Sunday, June 08, 2008

Mount Sinai and Valley Forge


[Mount Sinai]


[“Washington at Valley Forge”. Reproduction of painting by Edward P. Moran]


Some people would like to claim that the Revelation at Mount Sinai was comparable to a Greek myth, for example the Iliad by Homer, in which the gods are described as interacting with humans. The truth is, however, that even in ancient Greece, those accounts were considered to be fictional by better educated Greeks. The stories are obviously just the literary creations of ancient Greek poets.

Others might compare the Sinai revelation to the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection was, however, attested to only by the four authors of the gospels, who had every reason to lie and claim that their leader was not actually dead following his execution.

The revelation at Mount Sinai is more comparable, I believe, to the American Revolutionary War winter encampment at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. [A personal footnote - very likely my mother's great-great-great-grandfather was at Valley Forge; a 17 year old private from New Jersey.] Valley Forge is part of American history, just as the Mount Sinai revelation is part of Jewish history. The only way that the Valley Forge encampment could have been fabricated would have been if the 12,000 soldiers in the American army would have all agreed to lie about what had happened to them. By the same token, the Sinai revelation could have been falsified only if all the Israelites at that time would have conspired together to fabricate that event. Just as Valley Forge is an historical fact unquestioned by any reasonable person, so should the Mount Sinai revelation be unquestioned by any reasonable person. Clearly, the only reason why it is questioned by some, is because some people do not wish to accept any limitations on their freedom, however there is no rational reason to do so.

76 comments:

Unmolested Altar Boy said...

So, there are multiple accounts of Mt. Sinai from sources from around the globe?

Dare I ask for the non-Jewish eyewitness accounts of the Sinai events?

jewish philosopher said...

If there were many different accounts of Sinai, you would complain that varying accounts means we can't know what actually happened.

Are there non-American accounts of Valley Forge?

Henry Paine said...

Jacob said: "Clearly, the only reason why it is questioned by some, is because some people do not wish to accept any limitations on their freedom, however there is no rational reason to do so."

Clearly? This is not so clear. I do not believe a voice came from a cloud 3000 years ago. I do not believe a voice has ever come from a cloud. Am I being irrational? No. That's all that should have to be said. The discussion should end there. But I know it's not enough for those with faithful hearts hardened against logic. So let's recall that scripture tells us that this voice from a cloud only gave the first ten commandments to the Israelites. The remaining 603 commandments were given to Moses alone if we are to believe scripture. Furthermore, we do not have the testimony of all of these Israelites. We have the testimony of one or a few bible authors that claimed millions of people heard a voice from a cloud. This is no different from the verses in John 6:9-10 where we are told 5000 were fed with 5 loaves and 2 fishes, or 1 Corinthians 15:6 where we're told 500 saw Jesus after the resurrection or the verse in Matthew 27:52-54 that says many saints came out of their graves after the resurrection and appeared to many in the streets. That's a lot of witnesses Jacob. But of course it's just like Mount Sinai. What we REALLY have is the word of a few bible authors that SAID this many people saw this or that.

I am NOT going to base my life upon the story of a voice from a cloud or people coming out of their graves. This is ridiculous Jacob. I am not centering my life around a book that is the word of a few authors whom I know nothing about. I am not going to risk gambling my life on the word of only a few men that lived thousands of years ago.

Scripture tells us the Israelites saw smoke and heard thunder and that they'd be killed if they touched Mount Sinai. The Ark of the Covenant was supposed to have been led by a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night. These stories were believed because the people at the time were understandably heavily superstitious. But modern day people have no excuse when it comes to being superstitious. It is sad that 3000 years later people are still centering their lives upon the story of a voice from a cloud and a pillar of fire. This nonsense is causing the world to grind to a halt in the Middle East. And it will never have any hope of ending as long as these stories are considered historical and not mythical. You are helping to prolong the agony in the Middle East. We need to get past this era in human history Jacob. It will happen sooner or later because it is the rational thing to do. Believing a voice came from a cloud is nonsense.

You put your trust in the words of men that lived thousands of years ago Jacob, not the word of a god.

I applaud your obviously sincere efforts to make the world a better place. I really do. But there are those of us that disagree with your reasoning and your conclusions. We are no less sincere about and no less troubled by the world's problems. We are as old and seasoned as you. We are as familiar with scripture as you. Yet we simply do not believe the claims of the bible. We've heard all of the explanations. This doesn't have anything to do with wanting "freedom" to do as we please. Many of us struggled with belief for years before finally giving it up. Are you not aware of how difficult that period was for many of us? We simply find it impossible to any longer believe these stories in the bible.

Eventually the world is going to have to get past this. Even if the bible IS true its claims are too hard to believe. In short, it is perfectly reasonable to NOT believe the bible. Would a divine being make it so that it is perfectly reasonable to dismiss the story of Mount Sinai? There are too many questions surrounding this story. It is too difficult to believe even if we weren't told a voice came from a cloud. Why didn't Yahweh give these 613 laws to Adam and Eve? Why didn't he give them to the Canaanites LONG before they got involved in the religions Yahweh was so troubled by? Is the god depicted in scripture above blame for the status of the cultures the Israelites encountered in Canaan? No. He is directly at fault. Those people had no knowledge of him. He was "written on their hearts?" Then why did Yahweh give the Israelites 613 commandments in stark detail if they were already written on the people's hearts? Yahweh was under an obligation to give out these 613 laws at the very beginning to Adam and Eve or to Noah right after the flood. Yahweh waited far too long to give them out. He is without excuse. But you see, a divine being would not be so idiotic as to make a fundamental mistake like this. A being intelligent enough to create the universe would not stumble so badly. It's as easy as that to be perfectly justified in not believing Yahweh actually exists. I would be forced to think he is a buffoon otherwise. If a being created this universe he is certainly not a buffoon. Either there is a god and he is not the god depicted in scripture or there is no god at all. Yahweh is a joke that has been played on mankind for thousands of years. Come on Jacob. Let's get past this.

Unmolested Altar Boy said...

"If there were many different accounts of Sinai, you would complain that varying accounts means we can't know what actually happened."

That's straight up bullshit. Go learn how historical research works before you open up your shit cannon again.

Geez, that's something I learned as part of a basic high school education.

Are there non-American accounts of Valley Forge? Lafayette, Von Steuben, and others wrote about Valley Forge.

jewish philosopher said...

In my humble opinion, the idea of the revelation at Mount Sinai is perfectly reasonable. The public revelation of God’s identity and His laws occurred at the first moment that there existed a large group of people who were willing to commit themselves to it. This event is attested to not merely by the writings of one author, but rather by the tradition of the entire Jewish people. We know that in ancient times, there existed approximately one or two million Jews who unanimously believed that their ancestors had received the Torah at Sinai and who were prepared to die rather than deny this.

In addition to that, the Torah includes many indications of remarkable wisdom. The Torah is the first book in history to advocate monotheism and to advocate altruism. It is also the first book to be written using an alphabet rather than pictographs. The unique structure of Jewish literature also attests to the Sinai revelation.

Incidentally, I have no idea what my believing in God has to do with “the agony in the Middle East”. I am by the way, not a Zionist.

Regarding your comment that “Eventually the world is going to have to get past this.” The world has gotten far, far past the Torah. We have gotten to Auschwitz, Stalin, Pol Pot and 40 million abortions a year. We have gotten way past the Torah and we are going further every minute.

I am certain that abandoning the training of a lifetime and becoming a totally corrupt person has been difficult and stressful. Rejecting the reasonable teachings of the Torah and accepting the ridiculous drivel of evolution is not easy. You have my sympathies. Not.

