Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Torah's Amazing Honesty


[a scene from the Battle of Long Island 1776 - missing in action?]

This Saturday morning Jews all over the world will read the account of the Twelve Spies (Numbers 13 and 14) in their synagogues.

The story is basically as follows: After leaving Egypt, receiving the Torah and building the Tabernacle, the Israelites are poised to enter the Land of Canaan. However, at the last moment, they mutiny and refuse to invade. It’s as if all 200,000 troops involved in the Normandy Landings refused to go at the last minute. God punishes the Israelites by forcing them to remain in the desert for forty years.

In my humble opinion, a story like this clearly validates the authenticity of the Torah narrative. Why would this story have been fabricated? Why would the entire Jewish people have accepted it as fact? Why would some Jewish priest have sat in the Temple 2,600 years ago and fabricate this story from thin air? How would the Jewish people have reacted when presented with this never before heard story? “Oh, this is wonderful! Our ancestors were all cowards! That is so plausible!”

Consider the way that the American Revolution is taught to American school children. Great emphasis is put on the Battles of Lexington and Concord and the Battle of Bunker Hill. These were battles where the American forces were more or less successful, however they were also relatively small, involving a few thousand combatants. They perhaps could more properly be called "skirmishes" rather than battles. I would guess that less than 1% of Americans could name the largest battle of the American Revolution - the Battle of Long Island. This was one of the very few real battles in the entire war. Ten thousand Americans faced 20,000 British in what is now Brooklyn. In the early hours of August 27, 1776, the British forces marched down what is today Eastern Parkway, the Gowanus Expressway and the Prospect Expressway and engaged the American forces at what is now Park Slope. The battlefield is in the heart of what is today America's largest city. The American forces were basically blown to bits over the next two days and the war almost ended. No one disputes that this happened, however Americans just don't want to talk about it for obvious reasons. It's a little mind boggling that the only monument to the battle is an almost unknown bronze statue in nearby Greenwood Cemetery and probably almost no one in Park Slope has any idea of the horrific violence which took place where their homes sit today. Nations apparently prefer to forget their humiliating defeats. (On a personal note, I am fairly certain that one of my fourth great-grandfathers, John DeCamp, who at the time was 15 and a private in the New Jersey Militia, fought in the Battle of Long Island, based on who his commanders were and where he served in the summer of 1776, however he makes no mention of the battle years later in his pension application. Selective memory loss?)

Considering this, why is the much more humiliating Spies story included prominently in the Torah? The correct explanation seems to be obvious: The Torah is divinely authored truth.

63 comments:

Anonymous said...

very true. good article.

gobbert said...

You argue two different points:

1. That the story is correct.
2. The the story is divine.

The proof? Because people don't tell unflattering stories about them selves.

With regards to #1, nobody says its false. Maybe it happened.

Regarding #2, while you and your anon sidekick bask in your flash of logical brilliance, consider the following:

The Germans talk about their Nazi past.
The Americans speak of its past of racism and slavery.
The Romans believed they originated from two bastard twins raised by a wolf, and one killed the other.
The Jews speak of false messiah and his followers who converted to Islam.
The Israelis speak of their military screw-ups and miscalculations.

Are these "divine stories"?

If you claim that the spy story must be divine because it is self-incriminating, please bring me other DOCUMENTED examples of self-incriminating stories that proved to be divine. This is how inductive reasoning works.
I just brought you several counter-examples.

Anonymous said...

I understand that the Romans didn't consider bastardry and fratricide all that bad under the circumstances.

The spy narrative includes Divine intervention as an important part of the story. The other example yuo sited don't.

jewish philosopher said...

"nobody says its false"

Actually, I think you'll find that present day archeologists unanimously claim that the Exodus (and therefore obviously the Spies narrative) is fiction.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Exodus#Archaeology

"The Germans talk about their Nazi past.
The Americans speak of its past of racism and slavery."

These are too massive to brush under the carpet.

"The Romans believed they originated from two bastard twins raised by a wolf, and one killed the other."

