Sunday, May 30, 2010
[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.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 2:45 PM
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
[fully loaded at birth]
This week I had to take care of some business in Yonkers, NY. I have never been to Yonkers and the streets and highways in that area resemble a maze. Naturally, this being the 21st century, the era of the Global Positioning System and Internet mapping software, I typed the address into my iPhone and up came a precise map of how to reach my destination. Off I went. I still got a little lost, although with all the marvels of cutting edge technology, I soon found my way and was on time for my appointment. Until about five years ago, this technology was science fiction.
The interesting thing is, a very similar system has been built into the bodies of many animals. Loggerhead sea turtles apparently use a somewhat similar “high tech system” to migrate 8,000 miles around the Atlantic Ocean. Through an as yet unknown process, the turtles are able to sense changes in the earth’s magnetic field and navigate accordingly.
While man is just now perfected the means to navigate blindly in confusing new neighborhoods, these little turtles have been doing so since time immemorial, endowed by their Creator with a still barely understood GPS and Google Maps of some sort.
How true are the words said three times a day in the next to last blessing in the Amidah prayer: “We thank You for the miracles which are with us each day”.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 12:45 AM
Saturday, May 15, 2010
[hanged, drawn and quartered – the old fashioned way]
One topic which seems to have received little attention from contemporary atheists is the issue of crime and punishment.
According to atheists, we have no soul and no free will. On the other hand, our criminal justice system rests on the concept that society has the right to take revenge on someone who has freely chosen to harm others. If there is no free will, then every defendant could correctly claim that he is innocent due to an irresistible impulse, which is a type of insanity defense.
This is summed up by a former dean of Harvard Law School Roscoe Pound in his introduction to "Cases on Criminal Law" by Francis B. Sayre (1927): "Historically, our substantive criminal law is based upon a theory of punishing the vicious will. It postulates a free agent confronted with a choice between doing right and doing wrong and choosing freely to do wrong."
According to atheism, our criminal justice system should logically be abolished and replaced with a mental health system for the criminally insane. Anyone who harms others would be evaluated by psychologists and then incarcerated in a hospital for the criminally insane until psychiatrists would decide that he is harmless. There would be in this case no concept of the “let the punishment fit the crime” because no one is guilty and no punishment is appropriate. Instead, it would be an issue of “let the treatment fit the illness”. Theoretically, a mass killer could be released after a few weeks while a shoplifter might be confined for life. Adolf Hitler and other Nazi war criminals, for example, posed no threat to anyone following the surrender of Germany and could have been set free immediately. We know that Adolf Eichmann after ordering the murder of hundreds of thousands during the war lived a peaceful, quiet life as a rabbit farmer after the war.
I assume that atheists don’t bring this issue up very often since the obvious absurdity of it would demonstrate clearly the falsehood of atheism. It’s much safer to keep hammering on the crimes committed by Muslims as “proof” that anyone believing in God is dangerous.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 10:47 PM
Monday, May 10, 2010
[bread, the staff of life]
One of the most amazing and obvious miracles we experience every day is food.
The food that we eat is so complex and specialized, that no team of scientists and not even the world’s most advanced laboratories are capable of producing one loaf of bread from the basic ingredients of water, air and minerals. In fact, many people prefer food containing no artificial additives at all because of possible health risks. Synthetic food is completely a science fiction fantasy. There can hardly be a clearer proof of divine plan and purpose than food. Did food, this miraculous and mysterious substance, just happen to come into existence by chance, before humans, also by chance, came into existence? The idea is so ludicrous that only the most mentally perverted fool can believe it.
Next time we pick up a piece of delicious, nutritious food and are about to place it into our mouths, let’s give enthusiastic thanks to the One who created it.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 1:03 PM
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
[Trailer for Evan Almighty]
I recently watched at the gym a little segment of the movie "Evan Almighty", which features an American Congressman who is told by God to build an ark.
What I thought was interesting was how during the first segment of the movie, newly elected Congressman Evan Baxter is constantly experiencing obviously supernatural events, yet he continues to deny that anything supernatural could be happening. He witnesses before his eyes bizarre, naturally unexplainable occurrences yet for a long time ignores them.
Of course, the movie is merely a silly comedy, however it reminded me of many discussions I have had with skeptics and atheists.
I have demonstrated the truth of Judaism, first, from the Watchmaker Principle and what I call the Anti-conspiracy Principle. Then from the unique structure of Jewish literature. I have pointed out the unique wisdom of the Torah and the Torah's remarkable candor.
Regarding questions from science, I have found plausible solutions   . Furthermore, I have debunked the Documentary Hypothesis and evolution.
Atheists simply respond with a barrage of logical fallacies, all merely to rationalize a debauched lifestyle, which will end badly.
God is constantly calling to all the "Evans" out there. How many will listen?
Posted by jewish philosopher at 4:58 AM