Saturday, May 15, 2010

Crime and Punishment


[hanged, drawn and quartered – the old fashioned way]

One topic which seems to have received little attention from contemporary atheists is the issue of crime and punishment.

According to atheists, we have no soul and no free will. On the other hand, our criminal justice system rests on the concept that society has the right to take revenge on someone who has freely chosen to harm others. If there is no free will, then every defendant could correctly claim that he is innocent due to an irresistible impulse, which is a type of insanity defense.

This is summed up by a former dean of Harvard Law School Roscoe Pound in his introduction to "Cases on Criminal Law" by Francis B. Sayre (1927): "Historically, our substantive criminal law is based upon a theory of punishing the vicious will. It postulates a free agent confronted with a choice between doing right and doing wrong and choosing freely to do wrong."[1]

According to atheism, our criminal justice system should logically be abolished and replaced with a mental health system for the criminally insane. Anyone who harms others would be evaluated by psychologists and then incarcerated in a hospital for the criminally insane until psychiatrists would decide that he is harmless. There would be in this case no concept of the “let the punishment fit the crime” because no one is guilty and no punishment is appropriate. Instead, it would be an issue of “let the treatment fit the illness”. Theoretically, a mass killer could be released after a few weeks while a shoplifter might be confined for life. Adolf Hitler and other Nazi war criminals, for example, posed no threat to anyone following the surrender of Germany and could have been set free immediately. We know that Adolf Eichmann after ordering the murder of hundreds of thousands during the war lived a peaceful, quiet life as a rabbit farmer after the war.

I assume that atheists don’t bring this issue up very often since the obvious absurdity of it would demonstrate clearly the falsehood of atheism. It’s much safer to keep hammering on the crimes committed by Muslims as “proof” that anyone believing in God is dangerous.

106 comments:

Gobbs said...

2 reductio ad absurdum fallacies you promulgate via unfounded predictions:

1. atheism eventually leads to no criminal justice system

2. believe in evolution eventually leads to advocating cannabalism and global destruction through climatic warming (in previous posts)

You therefore conclude falsely that nobody actually believes in evolution or atheism.

All based on your unsubstantiated and absurd slippery slope arguments.

jewish philosopher said...

No, these are facts, not fallacies. Atheism is absurd, not Judaism.

Shalmo said...

Its interesting you brought up the example of muslims.

In Islam as formally outlined in the Quran:
1. Warfare can only be committed for defensive purposes, and never as offensive
2. Women, children and non-combatants must always be spared in all conflicts

If we compare this to the Jewish example all over the Tanakh. The most common instruction given to Jewry is to kill men, women and children. There are eternally binding mizvohs which demand this; 3 against canaanites, 3 against amalekites. There are instructions to smash babies against rocks; and Psalms even has prayer thanking God for ordaining it. We know Moshe condemned the Jews in Numbers 31 for sparing women and children and told them to go finish them of, even Saul was punished for sparing women and children. And in the Book of Joshua we see YHWH says its ok to eliminate entire nations and keep their gold, copper and iron for yourself.

Judging from the Tanakh, the Jewish ethic is:
1. Its ok (and even mandatory in some or all cases) to kill women and children
2. After a genocide its ok to then take their property
- hmm where did the european colonists, Inquisitor and Crusaders get their ideas from?

Now if we compare the two, where as in the past most of the world did indeed adhere to the jewish ethic of war. In the 21st century almost all the world has adopted the islamic ethic of war.

hmmm :)

Gobbie said...

BTW how would we know if somebody is "harmless"? Why do you say we would determine that a psychopathic mass murderer is harmless and release him in a "few weeks"?

The fact is that most violent criminals remain so and thus are a danger to society. The "crimes of passion" probably don't fall into that catergory-- but we punish them anyway for the 2 other reasons-- retribution (to make the victims feel better that justice is served) and deterrence.

Even the biblical commandment of cities of refuge acknowledge the basic human instinct of retribution.

jewish philosopher said...

"In Islam as formally outlined in the Quran:"

Does Faisal Shahzad know about this?

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

"how would we know if somebody is "harmless""

How do we know that any sick person is well? I guess a doctor would have to examine him.

Anonymous said...

How would an atheist deal with someone who is insane? Since they are still a threat, they should be eliminated? And what is wroing with preemptively killing people who might prove dnagerous in the future? Sam Harris actually suggested preemptive killing of religious people because he considers them dangerous. And this would be a perfectly darwinian approach also. We eliminate those who cannot live according to the rules of the troop, just like all social animals do. This is perfectly natural selection, survival of the fittest, etc.

Anonymous said...

JP, you are such a liar. It was explained to you quite clearly how claiming innocence by reason of insanity would no longer be an option if the criminal justice system formally did away with the concept of free will in the legal sphere. In fact, it was pointed out that the US system already does NOT use the concept of free will in the main.

There's no reason we could chuck the free will idea entirely -- since science is showing IN FACT that there is no free will and no soul -- and have a legal system that BETTER serves society by balancing just retribution and rehabilitation.

You'll notice that the ten commandments (if you can agree on what the actual comandments are and what they mean -- you still have not accomplished this to this day) have very little to do with modern law. They are irrelevant. Like God. Like Torah. Like Jesus. Like the lying illiterate motherfucker Mohammed. Like Moses. Like Abraham. Like you and your lap dog, Nathan.

Deal with it. Your children and grandchildren will be atheists. The internet is where religoon goes to die because anyone can examine your claims.

Anonymous said...

Please exuce my going OT, but this is interesting.

I just finished reading "Who Really Wrote the Bible" by Eyal Rav-Noy and Gil Weinreich. They use DH style analysis to show that the similar styles and language used in the different sections of the Torah to show that they all had one author. They show how the various sections use have a very sophiticated, complex structure, so multiple authorship is impossible.

jewish philosopher said...