I'm not sure they felt that was a minus.

"The Jews speak of false messiah and his followers who converted to Islam."

We continue our tradition of historical honesty.

"The Israelis speak of their military screw-ups and miscalculations."

Only if they can use it as political ammunition against the opposing party.

"If you claim that the spy story must be divine because it is self-incriminating"

I don't see another reasonable explanation. According to Sherlock Holmes "Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth."

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Sherlock_Holmes#The_Sign_of_the_Four_.281890.29

Abe said...

jewish philosopher said...
>>>I would guess that less than 1% of Americans could name the largest battle of the American Revolution - the Battle of Long Island...Nations apparently prefer to forget their humiliating defeats.<<<

Google "Battle of Long Island", and you are compensated with 3,210.000 pages of forgotten humiliating defeats. ( I suppose were having a real tough time forgetting those defeats) You might think that there might have arisen some grand governmental conspiracy to conceal or obscure the humilating defeat, but there it is in all its 3,210,000 pages of gory detail. Now since almost all of the combatants were christian, I believe that this circumstance validates the authenticity of christian doctrine and the divinity of Jesus. Why would this story have been fabricated? Why would the entire Christian people have accepted it as fact? The admission that it ocurred validates the truth of christianity. This form of logical inference is beyond reproach. We are indebted to Mr Stein's keen analytical discernment and logical insight. Where would chareidism be without him?

jewish philosopher said...

Just for the record: doing a Google search for "battle of long island" in quotes generates about 85,600 results while "battle of bunker hill" generates about 227,000 results.

Furthermore, the Battle of Bunker Hill is commemorated by the huge Bunker Hill Monument.

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

The Battle of Long Island, by an obscure bronze statue.

http://atlasobscura.com/place/minerva-green-wood-cemetery

This is in spite of the fact that on Long Island there were 30,000 combatants and at Bunker Hill 5,400.

This is just an example of how a nation chooses to selectively remember it's history, history which is indisputably factual.

Atheists however absurdly assert that the Jews choose to widely publicized humiliating past events which in reality never even happened!

Abe said...

jewish philosopher said...
>>>Just for the record: doing a Google search for "battle of long island" in quotes generates about 85,600 results while "battle of bunker hill" generates about 227,000 results.<<<

Your records must be as atavistic as that of the torah's. That or your using a corrupted google search engine.

For the record this is the result of the Google search.

"battle of long island
Advanced search About 3,210,000 results (0.20 seconds) battle of long island"

>>> ...Furthermore, the Battle of Bunker Hill is commemorated by the huge Bunker Hill Monument.
The Battle of Long Island, by an obscure bronze statue....<<<

And garlic pickles taste better than dill pickles. That comparison is as meaningful as expositing that an alleged approbrious event validates alleged historical fact.
However you can't deny the existence of a crunchy garlic pickle, a circumstance greatly more probable than the mythical tale of spies in the desert.

jewish philosopher said...

You don't know how to use a search engine. Searching for battle of long island with no quotes brings up a hit for every site which includes the words "battle" or "long" or "island".

Anyway, how about just answering my questions:

If the Torah is of human authorship, why would this story have been fabricated?

Why would some Jewish priest have sat in the Temple 2,600 years ago and fabricate this story from thin air?

Why would the entire Jewish people have accepted it as fact?

If you have no good answers, then you must agree: God did it.

Abe said...

>>>If the Torah is of human authorship, why would this story have been fabricated?<


Because it wasn't done by a Jewish priest 2600 year ago. The torah was transformed into its present form by unknown redactors. There are plausible speculations but no one really knows with certainty who did it. That is the opinion of most dispassionate biblical scholars. http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_tora1.htm

>>>Why would the entire Jewish people have accepted it as fact?<<<
Prior to the germ theory, the ancient historical view was that disease was spontaneously generated instead of being created by microorganisms. It was believed to be a fact until proven false. Just because the Jewish people accepted the torah does not make it a fact that it is true. It is as defective as spontaneous generation.
Its just your same septic falacious inferences.