Unmolested, many gentiles also were at Sinai. A mixed multitude left Egypt with the Israelites (Exodus 12:37).

badrabbi said...

"We know that in ancient times, there existed approximately one or two million Jews who unanimously believed that their ancestors had received the Torah at Sinai and who were prepared to die rather than deny this."

How do we know this?

jewish philosopher said...

The Arch of Titus commemorates the Roman sack of Jerusalem, for example.

My point is that the Sinai revelation is not based on the report of two or three guys but rather it is based on the tradition of millions of people.

James F. Elliott said...

Great piles of monkey poo, rabbi, and you call yourself a philosopher? You couldn't reason your way out of a wet paper bag by such claptrap as "there are only four accounts of the resurrection" and "oh, but there are many accounts of the revelation" (even though there's really only one). [And, yes, I'm paraphrasing you; grow up.] Have you even read a book on basic logic or reasoning?

jewish philosopher said...

Mr. Elliot, what you're saying would be true if the Sinai revelation was validated by the account of only one person. For example, if the Torah would have been been discovered by one individual while searching through a cave 2,000 years ago, something like the Dead Sea scrolls. In that case "there's really only one" person saying it all happened.

However in fact that is not the case. Rather, millions of Jews claimed that their parents told them about the revelation at Mount Sinai, and so on generation after generation going back 3,300 years ago as far as anyone knows. This is more similar to out knowledge of Valley Forge, rather than to our knowledge of the Resurrection of Christ.

This article might be enlightening.

Now, why don't you run along and go back to your marijana and pornography and leave serious topics like this for the discussion of sober adults.

badrabbi said...

For the sake of argument, let's agree that the God came down from a mountain, and gave the 10 commandments (or the Torah or whatever). Let's say that millions of people watched it happen and attest to it. OK!

But you must agree that Judaism practiced today is hardly the Judaism of the 5 books of the Torah. The Judaism of today is dominated by the rabbinic decrees of the Talmud.

How many people watched the Talmud being given to Jews by God?

badrabbi said...

I know that the Kuzari argument, which is what JP is attempting to make here, has been beaten to death. But here is another attempt:

Look at the cast system of the Hindus. These people segregate themselves into various casts and live their lives according to their cast status.

So now imagine that the first generation of Indians saying to the 'untouchables' that they are untouchable because their parents were also untouchable. They would be looking at each other saying "where did this come from? My fahter never told me this!" Yet many Indians buy into the cast system. How is that?

It is fair to say that until recently, the Hindus had bought into the cast system the same way that the Jews had bought into a Sinai revelation.

What is the difference between a tradition that claims that millions witnessed an event and a tradition that claims that millions of people belong to a given cast by heredity?

jewish philosopher said...

Many Torah commandments are very brief and clearly require further explanation. Which explanation has more credibility than the Talmud?

The Hindu caste system is apparently similar to the European system of nobility or the American pre-1960 system of racism. I don't think Hindus themselves consider it to be God given. It's just their way of life. Hinduism is a culture, not a religion. It's like saying "Americanism".

Incidentally, based on the comments which I am reading here, it would seem that one reason why the authenticity of the Sinai revelation is questioned is because there were not numerous written accounts of it rather than just one. Some would apparently like to see “Sinai: The Real Story” by Israel ben Rueben; “I Was There with Moses” by Joseph ben David, “One Day That Changed the World”, “Behind the Scenes at Sinai” and so forth and so on.

Personally, I don’t see how several accounts are better than one – the four gospels or forty gospels don’t convince me of Christianity more than one gospel would and if anything less. The contradictions which would inevitably be found in varying accounts would make the whole story less credible.

Instead, we have the entire Jewish people, from Yemen to Lithuania and from Portugal to Kiev, from Roman times until the present, uniting behind one precisely identical account of Sinai. I don’t know what more you could ask for.

badrabbi said...

"Many Torah commandments are very brief and clearly require further explanation. Which explanation has more credibility than the Talmud?"

JP, you missed the point. The question is: Did 2 million Jews see the Talmud being given as well?

jarhead0451 said...

Oh my dogs, I love this blog. Craptastic!!!
This has got to be a parody site, right??
JP is either really smart or very ignorant.

Soooo off topic, sorry.

jewish philosopher said...

Exodus 19 and 20 describes exactly what was seen and heard.

James F. Elliott said...

"Rather, millions of Jews claimed that their parents told them about the revelation at Mount Sinai..."

Um, you're an idiot.

There were not millions of anybodies around this time. A big collection of people would run in the tens of thousands at best. And you're relying upon a word-of-mouth history that was eventually codified and written down to out-argue a... word-of-mouth history that was eventually codified and written down. You can't even stay consistent in one comment!

"Now, why don't you run along and go back to your marijana and pornography and leave serious topics like this for the discussion of sober adults."

Stay classy. Would it surprise you to know that I've never touched marijuana?

What, an atheist who isn't a dope fiend and only has sex with his wife? However will you cope?

Idiot.

jewish philosopher said...

The divine origin of the Torah is based on a book and a tradition. It's something called "history".

The population at the time of the giving of the Torah is estimated to be about 27 million.

You're sobriety would be more credible if you started making sense.

badrabbi said...

Thanks for supplying the Torah reference, Exodus 19-20. There, it describes what happened at Mount Sinai. It describes what people heard at the mountain.

Take the event at face value for a moment. This is what the Torah says:


"And all the people perceived the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the voice of the horn, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled, and stood afar off.
And they said unto Moses: 'Speak thou with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people: 'Fear not; for God is come to prove you, and that His fear may be before you, that ye sin not.'

And the people stood afar off; but Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was."

So, even the Torah's description is vague regarding what people saw. The Torah says that the people (according to EX 19:14):
1. Perceived the thundering and the lightening.
2. The people heard the voice of the horn.
3. The people saw the mountain smoking.

This is all that they heard according to the Torah's version of what happened. Now, if you read the passage again and again as I have done, it is not clear whether they also heard the 10 commandments or whether Moses recounted it to the people. But let us be generous and assume that God also recited the commandments to the Jewish people.

My question stands: Where did 6 thousand pages of Talmudic law (which has trumped the Torah and which forms the basis for Jewish Orthodoxy) come from? Indeed where did the 5 books of Moses come from?

One thing is clear: From the account of the Torah itself, they did not come from God!

jewish philosopher said...

The experience at Mount Sinai validated Moses’ claim to prophesy. The Torah was later written in its entirety by Moses. Moses also obviously explained what the written law meant. That was later included in the Talmud.

Raz said...

A quick non-essential correction JP, Hinduism is a religious tradition very unlike Americanism. I know, not important but I figured I would put it out there, continue on with the arguing.

P.S.- someone touched upon this earlier but I’m still missing the exact logic. Why do you feel like all non-religious people or atheists are moronic, drug induced, sex crazed, bestiality loving maniacs? Aren’t there some good people who don’t believe in the Torah or G-d? And last, why do you have to resort to name calling rather then destroying others simply by the weight of your argument? I know it must be frustrating when people are rude to you, but try to brush it off a little better man, you are a Rabbi.

badrabbi said...

The point I am making is that the claim that the Jews witnessed a 'revelation' is incorrect. The people, according to the Torah itself, saw a smoky mountain, with thunder, lightening, and ram horn's droll.