"It was explained to you quite clearly how claiming innocence by reason of insanity would no longer be an option if the criminal justice system formally did away with the concept of free will in the legal sphere. In fact, it was pointed out that the US system already does NOT use the concept of free will in the main."

Nonsense.

Regarding the success of atheism and death of Judaism, I'm sure the ancient Greeks and Romans made the same predictions.

jewish philosopher said...

This article

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/02/04/0915161107.full.pdf

merely seems to make the argument that while the criminal justice system is based on the silly religious idea that we have free will, we should nevertheless allow it to continue because society cannot function without it. Odd that society cannot function without silly ideas.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 7:48

Are you saying that we should get rid of the insanity defense? How? Should we just kill all the insane? That would be a perfectly Darwinian thing to do. In fact the Darwinian Nazis did just that. And Darwinian Eugenisists in America advocated for that, as well.

And I don't see how I could be called JP's lapdog. I don't agree with his opinion on the State of Israel. And I'm not categorically opposed to Modern Orthodoxy.

And all my children are Orthodox. And I know so many people who have come from secular and even atheistic backgrounds and have embraced Orthodox Judaism. And most of the people I kow who ahve experimented wiht leaving Orthodoxy were teenagers with problems like depression, ADHD. etc.

Nathan

Anonymous said...

The Soviets tried to outlaw religion. Now there are Yeshivas in what used be the Soviet Union. The Communist Chinese tried to outlaw religion. Now, the fastest growing Christian population in the world is in China.


And of course the consequenses of the wordl becoming atheistic would be a marked increase in mass murder.

Gobbert said...

"Odd that society cannot function without silly ideas."

the idea of free will is no different than love, or other emotions or idea. Does it exist? yes, in our heads, as an emotion. Is it useful? yes. Is love "real"? Who knows?

Free will is simply what it feels like to be a conscious being.

jewish philosopher said...

Free will implies that we have a soul. A soul implies that we were created by God not evolution.

So in the United States today we have a criminal justice system based on creationism and a public education system teaching evolution. Then we wonder why people are so confused and dysfunctional.

Gobbs said...

"Are you saying that we should get rid of the insanity defense? How? Should we just kill all the insane? That would be a perfectly Darwinian thing to do."

It doesn't seem that you read the PNAS article referred to.

In any case violent criminals, insane or not, need to be kept away from society. The only difference is whether or not they can be treated or rehabilitated. Nobody says to kill the insane. Its a practical utilitarian approach.

And you make the common fallacious argument that JP makes all the time: that evolutionary biology=social Darwinism. That is a slippery slope/reductio ad absurdum fallacy. [Britain was the birthplace of Darwinian theory, and became widely accepted there well before Nazi Germany, yet the British did not adopt fascism or social Darwinism]

"Free will implies that we have a soul. "

No more than the feeling of love or loyalty implies we have a soul.

jewish philosopher said...

"you make the common fallacious argument that JP makes all the time: that evolutionary biology=social Darwinism"

A mistake apparently made by Darwin's son Leonard as well, who was the Chairman of the British Eugenics Society between 1911-1928.

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

"No more than the feeling of love or loyalty implies we have a soul."

Maybe they do, however as the PNAS article points out free will certainly does. The author is appalled that so many scientists still cling to such superstition. Or such sanity, in my view.

Anonymous said...

But there is no good reason not to kill anyone who does not conform to societies norms. There is no good reason not to use social Darwinism if you are a Darwinist.

And there was lot of Social Darwinism involved in the way the English treated the nativesof their colonies. All that white man's burden stuff.

gobbie said...

"A mistake apparently made by Darwin's son Leonard as well, who was the Chairman of the British Eugenics Society between 1911-1928."

It never took hold in British society--in the scientific community or outside it. The Germans were no more "atheistic" than the British. And, this is an argument from consequences which is invalid anyway.

"The author is appalled that so many scientists still cling to such superstition. Or such sanity, in my view."

Are you arguing the existence of free will based on the consequences of it not existing, or based on evidence of it existing? The first is not an argument, and the second-- well--the evidence is not in your favor.

jewish philosopher said...

"this is an argument from consequences which is invalid anyway"

Atheism would lead quickly to the extinction of mankind. One half would kill the other half, the survivors would not have children and that would be the end of that.

The proof? Consider Europe 150 years after the founding of atheism with the publication of "Origin".

An aging population

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

being replaced by Muslims

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


"Are you arguing the existence of free will"

I would argue that only a madman can truly not believe in the soul.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/09/soul-our-greatest-gift.html

I suspect this is why Nietzsche cracked.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nietzsche#Mental_breakdown_and_death_.281889.E2.80.931900.29

Undercover Kofer said...

"According to Atheism" and "According to atheists" are naive and generalist terms. How do you know the majority of atheists think alike? If you believe it is a religion, believe also that there are different 'sects' within Atheism and 'religious pluralism'.

How exactly do you believe that free will necessitates a soul? Have souls ever been proven and how do you define free will anyway?

I also don't accept the binary thinking of either someone is a religious believer or an atheist. What about agnostics? Or is Agnosticism a religion as well?

Also, who says we can't incarcerate, not as a punishment but as a protection for others?

jewish philosopher said...

"How do you know the majority of atheists think alike?"

I mean that certain ideas logically follow from atheistic beliefs.

"Have souls ever been proven"

Sure.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/09/soul-our-greatest-gift.html

"how do you define free will anyway"

Free will is the freedom to make choices that are not determined by prior causes.

"is Agnosticism a religion as well"

Agnostic secular humanism is a transitional stage between either Christianity and Judaism on one hand and atheism on the other.

"who says we can't incarcerate, not as a punishment but as a protection for others?"

