Thursday, April 08, 2010

Homosexuality and the Talmud


[beheading - a Talmudic punishment for sodomy]

Following the Daf Yomi program, the page of the Talmud which was studied yesterday was Sanhedrin 54. This page states that sodomy is punished with death. In fact, this is a death penalty for both Jews and non-Jews. I believe that the United States government should amend the Constitution to make male to male anal intercourse a capital crime.

Modern secular people are shocked by this. After all, if two consenting adult men in private enjoy this behavior, why should anyone interfere?

The first and most important reason is: Because God said so. Leviticus 20:13 states "And if a man lie with mankind, as with womankind, both of them have committed abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them." Of course, we must obey God's command without question or hesitation, just as Abraham was prepared to kill his beloved son Isaac (Genesis 22). Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and die.

The truth, however, is that the Torah's severe prohibition of male to male anal intercourse has many obvious practical benefits.

Most seriously, male homosexuality represents a huge public health problem.

Because the rectum is designed to hold feces and not to receive a penis, the walls of the rectum are thinner, dryer and more rigid than the walls of the vagina. This makes anal intercourse an ideal way to transmit disease and infection.

In addition to this, male homosexuals are usually promiscuous.

It doesn’t take a lot of medical knowledge to realize that a community of millions of men who are randomly having anal sex with each other is the ideal breeding ground for sexual diseases and for the development of new, more dangerous, ones. The AIDS epidemic may be a divine punishment for homosexuality, but only in the sense that breaking ones neck is a punishment for jumping out a window. It’s worthwhile noting that the United States, which has completely legalized homosexuality, has an HIV rate 60 times higher than Saudi Arabia, which has a death penalty for homosexuality. Encouraging condom usage has not really solved the problem.

The American Red Cross will not accept a blood donation from practicing male homosexuals.

Unfortunately, homosexuals do not keep these diseases to themselves, since many have sex with women as well and then these infections spread to the larger community. In addition, homosexuals are likely to have sex with minor boys.

It's also difficult to believe that homosexuality is something genetically transmitted and unchangeable like skin color. Like for example alcoholism, there is a genetic influence, however culture plays a huge role. Until the 1944 murder of a homosexual, the New York Times makes no reference whatsoever to a homosexual residing in the New York area. Could they all have been so secretive for generations? It seems hardly likely.

246 comments:

1 – 200 of 246   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

I understand the Uganda has decided to pass a law making homosexual rape of a child a capital offense. Same with knowingly spreading AIDS. This is due to the major AIDS problem that Uganda has.

zy said...

Yawn :]

Anonymous said...

"The first and most important reason is: Because God said so."

It's none of his business.

All human contact and activity poses a real or potential health risk.

Consider circumcision: "The immediate complications of circumcision may be classified as hemorrhage, infection, surgical mishap, other miscellaneous complications, and death." (Doctors Against Circumcision)

jewish philosopher said...

"It's none of his business."

Well that's nonsense. God created us. See Genesis 2:7

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0102.htm#7

Therefore we are His slaves and we must follow His rules or face devastating consequences. (Regarding sodomy, look what happened to Sodom Genesis 19:24.)

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0119.htm#24

"Consider circumcision"

I have. The World Health Organization recommends it while the American Academy of Pediatrics does not discourage it.

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2007/pr10/en/index.html

http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;103/3/686

Anonymous said...

"God created us."

So what? Is it your dad's business who you sleep with?

"we must follow His rules or face devastating consequences."

But he loves us, right? Ha!

jewish philosopher said...

"Is it your dad's business who you sleep with?"

If he created you from chemicals in a laboratory, I guess he would.

"But he loves us, right?"

Who told you that? Billy Graham?

If you totally commit yourself to obeying Him, then maybe.

Anonymous said...

"If he created you from chemicals in a laboratory, I guess he would."

Nah, he wouldn't. If you believe in free will and objective morality, then you must not allow special pleading for slavery. It's wrong.

"If you totally commit yourself to obeying Him, then maybe."

Sorry, I refuse to commit myself to imaginary beings. I think it's better to commit myself to being the best person I can and to attaining a happy and fulfilling life surrounded by loving friends and family. Fantasy beings have nothing to offer me.

jewish philosopher said...

"Nah, he wouldn't."

If you built it, you own it and you make the rules.

"Sorry, I refuse to commit myself to imaginary beings."

You're simply living in denial of reality.

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

You know there are homeless drug addicts who think they are the smart ones, living the good life of real enjoyment. Denial is not just a river in Egypt.

Anonymous said...

"If you built it, you own it and you make the rules."

Not if you make it autonomous, self-aware, self-directing, able to learn, and independent.

"You're simply living in denial of reality."

Seems you are talking about yourself, as God is imaginary.

jewish philosopher said...

"Not if you make it autonomous, self-aware, self-directing, able to learn, and independent."

That's not relevant. If you created it from scratch, in any court, it's yours.

"God is imaginary."

Produce one substantial proof that God does not exist and/or that evolution created us.

Anonymous said...

According to the book "Who Really Cares" religious people give more money to charity, in total, per capita, and as a pecentage of income. They also are more likely to voluneer their time, and to donate blood. So if yuo want to be the best person you can, then religion will certainly help.

ZY Anon said...

"Produce one substantial proof that God does not exist"

Prove that Zuess doesn't exist.

Anonymous said...

You cannot be an orthodox Jew. You are some sort of sock puppet for the KKK or worse. No orthodox Jew I have ever met revels in cruelty and violence as you do.

Shalmo said...

So will these laws be applied to the hundreds of thousands of rabbis caught molesting little boys? You hear about a new one every two days so I am wondering if you willing to take these laws to their logical extensions?

jewish philosopher said...

"Prove that Zuess doesn't exist."

No problem. Deut. 6:4

"Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one."

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0506.htm#4

clearly implying that there is not a pantheon of gods or a Zeus, King of the Gods.

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

"No orthodox Jew I have ever met revels in cruelty"

Who revels in cruelty more, the gay rights activists whose success has so far caused the death of about 25 million people

http://www.avert.org/worldstats.htm

or me, who advocates for the beheading of a few sodomists per year?

"hundreds of thousands of rabbis caught molesting little boys"

Shalmo, excuse me, but I think you mean hundreds of millions of rabbis. Or maybe billions.

Anonymous said...

jewish philosopher said...
"Prove that Zuess doesn't exist."

No problem. Deut. 6:4

"Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one."

Hmmmm,
I suppose when you are trying to prove the torah using the torah, the logical fallacy of circular reasoning need not apply. Well, I really didn't expect much more from someone who wants to execute all gay people. Its the same expression of certitude directed with the same pernicious pathology.

jewish philosopher said...

No idiot. I have disproved polytheism from the Torah. I have proven Torah here.

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

zy said...

"You shall have no other gods before me."

Meaning there are other gods, just don't worship them.

Anywhy, you're proof texts only show what Jews are commanded to believe, it doesn't prove reality.

jewish philosopher said...

In the Torah no other god ever makes any apearance - because they don't exist.

Now back to my challenge - provide one reasonably convincing proof that God does not exist or that evolution created us.

zy said...

"In the Torah no other god ever makes any apearance - because they don't exist."

Socrates didn't make any appearance in the Bible. Does that mean he didn't exist?

Besides, other gods appear in many other ancient texts, which you haven't proven as frauds.

Back to my challenge-- provide convincing proof that Zuess did not exist.

You can't.

jewish philosopher said...

Sure I can.

The Torah, which is authentic prophesy as I have amply demonstrated in this blog, says there is only one god, the God of Israel, YHWH, as explained above.

So, no Zeus.

zy said...

"The Torah, which is authentic prophesy as I have amply demonstrated in this blog,"

In your own mind only.

No more demonstratively authentic than the Quran or New Testament and their prophecies. A sophisticated fraud. Like the Zohar.

Elohim and Adonai-- plural for Gods. Evidently ancient man was used to referring to their deities in the plural, and the Israelites continued with it in the Torah. He couldn't come up a name in singular form?

The burden of proof is on you, not skeptics.

jewish philosopher said...

"A sophisticated fraud."

No other religion has been able to convince its followers that God revealed Himself to millions of their ancestors, because such a fraud is impossible.

"The burden of proof is on you, not skeptics."

And I have presented proof.

But the burden of proof for evolution is upon you, not the creationists.

zy said...

"And I have presented proof."

The same "proofs" as other religions.

All frauds are possible and in fact did happen. "Mass revelation" fraud is no different than any other. People who are illiterate and without documentation about their remote history will believe anything that explains things to them. The perpetrator simply explains to them that the tradition is lost and thus they forgot. That is human nature. Plus, myths get distorted over time.

The bible itself describes periods of "forgetting" the torah, then "rediscovering" it, (like in ezra/nehemia) and people believe it.

Proof: Think of 90% of American Jews, assimilated and secular. They know nothing of a "mass revelation" at Sinai. Yet occasionally some decide to accept it and become religious. Why? because they're told that they forgot, they lost the tradition, etc, and there's a book, too, so they accept it. Same with other religions.


Rabbi Slifkin wrote a good monograph on KeZayit. The achronim managed to convince people that an olive was really the size of an giant egg. Totally false, based on all of the evidence. But people like you believe it. Why? Because religious people are gullible when it comes to rabbis telling them things.

jewish philosopher said...

If you're going to accept the concept that anyone will believe anything, then I suppose there is no reason to believe in the Holocaust or the Apollo moon landings,

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

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

and surely no reason to believe in George Washington or Napoleon. And anything prior to the invention of printing is of course the work of imaginative medieval scribes - including Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, etc.

Or do you only apply this type of logic to Judaism, because in this case you would be obligated to make some sacrifice and denial is easier?

Anonymous said...

ZY:

The passage in Nehemia that you are referencing talks about a the Leviyim who explained everything to the people. So there was a core group of people who still knew the Torah. It was not completly fogotten.

And many assimilated Jews that I know do believe in the Divine origin of the Torah, as do many Christians. They rationalize by saying that we don't need mitzvas now, or halachas to evolve, etc.

And I understand that the controversy about the Kezayit was due to the fact that one of the Achronim found that the eggs layed by chickens in his town were smaller than those described by the Gemora. The assumption was that chickens got smaller. This happens to domesticated animals, sometimes. The problem was based on an empirical finding, very scientific.

Anonymous said...

And I think that even the most illiterate people, when told that God appeared to the Grandparents and gave them a complex set of laws would ask, "then why didn't my Grandfather tell me, or at least write it down?" I know I would.

zy said...

"when told that God appeared to the Grandparents"

Not your grandparents, but your projenitors from hundreds of years ago. And you already had some elements of the myth as part of your story. You wouldn't necessarily have heard about some details from your parents. Did your parents tell you about the civil war, or any other events from 300 years ago in their country of origin?

Most people don't know more than 2-3 generations back, even with modern printing presses. Kal VaChomer back in biblical times.

"And many assimilated Jews that I know do believe in the Divine origin of the Torah"

Maybe a miniscule minority.

"The assumption was that chickens got smaller. "

But a false assumption based on scientific ignorance and in defiance of plain common sense that had prevailed up until then: an olive is an olive.

The point of this, and the Nehemia thing is, that even with a supposed "tradition" people can be convinced that what they knew was incorrect. In Nehemia, why wouldn't people, who supposedly knew Torah only a few generations earlier and forgot it, say to Ezra, "what are you talking about, we never heard about those holidays and laws, etc. " Instead they believed him. Just as they believed whoever invented the myth of mass revelation.

So the "kuzari argument" is worthless. Just read about how founding myths in general get started, spread, and change over time.

"I suppose there is no reason to believe in the Holocaust or the Apollo moon landings..."

There are multiple and independent sources of confirmation of those events. In contrast, say, to Homer's works, whose events historians are skeptical about. In fact, we aren't even convinced that Homer was a real person. Same with the Bible.

As far as personal sacrifice, I sacrifice more than you, JP, because I live with the finality of death and the knowledge than shit happens in this world, not part of any master plan. I think that's bigger than any price that you pay, say, for wearing a black hat or praying with a minyan 3 times a day. You sacrifice personal convenience for false security.

jewish philosopher said...

zy, you are just engaging in wishful thinking, a common logical fallacy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wishful_thinking#As_a_logical_fallacy

There does not exist a plausible, detailed, atheistic scenario for the origin of Judaism, as I have pointed out in this post.

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

"I sacrifice more than you, JP,"

Oh, you sure do, in the longer term, but in the short term your life is much easier (not happier, but easier) and that's one of the attractions of atheism. An alcoholic could also say "My life is much harder than sober people's. I have to sleep on the sidewalk, never take a bath and feel sick whenever I'm not drunk. You can't say I'm taking the easy way out."

Anonymous said...

zy:

But I heard about the civil from other people and books. People woul have asked their friens and nieghbors about something as important as a national revelation. And even though the priting press was not invented writing was. People would ask why it wasn't written down.

And do yuo know the percentage of assimilated jews who believe in the divine origin of the Torah?

And Nehemia does not ay anywhere that htey forgot the entire Torah. It only discusses Succos. In fact the it says that tey had Sifrei Torah with them so it was written down. And the people asked for Nehemia to read and teach them. So they about the Torah and accepted it as their authentic history. At most some details were forgotten.

And most founding myths start with a revelation to one person, not the whole nation.

And ome of th Achronim measured his eggs and found that they were smaller than what was described in the Gemora. And if you've ever goen olive shopping, you'd know that they come in a large variety of sizes.

Leah B. said...

ZY:

I think you’re not discussing the kuzari principle. The kuzari principle states that it is not possible to fabricate a claim that an entire people, one’s identifiable ancestors, all experienced something significant, central and memorable, if it were untrue.

