Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Spies Narrative


[the land of milk and honey]

This Saturday morning Jews all over the world will read the account of the Twelve Spies (Numbers 13 and 14) in their synagogues.

The story is basically as follows: After leaving Egypt, receiving the Torah and building the Tabernacle, the Israelites are poised to enter the Land of Canaan. However, at the last moment, they mutiny and refuse to invade. It’s as if all 200,000 troops involved in the Normandy Landings refused to go at the last minute. God punishes the Israelites by forcing them to remain in the desert for forty years.

In my humble opinion, a story like this clearly validates the authenticity of the Torah narrative. Why would this story have been falsified? Why would the entire Jewish people have accepted it as fact? Why would some Jewish priest have sat in the Temple 2,700 years ago and fabricate this story from thin air? How would the Jewish people have reacted when presented with this never before heard story? “Oh, this is wonderful! Our ancestors were all cowards! That is so plausible!”

The correct explanation seems to be obvious: The Torah is true.

92 comments:

badrabbi said...

My reading of the Parasha is as follows:
God ordered 12 spies to scout the land. Moses asked them to go and get the lay of the land, its people and its fruit. The spies come back and say that the land is nice and the fruit tasty, but the enemy is strong. So people get scared and panic. They want to kill Moses and go back to Egypt. So God gets angry and wants to kill all the people. Moses talks Gid out of his planned genocide. So God says OK, I wouldn't kill them right away, I will kill all the adults slowly over a 40 year span! And he does it!

Now JP uses this story to demonstrate that the Torah must 'obviously' be true!

If nothing else, this post makes for good (tragic) comedy.

badrabbi said...

By the way, something has always bothered me about Joshua son of Nun.

In Chronicles, Chapter 6, the following is mentioned as far as the genealogy of Moses:

Abraham (1) --> Isaac (2) --> Jacob (3) --> Levi (4) --> Kohath (5) --> Amram (6) -->Moses (7), Aaron and Miriam.

In Chronicles chapter 7, the following is mentioned about the genealogy of Joshua:

Abraham (1) --> Isaac (2) --> Jacob (3) --> Jpseph (4) --> Ephraim (5)--> Rephah (6) --> Resheph (7) --> Telah (8) --> Tahan (9)--> Ladan (10) --> Ammihud (11) --> Elishama (12) --> Nun (13) and --> Joshua (14)

So, Moses was the 4th generation after Jacob, and Joshua was the 11th generation after Jacob! Yet in many stories in the Torah, including the story of the spies, they are contemporaries!

How is that?

DrJ said...

HI Bad,

My suggested answer for JP to your question:

"Non-physical entities".

It explains everything.

DrJ said...

JP,

In every story there are good guys and bad guys, villains and heroes. The Torah stories are no different in this regard.

These stories served, among other things, to explain to the writer's contemporaries how things came to be.

I certainly hope that your faith in the truth of the Torah doesn't rest on that argument. It is certainly to the Jewish people's credit that we don't censure our books be leaving out unpleasant aspects of our history, but it proves nothing about the voracity of the story.

WIth regard's to your temple priest, you misrepresent and completely misunderstand the documentary hypothesis by saying he pulled the story out of thin air. There were existing legends, stories, traditions, and even some texts, which were eventually coelesced in written down. But even if this were not the case, as we know, people will believe anything as can be seen in other religions far less credible.

One can almost make a kal v'chomer!! Given that the world's population was able to believe in blantantly foolish things without proof, such as paganism, other religions, etc, HOW MUCH MORE SO, Judaism, giving a somewhat more plausable story (true or not), would be able to be believed!!??

DrJ said...

Sorry about all the errors in grammer....

jewish philosopher said...

"These stories served, among other things, to explain to the writer's contemporaries how things came to be. "

OK, what does the Spies narrative explain? Why they had to remain in the desert 40 years, which atheists today claim never happened?

DrJ said...

It explains and sets the stage for the role of Judah and Yosef/Efraim in the leadership of the Jewish people.

Also, let me clarify that the need to explain how things came to be is not the only reason for stories. Clearly there were moral/historical/ethical messages as well.

jewish philosopher said...

If so, this was an odd way to do it. Only Caleb and Joshua are exonerated and neither was a founder of any dynasty.

DrJ said...

The future tribe/region of Ephraim was the dominant force in the Northern/Israel Kindgom, and Judah in the south...basic biblical history.

So imagine a Jew living in the late biblical period, say during the first temple period, asking, how did it come to be, that there were 2 Hebrew kingdoms, led by Judah and Ephraim, with many gentiles still living in the land, despite God gifting it to the Jews? The ancient biblical story, as written in the text given to him, (along with threads of existing legends) explains it.

Biblical scholars call this "etiological"-- when the text explains why things are the way they are now. Like why does it hurt to have a baby? Because of Eve's sin.

jewish philosopher said...

The Book of Kings explains exactly why the kingdom divided. The spy story is a disgrace for the entire Jewish nation and entirely unneeded.

badrabbi said...

any takers on the timeline issue with regards to Moses and Joshua?

jewish philosopher said...

Bad, according to the Malbim, Joshua's lineage was Abraham (1) --> Isaac (2) --> Jacob (3) --> Joseph (4) --> Ephraim (5)--> Shuthelah (6) --> Beriah (7) --> Ammihud (8) --> Elishama (9) --> Non (10) and --> Joshua (11)

Based on Jewish traditional chronology, we know that Ephraim was alive when Jacob came down to Egypt in 1523 BCE while Joshua his fourth great grandson was born 168 year later. This is not unrealistic. I was born in 1960 and my fourth great grandparents were born mostly about 1780.

Moses ancestors apparently had children at later ages.

DrJ said...

The question is not why the kingdom divided, but why Ephraim and Yehuda were dominant. Because of Jacob's blessing to Ephraim, Josephs personal qualities, Ephraim's spy leader leader not giving a bad report about Israel, and Yehuda's attempts to save Joseph from the pit.

Since God doesn't reward people by chance, there had to be a theological reason why these tribes were strong. Furthermore, the desert story explains the prolonged presence of foreign influence and idolatry in the land-- for if the Hebrews leaving Egypt had been "good" they would have been brought straight to the promised land and vanquished all of the inhabitants. That they could not/would not completely destroy all foreign presence needs an explanation. So the despicable behavior of some tribal ancestors, and the honorable behavior of others, provide the needed explanations.

badrabbi said...

JP,

Wait, am I misinterpreting Chronicles Chapter 7? Where did Melbim get his source? Where did you get the chronology og the genealogy?

jewish philosopher said...

DrJ, only one individual from Judah and Ephraim are exonerated in the spies’ narrative. The remainder of those tribes sinned. Also, that merit is never stated anywhere as being a reason for the prominence of Judah and Ephraim. God told Samuel to anoint David and He told Ahijah to chose Jeroboam. The appointments had nothing to do with Joshua and Ephraim who lived four or five centuries earlier and who were not their ancestors.

