Saturday, December 05, 2009

Look at the World with Innocent Eyes



I sometimes think: What would a person logically think about this world if he would wake up one day completely innocent, with no prejudices or preconceptions, unbiased by previous commitments and external influences? What conclusions would he reach? I imagine the answer would be something like this.

He would look at himself in the mirror. He would be overwhelmed by the functioning of all parts of his body – the eyes which provide vision, the ears which provide hearing, the hands which grasp and the feet which walk. He would breath in the fresh air, filling his lungs with life-giving gases. He would see the sun rising and bringing light and warmth to the earth. He would be naturally curious: Who created all this?

The obvious step would be to go to the library and ask the librarian: “Has the creator of the universe ever publicly revealed himself to mankind and told us who he is?”

The librarian would think for a moment and answer: “Yes. There was in fact one such incident documented as having taken place over three thousand years ago.” Then she would open a Bible and show him Exodus 20.

The next question would be: “Are there any people alive today who are descended from those people who received the revelation at Mt. Sinai and who still observe those commandments?”

The librarian would answer, “Yes; there are.” And hand him a telephone book yellow pages open to the page of Orthodox rabbis.

It's really that simple.

33 comments:

Anon1 said...

This is what philosophers and scientists call a "thought experiment". The problems with your experiment are twofold:

1. This experiment has already played out in reality by ancient man for the past 100000 years of his existence, and unfortunately for you, they did not come to the same conclusion.

2. Your thought experiment, run in the year 2009, completely ignores all accumulated knowledge. Otherwise your simple imaginary man would conclude that mental illness is caused by evil spirits and that the earth is flat.

Therefore, you learn nothing from this experiment, other than about your own strange thinking.

Baal Habos said...

>He would look at himself in the mirror. He would be overwhelmed by the functioning of all parts of his body ....

And he would look at the sky and say the sun circles the earth.

And he would look at the ground and say the world is flat..

And he would look at the ....

jewish philosopher said...

"they did not come to the same conclusion"

Perhaps they were not unbiased.

"And he would look at the sky and say the sun circles the earth."

Until proven otherwise, I would assume that things are what they appear to be.

“if it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck, it’s probably a duck”

Anonymous said...

Anon1

Most primitive societies did come to the conclusion that there is a creator. That is why they had creation myths. They didn't arrive at the G-d of the Bible beause they couldn't imagine an infinite transcendent creator.

And recent discoveries tend to support the idea that there is a Creator. We now know that the universe is not infinitely old, that there was a creation event that closely parallels Bereshis. And we now know that inorganic matter cannot spontaniously turn into life.

New Orthodox Philosopher said...

JP, but let's say this person who just happened wake up on Earth, requests evidence from these Rabbi's that there claims are true?

jewish philosopher said...

This post explains that.

Anon1 said...

"And recent discoveries tend to support the idea that there is a Creator."

What recent "science" are you reading? Science is dedicated to understanding nature, not to demonstrating a creator.

"Most primitive societies did come to the conclusion that there is a creator"

Some imagined multiple competing gods to explain all kinds of phenomena. Volcanos and storms were these gods' anger or fighting or screwing each other. Bacterial infections were evil spirits. And this is supposed to teach us something?

"They didn't arrive at the G-d of the Bible because they couldn't imagine an infinite transcendent creator."

And you can? I would love for you to describe him to me.

Alex said...

"He'd look in the mirror... he would be naturally curious: Who created all this?"

But then he'd see a sty in his otherwise awesome eye, or a crooked tooth among his extremely strong and good-looking teeth, and say, "since it wasn't designed perfectly, the designer must be a dunce or he doesn't exist at all."

New Orthodox Philosopher said...

The Watchmaker argument, does not prove the Torah. It was not meant to.

Anonymous said...

Anon1:

Nature can be best understood as the product of a creator.

And primitive societies had creation myths that attempted to explain the origin of the world. The Babylonians had Taimat. The Greeks had Chaos and Gaia. The Native Americans had the Crow. The Hindus had Brahma the creator.

I can't describe infinity, but I know it exists. Same thing with
G-d.

Anonymous said...

Anon1:

Nature can be best understood as the product of a creator.

And primitive societies had creation myths that attempted to explain the origin of the world. The Babylonians had Taimat. The Greeks had Chaos and Gaia. The Native Americans had the Crow. The Hindus had Brahma the creator.

I can't describe infinity, but I know it exists. Same thing with
G-d.

Anon1 said...

"I can't describe infinity, but I know it exists. Same thing with
G-d."

If it is unknowable, and not subject to understanding, then it has no practical relevance. Why bother making life decisions based on something unknowable? Just like infinity, in your example.

bankman said...

JP, we've done this a thousand times before. To believe that something created nature and the law therein is one one thing. Its a BIG LEAP to then say this creator one day decided to jot down a book and give to some wandering folks in the desert.

BIG LEAP.

Anon1 said...

"And primitive societies had creation myths that attempted to explain the origin of the world."

