Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Higher Power as I Understand Him


[infinity symbol]

He is infinite - in regards to time, space and strength.
He is eternal, He is everywhere and He does everything.
He has no physical form and His nature is entirely beyond our comprehension.
[The essence of idolatry is the belief that God has some physical form or nature that can be understood by us.]

What He does:
He creates everything.
He controls everything.
He knows everything.

What He does not do:
He does not make mistakes.
He does not have conflicting emotions.
He does not cause pain unjustly.

In summary: He is the Perfect Giving Being.

Man's task: to emulate in a miniature way this Perfect Giving Being. "Coming closer to God", "cleaving to God" etc. means imitating God in our small way.

In addition to this, I believe that it is correct to say that the universe in comparison to God is like a human thought in comparison to a physical object. God's reality is on a different plane than ours. We are merely imaginary in comparison to Him.

I would also like to point out that obviously God's motives are unfathomable to mere mortals. Asking questions about why God commanded this and not that, created this and not that or why He even created anything at all can not be answered, any more than a flea can attempt to understand the motives of a human.

[This post is based on the 13 Principles of Faith, Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah by Maimonides and Derech Hashem by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Lutzatto.]

62 comments:

Larry Tanner said...

In your title, by "understand" you mean "imagine."

Very nice. I respect your right to believe and imagine what you wish.

jewish philosopher said...

To the best of my understanding, this is the Orthodox Jewish concept of the deity.

Alex said...

I liked your post, JP. One minor question:

"He does not have conflicting emotions."

Does He have emotions /at all/?

Anon1 said...

I have to compliment you for at least pinning yourself down to something specific, which allows us skeptics to argue about something. As opposed to trying nailing jello to a tree.

jewish philosopher said...

God's behavior is completely consistent, unlike that of mere mortals.

New Orthodox Philosopher said...

The this should beg the question of why God would care if I use my computer on shabbos. It's pointless and you know it.

jewish philosopher said...

God demands unquestioning discipline.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/10/unquestioning-obedience-foundation-of.html

God is loving, but He is not an enabler.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/08/kindness-of-suffering.html

Anon1 said...

Let's say for the sake of argument that all of the things that you say about this supposed god are true. You present no argument as to why I should emulate or care about him.

Why should I care?

Suppose an alien creature with 10 heads made me.

Why should I care?

"We are merely imaginary in comparison to Him."

All the more reason to consider him irrelevant-- something unknowable.

"God's behavior is completely consistent"

Like "regretting" creating the world?

jewish philosopher said...

"Why should I care?"

Either because of your overwhelming love for Him.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/04/real-happiness.html

Or because you don't want to burn in hell forever.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/06/jewish-heretics.html

"Like "regretting" creating the world?"

5 And the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And it repented the LORD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. 7 And the LORD said: 'I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and creeping thing, and fowl of the air; for it repenteth Me that I have made them.'

Genesis 6:5-7

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0106.htm#5

This means that God was disappointed by man's behavior and decided that some tough love was in order. We should learn an important lesson from that. No disrespect to Barak and Hillary, however meetings in Copenhagen alone may not save us.

Anonymous said...

IMHO perfection includes the ability to be imperfect. If G-d couldn't create something imperfect then He wouldn't be perfect. Just a thought.

New Orthodox Philosopher said...

JP,

So you admit that there is absolutely no rational, besides for divine commandment, for the ban on working on the Sabbath?

jewish philosopher said...

There are many rationales. Actually, the concept of a weekend originated with the Torah and is today universal, even in China.

However, even if you want to claim there isn't, that doesn't matter.

New Orthodox Philosopher said...

"There are many rationals...."

Please list them then. The weekend is surely a great idea, but it has a lot more reasons for its existence, then because of the Torah.

It does matter, by the way. If there is no rational, than what Richard Dawkins says about God in the 1st paragraph of the second chapter of the "God Delusion", is correct.

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

Emphasis on the "control freak" part.