It is your burden to prove otherwise. The hypothesis that you have presented is a hollow logical inference and pure sophistry.


>>>If you have no good answers, then you must agree: God did it.<<<
I have an answer as good as yours -- a sour pickle did it.

jewish philosopher said...

According to Richard E. Friedman, the Spies story is mainly a P document.

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

The burden of proof is on atheists to explain why some Temple priest would have fabricated this humiliating story and why all Jews eagerly accepted as factual.

Of course I have no problem: God wrote it.

Anonymous said...

"The burden of proof is on atheists to explain why some Temple priest would have fabricated this humiliating story and why all Jews eagerly accepted as factual."

This is a stupid argument. This kind of logic does not hold water in the 21st century. "People don't tell unflattering things about themselves, therefore god wrote it."

Pretty stupid.

Imagine if we figured out the history of the universe using logic like that.

Pseudo-scientific-pseudo-pop psychology type argument.

jewish philosopher said...

According to atheists, not only is the story extremely humiliating, it's completely fictional.

So I would say, yes, people don't tell stories like that.

It's kind of like police finding a murder weapon in your car and your going to tell the prosecutor "What's the problem? Having a murder weapon in my car is incriminating? The burden of proof is on you. I don't have to explain that." The jury would love that.

NoLiveGod said...

"Of course I have no problem: God wrote it."

Of course you have no problem. God/Superintelligence will always work as an explanation, for anything, anytime.

jewish philosopher said...

I wouldn't say that the Spies story is a irrefutable, direct evidence of the divine origin of the Torah however it is strong corroborating evidence.

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

Anonymous said...

Abe:

But no one would accept a redactor telling them that their Grandparents where dispicable cowards unless, of course, it where true.

Anonymous said...

PLease excuse my going OT, but it happened again:

http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1992115,00.html?xid=rss-topstories


Another ancestral species turns out to be another dead end. First Ida, then Tiktaalik, now this. This is getting monotonous.

Abe said...

Exactly what happened again?

Anonymous said...

Abe:

Are you refering to the 7:04 post?
Well, it turns out that Tiktaalik is not a tetrapod ancestor. Ida is not a human ancestor. Now, the details of Aripithicus's anatomy show that it can't be a human ancestor. And archaeopteryx turns out to be problematic as a bird ancestor. And theropod dinosaur can't be bird ancestors.

Abe said...

>>>But no one would accept a redactor telling them that their Grandparents where dispicable cowards unless, of course, it where true.<<<

Why not? As long as you believe that god is engine of everything on this planet, you'll believe anything that fits with that imprimatur. Its late, so permit me to quote from AnnoymousTuesday, June 01, 2010 12:47:00 PM above :
"This is a stupid argument. This kind of logic does not hold water in the 21st century. "People don't tell unflattering things about themselves, therefore god wrote it."
I couldn't have said it better.

jewish philosopher said...

In a criminal trial, a defendant should be able to find a reasonable explanation for incriminating evidence or he can expect that the jury will hold his seeming bafflement against him.

By the same token, atheists must find a reasonable explanation for the Spies story having been fabricated by a Jewish priest 2,600 years ago, or accept that their bafflement weakens the case for atheism.

Merely protesting “Well, there is no God, so this is not a problem.” is equivalent to the defendant claiming “Well, I’m innocent, so this is not a problem.”

Shilton HaSechel said...

I wasn't gonna comment because I was afraid you would find my blog ;) but apparently you have already so here we go:

A. Do you really think you could figure out the psychology of people who lived thousands of years ago? Let me give you a hint: you cant. Assuming the whole thing is a myth you have very little chance of figuring out the motives of the people writing it. Psychology is not so cut and dry like you make out here. The possible motives of writers thousands of years ago are basically impossible understand due to the almost infinite possibilities.

B. Maybe you realized this but assuming your criteria were correct you have merely proved that one story is real not the entire Torah narrative. Even assuming that the Torah is unified narrative still many histories are mixtures of facts and fictions so perhaps the Torah narrative is no different.