That's what I am saying.

gobbie the skeptic said...

JP, your narrative is utterly bereft of intellectual integrity and is thoroughly unscientific. Although you seem to be intelligent, all you do is make pseudo-scientific arguments, all the while ridiculing the scientists who actually understand scientific method.

It is clear from your statements that you are clueless about the scientific method and reasoning. Things like evidence, induction, stochasticity and hypothesis testing seem to be totally alien to you. The best you seem to be able to do is quote yourself and rely on baseless "predictions" and logical fallacies, of which you like to accuse scientists and skeptics.

I can identify Talmudic reasoning in many of your statements. Regrettably for you, Talmudic logic is totally worthless when it comes to learning about the physical world. Things like analogy, arguments by authority, slippery slope, reductio ad absurdum-- may make sense in the context of ancient halachic disputes, but they have no place in modern conversation regarding the nature of the world.

My friend, you are forced to make a choice if you are honest: scientific reasoning or faith. They are not compatible with each other. For the past 300 years science is encroaching more and more in areas that were considered the domain of faith. Religion is being forced into an ever narrowing corner of knowledge, as science addresses questions that were not accessible in the past. Your glorious god of the Bible, who waged wars, did miracles, brought floods and firestorms and spoke to people, is now confined to being "hidden", while manifesting his justice only in some uncertain and vague afterlife.

Your god is dying.

Anonymous said...

How does free will reconcile with God controlling everything and God's foreknowledge?

That seems to be a bigger problem for free will than justice and punishment.

jewish philosopher said...

"JP, your narrative is utterly bereft of intellectual integrity and is thoroughly unscientific."

That's only because you don't understand it.

"Although you seem to be intelligent"

I'm actually a member of American Mensa.

http://www.us.mensa.org//AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home

"My friend, you are forced to make a choice if you are honest: scientific reasoning or faith."

Actually, I'm making a choice in favor of the truth, which is Judaism, and against all other religions, including atheism, which are fantasies and scams.

"For the past 300 years science is encroaching more and more in areas that were considered the domain of faith."

Nonsense. Science is a useful field of study, but irrelevant to Judaism. You may as well claim that orthodontics will replace Judaism. And evolution by the way is not science.

"Your god is dying."

No you're dying, but the Jews are the eternal people.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/01/eternal-jew.html

"How does free will reconcile with God controlling everything and God's foreknowledge?"

It's complicated.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_will_in_theology#The_paradox_of_free_will

Anonymous said...

Gobbie:

Over the past three hundred years science has discovered that the universe had an originthat closely parallels Bereshis. Science has discovered that the universe appears exqusitely fine tuned to accomodate life. Science has discovered that life cannot spontaniously come from inanimate matter. So the origin of life still awaits a scientific explanation. And scientists have scanned the brain. They can trace the pathways of neurotransmitters. But they can't explain where the mind comes from.

Anonymous said...

And so much modern research has poked holes in Darwinism. G-d is very much alive.

Now, if science triumphs, what might not be alive is humanity. Science has given us the atom bomb, nerve gas, etc.

NoLiveGod said...

Gobbie,

Give it up, man. You cannot get anywhere with JP because he is not interested in questioning the foundations of his own assertions and he's not able to look at data without presupposing the existence of his Stalin in the Sky.

My experience with people like JP is that they rail against skepticism because they themselves harbor deep doubts. JP is a conflicted character, and I think his personal history shows this pattern too.

It's no big thing for JP or anyone to come up with a plausible explanation for almost anything. It's no feat to explain everything with "God did it." It's a workable explanation, by an large, as long as one doesn't have to explain all of the evidence and get into details about how God did whatever it is he is supposed to have done. Besides, whatever God was supposed to have done is equal to nature or physics anyway.

My advice to all is to turn away from JP. There's no sense having a fight here, and there's ceertainly no debate here. JP is dishonest and mean. If there were a God, JP would be a dishonor to him.

Let's leave JP to the lonely, conflicted hell that his real life surely must be.

Anonymous said...

Here's another hole:

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/01/green-sea-slug/#ixzz0o9fpwDPR

So a sea slug somehow evovled the ability to make chlorophyll and recycle chloroplasts. How bizarre.

jewish philosopher said...

"You cannot get anywhere with JP"

Actually my motives are very sincere.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/01/motives.html

However, atheists, not so much.

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

gobbie the great said...

NoLiveGod, your probably right. I wonder if JP is a closet atheist himself.

JP-"Actually, I'm making a choice in favor of the truth, which is Judaism, and against all other religions, including atheism, which are fantasies and scams."

Judaism and other religions, which make specific claims about the nature of the world, prayer, morality and human nature, have been and will continue to be subject to scrutiny by the scientific method. How do you know the "truth" and that everything else is "scam" when you know nothing about the scientific method, which has increased our knowledge of the world beyond imagination?

In the past, many natural phenomena were explained by unseen spiritual forces like demons, spirits, and humors. Science has now given physicalist explanations to those things. The methods of science will continue to elucidate things of the world around us, including things that you consider to be outside the realm of science. This will happen despite the shrill protestations of people like you and Nathan, who continue to wallow in a world of denial and conspiracy theories.

Regarding free will-- if god manipulates the world in even the slightest way, then there cannot be free will. So unless you relegate god to some passive, irrelevant, castrated role, there is no true free will. There is only environment, personality and god's manipulations.

jewish philosopher said...

"How do you know the "truth" and that everything else is "scam" when you know nothing about the scientific method, which has increased our knowledge of the world beyond imagination?"

By examining the facts

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

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

"The methods of science will continue to elucidate things of the world around us, including things that you consider to be outside the realm of science."

Science actually seems to be fizzling out.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/10/has-science-fizzled-out.html

"if god manipulates the world in even the slightest way, then there cannot be free will"

We have the freedom to mentally make a choice and God can decide whether we will have the means to carry it out.

