Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Atheist Creed


[an earlier creed]

We originated as follows:

Nothing became chemicals.
Chemicals became microbes.
Microbes became worms.
Worms became fish.
Fish became lizards.
Lizards became mice.
Mice became monkeys.
Monkeys became people.

The first two steps occurred through still unknown processes.

The last six steps occurred through a process of Darwinian evolution and punctuated equilibrium. Basically, what happened is that life on earth was repeatedly devastated by natural disasters. Then, over the following several million years, new, more complex life forms would appear through a process of random genetic mutation and natural selection.

Judaism originated as follows:

About 2,500 years ago, a charismatic scammer named Ezra the Scribe ruled the Jewish community in Jerusalem. Using some earlier legends and myths as sources, he composed the Pentateuch and presented it to the Jewish people as being the authentic record of their origins. (In reality the Pentateuch is entirely fictional.) The Jews, not only in Jerusalem but throughout the Middle East, as well as the Samaritans who were enemies of the Jews, for some reason unanimously accepted it as being authentic and completely discarded any earlier historical records they may have had.

Free will is an illusion. In reality, we are merely soulless bags of chemicals and our actions are entirely predetermined and controlled by the laws of nature.


Atheists tend to be very coy and vague when it comes to defining their beliefs; they almost always talk about the negative - what they do not believe in. However the above is the clearest picture I have been able to glean from years of research, reading and dialog with atheists.


I find these beliefs to be clearly false for reasons I have explained here and here.

Many people nevertheless embrace atheism, either because it allows them to lead a life of selfishness and hedonism without guilt or because, if they are scientists, it makes them society's most important intellectuals while making the clergy completely irrelevant.

45 comments:

NC said...

"Fine. Can you provide a reasonably plausible, detailed atheistic explanation ...."

Many have done so in the comments in this blog but you (and your faithful Anon) for some reason can't accept them. That your same question can be asked (and answered) about most religions doesn't seem to bother you. You can't accept that Judaism like all religions is a combination of myths and true stories.

Regarding the second part about evolution I won't repeat what has been said countless times.

Allow me to reflect back to you your thinking. I find it interesting, that in your seemingly "critical" skeptical thinking, it is hard for you to believe something as "improbable" as the man made origins of the Hebrew religion or evolution, yet you have no problem at all with the fantastical, supernatural, contradictory and illogical stories in the bible and Talmud. You have no difficulty conceiving of and believing in an unknowable and mysterious God, whose origins are also unknown. You find easy to believe in hell, immortal souls and life after death, none of which has ever been seen by anybody in the history of man.

JP, your "critical" thinking is very selective. Overzealously apply it to reject ideas that contradict the Talmud or Torah, but suspend all critical reasoning when it comes to issues of faith.

For you it seems to come down to, "Well, Jews before me believed it, so it must be true and I must believe it too". Not too compelling, no matter what fancy names you give to it, like "anti-conspiracy" or whatever.

Alex said...

> "our actions are entirely predetermined and controlled by the laws of nature."

Except for the fear of heaven, isn't everything we do predetermined and controlled, too, from a religious standpoint?

Ha'kol b'yedei Shomayim chutz m'yiraas Shomayim -- Berachos 33b.

Alex said...

My previous comment is not to be understood as meaning that the Talmud denies free will.

Sholom said...

"About 2,500 years ago, a clever scammer named Ezra the Scribe ruled the Jewish community in Jerusalem. Using some earlier legends and myths as sources, he composed the Pentateuch and presented it to the Jewish people as being an authentic record of their origins."

Interestingly, in Contra Apion Josephus makes the argument that Jews, unlike the Greeks at the time, did not have multiple competing mythologies. You would expect to see a variety of extant primordial myths relating to the Jewish people, before Ezra attempted to establish a canon. But according to Josephus this was not the case.

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

GodAwful said...

Mr. Stein:
"Fine. Can you provide a reasonably plausible, detailed atheistic explanation for the unanimous acceptance of the Torah as authentic by Jews and Samaritans from ancient until modern times? If there is no God, what compelled them to believe this story? "
For a thorough debunking of the discredited Kuzari "proof",
easily said and easily done:
http://larrytanner.blogspot.com/

"...The Kuzari Principle holds that some events cannot be invented or hoaxed because they have an unforgettable character and have occurred before a massive public.
...disputing (and, I think, refuting) the idea that Kuzari provides a sound basis for accepting the miracle claims of the Torah as true..."