C. Also remember the DH does not postulate a Torah just popping into existence but rather an extremely slow development with a gradual shift from oral to written and then redaction. Your illustration of a priest making up a story from thin air and then suddenly presenting it to the people is not what Biblical criticism actually says and is therefore an attack on a straw man of the theory. Additionally according to this slow development which I mentioned above, you now have to reckon with the psychology of not just one inventive author but of hundreds of authors over many generations making it even more unlikely that you will be able to penetrate their philosophy.

I doubt that this was a constructive use of time (given your comments history in the past) but I suppose it is unfair to not give you a chance.

jewish philosopher said...

Why are you afraid of me finding your blog? Are you, correctly, concerned that my razor sharp logic will slice your flimsy theories to pieces.

You basically seem to be following the logic I mentioned earlier. The police find a murder weapon in your car and you're going to tell the prosecutor "What's the problem? Having a murder weapon in my car is incriminating? The burden of proof is on you. I don't have to explain that."

Atheists must find a reasonable explanation for the Spies story having been fabricated by a Jewish priest (or a bunch of priests) 2,600 years ago, or accept that their bafflement weakens the case for atheism. And if you do validate the Spies story, then you must basically accept the Exodus.

Shilton HaSechel said...

I'm oh so afraid of your razor logic please take it easy on me lol

Just for the record if you read my post on my blog "How I became skeptical" you will realize (unless you think that I'm lying) that I would love to have faith again so I have no "fear" of your razor sharp logic.

Anyway do me favor answer my comment point by point instead of your generalized answers. You are using a classic evasion strategy to avoid the actual questions by answering very generally. A philosopher like you should know better than that ;)

Your razor logic surely should be able to deal with each individual point

So once again:

1. Forget burden of proof explain why you think you can accurately figure out the psychology of people hundreds of years ago living a radically different lifestyle than yours (point A. above)

2. Once again stop attacking the strawman and address what Bible critics actually say. (Point C. above)

3. Perhaps you are right that validating the spies story would validate the exodus (and I am not excluding a priori the possibility of some sort of exodus) however you have by no means validated the spies story because of points A. and C. above.

peace and I am waiting with bated breath for you to bring me back to the ranks of the believers

jewish philosopher said...

When involved in defending the faith, the Jewish Philosopher asks no quarter and gives none. I'm am prepared to bring out the heavy artillery.

According to Bible critics, the Spies is mainly a P document, meaning a Jewish priest wrote it.

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

About psychology of ancient people, the idea that 3,000 years ago people thought cowardice was a good thing is absurd.

So again - if God didn't write this week's Torah reading, then who did and why?

Shilton HaSechel said...

According to Bible critics, the Spies is mainly a P document, meaning a Jewish priest wrote it.
My friend you fail to understand the DH. Being a P document means that a priest redacted a P document into its final form. That does not necessarily mean that the priest made it up from thin air. It is generally accepted that oral traditions were floating around and a priest merely wrote down the story. Fallacies: Straw man.


2. About psychology of ancient people, the idea that 3,000 years ago people thought cowardice was a good thing is absurd.

No one knows what the motives are you make the assumption that the motive is p[raise of cowardice then you proceed to make the false dichotomy of either the motive is praise of cowardice or its from God.

Fallacies: False dichotomy, and straw man.

jewish philosopher said...

So in essense you're admitting that you have no idea who wrote the Spies story or why. Ok. However obviously this weakens the case for atheism.

Shilton HaSechel said...

That may be the case (you can ask the same thing of all anonymous ancient texts who wrote it and why)

How does this weaken the case against atheism?

Once again you have zero proof that the story is authored by God as I think we have both agreed. In short your argument (over here at least) was one big fallacy. So this argument essentially accomplished nothing and does not weaken anything.

Maybe you will counter that its more likely that God wrote it than some human author with strange motives? Well that is very difficult to evaluate given the almost infinite possibilities of what motivated the writer. I'm sure if we sat for a few hours we could think of lots of interesting reasons why this less than flattering story made it way into the Torah but once again we just don't know and we're trying to deal with people so removed from our culture that they are essentially aliens to us.