Bad, I have a link to the chronology and Malbim has a slightly different interpretation of Chronicles.

jewish philosopher said...

I think the same could be said regarding the story of the selling of Joseph and the story of the Gold Calf, however the spy narrative seems to be an even more blatant example. Unless the spy narrative is historical fact, and was recorded by an immensely prestigious author, it’s seems incredible that we would be retelling this humiliating story again and again each year in our synagogues. Is there any community anywhere that has ever observed a demeaning ritual like this?

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

It seems that I have been mistaken regarding Joshua's genealogy: I missed Beriah, the son of Ephraim. Thus, the geneology becomes:

Abraham (1) --> Isaac (2) --> Jacob (3) --> Jpseph (4) --> Ephraim (5)--> Beriah (6) --> Rephah (7) --> Resheph (8) --> Telah (9) --> Tahan (10)--> Ladan (11) --> Ammihud (12) --> Elishama (13) --> Nun (14) and --> Joshua (15)

I get the above from Chronicles, chapter 7:

Then he ([Efraim])went in to his wife, and she conceived and bore a son, and he named him Beriah, because misfortune had come upon his house. 24 His daughter was Sheerah, who built lower and upper Beth-horon, also Uzzen-sheerah. 25 Rephah was his son along with Resheph, Telah his son, Tahan his son, 26 Ladan his son, Ammihud his son, Elishama his son, 27 Non his son and Joshua his son.


Is this open to interpretation? Is chronicles wrong? What am I missing?

badrabbi said...

The spy story is interesting. God Herself told Moses to send spies to the land to gather information. Upon the command of God and Moses, the spies went to the foreign lands. The spies, it seems did a good job of gathering information. They came back and essentially told the truth. It does not appear that they were lying. At least the Torah does not contradict their testimony. Even Caleb and Joshua seemed to agree with their reports, albeit they were more upbeat about their chances of defeating the enemy.

So what is the issue? What should the spies have done? Should they have lied about what they saw? Should they have given falsely optimistic reports?

Why send the spies if you are not willing to hear what they have to say?

Now, it seems that people who heard the reports panicked and over-reacted. But this is the people's problem, not the spies.

So why were the spies punished?

Cameron said...

Here's a test find a story that makes the Jews look good - should we think that this story is false or true?

Find another story that makes the Jews look bad. Should we think that this story is false or true?

If both answers are 'true' then it doesn't matter whether they look good or bad - and something else must be at work that makes them true - and therefore you cannot use how the result reflects back on the Jews as any kind of test for truthfulness.

For my next trick I will prove black is white and get killed at the next zebra crossing.

DrJ said...

JP. just because a person confesses something about his ancestors it doesn't make his story true, especially when he is confessing about WHAT SOMEBODY ELSE DID. The Christian and Muslim holy books are full of stories about turncoats, infidels, sinners, rebels and traitors, it doesn't prove a thing. Its all about promoting a specific point of view by telling the story.


There are lots of examples in the Torah where the act of one individual is used to justify treatment of his descendents. Like Pinchas- after his act of zealotry is was decided that only his descendents would be Kohanim. Actually that whole story is probably a retrojection inserted as part of the conflict regarding priestly lineage during the first Temple period.

Sometimes the Bible will explicitly state the reason, sometimes it will be implied by association. (Like the Torah's silence regarding Aaron's role in the Golden calf.)

DrJ said...

Bad,

Your question regarding the spy story is warranted. The Torah narrative there is a little confusing. Sometimes it mentions Joshua and Caleb, sometimes just Caleb. It says that God forgives the people, then he smites them with a plague and defeat at the hands of the Amalakites. It seems that Moshe "negotiates" God down from wiping everybody out to just killing the instigators, and making everbody wonder for 40 years. There may have been 2 variants of the story interweaved here.

Other than the ethical ideas of self-respect, faith in God, the whole story as told does seem absurd, and basically describes a pouting self-defeating god who makes alot of major strategic mistakes in managing his people.

On the other hand, taking the "James Kugel" approach-- there probably existed some threads of legends, and combined with the "etiological" need to explain Israel's current (ie Temple era) situation, the story does wonderful and perfect job.

DrJ said...

Cameron, I like your demonstration of JPs flawed logic!

Another way of stating it (and I don't know the formal name of the flawed argument)

*People are sometimes untruthful about their history. (OK)

*Past positive attributes are more likely to be talked about than negative attributes by their owners. (Maybe, but lets say OK)

==>THEREFORE, someone talking about their negative attributes must be truthful (EEHH!!-LOUD "WRONG" BUZZER!!)

Here's another paradox. The vast majority of people alive today, can trace their own family geneology and history maybe 2-3 generations. If you're a real geneology buff maybe another 4 or 5. Beyond that, due to forgetting, lack of computers and recordkeeping technology, your ancestry is anybody's guess. Then there is this huge gap of about 2700 years, where we suddenly have a supposedly authentic, detailed, generation by generation lineage of people over a course of a thousand years of early biblical history. All of this at a time when only a tiny fraction of the population could write, there were no libraries, computers, TVs or newspapers, and during which .

This doesn't prove anything but it is difficult to believe that these ancient records are reliable. I don't begin from an assumption of falsehood but I wouldn't bet my savings on it either.

jewish philosopher said...

For the sake of comparison, consider the Battle of Long Island. Fought in what is today Brooklyn, New York in August, 1776 it was the largest battle of the American Revolution. It was a total American defeat and almost ended the war. About 1/3 of the American Army was lost. How many American’s know anything about it, aside from a few Revolutionary War buffs like me?

Based on this, I would say that even if the spies’ incident really took place, it would be amazing that any Jews today would remember it. To imagine that the incident was fabricated from thin air is ludicrous.

The obvious explanation is the explanation which Jews would always have given – we study and remember the spies’ incident because it is part of the divinely authored Torah, just like we study all parts of the Torah.

jewish philosopher said...

Bad, the difficulty with Joshua’s lineage is first of all I Chronicles 7:23. When it says “he came to his wife” it is unclear who is “he” – Ephraim or Shuthelach. Secondly, in I Chronicles 7:25, it is unclear whether these names are all sons of Beriah or whether each one is a new generation.

Raz said...

Hmm, ancient story that puts followers into a bad light proves the authenticity of the text due to the fact that no one would write themselves in such a bad light.

So,
Like Jesus being betrayed by his own and crucified. That tradition has people’s ancestors killing not only their own, but their messiah and lord.
Or
The Book of Mormon teaching of the history behind the golden plates; Joseph Smith Jr.’s mistake of not listening to the angel, the death of his brother (angel specifically said Joseph needed to bring him the following year except he died really should be omitted) and the accidental loss of the G-d given translations to Harris,
Or
The story of Mahābhārata culminates in the great battle of Kurukshetra and subsequently ushering in the dark age of Kali (Kali Yuga) in which the people spiritually degraded to their lowest level and were the furthest possible from God.
Or
Couldn’t we just go with the Scientology epic of our former evil ruler Xenu whom with the help of our psychiatric ancestors in his government, rounded up billions of his people, brought us to earth and disposed of us. The man hydrogen bombed his own people in a supreme case of cowardess betrayal and thus enslaved us to this day in these human bodies. Top it all of there were billions of witnesses, BILLIONS!