Mr. Stein
"And can you provide a reasonably plausible, detailed, atheistic explanation for the origin of any functioning organ or limb in any past or present animal? How can a watch exist without the aid of a watchmaker?""

You're making this so easy:
http://www.atheist-community.org/faq/#watchmaker

"...And this is the first and most obvious problem with the watchmaker argument: it is nothing more than an assumption, based upon an appearance of order. The appearance of order in nature is not alone sufficient justification for assuming that this order is the result of purposeful, intelligent design by a supernatural - trees providing oxygen etc.- but most of the sciences have shown us that there are practical, mechanistic explanations for how and why things work in nature the way they do. In order to mount a convincing argument that things in nature require a Divine Creator to explain them, Christians must first demonstrate that it is impossible to explain them in any other way, and such design arguments as the watchmaker argument fail to do this...."

http://atheismblog.blogspot.com/2007/03/god-is-not-watchmaker.html
"...The fatal flaw in this argument is that its advocates typically fail to see just how profoundly different the creation of a universe is from every other case of purposeful design we have ever encountered...."

I think that you're obsession with atheism and your incapacity to envision a universe without a creator arises out of your feeling of worthlessness that creates unbearable urges to control and be controlled. What you really crave and worship is a divine dominatrix whose punishing torah is a well stocked dungeon of humilation. A world of besotted appetites and impulses that persists on masochistic appetite for pain and degradation.
That is your reality, Mr. Stein, and your justification for human existence. How sad.

no said...

Being an atheist, allow me to speak for my own beliefs, hm?

Most atheists wouldn't agree with "nothing became chemicals". We don't know how the Big Bang happened. Science does not claim to have explained all unknowns, but at least it's working on it.

Our evolutionary history is rather a lot more complicated than "microbes->worms->fish->lizards->mice->monkeys->people", but it's the general idea.

I don't really know how Judaism came about, but it seems to me (and others appear to agree) that the most likely explanation is that a tribe in Israel had a long oral tradition of myths and legends, like practically every other culture, and at some point - or rather over a long period - these were written down.

Atheism - the lack of belief in any god - does not by that definition make claims about free will. Opinions on the existence of free will vary considerably. I wouldn't even know how to explain coherently what free will is. However, let me ask - how would the world be observably different if free will existed or did not exist?

Oh, a final thing -
"Atheists tend to be very coy and vague when it comes to defining their beliefs; they almost always talk about the negative - what they do not believe in."

There's a reason for this. It's because all atheism entails is a lack of belief in gods. You could believe the natural world came into existence yesterday by pure chance and legitimately call yourself an atheist, although you'd be a rather confused sort of person if you actually did believe that. Atheism is precisely a lack of beliefs (in gods), there are no other beliefs relevant to atheism to discuss.

jewish philosopher said...

"You can't accept that Judaism like all religions is a combination of myths and true stories."

I've explained why I don't find the Documentary Hypothesis to be plausible.

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

"You have no difficulty conceiving of and believing in an unknowable and mysterious God, whose origins are also unknown."

Nor do atheist have any difficulty believing in an unknowable and mysterious universe whose origins are unknown.

http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ask_astro/answers/971108a.html

http://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/focus-areas/what-is-dark-energy/

"You find easy to believe in hell, immortal souls and life after death, none of which has ever been seen by anybody in the history of man."

You find easy to believe in subatomic particles none of which has ever been seen by anybody in the history of man.

http://www3.nsta.org/main/news/stories/science_and_children.php?news_story_ID=51054

Godaweful, if watchmaker is wrong, then how would we recognize a signal from an extraterrestrial civilization?

http://www.seti.org/Page.aspx?pid=558#a3

Purposefulness obviously proves intelligence.

And once we have established the existence of an intelligent designer, then it's quite plausible that He would have revealed Himself publicly at some point in history.

"Most atheists wouldn't agree with "nothing became chemicals"."

That's the way it appears at this point.

"does not by that definition make claims about free will"

Free will is the freedom to make choices that are not determined by prior causes. It implies a soul. A soul could not evolve from chemicals.

"how would the world be observably different if free will existed or did not exist?"

It would be different in that our criminal justice system would be based on a false premise of punishing people who free choose to do wrong.

"It's because all atheism entails is a lack of belief in gods."

