Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Extraordinary History of the Jews



[from the Washington Haggadah, written in Bonn, Germany 1478]


"Who is like Your people Israel, a unique nation on earth" (Sam. II 7:23)

From a careful and unbiased study of Jewish history, it is clear that the Jewish people were, indeed, raised to an extraordinary spiritual level 3300 years ago at Mt. Sinai.

It is no exaggeration to say that the survival of the Jewish people as one of the oldest continuous cultures in the world is an open miracle. Where are the ancient Moabites, Hittites and Philistines today? How many thousands of years ago did they disappear, absorbed by other, more dominant cultures, changing completely their language and religion time and again according to political and social pressures? This is natural and normal and a constant process in world history, as one culture is absorbed or destroyed by another. Why have the Jews been so strangely, uniquely immune to this, at least up until the last century?

Note the physical situation of the Jewish people. They are not a huge nation living in total isolation like, for example, the Chinese or the Hindus. They began as a small nation in the eastern Mediterranean, easy prey for neighboring empires. Two thousand four hundred years ago they were conquered and dispersed. Almost invariably they were forced to live as a minority among other nations; constantly in contact with and completely at the mercy of the dominant majority. To remain distinctive and preserve such a radically different life-style, inviting almost constant ostracism, financial sacrifice as well as outright massacre for so many centuries is incomprehensible, psychologically as well as historically. Why did few choose to assimilate, right down to modern times? To be sentimental about ones ancestral traditions is understandable. For an entire nation to calmly face martyrdom for over 2000 years for their traditions is inexplicable.

Important to note as well is the amazing vitality of the Jewish people. One would logically have expected the Jews to be reduced long ago to a few isolated, primitive villages in the mountains of Iraq (if they survived at all). Instead they have created flourishing, vigorous communities throughout Europe and the Middle East. Their piety, kindness and intellectualism have been extraordinary. They published libraries of sacred literature (they had no other type) during centuries of poverty and persecution. When few gentiles were literate, an illiterate Jew was a rarity. Jews generally made up the middle class of craftsmen, physicians, merchants and bankers and therefore were (reluctantly) tolerated by the surrounding gentiles. It is known that in medieval Europe many Christian noblemen demanded Jewish doctors and treasurers in spite of how much they were despised. Even following secularization this vitality has been clearly apparent, at least for several generations until assimilation is total. Witness the fact that approximately 20% of Nobel Prize winners have been Jews, although Jews make up merely .2% of the world population, and in spite of the fact that in the first half of this century the Jewish people were largely devastated by the chaos and genocide of World War I and World War II. In the cases of Jesus, Marx, Freud and Einstein we see how even Jews who were far removed from authentic Judaism achieved tremendous recognition in world history. Witness as well the creation of Israel, which demonstrates how even more or less secularized Jews, after over 2000 years of exile, retained such a strong attachment to the ancient Jewish homeland and language. (Can anyone imagine the ancient Hittites, for example, reestablishing in the 20th century an independent state, complete with their ancient language?)

All the above was nicely summarized by Mark Twain in an essay entitled "Concerning the Jews", published 1898:

If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one per cent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of; but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world's list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine and abstruse learning are also way out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded into dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?

Consider also the tremendous unity of Judaism throughout the centuries. The Jews were scattered in thousands of independent and, to some extant, isolated communities from Afghanistan to Morocco and from Lithuania to Yemen. It would have been natural for them all to remain unanimous on certain basic principles (e.g. the Scriptures, monotheism, not eating pork, Sabbath observance) while diverging in everything else, adapting and changing the tradition to fit in with their needs and situation. We would expect to find very distinct and independent Yemenite Judaism, Polish Judaism, Persian Judaism, Moroccan Judaism, German Judaism, etc. each with its own ritual and theology. This is taken for granted in other religions (e.g. an Episcopalian Christian has very little in common with an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian). Jews however, until very recently never disagreed on anything significant. Two hundred years ago a Jew from Amsterdam could have married a Jew from Baghdad with no change in theology, no important change in ritual and certainly no feeling of converting to a different sect for either of them. (It should be noted as well that deviant Jewish, or psuedo-Jewish, sects such as the Karaites, Sadducces or Samaritans never, as far as anyone knows, constituted more than a very small minority compared to mainstream, rabbinical Judaism). This extraordinary unity testifies to the incredible loyalty of the Jews to their traditions. [The phylacteries found with the Dead Sea scrolls also give us an idea of the authenticity of Jewish tradition - not only did they conform to the specifications written in the Talmud 500 years later but they even conformed to the opinions of Talmudic commentaries written over 1000 years later in far-away France!]