There are numerous accounts of people writing their ancestors in a bad light that brought upon their subsequent downfall. Greek mythology alone could keep you busy for weeks with their tales of betrayal.

In all cases, people accepted their ancestors of being mistaken, flawed, weak or downright evil. Most religions must show a historical moment where the people are illustrated in a negative light because if the people were always depicted as good, there would be no necessity for a code of laws or leadership, as they would be inherently good without the structure. The premise is always the same in that you must illustrate that when you follow the path, good things happen and when you don’t bad occurs. That’s the foundation of ALL religions and is depicted in their writings. Think about it.

There are arguably good reasons to believe in the Torah, I’ll give you that; but this is not one of them.

badrabbi said...

Raz;

I place you together with DrJ and Cameron in the logical coherent hall of fame. I for one come to this site in pat to read intelligent comments such as yours.

Well done.

jewish philosopher said...

It would be even better if it were true.

Jesus was betrayed by Judas and killed by the Jews. I don't think this was an embarrassment to later Christians. Also Peter denied Jesus three times on the night of Jesus' arrest. This may well have been simply a true story, perhaps included in the gospels to emphasize Jesus' insight and courage.

Mormons do not seem to believe that Smith sinned.

The battle of Kurukshetra is just a story about a war.

Xenu is a character in a science fiction story.

I don't see any parallel to the spies narrative.

jewish philosopher said...

"The premise is always the same in that you must illustrate that when you follow the path, good things happen and when you don’t bad occurs."

Which the Torah already does about 50 times without fabricating a demeaning story of national cowardice.

jewish philosopher said...

I am not saying that the Spies Narrative alone proves beyond doubt that the Torah is authentic. However people often ask, “Besides Jewish tradition, what other, corroborating, evidence is there of Judaism?” Well…

Raz said...

Jesus was betrayed by his own people. Granted later “converts” wouldn’t be bothered by this but that would be true of later converts to Judaism as well. However, “original” Christian’s (converts and Jews) probably had a hard time swallowing the pill that one of their own caused the death of their lord and savior. Your point is a non-point.

Mormons: I never said he sinned, I said he made mistakes, he didn’t always follow his own prophecy and in one instance a story claims that an angel of all things told Joseph to bring his brother the following year, a great idea if his brother hadn’t died a few months later. The cannon would be stronger with the angels request omitted and had they painted the story of the plates with a little less human fallibility.

Kurukshetra: Using your own wikipedia links, since you and I are in agreement to its authoritativeness, you should brush up on your Hinduism. It’s very complicated and can get confusing to me as well but here’s the crash course
The battle of Kurukshetra is part of the Mahābhārata and if you wiki that you will see “The Mahabharata itself ends with the death of Krishna, and the subsequent end of his dynasty, and ascent of the Pandava brothers to heaven.” Click on Krishna and you will notice “Krishna is a deity worshiped across many traditions of Hinduism. Krishna is often described as a dark-skinned man during his earthly descent, often depicted as a baby, as a young cowherd boy playing a flute as in the Bhagavata Purana,[1] or as a youthful prince giving philosophical direction and guidance as in the Bhagavad Gita.[2] Or go back to just Hinduism and notice that “the Vedas center on worship of deities such as Indra, Varuna and Agni, and on the Soma ritual;” of which the Mahābhārata is a part and describes what you called “just a story of war.” It is a story of war in the context of battling gods that involves allegiance to and mortal embodiment of deities.

And last Mr. Xenu. I agree on its falseness but there is no denying the evidence from former high ranking official, even in light of Scientology’s denial, that the story is the core of their religion and a badly kept secret of the highest Operating Threatens. Feel free to peruse the wikileak documents of the secret OT documents.
http://wikileaks.org/wiki/Church_of_Scientology_collected_Operating_Thetan_documents
So while I agree with you Scientology is fiction, it does however meet your criteria of having a huge membership 8-15 million and has a sacred cannon that involves the eye witness testimony of billions of people, a memory still deeply repressed and unlockable in each of us.

You ignored mythology and rightfully so because that has clearly obvious stories of human and godly failures, yet the people accepted.

The parallel is this, other religions wrote about their founders or deities in a negative light of being a Judas or in one account, of fellow Jews mocking the crucified lord; of a prophet having accidentally lost gods sacred text and forgetting to follow prophetic instructions; of angelic beings or deities failing and in some cases dying; or that their ruler Xenu was just down right evil and the people were both gullible for falling for his income tax inspection and weak for not been able to overpower him.

People have been able to deal with histories of their ancestor faults just fine. Furthermore, for the strength and argument of some religious doctrine, such as our own, may actually make for a stronger and more compelling argument toward the people by illustrating what happens when you do not listen to Hashem.

You asked why someone would write it in such a manner if it did not happen; I simply offer a very logical reason and examples of others doing the same. So which story of ancestral fallibility should we follow? They all look equally compelling now.

jewish philosopher said...

Raz, I’m really trying to be serious, but I’m having trouble following you.

You seem to be saying that the Spies Narrative is not unique and most probably was fabricated in order to warn people not to sin.

About uniqueness, where in other religions do we find people fabricating and reciting annually a story of national disgrace and cowardice?

The Crucifixion story condemns the Jews, not Jesus.

Where exactly do Mormons criticize Joseph Smith? I'm not that much of a Mormon expert, I'm afraid.

How exactly does battling gods reflect badly on Hindus? Polytheists perceived their gods as superheroes, but not as perfect beings as in the monotheistic tradition.

Xenu seems to be a character in some secret Scientology science fiction novel. I don’t see how his behavior embarrasses Scientologists who will not even admit that the story exists.

Regarding the Spies Narrative being necessary to warn people not to sin, the Torah already thunders warnings, for example in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. I don’t see what Numbers 13 and 14 really adds to that.

jewish philosopher said...

A little more on the Mormon view of Joseph Smith. He seems to be almost worshipped.

Raz said...

You are correct (yes I said that) in the way you just phrased it. We condemn ourselves as having made mistakes whereas others tend to place blame on others and/or do not see the inherent flaws of their history. So whereas we acknowledge our mistake in the desert, the Mormons do not see how their own story depicts their founder in a bad light. In fact, rather then this proving the validity of the text I believe it is more a testament as to our ability to accept responsibility.

I was simply providing other written documents that also showed the peoples history in a negative light. I did not realize you also wanted cases where the religions own followers recognized their own negative aspects. That IS harder, not impossible, but harder to come by.

In essence, I actually agree with your latest rebuttal only as seen through current eyes. The crucifixion story was still a difficult sell at the time of Jesus death, if you were a Jew or convert of the apostles but not so much today.