What is a "god"? Would an extraterrestrial being composed of dark energy and a million times more intelligent than man be a "god"?

NoLiveGod said...

Here's one atheist creed that I like:

An atheist's creed

I believe in time,matter, and energy, which make up the whole of the world.

I believe in reason, evidence and the human mind, the only tools we have; they are the product of natural forces in a majestic but impersonal universe, grander and richer than we can imagine, a source of endless opportunities for discovery.

I believe in the power of doubt; I do not seek out reassurances, but embrace the question, and strive to challenge my own beliefs.

I accept human mortality.

We have but one life, brief and full of struggle, leavened with love and community, learning and exploration, beauty and the creation of new life, new art, and new ideas.

I rejoice in this life that I have, and in the grandeur of a world that preceded me, and an earth that will abide without me.

jewish philosopher said...

Matter and energy make up very little of the mass the observable universe. Dark matter and energy, whose nature is still unknown, are far larger. There may also be other dimensions beyond time and space.

"I believe in the power of doubt"

Keep doubting, because you are way off.

NoLiveGod said...

"Keep doubting, because you are way off."

OK, but you aren't. You know for certain just what's going on with everything in the universe from the micro-molecular to galaxial scales. You have a private pipeline to the one and only supreme being of the universe--in fact, he kind of looks like you even though he is incorporeal and invisible.

I get it. I'm way off but you have it all figured out because a very old book and its sequels tell you what to think.

How impressive.

jewish philosopher said...

Am I detecting a hint of sarcasm directed at My Holiness?

Anonymous said...

"About 2,500 years ago, a clever scammer named Ezra the Scribe ruled the Jewish community in Jerusalem. Using some earlier legends and myths as sources, he composed the Pentateuch and presented it to the Jewish people as being an authentic record of their origins. The Jews, not only in Jerusalem but throughout the Middle East, as well as the Samaritans who were enemies of the Jews, unanimously accepted it as being authentic and completely discarded any earlier historical records they may have had."

Please cite where this hypothesis comes from. It's not the documentary hypothesis but rather seems like an intentional misreading--a straw man--meant to make people choose between the ridiculous straw man scenario and a no less ridiculous scenario that you champion.

NC said...

Mr. Stein, permit me again to deconstruct another one of your mental gymnastics that you so frequently employ: false comparisons.

For example:

I said: "You have no difficulty conceiving of and believing in an unknowable and mysterious God, whose origins are also unknown."

You said: "Nor do atheist have any difficulty believing in an unknowable and mysterious universe whose origins are unknown."

The comparison is false. Firstly, "Unknown" is not "unknowable". What my neighbor across the street is thinking, right now, is unknown to me. It is not unknowable. I could walk to his house and ask him if I wished. That it is unknown at the moment does not involve faith nor mystery. Mystery in the secular sense is an emotion- of awe and wonder. For religion, mystery is an escape from having to reconcile a contradiction [for example, why a perfect god would create evil]. You proclaim something is unknowable, and that is the end of the discussion. Its the difference between saying, "we don't understand", and saying, "we can't understand.

Next--"belief" in religion is not the same as "belief" in the sense of having an opinion. I believe my wife loves me, but that is not religion. My wife might not actually love me, or maybe she loves me now, but some time in the future she won't. I may hold certain scientific "beliefs" or opinions, based on measurement, induction and inference. A religious belief, in contrast, is an immutable assertion of revealed absolute truth.

Religious belief is not a bad thing. But I must conclude that either (a) you are aware of these differences but make the comparisons anyway for rhetorical purposes, or (b) you unconsciously repress this understanding in order not to upset your deeply held beliefs.

Which is it?

Anonymous said...

In your (Jacob's) original post, you say that "nothing became chemicals" and "chemicals became microbes" occurred through unknown processes. If by "nothing became chemicals" you're referring to the Big Bang, I'd agree that that is an unknown process. But I think that most atheists believe that chemicals became microbes through a process very similar to DNA-based genetic evolution, though there seems to be no direct evidence for this. Dawkins has a very good essay on this in "The God Delusion", which I assume you've read.

I think your "origin of Judaism" is way off. First of all, you're talking about the origin of the Chumash, not Judaism. Judaism probably has origins earlier than the Chumash, and, on the other hand, was probably not quite what we'd call "Judaism" even after the Chumash was redacted. I also don't think that there's any consensus that Ezra was the redactor. There are different theories on who and when the redactor was, and I think most historians would admit that we don't really know. (Personally, I think it was Yoshiyahu.)