Clearly you oversimplified the issue (which apparently you do a lot on this blog) and have not really added anything to the debate.

If you are saying that the "atheist's" case is weakened because he cannot definitively answer all the questions then you are using what I guess would be called a reverse appeal to ignorance fallacy. Basically what you are saying is that since you have more answers therefore the truth is more likely by you.

Just because you "have all the answers" (in this case because you postulate God wrote it and DH is not quite sure who exactly wrote it) does does not mean you are more right than the atheist/bible critic. The bible critic can easily argue that your answers are not based on sufficient evidence while he is more discriminatory in his evidence. In this case since you assume a lot of things (Existence of God, Divine Torah Authorship etc. I know you think you've proved all these things but lets for now pretend they are up in the air) therefore you are more bound to be right.

If the bible critic so wished he could also make assumptions (Maybe the Priestly author wanted to rebuke a certain generation by saying "see that what happens when you are a coward")However since the Bible critic/atheist is a bit of a skeptic (admittedly not all are but lets say the ideal bible critic/atheist) therefore he tries to avoid assumptions.

jewish philosopher said...

Using again the analogy of a criminal trial, if the murder weapon was found in the defedant's car, the prosecution of course has no trouble explaining how it got there. He did it; that's why the gun was in his possession. If the defendant merely claims no knowledge of how he came into possession of the weapon, his claim of innocense would be severely weakened.

By the same token, an Orthodox Jew has no trouble explaining the Spies. God wrote it. In fact, He purposely recorded sins of the past so we today would learn from what not to do. An atheist however is simply left baffled.

Shilton HaSechel said...

1. You did not explain how your proof which is based on fallacies means anything

2. Once again you fail to explain the connection between having clear cut answers and possesing the truth fallacies: non sequitir it does not follow from you certainty vs. the "atheist's uncertainty that you are right

This is the mistake you are making-

The Orthodox Jew has definitive "answers"

The "atheist" also has answers but they are not cut and dry

Fine lets pretend I'm an atheist I get up and say "The spies story was written by a priest trying to admonish his generation through an instructive story and I know this for a fact" then what would you say? He has a very good answer. It may or may not be true because it is difficult to understand ancient psychology.

You essentially do the same thing you say "I know that God wrote the Torah and thats why there is this embarrassing spy story"

Do you think you are more right just because you are more certain or because you don't have any doubts? Having no doubts does not make your position more true.

The gun analogy is a bad analogy because you assume that the proof for Divine authorship outweighs the proof for human authorship. (As is the case with the gun)
It is also irrelevant b/c the discussion here is whether THIS arguments about the spies is valid. You cannot say that your argument from the spies is a good argument b/c you already know divine authorship is more likely. Fallacies: begging the question

Shilton HaSechel said...

Summary of our argument:

JP:No human would make up such a story about themselves therefore God wrote it (False dichotomy)
Me:You can;t predict human psychology
JP: Still the atheist cannot tell you exactly what happens (non sequitir)
Me: That does not mean the atheist is wrong
JP: Gun analogy = The evidence rules in favor of Orthodoxy
Me: The "spy proof" provides no evidence of anything (per above) and therefore to make this assertion you have to actually come up with a proof that is not based on fallacies. Also this is irrelevant to the argument b/c we arguing specifically about the "spy proof"

Just so we know where we stand and don't need to rehash anything ;)

jewish philosopher said...

I don't think I'm really following you.

In court, the prosecutor is not necessarily assuming in advance the guilt of the accused. However, if the accused expects the jury to aquit him, he needs to find some good answers.

You scenerio about the priest writing this in order to discourage cowardice is a bad answer because we find nowhere else in history a nation fabricating and embracing such an embarrassing story.

jewish philosopher said...

Usually tales of mythical heroic valor are fabricated to encourage soldiers. Like the Illiad or Beowulf.

jewish philosopher said...

According to the level of proof you're demanding, probably nothing can ever be proven.