Consider also the five levels of Jewish sacred literature. The authors of the Mishnah never contradicted the prophets. The authors of the Talmud likewise stood in awe of the authors of the Mishnah. The early Talmudic commentators would never contradict the Talmud. The later commentators with very rare exception never contradict the earlier ones. This phenomenon clearly indicates the gradual decline of the Jewish people from a great original spiritual level.

All this points to the reality of the Mt. Sinai revelation, which lifted the Jews far above the rest of mankind. It also demonstrates the integrity of the Torah tradition - since the Jewish people were raised to such a high level it is clear that until recently none except a few of the most ignorant would have deviated from the genuine tradition.

51 comments:

MGH said...

My prediction is that the commenters here will pick apart minor points that you make above, and ignore the overarching argument--such as: it is highly debatable whether or not a Jew from Amsterdam would marry someone from Baghdad even in earlier times. We can quibble about what percentage of the population of earlier generations were models of piety, versus am haaratzim, or falling in line with foreign ideologies. On the whole, however you are correct.

Unfortunately, I am not convinced that you are a emotionally healthy person, given your recent occupational track record; none the less your somewhat cantankerous approach to laying down fundamentals of Jewish belief has been revealing: none of your detractors have succeeded in demolishing your fundamental premises: that design implies a designer, as well as your restatement of the Kuzari argument. They will probably fail in attempts to refute the above. Note, however, that room exists for slivers of doubt with all of the above arguments, taken in isolation, but absolute proof, in the mathematical sense, is not a necessary criterion for truth in the real world, and is hence unreasonable to demand in this case as well.

jewish philosopher said...

Allow me to just point that while I, and millions of americans, are struggling financially, I have no knowledge or evidence of any of my critics having a job, getting married or parenting a child, ever.

MGH said...

"Allow me to just point that while I, and millions of americans, are struggling financially, I have no knowledge or evidence of any of my critics having a job, getting married or parenting a child, ever."

Neither do I, and if I had to guess, I would say that NC, No Live ..., et al. (as well as the occasional scumbag that makes light of your son's medical problems) probably fall short of anything that resembles a genuine role model in their daily lives.

The fact that you seem to characterize the circumstances behind your previous two layoffs, as being nothing more than the problems of a righteous man, suffering at the hands of sinners, is a bit disingenuous, however. The story is a bit more complex than that: the pritzus you spoke to that young woman, as rotten as she is, was wrong, and you are old enough by now to realize that those nursing school students were not likely to respond positively to your blog. Nothing positive was accomplished in either of the above two circumstances, and you certainly could have assumed this from the beginning.

Additionally, ad hominem arguments are used quite frequently to discredit individuals, and their ideas. Making yourself into a community/social pariah does nothing to help you accomplish the stated objectives of this blog.

Assuming that you are a good person, I wish you hatzlachah, but you would do well to contemplate the fact that there ARE virtues to moderation.

jewish philosopher said...

Whatever reason emblemhealth had for firing me without warning after 15 years, I'm certain that it was not out of pity for Tova Schreiber of the Righteous Rasha blog. The reason I say that is because emblem did not bother to apologize to her or even acknowledge her father's email to the company. I'm sure she would have mentioned it if they had.

Regarding nursing school, I never discuss religion with non-Jews unless they directly asked me. One student, a bit rudely, asked about my family background. After mentioning that I have a blog with my story on it, I passed out exactly three business cards.

Truth to tell, staying a gentile would have been much wiser financially, however I don't measure success in dollars and cents.

NoLiveGod said...

My life is ducky, thank very much. Married over 10 years, children, home, happy at work. But that's irrelevant.

The big point of the article here is the truth-claim that "the Jewish people were, indeed, raised to an extraordinary spiritual level 3300 years ago at Mt. Sinai."

Does the writer provide any direct evidence? No.

The support brought in is rather sketchy and myopic historical data. A first-year History 101 student could demolish the writer's main points.