It's also misleading to say that the redactor was a scammer. He simply took some books which were already more or less accepted as authoritative and synthesized them, not even adding much himself. How is that a scam? Why do you distinguish between "earlier historical records" and "earlier legends and myths"? In the ancient world, these were the same thing. Furthermore, why do you say that historical records were discarded? Because we don't have them anymore?

At the time the Chumash was written, there wasn't much of what we would call history, certainly not going back hundreds of years. There were stories. Traditions. People heard stories, repeated them, and talented people probably embellished on them. I assume you've read the apocrypha and the dead sea scrolls?

Anonymous said...

According to this:

http://books.google.com/books?id=y6FKPW2XsA4C&pg=PA215&lpg=PA215&dq=%22haim+shore%22&source=bl&ots=eXsi5ZKslF&sig=Yf29LRABAVdlVgXU2byfPQQj0cA&hl=en&ei=kVBqTJqaBsWBlAePv7WsAg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=8&ved=0CDcQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q&f=false



computerized statistical analysis of the Torah does not support multiple authors.

jewish philosopher said...

"Please cite where this hypothesis comes from."

This is a summary of the documentary hypothesis.

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

"Mr. Stein, permit me again to deconstruct another one of your mental gymnastics"

I understood that you were criticizing me for believing in something unseen whose nature is unknowable. I am merely pointing many natural phenomena, accepted by scientists and atheists as being real, are also unseen and unknown and possibly unknowable - for example subatomic particles, dark energy, dark matter, anything beyond the observable universe, anything before the Big Bang.

"chemicals became microbes through a process very similar to DNA-based genetic evolution"

Abiogenesis is still pretty much a mystery.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis#Current_models

"I think your "origin of Judaism" is way off."

This would seem to be more or less the consensus of atheistic opinion.

"why do you say that historical records were discarded?"

Presumably the Jews and Samaritans had other versions of their histories before Ezra unveiled his scroll. Seemingly they all became zombies with amnesia and henceforth accepted only the Pentateuch.

Michael said...

"Presumably the Jews and Samaritans had other versions of their histories before Ezra unveiled his scroll. Seemingly they all became zombies with amnesia and henceforth accepted only the Pentateuch."

Additionally none of the classic texts in Judaism seem to give one the impression that this religion was ever considered easy to follow, or that the Jews easily did so even in ancient times. The Tanach is filled with plenty of narratives describing how Jews deviated from the Torah, rather than easily accepting it as a self-affirming, self-congratulatory, national myth. The bickering and infighting seems to belie this notion that somehow they were a gullible people, afraid to question, or argue with authority.

Shalmo said...

Michael:

"The bickering and infighting seems to belie this notion that somehow they were a gullible people, afraid to question, or argue with authority."

Nonsense. The Tanakh potrays them as "stiff-necked" for a reason, which btw is not the same as them not being a gullible people

The Tanakh was written by Israel's priests. The horrible character of the people was used as an excuse to explain why so many invasions took place, and for the priests to then facilitate power for the central authority, the king to take power. This is why there was no temple until Solomon, which is when the one temple for one national god began with Judea's kings.

NC said...

"I am merely pointing many natural phenomena, ..., dark energy, dark matter, anything beyond the observable universe, anything before the Big Bang."

True. These things are not directly observable. But they are infered using rigorous scientific and mathematical tools. They are not "outside" the scrutiny of science. So my "belief" in them is not the same as of God, which apriori is claimed to be outside the scrutiny of science.

Throughout history, the extent of phenomona that can be explained by mechanistic and natural means has expanded, displacing mystical explanations. Evolution is just a continuation of this process, So why does this bother you so much? Why is this so much more sacriledge, in comparison, say, to the physics of planetary orbit, or the bacterial theory of infections?

Anonymous said...

"Presumably the Jews and Samaritans had other versions of their histories before Ezra unveiled his scroll. Seemingly they all became zombies with amnesia and henceforth accepted only the Pentateuch."

J, P, E, and D were "versions of their histories". Maybe there were others. Maybe some of the others survive among the apocrypha and dead sea scrolls. Maybe some of the others are no longer around. But the fact that they aren't around today doesn't indicate that they disappeared immediately after the redaction of the Chumash.