My point was that other religions have stories, written documents of their history in a negative light and in that sense the spies’ story in not unique.

However, you are correct that although that may be true, they, the followers of said religion, don’t see it that way (i.e. the Mormons) and the fact that we do (as in the case of the spies) IS, by and large, unique-note I said by and large. But that’s more about how stories are accepted and perceived not how they are dictated. Can we agree on this?

Raz said...

There is one story I have thought of and purposefully neglected to bring forth throws a little monkey wrench in both our arguments, the Christian/Catholic belief of original sin. There you would have another case for your argument accept it comes from a source that rejects your theology and bible.

P.S.- Scientology is really hard for me to go to bat for against you simply because of how ridiculous it all is. Yet, my/our opinions aside, it is a religion that although started by fiction writer, does have a historic sacred document retelling the birth of a nation (planet) and although crazy, does fit our criteria. The sheer number and ever growing membership forces me to acknowledge them and bring them in to this, irregardless of what I feel about the Xenu story. So please, for the sake of my sanity, let’s agree that there is ample proof and testimony out there that Scientology secretly believes in those obviously fictional stories. In fact, it is unfortunately, good proof of how a large number of people can fall for some outlandish myth and follow an obviously manmade and fabricated history. And furthermore, they can accept it relatively few generations after its introduction. I really, really hate that fact but it’s true.

jewish philosopher said...

Basically, what is bothering me is that according to secular Biblical scholars such as Richard Elliot Friedman, the Spies Narrative was written in two stages centuries after the Exodus supposedly took place. Part (J) was written about 800 BCE in the Kingdom of Judah and part (P) was written by a priest in Jerusalem about 650 BCE. (See "Who Wrote the Bible" and "The Bible with Sources Revealed".) These texts were later combined by Ezra into the Torah where it is revered until the present day by traditional Jews.

I suggest that this is atheistic nonsense. There is no rational reason for Jews 2,500 to 3,000 years ago to have fabricated this story.

Raz said...

I read those books as well. You say there is no logical reason yet they provide an explanation, so why the dismissal? They offer, what seems like, a very logical answer based off of the political climate of the time. Is there a flaw you see in their proposal and if so please carefully elaborate?

The idea is it is like the basic political mud slinging we see today in the Republican vs Democrat debate. We are in this current economic recession (in those times, a broken dual kingdom) because of no fault of our own but because of what they did.

If you operate under the assumption, the Torah didn’t exist and thus everyone did not have an artscroll stone chumash on their shelf, then it would be easy for the leaders to tell a tale of bad decisions that makes the other side the bad guy while elevating your kingdom. Isn’t that basic politics? We pull that kind of thing off today and we have electronic records, internet, video, photographic evidence and a basic IQ in our population much greater then those in ancient times. With all those in place, we still occasionally get the wool pulled over our eyes so I don’t get what makes their hypothesis implausible.

This is not intended as a defense of the book “who wrote the bible,” I would just love to hear a solid critique from a frum viewpoint and hope you could provide me with one. Why does the proposed solution in “who wrote the bible” not stand up on its own merit? Please, argue your point with as little assumptions as possible, thanks.

jewish philosopher said...

I'm not aware of Friedman or other Bible critics commenting at all on the spies narrative specifically.

I have a post about Bible Criticism in general.

badrabbi said...

JP;

You are right. The passage (Chronicles 7) is a bit confusing. Beriah may nor may not have born the next generation, I agree.

Interestingly, if you do a concordance study, you would note that Beriah, the supposed grandson of Efraim was also Asher's son's name. That is interesting, since the Torah says that the reason for the name is of a befallen calamity.

In any case, no matter how you count, you get to Joshua from Abraham in either 14 or 15 steps. However, from Abraham to Moses is 5 steps. here is a 10 generation gap between Moses and Joshua.

How come they appear as contemporaries in the Torah?

badrabbi said...

So after much research, I got the answer to my question:

Moses's mother, Yocheved, was 130 years old when she had Moses! You can fit some 6 generations in there!

DrJ said...

"Moses's mother, Yocheved, was 130 years old when she had Moses! You can fit some 6 generations in there!"

Bad-- there it is, your "non physical entity"!!

With regard to JP's question, as to why the spy story or any other would be fabricated. It is an interesting question, but essentially applies to any religion or mythical tradition. The exact process or mechanism of formation of a story or tale is part of human nature. It seems to begin from some legend that may or may not contain a factual kernel, and over time, as the story is retold and spreads, starts to become embellished, changed, intermixed with other stories, all based on the lives and values of the people telling it. Perhaps some of the stories were originally invented as fictions or childrens stories, then radically modified over time. Some may have been based on real events. Paradoxically, in today's world, even with the ability to verify things, a false story can spread like wildfire through the internet.

jewish philosopher said...

My point is, however, that stories like this specifically do not spread and are quickly suppressed even if unquestionably true.

As I mentioned above, take the Battle of Long Island. It was the largest battle of the American Revolution, fought in what is today the middle of the largest city in the United States. The center of the Battle of Long Island was in the area of Prospect Park and Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn. On that site on August 27, 1776, 10,000 American soldier led by George Washington faced 20,000 British soldiers and German mercenaries. The Americans were badly outnumbered, poorly trained and soundly beaten. But how many Americans know anything about it? How many people who live on the battlefield itself know anything about it?

Of course, DrJ, you can always fall back on "I don't know". "I don't know how the 'sin of the spies' story started." However, how many "I don't knows" can you get away with?

Let's say you were accused of murder. On the witness stand, the prosecutor asks you "Where were you the night of the crime?" "I don't know." "Why were your fingerprints found at the crime scene?" "I don't know." "Why was the murder weapon found in your car?" "I don't know." You might get away with one "I don't know." however four or five will be a problem for any jury to swallow.

By the same token, "If there is no God, where did the universe come from?" "I don't know." "Where did life come from?" "I don't know." "How did Judaism begin?" "I don't know." etc. etc.

Raz said...

Question: just to clarify, you are stating that the Battle of Long Island is helpful in proving or rather illustrating your point as it is an embarrassing negative moment in U.S. history and has conveniently been forgotten. Thus, we see that people tend to repaint their past in positive light whenever possible and the fact that the Torah makes no effort to cover up for Jews bad behavior AND because Jews acknowledge their flaws, it shows the authenticity of the scripture and religion because man would have omitted it. Correct.

jewish philosopher said...

I think at the least the spies narrative provides corroborating evidence that the Torah was not fabricated from thin air centuries after the alleged facts.

Raz said...

For the reasons stated above right?
1. Because people write their history with a positive slant whenever possible;
2. Because a story like this teaches no positive lessons or does not help a religions cause in any way (does more harm then good);
3. And it would be impossible to introduce a negative story about ones ancestors from “thin air.” People would be upset and reject it.

