man hack it off and suck the blood. Truly an inspiration of intelligent design!

Bad-Rabbi - Part of the fun in coming here is that JP demonstrates all those negative qualities you listed in such abundance.

Sure I'd prefer not to be insulted every other posting, but his mindset is revealing (if loopy) of what some people really think.

Would we be moved to vocalize our dissent by someone more moderate?

DrJ: I would still maintain that this is a cultural issue, rather than something intrinsically moral.

CH: I'm going to respectfully disagree Dr. J. Eating Matzo balls and lighting a menorah are cultural acts. Unnecessary surgery on children's genitals - I think that crosses the line into conduct that harms others - and thus is definitely part of the moral realm.

DrJ: You don't have to think too hard to come up with examples of practices that one culture views as normal and healthy (like mixed nude saunas in Finland) that others view as barbaric (as Americans do).

CH: Is 'barbaric' really the proper description for how Americans view mixed sex nude saunas? I know Americans are prudish to the point of absurdity (see: Attorney General John Ashcroft covering the 'immodest' statues of justice), but I doubt it is perceived as a 'barbarism'. A depravity, or assault on moral decency - but not a barbarism.

DrJ: Bottom line: Morality is relative! Like Dawkin's shifting moral zeitgeist.

CH: now you sound like the postmodern left. Of course ALL morality isn't relative. No society has existed without a prohibition against murder, or restrictions against theft, rape, etc.

But other areas of our morality are more fluid in their construction and do change over time; the age of maturity, the age of marriage, who legitimately belongs to the 'people' (and by extension who belongs to the 'other'), the morality of slavery, etc. are all examples of mores that have adjusted with time to reflect new understandings of the human condition.

For most modern Western society, the bible condones and endorses conduct that would get you thrown in prison.

For JP, it's still 4AD!

badrabbi said...

Ah, yes the barbaric Finns, with their mixed nude saunas. DRJ, do you work for the Finnish ministry of Tourism by any chace?

Cameron said...

badrabbi: Ah, yes the barbaric Finns, with their mixed nude saunas.

CH: It could lead to dancing

natschuster said...

I just though that I would add a little perspective on the topic of slvaery. Accodring to Jewish tradition, a person became a slave when he stole something, spent or disposed of what he stole, then got caught. He was unable to make restitution. The price of his sale as a slave was used to repay he victims of his crime. He then was allowed to live with a law abiding citizen. He was treated humanely. He did useful work. At the end of his period, he was given the wherewithall to start a new life. This sounds better than what we do now. We put thieves in prison with hundreds of other criminals. They get beaten, raped, and they join prison gangs to survive. They wind up learning better waysto be criminals. It seesm to me that the Bibles way of dealing with thieves is much more humane and sensible than the modern way.

Cameron said...

JP, here's a list of atheists for atheist challenge;

Brannon Braga: Star Trek writer and producer

Ayan Hirsi Ali: Dutch politician and outspoken critic of radical Islam

James Randi: professional magician

Lance Armstrong: You've probably heard of him. He rides bikes. ("If there was a God I'd have two nuts")

Harry Harrison: Author of the 'Stainless Steel Rat' series. Yeah baby.

Sam Harris: needs no introduction. But he also lacks a drug problem, divorce, or other moral failings that might disqualify him from your challenge.

Rutka Laskier: 14 year old polish girl who died in the holocaust.

Stanislaw Lem: Polish science fiction author (Solaris)

Gao Xingjian: Nobel prize winner for literature

Ricky Gervais: British funnyman and serial mocker of creationist tool Karl Pilkington

Penn Jillette: Another magician and one of my personal heroes. Saw his show in Las Vegas the day after I got married. His (silent) partner Teller is also an atheist but given he rarely speaks it's worth concentrating on the big guy.

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar: the guy who discovered the 'Chandrasekhar limit'. Obviously.

Cameron said...

Nat, these are for you;

However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. If he was single when he became your slave and then married afterward, only he will go free in the seventh year. But if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife will be freed with him. If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they had sons or daughters, then the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master. But the slave may plainly declare, 'I love my master, my wife, and my children. I would rather not go free.' If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will belong to his master forever. (Exodus 21:2-6 NLT)

When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

Sex slaves, child slaves, and entire families of slaves. Likes like evil with a capital 'E' to me. and not the bland house arrest you claim.

DrJ said...

Cameron, you have to remember that orthodox Jews follow the talmud, not the bible.