All he's got are arguments from ignorance. The strange and unique history of the Jews (not really), the resilience of just the Jews (don't think so), the attachment of Jews to Israel and to Hebrew, and so on.

This kind of article may fly with believers on an internet blog, but most everyone else needs more substance. In short: this is one game the writer shouldn't have suited up for.

jewish philosopher said...

"My life is ducky, thank very much."

Frankly, I'm a little suspicious. If anti-orthodox bloggers have so much to be proud of, then why are 99% anonymous? And claiming "I'm afraid Jewish fanatics will kill me." is unbelievable. Thousands of orthodox Jews have dropped out. Number murdered: zero.

"All he's got are arguments from ignorance."

Argument from ignorance asserts that a proposition is necessarily true because it has not been proven false.

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

I, on the contrary, am making an argument from facts: the proposition is necessarily true because the facts prove it.       
 

Anonymous said...

You make a number of good points which one often reads elsewhere. However, I wouldn't jeopardize the argument by overstating the case.

There have been some very significant schisms in Judaism over the past millenia. Look at the Maccabees vs. the pro-Hellenists, the Pharisees vs, the Sadducees, Rabbinic vs. Karaites, the followers of Shabtai Tzvi, Hassidim vs. Mitnagdim, etc. I'd argue that what we've seen has been a religious version of survival of the fittest: the forms of Judaism that were most durable survived, and the others did not.

I'd recommend Max Diamont's "Jews, G-d and History" as a good introduction to Jewish history from a scholarly perspective.

jewish philosopher said...

What's interesting is comparing the Jews to other nationalities.

The New York City area was inhabited 400 years ago by the Munsee Indians. Today, after exiles, massacres and persecution their religion has long been forgotten, their language is nearly extinct. 

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

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

Luna said...

"and in spite of the fact that in the first half of this century the Jewish people were largely devastated by the chaos and genocide of World War I and World War II."

That should read "the first half of the last century." We are in the 21st century now, not the 20th.

jewish philosopher said...

Right.

NoLiveGod said...

I post anonymously because if anyone does a Google search under my real name, they would find my posts.

Why potentially bring controversy upon myself, my family, or my company for something intemperate I might say to a silly fundie? Why risk ruining my next corporate opportunity?

When I Google "Jacob Stein," you come up as #6. If your resume is on my desk and I see follow link #6 to you, there's no way you get a call-back.

I'm sure you think your wonderfully forthright for blogging under your own name, but it's actually quite foolish for someone in your situation.

jewish philosopher said...

If even you think what you're writing is foolish, why are you writing it? And if it's wise, why not be proud of it?

My assumption is that on the Internet nearly all atheists hide behind anonymity because they are embarrassed to reveal their personal lives, while no orthodox rabbi needs to do so.

jewish philosopher said...

By the way, I just googled and I'm #2.

jewish philosopher said...

Take this article for example

http://www.jewishrockland.org/page.aspx?id=210865&page=1

Orthodox bloggers, identified; non-orthodox anonymous.

JRKmommy said...

Another remarkable feature of Jewish history is that while the Written Torah is geared toward a nation-state structure, Judaism in fact managed to survive for almost 2,000 years without a state.

Thus, we have a laboratory of what religious devotion can look like without state coercion - no Inquisition, no imposition of criminal penalties for breaches of religious law, etc.

That's why an Orthodox Jew like myself can be a strong supporter of the separation of church and state, and not feel the need to police the religious thoughts and actions of others.

[BTW, in terms of identity: I've used JRKmommy for ages, and there are people who know me by my real name, either because I outed myself to them or because they were close enough to me that they recognized a distinctive detail (like my description of a mishap while koshering my kitchen or a description of a clothes shopping expedition). I don't use my real name due to professional reasons (I never identify clients by name, but even referencing certain family law issues or mentioning a hard day in court could compromise them if I posted my name), and because my husband and children do not wish to be in the public domain.

NoLiveGod said...

"If even you think what you're writing is foolish, why are you writing it? And if it's wise, why not be proud of it?"

I'm OK with most everything I write, although sometimes I wish I'd added a word or phrased something differently.

But one never knows how people will perceive what one writes. If some OJ gets offended at something that I posted 5 years ago, do I need that aggravation? If someone wants to make trouble about me being on the school committee because I think religions like Judaism and Christianity are stupid, do I need to let them?