I just want to be absolutely clear I understand you and your exact proposal correctly. Did I miss any other reasons?

By the way, I am enjoying this blog post and the respectful tone of it all. Others got a little dirty but this has been nice.

jewish philosopher said...

I think that sums it up.

Raz said...

I am preparing a three part answer, one for each of the above points. Also, I didn’t respond yesterday because I wanted to verify some sources but the DH does specifically address the spies’ story and makes it one of the corroborating proofs of multiple authorships. One discussion is found on pages 66-67 in “who wrote the bible.” It illustrates that one spy represents the North and the other the South. They propose that it fits in with the political climate of the time and later on in the book give reasons for the redactor’s choices in how to combine differing versions of similar stories. Much like drj stated earlier.

Raz said...

1. People don’t always cover up their horrible past or mistakes. Example include Slavery, Germans acceptance of the Holocaust, Vatican II, the Inquisition, or the heliocentric religious Galileo controversy; all are similar in that they are negative pieces of a peoples history and rather then pretending it never happened they have accepted responsibility and admitted their mistake. Your battle of Long Island seems irrelevant cause for every forgotten bad historical moment we can find one that hasn’t been washed away. It’s really a tie. Not to mention, you never want to base validity upon the collective intelligence of the population. The sad polls that show a large segment of the population that think Columbus discovered America, that Saddam/Iraq caused 911, that don’t know who the President is, or that bought into Scientology all show the gullibility/stupidity of people.

Raz said...

So you may have noticed then, your argument could now be that I have proven that when someone has the courage to write a negative story about their past it MUST be true. But that is not true at all either. Any case of Genocide, Human sacrifice, Inquisition, Crusade, Holy War or Ethnic cleansing whose institution was founded on either some prophetic vision, event or illogical logic dangerously shows mans capacity to accept negative and fabricated events as accurate historical truths.

Raz said...

2.The story does teach important theological and philosophical lessons, the simplest being have faith in Hashem or you will have to pay the consequences. There is much better and deeper lessons and stories here but that is off topic. As for how it would hypothetically help a religious cause, well that has been explained as well. The two heroes each represent an important aspect of the Kingdoms of Israel. Caleb is representative of Judah, the authority in the kingdom of the South and Joshua was from the tribe of Ephraim whom pledged allegiance to the North. A writer from the North could not change whose family received the bracha to rule the kingdom (the south would always have a more official throne) but they could emphasize that Moses’ successor was from their side and simultaneously give strength to their military through aggrandizing the tribe of Ephraim’s, whom was attributed to military and defense. These are allies you would seek to elevate in a dual Kingdom. Thus, we conveniently see a hero representing each Kingdom correspond to the two writers and a cause that fits the historic backdrop, one emphasizing the King’s lineage and the other Moses successor. It wouldn’t be hard to introduce an official version of the spy story as DH concedes the possibility of a prolonged time in the desert or the possibility that an outline for the spy story always was part of legend. It was simply formalized in the final writing of the Torah. With that in place we have two possible scenarios. Either a form of the spy story existed (easiest scenario) and was just formalized later or the spy story was fabricated to explain the reason for the peoples lengthy desert stay (the wandering desert story being the accepted & widespread tale in this scenario.)

Raz said...

You know what I hate about this one though. Both you and DH theorists can’t prove your versions. All these scenarios are equally possible and ockham's razor does us no good in the small confines of this topic. You and the Documentary Hypothesis have an equal amount of ifs and very little concrete “evidence.”

Raz said...

3. Sorry, but this is the weakest argument by far. The others I can see both arguments for but this is just false. For one, nobody but you claims the story pops up out of “thin air” so I will rewrite the hypothesis to be ‘it would be impossible to teach a negative story about ones ancestors’ because people would be upset and reject it. That was proven false in number one. People accept bad histories all the time as illustrated above and as for accepting false stories, the entire non-jewish world population (from your perspective) would fall in this category. They all accept man made false stories all the time in the form of the New Testament, Qu’uran, the god delusion or the ever over the top Scientologist Operating Thetan documents, to name a few. Their mere existence and ardent belief in their doctrine proves people numerous examples of people accept false stories.

In summary, I think there is something to be learned from all this. True your hypothesis are proven false or more fairly we at least have a draw in light of BOTH sides lacking irrefutable and substantial historical evidence; but we did uncover Judaism’s unique ability to continually remember our mistakes, to not wash away past transgressions and to use those events for introspection and self-improvement. That does not prove or corroborate G-d existence or the Torahs authenticity, but it does say a lot about the tools Judaism offers to those seeking its deeper lessons.

jewish philosopher said...

Friedman seems to believe that two versions of the spies’ story were written – one by J and one by P and the Redactor combined them. I personally, I don’t really follow him since he claims in “Who Wrote Bible” page 67 that in J “the spies see only Judah” and this proves that the J author was in Judah. In “The Bible with Sources Revealed” page 263, he includes Numbers 13:21 in J, even though it says the spies traveled to “the entrance of Hamath”, a city in Syria. Whatever.

I am not saying that people always delete all unpleasant events from their own histories. Sometimes, that’s just about impossible, however there are many people who already deny the Holocaust. I don’t believe however that people create new embarrassments where none even existed.

There are plenty of modern scholars who deny that the Exodus (and therefore of course the sin of the spies) ever took place. This post is attempting to refute them.

jewish philosopher said...

By the way, Friedman does not speculate about any possible motives for the authors of the spies story, and both P and J are in Judah according to him, one a priest and one a layman.

jewish philosopher said...

Just to emphasize a little more, I think I can guarantee that were the Torah a humanly written book it would never include something like spies story. Ancient myths always were filled with stories of heroics and great deeds, real or fictional. Look at Homer or the Viking sagas.

Now try to imagine the Jewish grandfather, sitting with youngsters around the fire on a chilly winter night in Palestine a few thousand years ago. “Let me tell you about our great ancestors, boys and girls. They were all ready, millions of them, armed and prepared to enter the Land of Canaan. Then, they suddenly got scared and chickened out and remained in the Sinai desert for another forty years.”

Yeah, right.

Cameron said...

JP: Ancient myths always were filled with stories of heroics and great deeds, real or fictional. Look at Homer or the Viking sagas.

CH: Sure, lets look at Beowulf where the Viking people are terrorized by the mysterious Grendel because their King was unfaithful and need to be rescued by the outsider Beowulf. Hardly a tale of Viking heroism.

Or consider the story of Achilles and Hector. Or the tragedies of Shakespeare.

I could go on, but I think even you will grasp that stories need not be filled with heroism.

Further to the point I made earlier, you can't bootstrap legitimacy for your text out of the content of the text itself - because that isn't what confers legitimacy.

As an example the Bible mentions that the first people to see Jesus has risen from the grave are women.

Christian apologists never fail to make the case that therefore the story of the resurrection must be true because why else would the authors have women as the witnesses when it would be men in that ancient society who would have carried more legitimacy.

