Wednesday, May 26, 2010

God’s GPS


[fully loaded at birth]

This week I had to take care of some business in Yonkers, NY. I have never been to Yonkers and the streets and highways in that area resemble a maze. Naturally, this being the 21st century, the era of the Global Positioning System and Internet mapping software, I typed the address into my iPhone and up came a precise map of how to reach my destination. Off I went. I still got a little lost, although with all the marvels of cutting edge technology, I soon found my way and was on time for my appointment. Until about five years ago, this technology was science fiction.

The interesting thing is, a very similar system has been built into the bodies of many animals. Loggerhead sea turtles apparently use a somewhat similar “high tech system” to migrate 8,000 miles around the Atlantic Ocean. Through an as yet unknown process, the turtles are able to sense changes in the earth’s magnetic field and navigate accordingly.

While man is just now perfected the means to navigate blindly in confusing new neighborhoods, these little turtles have been doing so since time immemorial, endowed by their Creator with a still barely understood GPS and Google Maps of some sort.

How true are the words said three times a day in the next to last blessing in the Amidah prayer: “We thank You for the miracles which are with us each day”.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful :)

Abe said...

>>>The interesting thing is, a very similar system has been built into the bodies of many animals. Loggerhead sea turtles apparently use a somewhat similar “high tech system” to migrate 8,000 miles around the Atlantic Ocean. Through an as yet unknown process, the turtles are able to sense changes in the earth’s magnetic field and navigate accordingly.<<<

Yeah, isn't evolution a powerful mechanism! And those turtles don't even need a watchmaker to ascertain the time of day. Amazing creatures those turtles.

jewish philosopher said...

Evolution is a wonderful myth. It implies that no intelligent designer created us, meaning we owe nothing to anyone.

Just two problems: the fossils indicate sudden changes, not gradual trial and error development.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/28/science/28mari.html?_r=2&th=&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&emc=th&adxnnlx=1164720474-9wG3xm996ABK8/LrDkrUgg

Secondly, it's impossibly improbable.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Hoyle#Rejection_of_chemical_evolution

So clearly: God did it.

Anonymous said...

What is God's purpose in creating the turtle this way?

jewish philosopher said...

Why not go a step further and ask: What is God's purpose in creating anything?

I believe that God's motives are unknowable to us just as much as our motives are unknowable to turtles.

Gb said...

"I believe that God's motives are unknowable to us just as much as our motives are unknowable to turtles."

Unknown or "unknowable"?

For a guy who has written extensively on god's ways and supposed motives for such things has the holocaust, tsunamis, heretics and AIDs, you seem to have newly found modesty in your understanding of Him.

It seems to me that when a certain position agrees with your views, you find a way to make it fit your "god's will", but when something doesn't make sense or is contradictory, its "unknowable".

Interesting.

Anonymous said...

Bur God can communicate with us while we cannot communicate with turtles. If God's motives are unknown and unknowable, can we just ignore him?

Imagine a parent who makes you do things (remember, you said we don't have freedom of action) but you don't know why. Imagine a head of state who issues laws that you must obey without ever knowing for what reason.

If God exists, we are irrational to abide him or to remain under his influence. If he exists, we should reject and repudiate him.

jewish philosopher said...

"For a guy who has written extensively on god's ways"

Generally, if God has not expressed His motives, they are unfanthonable to mortals.

" If God's motives are unknown and unknowable, can we just ignore him?"

Sure you can. And you'll go to hell forever.

Anonymous said...

"And you'll go to hell forever."

Oh, boy. Another magic land. But God loves us so very much. What soppy BS.

jewish philosopher said...

"Another magic land"

This land is also pretty magic. Read this post.

"But God loves us so very much."

"US"? People who listen to Him, yes, but not you.

The LORD is a jealous and avenging God, the LORD avengeth and is full of wrath; the LORD taketh vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserveth wrath for His enemies. (Nahum 1:2)

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt1901.htm#2

Anonymous said...

Anonnymous at 12:24:

If my doctor tells me to do something I don't understand, then it would irrational for me to listen to him?

And the turrles GPS, in order to work, needs to be able to tell the turtel where it is, where it needs to go, and how to get there. Each piece is necessary, or it doesn't work. How could this have evolved via small increments?

Abe said...

jewish philosopher said...
>>>Evolution is a wonderful myth. It implies that no intelligent designer created us, meaning we owe nothing to anyone.<<<
That's almost correct. We owe nothing to a nonexistent god but we do owe measures of faithfulness, loyalty and devotion to family, friends and country. We need no magical revenant in the sky to coerce us into responsible morality, your dopey remonstrations notwithstanding.