Without the Internet, I'd have the same opinions I do now and no one would really know. In fact, in real-space/time we move through the days not knowing or caring what crazy opinions people have. What I post on the Internet is no one else's business and I want to keep it that way so I don't have to deal with legitimate nutjobs like you.

"My assumption is that on the Internet nearly all atheists hide behind anonymity because they are embarrassed to reveal their personal lives, while no orthodox rabbi needs to do so."

Not embarrassed. Just trying to protect it. OR's, on the other hand, perhaps ought to have a bit more shame.

jewish philosopher said...

"That's why an Orthodox Jew like myself can be a strong supporter of the separation of church and state"

Well, orthodox Jews like me pray daily:

"Restore our judges as in former times, and our counsellors as of yore"

"Let there be no hope for informers, and may all the heretics and all the wicked instantly perish"

"speedily establish therein the throne of David Your servant, and rebuild it, soon in our days, as an everlasting edifice"

http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/867674/jewish/Translation.htm

"Without the Internet, I'd have the same opinions I do now and no one would really know."

Then get rid of your Internet.

GodAwful said...

"I, on the contrary, am making an argument from facts: the proposition is necessarily true because the facts prove it."

The facts may be true, but they prove nothing. Its an interesting inference, that god orchestrated jewish historical persistance, but nonetheless just an inference. It proves nothing about god's existence. Its just a convenient vehicle to justify your predesigned notion that god exists. Of course there is no tangible proof whatsoever of his existence, try as you might to beguile whatever is left of your reason into believing that he is.

GodAwful said...

"Frankly, I'm a little suspicious. If anti-orthodox bloggers have so much to be proud of, then why are 99% anonymous? And claiming "I'm afraid Jewish fanatics will kill me." is unbelievable. Thousands of orthodox Jews have dropped out. Number murdered: zero."

Why tempt a crackpot like yourself?
All those maniacs that went postal and killed their bosses, co-workers, abortion doctors, etc, weren't expected to go off the deep end until they did.
I sure as hell am not not going to allow myself to be on your list of victims when you finally do snap. Its not "if" you finally snap, but "when".

jewish philosopher said...

"The facts may be true, but they prove nothing."

To someone who is in total denial.

"All those maniacs that went postal and killed their bosses, co-workers, abortion doctors, etc, weren't expected to go off the deep end until they did."

None of whom were Orthdodox Jews.

One of the many problems of the Internet is that it gives people the freedom to say anything with no concern for any consequences.

As the New York Times once pointed out "Who are these people prepared to tell you what they think, but not who they are? What is the mentality that lets them get in our face while wearing a mask?"

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/26/opinion/26dowd.html?_r=1&th&emc=th

Good questions.

God Awful said...

"All those maniacs that went postal and killed their bosses, co-workers, abortion doctors, etc, weren't expected to go off the deep end until they did."

None of whom were Orthdodox Jews.
********************************
I'm sure as hell not going to allow you to make me the first statistic.

GodAwful said...

The facts may be true, but they prove nothing.

jewish philosopher
"To someone who is in total denial."

Ah yes, if you can't definitively prove your proposition, just blather that the disputant is in total denial. Torah hasn't done much for your logical aptitude.

Anonymous said...

"The facts may be true, but they prove nothing."

"To someone who is in total denial."

Agree with JP. I can have 5 different studies demonstrating that aspirin appears to reduce the risk of heart attack. As with all clinical trials, none can be demonstrated to be conclusive beyond a shadow of a doubt. Things are always expressed in terms of probabilities--study #1 demontrated a p value that suggests less than a 5% chance that the beneficial effects of aspirin were due to something other than coincidence, study #2, less than a 1% chance and so on.

To someone who wants to be an extreme skeptic, you can always say: I demand absolute proof! Maybe all studies demonstrated their results merely by coincidence, therefore 0+0+0+0+0=no proof whatsoever.

This is not a reasonable position. Such a person lives in denial, much like GodAwful.

jewish philosopher said...

"I'm sure as hell not going to allow you to make me the first statistic."

Translation: If my friends and relatives knew about my outrageous and obnoxious comments I would be embarrassed. Also, if readers knew what a total failure in life I am, I would be embarrassed.