I am officially an agnostic, but I highly doubt if there is an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God, he would care if I turned on a light on the Sabbath.

jewish philosopher said...

Because you dislike something, that does not prove it false. That is a logical fallicy known as "wishful thinking".

Furthermore, to sit back and speculate "if I were God I am sure this or that wouldn't bother me" is just absurd because God's motives are unfathonable.

New Orthodox Philosopher said...

JP,

Why do you walk with 2 feet? It is only wishful thinking that the second coming of the invisible pink unicorn does not care if you do so.

jewish philosopher said...

I see, I think we're making progress.

When did you first start seeing unicorns?

New Orthodox Philosopher said...

You got to be kidding....IT WAS AN ANALOGY.

My point is, is there is no reason to believe these things. We are born, we live, we die. That's all that is to this thing. If there is a God, He has gone through a lot of trouble in hiding himself.

Anonymous said...

If G-d createdf humans with a moral sense, then it seems to me that he wants us to be moral. If
G-d created humans with a need to be religious, then it seems to me that He wants us to connect to Him. That's what religion is all about. So, IMHO G-d does care if we keep Shabbos.

jewish philosopher said...

Actually, evolution has gone to amazing trouble to hide. See my last post. Proof of God is everywhere.

New Orthodox Philosopher said...

I have read your posts. Kurzai and Watchmaker have both been slammed at rigorously, until they got their ass kicked intellectually.

1. If you use "it's to complex to be designed", why stop at life. How did God come about?

2. Kurzai assumes the Torah was written to be followed. It might quite possibly be a collection of allegories from different time periods.

jewish philosopher said...

If you want to falsify my beliefs be my guest:

Present one example of a machine which we have witnessed come into existence spontaneously, without any intelligent designer.

Present one example of a successful conspiracy of 10,000 people who knowingly all told the same lie, which was later somehow discovered to be a lie. [Bear in mind that falsifying the Anti-Conspiracy Principle brings into question the truthfulness of the Holocaust, the moon landings and many other events as well, not only the Exodus tradition.]

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2006/12/truth-of-judaism.html

Anonymous said...

The arguement from complexity does not apply to G-d. He is a perfect unity. The opposite of complex. That's what we affirm twice daily in the Shema.

And if the Torah was not revealed by G-d at Sinai, then somebody went to the entire Jewish nation and said "you have to accept this book as your authentic history and your national law because G-d revealed Himself to your Grandfather" and nobody said, "then why didn't my Grandfather tell me?"Its so easy to falsify. What does sthat have to do with the Author's intention?

New Orthodox Philosopher said...

Whoever said species as we know it, came to life spontaneously?

Again, it could have just started off as traditional, and then slowly became religion. But if you use this argument, how do you explain the tens of millions of Hindus, who by all means precede Judaism?

jewish philosopher said...

I don't think I'm following you.

New Orthodox Philosopher said...

My point is Kurzai could work for other faiths, so it is really ineffective.

Anon1 said...

"IMHO perfection includes the ability to be imperfect. If G-d couldn't create something imperfect then He wouldn't be perfect. Just a thought."

There's the jello that you can't nail to a tree.

With that kind of mental masturbation you can say anything you want, but it has no meaning.

jewish philosopher said...

"Kurzai could work for other faiths"

Really, how so?

The miracles of Jesus are attested to by the four evangelists, who could have easily conspired together to lie.

Islam does not really claim Mohammed performed miracles.

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

Hinduism is not really one religion, but it is basically the culture of the Indian subcontinent. It's like saying "Americanism".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinduism#Definitions

Buddhism is a also not a religion in the Western sense, but rather it is a system for numbing oneself to the pain of human life.

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

I think if we were referring to intelligent aliens instead of God, people would have no trouble accepting a Mt Sinai-like tradition.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/07/ayers-rock-and-mount-sinai.html

Anonymous said...

NOP:

But other faiths don't claim to have a mass national revelation. Probably because no one would accept it.