Gobbie said...

So free will is now limited to "deciding", not
to "doing".
That's not free will.
Since god will decide what I will or won't
be able to do, good or bad, how can I be held accountable? For a thought?

jewish philosopher said...

Absolutely.

gobbie said...

So you don't believe in free will either. Interesting that you attack atheists for this.

Undercover Kofer said...

Okay, so we seem to agree on the fact that you generalize when using the term 'atheism', so you should write:

According to SOME atheists, we have no soul and no free will.

Instead of: According to atheists, we have no soul and no free will.

Undercover Kofer said...

You offer two 'proofs' for the soul:

1. The feeling that you are not your body.

2. The feeling of free will.

So you offer 'proof' from something as subjective as feelings? Perhaps these feelings are an illusion or hallucination? Or perhaps I feel I have free will but I don't?

Before you use big words like 'proof', please look it up in the dictionary first.

jewish philosopher said...

"So you don't believe in free will either."

We have freedom of choice, not action.

"According to SOME atheists, we have no soul and no free will."

As is true of most other religions, many atheists are ignorant of their own religion's most wacky beliefs.

" Perhaps these feelings are an illusion or hallucination?"

Perhaps all reality is an illusion.

Gobbs said...

"We have freedom of choice, not action.

What is freedom of choice, if not the freedom to act?

Good, according to you, we are rewarded or punished for our actions, over which you say we have no ultimate control.

Sounds to me a lot like the philosophy you criticise in your post.

jewish philosopher said...

No, you choose and then God decides if you will be able to follow through or not.

According to atheism however we are all merely mechanical forces of nature, or in other words soulless robots. See page 5 in this article

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/02/04/0915161107.full.pdf+html

NoLiveGod said...

"We have freedom of choice, not action."

Then how do we punish anyone for any crime, since they could not have acted otherwise?

jewish philosopher said...

For making a bad choice.

NoLiveGod said...

"For making a bad choice."

A bad choice about what? They could not act in any other way than they acted -- this is what you yourself said when you asserted that they did not have freedom of action.

Again: how do you punish someone who cannot act other than how they in fact acted?

Your answer seems to be based on whether one "chooses" to feel bad about the action or not. If this is what you are saying, then you are advocating "thought policing" because you are targeting a person's intentions and de-emphasizing that person's actions. Such targeting, of course, is anti-human, anti-Jewish, and anti-American.

Congratulations, you are admitted once again as siding with evil, repression, poor thinking, intolerance, and crankery.

My work here is done. G'bye!

NLG

Gabi said...

So according to you, JP:

Two Hassidic Jews, Shlomo and Moshe are walking down the street, and see a beautiful shikse woman. They are both sexually attracted to her and would like to have her. Shlomo is "prevented" by god from having sex with her. Moshe, the lucky one, is "allowed" by god to sin. Moshe is punished, Shlomo is not. Yet they were not in control of their sinning.

Now consider the following. Gobbie A and Gobbie B, who are both "soulless bags of chemicals", are walking down the street, and see a beautiful sports car that they want to steal. Gobbie A, due to circumstances and his personality, gives up and walks away. Gobbie B, who perhaps is a little more enterprising and determined, jump starts the car and drives off. Gobbie B is punished, Gobbie A is not.

In both cases they both had "sinful thoughts", and one is punished, the other isn't. Theoretically no fault of their own.

Now what's the difference, JP?

jewish philosopher said...

Let's say I want to kill someone but it's not his time to go. God might cause the gun to jam. Alternatively I may choose to save someone. However it is his time to go. So the ambulance breaks down.

I make the choice. I am rewarded or punished accordingly. However God decides the outcome.

gobb said...

"I make the choice. I am rewarded or punished accordingly. However God decides the outcome."

You are referring to rewarding or punishing "effort", not decisions or actions. That is but one of many scenarios that god can manipulate.

You described the holocaust as a punishment. The Nazis were tools of god to punish Jews. How could the Nazis be held accountable for that? If the Beit din executes somebody for sinning, the executioner has not sinned, has he?

The bible describes many manipulations by god involving peoples thoughts, dreams, etc which influenced their actions. How is god's intervention in the environment any different than any other deterministic factor that influences people's decisions and actions?

The upshot: ANY manipulation at all by god in men's actions, means that FUNCTIONALLY, there is no more accountability or "free will" than your "bag of chemicals". It is an illusion. If gobbie B was raped by his alcoholic father and grew up on the streets, how much "free choice" did he really have?

You can redefine and narrow the meaning of free will all you want, but that doesn't change reality: events are predetermined, either by god or by other factors.

Anonymous said...

Slowly by surely your house of cards is collapsing.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703559004575256470152341984.html?mod=WSJ_hp_editorsPicks

Scientists create synthetic organism.

globb said...

"Let's say I want to kill someone but it's not his time to go. God might cause the gun to jam. Alternatively I may choose to save someone. However it is his time to go. So the ambulance breaks down."

It seems to me that you describe god's behavior the way you would like it. But what evidence do you have that he actually functions that way?

Actually, I think he really functions as in this story:

http://www.theonion.com/content/radio_news/god-cites-moving-in-mysterious-ways-as-motive-for

jewish philosopher said...

"ANY manipulation at all by god in men's actions, means that FUNCTIONALLY, there is no more accountability or "free will" than your "bag of chemicals"."

I never said we have total free will and each person can choose to do anything imaginable.

"Scientists create synthetic organism."

Which is supposed to disprove the watchmaker analogy?

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

How?

gobbie B said...

It supposed to refute your oft-made claim that life is so complicated that we can't make it synthetically.

