Thursday, December 30, 2010

Paradoxes



Today Moshe Katzav, ex-president of Israel and a product of the secular Zionist indoctrination of religious immigrants, was convicted of rape.

No Orthodox Jew has ever been convicted of forcible rape.

However the most hated group in Israeli society is the ultra-orthodox.

This seems rather odd. One would think that the ultra-orthodox should be the most admired.

On the other hand Russian President Vladimir Putin has been quoted as saying, "He [Katzav] really surprised us... turned out to be quite a mighty man. He raped 10 women. I never expected it from him. He surprised all of us. We all envy him."

Different cultures have different values. Perhaps the ultra-orthodox are not "manly" enough for some people's taste. Judaism teaches "who is strong one who conquers his desires". Maybe we're not real men.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Researching the Family Tree


[human migration - the DNA picture]

I have recently been reading about the descent of modern humans from Neanderthals, Denisovans and Africans who lived tens of thousands of years ago. This would seem to contradict the Bible, according to which we are all descended from one man who, according to rabbinical tradition, was created 5771 years ago.

Apparently this is based on the following concept.

Let's say someone wrote a book. Afterwards, copies of  the book were made by scribes who  were illiterate and could  not understand the book however they simply copied whatever they saw. Once in a while a spelling error would be made in the text. Later scribes using that erroneous copy would copy that error. As copies of the book are spread around the world, new errors would be made here and there. Based upon examining which spelling errors appeared in which part of the world, it would be possible to estimate how this  book spread around the world. If error #1 appears in German copies and error #1 and error #2 appear in Russian copies, we could guess that the Russian copies were made based on the German copy. Furthermore, if we could estimate about how often a copiest error is made, we could estimate how far back different copies diverged and how long ago the original copy was made. For example, if present day copies contain 1,000 errors and we estimate 1 error per year, then we can assume that the book is  1,000 years old.

Human genetics is a little more complicated because each person is a combinations of genes from his father and mother. This would be similar to each scribe making a new copy based on pages mixed together from two older copies.

There are some problems with all of this however.

First of all it assumes that genetic mutations occur at a certain fairly predictable pace. Secondly, it assumes that certain DNA "spelling errors" will occur only once in history.

In general, I believe that our understanding of DNA is still in its early stages. Cases have been discovered where children did not have DNA matching their mothers' DNA. On the other hand, innocent people have been sent to prison based on false DNA matches.

It's seems questionable to me whether the new DNA studies actually reveal much more than the earlier physical anthropology,   anthropometry and craniometry did. There is probably something to it but it's far from infallible.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Our Passion for God


People don’t usually associate God with sex, and to some this might even seem blasphemous, however interestingly Judaism does make this connection.

The Song of Songs is a dialogue of passionate love between a man and a woman, which appears superficially to be entirely secular. God is unmentioned in it.

Nevertheless, in the Mishnah Tractate Yadaim 3:6, Rabbi Akiva states “all of the [inspired] writings are holy, however the Song of Songs is the holy of holies”. This is because, according to the Midrash, the Song of Songs is an allegory of the love between God and the Jewish people.

Therefore, according to Judaism, the love between God and man can be compared to the intense, passionate love between and a man and a woman. In fact, Maimonides in the Laws of Repentance 10:5 writes “What type of love should one have for God? One should love God with a tremendously powerful and fierce love, to the point of being constantly obsessed with it, like a man who is in love with a woman and thinks of her constantly, whether active, resting, eating or drinking. In fact, man’s love for God should be even greater than this as it is stated in Deut. 6:5 ‘with all ones heart and soul’ and as Solomon wrote in the Song of Songs 2:5 ‘I am sick with love’. The entire Song of Songs is an allegory for this.”

Based upon this concept, I think it becomes easier to understand why God has implanted in man a preoccupation with sex. In animals, the female goes into “heat” when she ovulates, the male and female copulate and it’s over. Purely practicle. Humans, on the contrary, are constantly active in this area. This is because the obsession with sex is actually an allegory for the obsession that we should have with the love of God. Just like a geography teacher will point to a globe and say, “This is a miniature model of the earth”, so God has given us sexual passion and, in the Song of Songs, He inspired Solomon to say “This is a miniature model of the love which should be between us.”

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The End of Hitchens



I just heard yesterday - Christopher Hitchens, outspoken advocate for atheism, is dying of cancer at the age of 61. Many years of smoking and drinking finally killed him.

