Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Does Ezra = Jesus?


[Jesus walks on water as Peter approaches Matthew 14:29 - is the Torah more credible?]

This coming Saturday morning, Orthodox Jews will read in their synagogues the story of the Ten Commandments being revealed at Mount Sinai. This event was the most momentous in world history since it was the public revelation of God's identity and His instructions to mankind, known as the "Torah" or "instruction" in Hebrew.

What is dismaying is that atheists tend to dismiss the Torah by claiming it's just a bunch of nonsense, no different than the New Testament or the Koran.

In reality, however, there are clearly fundamental differences.

The author of the Koran, Muhammad, and the subject of the New Testament, Jesus, were both individuals who merely claimed that God spoke to them (or, in the case of Jesus, he may have claimed he was actually God). The Torah however was revealed to an audience of millions.

The atheist rebuttal is that the Torah is also in fact merely the fabrication of a single person, most probably Ezra.

The most plausible scenario according to atheists might be something like this:

A group of a few thousand Semitic slaves escaped from Egypt about 3,300 years ago under the leadership of an Egyptian nobleman named Moses. After they settled in the highlands of Palestine, these Israelites as they called themselves, began retelling and embellishing the story of their escape. [Which is in itself a little bizarre – wouldn’t escaped slaves rather not advertise that fact?] Numerous different versions arose. Other Canaanites joined the Israelite community. The community grew. Versions of the story became more and more fantastic. Moses became a great lawgiver and miracle worker. Ten Plagues struck the Egyptians. Ten Commandments were given at a mountain in Sinai. Finally Ezra the Scribe wrote the Torah based on these legends, which was then universally accepted by Jews (Nehemiah 8:1). Ezra had the power (Ezra 7:26) to punish all those who disagreed with him. The Samaritans as well, enemies of Jews (Ezra 4:1), for some reason also decided to accept the Pentateuch.

There are, however, a couple of problems with the "Ezra was our Jesus" theory:

First of all, it implies that the acceptance of the Torah was uniquely instantaneous and unanimous - there is no record of any dispute and struggle concerning it. Regarding Jesus, his fellow Jews killed him and to this day deny him. Only over centuries did European gentiles accept him. Regarding Muhammad, he was opposed by many Arabs and he won them over through armed conflict - jihad, an Islamic tradition unfortunately still practiced today. Joseph Smith as well, the founder of Mormonism, was murdered by his fellow Christians. Starting new religions tends to be a very high risk business. The new founder is of course an arch-heretic in eyes of the existing orthodoxy. Regarding Ezra presumably, other Jewish leaders, dispersed throughout the Persian empire, would have had their own texts and would have fought tooth and nail against Ezra's scroll for centuries, however history records nothing of the kind.

Secondly, Jews and Samaritans never credited Ezra with founding their religion. He is not credited with discovering any new text. In fact, I don't believe the Samaritans revere him in any way. A devout Christian could spend all day talking about Jesus, as a devout Muslim could about Muhammad. However the average devout Jew could probably tell you perhaps three sentences about Ezra.

Therefore, the atheistic theory of Judaism's origin is clearly incorrect and Ezra was nothing like Jesus or Muhammad, singlehandedly founding a new fake religion by mixing and modifying earlier traditions. Rather, the Torah clearly originated exactly as Jews have always claimed it did, as it's explained in this week's synagogue reading.

96 comments:

Brian Westley said...

What is dismaying is that atheists tend to dismiss the Torah by claiming it's just a bunch of nonsense, no different than the New Testament or the Koran.

Boo. Hoo.

jewish philosopher said...

Dangerous delusions are dismaying. Like people who believe that the World Trade Center was blown up by Jews.
 
http://www.honestmediatoday.com/truth_about_911.htm

Disputing such nonsense is tedious but important.

Anonymous said...

Scientistians say that for something to be accepted an a theory or explanation, it has to be falsifiable. The Miracles of the New Testimate were witnessed by someone else's ancestors. No way to say it didn't happen. Same thing with the Koran. The Revelation at Sinai was witnessed by the whole nation so it could have been easily falsified by someone asking why, if his Grandfather witnessed the revelaion, why didn't his
Grandfather tell him about it.

Michael said...

What a great blog!

power to your elbow!


regards

Michael

Mike said...