Well, to continue with the Times article referred to above:

As Hugo Black wrote in 1960, “It is plain that anonymity has sometimes been assumed for the most constructive purposes.”

But on the Internet, it’s often less about being constructive and more about being cowardly.


Regarding Jewish history, what's your take on it? Logically, the Jews should have done no better following the Babylonian invasion than the Munsee did following the European invasion, which is to say not so well.

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

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

Unless you've got a better explanation, I think that's what's called "denial".

Mahla said...

The thing about posting controversial opinions under your real name is, I'm genuinely concerned it will compromise your ability to provide for your dear family. :^( However, you're a grown man and have every right to post what you want under whatever name you choose. Best wishes to you and good luck, JP. I hope this coming year is a better one for you.

Anonymous said...

NLG:

There really is no proof that evolution took place, ust evidence. Yet that is enough for people to claim that evolution took place. Cold be because of some preconceived notion that only naturalistc explanations are allowed.

NC said...

The history of the Jews is indeed extraordinary. I don't think either philosemites or antisemites deny it.

Having said that, one should not confuse fascination or awe with the paradox of serendipity. Since the probability of any event that has already occurred is 1.0 (100%) it cannot be used to support any argument based on improbability. Probability is about future events, and therefore improbabilities that existed in the past are irrelevant now. (Much as a winner of the lottery could attest to)

jewish philosopher said...

"I'm genuinely concerned it will compromise your ability to provide for your dear family."

The truth is, just being Jewish does that also. But thank God, we manage.

"Since the probability of any event that has already occurred is 1.0 (100%) it cannot be used to support any argument based on improbability."

The chances of two unrelated people having matching DNA is very tiny,

http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jul/20/local/me-dna20

however it is often used to convict in criminal cases beyond "reasonable doubt".

http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/forensics.shtml#2

So in other words, if John Doe's DNA is found at the crime scene, he cannot successfully argue in court "True, it's highly improbable that this DNA belongs to someone else, but you cannot base any assumption about a past event on improbability. I know that someone else committed the murder, so the probablility of the DNA not being mine is 100%."

Anonymous said...

"Probability is about future events, and therefore improbabilities that existed in the past are irrelevant now. (Much as a winner of the lottery could attest to)"

Not true. One can calculate the probability of an event having occurred after the fact. This is a mistake very often repeated (typically by atheists) in this sort of discussion.

A person can role a dice 100 times, and can hypothetically come up with the same number each time. After the fact I can still calculate the probability of such an event having occurred.

Of course probabilistic calculations have to take into account certain assumptions in this case: i.e. that the dice weren't loaded, for instance. In fact, the extreme unlikelihood of someone being able to role 100 sixes in a row, from an unbiased dice, is so unlikely that this event constitutes virtual proof that the dice ARE loaded.

This is why casino managers are able to follow individuals who appear to have extraordinary success at the black jack table, and decide whether or not they can continue to play at their casino. Rarely, an individual is able to cook the books by being able to count the cards, and introduce an element of the "non-random" into an otherwise relatively random series of events.

NC said...

"So in other words, if John Doe's DNA is found at the crime scene, he cannot successfully argue in court "True, it's highly improbable that this DNA belongs to someone else, but you cannot base any assumption about a past event on improbability."

Incorrect comparison. In your example, the a priori specified improbable event (the criminal and another person having the same DNA) has not yet occurred. In the history of the Jewish people (and the lottery ticket winner), it already has.

This woman won the lottery 4 times:
http://www.tdtnews.com/story/2010/7/16/67401

Did she cheat? Was it God? No, that's how chance works.

Your argument is similar to the bible codes claims, which have been discredited by reputable mathematicians.

You should read a little about how probability works.

jewish philosopher said...

"In the history of the Jewish people (and the lottery ticket winner), it already has."

I'm not following this one. You have found other nationalities closely comparible to the Jews? Please share.

jewish philosopher said...

As a general rule, a series of improbable events all working together to accomplish a certain purpose indicates intelligent intervention (cheating, for example). See the anonymous commennt about casinos above.

NC said...

"improbable" can only be defined a priori, not after the fact. See my lottery example. After the fact is is 100% probability.

This is one reason why retrospective medical research is considered weak evidence. It is subject to bias and error. If you "fish" enough for correlations, you will find some, even by chance.