So like your spies story with its less than grand vision of the Jews, we have the resurrection story with its less than reliable witnesses, and in both cases we are asked to believe that because the story wasn't as good as it could have been it must therefore be true!

Let me point out that we learn from our errors - and that carrying forward the stories of our failures from the past is one way we learn about how to proceed in the present (you are no doubt familiar with; the Hindenburg, the Titanic, the Challenger, Young Earth Creationism, etc.).

If memory serves me there is in particular one apostle of Christ who persistently embodied the fool - which any lit major will tell you is a literary device useful for making a particular case (and if memory serves Jesus made the fool the rock of his church).

Galileo used just such a literary device in the dialogue on heliocentrism that got him into so much trouble with a backwards looking church - the character's name was 'Simplicio'.

So far from your romantic notion that because we should expect happy heroic stories and rejoice that we find debased and silly ones instead, I'll just point out that happy, sad, heroic, or debased, you need extraordinary proof for extraordinary claims - and the Spies ain't it.

jewish philosopher said...

OK, let’s try this.

If anyone can find anywhere in any other ancient literature a story similar to the “sin of the spies" story I will delete this post. That means a story where the author depicts his own nationality\clan\tribe as becoming frightened and refusing to fight and weeping, yes weeping with fear (Numbers 14:1) on the eve of a battle.

If anyone can find one bona fide parallel example anywhere in pre-modern literature, I will happily delete this post.

I believe you cannot find it because a human author would never write it.

DrJ said...

JP, for every "I don't know" that you can generate in me, I can make you say "I don't know" 10 times about God, Torah, good and evil, non-spiritual entities and so forth.
Ignorance can be bliss.

DrJ said...

Here are a few "I don't knows" for you (the top ten):

1.During biblical times alot of "non-physical entities" are reported, but they seem to disappear after the bible. Why?
2. What did god come from?
3. Why would a perfect god create flawed creatures, then "regret" making them?
4. Why in biblical times is there apparent justice in this world, but later, only in "the world to come"
5. Why would God in the Torah speak to people in Moses' time about future events in past tense?
6. Why does god need a "house"?
7. Why are there no "prophets" now?
8. Why would the God of Israel punish the Jews of Judea with exile lasting 2000 years? If punishment is to change behavior, that would be like putting Hitler's great grandchildren in the gallows.
9. What is God's plan for the world?
10. Does god care about people from Iowa?

jewish philosopher said...

1.During biblical times alot of "non-physical entities" are reported, but they seem to disappear after the bible. Why?
They haven’t disappeared. There is still a God.

2. What did god come from?
He exists eternally.

3. Why would a perfect god create flawed creatures, then "regret" making them?
For the same reason people have children and then are unhappy if they become criminals.

4. Why in biblical times is there apparent justice in this world, but later, only in "the world to come"
If the modern world were governed with strict and swift justice the human race would perish.

5. Why would God in the Torah speak to people in Moses' time about future events in past tense?
Where? Have you tried checking any commentaries?

6. Why does god need a "house"?
He doesn’t. He wants us to build a symbolic house for Him to demonstrate our devotion to Him.

7. Why are there no "prophets" now?
When we stopped listening, God stopped talking.

8. Why would the God of Israel punish the Jews of Judea with exile lasting 2000 years? If punishment is to change behavior, that would be like putting Hitler's great grandchildren in the gallows.
When we truly repent we’ll come back, not before.

9. What is God's plan for the world?
I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah. How long it takes, I will await His coming every day.
I believe with perfect faith that the dead will be brought back to life when God wills it to happen.

10. Does god care about people from Iowa?
He does if they are producing kosher chickens, even using illegal immigrant labor.
But seriously, sure He does.

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

JP answer for ten was great!

Raz said...

I think what DrJ was alluding to in number 2 is the age old debate where did the Universe come from in which the argument typically follows as such:
T=theist, A=atheist

T: Where did the universe come from?
A: Why did it have to come from anything?
T: Everything has to come from something.
A: Then, you tell me. Where did the universe come from?
T: The universe came from God.
A: Where did God come from?
T: God did not have to come from anything. He always was. He is eternal.
A: Then everything does not have to come from something after all. Perhaps the universe always was. We know the Universe exists because of our senses yet we have to imagine or believe in a non-physical, non-testable, eternal invisible G-d that apparently made unique solitary covenants with multiple people. Option one is the simplest. Option one I can hold in my hand and test. Your proposal exists in thin air, literally.
In other words, if G-d can be eternal, why is it any less likely that the Universe be that instead?

Can you further the debate please?

jewish philosopher said...

Perhaps the universe always was.

Nope. The physical universe must have been created since if it were infinitely old it would have reached a state of complete entropy an infinitely long time ago. The universe cannot be a perpetual motion machine.

DrJ said...

I too can make up answers for the questions I don't know as well.

Your answers to 1,2,4,6-10-- just guesses into what your make believe god thinks but no evidence to support it. (other than rabbis b.s. apologetics)

answer 3-anthropomorphism not appropriate for your perfect ever-existing all-powerful god.

answer 5- Every time it says ad hayom hazeh, v'hacanaani az ba'aretz, reference to kings of Israel in Bereishit, final verse saying in past tense that no propher arose like Moshe, etc, etc.
All of the perushim are unsatisfactory and apologetical--twisting the meaning of the words to avoid the problems. Go to daat emet site for a comprehensive collection...

jewish philosopher said...

Your answers to 1,2,4,6-10-- just guesses into what your make believe god thinks but no evidence to support it. (other than rabbis b.s. apologetics)

So this how the game works - no evidence can be strong enough to prove the existence of God because you have decided in advance He cannot exist.


answer 3-anthropomorphism not appropriate for your perfect ever-existing all-powerful god.

Why not?


answer 5- Every time it says ad hayom hazeh, v'hacanaani az ba'aretz, reference to kings of Israel in Bereishit, final verse saying in past tense that no propher arose like Moshe, etc, etc.
All of the perushim are unsatisfactory and apologetical--twisting the meaning of the words to avoid the problems. Go to daat emet site for a comprehensive collection...

"And there has not ever arisen a prophet within Yisroel like Moshe, whom Ad-noy knew face-to-face."

God dictated that to Moses. What's the big deal? You're getting desperate now.

Raz said...

But now back to number 2

First, I am impressed. That was a very good answer so I take it you have been down this road before. Plus, you sent us to a link who proposed the 2nd law as proof of G-d and Jesus’ salvation for man. Second, the stuff below is going to bore the crap out of people but here it goes. I can’t write you a proper rebuttal in this forum as it is a lengthy discussion spanning multiple complex theories. I can direct you to further reading if you are so inclined.

So the second law of thermodynamics says that disorder, or entropy, must increase with time. It’s a question physicist have grappled with and explained. At the risk of boring the audience here with details, begin by reading this link.

http://www.physlink.com/Education/AskExperts/ae261.cfm

Then brush up on the real meaning of entropy, quantum mechanics, black hole physics and theories behind physics prior to the Big Bang. Also, I recommend reading universe in a nutshell, a brief history of time and string theory. Basically, they are reconcilable when you toss in dark matter, Relativistic Big Bang or study brane cosmology and chaotic inflation.