Bible studies in yeshivot are almost incidental. Typically 3-10 times more hours are spent on Talmud. The bible is like the historical basis, but is definitely not the ultimate source of either morality or law. Rabbinic Judaism claims that the ORAL law is the only licensed and authorized way of interpreting and implementing God's laws. We know, of course, that historically this is entirely a man made enterprise, developed over generations by fallible but mostly well meaning men, in the context of existing practices of people living in those times, in an attempt to preserve their religious and national identity.

How else can you explain the gulf that exists between biblical Judaism and what exists today? How can you explain the profound disagreements on fundamental issues of law that were debated? Fundamentalist Jews have answers to these questions, but they are "forced" and at variance with historical evidence. Biblical Jewish practice varied at different points in history and gradually "morphed" into Rabbinic Judaism during the second temple period and somewhat after. The history of this shift is a fascinating story.

The talmud makes valiant attempts to explain away the overtly morally repulsive events depicted in the Bible, because they bothered them, too. Sometimes their arguments are convincing, other times not.

Any serious student of Judaism and halacha can see unequivically the process of evolution of halacha and its gradual replacing of the Bible as the cookbook for Judaism.

The examples that you raise only prove this point. Despite JP's remarks, no Jews alive today advocate the return to slavery, etc. Although some advocate the rebuilding of the temple and resumption of animal sacrifices, this is a relative minority. The fact we say this in a prayer, we don't really take it seriously, its kind of said with a wink or symbolically. The proof of this is that nubody actually tries to resume sacrifices, even though they could if they wanted to. The excuse given is that they are waiting for the messiah or clear sign from God, which never seems to come (just like it didn't with the return to Israel except for the zionists)

natschuster said...

Cameron:

The verse in Exodus about a Hebrw salve is talling about a thief who is sold as a slave as opposed to the much crueler modern practise of putting him in prison.

The verses in Leviticus discuss purchasing someone who is aleady a slave form people who would, in all likelyhood treat him much harsher than a Jewish owner would. So they are actually doing him a favor. Its making the best out of a bad situation.

I don't no of any Bible sanctioned sex slavery. The laws of a father selling his daughter to someone exist because the altenative may be starvation. What if the father is too poor to support her? If the owner makes her his wife, well, that might be better than starving to death.

Anyway, the most you can do is assert that the Bible offends your modern sensitivities. You can't prove that the Bible is immoral.

natschuster said...

Why odes this always happen? We start talking about evolution and wind up discussing slavery.

natschuster said...

I forgot.

Nine different muscles attach to the coccyx, so it isn't vestigal either.

natschuster said...

According to Wikipedia, Sam Harris is a bit unconvetional when it comes to Atheism. He seems to be more anti organized religion than anti G-d. (He conveniently leaves out the fact that atheistic societies e.g. the Soviet Union. do much worse.) It is hard to get a grip on exactly what he believes in. He does seem to be interested in some sort of spirituality. He is also reluctant to reveal any details about his private life. I wonder why?

DrJ said...

Natschuster said:
"Nine different muscles attach to the coccyx, so it isn't vestigal either."

Some of the muscle attachments are in fact vestigial as well, and are remnants of when we had to move our tail. Do you move yours? Muscle attachments prove nothing. We also have vestiges of foot and toe muscles that we can function perfectly without, and were needed only when we had a prehensile grasp with our foot, like some monkeys. We have muscles around our scalp and ears that most people can't even contract, let alone use.

badrabbi said...

"Why odes this always happen? We start talking about evolution and wind up discussing slavery."

You brought it up, ding bat!

badrabbi said...

Sorry, you are a dingbat, not a ding bat. The latter has vestigial eyes!

badrabbi said...

This is a summary of Nat's and JP's take on vestigial structures:

1. There is no such a thing as vestigial organs

2. Whatever organ you see for which no function can be found is not vestigial. Sooner or later we will find a function.

3. If there is a truly vestigial tissue, like penis foreskin, it is because god put it there for us to remove. (But it is clear that God does not require non-Jews from removing their foreskins, so why is it that he created non-Jews with a foreskin?)

4. Any other example of vestigial anything, see dictum #1.

What kind of logic is this? This is typical of religious unfalsifiable nonsense that they used to cram down our throats until we came to know better.

badrabbi said...

I might add, though, that the foreskin is not a vestigial structure in the classic sense of the term. My understanding of the term is not that a given structure does not have a function, but that this structure has or has had a homologous function earlier in evolutionary terms and has subsequently lost part or all of its fuction.