Anon1:

Why does it have no meaning? It means that a perfect being posesses the ability to be imperfect. That's all.

Anon1 said...

Anon:

"But other faiths don't claim to have a mass national revelation. Probably because no one would accept it."

Why not? The assumption behind this Kuzari argument is that people will not accept absurd claims for which they have no evidence. But this assumption has already been proven false, by the historical birth of most religions, especially modern ones like Mormonism and Scientology. If millions of people can believe those claims, why do you say they wouldn't believe a claim of some ancient "mass revelation", just as you do? Its just another fantastical unprovable claim, like virgin births, prophets going up to heaven and golden tablets. You can't use as evidence for the truth of a story, the story itself.

"Why does it have no meaning? It means that a perfect being posesses the ability to be imperfect. That's all."

Its a word game, that's all. Its like me saying that God can't build a mountain so tall he can't lift it. Its a logical contradiction. Or like saying, God being all good, has the ability to be bad. The sentence is syntactically correct, but has no logical meaning.

If you say God is perfect, by definition you limit him to being perfect. He cannot be imperfect.

JP:
"The miracles of Jesus are attested to by the four evangelists, who could have easily conspired together to lie."

Then why did all of their millions of followers believe them, if they could have easily just made it up? Since you attribute such skepticism to ancient man, it seems unreasonable that they would have just accepted the the gospels' claims. They would have said, "who are these idiots and liars, who claim to have witnessed Jesus performs his acts, and a 'virgin birth'?"

The fact is that some people did believe them, who became Christians, just as some people believed the Hebrews' story, who became Israelites/Jews.

jewish philosopher said...

Anon1, I discussed that option:

Another possible refutation is that perhaps Judaism began as a small conspiracy, with a small group numbering let’s say a dozen families. From there it gradually expanded, by acquiring converts and by natural increase. This would be similar to Christianity. Originally, there were supposedly thousands of witnesses to Jesus’ miracles. However only the four authors of the gospels, who could have easily conspired together to lie, retold them to the world. There is, however, no record anywhere of such a contraction and then gradual expansion of the Exodus tradition. Again, we would have to resort to a mass conspiracy at some point to cover up that historical fact when, on the contrary, we would naturally expect the founding fathers of the tradition to be remembered with great honor, as is the case with the four Christian evangelists. The archaeological evidence also seems to indicate the sudden appearance of a large Israelite community in Palestine about 3,300 years ago (see “The Bible Unearthed” page 119).

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2006/12/truth-of-judaism.html

Alex said...

Anon1 writes: "With that kind of mental masturbation you can say anything you want, but it has no meaning."

That sentence applies to itself so beautifully.

Larry Tanner said...

"The archaeological evidence also seems to indicate the sudden appearance of a large Israelite community in Palestine about 3,300 years ago (see “The Bible Unearthed” page 119)."

I am looking at page 119 of the book right now and do not see this point being made at all by the authors.

Anon1 said...

"There is, however, no record anywhere of such a contraction and then gradual expansion of the Exodus tradition."

You're banking on that? That's pretty weak. There is in fact no record of the "exodus tradition" at all other than from the Bible itself. Therefore the lack of "contraction" or "expansion" account is irrelevant--the Bible being the only source of the revelation.

Furthermore, the different and contradicting sources present throughout the bible indeed show variant early accounts and traditions. This would neatly fit into your own refutation, as differing traditions became merged into the text we now have.

All of this would be consistent with beginnings of a tradition similar to that of any religion.

jewish philosopher said...

"I am looking at page 119 of the book right now and do not see this point being made at all by the authors."

I am referring the comment in the middle of the page "throughout the Iron Age - the era of the Israelite monarchies - pigs were not cooked or eaten or even raised in the highlands". Previously there were pigs, afterwards there were pigs, in other areas there were pigs, however in highlands of Palestine during the Iron Age, no pigs.

The Palestinian Iron Age was from 1200–330 BCE.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestine#Iron_Age_.281200.E2.80.93330_BCE.29

"You're banking on that? That's pretty weak."