Prospective experiments, with pre-defined events to be measured, followed by the intervention, allows for more valid statistical calculations.

"all working together to accomplish a certain purpose" also implies a predefined agenda.

Did the lottery winning "accomplish a certain purpose?" You could argue that god made her win so she could give charity, or what have you, but in reality "meaning" is a man made concept. Same with Jewish history. If you apply your own values on a given situation, you'll see purpose. But just realize its in your head.

"I'm not following this one. You have found other nationalities closely comparible to the Jews?"

The Jews are unique. So are the Chinese and the Souix Indians. Each went through history in a chain of events that got them to their unique position and not another.

If I were standing back 5000 years ago, and asked the question, "will the Chinese become the world's most populous and industrious people 5000 years from now and develop nuclear weapons?" If I said yes you would have thought I am crazy. I could have asked the same of the first North American pilgrims.

Yet it happened.

In the infinitely large field of probable and improbable events, many improbable events will happen.

In the case of your dice throws, given enough repetitions, MANY improbable outcomes will occur, not just 100 6s. That is how probability works!

In the case of the Casino, the probability calculations specifically account for the total number of throws, etc.

With history, can you account for the total number of "throws" of history?

Most of this is psychological. Some people are just inclined to see purpose in everything. If I took a crap at exactly 2pm, it must be part of some grand master plan.

jewish philosopher said...

I'm sorry, but I'm afraid that this is nonsense.

Let's say your ex-girlfriend just happens to standing outside your home every morning when you leave. And she just happens to be standing outside your office every evening when you leave. And she just happens to be at your favorite resturant when you go there every Saturday night. These series of improbable occurrances all working toward a certain purpose are not merely imaginary. She is stalking you.

The basic problem I have with atheism is the constant claim "nothing is as it seems".

We seem to have free will, but really we don't. Our behavior is determined by the laws of nature. The universe seems to be fine tuned for life to exist, however really it wasn't, we are just living in one bubble of multiverse which is supportive of life. Life seems to be intelligently designed but it wasn't, natural selection merely operated on random variations. And so and so on.

My point of view is: things are what they seem until proven otherwise.

I generally use the Duck Test:

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck

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

Rambam said...

How things "seem" is subjective and based on all sorts of preconceived notions. This is why science uses rigorous experimental and analytical methods instead of armchair suppositions. In each area you mention you use armchair speculation instead of the sort of sophisticated thinking you just aren't trained in. Lets face it, you are an uneducated simpleton with a huge ego. You sure pontificate a lot about cosmology, probability, biology, etc. for someone with zero skills.

jewish philosopher said...

Isaac Newton famously remarked: "If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standing_on_the_shoulders_of_giants#References_during_the_sixteenth_to_nineteenth_centuries

NoLiveGod said...

The logic of the original post is amazing.

(1) I claim that my family was abducted by aliens.
(Reason a) My family is very old.
(Reason b) My family is very stubborn and traditional.
(Reason c) My family has had some very successful members.
(Reason d) My family had some writers, but I think the older writers were better than the newer ones.
(Conclusion) Therefore, my family was abducted by aliens. Case closed.

Why am I not surprised that you think child rape is the same thing as consensual sex between two adults?

jewish philosopher said...

Actually, I think that argument basically would work, as I explained here.

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

Anonymous said...

NC:

If a very improbable event happened, it doesn't make it any less improbable. It just means that an improbable event happened. It still requires a causal explanation if you want to be all scientific.This is why scientists are trying to come up an explanation for the apparent fine tuning of the Universe to accomodate life. Y'know, multiverse and all. "We just got lucky," is not a very intelectually satifying explanation. And this is why scientists are working very hard to come up with a plausible explanation for the origin of life. Protein first was too improbable, so now they are trying RNA first.

NC said...

"It still requires a causal explanation if you want to be all scientific."

Not "why", but "how". Explain the mechanisms, like big bang or evolution, not the "reasons".

"If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck"

And therein lies the very unscientific and simplistic way that you look at things. It sounds nice as a quote but it is a poor way of acquiring new knowledge.

If this principle was adhered to, we'd still be living in the middle ages and no scientific advancement would have been possible.

jewish philosopher said...

"If this principle was adhered to, we'd still be living in the middle ages and no scientific advancement would have been possible."