The egg example is obviously incomparable. That is neither a central, memorable event (or an event at all), and it wasn’t on any kind of a mass scale.

When you say “Just read about how founding myths in general get started, spread, and change over time.”

That’s exactly the point. We don’t have any myths like this one. We don’t have any claims that an entire nation witnessed something of this magnitude. And the claim isn’t about some *other* people- the Tanach makes the claim that the ancestors of the very people it is speaking to witnessed these events- and not some people, but the entirety of Israel was present there.

So if we’re going to assume there’s a naturalistic explanation for it, it begs the question as to why we have no examples in history of a people claiming the same thing. After all, if according to natural human myth formation, if this is a natural result of that, it should cause us to ask why we only have one example of it. That would indicate a naturalistic explanation is far from the best answer.

jewish philosopher said...

Atheism has everything to do with hormones and nothing to do with logic.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/07/jewish-skeptics-and-sex.html

Abe said...

jewish philosopher said
>>> Following the Daf Yomi program, the page of the Talmud which was studied yesterday was Sanhedrin 54 This page states that sodomy is punished with death. In fact, this is a death penalty for both Jews and non-Jews. I believe that the United States government should amend the Constitution to make male to male anal intercourse a capital crime.<<<

This is a classic case of misinterpertation, a prevarication of Leviticus 20:13. We all know that there were a few special classes of Jews accorded special priveleges which were not bestowed upon their bretheren. For example, the Cohanim were priveleged to eat terumah - apportioned sacrificial offerings. Only they were permitted to partake, others were condemmed to punishement if they did.
Homosexuality, is similarly shielded from capital offence status, but ONLY for homosexuals. If a straight man were to engage in anal sex, the torah says that he should be put to death, but like Cohanim, gays are a protected class who may proceed with their lifestyle without any anxiety whatsoever. In fact, the Torah seems to bestow a special appreciation for them, jsut like the Cohanim.
How do we know this to be true? One only has to cite the the most famous same-sex couple in the Torah - King David and Jonathon. Indeed god blessed their romantic, comitted sexual partnership. The Bible devotes more chapters to their love story than any other human love story in the Bible, except for Shir HaShirmim. What does God intend us to learn from that dramatic emphasis? That it is lawful only for homosexuals!
Jonathan and David were same sex lovers, based on the way God presents their story in scripture and based on the Hebrew words used to describe their relationship. Note the florid language and men kissing men, indicating a homosexual relationship. The torah speaks in glowing terms of Jonathan and David’s loving intimacy, exchanging clothing, embracing, weeping together, hugging and kissing each other.
One has only to cite the following from 1 Samuel 18 to recognize that homosexuality was a proud custom in ancient Israel:
18:1 And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
18:2 And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house.
18:3 Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.
18:4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.
Was the celebrated King David gay? You bet!
Now that I have utterly and incontroveriably proven that god countenanced David's and Jonathan's homosexuality, you JP need to appologize for desiring to kill them all.

jewish philosopher said...

No Abe - love and sex are not the same thing.

You and your partner have to break up. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Seems like David and Jonathan loved and has sex with each other. Yowza!

jewish philosopher said...

Love and sex are not the same. There are different words in Hebrew.

Anonymous said...

"The American Red Cross will not accept a blood donation from practicing male homosexuals."

Give the exact quote from the Red Cross that says this, with the right link and location. I cannot find it.

jewish philosopher said...

Click on Hiv/aids. Or call the Red Cross.

Anonymous said...

HIV/AIDS is different than 'practicing male homosexuals.' There are people with AIDS who are not male and not homosexuals. There are also people who are homosexuals and not male and not infected with HIV/AIDS. As far as I can tell, the Red Cross does in fact accept blood donations from practicing male homosexuals.

But you claimed 'The American Red Cross will not accept a blood donation from practicing male homosexuals.' You even gave a link to the Red Cross. So, you are either a malicious liar or a liar blinded by what we wishes were true.

Is anyone surprised?

jewish philosopher said...

On the red cross web page I link to click on the word "HIV/aids".

zy said...

" it begs the question as to why we have no examples in history of a people claiming the same thing."

Uniqueness does not imply truth or supernatural. You could say the same thing about the "unique" founding story of Christianity, with no examples from history of a man going around and doing miracles, then claiming he was son of god, then dying on a cross and being resurrected (which supposedly was witnessed by many people). No other example in history. So what?

The bottom line is that you have not shown why it would be any harder to believe the Jewish myth than any other, when referring to events many hundreds of years earlier, while most people were illiterate. The fact that the myth says 'all of your ancestors' instead on just "Moshe"--- there is no difference whatsoever in the formation and acceptance of a myth. The distinction you make is not in reality a distinction that is elemental to myth formation.

In the case of the Torah, the myth probably started around a few people experiencing a revelation, then eventually the myth changing to believing that there were a over a million people there who witnessed it.

The question is, is the supposed "impossibility" fabricating the claim, because of lack of examples, or because of logical impossibility. On both counts the "proof" fails.

jewish philosopher said...

"In the case of the Torah, the myth probably started around a few people experiencing a revelation, then eventually the myth changing to believing that there were a over a million people there who witnessed it."

If Judaism began about the same way Christianity did, then logically the Torah should read about the way the New Testement does - a few people saw Christ risen, a few people would have heard God at Sinai.

What you're saying is pretty much what a Holocaust denier would say "Well, the story started with a few Jews being murdered and then it eventually changed to being six million."

Yeah, right.

Seriously, try to present a detailed, plausible, atheistic scenario for the origin of Judaism or admit you can't.

zy said...

"What you're saying is pretty much what a Holocaust denier would say "Well, the story started with a few Jews being murdered and then it eventually changed to being six million."

Reductio ad holocaustum
Poor analogy, I already said why.


I didn't say Judaism started the way Christianity did. Maybe it did or didn't. But that doesn't matter. The myth formed later, like other founding myths. No need for a detailed plausible aetheist scenario, any more than for other religions.

Go ahead and disprove Christianity. Prove to me that it is a fraud. Jesus didn't live. He didn't walk on water and cure people. No sermon on the mount. No resurrection. Give me a detailed plausible scenario. If you do so, you will also be prove Judaism is a fraud as well.

You can only prove that Jews believed in mass revelation at Sinai, as far back as about 200 BC, from which there are some manuscripts. Before that you have no idea and no proof what they believed, since there are no manuscripts going back further.

You have no proof, for example, that in the year 1000 BC, israelites actually believed in mass revelation. Maybe they believed in Molech, or canaanite El.

It is entirely possible that Ezra and his cadre of scribes and priests "rediscovered" the Torah, and people believed them. So the people would be told, that 800 years prior, there was a mass revelation. Would they remember that, even if it happened? Evidently not, but yet they believed it. Otherwise, how could they forget Rosh Hashana and Succot, then accept Ezra's "text"?

Say, up until that time they believed that Moshe got the revelation. Then, Ezra revealed to them, that in fact there were a million people there who witnessed it. What's the problem with them believing that myth? After all, he has a text "proving" it.

Your logic is something like, "the bible says it, and therefore true until proven otherwise"

jewish philosopher said...

"It is entirely possible that Ezra and his cadre of scribes and priests "rediscovered" the Torah, and people believed them."

Implausible.

First of all, it should say someplace "Ezra rediscovered the Torah". But it doesn't

Second of all, the Samaritans, enemies of Ezra, would not have accepted his new book.

The reason why you can't find a plausible atheistic origin for Judaism is because there isn't one because atheism is false.

zy said...

I think this pretty much puts it to rest

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/shlomi_tal/sinai.html

Totally blows the argument out of the water, despite your protestations otherwise.

jewish philosopher said...

It blows nothing.

"It would have been recorded everywhere, or at least in all cultures having a writing system and astronomical awareness."

Like for example the Thera eruption, of this period, which is recorded nowhere?

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

"From the start, the Sinai Argument suffers from having a single-source witness, without corroboration from outside sources."

Which is true of everything we know about history prior to about 1500 CE.

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

Really, Moon landing conspiracy theories start looking good compared to origin of Judaism conspiracy theories.

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

zy said...

Your counterexamples are pretty lame.

Read how myths start.

jewish philosopher said...

If similar evidence were presented regarding intelligent aliens, I'm sure you would have no problem accepting it.

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

However, if God is involved, and commandments, and heaven and hell - then no way, it's a myth, it's impossible, Ezra made it up, anything just not that!

And in the same breath you'll tell me that Darwin's monkey myth is a proven fact.

Absolute lunacy.

Anonymous said...

If someone tried to say that the a war was fought around 1880 between the United States and Brazil no one would believe it becuase it would have been known and written down. The same thing with the mass revelation at Sinai, the central event inthe Nation's history. No one would accept someone saying that it happened if it didn't.

Abe said...

>>>No one would accept someone saying that it happened if it didn't<<<

Why not ?

Leah B said...

ZY: you said:

"Uniqueness does not imply truth or supernatural"

I didn't say it *necessarily* did, but our inability to provide any actual human examples of such a thing happening makes your argument that it is naturalistic all the more difficult to defend. If myth formation is likely to give us such a result, how is it we have never seen this result before? On what basis therefore can we claim it's naturalistic? The more we defend the claim that the sinai belief is due to myth formation, the more difficult it becomes to defend why such a myth of a national revelatory experience was never repeated in history.

You gave Christianity as an example. That's a PERFECT example- for example, there are many examples of dying and rising dieties, of saviour myths, even resurrection beliefs (shabbatai tzvi). Obviously it doesn't need to be the exact same (and I never said that), but we can see there are enough workable examples and parallels, that Christianity does have some parallels. In other words, the same naturalistic factors that caused the rise of Christianity caused the rise of those other beliefs.

ZY: When you say "read how myths start," it's pretty disingenuous, because you need to provide actual examples of myths starting where a people come to believe that all of their ancestors, a large and identifiable group, experienced something central memorable and significant, that we know to be false. If you can't provide it, then we can't really dismiss the Sinai claim, can we?

Abe: >>>No one would accept someone saying that it happened if it didn't<<<

Why not ?

You raise a valid point, which sounds logical and very intuitive. But we need to see solid examples of where people come to believe that all of their ancestors, a large and identifiable (and recent enough to be able to draw a connection to) group, experienced something central memorable and significant, that we know to be false.

We can't claim that peoples will come to believe this unless we have other examples of it happening.

Abe said...

jewish philosopher said...
>>>If similar evidence were presented regarding intelligent aliens, I'm sure you would have no problem accepting it.<<<
True, because the evidence would perforce be credible.

>>>However, if God is involved, and commandments, and heaven and hell - then no way, it's a myth, it's impossible, Ezra made it up, anything just not that!<<<
True, because that is not evidence and incorporates no credibility.

jewish philosopher said...

Abe, so things that bother you are, "perforce", just not real.

I think you may have a bright future in politics. Does Obama know about you?

Anonymous said...

What about the "miracles" at Medjugorje?

Either these are bona-fide miracles and we all better start following Jesus the Savior or these are something else that people are, inexplicably, perpetuating as holy doings.

Don't BS us with Kuzari nonsense. It's the easiest thing in the world to get scientifically illiterate folk to believe in this or that. A powerful thunderstorm in the middle of the day would have had them cowering in abject fear of "the lord."

And once a few folks realize that religion can further their individual dreams of wealth and power, the surely they'll promote it up. Why not? It's THE most effective way to keep most of the masses from asking too many questions. The people may rob and steal, but they'll stay right in line with whoever has administrative authority.

jewish philosopher said...

"What about the "miracles" at Medjugorje?"

Six people claim to have seen the Virgin since 1981. Quite a miracle. In any mental hospital I probably can find even bigger miracles.

http://www.medjugorje.org/overview.htm

"It's the easiest thing in the world to get scientifically illiterate folk to believe in this or that."

That's good to know. You should have a chat with Stanley A. McChrystal, present US commander in Afghanistan, a country with about a 72% illiteracy rate.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_A._McChrystal

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_literacy_rate_in_Afghanistan

Advise the General to just wait for a little bad weather and then announce to everybody "The Lord has spoken" and they'll stay right in line with whoever has administrative authority. That's it, war over.

Skeptics are so smart! Awesome!

Anonymous said...

"believe that the United States government should amend the Constitution to make male to male anal intercourse a capital crime."

Um...OK. What about male on male blow jobs? Are those OK with the Lord?

How 'bout two women with strap-ons. Is that permissible?

Thank goodness America had the good sense to separate church and state. I hope they eventually separate church to some other place, like the Sun.

Anonymous said...

"Advise the General to just wait for a little bad weather and then announce to everybody "The Lord has spoken" and they'll stay right in line with whoever has administrative authority. That's it, war over."

The native Afghanis already have the power and they're all already invested in the truth of the Koran, which after all was invented by an illiterate sex degenerate.

You must feel so great and humane and wise and happy when you pray for the death of people. That must make you feel great to say how moral and superior you are while you wish for other people to die. Did you do a little dance when the earthquake in Haiti happened? Did you offer even one dime to help those people? Or do they not count? Or are you just unemployed and trying to save up for your next meal?

jewish philosopher said...

"Thank goodness America had the good sense to separate church and state."

Actually, religiously inspired laws are perfectly Constitutional. Take Sunday blue laws for example.

"The native Afghanis already have the power"

So these illiterate people who will just believe anything exist where exactly? In your imagination?

Abe said...