They also had myths to attempt to explain all kinds of things that we now know are false and can be explained by physics, mathematics and chemistry.

Anonymous said...

But infinity turns up in math all the time. Same thing with i, the square root of negative 1. It has lots of applications in math and physics, even though it can'r exist. And scientists really don't understand electrons, but this computer uses them.

Alex said...

Anon1 needs reading lessons. Anonymous said he can't describe God, but he never said he can't know God. Besides, even if a person can't know God 100%, he can still know him to a satisfying degree, making Anon1's entire point moot.

Anonymous said...

isn't this an old post?

jewish philosopher said...

Bankman, it's a very small leap. But it's a big problem if you don't way to be torah observant.

Anon1 said...

"Anon1 needs reading lessons. Anonymous said he can't describe God, but he never said he can't know God."

So you can know god? You can know about something only if it can be studied, researched, characterized. If you can't describe something, you can't possible know it either.

As far as infinity and i, they are mathematical terms that we humans have designated and therefore we can study and use them within the rules we defined. We're not "using" infinity. The entity "infinity" cannot be used by us.
Electrons CAN be studied and observed indirectly through experimentation, and manipulated.

Not so god. Using the term "god" in a sentence does not increase our understanding and cannot be used to gain any new or useful information. It can only be used to make unsubstantiated or unprovable assertions.

Abe said...

>>>Bankman, it's a very small leap. But it's a big problem if you don't way to be torah observant.

Its a leap to absurd obeisancy.
To render religion worthy of patronage, its important to evaluate and then trace rituals and practices to the source. Does nida, mikva, shabbat abnegations etc. make any sense? -- other then in the insular dominion of the believer? Of course not.
Thus, religion can be rightfuly deemed a useless aspiration and an enormous waste of time -- the product of a non-existant god.

jewish philosopher said...

Circumcision also made no sense and was universally ridiculed. Now we know it prevents AIDS.

Like soldiers, ours is not to reason why ours is but to do and die.

Alex said...

Anon still needs reading lessons. When he asks: "So you can know god? You can know about something only if it can be studied, researched, characterized. If you can't describe something, you can't possible (sic) know it either." He missed the part about "100%", in the 10:36 post.

Baal Habos said...

>Circumcision also made no sense and was universally ridiculed. Now we know it prevents AIDS

Staying away frum Chulent also made no sense and was universally ridiculed. Now we know that staying away from chulent prevents obesity. So OJ practice, eating chulent, gets some things right and gets some things wrong.

I know you'll claim that God did not command us to eat chulent but the point is we do!

And besides, We've got the Egyptans to thank for circumcision, quite a few hundred years before Avraham Avinu. "Tomb artwork from the Sixth Dynasty (2345–2181 BCE) shows men with circumcised penises, and one relief from this period shows the rite being performed on a standing adult male. The Egyptian hieroglyph for "penis" depicts either a circumcised or an erect organ. The examination of Egyptian mummies has found some with foreskins and others who were circumcised. "

Anonymous said...

anon1:

Can you describe time? Or space? Does that mean that they can't be known? A young child can't describe an alectron. Does that mean that it doesn't exist? And the usefull informantion that I got came from the fact that G-d communicated to me via the Torah.

jewish philosopher said...

Universal infant circumcision originated in the Torah.

SJ said...

Bankman is Garnel. I'm 80-90% sure.

jewish philosopher said...

They sound like opposites.

SJ said...

On OTD's blog bankman argued along the lines Garnel would.

jewish philosopher said...

Bankman doesn't sound as fluent in English.

bankman said...

SJ, you sound like OTD!

Anyone who "argues along the lines" of Garnel, must BE Garnel.

funny.

SJ said...

You are definitely Garnel.

Larry Tanner said...

'The obvious step would be to go to the library and ask the librarian: “Has the creator of the universe ever publicly revealed himself to mankind and told us who he is?”'

No, but in 1859 Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace explained to the world that evolution via natural selection and random mutation offered an empirically based hypothesis for the origin of the diverse species on Earth. Subsequent developments in genetics, molecular biology, cosmology, paleontology and archaeology confirmed that Darwin and Wallace's hypothesis was headed in the right direction.

Evidence continues to refine and clarify Darwin and Wallace's hypothesis.

Humankind's religions remain essentially unchanged and pathologically concerned with diet, sex, marriage, sponging off public funds, collecting money from congregants, occasionally molesting children and covering it up, using their organizations to front criminal activities, and other insults to humanity.

Keep yer phony gods off of me: http://larrytanner.blogspot.com/2009/12/god-has-no-rights-on-me.html

jewish philosopher said...

Darwin can easily be dismissed as an atheist propagandist, hardly a scientist. He was merely an amateur British naturalist who was angry with God over the death of his young daughter and who hen wrote a stupid little book in an attempt to deny God.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/03/evolution-science-hijacked-by-atheism.html

Atheism is in fact the world's most dangerous and irrational religion, whose believers are generally either debauched libertines, murderers or both.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/05/atheism-in-nutshell.html