Furthermore, an expanding universe allows increasing room for order to form. The universe started as a tiny black hole with maximum entropy, produced by a quantum fluctuation, and then exploded in the big bang. Quantum events can happen without cause especially when our universe was a quantum event in a larger universe that always was or at the least existed before us fluctuating energy within the two.

Told you it would be boring and complicated.

Raz said...

If the 2nd law so easily proved G-d, Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins would be davening everyday.

If you think about pointing the finger at science for differing hypothesis currently debated about the most recent and complex discoveries, I would recommend you hold off. We should learn from the past mistakes that just because science doesn’t have the answer today, doesn’t mean they won’t tomorrow.

As for perpetual motion PM, maybe I am the only one interested, but this year a man named “Thane Heins” has introduced a PM machine. It stunned MIT and the scientific community and is currently being torn apart in search of flaws. So the debate is still out on this one and I am excited to see its conclusion. Even if proven false, this machine could revolution mechanical systems but now I am really digressing.

Raz said...

Quantum Mechanics and string theory show a very real likely hood that multiple realities exist in the form of parallel universes. If each action has an infinite possibility of causes and repercussions, How does this affect our covenant? Are multiple covenants in existence across various planes, are covenants identical across realities, does Mashiach’s arrival occur simultaneously across them all, why did observant Judaism changed the ETA of Mashiach and can it be extended longer, or does the Torah and Science converge on the fact that the vast majority of parallel universes contain little to no life, if so why is this the preferred system, why all the useless space, why create so many empty planets outside of our ability to see?

Oh and if you are to dismiss this as sci-fi please propose an ulterior explanation to explain physics on a microscopic level and if possible one that unites it with Einsteinian theory.

DrJ said...

Why would god dictate to Moses a statement, to be taught in Moses' time, to his contemporaries, in past tense, stating that a prophet such as Moses never again arose in Israel? Then to furthermore state in past tense that nobody knows where he is buried "to this day?"

This is a statement appropriate to something being written long ofter Moses, after having seen in fact what prophets arose, and being able to compare and state that.

jewish philosopher said...

"If the 2nd law so easily proved G-d, Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins would be davening everyday."

I'm sure they would, except for a little something called testosterone.

"Are multiple covenants in existence across various planes, are covenants identical across realities, etc."
I would wait for Elijah the Prophet to answer these questions, if they are valid to begin with.

DrJ, you see, the point is that I am not nitpicking at the grammar used by Darwin to disprove atheism. Your beliefs are simply total nonsense.

Raz said...

I would wait for Elijah the Prophet to answer these questions, if they are valid to begin with.
aka I don't know!? Somehow I knew you would brush off science. We love to turn to it when it can save our lives yet hate it when it proposes some really tough issues.

Maybe something more in your ballpark then and something, in all seriousness, really does bug me as I heard some answers but they have been unsatisfying. Gemara 101 teaches that in any Rabbinic debate all the Rabbaims opinions are technically correct, no one is really wrong. They just look at it from different perspectives and we choose to follow the one most valuable to the Jewish people. If so, how come some Rabbi’s said the earth is the center of the Universe (physically not metaphorically) with the Sun revolving around us when clearly this is untrue? (do not use the flimsy theory of relativity argument-its laughable) More importantly, how in the world could the Lubavitcher Rebbe still believe the Sun revolves around the earth? (he used the flimsy theory stated above.

DrJ said...

The language and content of the Torah goes to the essense of its truth or lack thereof.

You call it "nitpicking grammer" (which by the way is what the gamara does with the text as well) but for me, I simply ask the basic question: Is it plausable that god, as described in the bible itself and as portrayed by traditional judaism, wrote such a book? And the resounding answer is NO. It is your traditional views of the source of the text that is total nonsense. The Torah itself doesn't even claim that it was written entirely by god.

jewish philosopher said...

The Torah doesn't say anything about there being or not being other universes. I don't see how that's really a tough issue. Regarding what exactly is happening in those universes, why did God create them, etc. I would not worry too much about that until we find out if they even exist.

"how come some Rabbi’s said the earth is the center of the Universe (physically not metaphorically) with the Sun revolving around us when clearly this is untrue?"

If any rabbi said that, he was wrong. There is no doctrine rabbinical infallibility. Tractate Horiot deals with the atonements required when the rabbis make mistakes.

"Is it plausable that god, as described in the bible itself and as portrayed by traditional judaism, wrote such a book?"
Well, I think this post demonstrates that it was not written by people.

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

You are one of the few people that I know that has allowed for Rabbinic error. Good for you, that's admirable.

Cameron said...

JP (in response to DrJ):

DrJ: 1.During biblical times alot of "non-physical entities" are reported, but they seem to disappear after the bible. Why?

JP: They haven’t disappeared. There is still a God.

CH: Evidence please? And since we are talking about after the bible I'd like evidence from after that period to prove they/She are still around.

2. What did god come from?

JP: He exists eternally.

CH: Nonsensical. The universe is at most 15 Billion years old, and it will have a finite life-span as it expands towards its eventual heat death.

3. Why would a perfect god create flawed creatures, then "regret" making them?

JP: For the same reason people have children and then are unhappy if they become criminals.

CH: Except God has the power to have children that aren't criminals - indeed he could have made us crime free and with perfect knowledge of his existence. Curiously we instead have no evidence of him outside of ancient myths.

4. Why in biblical times is there apparent justice in this world, but later, only in "the world to come"

JP: If the modern world were governed with strict and swift justice the human race would perish.

CH: I contend that you don't know what the word 'Justice' in the context of your God means. More on that below.

5. Why would God in the Torah speak to people in Moses' time about future events in past tense?

JP: Where? Have you tried checking any commentaries?

CH: Obviously because God didn't have anything to do with the writing of the bible.

6. Why does god need a "house"?

JP: He doesn’t. He wants us to build a symbolic house for Him to demonstrate our devotion to Him.

CH: For someone who is all knowing that seems awfully strange does it not? That God would require of us something he by definition doesn't need.

7. Why are there no "prophets" now?

JP: When we stopped listening, God stopped talking.

CH: Spiteful bugger isn't he?

8. Why would the God of Israel punish the Jews of Judea with exile lasting 2000 years? If punishment is to change behavior, that would be like putting Hitler's great grandchildren in the gallows.

JP: When we truly repent we’ll come back, not before.

CH: You'll notice that once again you haven't answered the question.

9. What is God's plan for the world?

JP: I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah. How long it takes, I will await His coming every day. I believe with perfect faith that the dead will be brought back to life when God wills it to happen.

CH: Now this is very interesting, since you have repeatedly made the claim that we are reincarnated and that this reincarnation explains why God punishes what are obviously the innocent (like children). So which is it, we are reincarnated or we will be reincarnated when God returns?