"It's the easiest thing in the world to get scientifically illiterate folk to believe in this or that."
jewish philosopher said...
>>>That's good to know. You should have a chat with Stanley A. McChrystal, present US commander in Afghanistan, a country with about a 72% illiteracy rate.<<<

That's right. All those illiterate people believe in Mohammed and the mythical tenets of Islam. That's about equaly as fanciful as the miraculous contrivances attributed to god and his god and his groupies. Indeed, it is quite easy to get scientifically illiterate folks to believe in this or that.

jewish philosopher said...

So go do it Abe. Tell the Afghans that they must listen to the Great Fire God McChrystal.

It will interesting to see how many bags your remains return in.

Anonymous said...

But they wouldn't believe in Mohammed if someone tried to tell them that their grandfathers themselves saw the miracles and didn't write it down.

And the miraccles of the new testimate were witnessed by someone else's grandparents.

Leah B said...

Anonymous, you're talking two issues here.

I think you are suggesting both that A/ It is possible to convince a group that they all 'experienced' god, and B/ It is possible to convince a people that all of their ancestors all experienced a national revelation, completely fabricated.

Now, the kuzari principle deals with B, but I'll address both.

You say:

"Don't BS us with Kuzari nonsense. It's the easiest thing in the world to get scientifically illiterate folk to believe in this or that. A powerful thunderstorm in the middle of the day would have had them cowering in abject fear of "the lord."

Stop and consider the implications of that for a moment. You say it's easy to get a people to believe that they all heard and experienced god, and that they could easily misinterpret a thunderstorm or something like it.

Well, dare I point out that history is filled with many illiterate peoples, many thunderstorms, and yet you're unable to provide any examples of a people who believe they or their ancestors all experienced god in a national way. That doesn't strike you as odd? That you're trumpeting the 'naturalistic' explanations of this event, saying that it's soooo easy to get a people to believe such a thing happened to them or their ancestors, and yet you haven't given any examples yet of such a thing. If it's so naturalistically possible, why don't we have other examples of it? The more you try to say it has non-supernatural explanations, the more you must explain the dearth of parallels.

This gets back to the frequency issue. You claim there's a naturalistic explanation, yet are unable to provide examples. So on what basis is it naturalistic? Because it sounds logical? That's not enough- if you're trying to prove that real people in the real world actually come to believe things like this, you need to provide real examples of it. Mere conjecture is hardly sufficient.

As for the example of Medjugorje, I'm glad you raise it because it will help to clear up a misunderstanding.

Firstly, Medjugorje is not relevant to the kuzari principle because it's not a story being told in the future that an entire people was present at Medjugorje. We know there were people there; nobody doubts that. The question is what did they see- not that there were people there who experienced something. So that's not relevant to the kuzari principle per se.

Now, on the issue of Medjugorje or others like it, it is very interesting to note that nobody even *claims* that god or mary appeared to everyone. No- the claim is that the sun appeared to dance, or that there was some strange atmospheric event. Well, that's hardly the same thing, is it? Nobody claims that it was any kind of a national revelatory experience of god or anything like it. They say the sun looked funny. AND- it does have parallels, such as Conyers, Georgia. So it's much easier to say it's naturalistically explainable, since we have other examples of it, unlike, of course, Sinai.

So to recap: the kuzari principle says one cannot convince a people that all of their ancestors experienced such an event if it were untrue. In order to defeat this claim, you simply need to provide examples of this. Simply repeating that "it's the easiest thing in the world" to get a people to believe such a thing about their ancestors is grossly insufficient. You need to provide real examples, not philosphical platitudes.

About the event itself: Nobody claims that Medjugorje never existed or that people were never there. People argue about *what* happened there. The issue with Medjugorje is that nobody even claims god spoke to everyone, so I'm not sure how that has much relevance to Sinai's claim of a national revelatory experience.

zy said...

Here's the problem:

The Kuzari "argument" distracts the listener from considering that the burden of proof remains on the believer. Somehow the conversation devolves to demands to "disprove" the kuzari argument, which makes unfounded assumptions about the nature of myths and belief.

The real issue is, what types of evidence does one consider strong or weak for determining the truth of an event or theory. In approximate descending order of power:

1. Physical evidence (including scientific experiments)
2. Independent multiple-sources first hand eyewitness testimony
3. Multiple independent sources of written documentation.
4. Single written documents.
5. Indirect, second-hand (hearsay)testimony
6. Rumors

The Kuzari argument, at best, relies on 4-6. This doesn't imply falshehood, but is a much lower reliability than sources 1-3. The kuzari argument supporter asserts an elevated reliability, on the basis of unproven and unfounded claims about human psychology (what people believe) and sociology (how myths spread). The inability to come up with an exact parallel to sinai mass revelation does nothing to elevate the level of evidence, which remains low and faith-based as with other religions.

All of JP's counter examples involving the holocaust, the moon landing, etc all involve evidence on levels 1-3, which he disingenuously compares to his faith-based claims.

Many events (biblical or otherwise) from the ancient period involve evidence at levels 4-5, and are appropriately viewed with a critical eye by historians and scholars. There are certainly not viewed as inerrant truth, as JP suggests.

Anonymous said...

But if the revelation at Sinai was at level 4-6 n one would ever have accepted authentic history.

jewish philosopher said...

"The Kuzari "argument" distracts the listener from considering that the burden of proof remains on the believer."

Sure it does. And I am providing abundant proof.

First, the Watchmaker Principle and what I call the Anti-conspiracy Principle.

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

Then consider the unique structure of Jewish literature.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/03/jewish-literature-seeing-effects-of.html

The unique wisdom of the Torah.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/06/gods-wisdom.html

The Torah's remarkable candor.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/06/spies-narrative.html

Regarding questions from archeology and paleontology, I have found plausible answers.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/09/how-i-understand-genesis.html

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/02/torah-and-archaeology.html

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/10/biblical-deluge.html

Atheists are left relying on a barrage of logical fallacies.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/06/post-about-comments.html

These are merely rationalizations for a debauched lifestyle, which ends badly.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/01/aging-atheist.html

zy said...

That's a nice web of lies you've weaved for yourself, JP. Believe them if you want, but nobody else is convinced.

The world is becoming more secular and more atheist precisely because your arguments speak to noone, except to those already convinced.

BTW, my previous post applies to the watchmaker analogy as well. The logical leap from "objects in nature appear to have order and complexity" to "There exists an intelligent god who created everything" is the weakest form of evidence. Your demand for a "self-assembling" machine to disprove it is nothing more than a distraction from the weak nature of the argument itself. The only evidence that a life form provides is of its projenitor.

On the other hand, the physical evidence for evolution is overwhelming, but it doesn't agree with your interpretation of your book. Boo-hoo.

jewish philosopher said...

The watchmaker analogy is based on the purposeful complexity of life - an irrefutable sign of intelligent design.

I'm still waiting for one reasonably convincing proof that God does not exist and/evolution created us.

The truth is that the world is probably growing more Islamic, if anything. Atheists don't bother to have kids at a replacement level. Bangaledesh has a higher population than Russia.

Abe said...

jewish philosopher said...
>>>So go do it Abe. Tell the Afghans that they must listen to the Great Fire God McChrystal.

It will interesting to see how many bags your remains return in.<<<

Why should they necessarily believe McChrystal?
They have their own Fire God Allah whose supremacy is acclaimed by all those illiterate Afghans. And you also have your own Fire God Hashem, Elohim, Adonoy or whatever your fanciful imagination chooses to call him.
It is true, It is quite easy to get scientifically illiterate folks to believe in this or that. Or that your god is the only omnipotent deity.

jewish philosopher said...

I see. But the ancient Israelites had no beliefs, traditions, history, rituals, nothing until Ezra suddenly popped up and they all followed him like zombies.

Any proof to support that? Or am I also supposed to be a zombie?

Anonymous said...

@Leah B.

I do think it is possible to convince people of A and B. You have misunderstood my deliberately exaggerated point, however. So let me take a more recent and real life example. Pat Robertson claims that the earthquake in Haiti was yet another example of God’s vengeance on the people for having allegedly made a deal with the devil. Millions of people agree with Pat. This example is similar to B in that a person considered to be an authority declares his reading of a momentous event, and his followers assent to it. The example is not all that far from A, either. Remember that shock and sadness you felt when news of the quake’s devastation hit? Well, that was God speaking to you directly.

Again, you believe the authority and poof!...national revelation.

So, when we really start to consider the Kuzari principle, it’s not very compelling at all. It assumes that people are more diligent and less irrational than we actually are. People believe Glen Beck’s nonsense. When people pray to their “false gods” (not your god, of course), they erroneously believe they are having genuine religious experiences. People believe aliens landed in New Mexico and that they were personally abducted. Everything I have presented ties directly to real-life examples where people are told what they saw or felt, and the people believe.

Every year, my re-telling of the story about the great fish I caught makes the fish a little bigger and grander. I suspect that the Sinai story in just that: the mother of all fish stories.

In addition, we surely have to acknowledge that there is no significant evidence that either the exodus or Sinai actually happened. There’s no plausible evidence that leads us to think Moses was a real person.

Medjugorje absolutely is relevant because it’s about claims of revelation and the way they get communicated and perpetuated as truth. Capitalize on the emotions. Make claims that it cannot be explained. Declaim about the great mystery of it all. And don’t forget to have people donate money.

To sum up: you think it’s improbable that people would believe something that didn’t happen. I say that it’s much more probable than you are willing to admit, especially if you get a charismatic guy framing matters and you tell the people something that will make them feel good about themselves.

But Kuzari is nothing but a distraction from the real problem: there’s no real evidence behind the exodus, Sinai, moses, or god.

Leah B said...

Anonymous, I think you've created a rather misleading typology here:

1. Physical evidence (including scientific experiments)
2. Independent multiple-sources first hand eyewitness testimony
3. Multiple independent sources of written documentation.
4. Single written documents.
5. Indirect, second-hand (hearsay)testimony
6. Rumors
-----
Firstly, I would caution you to reconsider asking to see physical evidence of the event. That can be an illogical request considering the fact that by nature, physical evidence CANNOT exist in circumstances such as this one (see KA Kitchen). So lacking physical evidence in a circumstance where physical evidence *cannot* exist does not have an impact on the reliability.

Secondly, considering we do not have any peoples who have a legend about the entirety of their ancestors which we know to be completely fabricated without basis in some historical event, we know that it cannot be concocted out of thin air, and thus must have some basis in an event. There are many members of a people all claiming that their ancestors were present at this formative event at Sinai. The fact that they each didn't publish independent memoirs is irrelevant.

Thirdly, multiple poor sources together do not equal in evidential value one good one. So if I provided you multiple alleged eyewitnesses (such as Joseph Smith), it's of little value because there is a high likelihood it was fabricated considering who the people were. After all, such things HAVE indeed happened before.

Under # 4, you list "single written documents" as a category. C'mon, that's hardly telling the whole story, is it? Sure, it may be a single document, but that document makes the claim that this event happened in the presence of the entire people. This document claims the entire people are witnesses, and this document was in the possession of the very people who the claim is made about- it's not as if this claims everyone in China or India saw something- it's about THEIR ancestors. So it takes us back to the question:

Has anyone ever successfully concocted a claim that the entirety of one's ancestors experienced something central and significant (also fairly recent and within collective memory), that we know to be completely concocted and having no basis at all in history? If not, then I'm afraid you're presenting theory, not real defeating examples.

The strength of the sinai claim is not that it's only one source (obviously), but that the source makes claims about the entire people, claims which would be central, significant and memorable if the event were true. This level of verifiability makes it very difficult to accept that sinai does not have at least *some* basis in historical reality. Once we accept that, then we can discuss the myth formation objection.

The fact remains that such a claim is far stronger than any handful of witnesses because we have an entire people who claim it was their direct ancestors who were present. If you can give me other examples where a people believe all of their direct ancestors were present at such an event, and we know it to be completely false and lacking any historical basis whatsoever, then you have a case.

Lacking that, I'm afraid you can't justifiably claim that people can be convinced of such a thing if it were false. That may sound perfectly logical intuitively, but in terms of historical reality, it doesn't succeed.

Anonymous said...

The key point: "This level of verifiability makes it very difficult to accept that sinai does not have at least *some* basis in historical reality."

Your starred "some" speaks volumes. You don't know what basis in historical reality - if ANY - obtains wrt sinai. What you have is a reason to believe that there might be *some* basis, somehow.

You WANT to believe. Terrific. More power to ya. But your wants and your beliefs do not give you the right or the authority to pronounce on homosexuality. Your authorities for calling for the death of homosexuals are highly suspect. Your authorities carry zero weight.

Anonymous said...

"physical evidence CANNOT exist in circumstances such as this one"

no reason to think that there would be any physical traces from three million people leaving a major empire, camping at a mountain and then wandering (and occasionally warring) with local peoples for 40 years.

zy said...

" If you can give me other examples where a people believe all of their direct ancestors were present at such an event, and we know it to be completely false ... "

Rather than demand that I give an example, I demand that you give examples of a parallel ancient claim of mass revelation that turned out to be TRUE, then YOU have a case. Why do I have to prove your claim false, as though it is true unless proven otherwise? The reverse is true! It is you who is doing the inductive reasoning to prove something, you must then provide the data points.

And, once you introduce the supernatural/miracle component (why can't there be physical evidence?), then that is the end of the conversation, since you can then say anything is possible without it being logical or proven.

Having said that, I don't deny that there might be some kernel of truth to the revelation experience, similar to other nations founding myths.

I don't see any problem with my typology. These categories are used in scientific inquiry, history and courts. It's how we arrive at the "truth", as much as we human beings can. It is only religious claims that are proven by such mental tricks such as watchmaker analogy or kuzari argument.

jewish philosopher said...