Josephus in "Against Apion" points out that, unlike the Greeks, Jews had a universally accepted set of scriptures; there were no varied, and conflicting primordial narratives as one might expect if these narratives gradually evolved from proto-myths.

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2849/2849-h/book1.htm

Check out paragraph 8.

NC said...

Anonymous:

1. The Kuzari argument has been debated ad nauseum (and thoroughly refuted IMHO) in previous posts and in comments. Why are you bringing it up again?

2. Falsifiability is no longer considered to be the "gold standard" in scientific theory.

jewish philosopher said...

Because it's so totally awesome. Really.

MC said...

NC,
Maybe you can offer a concise summary of the basis for the thorough refutation of the Kuzari argument. I'm not seeing what you're referring to.

Anonymous said...

NC:

Then why do I hear people saying that "G-d did it" is not an acceptable explanation for the universe, life, etc. because it isn't falsifiable?

NC said...

Anon: Lack of falsifiability may be a weakness in a theory but certainly does not disqualify it or render it false.

MC:
1. Formal refutation: The Kuzari argument is argument by special pleading. We have a generally accepted rule, that religious claims of supernatural phenomena are unreliable. The Jew would acknowledge that 99.999% of such claims are spurious. Yet the Kuzari claims that HIS claims are an exception to the rule, without providing proper substantiation or evidence that such an exception exists. An example of proper evidence would be ANOTHER case of a claim of mass revelation which turned out to be verified TRUE. Without such evidence, there is no justification to claim an exception.

2. Informal: People believe anything, as evidenced by all faiths and movements. Don't pretend to know what illiterate people 2500 years ago would or would not believe.

jewish philosopher said...

" We have a generally accepted rule, that religious claims of supernatural phenomena are unreliable."

According to you "supernatural" means any phenomena mentioned only in the Bible. Furthermore you for no reason claim that those events could not have happened. Therefore, you conclude the Bible is false. So in other words the Bible is false just because you say it is.

"People believe anything, as evidenced by all faiths and movements."

So anything anyone says cannot be trusted. I wonder therefore how you know the astronauts landed on the moon or that there were gas chambers in Auschwitz. After all, people believe anything.

Anonymous said...

The Kuzari is unique in that it was not only falsifiable, but it would have been falsified. People would have asked "If G-d spke to my Grandfather, why didn't my grandfather tell me?"

And the Jews had writing 2500 years ago.

And modern people will believe a universe can come out of nowhere, and fine tune itself to accomodate life. Modern people believe that small molecules could somehow get together and form life. The Sinai revelation is eay compared to this stuff.

jewish philosopher said...

I think the actual killer argument against the Torah is the fossils; therefore, since the Torah has been discredited how exactly it originated is irrelevant. 

I've dealt with this here.

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

NC said...

"And the Jews had writing 2500 years ago."

Generally only scribes were literate. Texts were sparse. And only they had access to writing instruments and media. That is why scribes existed.

" but it would have been falsified."

Why do you say this? How do you know what ancient people would falsify? Could they look something up on the internet?

"According to you "supernatural" means any phenomena mentioned only in the Bible."

Incorrect. Supernatural applies to any religions claims regarding special actions of gods, animals or people which are contrary to known biology and physics. There are thousands of such legends besides the bible.

jewish philosopher said...

We observe things happening right now contrary to known biology and physics.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitation#Anomalies_and_discrepancies

So the supernatural clearly does exist.

Brian Westley said...

We observe things happening right now contrary to known biology and physics.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitation#Anomalies_and_discrepancies

So the supernatural clearly does exist.


Uh, no. Your reasoning powers are nonexistent. The above is so ridiculous I'd accuse you of being a poe if you didn't have such a long crank pedigree.

The precession of Mercury was contrary to known physics. But it wasn't supernatural, and the cause is now known.

jewish philosopher said...

OK, so if "supernatural" does not mean "contradicting the known laws of nature" so what exactly does it mean? Anything contradicting the known laws of nature which you don't want to believe?

Anonymous said...

NC:

I know human nature. I know that if someone told me that I had to believe in the Torah as my nation authentic history because G-d revealed humself to my Grandfather, I would have asked "Why didn't muy Grandfather tell me? Why didn't a scribe write it down?" No need for the internet.

Anonymous said...