This is all that the ancient Jewish people can be expected to testify. This is all that they could have legitimately told their children. They could not validate the Torah. They could not validate the Talmud. They can not even validate Moses' prophecy, as God, at Mount Sinai, did not notify the Jews that Moses is their prophet. Again, I stress that this is according to the Torah's own narrative.

So what exactly was the 'revelation' at Sinai? I do not know! What is clear, though, is that the revelation was not of the Talmud nor the 5 books of the Torah (even JP admitted that the Torah and the 'oral teachings' did not occur at Mount Sinai).
Therefore, one can not claim the collective Jewish experience at Sinai as evidence for Judaism's tennants.

In other words, the Sinai revelation, even if true, can not be the fundemental basis of Judaism.

jewish philosopher said...

Raz, I would say that atheists will do whatever feels good provided that it will not get them arrested. Why shouldn’t they? I thinks that’s the point, basically.

Regarding Hinduism being a religion in the Western sense, I’m not so sure. I think “culture” might be more accurate.

Bad, what you seem to be saying is that it could well be that Moses did indeed cause the ten plagues, split the Red Sea, bring down the tablets from Mount Sinai after the thunder and fire and smoke, brought down the manna yet lied about God having spoken to him. I don’t think that many people worry about that.

badrabbi said...

I must admit that I did not deal with the parting of the sea, ten plagues, and manna from heaven. I had confined my comments to the so-called 'Sinai-Revelation' and was commenting on your thread of Exodus 19.

What I was pointing out was 2 million people did not witness the giving of the Torah much less the oral Torah.

But now you have introduced other events. This is an entirely different subject.We can deal with this subject too, but just to put closure on the old one, let us agree that the Jewish people did not ALL see the transmission of the Torah from God.

JP can be right about the occurance of a thousand miracles and still he would not have shown the divine transmission of the Torah to the Jewish people with the latter serving as witnesses.

badrabbi said...

Now, regarding the other miracles. Let's deal with them one at a time:
The Midrash says that when God parted the sea of Reeds, in fact he parted EVERY body of water in the world. One rabbi once gave an example of even a Toilet bowl's water being parted at the time of the parting!

So, a guy could be sitting next to a lake in, say, Ecuador, and he would see the local body of water parting! Another guy could be sitting by a river in Rome and he would watch the river parting. Everywhere you looked in the world, if there was water, there was parting going on! The teaching is that God wanted the entire world to know of his grand miracle.

JP, if this Midrash is not true, please point it out. But I am sure you know that it IS true; such is the traditional oral teaching of the oral Torah.

Now, question: How come no one else wrote about it? How come there is no other record of this event anywhere else in the world? Remember that God's intentions were to make the whole world aware of his grandeur. So where else is this miracle noted?

Nowhere.

Now we come to the fundamental difference between local legends or myths and historical events. How does one vet the historicity of an alleged ancient occurrence? By looking for internal consistency, and by looking for multiple sources of evidence. When they are lacking, more likely than not, the story is a myth.

badrabbi said...

As for Manna from heaven, this is a rather sad saga in the Sinai desert....

The Torah recounts that God went the extra step of miraculously providing Manna so that people can eat from it in the desert of Sinai.

Yet people were unhappy with this food and constantly gripped about it to Moses. They said Manna was bland and not tasty. They said that in Egypt, they had fish and cucumbers and tasty food. Clearly manna could not compete with their diet as slaves in Egypt! They wanted MEAT.

So Moses went up to god and asked for some kind of other food to break the monotony. But God became very angry at this request! How dare they not like manna? He was indignant!

He said, and this is a almost a direct quote: "You want meat? I will give you meat until it comes out of your nostrils!"

God then proceeded to have quails rain down from the desert so that the people can eat meat. But the joke was on the people because the meat was poisoned or something and half the people died from the poisoned quail meat that God provided the poor gullible Jews of the Sinai!

Again, if I am not correct about this, please set me straight.

So.....

Is this the miracle of Manna from heaven? Granted that having snow-like food drop regularly from the sky is a miraculous event, but if you were an all powerful all good god, this is what you would do? This is the grandeur of God? This is a beneficence of the largess of God to be recounted to the next thousand generations? Mortal food poisoning and God's mass murder is the stuff that constitutes evidence that Jews witnessed for later transmission?

We are supposed to be impressed?

There are 2 possibilities: Either the story is highly embellished or grossly distorted, or God is a cruel sadomasochistic megalomaniac.

Cameron said...

JP: Some people....

CH: Nothing good ever comes from a sentence that begins with 'some people', 'kids these days', or 'back in the day'. It's always harbinger of bad logic.

JP: would like to claim that the Revelation at Mount Sinai was comparable to a Greek myth, for example the Iliad by Homer, in which the gods are described as interacting with humans.

CH: Enough with the some people, I'll make that claim. The revelation at Mt Sinai is a; myth, legend, story, fiction, fib, lie, prevarication and untruth. There you go, we have identified someone at last for you to actually argue with as opposed to the vague straw man of 'some people'.

JP: The truth is, however, that even in ancient Greece, those accounts were considered to be fictional by better educated Greeks.

CH: Interestingly the cognitive elites feel much the same way about stories regarding more modern gods! What a curious coincidence that smart people from all eras should congregate around a position that the gods are, in fact, not real!

JP: The stories are obviously just the literary creations of ancient Greek poets.

CH: Obvious from the lyrical and poetic qualities they possessed being songs and poems. There was another book composed of similar stories, songs and poems that had lyrical and poetic qualities...I'm sure it will come to me.

JP: Others might compare the Sinai revelation to the resurrection of Jesus.

CH: I will stand on this plank as well. The revelation at Mt Sinai is as much a story of fiction as the resurrection.

JP: The resurrection was, however, attested to only by the four authors of the gospels, who had every reason to lie and claim that their leader was not actually dead following his execution.

CH: WHAT!?!!? The people who wrote the BIBLE are LIARS? All this time you repeat the story of Adam and Eve like we should take it seriously insisting that it isn't metaphor, and so on, yet at the same time you feel that the authors are LIARS seeking to deceive us?

Do you not see the problem here?

JP: The revelation at Mount Sinai is more comparable, I believe, to the American Revolutionary War winter encampment at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

CH: Because God bringing the law to the people by mass revelation is so much like a battered army starving and cold that it barely merits mentioning except to avoid being gauche.

JP: [A personal footnote - very likely my mother's great-great-great-grandfather was at Valley Forge; a 17 year old private from New Jersey.]

CH: Reports of other soldiers finding him to be a 'friendly fellow' and of having an 'exceptionally pretty mouth' are no doubt exaggerated.

JP: Valley Forge is part of American history, just as the Mount Sinai revelation is part of Jewish history.

CH: And one is a well documented event in history where witnesses reported no supernatural events, personages, voices, delusions, tablets with writing, or even a rabbit being pulled from a hat.

The other, well, not so much.

JP: The only way that the Valley Forge encampment could have been fabricated would have been if the 12,000 soldiers in the American army would have all agreed to lie about what had happened to them.

CH: This is an acute example of how laughingly bad your logic is Jacob.

If the crossing of Valley Forge is a falsehood (never happened) you don't need the real 12,000 soldiers to lie about it - because it is a falsehood.

JP: By the same token, the Sinai revelation could have been falsified only if all the Israelites at that time would have conspired together to fabricate that event.

CH: It only takes one person to fabricate an event. It just takes one more to believe it is true and tell someone else that it is. Especially if you have a reason to want it to be true. As Carl Sagan said, 'Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence'. The claim of revelation to an entire nation at Mt Sinai is extraordinary - yet the only evidence you give us are the same text you claim are written by LIARS!