How do you know who your mother is? A few people told you? Your birth certificate says? That's zero evidence. It could all be a lie, done for unknown reasons.

Shilton HaSechel said...

>because we find nowhere else in history a nation fabricating and embracing such an embarrassing story.

Fallacies:Argument from Uniqueness

Forget the priest my point was that if the atheist speak with confidence he is roughly equivalent to you. Once again virtually impossible to predict human psychology.

Forget everything else focus on that one point do you presume to be able to think of every possible psychological combination of one or many people that authored such a story.

Please address that point because THAT is what the "spy argument" depends on. If you cannot explain to me how you are so certain that you can predict human psychology then your argument is of no consequence, provides no proof or even leaning to anything. and you will have to look for other "proofs"

Focus all your attention on this last point

Shilton HaSechel said...

>According to the level of proof you're demanding, probably nothing can ever be proven.

Your "proof" is based on multiple fallacies so it accomplishes zero.

Evidence not based on fallacies such as "who your mother is" is different.(Though not conclusive)

jewish philosopher said...

"Fallacies:Argument from Uniqueness"

You just made that up. How old are old you? I'm feeling like around 15?

"Forget everything else focus on that one point do you presume to be able to think of every possible psychological combination of one or many people that authored such a story."

This is equivalent to a defendant arguing: Forget everything else focus on that one point do you presume to be able to think of every possible reason why the murder weapon was in my possession on the day following the killing.

There are probably people on death row who had better arguments than that.

Shilton HaSechel said...

yeah you're right just double checked its not an official fallacy, however just because something is unique does not mean that God did it. So correction: its really a type of non sequitir

>This is equivalent to a defendant arguing: Forget everything else focus on that one point do you presume to be able to think of every possible reason why the murder weapon was in my possession on the day following the killing.

Once again you have totally forgotten the context here. The analogy is no good because you cannot tell me that it is more likely that God wrote it than a human.

A. Because you have little experience with when and how and under what circumstances God writes books (besides this one)
B. Because you don't know enough about ancient human psychology

In the gun analogy you have a lot of experience with murders and framings and all sorts of circumstances related to the case this is not the case by the writing of the spy's story. Due to your lack of information you are unable to accurately assess what the chances are between the two possibilities.

jewish philosopher said...

As I explained above, an Orthodox Jew has no trouble explaining the Spies. God wrote it. In fact, He purposely recorded sins of the past so we today would learn from them what not to do. An atheist however is simply left baffled.

I wouldn't say that the Spies story is an irrefutable, direct evidence of the divine origin of the Torah however it is strong corroborating evidence.

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

Just brushing the whole issue off by saying "We can't understand people who lived in pre-modern times and we can't understand God, therefore Bible study is pointless." is merely a silly way of avoiding a painful conclusion.

mozieb said...

Shilton-- I must surely disagree with some of your beginning assumptions. Why might you stipulate we cannot understand human psychology? Perhaps the most obvious thing we can acquire concerning Torah/Talmud study is how much these issues and these questions resonate with us today. Time and again, it is so easy to see the same questions coming up across the centuries. Therefore, we can easily assume clear similarities between Jews today and our ancestors. We are truly the same stiff-necked troubled bunch of people--half invested, partly afraid and partly invested. Some of us worship idols--some accept Hashem and the mitzvot. What has changed? How can you see our ancestors as so foreign when they are so very, very similar? David

Shilton HaSechel said...

mozieb,

We can have some understanding of their psychology but not enough to really say "No one would ever say this"

JP,
Its impossible to argue with someone who will not address his opponents arguments. You did not respond to any of the logical fallacies (except "uniqueness" which was really a non-sequitir) and always respond by going off in another direction I just proved something that I already knew : that you just cannot argue with some people.

jewish philosopher said...

I'm sorry, but you have to realize that a debate between myself and an atheist is like a wrestling match between Hulk Hogan and Woody Allen - total smackdown. It should probably be illegal.

Anonymous said...