It removes life from the realm of "mystery" to the realm of "puzzle but doable"

"I never said we have total free will and each person can choose to do anything imaginable"

In other words, within the range of a person's behavior, limited by god's will, personality, genes, upbringing, and circumstances, he can do what he wants. You simply add another parameter that governs a person's behavior. That's no different than what determinists say.

BTW, you didn't answer how you know that god governs the way you say he does. If you base in on authority, iow based on your understanding of what rabbis from 2000 years ago thought they understood about what happened 1500 years before they lived---that's very poor evidence by any standard. Please provide good evidence that god in fact operates the way you suggest.

jewish philosopher said...

"your oft-made claim that life is so complicated that we can't make it synthetically"

I don't recall ever making that claim. In any case, life is not being made from simple chemicals, but rather from pieces of other living things. It's a sort of Frankenstein bacteria.

"That's no different than what determinists say."

According to the Torah, man possesses a soul breathed into him by God Genesis 2:7

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

and the ability to choose between good and evil Deut. 30:19

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0530.htm#19

According the National Academy of Sciences we are mechanical forces of nature, or in other words soulless robots. See page 5 in this article

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/02/04/0915161107.full.pdf+html

Anonymous said...

Synthetic bacteria were made by intelligent scientists, not by a natural process.

Anonymous said...

Here's some more hole's in evolution:


http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/01/07/0912988107.abstract


http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VJ1-4WDD1BP-1&_user=10&_coverDate=07%2F31%2F2009&_rdoc=2&_fmt=high&_orig=browse&_srch=doc-info%28%23toc%236081%232009%23999759992%231208049%23FLA%23display%23Volume%29&_cdi=6081&_sort=d&_docanchor=&_ct=13&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=2cc5b64c4c2b040897fffc2dad9416d3

gobbs said...

"ccording to the Torah, man possesses a soul breathed into him by God Genesis 2:7"

It means life.


"and the ability to choose between good and evil Deut. 30:19"

The Torah spoke in the language of humans, as it does everywhere, just as today we say, "you can choose which car you want to buy". It says nothing of the nature of this "free will". [Proof: the torah in devarim preordains that the Hebrews will stray from the right path, sin, and be punished. What kind of free will is that? If god knows that it will happen, it could not be any other way, so it is predetermined]

You still haven't presented evidence, beyond the argument by authority of the torah, that free will operates in the way you mentioned: free choice of "effort" but predetermined outcome, while the person is rewarded or punished for this "effort".

jewish philosopher said...

The existence of the soul and freedom of choice but not freedom of action are fundamental to Judaism.

http://www.aish.com/jl/sp/bas/48942091.html

http://www.aish.com/sp/f/48965061.html

http://www.aish.com/sem/mat/82543082.html

globbie said...

OK, I accept that, just be honest that when you write about this that you are talking about a hashkafa/values approach, and not about science, evidence or rationalism. Values are not a scientific thing.

How about this: "Judaism and Jewish society values personal responsibility and holds each individual accountable for their actions, good or bad. It recognizes that people have differing personalities, circumstances and tendencies. Yet, Jewish tradition holds that people are capable of personal change and self-development, regardless of their circumstances. This is the basis of the idea of teshuva."

I have no problem with that at all. Its your metaphysics which are wacky and unfounded.

jewish philosopher said...

I would claim that we are all capable of self improvement. Although it may be very difficult.

Gobsie said...

"I would claim that we are all capable of self improvement. Although it may be very difficult."

Fair enough. I could ask: could any one of us become Bill Gates? Could any one of us become a world boxing champion?

Theoretically yes, but practically no. It would be "very difficult", as you say. Its a very limited sort of free will.

jewish philosopher said...

God only holds us responsible for what we could potentially have done better. If we do our best, that is perfection.

Dan Gambiera said...

Twaddle, hogswaller, garbage and lies.

Atheists do not believe in gods. That does not mean they believe people have no free will any more than religious people believe that all of our actions are controlled by Invisible Sky Friend. Many of the most prominent atheistic philosophers have been the greatest proponents of free will and individual responsibility. They range from the execrable (and Jewish) Ayn Rand to the admirable such as Bertrand Russell.

Someone who calls himself a philosopher should at least learn a little bit about the modern history of his own field.

jewish philosopher said...

As Professor Cashmore points out

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/02/04/0915161107.full.pdf+html

atheists often don't understand all aspects of their own religion.

Atheism means that the Biblical God does not exist and evolution created us. According to that, we have no more free will than a bowl of sugar.

G said...

"Atheism means that the Biblical God does not exist and evolution created us. According to that, we have no more free will than a bowl of sugar."

And therein IMHO lies the major falsehood in the entire blog.

You intentionally blur the distinction between values and metaphysics.

The reactions in the comments results from your controversial values themselves (ie your proposal for death penalty for sodomy) and to your repeated unjustified or blatantly false linkages between values and metaphysics (ie evolution=social darwinism, etc).

jewish philosopher said...

Well, let's put it like this. Bad, and false, ideas lead naturally to bad behavior and human suffering. I don't think that's too controversial.

Teaching people that killing non-Muslims will lead to an eternity in paradise or that killing Jews will bring an end to financial crime or that exterminating darker skinned people will bring an end to global poverty are all widely believed and all have unfortunate results.