JP: Clearly, the only reason why it is questioned by some,

CH: Me! Me! I question it!

JP:...is because some people do not wish to accept any limitations on their freedom, however there is no rational reason to do so.

CH: Except I don't question it because I like to get hot women stoned on pot and have sodomy filled orgiastic threesomes while filming it all for my porn website - no I question it because it is impossible given basic reasoning skills to take your historical parallel seriously.

JP: Instead, we have the entire Jewish people, from Yemen to Lithuania and from Portugal to Kiev, from Roman times until the present, uniting behind one precisely identical account of Sinai. I don’t know what more you could ask for.

CH: If it is constancy you seek someone should introduce you to the Roman Catholic Church - you may have heard of them. They too hold a number of totally stupid things to be true - and they use the same stories as you do! You guys will get along great!

JP: Raz, I would say that atheists will do whatever feels good provided that it will not get them arrested. Why shouldn’t they?

CH: If this were true atheists would make up the largest prison population, and that scientists (who tend along with other professions to attract a disproportionate number of atheists) would be first in line as murder suspects and we all know they aren't.

Other counter evidence includes the fact that the most religious states in the US have the highest crime rates. Compare Massachusetts to Georgia or Texas.

Personally I suspect that religion plays only a 2-3% roll in preventing crime, whereas something like exposure to grinding poverty or the use of foodstamps correlates much more closely.

JP: I thinks that’s the point, basically.

CH: Consider it REJECTED

I gotta run, the sluts are firing up the really big bong and we're going to watch all the Max Hardcore movies we can before they are illegal.

Then we're gonna make one.

FedUp said...

I'm late, but I had to say that comparing Sinai to Valley Forge is a great comparison. The only difference is that the Sinai event never happened and Sinai is not locatable and Valley Forge did happen and is locatable.

Oh wait... now that I think of it, they aren't comparable at all! Silly me... that's what I get for thinking.

jewish philosopher said...

Bad, the splitting of the waters is not found in any history books written 3,300 years ago because there are no history books written 3,300 years ago. Where is the Thera eruption mentioned, for example?

About the quails, the moral is: every sin is punished and the punishment is always big.

Cam, true, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. However since it is obvious that a non-physical intelligent creator must exist, since otherwise we could not exist, it is hardly extraordinary that he would, at least on one occaision, chosen to identify himself.

Also, I said that "atheists will do whatever feels good provided that it will not get them arrested" and you responded "If this were true atheists would make up the largest prison population". That didn't even make sense.

I am curious to know however - does anyone know many convicted felons attended weekly religious services at the time of their crime compared to how many people in general attend weekly religious services? I would guess it's about 1% felons and 20% people in general. In other words, felons are far more secular than average. But I've never seen a survey.

jewish philosopher said...

Cam, by the way, you do know I'm Jewish and Jews do not consider the New Testment to be part of the Bible.

DrJ said...

Here's my two cents:

The arguments supporting the voracity of the Torah's claims go nowhere, regardless of traditions, claims of mass revelation, etc, given the poor track record of ALL historical records and traditions from 3500 years ago, across all cultures and nations.


But, most importantly, as a rational and logical person I simply don't believe in the supernatural. Period. No talking donkeys, angry Gods thundering from talking mountains, rivers turning into blood, prophets ascending to the heavens in chariots, or heavenly thrones of justice. Just like I don't believe in "energy" healing medicine or magic crystal therapy or colonic cleansing (other than the placebo effect).

IMHO all of you out there arguing against religious tradition have to come out unequivocally and unabashadly and say this! The obvious conclusion is that anybody who DOES believe in these things (despite their claimed critical and skeptical thinking) has suspended his reasoning faculties and therefore no amount of logical argument can possible convince him.

I recently ran across a very nice family who don't give their children any vaccines or floridated water. They were convinced that the whole thing is a conspiracy by big business to make money and poison their children and that these things have no health benefit No amount of rational explanation could convince them otherwise, including the fact that they were risking their children's (and other people's) health by refusing.

So when your dealing with a person who has decided to set aside reason and rationality, you might as well not waste your breath.

-"life is wasted on the living"
(Quote from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

BTW, am I the only one that is required to enter the graphic letters TWICE to get past the anti-phising?

DrJ said...

Another relavant quote for Hitchhiker's Guide:

"To summarize the summary of the summary: People are a problem."

The Torah (and Talmud) make claims of supernatural events, which run contrary to logic, reason and experience. It therefore cannot be believed.

If a thousant people came running to me TODAY claiming they saw a talking donkey, I would not believe them, let alone from thousands of years ago.

JP, you cannot skirt this issue. Regardless of your rants and learned criticisms regarding evolution, humanist ethics and atheism, you MUST believe in the aforementioned supernatural events.

How can you at the same time speak of the evidence regarding cosmology yet believe in talking donkeys and magic staff-serpents (or any of the other weird things documented in the bible)?

It is a dialogue of the deaf.

Joseph said...

You can compare the event at Mt. Sinai to Columbus discovering the world is round, which was similarly conveyed from generation to generation by a large number of people.

On the other hand, it didn't happen. The tradition that Columbus discovered the world is round was invented in the 19th century.

jewish philosopher said...

It’s fascinating to read the comments of atheists who have no trouble believing that they gradually developed spontaneously from mud or that the universe spontaneously popped out of nowhere, ideas which are completely irrational, while at the same time criticizing Jews for “irrationally” believing in the existence of non-physical entities .

The reason for this is obviously primarily hormonal. Any crazy idea seems completely reasonable to an addict.

badrabbi said...

Regarding the lack of historical record of bodies of water parting, note that a written book constitutes only one form of a record. There can be other records; drawing in caves, myths, songs, collective legends, etc., can be included as a record. Why wouldn't the American Indians or 3 thousand years ago leave some kind of record of splitting of bodies of water? Why not the Asians? etc.


As for God punishing the Jews in the desert for wanting meat, what exactly was the sin? Is not liking manna a sin?

If your child only grudgingly ate the lunch you prepared for him, saying that he does not like the meal, would you respond by killing your child?

Yet this is precisely what god did.

And DrJ, you are not the only one; We all have to write the graphic twice. It is annoying.

avrum68 said...

The point I am making is that the claim that the Jews witnessed a 'revelation' is incorrect. The people, according to the Torah itself, saw a smoky mountain, with thunder, lightening, and ram horn's droll.

BAD,

Either you don't know the Kuzari argument, or you're being sly, either way, you're wrong:

(Deut.4:9-13):
God spoke to you from the midst of the fire, you were hearing the sound of words, but you were not seeing a form, only a sound. He told you of His covenant, instructing you to keep the Ten Commandments, and He inscribed them on two stone tablets.'

(Deut. 4:32-36):
'You have been shown in order to know that God, He is the Supreme Being. There is none besides Him. From heaven he let you hear His voice in order to teach you, and on earth He showed you His great fire, and you heard His words amid the fire.'

(Deut. 5:1-4):
Not with our forefathers did God seal this covenant, but with us -- we who are here, all of us alive today. Face to face did God speak with you on the mountain from amid the fire.'

avrum68 said...

JP, you cannot skirt this issue. Regardless of your rants and learned criticisms regarding evolution, humanist ethics and atheism, you MUST believe in the aforementioned supernatural events.

I agree with Dr.J. Fundamentally, rational proofs for God (and love, values, friendship) are better approached with faith.