The fact that no other people said something like the spy narative indicates that no one would accept someone comming along and saying that their grandparents were dispicable cowards, unless it were true. I know I wouldn't.

Anonymous said...

SH:

Why are you assuming that the psychology of ancient people was any different that ours?

jewish philosopher said...

Frankly, I would assume that a Holocaust denier could successfully use similar logic.

When asked how the Jews could create such a massive conspiracy, he could reply that the Jewish psychology is completely alien to everyone else's and therefore we cannot imagine types of secrets and lies they are capable of.

Why not? You can make up anything.

Anonymous said...

JP:

You have not brought any new insights or information in this blog for the past 2 years. You just recycle the same arguments that you cite as "proof" without actually saying anything new or novel. Just the same tired old restatements of the argument from design, and various pop psychology arguments making claims about what people would or would not believe.

Don't yet get it? In the age or reason these are lousy and unscientific arguments and just don't impress anybody, neither as proofs or god or of the divine origin of the Torah.

jewish philosopher said...

Let me explain to you what my intentions are.

First of all, I consider the authenticity of the Torah to be similar to the authenticity of the Holocaust. In other words, any honest, sober person who reviews even superficially the evidence with agree that the Torah is authentic beyond reasonable doubt.

Torah believers are therefore simply honest, well informed people while Torah deniers are either delusional or extremely ignorant.

So in any case, people who are strong believers don't need my blog. They already recognize the truth. People who are strong deniers cannot be helped by my blog. They are in denial because of personal bias.

My blog is directed at the people who are wavering in the middle between belief and disbelief or people who are simply ignorant of all the facts due to a poor education.

I feel that if I positively influence even a handful of people my efforts are worthwhile and I think that this is the case.

Anonymous said...

"any honest, sober person who reviews even superficially the evidence with agree that the Torah is authentic beyond reasonable doubt."

But what *is* "the evidence"? With the Holocaust we have direct eyewitness testimony from people who were victims and persecutors. The people who did the events and were directly involved have spoken. We have many different sources of this first-hand testimony. We have photographs. We have letters. We have independent reports. We have physical evidence from the sites themselves that directly corroborate the activities alleged to have happened in the Holocaust.


What exactly is the evidence for the authenticity of the Torah? As far as I can tell, there is none. There are only claims that it is authentic. In fact, I don't think you have ever tried to explain what exactly authentic means and how one would objective go about proving it.

jewish philosopher said...

This blog is loaded with proof of Judaism. For a quick summary, click here.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/05/what-would-it-take-to-convince-skeptic.html

Nevertheless, there are of course sane, intelligent people who deny the Torah just like we find sane, intelligent people denying the Holocaust.

http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/holohoax.htm

On the other hand, I would love to see someone offer reasonably convicing evidence that God does not exist and/or that evolution created us.

Abe said...

jewish philosopher said...
>>>This blog is loaded with proof of Judaism. For a quick summary, click here.<<<
Only from a self serving, circuitous viewpoint.

For some understanding of fundamentalist chareidi sophistry have a look here: Critique of the Kuzari Argument
http://www.talkreason.org/articles/kuzariflaws.cfm

Or here:
http://loveatheism.com/?p=223

jewish philosopher said...

I have a slightly different version of the Kuzari argument which I believe is more persuasive.

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

I've also dealt with the Biblical creation story.

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

Rebeljew said...

Your argument depends on the fact that all Jews have always had the same belief. If the spies story was a product of the tribe of Levites, Yehudites or Ephaimites, and was later canonized (as we know happened in the time of Ezra, according to Tanach), then you have no argument at all. Then we would say that a tradition of some faction of Israel was included in the tradition by the official or officials who voted on which traditions were canon and which were heretical, which, according to the Talmud, occurred in much later generations than the books were written. While this would violate ikkarim, you proposed that inclusion of this story proved G-d's existence and authorship. However, your proof depends on the ikkarim, which themselves require belief in G-d's authorship. Hence, you have simply presented a fallacy, circular reasoning. One must presume G-d's authorship in order to prove G-d's authorship.

jewish philosopher said...