Abe said...

jewish philosopher said...
>>>No, you choose and then God decides if you will be able to follow through or not.<<<

Not quite. It seems that a few of our ancient sages were more perceptively attuned to the blatant contradiction between god's foreknowledge and free will. One of our most famous 14th century gedolim, Rabbi Levi ben Gershon (RALBAG), whose biblical commentary is accessible in many chumashim, clearly limited god's omnicience.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gersonides
"...3. and 4. God's knowledge of facts and providence, in which is advanced the theory that God does not know individual facts. While there is general providence for all, special providence only extends to those whose reason has been enlightened;.."

http://www.jewishpress.com/pageroute.do/41412
"...There's a very well-known problem concerning the clash between God's foreknowledge and human free will. If God genuinely knows and has known for all eternity everything that will occur, then the fact is that God knew for all eternity that at this point in time we would now be speaking. Therefore, come this point in time, however we might feel about it, there was no question we would end up speaking.
Now there are all sorts of attempts to squirm one's way out of this dilemma, but evidently the Ralbag accepted it as a genuine dilemma and therefore something had to give. He could say, "Well, if God does genuinely know everything that will occur, then human beings don't have free will as we ordinarily understand it." The Ralbag, however, takes the other path, which is to deny that God knows that we are now talking. God does not actually have knowledge of particular things and particular events..."

This suggests a yeridah hadorot
where we are unfortunately experiencing a retrogression of reason and scholarship. Mr Stein seems to exemplify that unfortunate compulsive fundamentalist evolution.

Gabi said...

Depends what you mean by a "bad" idea. If you mean just false ideas, I don't see how flat earth, pre-Einstein mechanics or Buddhist Nirvana mythology caused too much bad behavior. On the other hand, "truths" such as nuclear physics caused much suffering. I don't see the connection.

If you mean "bad" in the sense of "mean spirited", well, that's kind of a tautology. Yes, bad ideas are bad, even if there is an element of truth to them.

Meir Kahana's perceptions about Arabs were largely correct, but still bad because they led him to immmoral conclusions.

As far as the Muslims are concerned, don't confuse correlation with cause and effect. I suspect that their suicide bombing is mostly politically motivated, and the mullahs just give it a hechsher.

jewish philosopher said...

As far as I understand it, God does have knowledge of the future and God does control everything that happens. Nevertheless, God does give us the ability to mentally make choices, which therefore justifies His punishment of bad choices and reward of good choices.

Ideas have a powerful influence on behavior.

Check out "10 Books That Screwed Up the World: And 5 Others That Didn't Help" by Benjamin Wiker

http://www.amazon.com/10-Books-That-Screwed-World/dp/1596980559/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274720420&sr=1-1

Anonymous said...

Abe:

Why is a contradiction a problem? Goedlproved that all systems of logic are contradictory. And quantum physics is contradictory.

Abe said...

jewish philosopher said...
>>>As far as I understand it, God does have knowledge of the future and God does control everything that happens. Nevertheless, God does give us the ability to mentally make choices, <<<

That's your problem, you don't understand it. If the RALBAG had misgivings about that dillema, it really should be conspicuous evidence of the vacuity of an omnicient god. Your imperception of the mutual exclusivity of foreknowledge and free will forces a fatuous reconcilliation between the two and defines your barren fundamentalism.

jewish philosopher said...

Abe, since you have so much respect for the RALBAG, or at least one Conservative rabbi's interpretation of the RALBAG

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gersonides#Views_on_God_and_omniscience

I think you should start respecting everything else the RALBAG believed, for example regarding the Torah, Talmud, etc.

Gobbs said...

"Nevertheless, God does give us the ability to mentally make choices, which therefore justifies His punishment of bad choices and reward of good choices."

So your free will boils down to punishment and reward for thoughts. Is that an ethical system to brag about? And you're ridiculing atheism?

Abe-- The Ralbag is just one example of rishonim who had doubts, and spoke explicitly about contradictions between Jewish dogma and reason and/or modern scholarship. Ibn Ezra is also known in his torah commentary for his passing hints to non-mosaic authorship of the torah. The Rambam struggles with it constantly.

I consider these people to be unfortunate souls, who because they were bound to the chains of religious dogma, had to find obscure ways to reconcile conflicting ideas rather than engage in a truly objective search for truth.

I consider Rav Slifkin to be in this category as well. His conflicting impulses scream out from his blog. I imagine that he thinks many things that he does not dare write about, in order to not lose all legitimacy as an orthodox rabbi.

jewish philosopher said...

"So your free will boils down to punishment and reward for thoughts. Is that an ethical system to brag about?"

It's no different than any other system. People are judged by their choices.

"His conflicting impulses scream out from his blog."

It can go either way. Here is a distinguished scientist who wished he did believe.

jewish philosopher said...

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/01/chandra-good-atheist.html

Abe said...

jewish philosopher said...
>>>Abe, since you have so much respect for the RALBAG, or at least one Conservative rabbi's interpretation of the RALBAG<<<

What exactly is it that you want to interpert? His comments need no talmudic-style exegesis or elucidation. He is crystal clear. God is not all knowing and all seeing.
Accept that and you'll be a happier man, or at least you'll diminish the urge to improvise a novel form of retribution if you transgress cholov yisroel or kosher water chumras.

jewish philosopher said...

Abe, accept everything else RALBAG said.

Abe said...

jewish philosopher said...
>>>Abe, accept everything else RALBAG said.<<<
Why?

jewish philosopher said...

You apparently accept him as being a religious authority.

In any case, regardless of what RALBAG may have said or meant, I am entitled to follow other authorities.

globby said...

"It's no different than any other system. People are judged by their choices."

No, they are judged by their actions. (which according to you are predetermined by god).

On another topic-
A simple probabilistic inductive argument:

1. Most ancient god claims in history turn out to be false.
2. Yahweh in the Hebrew Bible is an ancient god claim.
3. Therefore most likely Yahweh is false.

Its not 100% proof, but its 99.999% chance that yahweh doesn't exist.

jewish philosopher said...

In court today, punishment depends on action and intention. Of course, a human court cannot punish on intention alone since we are not mind readers.

Most of ancient science was wrong.

According to ancient science hemlock is a poison.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conium#Socrates

This therefore is also wrong. Bon appetit.

gob said...