No, but you're banking on your theory in spite of no evidence supporting your theory and evidence to the contrary.

Anon1, I think what you're doing, perhaps unconciously, is saying "The fossils prove that the Bible is false and evolution is true. That's it, God is dead, case closed. Who wrote the Bible? Why did people believe it? Who knows? Who cares?"

I disagree with your basic premise; the fossils prove nothing except that life in the distant past was once different than it is today.

Larry Tanner said...

"I am referring the comment in the middle of the page 'throughout the Iron Age - the era of the Israelite monarchies - pigs were not cooked or eaten or even raised in the highlands'. Previously there were pigs, afterwards there were pigs, in other areas there were pigs, however in highlands of Palestine during the Iron Age, no pigs.

The Palestinian Iron Age was from 1200–330 BCE."

And that comment on page 119 says to you that "The archaeological evidence also seems to indicate the sudden appearance of a large Israelite community in Palestine about 3,300 years ago (see “The Bible Unearthed” page 119)."

Interesting, the passage you quote comes in a subsection titled "In What Sense Was Ancient Israel Unique?" In my reading, Finkelstein and Silber are not discussing the sudden appearance of any group, large or small. Instead, they are talking over the evidence pertaining to Ancient Israel and what set it apart. They note that a ban on pork seems to be one thing that made Ancient Israel different from its neighbors: A ban on pork "may ...be the only clue that we have of a specific, shared identity among the highland villagers west of the Jordan" (p. 119).

Finkelsetin and Silber conclude the subsection by saying, "Half a millennium before the composition of the biblical text [i.e., Exodus], with its detailed laws and dietary regulations, the Israelites chose -- for reasons that are not entirely clear -- not to eat pork. When modern Jews do the same, they are continuing the oldest archaeologically attested cultural practice of the people of Israel."

jewish philosopher said...

I think it is accurate to state that the archaeological evidence seems to indicate the sudden appearance of a large Israelite community in Palestine about 3,300 years ago. At present nothing indicates a gradual expasion over centuries from a few founders.

New Orthodox Philosopher said...

You can't prove the 600,000 people existed!


"I think it is accurate to state that the archaeological evidence seems to indicate the sudden appearance of a large Israelite community in Palestine about 3,300 years ago"

Well it goes further back actually. 10,000 years ago was when Jericho was settled. Depends who you mean by Israelite's. If you mean Jews, then no. At best it goes back 2500 years.

jewish philosopher said...

"You can't prove the 600,000 people existed!"

As much as you can prove that Alexander the Great existed.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/07/is-history-bunk.html

"At best it goes back 2500 years."

Throughout the Iron Age - the era of the Israelite monarchies - pigs were not cooked or eaten or even raised in the highlands. Previously there were pigs, afterwards there were pigs, in other areas there were pigs, however in highlands of Palestine during the Iron Age, no pigs.

Finkelstein, page 119

The Palestinian Iron Age was from 1200–330 BCE.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestine#Iron_Age_.281200.E2.80.93330_BCE.29

Anonymous said...

Anon1:

If any religion could have claimed that there was a mass revelation, why didn't they? The verification of the Torah does not come from
the story itself, but fromt he fact that it was accepted as the authentic history of the Jewish as long as there exists any record.

And if G-d is perfect, then he has to possess the ability to do something imperfect, or he is not perfect. Its simple, really. Now, contradictions don't bother me too much because Godel proved that all systems of logic are contradictory. And quantum physics is contradictory. And it only means that human can't fully compregend G-d. Not suprising.

Anonymous said...

A number of cities that were mentioned in the bookof Joshua were found to have been burnt. Of course the archaelogist say the dates are off, and it wasn't an invasion but a local uprising. How do they know that? And in one of the Armarna letters, the King of Jerusalem asks Pharaoh for help in repeling an invasion of the Haburi, sounds like HaIvri. Adnthe other letters reveal that major events were happening in Canaan then. Of course the archaeologists say that the Haburi were either sheperds, slaves, mercenaries, anything but the Hebrews of the Bible. How do they know that? Oh, and the Egyptians also talked about Haburi slaves.