Luckily, I've experienced what Heschel describes as, a moment in time whereby:
“...we know is inadequate; whatever we say is an understatement…"
Granted, this only happened to me once. Yet this experience forced me to reconsider my assumed agnostic stance. And has continued to nurture my efforts to comprehend spiritual and material matters with different "tools".

DrJ said...

"they gradually developed spontaneously from mud or that the universe spontaneously popped out of nowhere,

There is a difference between trying to understand something complex (like relatively, quantum mechanics and the like) which is not necessarily intuitive, but for which there is natural evidence that can be measured, and on the other, believing in "non physical entities" --talking donkeys and serpent staffs, which are physically and logically impossible and for which there is no evidence (except religious texts)

"ideas which are completely irrational, while at the same time criticizing Jews for “irrationally” believing in the existence of non-physical entities ".

Understanding and accepting evolution is an option for atheists but not a requirement. Sometimes we can also just say, "I don't know", we don't need make believe stories about thundering mountains.

Its OK to say "WE DON'T KNOW". I don't have provide information or explanations that I don't have, and that certainly does not require me to believe in your "non-physical entities" (a nice code word for magic).

Using the term "non-physical entities" to describe physically or logically impossible events essentially bypasses logic. Once you call something a non-physical entity then it exempts you from passing any test of logic, reason or evidence. Its a non-physical entity, so ANYTHING is possible. Talking to rocks to get water? No problem. A 90 year old woman having a baby? No problem. A non-physical entity!

jewish philosopher said...

"Why wouldn't the American Indians or 3 thousand years ago leave some kind of record of splitting of bodies of water?" Maybe they did. A lot of stuff has been lost in the past 3,000 years.

About the manna and the quails, it’s very healthy to appreciate whatever God gives you.

DrJ, so how would you answer Holocaust deniers? Whatever proof you may bring for the Holocaust, they can answer "Well, that's interesting. I don't know how to explain it. I DON'T KNOW is a good answer. I don't have to believe in nonsense like gas chambers and six million senseless murders. I DON'T KNOW where all those Jews went, that’s all. I DON’T KNOW who forged all the documentary evidence supporting the Holocaust. But I know it didn't happen. It just couldn't have."

That's in essence your defense of atheism. Any evidence contradicting your belief system and lifestyle is just answered by "I DON'T KNOW".

If you have a chance, you may want to get together with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. You may find more common ground than you think.

DrJ said...

Say what you like, but as a Torah Jew you still must believe in ghosts, angels, a boat holding a pair of every known species of the animal kingdom, and reviving dead people; I believe in evidence and reason. "I DON'T KNOW" is not an excuse to dismiss evidence, like your holocaust denial analogy. It is an answer when we don't know something, period. Like what consciousness is in the brain, or how the cerebellum controls our sense of balance when walking, or how a concert pianist manages his brain. Some things, I am humble enough to say, I don't know. One day maybe we will, maybe not. But the Bible's claim of supernatural events, often used to explain history, simply cannot be believed by a rational person.

jewish philosopher said...

Why can't a young earth creationist just as validly argue "I don't know where the fossils came from. I don't have all the answers; so what?"

It seems obvious to me that you are so deeply in denial about the existence a divine judge and judgement that you simply brush aside any evidence to the contrary as being "unreasonable". I don't see how that differs from Holocaust deniers.

badrabbi said...

"About the manna and the quails, it’s very healthy to appreciate whatever God gives you."

Yes, but is the consequence of non-appreciation mass murder by poisoning? I sometimes think I am arguing with a child!

badrabbi said...

Avrum;

Your accusations of me not withstanding, my understanding of the Kuzari argument is that God came to Mount Sinai and gave the oral and presented his 'revelation' in front of millions of Jews as witnesses. The Kuzari argument states that if such a 'revelation' was falsely claimed, that the people would rise up and say that they have no such memory of events thus stated.

Is this not a correct understanding of the Argument of Kuzari? If not, Avrum, please enlighten me.

Now, what I am saying is as follows:

1. Even if we subscribe to such an argument - again that millions of Jews witnessed God's giving of the ten commandments - that does not provide a license for accepting the Torah and the Talmud. Neither of these was given at Sinai. Neither was given in front of millions of witnesses. Kuzari, therefore, does not apply to the Torah or the Talmud.

Please let me know what part of this is being 'sly' or wrong.

2. I pointed out in response to JP's presentation of Exodus 19, that the events described in the Torah do not explicitly mention that the 10 commandments were spoken by God to the Jewish people. Please read exodus 19 and you will see that what I am saying is correct.

Avrum, your citation of verses in Deuteronomy are well taken. However, please note that almost the entire book of Deuteronomy is a narrative of Moses recounting his experiences to the Jewish people. In other words, the verses that you are citing are Moses' words to the Jewish people, not God's words.

avrum68 said...

Avrum, your citation of verses in Deuteronomy are well taken.

They are not my words, nor my argument. Merely something that impressed me after reading Rabbi Gottlieb's work and others.

My issue with your comment(s) have to do with this statement:

The point I am making is that the claim that the Jews witnessed a 'revelation' is incorrect. The people, according to the Torah itself, saw a smoky mountain, with thunder, lightening, and ram horn's droll.

You either purposely left out Deuteronomy - to make the above point - or you weren't aware of the verses that debunk any notion that all the people experienced were volcanoes and lightening (which would be a pretty amazing thing in it's own right).

The facts are these BAD:

1) The Torah claims a mass revelation

2) The Torah claims that the people HEARD the words

To date, not one skeptic, not XGH, Jewish Atheist, et al, can demonstrate another religion with a similar claim in scope and/or depth.

Can you?

For more on this, I'd recommend this:
http://www.dovidgottlieb.com/publications.htm

But you probably won't

avrum68 said...

In other words, the verses that you are citing are Moses' words to the Jewish people, not God's words.

Bad,

Were any of the Jews, that heard Moses speech, alive during the revelation at Mount Sinai?

Yes or No?

Read the text!

badrabbi said...

"Were any of the Jews, that heard Moses speech, alive during the revelation at Mount Sinai?

Yes or No?"

YES! According to the Torah's narrative, at the end of 40 years, when the Jews are about to enter the promised land, Moses began his rant that is Deuteronomy. At that time, according to the Torah, ALL adult Jews that were in the desert had died, with the following exceptions:
1. Caleb
2. Joshua
3. Children who were less than 20 years old at the time of the escape from Egypt.

Said another way, according to the Torah, the only people who could possible have witnessed and testified the 'revelation' were Joshua, Caleb, and a horde of minors.

The kuzari argument breaks down since there were only 2 adults and a bunch of minors (ie <20 years old) that supposedly witnessed the 'revelation'.

But again, my main point was that even if the 'revelation' is proven - and for the reasons above I have shown that it has not - it could not be a source for the legitimacy of the Torah and the Talmud since at best the people witnessed only the 10 commandments.

Avrum, have I answered your question fully? If not please let me know.

avrum68 said...

BAD,

One final word. Many years ago, when I was waddling between agnosticism and atheism, I too needed to debunk the unique features of TMS. My desire to do so had nothing to do with God (I found the idea silly), and everything to do with the fear that, if these claims were compelling, they could be used to fuel anti-Jewish sentiments. I believe this argument was used by Richard L. Rubenstein, author of After Auschwitz.

Ultimately, I had to answer the following question:
Whatever scenario I came up with (to debunk the unique claims put forward by the Kuzari), I faced a challenge. And the challenge was...

If it's so natural for an entire people to think they or their ancestors heard God speak, why didn't it happen to other nations? Why did it only happen once?