The word "amnesia" is very misleading here. The Chumash tells stories about things that happened hundreds of years before the redactor. The redactor's contemporaries didn't have personal memories of this time. They didn't have Wikipedia either. All they had was stories and traditions.

Michael: why do you bring up the "easyness to follow" of the religion? How is that relevant? Are you suggesting that the redactor introduced halacha ex nihilo? That's a strange assumption. The rituals, customs and legislation that we call the Biblical laws probably predated J, E, P and D, and certainly predated the redactor.

"Jews deviated from the Torah": that's right, and we still do, and we probably did for most of Jewish history. Jews probably deviated from the Torah at the time of the redactor as well.

Personally, I think Yoshiyahu was the redactor. If you argued with him you'd get your head chopped off. But it doesn't really matter. Maybe some people didn't like, say, D when it was first written. Some people didn't like "Origin of Species" when it was first written. But eventually it was accepted. So was the Chumash.

Regarding the "Genesis Authorship" book, it's very interesting. It's probably not the last word on the subject. Documentarians have done linguistic analyses too, though they may not have been as computerized. I think work like this is great and valuable, but it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Anyway, since we're talking about what atheists believe, not what I/you/Jacob believe, the vast majority of atheists do accept the documentary hypothesis.

NoLiveGod said...

This is precious:

"Many people nevertheless embrace atheism, either because it allows them to lead a life of selfishness and hedonism without guilt or because, if they are scientists, it makes them society's most important intellectuals while making the clergy completely irrelevant."

(1) So theists and atheists alike lead lives of "selfishness and hedonism," but atheists don't feel guilty about it. The scum! [/snark]
(2) Clergy are and should be irrelevant. They are tax burdens fleecing people with mythology, superfluous asceticism, and superstition. They most certainly don't qualify as intellectuals, generally speaking.

What is it with you extremists who aren't happy unless others feel guilt and self-loathing all the time? What kind of tyrannical mindset you must have to want to police the the emotions of people.

jewish philosopher said...

"the extent of phenomona that can be explained by mechanistic and natural means has expanded, displacing mystical explanations"

What you're referring to is the "Argument from precedent” – the concept that since so many things previously explained by religion have now been explained by science, eventually everything once explained by religion will be explained by science, rendering religion entirely unnecessary.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphysical_naturalism#Argument_from_precedent

Needless to say, some scientists like this idea.

I know of nothing that was once explained by Orthodox Judaism that is now explained by science. Science, by which I mean exact, repeatable, laboratory science of the type that wins Nobel prizes and creates new technologies, primarily involves studying how things work in the present. Judaism primarily explains how things originated (the universe, life, man, languages, the Jewish people). Science and Judaism therefore are discussing two entirely different things.

Actually, certain recent discoveries seem to confirm religious beliefs, such as for example the Big Bang

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bang#Religious_interpretations

and the apparent fine tuning of the universe for life

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine-tuned_Universe

"But the fact that they aren't around today"

They also have never been mentioned in any ancient book. The Jews and Samaritans were literate. They were spread from India to Ethiopia (Book of Esther 1:1, 3:8). They presumably had all sorts of records, documents, stories, myths, epic poets, etc. Then Ezra one day brought out his heretofore unknown scroll and boom, all other origin stories and myths just disappeared and everyone was completely hypnotized by Ezra's new scroll. No arguments, no schisms, no apocryphal books flying around and banned, just pure zombies and total obedience to this guy Ezra.

"Personally, I think Yoshiyahu was the redactor. If you argued with him you'd get your head chopped off."

He didn't rule the Samaritans however. Ezra seems to be the most favored choice.

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

"but atheists don't feel guilty about it."

Exactly. Overcoming denial is the first step to recovery. One of the most difficult stages of recovery is the first one: admitting that there is a problem.

http://www.drugalcoholaddictionrecovery.com/?p=21

"Clergy are and should be irrelevant."

I suppose scientists deserve our unconditional support. Those fine people who invented things which are now causing a mass extinction of life on earth. [/snark]

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

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/Default.aspx?id=3897120&p1=0

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

"What kind of tyrannical mindset you must have to want to police the emotions of people."

Living in denial is fine, until reality suddenly catches up. "Hitting bottom", you know.

http://alcoholism.about.com/cs/support/a/aa031997.htm

NoLiveGod said...

"Actually, certain recent discoveries seem to confirm religious beliefs, such as for example the Big Bang."