"To sum up: you think it’s improbable that people would believe something that didn’t happen."

I put it differently. Perfect, mass conspiracies are unlikely if not impossible, as I explain. That's the proof.

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

"Your authorities for calling for the death of homosexuals are highly suspect."

Quite the contrary; following that law would have prevented AIDS and saved the lives of millions, demonstrating once again the Torah's divine wisdom.

Leah B said...

Anonymous, you are seriously overstating your argument, peppering them with insults, and it does not reflect well on you, nor your case.

I challenged you to provide examples where an entire people misinterpreted a thunderstorm or any other natural phenomena as a direct national communication from god. Sure, many people have believed many things, but oddly enough, how is it that nobody has ever succeeded in convincing a group that god was speaking directly to all of them? How is it that only the Israelites, only them, succeeded at such a thing? So there must have been something so uniquely brilliant- almost supernatural- about the founder of Judaism that nobody has ever managed to duplicate his success. Wouldn't you say so???

If the same naturalistic factors were present in all the cases which convinced so many people to believe strange things, how is it that such a strong (and desirable) claim- that god is speaking directly to the entire group - has never been repeated? After all, the same factors (natural phenomena, charismatic leaders, etc.) have certainly come up plenty of times.

Medjugorje, for example, is a claim that the sun appeared to dance to the people there. Firstly, maybe it did! If looking at the sun causes it to look like it's dancing, then we would expect to see this claim repeated. And we do! At Conyers, Georgia. And aliens? Plenty of examples also! Not surprising. If a set of factors cause people to believe something, then we'd expect to see it repeated in history.

But we've never seen a people ever misinterpret a thunderstorm or any other phenomena as a direct verbal communication from god to an entire people. If it were a naturalistic result of natural factors, we should be able to find a number of examples of people being convinced that god spoke audibly and directly to the entire people.

The inability to find a single one should cause you to wonder how is it the founder of Judaism could be so unbelievably brilliant as to convince his people of such a thing, since no charlatan or leader has ever been able to pass off the same thing.

I agree that people can believe crazy things! But I said it's not possible to convince a people that THIS happened- that god is speaking to all of them audibly and directly, if it didn't. People have made lots of claims. I said some of them can be fabricated, and some (like sinai) cannot be fabricated. Provide me examples where the Sinai claim has been repeated elsewhere.

On your last point, I would gently recommend reading Prof. Kenneth Kitchen's book 'On the Reliability of the Old Testament.' He was probably the doyen of Egypt scholarship of the last century, so if you're going to make such a wide claim about zero evidence, you owe it to yourself to at least glance at the opposing view.

Leah B said...

Anonymous, I starred *some* intentionally. Very intentionally!

That's the point. First, it is clear that one cannot make up from thin air a claim that god spoke to an entire people. All the examples demonstrate that such national claims have at least some basis in reality- in other words, that they're not fabricated. That eliminates the objection that a charlatan can come and simply make it up.

"You don't know what basis in historical reality - if ANY - obtains wrt sinai."

Hardly.

Once we accept that Sinai must have some real historical basis (such as a thunderstorm, as you say), we can evaluate why, if the 'embellishment' is the product of natural myth formation, why in the world has it ever been repeated or duplicated in history? If we are unable to find any other examples, your claim that it is the product of naturalistic factors has no basis in reality.

Sam said...

I think anonymous misunderstood. I think leah b means that sinai is **AT THE VERY LEAST** based on some historical event because every national claim in history does, as opposed to being completely false (as anonymous suggested).

That part of the argument doesn't obviously 'prove' the argument, but it DOES defeat his objection that some charismatic leader could have just made up the sinai claim and have the people believe it.

jewish philosopher said...

Frankly, to me most ridiculous claim made by any religion is evolution - worms turned spontaneously into people.

It's merely a religious claim proven by such mental tricks such as natural selection. There’s no real evidence behind it.

Anonymous said...

Judaism isn't a perfect mass conspiracy. Don't flatter yourself.

Your appeal to consequences isn't convincing. Besides, had ancient superstitions not forced homosexuals into hiding in the first place, AIDS might have also been prevented. The "divine wisdom" of the torah has always been part of the problem.

jewish philosopher said...

"Judaism isn't a perfect mass conspiracy."

It's just historical fact, like the Holocaust or the Apollo moon landings.

"Your appeal to consequences isn't convincing."

You're misusing that expression. Look it up.

"had ancient superstitions not forced homosexuals into hiding in the first place, AIDS might have also been prevented"

Don't post comments if you're not sober.

Leah B said...

Sigh anonymous:

From Professor Kitchen:

"The Delta is an alluvial fan of mud deposited through many millenia by the annual flooding of the Nile; it has no source of stone within it. Mud, mud and wattle, and mud-brick structures were of limited duration and use, and were repeatedly leveled and replaced, and very largely merged once more with the mud of the fields..."Biblicists must shed their naive attitudes and cease demanding 'evidence' that cannot exist."

The data is free for you to research, if you feel so inclined.

Anonymous said...

"Once we accept that Sinai must have some real historical basis...."

I don't accept this "must" at all. I see no reason to, Kitchen notwithstanding. Why do you accept it? You're hanging everything on the hope that SOMETHING happened. I see no reason to believe ANYTHING did. So far, it looks like just another story that eventually came to be viewed, mistakenly, as what actually happened. This pattern happens again and again in history, in all cultures. Surely you don't need me to point to specifics when so many are readily available?

Please don't play the insult card. I have not insulted you at all. We're talking ideas, and your trying to deflect with an "oh, you're so mean" tactic is reprehensible.

I (such as a thunderstorm, as you say), we can evaluate why, if the 'embellishment' is the product of natural myth formation, why in the world has it ever been repeated or duplicated in history? If we are unable to find any other examples, your claim that it is the product of naturalistic factors has no basis in reality.

Leah: "I challenged you to provide examples where an entire people misinterpreted a thunderstorm or any other natural phenomena as a direct national communication from god. Sure, many people have believed many things, but oddly enough, how is it that nobody has ever succeeded in convincing a group that god was speaking directly to all of them? How is it that only the Israelites, only them, succeeded at such a thing? So there must have been something so uniquely brilliant- almost supernatural- about the founder of Judaism that nobody has ever managed to duplicate his success. Wouldn't you say so???"

I have met your challenge. My position should be clear: you need to explain why I should believe that there was any event at all to be misinterpreted. My examples demonstrate that in-group and national stories (meeting both your A and B criteria) can just emerge within a culture, spread, and become taken as truth. I've explained that your position rests on a faulty, idealized conception of human behavior and rationality. If the Kuzari principle is the best support you can muster for the exodus, sinai, and moses, then you are on shaky ground indeed.

jewish philosopher said...

May I ask what basis you have for believing in Alexander the Great, Aristotle or the Peloponnesian War?

After all, in-group and national stories can just emerge within a culture, spread, and become taken as truth.

zy said...

JP and Leah B,

You didn't answer my challenge.

Your "mass conspiracy" argument is really just a theory about what people believe or don't believe, that's all. [It claims that if people were told, that 500 years ago their ancestors witnessed a revelation, they would not believe them if it did not really happen].

Please provide evidence for your theory, from other examples of ancient mass revelations which turned out to be true, since you claim people can't be fooled about this. Otherwise your claim is just guessing. You must provide examples, I do not have to provide counter-examples, since it is not I who is formulating the theory.

jewish philosopher said...

"Please provide evidence for your theory, from other examples of ancient mass revelations which turned out to be true, since you claim people can't be fooled about this."

There are endless examples of historical events witnessed by many people which turned out to be true.

leah B said...

ZY:

Kuzari: It is not possible to fabricate a national event.

Other: Prove that.

Kuzari: National myths meeting these criteria are based on solid historical reality, and not fabrications. Therefore, myths in this category are overwhelmingly (perhaps exclusively) based on solid historical reality, and Sinai, as part of this category, can reliably be seen as being based on historical reality.
-------
We see that claims meeting these criteria are based on some solid historical fact- none of them were concocted out of thin air. That demonstrates that the Sinai claim has at the very least a basis in history, and not, as some claim, a fabrication. The first objection has disappeared.

Once we look at national claims of this nature (one that is central, significant and memorable, and not believed to have occurred in prehistoric times, and are claimed to have occurred to the entire people, etc.) we find that these national claims are based on real fact. We do NOT find that peoples who have claims meeting these criteria are typically false, such as migrations, or foreign occupation, etc. There are enough examples, including the Black Plague, Turkish capture of Constantinople, French invasion of Russia, Crusades, and so on.

Of course, few would suggest it's possible to fabricate a claim like this from scratch, so the real issue is the second objection.

Some make the objection that it’s the result of naturalistic myth formation- that it did indeed start as a real event, but it was embellished over time to become what we see today.

Here *YOU* are making a claim and must provide the data to back that up. It’s not enough to claim it’s possible- you need to provide data to show that naturalistic myth formation results in such a result. In the absence of such evidence, the objection fails.

Leah B said...

Anonymous:

"My position should be clear: you need to explain why I should believe that there was any event at all to be misinterpreted."

Because every legend in history meeting these criteria has at least some historical basis! None of them are completely concocted out of thin air! Every case meeting these criteria is based on (at the very least) a real historical event or background.

Now, you point out that many are embellished, and that's a different objection, but that objection recognizes that at the very least, we know Sinai was not concocted out of thin air.

Anonymous said...

"May I ask what basis you have for believing in Alexander the Great, Aristotle or the Peloponnesian War?"

Yes, you may ask. However, it's beside the point of your post and the direction of this conversation. In other words, you are trying to sidetrack things. I bet I know why you want to do this, too,

Now, if we are going to play at being historians, then our job is to be skeptical and ask what we really and know and how so. Kuzari tries to take an end-run around the fact of our almost total lack of evidence. If we are playing historians, then we must be honest and say that we actually have very little to recommend any truth to the stories told in the bible's book of exodus.

My real target in this discussion, however, is the presumed authority given to Torah (and Talmud) to speak about what's right and wrong. As I've said, if you personally want to wear the suffocating burka of Torah, go right ahead. However, if you want to claim that anyone in society at large ought to respect anything said by Torah (and Talmud) on homosexuality - for example - then you need to do better than Kuzari.

Torah has no place and no relevance in modern public policy. If you want to claim it has a place and has relevance, then you better go dig up Moses' wristwatch at the foot of Sinai!

jewish philosopher said...

"we must be honest and say that we actually have very little to recommend any truth to the stories told in the bible's book of exodus"

Or of anything else which happened more than 500 years ago.

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

Leah B said...

"Please provide evidence for your theory, from other examples of ancient mass revelations which turned out to be true, since you claim people can't be fooled about this."

Firstly, the claim is that it's not possible to fabricate such a claim out of thin air.

There are no other divine national revelatory claims, but the category is myths is that of one's ancestors, a large and identifiable group, experienced a significant and memorable event. Sinai would be in this category.

When we examine the cases in this category, we find they are never fabricated from thin air, but always have (at minimum) some basis.

Once we've established that Sinai, as a legend of this type, has *at least* some prima facie basis in reality, the onus is on you to show how a myth formation could have produced this result since we have no examples of it ever happening elsewhere.

Sam said...

To anonymous, there are other types of evidence which historians use, including the criterion of embarrassment, which means writers will not fabricate a story about themselves which reflects poorly on them.

Professor Nahum Sarna says the details of the tradition indicate it is based in reality: "No nation would be likely to invent for itself, and faithfully transmit century after century and millennium after millennium, an inglorious and inconvenient tradition of this nature."

Professor Richard Friedman says "If you're making up history, it's that you were descended from gods or kinds, not from slaves."

No claimed "absolutes" or "proofs," but evidence that there is at least an authentic core to this legend.

jewish philosopher said...

No one has proven that there is a Dawkins.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QERyh9YYEis&feature=player_embedded#

Anonymous said...

Leah,

"Because every legend in history meeting these criteria has at least some historical basis! None of them are completely concocted out of thin air! Every case meeting these criteria is based on (at the very least) a real historical event or background."

Maybe we're talking past each other. I have little reason to doubt that whoever set the sinai story, as we now have it, to paper thought that it was true history. Maybe not, but more likely so.

You keep asserting that "we know Sinai was not concocted out of thin air." I do not agree that we know this at all. All we can do is speculate. Also what do you mean by "thin air"? I have not argued that sinai was an original legend created and then disseminated (although it could have been). Sinai could have been taken from an already existing story and then embellished. The story could have derived from a similar revelation story of some other religion (Christianity and Islam do this, to a limited extent). But we do not know, and your claims to have knowledge seem quite empty without any specific, positive support.

Nevertheless, all this has nothing to do with whether the event at sinai actually happened in any form.

Anonymous said...

Sam,

I disagree. The same criteria of embarrassment are used to claim that the Jesus story must be true. After all, he was allegedly scourged and crucified. Most of us are aware that crucifixion was a crime for the lowly.

I think the best thing we can say about sinai is that if there is a historical core to the story, we do not know what it is.

Would you agree with this? Leah, would you?

Leah B said...

ZY, you made an earlier claim which demonstrates *your* need to provide data:

"In the case of the Torah, the myth probably started around a few people experiencing a revelation, then eventually the myth changing to believing that there were a over a million people there who witnessed it."

As I said, here *YOU* are making a claim and must provide the data to back that up. It’s not enough to claim it’s possible- you need to provide data to show that naturalistic myth formation results in this type of result.

jewish philosopher said...

Can any of the skeptics out there tell me what would convince him that God spoke at Sinai?