I am not aware of another animal, our ancestor species, that makes a full use of its foreskin!

DrJ said...

Don't forget about vestigial structures in nonhumans, too, like wings in non-flying birds, etc

jewish philosopher said...

I must say that I find the efforts of atheists to smear Judaism to be filthy hypocrisy at best and blatant anti-Semitism at worst. While secular American go about their merry way raping strangers, having sex with underage stepdaughters and beating their wives, atheists are busy scouring Talmudic law for “immoral” rules which have not been practiced for centuries. Very noble; I am so impressed. It makes me really want to join the atheist community.

Cam, about all the guys you’ve listed, very little has been published about them except Chandrasekhar. There are two biographies about him in print. Interestingly, he seems to have regreted his atheism:

Chandrasekhar was a famous astrophysicist. He won the Nobel prize in physics in 1983. He was faculty member at the University of Chicago for many years. At the back of his biography is an interview. Chandrasekhar says,

In fact, I consider myself an atheist. But I have a feeling of disappointment because the hope for contentment and a peaceful outlook on life as the result of pursuing a goal has remained largely unfulfilled.

His biographer is astonished. He says:

What? I don't understand. You mean, single–minded pursuit of science, understanding parts of nature and comprehending nature with such enormous success still leaves you with a feeling of discontentment?

Chandrasekhar continues in a serious way, saying:

I don't really have a sense of fulfillment. All I have done seems to not be very much.

The biographer seeks to lighten up the discussion a little saying that everybody has the same sort of feelings. But Chandrasekhar will not let him do this, saying:

Well that may be, but the fact that other people experience it doesn't change the fact that one is experiencing it. It doesn't become less personal on that account.

And Chandrasekhar's final statement:

What is true in my own personal case is that I simply don't have that sense of harmony which I'd hoped for when I was young. I've persevered in science for over fifty years. The time I've devoted to other things is miniscule.

natschuster said...

My understanding is that the foreskin has a function, to protect the mucus membrane under it. Ostriches use their wings in mating rituals. The coccyx also acts as a shock absorber when we sit. As ong as a structure has it isn;t vestigial. The whales pelvis anchors muscles that retract the penis into the body to maintain a streamlined contour. As far as the other things you mentioned, well, if "we'll have an answer for you someday"s a perfectly valid scientific position for a skeptic, it should work for a believer as well.

Cameron said...

JP: I must say that I find the efforts of atheists to smear Judaism to be filthy hypocrisy at best and blatant anti-Semitism at worst.

CH: Which atheist is 'smearing' Judaism? Your phoney outrage is tiresome.

JP: While secular American go about their merry way raping strangers, having sex with underage stepdaughters and beating their wives, atheists are busy scouring Talmudic law for “immoral” rules which have not been practiced for centuries.

CH: Your hypocrisy is showing. I raised the issue of slavery as a way of pointing out that you yourself have acknowledged that Judaic moral codes have improved over time (by for example, no longer practicing slavery or child marriage). I then used that fact to contrast your resistance to the advancements in science since your Holy books were written. So on the one hand your moral codes change and you defend that, but on the other hand you refuse to see how the truth of science has also modified over time.

What does this argument provoke from you? First a defense of slavery and child marriage. Something I think fundamentally sickens who read it. Then when its clear that nobody will defend a moral code that doesn't find child sex slavery immoral, you get angry and charge atheists with a series of crimes, and end it with cries of anti-semitism.

You are a joke.

JP: Very noble; I am so impressed. It makes me really want to join the atheist community.

CH: Considering that only a couple of posts earlier you were proudly proclaiming your love for human slavery, I'll stand in for the atheist community and say 'please, please, stay in the community you are in - we don't want you'.

JP: Cam, about all the guys you’ve listed, very little has been published about them except Chandrasekhar.

CH: You mean very little negative has been published about them - and that is the point. They all fit the bill.

But if you can't find anything about Lance Armstrong, or Penn Jillette, then it is because you aren't looking very hard. Which I can understand as both blow your challenge out of the water.

JP: There are two biographies about him in print. Interestingly, he seems to have regreted his atheism.

CH: He may well have regretted that his life didn't have more meaning - but he never recanted his atheism. He was in the end, a moral atheist, one who didn't lapse morally, and even had fewer marriages than you. Also, he was so influential in the Astronomy community they named an observatory after him.