How exactly does the Big Bang confirm the creation of earth in six successive days?

"I suppose scientists deserve our unconditional support. Those fine people who invented things which are now causing a mass extinction of life on earth."

Unconditional support? Absolutely not. Another lie you like to peddle.

Funny how you blame scientists for the problems of life of earth. I wonder if you credit them for the benefits they have brought to the world.

If humanity generally is leading to mass extinction, the primary mindsets driving people are the Jewish injunctions to overpopulate the world and to dominate the animals and resources of the planet. Don't blame scientists for the mess Jewish belief initiated.

jewish philosopher said...

The Big Bang is often seen as supportive of the Cosmological Argument for God.

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

Jews have been accused of many things, I don't think global warming or the threat of nuclear war are usually among them.

NoLiveGod said...

"The Big Bang is often seen as supportive of the Cosmological Argument for God."

Except for the six-day part. The Big Bang is also often seen as supportive of the Cosmological Argument for God's Nonexistence.

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/quentin_smith/bigbang.html

"Jews have been accused of many things, I don't think global warming or the threat of nuclear war are usually among them."

I don't think any scientists are accused of global warming or the threat of nuclear war either. Governments and nations tend to bear the brunt of blame.

jewish philosopher said...

Atheists hated the Big Bang theory, since it raised awkward questions, such as "When was the universe created?" and "What (or Who) created it?" The Big Bang model was initially ridiculed by the scientific establishment. For example, one of its pioneers, Georges LemaƮtre, was both a cosmologist and an ordained priest, so critics cited his theology as his motivation for advancing such a crackpot theory of creation. They suspected that the model was LemaƮtre's way of sneaking a Creator into science.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/02/opinion/02singh.html

So much for scientific objectivity.

I'll stick with the rabbis.

NoLiveGod said...

And yet the BB theory is predominant in science now.

"I'll stick with the rabbis."

Who are oh-so-objective.

jewish philosopher said...

Once the atheists had no choice, they were forced to retreat a little and drop the eternal universe idea. The same thing may happen to evolution in a few years. You never know.

Basically, you are left defending an Atheism of the Gaps.

NoLiveGod said...

"Atheism of the Gaps"

I have no idea what that means, as theism is based on a great big gap--believe in an all-powerful god who judges your interior thoughts and external deeds even through there is no physical evidence of him/them/it whatsoever.

Atheism isn't a defense. It's the superior position until sufficient logical or physical evidence is brought forward.

That's why your attacks on a straw-man atheism are so funny. You not only get atheism wrong, with your fantasies of hedonism and absent morality; you fail to defend your theist position. Your position is all the more laughable for whines like "the clergy are irrelevant," as if a class of tradition-sanctioned freeloaders with an overweening sense of entitlement makes any sense in a reasonable and free society.

jewish philosopher said...

The phrase "atheism of the gaps" refers to a view of atheism as being supported by the "gaps" or supposed aspects of reality that are currently unexplained by Biblical religion.

The phrase is generally derogatory, and is inherently a direct criticism of a tendency to postulate natural causes to explain phenomena for which Judaism has yet to give a satisfactory account. Rather, scientists look for evidence of natural causes for divine processes.

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

Look at Haeckel’s drawings; gone.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embryo_drawing#Contemporary_criticism_of_Haeckel:_Michael_Richardson_and_Stephen_Jay_Gould

Vestigal organs; gone.

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

Fossils demonstrating gradual evolution; gone.

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

Steady state universe; gone.

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

In the meantime, Europe, the homeland of atheism (remember the good old Soviet Society of the Godless?), after going through massive wars and genocides from 1914 through 1956, now is faced with a dwindling population being replaced by Muslims.

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

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

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


At the same time, millions of young Americans are being forced by addiction issues to attend 12 Step meetings and rehab centers, which are just thinly disguised reinventions of church or synagogue.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve-step_program

NLG, you are just so quaintly 19th century.

Anonymous said...

NLG:

What caused the Big Bang? And how do yuo get around the problem of the Singularity? According to "Endless Universe" a book about the banging brains theory of the origin of the Universe, the only way around the singularity problem is to fudge the math. Remember, your rules say that you must use only the laws of nature.

NC said...

"What you're referring to is the "Argument from precedent” – the concept that since so many things previously explained by religion have now been explained by science,"

I'm not making predictions, I am just referring to what has happened. It may or may not continue, although inductive reasoning would support that idea that we will make further progress.