I can tell you what would convince me of evolution: if at least the marine fossil record would clearly show the gradual, trial and error appearance of new limbs and organs through variation and selection, going from plakton up to tuna. (of course nothing remotely like that is found)

zy said...

JP and Leah B,

You guys are clouding the argument by confusing my assertion. I am not and cannot disprove the Revelation at Sinai. I cannot prove that ANYTHING didn't happen 3000 years ago. For example, I cannot prove that some man did NOT say "Honey, I love your blonde hair" 3000 years ago.

What I am arguing is that the evidence for the revelation claim is weak. You said "Firstly, the claim is that it's not possible to fabricate such a claim out of thin air." That is not exactly right. Anybody could fabricate whatever they want. The kuzari claim is actually, "a fabricated claim would not be believed". It is precisely that assertion that I am disputing.

There may have been a historical kernel of truth to some experience at Sinai. But over hundreds of years, the story would be built upon, changed, and adapted, LIKE ALL OTHER MYTHS. Finally, at some point it was believed (probably because of a scribe) the the Sinai experience was in fact, experienced by the masses. People would have no memory of this, by why should that bother them, from something that happened 500 years before, of which they know few details.

I really, really don't understand why you guys have such difficulty seeing how people would believe this, as any people who came to believe their myths.

you claim: "Here *YOU* are making a claim and must provide the data to back that up. It’s not enough to claim it’s possible- "

Plenty of data-- the hundreds or thousands of founding myths and religions and tribes in the history of the world, evolved over time, which you readily admit are untrue. I would say, that given these thousands of data points, that it would be reasonable to induce, that founding myths of religions tend to evolve over time, and are generally false. Or at best, unproven.


You plead a "special category" of mass revelation, but this has nothing to do with the kernel of the kuzari argument, that such a claim would not be believed. And therefore, to prove the kuzari argument, you must either bring examples (the special ones by YOUR definition) of false mass revelations claims that were NOT believed, or true mass revelations that were believed.

Your examples are irrelevant, being from more recent times, when there was adequate documentation, from multiple different sources, along with physical evidence, and not involving revelation. This, in contrast, say, to the Jewish Blood libels that were truly believed by millions of Christians throughout the middle ages.

[For that matter, why not believe the Jewish Blood Libels? After all, they were believed to be true for generations of Christians throughout Europe. There were even "miracles" associated with the claims.]

So you need to give parallel examples that meet the criterion for your "special case", otherwise it is not a valid distinction from other myth formations.

You plead a special case, but you haven't proven it.

zy said...

"Can any of the skeptics out there tell me what would convince him that God spoke at Sinai?"

Excellent question!

I would say, that if the same god revealed himself now, behaved as the god of the torah behaved, and publicly identified himself as the god of the torah, I would be compelled to accept Him.

[note that even after the Torah revelation, within one generation they were already worshipping idols and doing other bad things, which would seem to indicate that maybe the Israelites weren't so impressed by the miracles at sinai, or their father's stories of them. This give even less credence to the kuzari argument, since clearly people's memory fades even for such momentous events]

Regarding evolution-- the evolutionary process is a tree and not a line, so it doesn't work the way you say. But there are plenty of fossils series showing the appearance and change of limbs and organs. That's all out there, if you really care to learn about it. There are plenty of "data points", but that doesn't mean that there aren't holes. But that is what inductive reasoning is all about in science. But you reject the theory because of the "holes", and thus reject scientific inductive reasoning.

Leah B said...

Anon,

The reason I can state the Sinai claim is almost certainly based on some historical reality (as opposed to being a myth created from nothing at all) is because firstly, we don't have any peoples who have national revelatory claims of this sort, despite the obvious attractiveness it would provide to a religious claim, but also because of the myths which people have which meet the same criteria as the sinai claim, they are overwhelmingly (perhaps exclusively) based on *at least* a "kernel" of truth. As I said, this does NOT try to prove the entire sinai story, but it does demonstrate that far more likelier than not, it does have at least some basis in reality. That's it. I don't think that's such a remarkable claim, and even you seemed to suggest sinai is based on *some* real event, albeit embellished.

Then we get to step 2 where you say "Sinai could have been taken from an already existing story and then embellished."

That sounds very logical and rational, but you need to provide positive evidence of naturalistic factors producing a result like Sinai- it's not enough to suggest it "could" have happened. Real cases where a people came to believe in a national revelation.

Anything "could" have happened, but my concern is whether we can find cases of it "actually" happening in history.

That is, are there any groups of people who believe that god actually spoke to all of them as a collective group in a direct, significant and audible way? If we are unable to produce a single example of this, then it's difficult to accept the explanation that the belief came from naturalistic causes. After all, naturalistic causes, given human nature, happen more than once (as we saw with the aliens, etc.)

That is, why did the same factors lead to many different repeated myths in history, but this belief only arose once?

If we are to say that, say illiteracy and poverty and a host of other factors can produce this kind of result, it does beg the question as to why other peoples with the same factors have never given us the same end result.

I don't see how we can say that people, with certain factors, can come to believe in such a national revelation, if we have no other examples of such a thing happening. It's still "possible" to suggest it's due to naturalistic factors, but certainly less plausible than to suggest something outside of regular human interaction occurred instead.

As for the Jesus crucifixion story, I'm no expert on the topic, but yes, I do think it provides sufficient evidence that the man was crucified. As I said, though, that criterion in itself does NOT prove the entire story- only that there is a very high likelihood that Jesus was in fact crucified, just as there is a high likelihood there is some core basis for the exodus story.

Anonymous said...

"Can any of the skeptics out there tell me what would convince him that God spoke at Sinai?"

That's a good question. First, the existence of God would need to be established, then that he has a "voice." I can't believe God spoke if God isn't real. Then, I'd hope to see any evidence (documentary, physical, archaeological) that the enslavement of Hebrews occurred and that they fled after ten plagues were visited on Egypt. Corroborating evidence of the same type for other stories in exodus would be helpful (e.g., wars, miracles). If other aspects of the exodus are true or likely, then the sinai story becomes more believable. Reliable reports of similar occurrences to sinai would make the specific sinai event seem more plausible.

zy said...

"That is, why did the same factors lead to many different repeated myths in history, but this belief only arose once?"

Why did only one crucifixion and resurrection myth occur?

The are infinite variations to possible national myths. Some are similar to others and some are different. Some occurred only once. So what? What does that have to do with its truth?

jewish philosopher said...

zy, actually evolution is never witnessed in the fossils. See the quote from Niles Eldredge.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/12/in-nutshell-atheism-is-irrational-and.html

Regarding the Sinai revelation, why don't you require that level of proof regarding anything else? You have never seen Julius Caesar and you have never seen an electron, yet you believe in them.

This is one of the tricks of atheists (and probably most other religious people as well): To impose an almost infinite burden of proof on anyone who challenges their beliefs. By using this technique, they are completely safe from attack.

jewish philosopher said...

"First, the existence of God would need to be established"

That's no problem.

http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/did-life-form-by-accident/

"I'd hope to see any evidence (documentary, physical, archaeological) that the enslavement of Hebrews occurred and that they fled after ten plagues were visited on Egypt."

Also no problem. See the first half of the book of Exodus.

Anonymous said...

Leah,

You seem to indicate that the sinai story is either true or mythical. As we've gone back and forth here, I would say that the most reasonable conclusion based on very scarce data and a rather flimsy analogical case is that the story is a hybrid. But without knowing when the story originated and how it was originally conceived and understood, we're guessing.

Three data points seem relevant: (1) Ancient people not only lacked our modern scientific understanding of the world, but they also had different conceptions of truth and myth. (2) We today need to be careful not to assume that people in biblical times would have seen, valued, and used their own texts the way we do.
(3) The number of civilizations that have fallen and died is surely much greater than the number who have lived. We need not see the historical survival of Hebraic religion into rabbinic Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as a fore-ordained process. I tend to see the survival in evolutionary terms. Moreover, I think the bible documents some of that evolution, the evolution of YHWH as the main god of many to the one and only.

These reasons cause me to be suspicious of giving any special merit to the singular status of the sinai story (although the Aztec story has similarities as a national revelation). Plenty of other stories and characters (including moses and the ten commandments) have analogues and precursors in previous civilizations. Gosh, even the many stories of the kings - living gods - appearing before their throngs of people is basically the same model as sinai. Instead of the great pharaoh speaking from a palace, he speaks from a mountain. I'm sorry, but I fail to see what makes sinai seem so remarkable to you.

I also don't know how you go from "kernel" of historical truth to KNOWING all and everything about the sinai story (and, hence, judaism). You'll have to explain how you get from A to B.

Anonymous said...

"http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/did-life-form-by-accident/"

No, the evidence seems more persuasive to the evolutionary/naturalistic side. God himself is not established at all, in fact.

"See the first half of the book of Exodus."

A self-interested redaction and edition of the story of "US"? No, I don't think so. Got anything else?

Leah B said...

ZY,

You said:

"You plead a "special category" of mass revelation, but this has nothing to do with the kernel of the kuzari argument, that such a claim would not be believed. And therefore, to prove the kuzari argument, you must either bring examples (the special ones by YOUR definition) of false mass revelations claims that were NOT believed, or true mass revelations that were believed."

You have misunderstood- there are 2 points at issue.

The fact of the “kernel” comes from the fact that there are no examples of such a mass, memorable, etc. event, such as an invasion, migration, etc., which we know to have no basis in some historical event at all. That is, claims of this magnitude are overwhelmingly (if not exclusively) based on something real that actually happened (a “kernel”). This is NOT about a divine revelation specifically, but about any mass event of large significance, etc.

In other words, there are not any events which were claimed to be of such a magnitude, significance, etc., that we know to be totally detached from any historical reality. All the myths in this category are based on *something* real.

So on that basis we can presume that the Sinai claim has a very high likelihood of being based on at least *some* real event also.

As you said:

“There may have been a historical kernel of truth to some experience at Sinai. But over hundreds of years, the story would be built upon, changed, and adapted, LIKE ALL OTHER MYTHS.”

That is a claim that natural factors, in the natural world, with human beings, led to the Israelites believing that they had a national divine revelation.

It’s not enough to say myth formation explains other dissimilar myths not about a national event- if you’re going to claim that myth formation explains a mass revelation belief, then you need to provide examples of myth formation actually causing mass revelation beliefs!

So there’s no basis therefore to say naturalistic factors explain this belief, mainly because naturalistic factors have never produced this belief anywhere else!

Analogy:

You say that apples cause purple skin, and I dispute that. You give lots of examples of apples causing fatigue and bloating, but zero cases of an apple actually causing purple skin. We can see there is no basis for accepting that apples cause purple skin.

Similarly, NEVER have real naturalistic factors ever lead to a national revelatory myth! If you’re presupposing a naturalistic explanation, then you need to provide real examples of such a thing happening in history.

jewish philosopher said...

"the evidence seems more persuasive to the evolutionary/naturalistic side"

Perhaps you can explain to me the probability of evolution happening and where we see it in the fossils.

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

"A self-interested redaction and edition of the story of "US"?"

How much documentation do we have about anything prior to modern times?

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

Again, all that I am hearing here are people who are sort of saying "Well, if God would appear today in Central Park, New York and everyone would see it on TV, I might buy this, however otherwise, pass the pork chops please."

But, when it comes to evolution, oh, in that case, the tiniest fragment of a tooth proves beyond doubt our descent from apes.

I know where this is coming from.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/07/jewish-skeptics-and-sex.html

Suit yourselves.

Leah B said...

ZY, I never said there needs to be an exact parallel in history! Only that with a belief as general as a national divine revelation, some other people, somewhere, should have some beliefs of all the people "meeting" their god.

The more we explain why naturalism can cause this belief, the more we need to explain why naturalism never caused such a belief to ever occur anywhere else. That should strike us as very odd. After all, we see in history that myths tend to be repeated more than once:

As for the jesus examples, actually there are several. Shabtai Sevi, for example, was believed to be a miracle-working man who rose from the dead, and the Indian holy men Kabir and Lahiri Mahasaya are another resurrected examples.

There doesn't need to be an exact replica of the sinai claim.

All I'm asking for is some people, somewhere, who believe that their diety spoke to all their people (in an obviously memorable way). If we don't have any examples of even that general category, then there's really no basis for claiming that naturalism explains this myth. Naturalism tends to repeat itself, but odd that no other people in the world ever had such a myth formation happen to them. That is NOT what we'd expect with naturalism.

Anonymous said...

@Mr. Philosopher,

"However, when it comes to evolution, oh, in that case, the tiniest fragment of a tooth proves beyond doubt our descent from apes."

Speaking only for myself, of course, I don't think evolution or common descent are proved "beyond doubt."

I am not a scientist. I am not a rabbi. When I want to know about such matters, I go not to blogs but to published work in reputable arenas. Peer reviewed stuff, for example.

I think evolution is more probably true than the existence/involvement of God by many orders of magnitude.

Even in your comment, you mention a "tooth." Yet, even a tooth is unavailable when it comes to God or most everything in the Torah.

I understand your statements to skeptics that we should apply the same standards to our own beliefs and conclusions as we demand of religion. I agree with you. And I think that by following this process, it's hard to wind up at belief. Eventually, you have to say "Well, I just believe."

I don't have to believe that evolution is true. I understand that the model of the past put forward by the many different branches of science will undergo changes - even radical changes - over time. I realize that some of the claims made about human ancestry now will become falsified by new data and/or new tools. I think that's great.

Unfortunately, nothing except God appearing today in Central Park would add anything at new or different to religion.

May I ask you a question? What would really change in your life if Judaism were not true, if no religion were true? Yes, you may change your diet and you may watch the Yankees play on a Friday night, but what would really change for you that you didn't want changed?

jewish philosopher said...