"According to ancient science hemlock is a poison."

Induction is inferring from the seen to learn about the unseen. Since we can clearly examine the claim that hemlock is poison, we don't use induction to determine the truth. We don't accept hemlock as poison because the ancients said so, but because we can check it.

In contrast, the god claim cannot be examined in the present. It is an unseen, cannot be checked or observed, and therefore we use induction to learn about its truth.

" Of course, a human court cannot punish on intention alone since we are not mind readers."

Nowhere in the torah is a punishment specified for thought alone.

jewish philosopher said...

"In contrast, the god claim cannot be examined in the present."

Sure it can.

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

Also, try this:

Most wartime atrocity stories are false.

The Holocaust is wartime atrocity story.

Therefore the Holocaust is false.

What you're doing is simply creating a false analogy, which is a logical fallacy.

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

g said...

Yours is the false analogy.

jewish philosopher said...

To be precise, analogies are neither true nor false, instead they come in degrees from near identity to extreme dissimilarity.

Here are two important points about analogy:

No analogy is perfect, that is, there is always some difference between analogs. Otherwise, they would not be two analogous objects, but only one, and the relation would be one of identity, not analogy.

There is always some similarity between any two objects, no matter how different.

http://www.fallacyfiles.org/wanalogy.html

To compare a living thing to a watch for example is a good analogy. Both demonstrate complex purposefulness, therefore both must have an intelligent designer.

To compare the Biblical God to Zeus is a bad analogy. Zeus never revealed himself to millions of people, the Biblical God did.

Anonymous said...

"the Biblical God did"

Strictly speaking the BG didn't.

(1) There was only a "voice," as reported in Exodus
(2) There is no BG, just as there is no Zeus [but both are said to have impregnated women]

jewish philosopher said...

I think I missed the bit in the Bible about God having a baby.

However comparing God to Zeus is like comparing UFOs and the Apollo moon missions. One is conclusively proven by millions of witnesses, one is not.

Anonymous said...

Well, comparing a living thing to a watch to make the watchmaker analogy is rather stupid, but folks do it all the time.

jewish philosopher said...

See for example
http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/proof-torah-true/

jewish philosopher said...

To compare a living thing to a watch for example is a good analogy. Both demonstrate complex purposefulness, therefore both must have an intelligent designer.

Anonymous said...

The point about the watch is that we know from the way watches are assembled that it is impossible accroding to the know laws of nature for a watch to self assemble. Same thing with life.

Anonymous said...

globby:

The Torah is the only ancient god claim that claims that there was a national revelation, and said revelation was accepted as the authentic history of the Jewish people even though it was so easily falsifiable. (Falsifiable makes like, all scientific and stuff.)

Abe said...

jewish philosopher said...

>>>In any case, regardless of what RALBAG may have said or meant, I am entitled to follow other authorities.<<<
Of course, your authorities are no more authoritative than RALBAG. just an alternative choice among unfalsifiable chareidi platitudes, that fits with your tautological deference to supernatural charm. The Lubavitcher mishichists are all convinced of their superior authorities and they couldn't more wrong than you. Its the blind leading the blind.

>>>You apparently accept him [RALBAG] as being a religious authority.<<<
I do not, but you and all good fundie chareidim would consider him a definite gadol. But really, RALBAG's metaphysics is a contrast between bad and worse, yours being the latter.
But, I understand your disorder. It afflicts all fundamentalists when common sense becomes unbearable.

Abe said...

Anonymous said...
globby:

>>>The Torah is the only ancient god claim that claims that there was a national revelation.<<<
The Torah can claim whatever it wants. That doesn't make it true. The NT gospels claim that jesus was resurrected. There is no evidence for either.

>>>and said revelation was accepted as the authentic history of the Jewish people even though it was so easily falsifiable. (Falsifiable makes like, all scientific and stuff.)<<<
Said revelation being accepted is proof of nothing, other than that it was accepted. It does not follow that the entire revelation scenario was true. You cannot scientificaly document that it ever happened. And unless you can truly do so using a falsifiable approach, your specious inferences are no better than the ultimate incontrovertible truth of the Redeemer's messianism ( christian or lubavitch, take your choice).

jewish philosopher said...

"your authorities are no more authoritative than RALBAG"

The RALBAG was a rabbi who lived about 700 years ago in France.

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

His philosophical works were very controversial when they were published.

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=247&letter=L#793

You are not even quoting him but rather you are relying on interpretations of him as written by Daniel Rynhold

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

and Louis Jacobs

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

So you're bringing up controversial interpretations of a controversial interpretation, which bottom line is probably just wrong.

My point of view about God I believe follows a mainstream Jewish approach.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/12/higher-power-as-i-understand-him.html

"The Torah can claim whatever it wants."

You cannot produce any detailed, plausible atheistic explanation for the origin of Judaism, so shut up.

jewish philosopher said...

"Nowhere in the torah is a punishment specified for thought alone."
Tuesday, May 25, 2010 11:30:00 AM

Sorry, I missed this comment, however that is totally false. All the curses in Deut. 28:15 to 68

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0528.htm#15

are brought about because "because thou didst not serve the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart" Deut. 28:47

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0528.htm#47

Attitude is everything.

Anonymous said...

Abe:

You missed my main point. I wass addressing the statemnet made above that the Torah was thesame as all other ancient god claims. And if it wasn't true then the people would not have accepted it as true.

NoLiveGod said...

"The Torah is the only ancient god claim that claims that there was a national revelation, and said revelation was accepted as the authentic history of the Jewish people even though it was so easily falsifiable. (Falsifiable makes like, all scientific and stuff.)"

The claim was believed. Remember that all the people who allegedly heard God (they never SAW him) died before getting to the promised land. Now, there's no evidence for Hebrew slavery, no evidence that Moses existed, no evidence of 3 million people standing at Sinai [wherever] that place may be, no evidence of manna, no evidence of the conquest getting the Israelites into the promised land.