BW:

The rotation of the galaxies violates the known laws of physics. This is why cosmologists invented dark matter. And the increasing expansion rtae of the universe required the invention of dark energy.

jewish philosopher said...

I think among other logical fallacies which atheists make use of, a common one is "question begging": arguing for a conclusion that has already been assumed in the premise.

An atheist will say that anything indicating God exists is by definition supernatural. Supernatural things don't happen because there is no God. And we know there is no God because nothing supernatural has ever happened.

Shalmo said...

"Jews had a universally accepted set of scriptures; there were no varied, and conflicting primordial narratives as one might expect if these narratives gradually evolved from proto-myths."

Nonsense. We have plenty of records of disparities between Jews.

Compare the current Tanakh with the Sadduccee version which had no angels and which outright stated there was no resurrection to come. The Sadduccess believed angels and demons are polytheism infecting Judaism

And the Sadduccees controlled the temple giving them much more say over what jewish orthodoxy should be as opposed to pharisees and essenes who plagarized zorastrianism to create the concept of Olam Haba and the messiah

There was no such thing as a settled canonization of texts until 100 AD and even after then we see textual variants. The early Church supported its theology with a very different version of Genesis 22 that said Issaac was indeed killed by Abraham rather than saved by an angel

Shalmo said...

JP the mexicans, native americans and most hindus have narratives of monotheistic gods who reveal themselves through national revelations and give their nations specific sets of laws.

We've been over this. The Kuzari argument was made by rabbis in the 11th century who were clueless about comparative mythology.

There is nothing unique in the narrative of the 10 commendments aside from that the torah gives us 4 contradicting lists for it

Shalmo said...

And the other two abrahamic faiths also have mass revelations

In fact in the gospels Jesus did miracles among masses as well. Over 500 actually. His resurrection was witnessed by masses as well.

Islam says when its Imam Mehdi comes the head angel Jibrael shall speak to all mankind simultaneously letting them all know their messiah has come. hmmm. Doesn't the Kuzari interpret the Torah as saying no other religion will ever claim mass revelation?

Case in point!

jewish philosopher said...

I suppose anyone can claim a mass revelation. I can claim that last week God spoke to me in front 10 million people. I just don't have their phone numbers so you can't talk to them.

However, if you read my post, that's not my argument.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Stein,

Here's an invitation to one of your family memebers to escape your opression, (and we all know who that is) and who conceals their latent carnal instincts because they really like being rubbed the wrong way.

http://www.eshelonline.org/shabbaton

jewish philosopher said...

I appreciate your help, however I must condemn your bigotry. Where is the Weekend of Community, Learning and Ruach for Frum Childloving Jews?

As I have explained, psychiatrists have discovered that pedophiles are equally a beautiful sexual minority.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/11/stop-hatred-all-of-it.html

Stop the hatred.  

Anonymous said...

Mr. Stein,

Please don't insert pedophelia into my invitation, (although, what you've been lacking lately has been the possibility of a nice halachicaly countenanced insertion).
The invitation was for your wife.

jewish philosopher said...

I'm very sorry, but I really don't want to converse with a narrow minded bigot who is not including all sexual minorities.

This blog is a safe space for everyone. So tell me the truth - how long have you been supressing your desire for children? You can come out and proud right here, no judgements.

Joseph said...

The strongest form of the Documentary Hypothesis---that Ezra wrote the whole thing---can be easily shown to be wrong.

According to the standard view, one reason to be suspicious of the traditional dating is that some documents refer to events that happened after their supposed date. If we assume that such was a common practice (it is a plausible explanation for the second half of Isaiah), a lengthy document which included numerous prophecies that did not refer to a very important event was probably written before the event.

The Torah makes no mention of the Divided Monarchy. I think we can date it to the time of Solomon or before even using the Documentary Hypothesis style of reasoning.

It's interesting that the seams are most visible in Genesis---which was written down centuries after the events even according to the traditional account. (I can imagine Moses collecting the legends of the Israelites, hearing one person say Noah sent out a dove, hearing someone else say Noah sent out a raven, and writing down that Noah sent out both ... or maybe not.)

Another clue is that, if we rate the miracles in the Old Testament by unbelievability, the two most improbable miracles are the Flood and Joshua making the Sun stand still. Other miracles may have involved a temporary and local suspension of laws thought to be natural, but only the Flood and the Sun standing still would have left extensive evidence in non-Jewish traditions, evidence that doesn't seem to be there. By some coincidence, both of those events occurred long before they were written down, even according to the traditional account. If unbelievable miracles are the sign of delayed writing, clearly a lack of unbelievable miracles might mean the events were written down nearly immediately.