"I go not to blogs but to published work in reputable arenas. Peer reviewed stuff, for example."

Oh, the good old argument from authority. You know, I just read that ignorant people can be convinced of any nonsense by a charismatic leader. Can you think of a reason why scientists might want to promote evolution?

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

"Yet, even a tooth is unavailable when it comes to God or most everything in the Torah."

Actually, teeth do prove God, as does the lungs, liver, eye, etc.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/09/conscious-breathing-appreciating.html

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/09/liver-worlds-most-miraculous-chemical.html

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/11/miracle-of-vision.html

"What would really change in your life if Judaism were not true, if no religion were true?"

It would probably be easier to list what would not change.

Anonymous said...

"All I'm asking for is some people, somewhere, who believe that their diety spoke to all their people (in an obviously memorable way)."

I mentioned the Aztecs. I mentioned Pharaohs. I think Kim Jong Il fits, as does Hitler.

I also think that it's a mistake to take the sinai story alone and not look at the whole narrative of the book of exodus, as well as its composition. Most everyone agrees - right? - that exodus is the product of many "authors" over many centuries.

I have enjoyed our discussion today.

Anonymous said...

"Oh, the good old argument from authority. You know, I just read that ignorant people can be convinced of any nonsense by a charismatic leader. Can you think of a reason why scientists might want to promote evolution?"

No, I go to peer reviewed stuff to get opinions that matter, arguments based on awareness of evidence and scholarship. I don't necessarily believe everything "an authority" says, but I want to be informed of the best arguments in their strongest formulations.

Anonymous said...

"It would probably be easier to list what would not change."

OK. What would not change for you if Judaism were not true?

Leah B said...

Anonymous,

You say “You seem to indicate that the sinai story is either true or mythical.”

That’s not true. I think it’s highly likely that Sinai has at least a kernel in it, but I never jumped from that to “knowing” everything is true.

I said *if* Sinai were the product of a naturalistic myth formation process, we should expect to see other general examples of it happening in world history (such as dying-and-rising figures, mythical animals, which as a result of naturalistic processes, we DO see repeated).

The reason it’s important is because you’re claiming that myth formation actually causes a belief in national revelation, but if we cannot find any examples of it happening, there’s really no basis for that assumption.

As I mentioned earlier, someone can claim apples explain purple skin. I dispute that, and ask for evidence. You show that apples have been shown to cause stomach aches. But no evidence of apples actually causing purple skin.

Obviously, that does nothing to prove apples cause purple skin.

Just as myth formation has caused many different myths, it’s never produced a national claim of divine revelation.

Objections #1 is well discussed. I never assumed ancient people had scientific or other knowledge back then, and that’s another reason exactly why we’d expect to see ancient, illiterate peoples coming to believe in myths such as national revelation! Because if the people back then were so uneducated and gullible, a myth like this could certainly have arose at some point! In fact, not only could it have, it should have. After all, the same factors which caused the Israelites to believe this have plenty of examples in the ancient world.

Objection #2 is certainly a valid theoretical question, but one that has certainly been addressed (perhaps not here, but elsewhere). Depending on when you believe the bible was written, the question becomes very fuzzy, but I think if you’re raising such a question, you’d need to provide positive evidence that demonstrates that the ancient Hebrews (when they came into contact with the Tanach) understood the tanach in a way that radically changes our understanding of it.

Some say ‘well, there’s not a lot of evidence left of ancient peoples, so there aren’t many examples’ is disingenuous. You reject the authenticity of the exodus and Moses based on the same alleged lack of evidence, but are prepared to accept a naturalistic explanation based on the same absence? That’s a philosophical view, not a historical one. Not to mention there are still thousands upon thousands of peoples to look to for parallels, hardly a shortage.

As for the Aztec example, the first and most important point to show is that the time it’s claimed their god spoke in a national revelation is due to an ambiguity in the text, but scholars say the god was not speaking to everyone, but only the council of wise elders:

"Hearing Huitzilopochtli's words, the council of wise men wept with relief and gratitude...[saying] at last we have been worthy of our god."

http://books.google.ca/books?id=7pmnDdrelwgC&pg=PA74&lpg=PA74&dq=huitzilopochtli+%2B+Baldwin+%2B+wise&source=bl&ots=1Jamf3Ov93&sig=2RdyJPQkXq2__NuKY044AzGKLCk&hl=en&ei=JdXES4voBoO8lQeNv6WCDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CAYQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

And finally, as for the examples of kings speaking to the people, I’m not sure what specific details you think are noteworthy, but after all, in ancient cases, the kings all appeared to the people as regular humans, but possessed powers. So if a pharaoh spoke to everyone from a balcony, there’s nothing memorable, significant or central about that. After all, they only saw a man standing there. Sinai claims people “met” god in a way without any precedent- something central memorable and very unique.

And your last point about going from Sinai to all of Judaism, that’s a much bigger discussion, well outside the parameters of this particular issue.

Leah B said...

Anonymous, the aztec example is not a national claim, but the god speaking to the elders only. Hitler and Kim Jong Il, pharaohs are not considered by anyone (to the eye) anything more than humans when they appeared. Sure, Kim Jong Il is believed to have special powers, but of course they're all secret! Nobody sees them! All they see is a regular human being. Nothing spectacular or memorable.

These are not national revelations of gods. They are revelations of people who look and sound just like regular human beings. That is hardly a divine revelation of any sort. Sinai, however, makes it quite clear the people were witnessing god, and well outside anything they had ever seen. N. Korea, Hitler or the pharaohs show the people witnessed nothing out of the ordinary.

jewish philosopher said...

I'm all ears. Let's hear the most convincing proof of evolution.

And where exactly did you find anything peer reviewed about evolution?

Anonymous said...

Leah,

I don't think of myself as "accepting" a naturalistic explanation for the sinai/exodus story. Neither do I "reject" the hypothesis that everything is 100% true as reported.

My position is that we have little solid information upon which to base a definitive opinion and, further, that what information we do have points to the 100% hypothesis being very improbable.

While you or I might have issues with naturalistic explanations -- and I realize no one here has given an extended explanation of this sort -- we certainly do have reason to think that there are such explanations and where we have data they do a good job for accounting for most of the evidence.

Kuzari rests on the assumptions that there was a correspondent event, that it was recorded faithfully, that it was remembered faithfully, that it was interpreted uniformly, that it was transmitted consistently from generation to generation, that the purpose of the story was to describe what actually happened, and so on.

To me, Occam's Razor comes in and starts cutting at some point.

Anonymous said...

I understand that the Aztec had sevral accounts of their history, all written after the conquest. The only one that has anything like a national revelation is the Chronica Mexicayotl, which was written by a Grandson of Montezuma 100 years after the conquest, and was discovered 200 years later in an Italian library. I don't know if the Aztec ever saw it, let alone accepted it as their authentic history. The other accounts written closer to the conquest do not have a national revelation. The gods spoke only to the priests.

jewish philosopher said...

"OK. What would not change for you if Judaism were not true?"

Bourbon.

zy said...

Leah B,

It is still not clear to me what your claim is. Is it (a) the very appearance of the "unique" myth of mass revelation that attests to its truth (because there is no other and therefore it does not appear natural), or is it (b)because people don't believe this type of myth unless it were true.

Lets take (a). Does a myth's "uniqueness" attest to its truth? Can you prove that? The "uniqueness" is predicated on a categorization that you predefine. I could take any other characteristic of the revelation that is common to other myths and it would not be unique. Like "mountain myths" or "fire myths". Thus the burden of proof is still on you, because I have the general category of myth formation on my side for naturalistic explanation, you have to prove that its 'uniqueness' is of consequence, in determining its truth, and its immunity from the natural behavior of myths (spread, change, modification etc).

Regarding (b); I have already stated the argument for this. You must prove that similar false claims would not be believed.

I repeat that I accept your assertion that myths are often founded on kernels of truth, and sinai is no exception. But it is the specifically supernatural claims of mass revelation that the kuzari argument tries to prove, as proof of the truth of the Hebrew God, not just some generic spiritual experience.

And on this count it fails.

jewish philosopher said...

Excuse me for butting in for a second, however this is why I feel phrasing the Kuzari as the "Anti-Conspiracy Principle" makes the argument clearer.

As I put it:

THE EXISTENCE OF A SINGLE NATURAL OBJECT EXHIBITING COMPLEX PURPOSEFULNESS IS PROOF THAT GOD EXISTS.

THE FACT THAT JUDAISM COULD NOT HAVE ORIGINATED VIA A FRAUD, DELUSION OR HALLUCINATION IS PROOF THAT GOD WROTE THE TORAH.

ORDINARY CLAIMS DO NOT REQUIRE EXTRAORDINARY EVIDENCE.

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

To me, this is the basis of Judaism in a nutshell.

I think that if a prosecutor in court were to produce similarly convincing evidence, it would be enough to convince a jury to convict. Similarly I think it provides enough evidence to reach the conclusion that we must observe the Torah or face dire consequences.

Sorry for the buzz kill.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/05/buzzkill.html

Anonymous said...

The fact that no founder of a religion ever even attempted to claim there was a mass revelation, even though that would give their claim a great deal more credibility is telling.

zy said...

"The fact that no founder of a religion ever even attempted to claim there was a mass revelation, even though that would give their claim a great deal more credibility is telling."

Excuse me, that is circular logic. It assumes the consequence.

"I think that if a prosecutor in court were to produce similarly convincing evidence, it would be enough to convince a jury to convict."

Glad your bring that up. Based on the rules of evidence, it would be thrown out of court due to hearsay testimony and a document of unproven unproven reliability.

Anonymous said...

Then why didn't any religious founder attempt to claim a mass revelation. Or maybe someone actually did and nobody believed him for obvious reasons.

jewish philosopher said...

I am suggesting a conviction based on circumstantial evidence,

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

not direct evidence

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

Take for example Michael Roseboro

http://articles.lancasteronline.com/local/4/248739

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6273706n&tag=contentMain;contentAux

convicted to life in prison without parole, basically just because he had a motive and the opportunity to kill his wife. No testimony or documents needed. Purely circumstantial.

zy said...

In the scheme of evidence, strong circumstantial evidence is more powerful than eyewitness testimony. Number 1 in my post on evidence. Clear physical evidence (a corpse, scratches, DNA etc, +motive by direct testimony). On the other hand the evidence for mass revelation is 4 and 5:

In approximate descending order of power:

1. Physical evidence (including scientific experiments)
2. Independent multiple-sources first hand eyewitness testimony
3. Multiple independent sources of written documentation.
4. Single written documents.
5. Indirect, second-hand (hearsay)testimony
6. Rumors

Nobody would convict somebody based on a single unverified written document and hearsay, which is your evidence for Torah revelation.

jewish philosopher said...

On the contrary, the evidence (of course circumstantial since 3,000 year old eyewitnesses are a little rare) of God from nature and of Torah from Jewish history is immense. Comparable, or much less, evidence would win a conviction in any court.

As mentioned Roseboro is serving life basically just because he was on the property when his wife died and he had a mistress. No witnesses, confessions or sworn affadavits say he did it.

zy said...

His wife didn't die, she was murdered. That's a pretty big piece of physical evidence.

"Jewish history" is hearsay evidence.

jewish philosopher said...

There are a few billion other people who could have done it.

By your definition, we should delete anything prior to 1930 from school books. It's just heresay. The author can't possibly have seen Washington or Lincoln.

zy said...

"By your definition, we should delete anything prior to 1930 from school books. It's just heresay."

Stop pretending. I already addressed that.


If in fact you disagree with my evidence "list" order, in terms of determining truth, then that is the end of the conversation. We're talking 2 different languages.

I think that my list is based on reason, evidence, and rationality. Perhaps you would like to reveal your list?

jewish philosopher said...

I think you can play around with and manipulate your evidence list to prove or disprove anything.

How do you know the Holocaust happened? Science? Has anyone scientifically identified 6 million bodies and forensically proven that Nazis killed them? Do you have multiple first hand sources who each saw 6 million murders personally?

Basically, you just arbitarily raise the burden of proof for ideas you don't like, lower it for those you do like and declare victory. It's merely wishful thinking.

Anonymous said...

Well, then, philosopher: Why DO you believe the Holocaust actually happened? Do you just believe what a few folks say?

zy said...

There you go again, reductio ad holocaustum.

I'm talking about something even bigger than science: reason.

You know that the crimes of Nazi Germany are thoroughly documented through multiple sources including eyewitnesses still living, authenticated documents, and photographic evidence. Precisely because of the fear of holocaust denial, Jews have made it a national project to make sure that it is thoroughly documented. The exact number doesn't matter.

"I think you can play around with and manipulate your evidence list to prove or disprove anything."

Yes, that is exactly what you are doing.

At least I exposed my criteria for truth finding. I'm still waiting for yours. Go ahead, stick your neck out a little.

I previously admitted to you that when it comes to cosmology, you're on a little better ground when talking about God, because there really are a lot of mysteries, and science must rely on a whole lot of extrapolation and guesses. Even many physicists admit that.

But here we must talk reason, evidence and facts. And I challenge you to reveal your criteria for discovering truth.

jewish philosopher said...

Just like you, reason. There are no set rules. Something you see with your own eyes may be a mirage. Some ancient tradition may contain cosmic truth. You have to weigh all the variables and make a decision.

jewish philosopher said...

By the way, I don't see what you're contributing other than repeating dozens of times over "I don't believe in judaism."

Awesome. Who cares?

zy said...

OK, fair enough.