"I know of nothing that was once explained by Orthodox Judaism that is now explained by science."

You live in total denial. What can I say?

NoLiveGod said...

"NLG, you are just so quaintly 19th century."

...says the guy with the super-ancient superstitions. Too, too funny. Judaism is your golem.


"Remember, your rules say that you must use only the laws of nature."

As opposed to your rules, which say you get to invent a character and say "she did it."

jewish philosopher said...

"You live in total denial. What can I say?"

Actually, only one supposedly scientific idea eliminated the need for God: Darwinism. To quote Ernst Mayr:

Remember that in 1850 virtually all leading scientists and philosophers were Christian men. The world they inhabited had been created by God, and as the natural theologians claimed, He had instituted wise laws that brought about the perfect adaptation of all organisms to one another and to their environment. At the same time, the architects of the scientific revolution had constructed a world-view based on physicalism (a reduction to spatiotemporal things or events or their properties), teleology, determinism and other basic principles. Such was the thinking of Western man prior to the 1859 publication of On the Origin of Species. The basic principles proposed by Darwin would stand in total conflict with these prevailing ideas.

First, Darwinism rejects all supernatural phenomena and causations. The theory of evolution by natural selection explains the adaptedness and diversity of the world solely materialistically. It no longer requires God as creator or designer (although one is certainly still free to believe in God even if one accepts evolution). Darwin pointed out that creation, as described in the Bible and the origin accounts of other cultures, was contradicted by almost any aspect of the natural world. Every aspect of the "wonderful design" so admired by the natural theologians could be explained by natural selection. (A closer look also reveals that design is often not so wonderful - see "Evolution and the Qrigins of Disease," by Randolph M. Nesse and George C. Williams; SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, November 1998.) Eliminating God from science made room for strictly scientific explanations of all natural phenomena; it gave rise to positivism; it produced a powerful intellectual and spiritual revolution, the effects of which have lasted to this day.

http://www.biologie.uni-hamburg.de/b-online/e36_2/darwin_influence.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_W._Mayr

I of course consider Darwinism to be nonsense, embraced by scientists precisely because it eliminates the need for God, thereby making the clergy irrelevant and scientists preeminent.

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

"super-ancient superstitions"

I think eternal truths might be more correct.

Anonymous said...

NLG:

If you can't explain things that exist using only the laws of nature, then you have to go outside the laws of nature.

NC said...

"I of course consider Darwinism to be nonsense, embraced by scientists precisely because it eliminates the need for God, thereby making the clergy irrelevant and scientists preeminent"

First of all, you are "poisoning the well" by mockingly using the term "Darwinism" to represent the entire modern day science of evolutionary biology, as though it were a creed. This would be like calling contemporary antisepsis and microbiology "Listerism". Its a fallacious rhetorical trick.

Secondly, here your discrediting of "Darwinism" relies on attacking the motivations of scientists-- really an ad hominem argument. And its a false accusation to boot.

Third, Darwin was hardly the first person to come up with theories of nature that were contradictory to the literal bible. The creation story's cosmology and geology also contradict modern science. [the sun was not created after the earth, etc]. True, evolution is a biggie, but even that, as Mayr pointed out, could be reconciled to the bible if one wished. One can still assert that the laws of nature are the way they are because of God.

So there is still no reason for you to be in such denial. You don't accuse us of "copernicusism", do you? Do we heliocentrists believe what we do so we can use drugs and have endless sex?

jewish philosopher said...

"Darwinism" is the term used by Mayr himself, one of the 20th century's leading evolutionary biologists. If he had no problem with that expression, I don't see why you do.

"your discrediting of "Darwinism" relies on attacking the motivations of scientists"

No, it relies on the complexity and purposefulness of living things, the mathematics of probability and the fossil evidence, as I explain in detail here.

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

Regarding why intelligent people would accept such nonsense, I rely upon the psychology of denial and wishful thinking, which we see in all false religions.

"Darwin was hardly the first person to come up with theories of nature that were contradictory to the literal bible."

Based on this quote from Mayr (which by the way is historically accurate) it seems like he was basically the first and the last.

Prior to 1859, all or nearly all scientists were what we would call today Creationists or intelligent design advocates. Universities like Harvard and Oxford were primarily theological seminaries. "Origin of Species" was a complete revolution. The last major mainstream theistic scientist was Louis Agassiz who died 1873.

http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/agassiz.html

NC said...