I suspect that the Documentary Hypothesis was an attempt by liberal Christians to pull the same stunt that seculars have been trying with the "Da Vinci Code" style of theorizing. They were better able to get away with it than the "Da Vinci Code" fans because there are more Christian scholars than Jewish scholars.

NC said...

Miriam Webster Defintion of "supernatural"
1: of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; especially : of or relating to God or a god, demigod, spirit, or devil
2a : departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature
b : attributed to an invisible agent (as a ghost or spirit)

OK. Back you my comment, I consider claims of supernatural powers or phenomena, as defined above, to be unreliable. 99.999% of such claims you agree are unreliable. No you claim special pleading, without providing the evidence.

Anonymous said...

According to the Hindu scriptures, all the people who witnessed the revelation dies shortly after. Nonone could ask why his Grandfather didn't tell him. And the miracles of the New Testimate where not witnessed by the whole nation. Which means that they were witnessed by someone else's grandparents. Not falsifiable.

jewish philosopher said...

I have dealt with the Documentary Hypothesis at some length here

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

I discuss the flood here

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/10/biblical-deluge.html

jewish philosopher said...

"99.999% of such claims you agree are unreliable."

When did I say that? I have no problem believing Jesus walked on water. Even if he did, it might make him a sorcerer not a God.

Check this out for example/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toledot_Yeshu

jewish philosopher said...

Basically, every claim must be examined on it's own merits, taking into consideration how extraordinary the claim is and how strong the evidence. This is how I have come to my conclusions about Judaism.

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

Anonymous said...

The Aztec National Revelation was recorded in the "Chronica Mexicayotl" which was written a century after the conquest, and was discovered two centuries later in an Italian library. I couldn't find any evidence that the Aztec ever saw it, let alone accepted it as their authentic history. Chronicles written closer to the Conquest do not mention any national revelation. This indicates that the Aztec never had a national revelation as part of their history.

Anonymous said...

The authors of this book:

http://www.whoreallywrotethebible.com/


neatly and effectively trash the documentary hypothesis using documentary hypothesis logic.

Shalmo said...

"According to the Hindu scriptures, all the people who witnessed the revelation dies shortly after. Nonone could ask why his Grandfather didn't tell him. And the miracles of the New Testimate where not witnessed by the whole nation. Which means that they were witnessed by someone else's grandparents. Not falsifiable."

Bullocks! You are distorting hinduism to save face. Almost all hindu gods, even monotheistic ones, reveal themselves through national revelation.

If they all died then why do followers of Shiva and the gang continue to exist today. Your grandfather nonsense can just as squarely be applied to Judaism.

And its interesting you brought the New Testament up, since by all accounts almost everything in the New Testament historically has more credibility than any book in the Old Testament. IF you are going to dismiss the miracles of Jesus, then why the special pleadings with the prophets of Israel? If you cannot believe Jesus raised people from the dead then why not the same for Elijah?

Anonymous said...

According to the Hindu scriptures, the gods revealed themselves to individuals. This is the way it happened with all religions except Judaism The one time when there was a national revelation, the people who witnessed it dies.

And Jesus resurecting Lazarus was not witnessed by the whole nation, just other people's grandparents.

Anonymous said...

The only reference I could find to a national revelation in the Hindu scriptures was inthe Maharabata when Krishna revealed himself to one the sides in a war. Everyone who saw Krishna was killed. Except for 4 survivors. The winesses to the revelation at Sinai survived to tell their children and write down so it could become the authentic history of the Nation. So easy to falsify.

Anonymous said...

Shalmo:

The Gospels contradict each other. This has been known to scholars for centuries. Mathew Mark and Luke are called the Synoptic Gospels because it is possible to reconcile the accounts. The gospel of John cannot be made to match the other three. So the New Testimate contradicts itself. This casts dob't on the accuracy of the New Testimate. And I seem to recall that the four Gospels all give different accounts of who found the tomb empty. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

NC said...

Anon-You are basically saying: mass revelation claims are different than other religious claims because fabricated mass revelations would have been falsified; therefore it is true.