10. Does god care about people from Iowa?

JP: He does if they are producing kosher chickens, even using illegal immigrant labor.
But seriously, sure He does.

CH: Perhaps She does, but it doesn't explain her millenial long absence from China, North America (pre-Columbus) and the rest of the world. Seems to me like your God was a very small God of a very small people. Hence the concern that there be 'no Gods before me'.

Raz said; Perhaps the universe always was.

JP: Nope. The physical universe must have been created since if it were infinitely old it would have reached a state of complete entropy an infinitely long time ago. The universe cannot be a perpetual motion machine.

CH: I agree that nothing 'infinite' can exist for exactly the reasons you give. Hence, there can be no 'infinite' Gods.

Raz said...

Ouch, no one enjoys the infinite multiverse possibility. Well, at least it brought you two together on something. If infinity exists, the universe can just as likely if not more so stand in for G-d. If infinity doesn’t exist as you propose, well then I guess they are both screwed, doomed to their inevitable demise. At least Pi will live forever or maybe Pi is really ……
FYI- The verdict is still out on entropy during the Big Bang so I wouldn’t dismiss all the possibilities just yet.

jewish philosopher said...

Cameron, before we discuss God’s existence, why don’t we discuss your existence. How do I know that you exist? Because someone is writing all these comments and the comments contain information. (Not much, but still, something.) Now DNA also contains information - quite a lot. Do you see where this is going?

You want to know why God doesn’t talk to people more often. If I told you that God spoke to me and told me that you should repent, would it make a difference? Do you see the point?

God authored the laws of thermodynamics; they do not limit Him. That’s why He can be eternal but the universe can’t.

DrJ said...

"God authored the laws of thermodynamics; they do not limit Him. That’s why He can be eternal but the universe can’t."

JP, I just put my finger on something. When I read your comments, it makes me think of the game Dungeons and Dragons, a fantasy role playing game. Remember that? You come up with a whole list of arbitrary rules, logic and definitions, with the Jewish people, Gentiles and God as players. You are the Dungeon Master setting the rules. Your rules and definitions have nothing to do with evidence or reality, but the people in your world play by them.
In your game of Gods and Earthlings, you can make whatever rules you want. Thermodynamics? No problem for God since he made the laws. Logic? He made that, too, and is thus exempt.

As you acknowledge and recognize it as a game, I've got no problem with it. I get worried when you start thinking its real life.

jewish philosopher said...

And in your fantasy world, a German war criminal who escaped unpunished was really a smart guy. He enjoyed power, prestige and wealth during the war and never paid for the thousand of murders he was involved in. We should surely admire him.

That is the beautiful morality atheists are spreading.

Raz said...

Are you comparing DNA to words, intelligent words proof Cam exists just as intelligent DNA proves G-d? Correct?

As for this or a Universe not being eternal, I am not sure that this will be proven in either of our lifetimes. But I do think it is interesting how you, someone with no scientific background, so easily dismiss the hard work of theoretical physicists who have devoted their entire lives to understanding the complex mathematics underlying the creation of the Universe.

The more you struggle with these complex topics the clearer your vision of this world becomes, with or without G-d. Don’t you get that atheists, other religions, science, you and me are all in the same search. We may not agree about the mechanisms but we all want an honest answer for why we are here. You should respect people for seeking truth because chances are they can teach you a thing or too. No one person is always right and when you ignore every single notion from your opponent (as you do in this blog), then you’re doing the exact same thing that Rabbi Akiva’s students did to bring on their demise.

Listen to people; they may strengthen your logic in ways you never imagined. I guess that goes out to all of us. Now continue the debate.

jewish philosopher said...

I believe that any honest and sober person will quickly realize that the preponderance of evidence clearly supports Orthodox Judaism, as opposed to other ideologies, for example atheism, Christianity, ancient Roman paganism, etc etc.

Raz said...

While we are on the topic, is there a concise list, like 1-10, of why you venomously hate atheists? And was there a specific moment or event that made you say that this plague must be combated? Maybe that’s an idea for your next blog, I’m just trying to put my finger on what makes you tick I guess and where all this animosity is coming from.

Raz said...

so you believe 99% of the world are dumb, dishonest drunkards?

jewish philosopher said...

Check these out

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2007/12/good-hatred.html

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2007/09/portrait-of-scientist.html

Raz said...

Wow, now I am really torn. After reading your previous post and a few other things you have around here I am inclined to retire. I should have seen this coming I guess. Being here is a waste of time and listening to the crap you submit lends you way too much credibility you do not deserve. What I don’t get is why other seemingly intelligent people still come here. Is it because his blogs are so obviously flawed that it’s like looking at an intellectual train wreck the likes of which compel us to stop and watch. Or do we return because of a fear that some naïve person may come here and mistake his twisted hatred for truly representing the Torah. I’m torn on the one hand I am wasting my valuable time on the other, people like him should never be left unchecked lest the gather even one follower. I feel like coming here and talking to JP is the Jewish equivalent of attempting to reason with a Nazi that Jews aren’t bad. So, DrJ, Bad and anyone else out there with an IQ above 4, why do you come back? Why should any of us waste our time here? Are there any reasons not to leave this idiot alone to his blog?

JP you exemplify the reason smicha should be stripped.

badrabbi said...

Raz;

For reasons that are not clear to me, really smart people, like yourself and Cameron, Dr. J and Spike regularly leave posts here.

JP's comments are like a springboard to really intelligent commentary. Dr J provides honest down to earth stuff. Cameron is always good for pithy penetrating comical and highly intelligent remarks that make me laugh and learn at the same time. These guys regularly put JP in his place - he attempting to recover from utter destruction by perseveration or laughable argumentation like "testosterone makes people atheists".

Avrum comes from time to time and provides psychoanalysis gratis. And oh, what's his name? Natchuster comes along and leaves stereotypical canned religious dogma on these pages. All in all it is entertaining.

And truth be told, there are no other unabashed religious Jewish blogs out there that are willing to take on serious criticism.

This blog, as you mentioned, is also like watching a train crashing into a wall. It is gruesome, but entertaining.

DrJ said...

Bad, great "blog review"!!
You should write for the NY Times!

Personally, I come back because it sharperns my own religious/intellectual ambiguities. I truly live in 2 worlds, and the discussion is interesting. We all know that we are not going to change each other's minds. JP to his credit is good a coming up with provocative propositions that get all of us howling out here.

DrJ said...

I would also add that I agree that it is a waste of time but I guess some of us have too much time on our hands....

jewish philosopher said...

Do I detect some slight lack of reverence for My Holiness?

natschuster said...

Badrabbi:

" Natchuster comes along and leaves stereotypical canned religious dogma on these pages. All in all it is entertaining."

Most of my postings are of a scientific or historical nature. I rearely bring up theology. My objections to evolution have inevitably been scientific ones.