I stand by all the people on the list as defeating your challenge.

jewish philosopher said...

Cameron, this comment is a classic. Since I have a little free time this morning, let me review it word for word and let’s see how many lies I can find.

You ask which atheists attempt to smear Judaism. You imply that no atheist would stoop to such despicable behavior. Have you ever heard of Richard Dawkins? He has famously stated “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

That’s lie number one.

You continue by describing my outrage as phony. By what means, pray tell; are you capable of reading the thoughts of other people? You have no way of knowing which outrage is phony and which isn’t.

This is lie number two.

You then imply that I am trying to find people to defend child sex slavery. “Sex slavery” generally means forced prostitution. Actually, Judaism prohibits involvement in prostitution, whether as a provider, customer or broker. (Deut. 23:18) Judaism also prohibits a man to force anyone to have sex, including his own wife.

This is lie number three.

You then state that very little negative has been published about all the people on your list of atheists, implying that a great deal of positive information has been published. In fact, of all the people on your list, I can only find one detailed biography published about one of them “Chandra: A Biography of S. Chandrasekhar” by Kameshwar C. Wali. (I have already ordered a copy, by the way. It should be an interesting read; I may post on it. My understanding is that he regretted not having focused on anything except science, including religion.)

This is lie number four.

In a post written on 5/4/2007, I asked “Can anyone find an example of a single prominent atheistic leader who was kind, honest, and sober and had a stable family life?” In this comment, you claim to have discovered several. In fact, not one of these people is a prominent atheistic leader or a leader of anything. The exceptions might be Ayan Hirsi Ali and Sam Harris. Ayan only became an atheist in 2002. Give her time. Sam is very secretive about his personal life however he will admit to having experimented with drugs in college and spending the next 11 years meditating. Sounds like the model of sobriety. Let’s wait for a few biographies to come out about him.

This is lie number five.

In a mere twenty lines, you lied five times. I’ll bet you weren’t even trying. That’s impressive. I don’t know why you are wasting your time blogging. Kim Jong Il needs you in his North Korean (and devoutly atheist!) Ministry of Information.

Now, on a different issue, how do you morally justify the annual killing of 40 million unborn children each year, the unfortunate products of recreational sex which atheists generally encourage? Just curious.

natschuster said...

For all its apparent flaws, the Torah does seem to be able to produce a society that seems ot be doing better than the community at large. I think that that is the material point.

natschuster said...

Before I forget, the vestigal legs on the python are actually used in a mating ritual, so they are not truly vestigal.

jewish philosopher said...

Maybe it’s just my own personal taste, however I am more disgusted by the 40 million unborn children murdered today every year than I do about fact that in centuries past there were a few people who were forced to work as domestic servants for Jews.

Just for comparisons sakes, World War Two, which lasted six years, involved 72 million deaths, or about 12 million per year. That’s small potatoes by the standards of today’s abortion clinics.

badrabbi said...

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Let’s see the sentence, phrase by phrase:

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it;”

JELOUS:

1. Exodus 20:5
You shall not bow down yourself to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God,

2. Exodus 34:14
For you shall worship no other god; for the Lord, Whose name is Jealous, is a jealous (impassioned) God,

3. Numbers 25:11
Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned my wrath away from the Israelites, in that he was jealous with My jealousy among them, so that I did not consume the Israelites in My jealousy.

4. Deuteronomy 4:24
For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

5. Deuteronomy 5:9
You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God,

6. Deuteronomy 6:15
For the Lord your God in the midst of you is a jealous God; lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and He destroy you from the face of the earth.

7. Deuteronomy 32:16
They provoked Him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations they provoked Him to anger.

8. Joshua 24:19
And Joshua said to the people, You cannot serve the Lord, for He is a holy God; He is a jealous God. He will not forgive your transgressions or your sins.


Is it clear that He is jelous?

badrabbi said...

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Let’s see the sentence, phrase by phrase:

… a petty, unjust, unforgiving:

1. Joshua 7
1THE Israelites committed a trespass in regard to the devoted things; for Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi… took some of the things [belonging to Lord]. And the anger of the Lord burned against Israel…
10The Lord said to Joshua…11Israel has sinned; they have transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. They have taken some of the things devoted [to me]; they have stolen, and lied, and put them among their own baggage…I will cease to be with you unless you destroy the accursed [devoted] things among you.
16So Joshua rose up early in the morning and brought Israel near by their tribes, and the tribe of Judah was taken… 19And Joshua said to Achan, My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and make confession to Him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.
20And Achan answered Joshua, In truth, I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel, and this have I done:
21When I saw among the spoils an attractive mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. Behold, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath.
24And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan son of Zerah, and the silver, the garment, the wedge of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and all that he had; and they brought them to the Valley of Achor.
25And Joshua said, Why have you brought trouble on us? The Lord will trouble you this day. And all Israel stoned him and those with him with stones, and afterward burned their bodies with fire.