With the exceptions of Joshua and Caleb, all the israelites are depicted as cowards.

Rebeljew said...

Correct. But your proof doesn't work if the story was a Levite, Yehudite, or Ephramite tradition, because it was only the other tribes that look bad. Then it would be a story of the heroism of "our tribe" in the face of the cowardice of the other tribes. If this story was included in a composite later, it is perfectly consistent with every other tribal legend.

Of course, if you assume the ikkarim are true, then your point might be interesting, however, that would entail assuming what you set out to prove, which is not generally too difficult.

jewish philosopher said...

א  וַתִּשָּׂא, כָּל-הָעֵדָה, וַיִּתְּנוּ, אֶת-קוֹלָם; וַיִּבְכּוּ הָעָם, בַּלַּיְלָה הַהוּא. And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.
Numbers 14:1

All the Israelites (with the exceptions of Joshua and Caleb) were paralysed with fear and sat down and cried like babies all night. All the tribes. What human author would have had the total audacity to write that, even if it were true?

Rebeljew said...

I do not see the problem. If I am a Levite, and aidah refers to the ones who did the deed "ha-aidah ha-ra'a hazos", referring to the ten spies only (that is why we learn a minyan is ten men BTW, since aidah refers to ten in this pasuk), then everyone cried over the damage done by these other guys. You have no proof from this story.

jewish philosopher said...

The Torah doesn't make an exception for Levites or any other tribe. Exactly 4 people are singled out as innocent: Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb.

David said...

Abe--I checked out your "proof" against the Kuzari argument. Good grief--what a sick joke. This person has the audacity to strike a comparison between the entirety of the Israelites witnessing Hashem at Har Sinai and the allegation of Leprechauns. And this is called "talk reason." Huh? How can even one person fall for such rubbish. We have hundreds of thousands of highly and profoundly educated Jews throughout of history solid in their belief of their knowledge of a Creator based upon our tradition. Of the other hand, we have literally zero people who would come forward today and claim they have good reason to believe in the existence of Leprechauns. And if there are odd people who believe in such fairy tales--can the existence of a tiny number of deluded people parallel with the intellect of the Jewish people throughout the ages?

My advice here if people want to talk reason to others--please try to be at least a little bit reasonable.

jewish philosopher said...

In my humble opinion, no atheistic arguments actually stand up to any serious scrutiny. Take for example my debunking of evolution and the documentary hypothesis.

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

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/12/documentary-hypothesis-critique.html

It's all merely excuses for debauchery and/or murder.

Rebeljew said...

It appears that your philosophy is in Torah shebiktav only. You do not acknowledge or bring any mefarshim that support your idea that only those four people are culpable, but merely intimate from the Chumash, rather than Rabanan. So more correctly, you should state that the spies story is proof of divine authorship only according to how you learn pshat.

jewish philosopher said...

The key verse here Numbers 14:1

And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.

Could not be any clearer and I don't think any Jewish commentators contradict it.

Rebeljew said...

What a man does so shall be done to him ... eye for eye and tooth for tooth ...

If a woman enters a fight to save her husband and grabs his opponent "bimvushav" ... then cut her hand off, do not have mercy.

Nothing could be clearer in the verses, but the Talmud and mefarshim do not learn that way.

"and I don't think any Jewish commentators contradict it"

I think you need to review this inside.

jewish philosopher said...

Of course there are many places where the Oral law contradicts and supersedes the Written, as I have pointed out.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/05/eternal-torah.html

It is true that according to Midrash Rabbah, women and Levites did not participate in the sin of the Spies. However I'm sure that no atheist would be silly enough to claim that the narrative of the Spies was written by a woman or a Levi, who would not have been embarrassed since they knew that centuries later the Midrash Rabbah would exonerate them.

With the exceptions of Joshua and Caleb, all the Israelites are depicted as cowards.

Anonymous said...

The posuk syas "kotzo es kapo" cut off her palm. The tem palm is oftern used n many cultures to refer to money.