I had no answer.
I still don't.

Do you?

avrum68 said...

test? Have the comments stopped working?

avrum68 said...

Jacob,
Odd, any comment more than a few words is not being posted.

avrum68 said...

Bad,

I'm posting my knock-out punch on your site ;)

avrum68 said...

at the end of 40 years, when the Jews are about to enter the promised land, Moses began his rant that is Deuteronomy

This is true.

avrum68 said...

ALL adult Jews that were in the desert had died, with the following exceptions... Children who were less than 20 years old at the time of the escape from Egypt

BAD, given the numbers documented in the Torah, how many, oh say, 14 - 19 year olds could have been present at Mount Sinai?

avrum68 said...

Ok, blogger sucks so bad...argh.

BAD, my post (which will not post) ends with a question:

Provide me with a research paper, clinical data that demonstrates adults don't remember events (never mind God speaking to them) from their adolescence. As a clinician and researcher, I'd be more than amazed... hell, I'd start looking for new work.

avrum68 said...

Oops, my error. I forgot a "closing tag for bold". Jacob, you can delete my comments above this one. Thanks.

at the end of 40 years, when the Jews are about to enter the promised land, Moses began his rant that is Deuteronomy

This is true.

ALL adult Jews that were in the desert had died, with the following exceptions... Children who were less than 20 years old at the time of the escape from Egypt

BAD, given the numbers documented in the Torah, how many, oh say, 14 - 19 year olds could have been present at Mount Sinai?

and a horde of minors

BAD,

As a psychotherapist and consultant, I've work with "minors" for more years than I care to remember. If nothing else, they are capable of remembering one thing: THE LIES OF THEIR PARENTS. Having worked with adults as well, I can attest to their remarkable memory for events that occurred during childhood.

I remember my adolescents quite well, and if someone said to me, say at age 45:

Remember when you went to sleep-away camp, and we hired 500 whores to satisfy all the campers, staff and kitchen help, those were mighty good times huh?

I'd remember that. Oy, would I remember that.

The kuzari argument breaks down since there were only 2 adults and a bunch of minors (ie <20 years old) that supposedly witnessed the 'revelation'

The Kuzari argument works exactly for the reasons you say it doesn't.

Sorry BAD, you're going to lose this one. You'll have to provide me with a study, some compelling research... that would nullify everything I've experienced, in grad school and as a clinician, working with teens and adults.

and for the reasons above I have shown that it has not

You actually proved the point I was going to make (but beat me to it), so in a sense, I should thank you.

Avrum, have I answered your question fully? If not please let me know.

You have. And now I await your research that will turn the fields of psychology, psychiatry, and social work on it's head.

Waiting...

jewish philosopher said...

Bad, I think what you're asking is do I believe that being ungrateful for the manna is worthy of a death penalty. I would say, yes.

Regarding the validity of the Torah, I would say that if Moses performed all the miracles described in Exodus and then gave the Jews the Torah as described in Deuteronomy, that's proof enough for me.

avrum68 said...

BAD...

You commented on JP's latest post at:
Monday, June 16, 2008 1:44:00 PM

Your last comment on this thread occurred at:
Monday, June 16, 2008 12:13:00 AM

That would've given you at least 24 hours to wikipedia something to debunk my claim that adults DO recall their adolescence quite well.

I'm waiting...

If you can't, they I'm assuming you've conceded that the Kuzari is a compelling argument, one you CHOOSE to ignore. Not due to facts, but due to bias.

badrabbi said...

Avrum;

First, regarding your last comment:

I was not a mathematics major in college, but as you said, I replied to your post at 12:13 AM last night. It is now 3:55 PM NY time, so that some 16 hours or so have passed, not "at least 24 hours..."

I do have to sleep. I do also have to go to the bathroom (contrary to what you might think), and in fact I do have a job.

But to alleviate your anxiety, I will respond quickly to you.

My understanding of what you are saying is that minors serve as good witnesses. This is what you are saying, right? OK. I need not dispute this with you.

Let us agree, though, that the kuzari argument is based solely on the eyewitness accounts of minors. Can we agree on this?

avrum68 said...

Let us agree, though, that the kuzari argument is based solely on the eyewitness accounts of minors. Can we agree on this?

You are incorrect. The Kuzari can only be understood by passages in Exodus and Deuteronomy. But you know the arguement, so we don't have to go through it line by line.

My reason for focusing on the Deuteronomy passages, was your implication that adults should be trusted over adolescents vis-a-vis recalling significant events. Not only do I disagree, I'd say that, given 40 years passed since TMS, the youth who witnessed the event, and were listening to Moses, are now between 50 - 60. Curious, would you trust the memory of a 90-100 year old over the memory of a 40-50 year old? I didn't think so.

This debate is over until you can provide legitimate data that proves adults can not recall events from their youth (14-19).

If you find such research, then we can address the following question:

If it's so natural for an entire people to think they or their ancestors heard God speak, why didn't it happen to other nations? Why did it only happen once?

badrabbi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
avrum68 said...

Jacob,

Why are you deleting comments?

badrabbi said...

"If you can't, they I'm assuming you've conceded that the Kuzari is a compelling argument, one you CHOOSE to ignore. Not due to facts, but due to bias."

THe Kuzari argument has a thousand things wrong with it; it is not compelling for a ton of reasons. Arvurm, where have you been? Please look at our previous posts where we have attacked the Kuzari from various angles.

I think my last attack exposes yet another weakness of the Kuzari argument in that the Kuzari relies on the testimony of minors. Remember that you are relying on the testimony of minors for the verification of the most fundamental tenants of Judaism.

Also, you have got to be kidding with your interpretation that because I did not reply to a particular comment of yours within 24 hours then I would be conceding a particular argument. I have never shied from concession if the argument is compelling. For example, in the latest blog post of JP, we are talking about the genealogy of Joshua. I have my source, and he has his. I am not married to my argument (thought I suspect that he is), and am open to understanding the discrepancy that seems to be apparent in the Torah narrative. If JP proves his point, then so be it. If not, not!

But look at what you are asking me now: You are saying that in your experience that minors have good memories. Therefore, I should concede my point! You miss the point that minors, no matter how credible, constitute less than ideal witnesses. Even the American criminal and civil courts would not rely solely on the testimony of children for conviction of serious offenses, let alone establishing profound earth shaking mystical events such as miracles and divine law giving.

Finally, you point to 'bias' as my motivation for my arguments. Avrum, I began my life as a fairly religious Jew. That I have aligned my thoughts to atheism is a product of study. Judaism (as all religions) have been fed down our throats as little children. If there is a bias, it would have been in favor of my tradition as a religious man.

avrum68 said...

BAD,

I just read your comment via GMAIL. You claim:

It is not compelling for a ton of reasons.

This may or may not be true. But we're not debating a "a thousand things" but your comment, which stated:

The point I am making is that the claim that the Jews witnessed a 'revelation' is incorrect. The people, according to the Torah itself, saw a smoky mountain, with thunder, lightening, and ram horn's droll

I proved you wrong, and I justified my response with p'shat and an elementary understanding of adolescence.

This will be my last comment on this issue.

Cognitive dissonance is a bitch, huh BAD?

badrabbi said...

"This debate is over until you can provide legitimate data that proves adults can not recall events from their youth (14-19)."

Classic straw man argumentation. Indeed the debate is over!

badrabbi said...

I appreciate that this is your last comment on this issue. Good for you.

And yes cognitice dissonance is indeed a bitch. I am having trouble chasing your arguments.