Larry Tanner said...

Nathan,

Your selective skepticism is puzzling. You live in a world where we can make reasonable hypotheses about the distant past with a good probability of being mostly true.

Just think of all the advantages we have over those "Israelites" from 3300 years ago. Our society is mostly literate; theirs wasn't. Today's third-grader has mathematical abilities the ancients never could have had. The ancients didn't know the Earth moves or what the Sun was. They knew nothing of electricity and hydrogen. They did not know what caused disease, pregnancy, or death.

All this, and you give your ancient religion a pass on being trustworthy and reliable. Yet you also presume to be skeptical about scientists working today. And you dare to accuse them of participating in some vague conspiracy to hide the "truth" that the bible is real.

Isn't it far, far more likely that the bible is unreliable and that science is probably correct?

If you say no, could at least try to apply the same standards of skepticism to the bible as you do to modern science?

Larry Tanner said...

Why go back to ancient Palestine? Only a few hundred years ago in our own country people made eyewitness accounts of witchcraft and sorcery.

Tell me, JP, do you believe that the Salem witches were actual witches? Why or why not?

jewish philosopher said...

"Why go back to ancient Palestine?"

Why go back to colonial Salem? Even today there are people who believe that worms can, give time, turn into people (evolutionists).

This is a straw man argument, a fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position. To "attack a straw man" is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by substituting a superficially similar proposition (the "straw man"), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.

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

I am saying "If a large group of people, for example 10,000 or more, unanimously claim to have had a certain experience, they must be telling the truth."

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2006/12/truth-of-judaism.html

Your straw man is: "If a large group of people, for example 10,000 or more, believe anything it must be true."

Anon1 said...

"If a large group of people, for example 10,000 or more, unanimously claim to have had a certain experience, they must be telling the truth"


A group much larger than 10000 people today claim to have discovered Jesus, so they must be telling the truth.

And how do you know that this large group of Hebrews claimed to have a certain experience? Only through the Bible.

A very weak piece of evidence for your faith, JP.

jewish philosopher said...

"10000 people today claim to have discovered Jesus, so they must be telling the truth."

Discovering Jesus means "learning about Jesus".

http://hopeforlife.org/bible-study/discovering-jesus/discovering-jesus-lesson-1/

I would agree that thousands of people are studying about Jesus.

"And how do you know that this large group of Hebrews claimed to have a certain experience? Only through the Bible."

Not exactly. It's not like someone discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1950 and that's my only evidence.

I believe it because it would have been impossible at any time in the past to engineer a conspiracy whereby all Jews unanimously would tell their children “My parents taught me that our forefathers were slaves in Egypt and were redeemed with ten miraculous plagues, etc.” when in fact their parents had said no such thing. Therefore the only plausible explanation for the Exodus tradition is that those miracles did indeed happen.

Anon1 said...

"Therefore the only plausible explanation for the Exodus tradition is that those miracles did indeed happen".

We already discussed this. You discount that the Hebrew revelation myth started like all religious myths, based on the "lack of a contraction and expansion". Because of this "lack", you give special consideration to the Hebrew myth. Its hearsay from thousands of years ago, the weakest kind of testimony there is.

Basically, despite your denial, it does come down to what you call your straw man: because so many people believed it was true for so long, it must be true (despite many more other people not believing it)

The whole Kuzari argument is naive, convoluted and provable false. Its also what you call argument from incredulity-- I can't believe people made this stuff it, so it must be true. Basically what believers from all religions say about their faith.

jewish philosopher said...

"The whole Kuzari argument is naive, convoluted and provable false."

It's at least as solid as anything we know about pre-modern times.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/07/is-history-bunk.html

Abe said...

"The whole Kuzari argument is naive, convoluted and provable false."

>>>It's at least as solid as anything we know about pre-modern times.