So we can agree that we each use our own judgement in weighing evidence. And I am transparently in showing you how the various factors weigh in to my judgement.

Abe said...

jewish philosopher said...
>>>By the way, I don't see what you're contributing other than repeating dozens of times over "I don't believe in judaism."

Awesome. Who cares?<<<
Apparently, only you and a few thousand other indoctrinated true believers. To the rest of us skeptical cognoscenti, you stir up shades of that old adage: beliefs are like **sholes -- everybody has one. But your beliefs are barren. What you believe is immaterial and entirely inessential to the advancement of knowledge of mankind and the universe.
So discharge your paroxysms as you like. It will have no effect on cosmic events or any of us. The sun will rise and the moon will set, the tides will turn and indoor plumbing will continue to function properly. And of course, you will remain a charming motivation to all those whom you inspired to go to stay off the derech.

jewish philosopher said...

"And I am transparently in showing you how the various factors weigh in to my judgement."

But I think it's vague, limited and invalid.

According to you, when someone is tried for a crime, we should simply have a scoreboard in front of the courtroom and then let the defense and prosecution present their evidence.

Finger prints on the murder weapon: 10 points to convict
Witness confirming defendant's alibi: 5 points to acquit
Rumor that someone else had a motive: 1 point to acquit

so on and so forth.

Final tally: 30 points to convict, 26 points to acquit. Guilty.

Obviously, reality is a lot more complicated. Investigations about what has or has not happened in the past are never conducted that way.

jewish philosopher said...

"What you believe is immaterial and entirely inessential to the advancement of knowledge of mankind and the universe."

Actually this post proves how wrong you are. Had Americans followed the Torah and criminalize homosexuality, 25 million lives so far would have been saved.

But I suppose to an atheist, having sex however you want to is far more important than human life.

Abe said...

>>>THE EXISTENCE OF A SINGLE NATURAL OBJECT EXHIBITING COMPLEX PURPOSEFULNESS IS PROOF THAT GOD EXISTS.<<<
Wrong. It is proof only that it is complex. No inference of supernatural creation is necessarily presupposed .


>>> THE FACT THAT JUDAISM COULD NOT HAVE ORIGINATED VIA A FRAUD, DELUSION OR HALLUCINATION IS PROOF THAT GOD WROTE THE TORAH.<<<
More defective reasoning. Judaism may not have originated via fraud, delusion or hallucination, but it is no proof that god wrote the torah. It is not even a logical inference.

>>>ORDINARY CLAIMS DO NOT REQUIRE EXTRAORDINARY EVIDENCE.<<<
Ordinary scientific evidence would suffice. Please supply us with some.

jewish philosopher said...

Fine, Abe. Produce one reasonably convincing proof of evolution and one plausible, detailed, atheistic explanation for the origin of Judaism.

If you can't then: God did it.

Abe said...

jewish philosopher said...
>>>Fine, Abe. Produce one reasonably convincing proof of evolution and one plausible, detailed, atheistic explanation for the origin of Judaism.

If you can't then: God did it.<<<

More malignant logic. Just because I can't or won't produce evidence to your satisfaction is no proof that god did it. THAT is your burden of proof. Which so far you have failed miserably to demonstrate.

jewish philosopher said...

Let's say a body is found, strangled. You are the only person who had access to the victim. You are the only one with a motive to kill. Only your fingerprints and DNA were found on the body.

The detective interrogating you says "Abe, you did it. No one else could have."

And you reply "More malignant logic. Just because I can't or won't produce evidence to your satisfaction is no proof that I did it. THAT is your burden of proof. Which so far you have failed miserably to demonstrate."

I'll send you some books while you're on death row.

Tigerboy said...

Do you have any understanding of what it means to try to get along with your fellow humans?

jewish philosopher said...

I am already in a committed, exclusive relationship if that's why you're asking.

Anonymous said...

zy:

I thought about your accsuing me of using circular reasoning a little today. It turns out that I wss using modus tolens. This is considered a valid arguement. It goes like this " if a then b therefore if not b then not a."
Using symbolic notation, it goes (a>b)>(~b>~a). Circular reasoning goes like this "if a then b therefore if b then a." What I said was that if people woudl believe a claim of a national revelation then people would start religions with that claim. Since
no-one attempted to start a religion with that claim, then no one would believe it. The fact that the Jewish people did is because it is more than just a claim that somebody made, it is a fact.

Anonymous said...

"The fact that the Jewish people did is because it is more than just a claim that somebody made, it is a fact."

Translation: Because we think Judaism is the only religion to claim a national revelation, the claim must be true.

Implication: Any unique claim made by a religion must be true.

For consideration: My religion is the only one that claims no gods at all exist. Therefore, my claim is true.

Abe said...

jewish philosopher said...
>>

If my fingerprints and DNA were on the body and and I had motive etc., it wouldn't matter what my objections were. With all that damning evidence, even the most inexperienced of prosecuters would easily convict me and the jury probably would not be reticent to impose capital punishment.

Now, if I were Cain and I killed Abel and God appeared and spoke to me face to face, exiled me from my abode and smote me with a mark on my forehead, I might be tempted to consider god's existence. However, I'd definitely see a psychiatrist first and insist that god's manifestations were falsifiable and replicable to scores of my scientist peers. If that process could be repeated, I'd admit I was wrong. Hopefuly, before I reached the end of my appeals.
However, you reject such scientific scrutiny. You can't administer those evidentiary tests to god because its impossible to impose them on an invisible, mute and unresponsive specter.

Your problem is that you can't acknowledge the cognitive impairments that directs you to abandon logical integrity . You make these fallacious comparisons with troves of specious argumentations that fly in the face of reason and perspicacity.
I suggest you read a couple of Alfred Whitehead and Bertrand Russel's books.

jewish philosopher said...

"With all that damning evidence, even the most inexperienced of prosecuters would easily convict me and the jury probably would not be reticent to impose capital punishment."

But why? As you do with Judaism, claiming that I must prove God did it, you could claim that they must prove you did it. And regardless of all the evidence in the world it COULD BE someone else. Who says you're guilty? Just because you're the only possible suspect just means that they haven't tried hard enough to find someone else. "We can't yet explain why Abe's fingerprints were on the victim's throat, so it must be Abe did it." What utter nonsense! You are a Suspect of the Gaps!

That's real atheist thinking. Crazy logic which no one would ever apply to anything else.

"You can't administer those evidentiary tests to god"

Nor can you to evolution. All religions, including atheism, rest on claims about past history which cannot be repeated in laboratory.

Anonymous said...

Abe:

Since we talking about famous atheists, the recently deceased Anthony Flew wrote that he followed the evidence where it led and decided there was a God.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 7:17

Judaism is the only religion that makes a claim that one would accept as true if it wasn't true. Didn't you read my post?

Abe said...

<<>>

I can claim anything that I want, but it would fly in the face of the damning evidence asserting my guilt. Anything is possible but the law directs a jury to return a verdict of guilty if they are pursuaded by the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Not no doubt whatsoever, just a reasonable doubt. That is how the judge charges the jury to assess its verdict in criminal matter.
Similarly, I need not reject god's existence beyond any doubt. After all god COULD exist. I need only do so beyond a reasonable doubt. After all, he may appear and prove me wrong miraculously beyond any doubt. But until that time arrives, I'll consider his existence an artifact of fundamentalist distemper.

"You can't administer those evidentiary tests to god"


<<>>
I don't have to. Whether evolution is true or not is immaterial to the question of god's existence. Proving or disproving evolution is no precondition or validation to god's existence. Many believers assert that god created and initiated the evolutionry process.
This is why your illogical ruminations are in need of serious remediation.

jewish philosopher said...

"Whether evolution is true or not is immaterial to the question of god's existence."

Sure it is. "although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist."
-- Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, page 6

http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/quotes/dawkins.htm

So Abe, produce one reasonably convincing proof of evolution and one plausible, detailed, atheistic explanation for the origin of Judaism. Or admit God did it.

Anonymous said...

Did someone mention something about atheists being more tolerant?


http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/freethinking/

zy said...

Anon said:

"What I said was that if people would believe a claim of a national revelation then people would start religions with that claim."

Why's that?. Is general believability the ONLY requirement for a myth? Somebody has to think of it. It has to fit in with the culture, history and physical reality of the audience.

"Since no-one attempted to start a religion with that claim, then no one would believe it."

Does not follow from above. Is "non-believability" the only reason why a myth wouldn't form? (see above)


"The fact that the Jewish people did is because it is more than just a claim that somebody made, it is a fact."

False since its based on false premises, see above.

"Believability" is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for formation of a myth. Only when the right conditions converge, the myth appears and propagates.

It is also an argument from uniqueness ("special pleading"), which could be used for any other revelation. "nobody else made a myth of crucifixion with resurrection" therefore it must be correct. Scientology has unique claims about thetans who made the world and now make up people's souls. Pretty unique and unbelievable.

Can you then make the same argument for those claims? "If thetans claims would be believed, then somebody else would have come up with similar claims. Therefore if nobody else did, the claim must not be believable, unless true.

I could think of any variety of reasons why scientology didn't develop earlier. Creativity is a cumulative process, and somebody had to come up with it! Also, cultural, technological, and social factors made people "ripe" to believe such a thing.

jewish philosopher said...

It's obvious that a public event has more credibilty than a private event. It's also therefore obvious that if God wanted to communicate something to mankind He would do so publicly rather than privately. This makes Judaism the most credible religion.

Again, I don't really see what new facts or ideas you are adding here. You can just repeat all day long "I refuse to believe in Judaism." Good. But who cares? I don't even know who you are.

zy said...

"Again, I don't really see what new facts or ideas you are adding here. You can just repeat all day long "I refuse to believe in Judaism." Good. But who cares? I don't even know who you are."

I'll take that as an invitation to go elsewhere. Bye.

Abe said...

jewish philosopher said...
"Whether evolution is true or not is immaterial to the question of god's existence."

Sure it is. "although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist."
-- Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, page 6

Another missapplication of Dawkins. Freethinkers were always skeptical of god's existence. Darwin and evolution simply validated their belief.

>>>So Abe, produce one reasonably convincing proof of evolution<<<
You must be a glutton for punishment:
http://www.allaboutcreation.org/evidence-for-proof-of-evolution-faq.htm

>>>and one plausible, detailed, atheistic explanation for the origin of Judaism.<<<
Here are credible explainations for the origin of Judaism.
...In contrast to other nations of the ancient near east whose national origins were directly intertwined with their creation myths, the Israelite scribes connected their historical emergence as a nation to the creation myths through a series of ancestral narratives depicting the birth of the world, a family, and a nation called Israel. The Hebrew scriptures consist of twenty-four books and is divided into three sections that are referred to with the acronym TaNaKh, an abbreviation for Torah, Neviim, and Ketuvim.

The Torah (or Pentateuch) refers to the first five books of the Hebrew Bible associated with its central figure Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Although these books are theologically united together as the "Law of Moses" received from God at Mt. Sinai, they are historically understood as a series of narratives grouped together under the other meaning of Torah, "instruction." They lack a continuous theme or a single author and were edited over a period of 500 years and canonized during the 6th century B.C.E....
...One can see foreign religious influence in the creation myths and law codes of ancient Israel. When examining the creation story of Genesis 1 along with other myths about the origins of the cosmos in the Psalms, there is a clear parallel with the Babylonian creation myth, Enuma Elish, which predates the biblical account of creation....

>>>Or admit God did it.<<<
That does not follow. Its a fundamentalist non-sequitur.

Abe said...

Anonymous said...
>>>Did someone mention something about atheists being more tolerant?
http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/freethinking/<<<

I'll agree with you there. Some atheists have been become as intolerant as many fundamentalist true believers. I don't think that atheism has any justification for legaly preventing the teaching of religion in any private arena. Knock yourself out if you want.

jewish philosopher said...

Abe, I thinked you linked to a creationist anti-evolution website.

About judaism, just stating that Israelite scribes wrote the Torah is not so detailed and plausible. Who were these scribes? When and where? Why did all Jews accept their book as factual? Didn't they have any prior traditions or beliefs?

Anonymous said...

Did someone mention something about atheists being more tolerant?

I think that petition is great. You are in favor of indoctrinating children? Oh, and nowhere on the petition does it call for or approve of the beheading of transgressors. You fundies bitch and moan about how mean the skeptics are for daring to ask you to show evidence, all the while you are happy to see anyone who disagrees with your orthodoxy slaughtered.

I've glanced through these comments and not one person professing to be a pious, moral person has raised so much as a peep about the beheading of homosexuals. Who cares that some 12th century rabbi in Minsk thinks that homosexuality is bad? It's unjustifiable to kill someone because you disapprove of the legal lifestyle they live with another consenting adult. Your religious orthodoxy is not infallible. Your laws are not eternal, even though they claim to be. Your morals may be interesting, but they get no special privilege.

You acknowledge again and again that your particular brand of orthodox judaism is repressive, dogmatic, difficult, illogical, and preferential. If wants to be your kind of orthodox jew, it's hard to do. You need to go against many natural and healthy impulses. But you like it, I guess, or you like thinking that you're tough or something.

For all your puffery about the wisdom of judaism, you don't seem particularly wise, and you don't make judaism seem particularly wise. It's certainly not a very useful religion.

In short: fuck off.

jewish philosopher said...

"It's unjustifiable to kill someone because you disapprove of the legal lifestyle they live with another consenting adult."

Anonymous, your concern for the sexual rights of man is extremely touching and brings actual tears to my eyes.

I am just curious, however, whether you have ever considered the following scenario.

Let's say you had a daughter - a talented, lovely young woman of 28 who has just been diagnosed with AIDS and tuberculosis. Not only that, however her husband and her two children, your grandchildren, have been tested and are HIV positive.