But IF you want to say that they made it there, then we can only say that the people believed their parents--all dead--heard God together. It's a sweet, self--interested claim made by people who were predisposed to supernatural explanations.

They had their belief. You believe them. Foolishly, I'd say.

jewish philosopher said...

The Exodus and Sinai are as well documented as anything in pre-modern history.

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

NoLiveGod said...

"The Exodus and Sinai are as well documented as anything in pre-modern history."

Which is to say, not at all.

jewish philosopher said...

I think that most historians consider Aristotle and Alexander the to have been real.

G said...

"Attitude is everything."

Good quote mining. You completely ignore the earlier and later verses clearly stating that this punishment will come from not keeping all the commandments and statutes. The verse you quote refers to the wonder of how they could have abandoned god when they had such plenty and good. This is not the "reason" for the churban described.

I still don't know where your whacky idea of thought sins comes from.

jewish philosopher said...

Bad attitudes lead to bad behavior.

jewish philosopher said...

In summary, the Jewish point of view is as follows:

According to Maimonides, God is the Creator and Ruler of all things.

http://www.ou.org/torah/rambam.htm

However, according to the Talmud Berakoth 33b we have freedom of choice, but not actually freedom of action: "Everything is in the hand of heaven except the fear of heaven."

http://www.come-and-hear.com/berakoth/berakoth_33.html#PARTb

Also, we have a soul.

http://www.aish.com/jl-old/kc/48942091.html


The atheistic point of view is that we are soulless mechanical forces of nature and we operate automatically, just like a bowl of sugar.

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/02/04/0915161107.full.pdf

I can imagine that this point of view must be very comforting to a totalitarian dictator, a Gestapo commander, a serial killer or even just an abusive parent or an alcoholic. He is guilty of nothing and all his actions are the result of irresistable impulses. Anyone he harms is in any case merely a souless robot.

NoLiveGod said...

"I can imagine that this point of view must be very comforting to a totalitarian dictator, a Gestapo commander, a serial killer or even just an abusive parent or an alcoholic. He is guilty of nothing and all his actions are the result of irresistable impulses. Anyone he harms is in any case merely a souless robot."

The religious point of view is even better. Everything he does is God's will and god's command. Anyone he harms is an infidel who deserves God's wrath.

jewish philosopher said...

Not if you're Jewish.

Proportionally, 17 American Orthodox Jews should be convicted of murder annually.

Actually number: 1. In all of US history, to the best of my knowledge.

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

Anonymous said...

NLG:

They wouldn;t have believed it if it didn't happen because they would have asked, "why didn't my grandfarthe tell me?"

As far as evidence is concerned, the Ipuwar papyurs describes plagues that closely resemble the ten plagues. The Mycenae Grave Stella contain drawings that look exactly like a child's drawings of the splitting of the Red Sea. The El Arish stone describes how Pharoh chased bad slaves through the sea. The Armarna letters describe how the king of Jerusalem asked Pharoh for help dealing with an invasion of the Haburi (sounds like Haivri, Hebrews.) The Egyptians also mention Haburi slaves. Then there the Temple stone that describes strange weather phenomenon. And then a number of cities in Canaan where conquerd and burned at around the time of the Exodus. the Talmud says that the wall of Jericho sank intact into the ground. This is exactly what was found. So I'm not convinced there is no evidence.

Anonymous said...

Hey,

So I am an Atheist and first of all, its not religion. Second of all what Athiests are saying that there should be no punishments??. I am a prosecutor, I put criminals away. I am against capital punishment, but not punishment. Some people need more than a punishment because they are not mentally stable, but saying that being "evil" is mentally unstable is ridiculous. Everyone has committed one "sin"/crime. Lieing is "evil", "checking someone out" is lust (which is a sin). The degree of the crime is what should determine the punishment. I feel that you are stereotyping Atheists. I have never met any Atheist who felt that punishment is the wrong way. Also Atheists do not have a set "code" as its not a religion, its simply we do not believe in some supernatural force etc. So whoever you met that was an Atheist and believed a mental hospital is more effencient was not baseing his or her view on the fact he or she is Athiest. I do not believe any religious person would like to have a Atheist state that ALL religious people believe that forcing conversions with any means is acceptable. As a Atheist, I simply do not believe in God etc; however, I do not sum up religions or mock them. People have a right to believe what they want. To force others to believe your views is wrong. Also, to stereotype a religion is exactly what Hitler did to the Jewish. No one religion is better than the other and no one thought is one religion. I am sure there are some religious people who believe this idea. Do not say only one type of person believes something. If I ever meet a Christian with a mental disability, I will never assume all Christians have a mental disablity. Concerning your logic, how does believing we have no God or soul relate to criminal punishment? We are not having God do the sentencing or having our souls punished. Also the whole Muslims believing in God thing is going too far! Saying that Athiests are punishing them as proof believing in God is dangerous is well pathetic. First, I am very sure that not all presidents, judges, or lawyers are ALL Athiests. Also, wouldn't Athiests punish everyone who is religious? Your reasoning is deeply flawed and very stereotypical. Its not only Muslims committing crimes. Muslims does not equal terrorists! There are all kinds of terrorists. The Jewish have gone throught more troubles than anyone should have had to. Now your are stereotyping a group you do not agree with (just like Hitler). Also, how did you prove that Atheism is false? Prove to me that God exists. If God does exist, would he have let Hitler do the things he did to the Jewish?

Anonymous said...

Sorry about all the spelling mistakes, but I am doing research and did not want to take my time.

jewish philosopher said...

But why should criminals be punished if they have no free will? They should be either cured or destroyed, like any other animal.