Do you want more examples? Plenty where that came from!

badrabbi said...

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Let’s see the sentence, phrase by phrase:

… petty and unjust:

Deuteronomy 5:9 (Whole Chapter)
You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,


Now, to be fair, God supposedly rewards those who like him ‘to a thousandth’ generation. But are either one of these just?

badrabbi said...

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Let’s see the sentence, phrase by phrase:

… bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser

Deuteronomy 13:15
you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. Destroy it completely, both its people and its livestock.

Deuteronomy 20:13
When the LORD your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it.

Joshua 6:21
They devoted the city to the LORD and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.

Joshua 8:24
When Israel had finished killing all the men of Ai in the fields and in the desert where they had chased them, and when every one of them had been put to the sword, all the Israelites returned to Ai and killed those who were in it.

Joshua 10:11
As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the LORD hurled large hailstones down on them from the sky, and more of them died from the hailstones than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.

Joshua 10:28
That day Joshua took Makkedah. He put the city and its king to the sword and totally destroyed everyone in it. He left no survivors. And he did to the king of Makkedah as he had done to the king of Jericho.

Joshua 10:30
The LORD also gave that city and its king into Israel's hand. The city and everyone in it Joshua put to the sword. He left no survivors there. And he did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho.

Joshua 10:32
The LORD handed Lachish over to Israel, and Joshua took it on the second day. The city and everyone in it he put to the sword, just as he had done to Libnah.

Joshua 10:35
They captured it that same day and put it to the sword and totally destroyed everyone in it, just as they had done to Lachish.
I am running out of room and patience. There are a dozen more examples, but you get the idea!

badrabbi said...

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Let’s see the sentence, phrase by phrase:

… misogynistic

Numbers 5:29 This, then, is the law of jealousy when a woman goes astray and defiles herself while married to her husband, 30 or when feelings of jealousy come over a man because he suspects his wife. The priest is to have her stand before the LORD and is to apply this entire law to her. 31 The husband will be innocent of any wrongdoing, but the woman will bear the consequences of her sin.

Genesis 3:16 To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."


….Homophobic

Leviticus 18:22) A man shall not lie with another man as [he would] with a woman, it is an abomination.
Leviticus 20:13 A man shall not lie with another man as he would with a woman; the two of them have done an abomination; they shall be put to death; their bloodguilt is upon them.

Tune in for the rest. Dawkin’s did not lie!

Cameron said...

JP: You ask which atheists attempt to smear Judaism. You imply that no atheist would stoop to such despicable behavior.

CH: I implied no such thing - I was directly addressing your post in that you claimed people were smearing Judaism without bothering to name them directly or even bother to highlight the smear. Nobody brought up Dawkins till you did. Nobody (least of all myself or Badrabbi) was 'smearing' Judaism. Yet you go off about it like we had slurred you personally.

JP: Have you ever heard of Richard Dawkins?

CH: More than that, I own all his books, and have attended a lecture delivered by him.

JP: He has famously stated “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

CH: Badrabbi is doing an awesome job of pointing out how correct Mr. Dawkins is. But my point is that Mr. Dawkins made no such commentary in your blog, and we wouldn't be discussing him at all if you hadn't brought him up.

JP: That’s lie number one.

CH: Let the giggling begin!

JP: You continue by describing my outrage as phony.

CH: Totally, and utterly phony.

JP: By what means, pray tell; are you capable of reading the thoughts of other people? You have no way of knowing which outrage is phony and which isn’t.

CH: Legitimate outrage would be the kind that is provoked. Like if I said you were incompetent, and not only a poor excuse for a philosopher, but not really Jewish. If I had said that, your outrage would have been legitimate. But I didn't, and neither did anyone else. Nor did anyone make any of the arguments you are bloviating about now.

JP: This is lie number two.

CH: Full blown guffaws.

JP: You then imply that I am trying to find people to defend child sex slavery. “Sex slavery” generally means forced prostitution.