Researching into it, it is discovered that when your daughter was 18 she had unprotected sex with a boy in college. That boy, unknown to her, had received anal sex from a homosexual man who, unknown to him, was HIV positive.

These kind of little surprises actually happen every day in America and Europe.

Would this change your view at all about the sacred right of sexual freedom?

Anonymous said...

No. If they all had been more responsible and honest, and had gotten themselves tested, there would have been not so much trouble.

Sexual freedom is a wonderful thing. So isn't sexual responsibility.

The surprising (or is it really surprising) thing is how you work to finally place the blame on that homosexual man.

What percentage of the population are homosexual men?

jewish philosopher said...

"The surprising (or is it really surprising) thing is how you work to finally place the blame on that homosexual man."

In countries which do follow the Torah policy concerning homosexuals, such as Saudi Arabia, this type of tragedy is virtually unknown.

Fine, so you are willing to sacrifice you children and grandchildren on the alter of sexual freedom. Good for you. Personally, I'm not.

Now my next question is, why does murder bother you in the first place? Even if the execution of homosexuals, following due process of law, would be murder in your eyes, so what? Isn't a human being merely a minute soulless bag of chemicals stuck to a particle of cosmic dust we call Earth? Why should eliminating a few bother you any more than the killing of a chicken or the bursting of a water balloon?

Anonymous said...

"In countries which do follow the Torah policy concerning homosexuals, such as Saudi Arabia, this type of tragedy is virtually unknown."

No, but they have their own tragedies.

"Now my next question is, why does murder bother you in the first place?"

I think the real question is why murder doesn't bother you. Fine, so you are willing to sacrifice you children and grandchildren on the alter of dogma. Good for you. Personally, I'm not.

jewish philosopher said...

"No, but they have their own tragedies."

So what?

"I think the real question is why murder doesn't bother you."

Killing a condemned man is not murder.

In any case you know that homosexuality has and does cause indirectly the deaths of millions of people, including entirely innocent children. You also believe that human life has no value. Nevertheless you have the nerve to criticize me for teaching Torah, because doing so might inhibit your sexual perversions.

How should I put this? FUCK YOU.

Anonymous said...

I understand that some studies show that the life expectancy of homosexuals is twenty years less than that of heterosexuals. Its not a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 11:02

You missed the posting above about how Sam Harris suggests it is moral to kill people who have dangerous beliefs, which he defines as religious beliefs. That's not very tolerant. That's worse

Anonymous said...

And I never said I was wise. And if you think Judaism isn't useful I guess you don't think Hatzolo is useful. Or Bikur Cholim. Or Tomchei Shabbos. Or any number of other chesed organizations.

Anonymous said...

And every student of history knows that the only thing atheism is usefull for is commiting mass murder.

Anonymous said...

Oops. I did it again. I commited the logical error of reducto ad atheistic mass murderum. Sorry, my bad. Its jsu so easy to do because there were so many, and they killed so many people. Amd their moderm heirs don't really care.

Abe said...

jewish philosopher said...
>>>Abe, I thinked you linked to a creationist anti-evolution website.<<<
I purposely did that. They think that god set evolution in motion and their data regarding evolution is valid. Its certainly better than religions that regurgitate crazy midrashic theories that black race was conceived via Noah's curse in the ark as some crackpot fundamentalist do.


<<>>
Probably just scribes like the ones who preserved other ancioent people's myths. Who they are is lost to fog of history.

<<>>
For the same reason that all christians accepted the gospels as factual. It doesn't take much to indoctrinate scientificaly illiterate and ignorant people. Just look at the nutty lubavitchers. Even in our day of scientific enlightenment, we have nutty people who believe the rebbe is still alive, is only "hidden" and is moshiach. Kal v'chomer in those unenlightened times.

jewish philosopher said...

Why couldn't Jesus or the Lubavitcher Rebbe convince millions of people that God had appeared to them and anointed them messiah? Seems like Moses was a little different.

Abe said...

jewish philosopher said...
<<>>

They also stone adultresses and cut off the hands of thieves. Its not surprising that you appalud their society. Are you sure you wouldn't be happier living there?

jewish philosopher said...

They've copied a few good Jewish ideas, mixed with baloney.

Anonymous said...

Who has convinced more people than Jesus? Many people, including Jews, consider Jesus to be the single most important human being in history.

Abe said...

jewish philosopher said...
<<>>

Actualy Jesus did convince millions. In fact many hundreds of times the number than Moses did.
However, what you really need to worry about is the Lubavitcher Rebbe and his worshippers. In a few generations the same gullibility that inspires the tenacity of your unreasonable beliefs, will glorify the worship of the Rebbe. I wouldn't be surprised if your grandchildren would be screaming Yechi in the streets and calling you a kofer for your disbelief in the Rebbe-moshiach. Such is the product of uncritical appeasement of fundamentalist doctrine.
Be afraid, be very afraid.

Abe said...

jewish philosopher said...
<<>>
I don't think its baloney. They've risen to a higher spiritual level by chopping off arms and stoning women, while you must content yourself only with the severed heads of gay men. Be a true fundie and up the ante! Perform all of the above and find a witch to burn also. Only then will you have risen to a higher spiritual plane. Who knows, god may talk to you personaly thereafter and summon you to dispatch a clandestine ben sorer umoreh. Oh to be so inspired by Hashem's wrath! The glory of it all !!!

Anonymous said...

But is it easy to convince people that their grandparents spoke to God and didn't tell them?

jewish philosopher said...

The remarkable thing about Judaism is not that so many people believe it or that it makes a very incredible claim. The proof of Judaism is that large scale, successful conspiracies are impossible, as I've explained.

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

Regarding how civil American law should be changed to conform to God's will, you need to study the Noahide Commandments.

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

It's not much different than some Christian churches.

Anonymous said...

But is it easy to convince people that their grandparents spoke to God and didn't tell them?

Yes, certainly. The generation of Sinai had all died. What they had actually seen was just smoke and fire (perhaps because they were really at a volcano in Saudi Arabia). They heard the shofar. So, sure, a whole bunch of people elevate their dead fathers and grandfathers by claiming they were there at Sinai when "God spoke" (kind of like, "my folks were at Woodstock). Over 500 years from a volcano eruption to the writing of this part of the Torah? Absolutely the legend can grow.

jewish philosopher said...

There are however no volcanos in the Sinai, and you still have to account for the ten plagues, splitting of the Red Sea, manna from heaven, etc.

Anonymous said...

They're made up.

jewish philosopher said...

This is all based on the concept that "The ancient Jews were moronic zombies who believed anything Ezra told them."

I think that's nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Ezra just (re)-wrote already existing stories. We don't know the extent to which people thought the some or all the stories were literally true. They may have understood the stories as illustrating moral or social truths without. You know, they were literature.

jewish philosopher said...

Two questions on that.

First of all, by the time of Ezra, Jews were scattered throughout the Persian empire. Where did all the earlier versions of Torah go? Why are they never even mentioned anywhere?

Secondly, why did the Samaritans accept Ezra's Torah (see next post)?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 4:58

People in ancient times knew the difference between a volcano and God giving the Torah. People have been witnessing volcanoes througout history, yet no one said it was a national revelation. And there are no active volcanoes in the Sinai. And if the other plagues were made up, then the same problem of getting people to believe something that their Grandparetns should have told them abou tbut didn't still exists.

Anonymous said...

This is interesting:

http://creation.com/atheists-credit-christianity

Dumber said...

"I believe that the United States government should amend the Constitution to make male to male anal intercourse a capital crime."

Would you also emphasize that such a law should stress that at least two witnesses must be present and give the appropriate warning to the fornicating men, and that the fornicating men give the necessary response -- in order for the execution to be carried out?

jewish philosopher said...

We can work out those details once the amendment passes.

Tigerboy said...

I asked a simple question.

"Do you have any understanding of what it means to try to get along with your fellow humans?"

Your flippant reply was:

"I am already in a committed, exclusive relationship if that's why you're asking."

No, that's not why I'm asking.

(the fact that you so quickly seized upon any opportunity to call a stranger a "FAG" is not lost on anyone. We understood what you meant. You're a constant joy.)

Be reassured. I have no interest in a sexual relationship with you. I have no interest in an emotional relationship with you. The consideration of either possibility is notably revolting. Mistress Jewish Philosopher has my sympathies, believe me.

(It's not too late, my dear! You can still find someone pleasant!)

It it fairly clear to me that you enjoy spreading hatred. I have to wonder, why?

Without your brand of virulent divisiveness, wouldn't the world be a much kinder, safer place?

jewish philosopher said...

Hasn't the famous atheist Sam Harris advocated conversational intolerance?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Harris_(author)#Conversational_intolerance

Actually, if everyone would agree with the truth, there would be no divisiveness.

Tigerboy said...

--"Actually, if everyone would agree with the truth, there would be no divisiveness."

Yes. True. Of course, that sounds a bit like those videos of the North Korean army marching in lock-step. No thanks.

(I'll wait while you draw your oh-so-predictable, tiresome, and completely absurd comparison between tin-pot, fascist grabbers-of-power, and gentle intellectuals.)

Plus, people being people, I think that scenario is unlikely to occur. The only chance you might have of ever getting everyone to agree on something would be if that something can be demonstrated.

You know, science?

Sam Harris' advocacy of conversational intolerance is something a bit different from calling for the dismemberment of American citizens. Are you able to see the difference? It's fairly stark.

jewish philosopher said...

I personally am fanatically in favor of the universal unity of mankind, which will be achieved in the Messianic Era. I pray for this many times a day. No need to sever heads.

"For then will I turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one consent." Zephaniah 3:9

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt2103.htm#9

Anonymous said...

Tigerboy:

I guess you missed the quote above where Sam Harris suggests that it is moral to kill people who harbor dangerous beliefs, which he defines as religious beliefs.

Tigerboy said...

Anon:

Excuse me, but I have read virtually every word Sam Harris has ever published, and watched every scrap of video he has ever appeared in, and listened to every webcast I could find, and NEVER, EVER have I heard him make such an argument. Not once.

I have no idea what context this quote was drawn from, and neither do you. Give me a broader context and we might have a basis for a discussion.

Sam Harris does NOT advocate killing.

His position is that religious beliefs are dangerous. Very dangerous. True. He's correct.

Does belief in an eternal reward in paradise--for the waging of jihad on Earth--lead to dangerous behavior? No question that it does! We've all seen that played out in gruesome detail.

Arguing over "who's the Antichrist?" and "who's the True Caliph?" does NOT lend itself to good relations with the neighbors.

Should good people, who wish for a more peaceful, harmonious world, be worried about religious fundamentalism and the literal interpretation of these bloody, violent religious texts? You better believe we should!

Is intense religiosity frightening and dangerous? Absolutely. Is it a major cause of divisiveness between neighbors, of hatred amongst our fellow humans? Totally. A frequent cause of WAR? Totally.

Sam Harris is not recommending that people be put to death. That would be the host of this blog, a very religious, very dangerous individual.

Jacob:

--"I personally am fanatically in favor of the universal unity of mankind, which will be achieved in the Messianic Era. I pray for this many times a day. No need to sever heads."

So why do you enjoy inciting bloodlust for that very thing? Is it any wonder that the real estate claimed by three religions is in a constant state of bloodshed?

While we're all waiting for your prayers to come true, how about making a bit more effort to get along with your fellow humans? Why advocate killing?

If your version of the universe turns out to be true, we'll all find out soon enough. But, God has never talked to me, and he has never talked to you, either.

(I'm actually trying to give you some credit for being a reasonable enough man to admit that you have never personally spoken with God and had him actually answer back).

Can't you put your bloodlust on hold and let the truth win-out, on it's own? Why continue hating your neighbor over something for which you have no proof, not even a scrap of real evidence? Why foster hatred?

Your claims that agnostics, secularists, intellectuals, and proponents of scientific method cause evil, death, and destruction are ludicrous.

jewish philosopher said...

"Why advocate killing?"

Actually, Jews are very peaceful, as I have pointed out.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/09/orthodox-jewish-crime.html

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/02/massacre-of-midianites.html

On the other hand atheists have been among the world's worst mass killers.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/12/famous-atheist.html

"Why continue hating your neighbor over something for which you have no proof"

The proof is immense.

First, the Watchmaker Principle and what I call the Anti-conspiracy Principle.

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

Then consider the unique structure of Jewish literature.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/03/jewish-literature-seeing-effects-of.html

The unique wisdom of the Torah.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/06/gods-wisdom.html

The Torah's remarkable candor.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/06/spies-narrative.html

Regarding questions from archeology and paleontology, I have found plausible answers.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/09/how-i-understand-genesis.html

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/02/torah-and-archaeology.html

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/10/biblical-deluge.html

Atheists are left relying on a barrage of logical fallacies.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/06/post-about-comments.html

These are merely rationalizations for a debauched lifestyle, which ends badly.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/01/aging-atheist.html

Anonymous said...

Tigerboy:

The quote from Sam Harris can be found on page 55 of "The End of Faith."

And since every student of history knows that the worsy mass murderers in history were atheists, that a disproortionate number of mass murderers where atheists, and that vise versa, and that everytime atheists run a country they resort to mass murder, then it seems that they are the most dangerous.

jewish philosopher said...

Incidentally, if you look at the research, the most free countries seem to be liberal Christian ones, while the least are the officially atheistic and Islamic.

http://www.freedomhouse.org/uploads/fiw10/FIW_2010_Tables_and_Graphs.pdf

Atheism = tolerance is another Gobbie myth.

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