>>>So clearly: God did it.<<<
No, god couldn't have done it. No omnicient god would have you drink kosher water and wear goofy kosher shaytels. Engaging in irrational protocals arising from belief in god is clearly a mental disorder.

jewish philosopher said...

"but we do owe measures of faithfulness, loyalty and devotion to family, friends and country."

who decided that? Maybe we owe devotion to apple trees and star fish?

"No omnicient god would have you drink kosher water and wear goofy kosher shaytels"

He would of course do nothing without the approval of a pea brained pot head who still lives with his mom. Obviously.

Anonymous said...

Abe:

How do you know we owe anything to anyone?

And unless you are omniscient yourself, how do yuo know what an omniscient G-d would do?

Anonymous said...

"If my doctor tells me to do something I don't understand, then it would irrational for me to listen to him?"

Yes. Is this not obvious?

Abe said...

Anonymous said...

>>>How do you know we owe anything to anyone?<<<
Except for sociopaths, psychopaths ,criminals and insensitive individuals, our patterns of behavior have evolved to render faithfulness, loyalty and devotion to family, friends and country, as I mentioned earlier. We have become evolutionary hardwired to respect things dear to us. That's how we know.

>>>And unless you are omniscient yourself, how do yuo know what an omniscient G-d would do?<<<
There is no omnicient god, so engaging in senseless doctrines, ordinances and rituals is as meaningful as supplicating your refrigerator with the same petitions. Actualy the refrigerator offers you an immediate reward in the form a nice pastrami sandwich. It works every time. Just say a few al chaits, assume immediate absolution, open the refrigerator door and voila! There is lunch. It works every time !

jewish philosopher said...

"Yes. Is this not obvious?"

The only thing practically relevent is: does the lawgiver have the ability to enforce his law? Not, what are the lawgiver's motives.

"Except for sociopaths, psychopaths ,criminals and insensitive individuals, our patterns of behavior have evolved to render faithfulness, loyalty and devotion to family, friends and country, as I mentioned earlier."

So everyone is nice except those who aren't. Meaningless tautology.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tautology_(rhetoric)

Anonymous said...

Abe:

But if morality evolved so that we can live in a society, then we don't have to be moral towards people in other societies. We should act just like the chimps, our closest relatives, according to evolutionists, and kill and eat people who belong to other troups. Perfectly evolutionary.

Anonymous said...

Turtles aren't the only animals that migrate. Birds, whales, and monarch butterflies do, too. That menas that this complex system had to evolve over and over again. We just keep on getting really, really lucky. unless, it was all those horizontal gene transfers.

Anonymous said...

More problems for evolution:


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science_and_environment/10173293.stm

http://geology.gsapubs.org/content/38/6/507.abstract


http://geology.gsapubs.org/content/38/6/547.abstract


So the Cambrian explosion was even more explosive than previously thought.

Globb said...

"The only thing practically relevent is: does the lawgiver have the ability to enforce his law? "

Good question. Any evidence that your lawgiver, who supposedly sends people to heaven and hell, is anything other than a fairy tale?

I like Abe's idea of worshipping the refrigerator. Or perhaps the sun. Pray to the sun. It gives you warmth, keeps plants alive, and seems fairly even tempered and reliable, unlike your biblical yahweh. The suns answers our prayers every time. I think the sun is a much better god.

jewish philosopher said...

"Any evidence that your lawgiver, who supposedly sends people to heaven and hell, is anything other than a fairy tale?"

You betcha. The revelation at Mount Sinai Exodus 20.

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0220.htm

Anonymous said...

That was 3500 years ago, if it actually happened.

For all I know, he died since then, since nobody can show me evidence that he sends anybody to heaven or hell or that he does anything else.

Lets imagine that there was a great emperor that ruled the entire world 1000 years ago.

Why would I give a flying f--- now?

Your imaginary friend bible diety is no better than that. If he still exists, he's mute, powerless and hides. Worse, he lets random bad shit happen. So why should anybody care, be afraid, or in awe? Either He's a coward or doesn't exist.

jewish philosopher said...

Laws are passed one time and that's that. Constant reminders are not provided. If someone is convicted of murder, for example, he could not defend himself by claiming "Well, how long ago was that law made? I didn't know it was still in effect."