CH: Generally, it does. Arranged child marriages also qualify (or is sex not a part of your marriage?).

JP: Actually, Judaism prohibits involvement in prostitution, whether as a provider, customer or broker. (Deut. 23:18) Judaism also prohibits a man to force anyone to have sex, including his own wife.

CH: Lucky for your wife.

JP: This is lie number three.

CH: I am now officially laughing out loud.

JP: You then state that very little negative has been published about all the people on your list of atheists, implying that a great deal of positive information has been published.

CH: You do know who Lance Armstrong is, right? The little yellow bands? Tour de France? 'Livestrong' anti-cancer programs? Any of this ringing any bells?

JP: In fact, of all the people on your list, I can only find one detailed biography published about one of them “Chandra: A Biography of S. Chandrasekhar” by Kameshwar C. Wali. (I have already ordered a copy, by the way. It should be an interesting read; I may post on it. My understanding is that he regretted not having focused on anything except science, including religion.)

CH: Here's Lance Armstrong's: http://www.amazon.com/Its-Not-About-Bike-Journey/dp/0399146113

But frankly, I think if you want to disparage atheists you should do your own research.

JP: This is lie number four.

CH: This is a marvelous new definition for the word 'lie'. It may be a contronym!

JP: In a post written on 5/4/2007, I asked “Can anyone find an example of a single prominent atheistic leader who was kind, honest, and sober and had a stable family life?”

CH: If having followers qualifies one as a leader, than all of those I listed qualify. I'm a huge fan of people like Penn Jillette, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Harry Harrison, Chandrasekhar, etc. I actually can't stand Lance Armstrong, but finding out he was an atheist took the edge off him for me.

JP: In this comment, you claim to have discovered several. In fact, not one of these people is a prominent atheistic leader or a leader of anything.

CH: Leaders have followers. All of the people I have listed are A: Prominent, B: Atheists, and C: inspirational to others. Nice to see you trying to chicken out of your challenge on a technicality. Are we only accepting world leaders for your challenge? Curiously, you didn't raise that objection any other time.

JP: The exceptions might be Ayan Hirsi Ali and Sam Harris. Ayan only became an atheist in 2002. Give her time.

CH: In other words, you've got nothing on her and she meets your challenge. But rather than admit defeat, you suggest we should 'just wait'.

JP: Sam is very secretive about his personal life however he will admit to having experimented with drugs in college and spending the next 11 years meditating. Sounds like the model of sobriety. Let’s wait for a few biographies to come out about him.

CH: He's a clean, sober, atheist intellectual without the stain of divorce on his resume. Again, it looks to me like you are just not willing to admit defeat.

JP: This is lie number five.

CH: I keep expecting lightning bolts and rolling thunder like the Count from Sesame street. 'And Zis is Lie Number Five! A ha ha!' Kerpow. That said, Sesame Street at least had a modicum of intellectual integrity.

JP: In a mere twenty lines, you lied five times. I’ll bet you weren’t even trying. That’s impressive. I don’t know why you are wasting your time blogging. Kim Jong Il needs you in his North Korean (and devoutly atheist!) Ministry of Information.

CH: Oooh another snide Commie reference. Wow. Gosh, that really stings.

JP: Now, on a different issue, how do you morally justify the annual killing of 40 million unborn children each year, the unfortunate products of recreational sex which atheists generally encourage? Just curious.

CH: I've got news for you Jacob, the vast majority of people who get abortions in the US are religious. Go figure.

Cameron said...

JP: Just for comparisons sakes, World War Two, which lasted six years, involved 72 million deaths, or about 12 million per year. That’s small potatoes by the standards of today’s abortion clinics.

CH: If God were all powerful She could stop all abortions tomorrow. So either God isn't all-powerful, or She approves of abortion.

badrabbi said...

… sadomasochistic
Numbers 11
1 Soon the people began to complain about their hardship, and the Lord heard everything they said. Then the Lord’s anger blazed against them, and he sent a fire to rage among them, and he destroyed some of the people in the outskirts of the camp.

badrabbi said...

… sadomasochistic
Numbers 11
4 …and again the Israelites started wailing and said, "If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!"
18 …The LORD heard you when you wailed, "If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!" Now the LORD will give you meat, and you will eat it. 19 You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, 20 but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it
31 Now a wind went out from the LORD and drove quail in from the sea. It brought them down all around the camp to about three feet above the ground, as far as a day's walk in any direction. 32 All that day and night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail… 33 But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the LORD burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague. 34 Therefore the place was named Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had craved other food.

badrabbi said...