It's called Occam's Razor - reaching the simplest conculsion based on the evidence.

I think now you're getting desperate. The atheist scam is being exposed.

NC said...

I repeat my earlier question:
Don't the Chinese have an extraordinary history?

jewish philosopher said...

China is a large country surrounded by vast mountains, oceans and jungles which were almost impenetrable until modern times. The communities along the the Yellow River, Yangtze River and the Xi River have been able to flourish more or less undisturbed since they were first settled following the Towel of Babel 1766 BCE. By comparison, the Jews have been in exile for over two thousand years. The pressure to change and assimilate has been unrelenting.
Even so, a Jew from Palestine who lived 2,000 years ago could enter a synagogue today in Brooklyn and be able to participate in the services. I don’t believe that a Chinese from 2,000 years ago could enter any Chinese temple today and understand anything.

NC said...

All the more reason for a Chinese miracle.

I am sure that Chinese see their history as unique and special as you see your Judaism.

jewish philosopher said...

I don't see any revelation, just geography.

Anonymous said...

"We seem to have free will, but really we don't. Our behavior is determined by the laws of nature. The universe seems to be fine tuned for life to exist, however really it wasn't, we are just living in one bubble of multiverse which is supportive of life. Life seems to be intelligently designed but it wasn't, natural selection merely operated on random variations. And so and so on."

Really? It doesn't "seem" to me or to many people that we have free will. I don't know where you get this.

I also disagree that the universe seems fine-tuned and life seems intelligently designed.

When I do the duck test, that duck is not theistic at all.

jewish philosopher said...

About free will:

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

http://www.deanslawdictionary.com/deans-law-dictionary/20Itemid=32

About fine tuning:

According to Leonard Susskind, if there would be more dark energy, stars would never have formed. Steven Weinberg states “This is the one fine tuning that seems to be extreme, far beyond what you could imagine just having to accept as a mere accident.”

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/11/science-discovers-god-again.html

About intelligent design:

Scientists have learned that the fundamental units of vision, the photoreceptor cells that carpet the retinal tissue of the eye and respond to light, are not just good or great or phabulous at their job. They are not merely exceptionally impressive by the standards of biology, with whatever slop and wiggle room the animate category implies. Photoreceptors operate at the outermost boundary allowed by the laws of physics, which means they are as good as they can be, period. Each one is designed to detect and respond to single photons of light — the smallest possible packages in which light comes wrapped.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/02/science/02angier.html?_r=3&pagewanted=1&nl&emc=a210&adxnnlx=1288684842-aRDY5jFI3jHzKI5ozkY1jQ

NC said...

"I don't see any revelation, just geography."

A Chinaman can claim that by god's will, China's ancestors were put where they were, multiplied and thrived, were given fertile land masses and appropriate climate. It was thus be good fortune they came to have a huge country and huge population, along with a rich culture and tradition.

That the Chinese were put there, and the Jews settled on a facockte little desert speck of land with no resources-- I would say that Chinese history is evidence that they are the chosen people.

When it comes to religious arguments, you can say (and make up) whatever you want (as opposed to science).

jewish philosopher said...

Everything is a result of divine providence, however the Jews are the result of divine revelation.

"(as opposed to science)."

I'm not too sure.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/08/evolutionary-morality.html

Anonymous said...

NC:

Yes, so if you see something very unlikely happening, like the history of the Jews, then you have to explain how it happened.

Anonymous at 8:25

The Universe has over one hundred parameters that are set just so. If you change any one of them the slghest amount then life wouldn't be possible. If gravity was a lttel bit stonger the universe would have recollapsed right after the Big Bang. A little weaker, and it would have expanded tooo fast for stars to form. If the Strong Nuclear force was a little bit weaker atoms couldn't form, a little stronger no elements could form. Sme thing with the weak nuclear force and the electromagnetic force. If the mass of the Universe was bigger by just the mass of a grain of sand, it would have recollapsed right after the big bang. IF the vibration energy of the carbon atom was off by a very small amount, carbon couldn't form. No carbon, no life. And for some reason, the number of protons and electrons in the universe is roughly the same. If they weren't stars could form. There's more but you get the idea. This looks lke fine tuning to me. Scientists call this the anthropic principle.

And every form of life shows the complex purposfull integration of numerous parts. This looks like desing to me.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post, great ))