Question: why did mechanistic explanations of nature, previous to Darwin, not shake Christians' faith? Did Newtonian mechanics explanation of planetary orbits make god "unnecessary"? What about the germ theory of disease?

Answer: Because Christians believed the the absolute truth of the literal Bible, and evolution clearly contradicted this, it shook the foundations of their religious belief. The alternative was atheism. However, we didn't find the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists suddenly abandoning religion. Because, their belief in diety doesn't depend on the bible story. other religions could easily reconcile the latest science with their beliefs.

So now you should understand. It is only because of your fundamentalist Christian theology and attitude that leaves you no alternative-- either denial or atheism.

I believe that I have deconstructed you.

jewish philosopher said...

Darwin, attempted at any rate, to disprove the Watchmaker Analogy. He wished to replace the Creator and Intelligent Designer of monotheism with the Mindless Watchmaker of atheism.

Certain groups of people were naturally attracted to this idea, however irrational:

- Scientists. An unintelligent designer meant that all prophesy was bogus, which meant that all clergy are irrelevant, which meant that scientists became far more prestigious. Intelligent design is anathema to scientists. See:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-518637672896741579#

- Communists. Atheism allowed for the elimination of all clergy which was important to Communists since they might represent a challenge to their own authority.

- Addicts. Atheism allows people with addiction disorders to engage in any behavior without fear of divine punishment.

NC said...

"Darwin, attempted at any rate, to disprove the Watchmaker Analogy.

Certain groups of people were naturally attracted to this idea,..."

True.

Good ideas can be used or abused.

Examples: Religion (including Judaism). Environmentalism. Pacifism. Nationalism. etc.

That doesn't take away from the power or truth of the idea.

Free Lunch said...

You need to try again. There is nothing about atheism beyond "I do not believe in any gods." Atheism is not a religion. It is not a set of beliefs. It is only one specific statement about gods that says nothing else about the person.

There are other philosophies beyond those of the God of Abraham. Some, such as Buddhism, Confucianism, or Taoism do fine without gods, though others have introduced gods to them in certain sects.

There are plenty of people who swallow mystical nonsense but fail to believe in gods.

Science tells us about the history of life on earth. History tells us about the history of Judaism. Neither discipline are religious or irreligious. Calvin, among others, said free will was an illusion.

jewish philosopher said...

What is a "god"? Would an extraterrestrial being composed of dark energy and a million times more intelligent than man be a "god"?

NC said...

Good question.
But even the term "god" is a term made up by ancient man to describe powers beyond his control and understanding.

Today we have no use for such a term. Although there are indeed powers that we don't comprehend. Because god implies mysterious, unknownable, beyond our ability to even try to understand. That is not how we conceive of mysterious today.

If in fact we discovered an extraterrestrial with the characteristics you described, and he behaved as the biblical god does, we would not call him "god", we would call him "psychopathic dictator" and figure out ways to kill him.

jewish philosopher said...

"we would call him "psychopathic dictator" and figure out ways to kill him."

Been there, done that. See commentary of Rashi to Genesis 11:9 quoting Midrash Breishis Rabbah 38, 6 concerning the sin of the Generation of the Dispersion "the latter did raise their hands against G-d to wage war against Him."

http://www.tachash.org/metsudah/b02r.html#ch11

It wasn't a big success.

I believe that the core beliefs of atheism are that there is no Biblical God and evolution created us. Evolution is different from God in that it has no intelligence, therefore it demands nothing.

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

It follows obviously from this that we have no soul or free will since a soul cannot evolve from chemicals.

omprem said...

Mr. Stein, you have correctly pointed out that science, no matter how much it twists and turns, is unsatisfactory in its attempts to explain the origins of this universe and of life. Science is reduced to an infinite regress because it starts with the premise, "First, there was nothing and then it exploded".

Some of the Atheists are nitpicking with your Atheist Creed without once being aware that their nitpicking merely proves that science runs into such an infinite regress.

The conclusion that should be drawn by them is that science is inadequate to explore or explain that which is beyond its scope. Science is focused on what it considers as physical. It is good for tinkering and developing technology but not for metaphysical explorations.

Science begins with the mistaken premise that there are individual entities in the universe. This dependence on limited and flawed sense mechanisms is the downfall of science.