And so are the proofs for Jesus' divinity. Its easily as unfalsifiable and credible as any proof you can offer.
http://www.allaboutjesuschrist.org/jesus-is-god.htm

You both can't be right. But you both can be wrong. And you both are.

jewish philosopher said...

I've explained that here.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/07/ufo-analogy.html

Abe said...

>>>I've explained that here.

You have explained nothing except to advance an unconvincing speculation. OTOH, Jesus is god as has been convincingly proven directly from the Torah.
http://www.eadshome.com/DeityChrist.htm

There is nothing you can do to disprove that. The proof is undeniable, even if it's logic might be considered as tortured as yours.

Anonymous said...

Larry:

I konw scientists have lied. I saw Haecel's faked embryonic drawings in the textbooks I taught biology from. They have been lying about the climate. Just read a newspaper. I enjoy googling "scientific fraud" occasionally. I usually get ~100,000 hits. That's a lot of scientific fraud. So why shouldn't I be skeptical?

And the primary point of the Kuzari is not that people believed it so it must be true. Rather it is something that no one would believe unless it where true. No one would believe that his grandfathet spoke to G-d and didn't tell him about it, or at least write it down.

(Now's about the time when Larry insults me.)

jewish philosopher said...

Abe, no one who reads the Torah who is not a Christian believes that the Torah's author was a Christian.

The Torah is distinct from other religions in several ways:

It's unique claim of a public revelation (see Exodus 20)
http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0220.htm

It's unique wisdom.
http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/06/gods-wisdom.html

The unique pattern of Jewish literature.
http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2006/10/judaic-literature-providing-proof-of.html

Some archeological evidence supports the Torah.
http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/02/torah-and-archaeology.html

The fossils do not contradict the Torah.
http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/09/how-i-understand-genesis.html

Evolution cannot account for our creation.
http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/03/evolution-science-hijacked-by-atheism.html

Anon1 said...

We've gone too far off topic. About your post-

If god exists and is as you describe here, then, as you have correctly asserted earlier, there must be some form of after life. In your case you think of it as a soul.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but by necessity, this soul has no physical form, and therefore has no ability to act or interact with the physical world or anybody in it. In such a scenario, "you" would hardly be called "you" anymore, without the ability to interact with any living human being.

Please explain how such an existence is a continuation of the self, and why you would find this type of continuation a consolation, or an expression of justice. The "reward" is still a seperation from everybody you love (except the dead ones perhaps) and the "punishment" has no meaning, since it can no longer alter behavior, either of the soul itself (which cannot act) or anybody else living (who can not witness it).

Please explain.

jewish philosopher said...

The soul constantly interacts with and controls the body. After death it temporarily leaves the body but will return to it in the future ressurection. The good will be rewarded after death while the bad are punished.

Anon1 said...

"The soul constantly interacts with and controls the body. After death it temporarily leaves the body but will return to it in the future ressurection."

OK, but what about for the thousands of years for which there has been no resurrection, and for the unknown number of future years? It is just in "limbo"? That sounds pretty bad to me, no consolation. What reward are you talking about? The resurrection itself? Do the bad get resurrected, too?

About the punishment, please answer: Is the punishment for deterrence or to correct behavior of the individual or anybody else? Because it can't do that for the reasons I mentioned, unless everybody is resurrected, so they get a "second chance".

After this resurrection, will there be no more death? If so, that means that there can be no more sin (since there must be justice in this world), which would take away free will. If there still is death, will there be more resurrections?

This all sounds pretty wierd, and a bad bet if you banking all world justice and you own behavior on some unknown future resurrection, based on a few passages in the biblical prophets and rabbinic sayings. (Not to mention the bazaar sadism of god who brings untold suffering brought upon man until such resurrection)

"The good will be rewarded after death while the bad are punished".

Do you mean while in limbo, or with being denied resurrection?

I'm really curious about this. Because if I'm rejecting it, at least I want to know what I am rejecting...

jewish philosopher said...