… pestilential
1. Exodus 7:14
[ The Plague of Blood ] Then the LORD said to Moses, "Pharaoh's heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go.
2.Exodus 7:25
[ The Plague of Frogs ] Seven days passed after the LORD struck the Nile.
3.Exodus 8:2
If you refuse to let them go, I will plague your whole country with frogs.
4.Exodus 8:16
[ The Plague of Gnats ] Then the LORD said to Moses, "Tell Aaron, 'Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the ground,' and throughout the land of Egypt the dust will become gnats."
5.Exodus 8:20
[ The Plague of Flies ] Then the LORD said to Moses, "Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh as he goes to the water and say to him, 'This is what the LORD says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me.
6.Exodus 9:1
[ The Plague on Livestock ] Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh and say to him, 'This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: "Let my people go, so that they may worship me."
7.Exodus 9:3
the hand of the LORD will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field—on your horses and donkeys and camels and on your cattle and sheep and goats.
8.Exodus 9:8
[ The Plague of Boils ] Then the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Take handfuls of soot from a furnace and have Moses toss it into the air in the presence of Pharaoh.
9.Exodus 9:13
[ The Plague of Hail ] Then the LORD said to Moses, "Get up early in the morning, confront Pharaoh and say to him, 'This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me,
10.Exodus 9:14
or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth.
11.Exodus 9:15
For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth.
12.Exodus 10:1
[ The Plague of Locusts ] Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these miraculous signs of mine among them
13.Exodus 10:14
they invaded all Egypt and settled down in every area of the country in great numbers. Never before had there been such a plague of locusts, nor will there ever be again.
14.Exodus 10:21
[ The Plague of Darkness ] Then the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness will spread over Egypt—darkness that can be felt."
15.Exodus 11:1
[ The Plague on the Firstborn ] Now the LORD had said to Moses, "I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely.
16.Exodus 32:35
And the LORD struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made.
17.Leviticus 26:25
And I will bring the sword upon you to avenge the breaking of the covenant. When you withdraw into your cities, I will send a plague among you, and you will be given into enemy hands.
18.Numbers 11:33
But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the LORD burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague.
19.Numbers 14:12
I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they."
20.Numbers 14:37
these men responsible for spreading the bad report about the land were struck down and died of a plague before the LORD.

badrabbi said...

But my favorite biblical story, one which characterizes many of God's biblical characteristics, including his tendencies to be petty, unjust, unforgiving, vindictive, bloodthirsty, genocidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, and capriciously malevolent all rolled into one is the following story in 1 Samuel Chapters 4 and 5:

1 After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, … they carried the ark into [Ashdod]…6 The LORD's hand was heavy upon the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation upon them and afflicted them with hemorrhoids. 7 When the men of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, "The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy upon us and upon Dagon our god." 8 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and asked them, "What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?" …
3 They answered, "If you return the ark of the god of Israel, do not send it away empty, but by all means send a guilt offering to him. Then you will be healed, and you will know why his hand has not been lifted from you."
4 The Philistines asked, "What guilt offering should we send to him?"
They replied, "Five gold hemorrhoids and five gold rats, according to the number of the Philistine rulers, because the same plague has struck both you and your rulers. 5 Make models of the hemorrhoids and of the rats that are destroying the country, and pay honor to Israel's god. Perhaps he will lift his hand from you and your gods and your land. 6 …
10 So they did this…11They placed the ark of the LORD on the cart and along with it the chest containing the gold rats and the models of the hemorrhoids. 12 Then the cows went straight up toward Beth Shemesh, keeping on the road and lowing all the way; they did not turn to the right or to the left. The rulers of the Philistines followed them as far as the border of Beth Shemesh.
17 These are the gold hemorrhoids the Philistines sent as a guilt offering to the LORD -one each for Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron. 18 And the number of the gold rats was according to the number of Philistine towns belonging to the five rulers—the fortified towns with their country villages. The large rock, on which they set the ark of the LORD, is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh.
19 But God struck down some of the men of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy thousand of them to death because they had looked into the ark of the LORD. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the LORD had dealt them....

badrabbi said...

Yes, it was golden hemorrhoids that we read about in the bible!