As far as hell goes, check out the Talmud Rosh haShanah 17a

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/b/l/l2401.htm

פושעי ישראל בגופן ופושעי אומות העולם בגופן יורדין לגיהנם ונידונין בה י"ב חדש לאחר י"ב חדש גופן כלה ונשמתן נשרפת ורוח מפזרתן תחת כפות רגלי צדיקים שנא' (מלאכי ג) ועסותם רשעים כי יהיו אפר תחת כפות רגליכם אבל המינין והמסורות {והמשומדים} והאפיקורסים שכפרו בתורה ושכפרו בתחיית המתים ושפירשו מדרכי צבור ושנתנו חיתיתם בארץ חיים ושחטאו והחטיאו את הרבים כגון ירבעם בן נבט וחביריו יורדין לגיהנם ונידונין בה לדורי דורות שנאמר (ישעיהו סו) ויצאו וראו בפגרי האנשים הפושעים בי וגו' גיהנם כלה והן אינן כלין

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I share your recognition of the Talmud as a source of authority for metaphysics, or for anything else, for that matter. It is full of factual errors and superstitions.

You mentioned laws, OK, you are right, they are passed by human beings and it is they who can affirm or reject them. I know of no nation who lives by laws "passed" thousands of years ago, unless they have been enshrined and affirmed in a modern system of law. Most nations can and do rewrite and revise their laws periodically to reflect a new reality.

jewish philosopher said...

I think laws are changed mainly because of people's changing beliefs and values. Abortion was once illegal, now it's legal. The drinking age was once 18, now 21 and so on. Obviously, that doesn't apply to God.

Anonymous said...

Some of the factual errors in the Talmuid where actually the cutting edge science of the day. The Rabbis of the Talmud were relying on the experts. If they didn't uyou would say they were wrong for not folloing the authorities.

And Darwin's books where full of errors, too. So i guess we have to reject evolution.

Rebeljew said...

There is a deep misconception implied here. It is not that the turtle needed a GPS and grew one. That would indeed be far fetched. Rather, the turtle developed something that allowed it to do things that helped its chances for surviving and procreating. Hence, more turtles were born with this trait, since that DNA survived and was passed on over the generations more than those without the trait.

Rebeljew said...

Anon

You do not seem to be clear on the difference between a traditional belief system and a scientific theory. A scientific theory tried to explain all the facts that we observe as of a given time. As we discover new facts, we revise the theory, or scrap it altogether, if observations warrant such deviations. This has occurred many times in history.

A traditional belief system says that it knows secrets from some unobservable realm and it cannot be tested. If we observe new facts that counter the old ones, we cannot change the belief, but we must find reasons why the facts are wrong or the logic is wrong. Failing that, we have no choice but to deny the facts or scrap the belief.

Darwin proposed a revision of theory, which has since been revised many times. He would probably agree with most of the revisions. The Talmud would never agree to be revised, unless you are saying that parts of the Talmud worked like scientific theories. In which case, I ponder what problem that you have with scientific theories like evolution, gravity, heliocentrism, rejection of spontaneous generation or any other fruitful theories that the Talmud did not know about.

jewish philosopher said...

I think what you're implying is that atheism is based on reason while other religions are based on wishful thinking - the formation of beliefs and making decisions according to what might be pleasing to imagine instead of by appealing to evidence, rationality or reality.

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

Of course probably every religion claims that about all others.

Anonymous said...

The parts of the Talmud that discuss the naturalk wordl can be revised, if the source for the informationin the first place is the natural world, and not a mesorah. Reb Yehuda Hanasi said that the opinion of the goyim about where the sun goes at night is the correct one.

jewish philosopher said...

"the turtle developed something that allowed it to do things that helped its chances for surviving"

I can't wait to see fish in the Gulf of Mexico develop to eat crude oil.

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

Rebeljew said...

My answer was a response to the false syllogism of errors in the Talmud and errors in Darwin. The Talmud is a traditional belief system. IOW, it claims divine sanction, so it attributes any error that it makes to G-d, since it claims to speak on his behalf. Darwin did not claim to speak on G-d's behalf, but merely reported his logical conclusions, based on observations. He was a religious man himself.

Traditional belief is not wishful thinking, it is the reasoned statement that it must be correct because it is divinely sanctioned. It does not depend on observation. The problem with it enters when it is shown false by observation.

jewish philosopher said...

As this blog demonstrates, my religion is based purely on evidence, rationality and reality, unlike atheism which is based on a dogmatic and irrational belief in evolution.

Rebeljew said...

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOkayyyyyyyyyyyyy


If you say so.