Now you want to deal with my comment that according to the Torah the Jewish people saw a "smoky mountain, with thunder, lightening, and ram horn's droll".

Avrum, you need only go to Exodus 19, where this is enumerated in exact order. My wording above is a very close paraphrasing of the Torah. Why then am I incorrect?

You point to Deuteronomy, pitting one verse of the Torah against another. I merely pointed out that Deuteronomy is merely Moses' words, whereas Exodus supposedly is God's words. According to god, people did not see the 'revelation' of the Torah. They may (and I stress MAY because it is not clear) heard the 10 commandments only. OK?

And Avrum, what's with the tone? You write as if you want to start a fight. This is an intellecual discussion. It should be dispassionate and respectful. But why would an atheist like me have to lecture you, a religious guy, on manners?

BTW, to his credit, JP did not delete the above comment. I did, after realizing that there were too many grammar errors. I cleaned it up and reposted it.

avrum68 said...

You miss the point that minors, no matter how credible, constitute less than ideal witnesses

BAD, do you even bother reading my comments. I said this:

"...given 40 years passed since TMS, the youth who witnessed the event, and were listening to Moses, are now between 50 - 60. Curious, would you trust the memory of a 90-100 year old over the memory of a 40-50 year old?"

...would not rely solely on the testimony of children

Children, or teens? The difference is profound. I don't remember much about the first 9 years of my life, but I sure as hell can recall the teen years. And barring serious brain damage, so can all of my adult patients. Please provide evidence to contradict this... PLEASE.

avrum68 said...

merely pointed out that Deuteronomy is merely Moses' words,

It is the crux upon which your comment:

The point I am making is that the claim that the Jews witnessed a 'revelation' is incorrect. The people, according to the Torah itself, saw a smoky mountain, with thunder, lightening, and ram horn's droll

fails.

So once again, show me the evidence? Provide a study that claims that adults can not recall significant events from their adolescence.

BAD... do you have a study to show?

Yes or No?

avrum68 said...

To clarify, Moses is telling a group of people that they:

"...heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice."
- Deuteronomy 4:12

Why is there no record of the adults (then teens) saying:

"Sorry Moses, I recall the fire, the lightening, etc., but no words"

Remember, this is a document that never shies away from documenting all the rebellion and kofer-esque activity being engaged in by the Hebrews.

badrabbi said...

Avrum;

You are making this way too complicated. I am going to take one more stab at this:

1. I grant you that youngsters have a very good memory and their minds are sharp. OK? Good? Have I succeeded in making you happy?

Now can you admit to me that the witnesses to the Sinai event, those who survived were minors? As you would say, YES or NO?

True, when they came to need to witness the aforementioned event they were in fact 50 years old or so, but the event to which they are testifying occurred when they were youngsters.

The situation is similar to an adult testifying to his memories of a murder that took place when he was a child.

Now, still, there must have been some people, between the age of 18-20, who witnessed the event and can credibly testify to it. But, note now that you are no longer talking about an event that was witnessed by millions of witnesses, but rather by a handful of people.

Do you get the point?

2. Please note that I am enumerating my comments to indicate that they are separate issues. Now, the following is a separate issue. Keep these clear so that we can discuss them intelligently:

In Exodus 19, it says what people saw and heard things. They heard thunder, lightening, and they saw smoke. They may have even heard God stating the ten commandments. OK? Are we in agreement? I am not sure why you are arguing with me on this point. I am not even sure to which point you are arguing.

Now, what I am saying is that the people who 'heard' something, certainly, CERTAINLY, did not hear the Torah. Nor did they hear the Talmud being recited by God.


Avrum, if you disagree with what I am saying, be precise. What exactly is it that you are not agreeing with? Take your time and explain it fully, since I am not getting your point.

Cameron said...

Avrum: If it's so natural for an entire people to think they or their ancestors heard God speak, why didn't it happen to other nations? Why did it only happen once?

CH: What planet do you live on? Every region of the world is filled with people whose ancestor (and on occasion living citizens) speak with their deities.

Not to mention that hospital wards are positively chock full of people who speak to imaginary beings.

Planet Avrum: Why is there no record of the adults (then teens) saying:

"Sorry Moses, I recall the fire, the lightening, etc., but no words"

CH: How do can you tell the truth from a lie when the only document you consult is the one you are trying to verify? You can't bootstrap the truth of the Torah up by the words of the Torah - you must have outside confirmation.

Given that the events in question involve supernatural beings, the ultimate moral laws of the cosmos, etc, you are going to need to find something other than the story itself. Complaining 'why would they lie'? is insufficient - because they might lie for a world of reasons not to mention been tricked, or been fictitious. Nor is suggesting that they are somehow unimpeachable expert witnesses. If the events they witness were a murder it would not be sufficient to convict on the testimony of the book alone, and God is several orders of magnitude more nebulous than murder.

badrabbi: Also, you have got to be kidding with your interpretation that because I did not reply to a particular comment of yours within 24 hours then I would be conceding a particular argument

CH: Call it their 'moving goalposts' trick.

"Oh you may be so suave with all your logic and intelligence and books smarts bad, but you didn't respond within the pico-second available so I get to pretend that I won."

Intellectual honesty isn't in a surplus around here, but it makes you wonder.

avrum68 said...

I grant you that youngsters have a very good memory and their minds are sharp. OK? Good? Have I succeeded in making you happy?

So this:

The point I am making is that the claim that the Jews witnessed a 'revelation' is incorrect.

is false. And this is because:

One of thousand upon thousands of adults (then adolescents) would have corrected Moses and said: "Uh, sorry, I don't recall any voices telling me anything." Remember, this is a book that has no problem remiding people where they fall short.

So as far as I'm concerned this debate is finished. But I do thank you for being honest.

avrum68 said...

What planet do you live on? Every region of the world is filled with people whose ancestor (and on occasion living citizens) speak with their deities.

Cameron, before you lose this arguement, have you, or have you not, studied the Kuzari argument? If not, read this:
http://www.dovidgottlieb.com/publications.htm

Not to mention that hospital wards are positively chock full of people who speak to imaginary beings.

Funny you should mention that, I work on an early-psychosis team, and my wife is a psychiatrist. So I have some authority in these matters.

Cameron, I believe you sell sports equipment, yes? Or consult on how to sell more sports equipment. What authority/experience do you have vis-a-vis the diagnostic categories of Axis 1 disorders and the cultural factors that would dissuade a clinician from making said diagnosis?

How do can you tell the truth from a lie when the only document you consult is the one you are trying to verify? You can't bootstrap the truth of the Torah up by the words of the Torah - you must have outside confirmation.

Cameron... if it's so easy to fabricate, why didn't other religions (the one's we know of and have survived) use mass revelation as their foundation? This isn't to say that one person can not have a profound religious experience. Rather, from a rationalist perspective, it's hard to prove.

Complaining 'why would they lie'? is insufficient - because they might lie for a world of reasons not to mention been tricked, or been fictitious

Ok, so you don't know about the Kuzari arguement, nor much about Judaism.

I'm ending this debate very shortly.

Intellectual honesty isn't in a surplus around here, but it makes you wonder.

Yes, it does. Why a grown adult would spend time debating ideas he thinks aren't worth the time of day. Do you have so much time on your hands Cameron? Are you lonely? Do you have a crush on Jacob? I mean, your not even Jewish. Much to wonder about, huh?

badrabbi said...

Avrum;

I know you are a psychologist and your wife is a psychiatrist. I also gather that you are somewhat religious.