I am sorry to have used so much comment space, but I think the point needed to have been made. The God of the Torah is all of the things that Dawkins says He is, even according to the Torah itself! What part of Dawkins' statement is objectionable? Disrespectful perhaps but not inaccurate.

DrJ said...

"Now, on a different issue, how do you morally justify the annual killing of 40 million unborn children each year, the unfortunate products of recreational sex which atheists generally encourage?"

And that's small potatoes compared to the annual killing of zillions of unborn children from unfertilized spermatozoa spilt in vain.

jewish philosopher said...

Dawkins talking about God simply sounds like a child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder talking about a parent. And where does he get "racist" from anyway? There are no "races" in the Bible. The entire concept of race is a 19th century European concept. I guess he just threw that in.

drj, regarding abortion, it's a shame your mother didn't have your attitude.

I'm a little short on time, but let's work a little on Cameron's lies of the day.

The Armstrong "biography" is an autobiography, hardly the source of impartial information about his character which I am obviously interested in. This is lie number one.

Cameron implies that if a God existed He would not allow us to have free will and therefore sins like abortion could not happen. Of course, we do have God given free will. This is lie number two.

natschuster said...

it seems that the dandelion flowers aren't completely vestigal either, even though they reporduce asexually. They provide necter and pollen to honeybees. They also do cross pollinate with closely related species that do reproduce sexually.

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

The issue of abortion is complex and can not simply be reduced to simple theist versus atheist debates. Both pro choice and pro life arguments can be made by reasonable atheists as well as theists, as a belief in God has nothing to do with the issue of abortion.

Furthermore, both pro choice and pro life arguments can be made by orthodox Jews as it is by no means clear what stance the bible takes regarding abortion.

Consider the following verse in the Torah:

Exodus 21:22 If two men fight, and hurt a pregnant woman, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no other mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot..."

Thus, tf two men fight and in the malay cause a woman to miscarry, but do not otherwise hurt her, then the husband of the pregnant woman gets paid an amount determined by the judges. Only if the pregnant woman is actually killed is the punishment determined to be death. Therefore, God is pro-choice since he considers a woman's life to be more important that that of the fetus.

jewish philosopher said...

The Jewish method of avoiding unwanted pregnancies is to not have sex if you don’t want to be pregnant. It’s not to go ahead, have sex and then kill the fetus.

natschuster said...

Re: Lance Armstrong

According to Wikipedia Armstrong divorced the mother of his children. What is really not nice is that she stood by him through his cancer treatments. It seems he broke up wiht Sheryl Crow when she was diagnosed wiht cancer. I would expect a descent person to show a littel empathy, and to stick with his significant other, if he himself went through the same xeprience, but that is just my opinion.

Cameron said...

natschuster: it seems that the dandelion flowers aren't completely vestigal either, even though they reporduce asexually. They provide necter and pollen to honeybees. They also do cross pollinate with closely related species that do reproduce sexually.

CH: Nat, they are vestigial to the dandelion. That they become food for others, or that other species make use of them isn't relevant to the definition of 'vestigial'.

I also re-read your early post and found this gem:

"To the best of my knowledge, even the fossil record holds no examples of structures in the process of forming. For ,example, the Archeaopteryx shows up with fully formed feathers. Trilobites appear at the base of the Cambrian wiht fully formed eyes. Please correct me if I'm wrong."

Archaeopteryx isn't one of the most important fossils because the feathers were in a transitional stage, it's because the Archaeopteryx is clearly a dinosaur with feathers! For the longest time dinosaurs were thought to be closer relatives to amphibians and reptiles than to birds - and then we found the archaeopteryx and science had to recalibrate everything. Further, Archaeopteryx gave early hints as to feathers develioped - as a variation on scales.

As for those Trilobites appearing with 'fully formed eyes', you abuse the language. They had primitive light sensing organs, but they did not possess 'fully formed eyes' in the way you and I do.

Nor is it any kind of a surprise that creatures would have light sensing organs at that early stage of evolutionary history.

natschuster said...

I siad that the feathers on the arcaeopteryx were fully formed. They might have even been capable of flight. The trilobites had fully functional eyes with different parts. They were different than ours because they had calcite crystal lenses instead of lense like ours. My point was that we don't anywhere organs or stuctures that are in the process of becoming functional. This is the flip side of vestigal organs. If evolution is true why don't we see orgasn in the process of evolving and becoming functional? Moreover, how do you explain the process? What good is half a wing? The organ provides no benefit until it is up and running.

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