If you want more insight into these topics, your best source is probably "The Way of God" from Feldheim publishers.

http://www.feldheim.com/cgi-bin/category.cgi?item=0-87306-769-x%20&type=store&category=search

The bottom line is that God is just and ultimately everything is fairly rewarded or punished.

Larry Tanner said...

Nathan,

I don't recall ever insulting you personally, but I will tell you when I think your ideas are garbage. And I'll try to back it up. I resent your trying to hide bad thinking behind a gratuitous statement that I'm so mean.

To get back on point. You should be skeptical of scientists. But you should also be skeptical of the rabbis, the sages (so called) and the Bible.

My main observation is that you apply different standards to scientists and to a certain stripe of Jewish thinking.

Please forgive me is this comes across as mean or personally insulting to you. My main goal, however, is simply to get you to ask yourself whether you hold the Bible and your preferred co-religionists up to the same level of skepticism that you do for other people and ideas.

Anonymous said...

Larry:

You have called me things like smallminded, bigoted, etc.

And I'm skeptical of scientists for a good reason. They lie. I don't recall seeing Rabbis being caught in so many lies about their belief systems as scientists have. And I don't reject all science. It depends on how powerful the evidence is versus the problems with the idea. Now, evolution doesn't cut it. The problems are huge, and the evidence is spotty, and getting spottier. Its down to the pharyngial folds, the recurrent laryngial nerve, and the ERV's. Even the archaeopteryx is no longer viable as a transitional fossil. That's not enough evidence to support the claim that bacteria turned into blue whales via a purely random process.

jewish philosopher said...

Here's an interesting tidbit regarding the National Science Foundation.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0109/18070.html

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is a United States government agency that supports fundamental research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering.

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

Now I'm not saying that this in itself proves anything, however it does demonstrate how silly it is to insist "But scientists believe in XYZ; how can these brilliant, unbiased, honest, sober geniuses be wrong??"

Trust, but verify.

Anon1 said...

"And I'm skeptical of scientists for a good reason. They lie."

You keep on whining about scientists, but the issue is the method. While there have been quacks, scientific reasoning as a method (as opposed to "scientists") have been responsible for more human progress in the past 200 years than anything else. In contrast, religious truth is not discovered via a "method" of discovery but rather on what a previous authority said.

"I don't recall seeing Rabbis being caught in so many lies about their belief systems as scientists have."

Your recall is failing you. The Talmud is full of fantasy stories, invented tales, threats and imagined biological "facts", like my previously quoted reference to snakes entering women's vaginas. Maybe not exactly "lies", but poppycock nonetheless. (Not to mention all kinds of statements about women, gentiles, and other outsiders. Most modern progress in human rights and equality has occurred despite religion, not because of it, including Judaism.)

So you oddly have a so-called skeptical view of "scientists", yet unquestionably accept the truth of an authority based statement of a talmudic rabbi from 2000 years ago.

Hamaven yaven

You can exit gracefully from this debate by just stating that you accept Judaism as a moral and social system, and leave study about truths of the physical world to science.

Anonymous said...

I usually go to my doctor, and not to my Rabbi for medical advise. When did I ever indicate differently? And I keep on saying I'm rejecting evolution because the evidence is spotty, and the people who say claim evolution happened are liars. I don't consider the Torah to be a natural history book. It was never ment to be. And when the Rabbis choose to give a lesson by a fable they are not lying anymore than Aesop was.

Now, I'm not sure what kind of Social progress your talking about. Do you mena the fact that more Americans are4 in jail than at any point in history? Or would that be the divorce rate? Or maybe the fact that teenage girls (eg, my students)are having children that inevitably wind up in prison? Or do you mean the epidemic of STD's among American teenagers? I really don't see a whole lot of progress.

Anonymous said...

And I follow the Rabbi's because the Torah says we are suppose to listen to our leaders. This, of course, allows for the possibility that the loeaders may be wrong. But we follow them because they know the Torah better.