But you are guilty of the following:

1. You are supremely arrogant: OK, so you have a degree in something. And your wife is an MD. Good for you! Somehow this has formed the basis for you to think you are above us mere mortals. Somehow, because you have a degree makes you know more about something. Well, poppycock, my friend. In the months that I have been trolling this blog, I have read the posts of both you and the people you denigrate, such as Cameron. I invite the audience to compare the level of intellect that permeates your and Cameron's content. Degree or no degree, your and Cameron’s writing is like comparing a grade schooler with a scholar. I invite others to draw their own conclusion.

Somehow, because Cameron sells sporting goods or something makes him less than qualified to talk about religious or psychological matters? This is the dictionary definition of Appeal to Authority, a logical fallacy that should be readily apparent to all readers.

You then accuse Cameron of being lonely and state that he should have no interest in religion since religion is false. Yes Judaism, like all religion, is false. This hardly means that we have no interest in it. (I do not mean to speak for Cameron as he likely would do a better job than I in his response, but I can not help being indignant about this). On the contrary, religion is fascinating for many reasons. For one thing, to me it is fascinating to what extremes otherwise perfectly reasonable people would go to protect and defend nonsensical religious ideas. Thus, your attack of Cameron’s interest in religion is a fallacious (though I can not remember the formal name of the fallacy).

2. You are supremely arrogant (yes you deserve it twice!): Every time we carry a conversation on the comment posts, you continue to repeat “this discussion is over unless…” You do this as if you are deigning to talk to a lowly guy such as I – that you are doing me a favor by even talking to me.

So, Avrum, stop commenting then!

If you want to have a meaningful discussion, relax, take your time, and discuss things intelligently, without this air of self-importance. I have explained myself several times. I have even admitted to you your anxiously asked question regarding the memory of youngsters. Note though, that in the very next sentence after my admission I asked you a question, and of course, you ignored it.

3. You tend to psychoanalyze people too much on this site: I suggest you stop this, firstly because it is boring! We do not want to be psychoanalyzed by you. We are not lonely, we are not longing for this or that, our parents did not beat us up, and we have not a penis complex. OK? I don’t see Cameron offer you sporting goods, so please do not offer us your psychobabble.

Now, if you have something to say besides air, please do so. Otherwise, you are right, this conversation is over.

avrum68 said...

Somehow, because Cameron sells ...
...and the people you denigrate, such as Cameron
You then accuse Cameron...
Thus, your attack of Cameron’s

Do you also hold Cameron's wee wee while he pee's BAD? Is this some form of secular Tikun Olam?

But since we're talking about our goyishe friend Cameron...

At best, he's misinformed and should take an intro to Judaism course. At worst, he's got a thing for Jews. Why would a non-Jewish atheist spend time commenting on an Orthodox Jewish site? Now granted, Jacob is a caricature of the worst kind of OJ, so he's an easy target. Perhaps that's it.

And to continue with:

Planet Avrum:

and then end with:

Intellectual honesty isn't in a surplus around here, but it makes you wonder.

goes unmentioned in your Mussar speech.

You're a hypocrite BAD. As well, you may have fared better in our debate if you choose any of the following arguments (see counter-arguments):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuzari_Principle

badrabbi said...

Avrum;

Shame on you. I expected a better reply that the wee wee comment, from a degree holding religious person no less.

As usual, you continue to psychoanalyze our motivations rather than deal with what we say. This after my admonishing you to stop the psychobabble stuff.

If you think that I lost the Kuzari argument, OK Avrum. If it makes you feel better than you have won, I will let you.

However, the fact remains - and you have not shown anyone otherwise - that:

1. The the So-called "Sinai Revelation" constitutes, at best, the giving of the 10 commandments, not the Torah, and not the Talmud.

2. The "Sinai Revelation" is reputed to have been witnessed by 2 million people. However, even if you go by Torah's own words, the witnesses who could have lived to tell about it consituted mostly children. If you want to argue that children or adolescents make for good witnesses, go right ahead, and frankly I would not argue. Only understand that the witnesses, even by Torah word, are mainly children.

3. I am well aware of other arguments against Kuzari. I and others have written about it for months. Your coming along and pointing out the same stuff that we have writing about is being childishly uninformed. It's ok, one can not expect you or any one to read every little post on this blog. But feel free to go to previous comments and you will see that the Kuzari has been discussed at length. My pointing to the adolescent nature of the witnesses is yet another nail in the coufin of the Kuzari.

3. You continue to be arrogant.

badrabbi said...

I await a characteristic comment like: "You wrote 3 twice! that means you have psychological issues. I win!"

avrum68 said...

I await a characteristic comment like: "You wrote 3 twice! that means you have psychological issues. I win!"

Not so. I won because I demonstrated how thousands upon thousands of adults would claim they DID NOT hear anything close to what Moses describes in Deuteronomy. Again, the Torah records all sorts of malfeasance and ill-behaviour, I see no reason why this pattern would stop now.

And since my expertise is in addictions and bipolar disorder amongst adolescence, I could recommend a number of books that will help you differentiate between children and teenagers. Adolescents are not children... not in my hospital, and not in the Torah.

I expected a better reply that the wee wee comment, from a degree holding religious person no less

And I'd expect atheists would make better use of their time than debating caricatures like Jacob.

As usual, you continue to psychoanalyze our motivations

A hazard of the trade...

rather than deal with what we say

You do realize that what people say is far less interesting (and telling) - than what they wear, do, etc. For example, Jacob's profile is, by far, more telling than anything he posts on this blog.

If it makes you feel better than you have won, I will let you.

It does actually. Mostly because my belief is hodge podge of a personal transcendent experience and faith (which is why I moved from an atheist to an agnostic theist position). Something that is not worth arguing.

That I proved your assertion:

the Jews witnessed a 'revelation' is incorrect.

is false, was a nice way to start my week. To be fair, the arguement was used against me, so I can't take credit for any of it.

The the So-called "Sinai Revelation" constitutes, at best, the giving of the 10 commandments

If you're a pshat fundamentalist, perhaps.

and not the Talmud

We agree.

The "Sinai Revelation" is reputed to have been witnessed by 2 million people

According to pshat (Exodus), that's who was there. But our debate centred around passages in Deuteronomy.

who could have lived to tell about it consituted mostly children

No. According to Torah one million plus adults (and Lord knows how many children and adolescents) witnessed the event. What the adults, then adolescents, help clarify, is the passage about "hearing God speak". For if they didn't hear the words, they would have said so.

If you want to argue that children or adolescents make for good witnesses, go right ahead

Equating the cognitive/emotional/physical attributes of children and adolescents is akin to equating the health benefits of crack cocaine and broccoli. I mean, they both go in your mouth, right?

Only understand that the witnesses, even by Torah word, are mainly children.

Only in your mind. According to Exodus, one million plus were present. And those adults most certainly taught their children about this event.

The issue at hand isn't "mass revelation", but rather the statement that "you" heard God speak words.

My pointing to the adolescent nature of the witnesses is yet another nail in the coufin of the Kuzari

Unfortunately for you:

* the witnesses were one million plus adults

* the adults most certainly taught their children about the event

* the adolescents (13-19) would have had the cognitive skills to understand the event

* when Moses stated "you heard God speak", one of the thousands upon thousands of adults (who were adolescents at Sinai) would have said: "Uh, no we didn't".

You continue to be arrogant M

I concede that point.

On that note, I'll leave you to battling the angst-ridden soul of our host. Whom I truly, and sincerely, feel sorry for.

badrabbi said...

OK, Avrum, whatever you say.