How fitting that the man who poisoned millions of minds must now poison himself with chemotherapy.

So perish all Thine enemies, O LORD; but they that love Him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might. Judges 5:31.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Israeli Archeology - a Mess of Biblical Proportions?


[David - will the archaeologists get off his back?]

This month National Geographic magazine has published an interesting article about the heated disputes going on in Israeli archeology today.

In the beginning, there was William Albright and his pupil Yigael Yadin. Through the 1950s, 60s and 70s they defended the Bible as being basically historically accurate.

Next came Israel Finkelstein in the 1990's and 2000's. He regards the Bible as basically fictional.

Now a new generation of archaeologists are attacking him. People like Eilat Mazar, Thomas Levy and Yosef Garfinkel are claiming that significant parts of the Bible, regarding David and Solomon, are indeed historically accurate.

These discussions can be quite emotional. Finkelstein is described as "having a highly visceral manner—leaning his tall, bearded frame into a visitor's face, waving his large hands, modulating his baritone with Shakespearean agility." Likewise, when a passing tour guide contradicts her opinions, Mazar "jumps up from her bench and marches over to the tour guide. She chews him out in a staccato of Hebrew, while he stares passively at her. The gaping tourists watch her stalk off". Garfinkel says of Finkelstein's recent receipt of a four-million-dollar research grant, "He doesn't even use science—that's the irony. It's like giving Saddam Hussein the Nobel Peace Prize." Whatever.

Keep in mind as well that all archaeologists interpret their evidence with an atheistic bias, since that is the preferred religion of scientists.

The take home message for Orthodox Jews should be - ancient Palestinian archeology can prove anything or nothing. Very, very little has been preserved intact in Palestine over the past 3,000 years. Carbon 14 dating can be tricky, as this article mentions. Imaginary worlds are, in the minds of archaeologists, built and destroyed based on a few olive pits or a pottery fragment.

The fact is that because archaeology employs a wide range of different procedures, it can be considered to be both a science and a humanity. I would describe it as a "soft science" to the max.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Thank God for Trilobites



I bought this on the web for $30 and I keep it near my desk. It’s a rock that contains an imprint of an animal that lived in Utah about 500 million years ago. I think the symmetry and detail are beautiful.

Personally, this doesn’t disturb my faith in the truth of Genesis in any way, and in fact it increases my love for God and my appreciation of the glory of His creation. About 60% of the minerals on earth were created by life. Most of the oxygen in the atmosphere was created by living things. Most of our electricity is generated by coal, coal that was created by extinct plants. Our vehicles are powered by gasoline and our homes are heated by natural gas. These fuels were created by ancient marine life.

It would therefore seem to be clear that these earlier eras of life on earth were all part of God’s wonderful plan to prepare the earth for us. Thank God for the trilobites!

And actually, the sudden appearance of trilobites is one of the greatest proofs that evolution is false.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Evolution Undermined - Again


[the arsenic lake bacteria from California]

According to evolutionists, the evolutionary view of a single (and very ancient) origin of life is supported at the deepest level imaginable: the very nature of the DNA code in which the instructions of genes and chromosomes are written. In all living organisms, the instructions for reproducing and operating the individual is encoded in a chemical language with four letters -- A, C, T, and G, the initials of four chemicals. Combinations of three of these letters specify each of the amino acids that the cell uses in building proteins.

Biologically and chemically, there is no reason why this particular genetic code, rather than any of millions or billions of others, should exist, scientists assert. Yet every species on Earth carries a genetic code that is, for all intents and purposes, identical and universal. The only scientific explanation for this situation is that the genetic code was the result of a single historic accident. That is, this code was the one carried by the single ancestor of life and all of its descendants, including us.

Well, now we know that this isn't completely true. Certain bacteria have a different type of DNA using arsenic instead of phosphorus to connect the amino acids.

So while scientists are still holding on to the "DNA proves one universal common ancestor" claim, that idea is starting to look more shaky. There has now been discovered another significantly different type of DNA.

Of course, the entire argument to begin with is false in any case: "The only scientific explanation for this situation is that the genetic code was the result of a single historic accident." No accident created the enormous complexity and purposefulness of DNA, any more than monkeys typing at random could write Shakespeare. Actually, the only explanation for this situation is that the genetic code was the result of an act of divine creation.