This is mere conjecture, what would have/could have been falsified if it were fabricated. If you assert this, I again demand that you justify this special pleading by giving me one or more examples of mass revelation claims that turned out to be true. I will thus be able to know, by inference, that mass revelation claims are different than other religious claims, and are generally true.

Anything else is just baseless guessing.

" I have no problem believing Jesus walked on water. Even if he did, it might make him a sorcerer not a God."

I guess you really are gullible. Sorcerer?

jewish philosopher said...

You're simply close minded. You approach life with an attitude that anything accepted by most scientists is true, anything else is not, case close.

Anonymous said...

NC:

Mass revelation claims are different than other religious claims because they could, and would be falsified.

There have been no other true mass revelations besides Sinai, so there are no other examples. That's kinda the whole point of Sinai.

Now, if the opposite where true, that people would accept a mass revelation, then the founder of every religion would have claimed a mass revelation. That would strengthen their claims. The fact that they didn't means that it wouldn't have been accepted. Ergo, the claim of a mass revelation at Sinai wouild have been rejected if it wasn't true.So it must be true.

Now, can you give me examples of universes popoing into existance, or of inanimate matter turning into life and turing out to be true, so I can learn by inference that theses impossible claims are in fact possible, even though we know they are generally not true?

NC said...

"You're simply close minded."

This is a serious question, and I am willing to examine it.

I like to think of it rather than close minded, as that I made up my mind based on my knowledge and experience. In modern recorded history, every "supernatural" claim has been shown to be a hoax. It has nothing to do with accepting scientists as authorities. It is philosophy and induction. I simply refuse to believe that nature was that different 3000 years ago ago. Now, I understand that God, if he exists, could choose to turn his divine miracles on and off whenever he pleases, regardless of my opinion. However, since all reports that we have been able to check of such phenomena, including ghosts, spirits, miracles, dybbuks, etc have turned out to be fabrications (intentional or otherwise), I certainly am less inclined to believe what ancient man said, especially since he was so superstitious.

Furthermore, it is instructive that many millions of modern people continue to believe many things that are demonstrably false. It speaks to Anon's confidence about ancient man's skepticism and ability to falsify. If people continue to believe in Mormonism and Scientology, how can one make any claim at all about what people will or won't believe? Faith comes from an emotional and illogical (albeit rational) impulse, and is generally not vulnerable to "falsification". Do you think you could rationally debate Shalmo and talk him out of his Islam?

jewish philosopher said...

Instead of refusing to believe in that the Exodus and Mount Sinai revelations occurred, why not refuse to believe in the big bang, abiogenesis, punctuated equilibria, the Apollo moon landing or the 9/11 attacks, all of which were bizarre, unique, unprecedented and unrepeated.

Rather, you arbitrarily choose to reject any evidence of God because you don't like it. That's simply denial.

NC said...

"why not refuse to believe in the big bang, abiogenesis, punctuated equilibria, the Apollo moon landing or the 9/11 attacks, "...

The latter two were well documented by multiple independent sources. The former 3 don't really matter to me whether or not they are true and I don't live my life by them.

"Rather, you arbitrarily choose to reject any evidence of God because you don't like it. That's simply denial."

No, I don't reject evidence of God, I reject evidence of the biblical god as you describe him.

Anonymous said...

NC:

I would like to see one example of one species clearly, unambiguously evolving into another. Then I could tell by inference that evolution is possible?

jewish philosopher said...

So what I'm hearing from you nc is that you have no trouble believing in unique and amazing historic or prehistoric events. You have no trouble believing in phenomena which violates the known laws of nature. I assume that given some solid evidence you could accept the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence. However there is one and one thing only you will never accept: the existence of a supreme being who commands and inevitably rewards or punishes in this world or the afterlife.

How convenient. It's like I'll believe everything my doctor says except that tobacco and alcohol are unhealthy. What would we call that psychologically?

NC said...

If a relevant god appears on the scene and issues orders, I would accept him. Why should I believe in a psychopathic god described in the bible?

Until such time, I will reject "testimonies" or so-called "witnesses" of ancient, ignorant and superstitious men. You will find out when you die that there is nothing. Like before you were born. Black, painless, empty, nothing. Not even boring, because you won't have a sense of time to be bored, because you won't be. I have no fear of this. I am unabashedly a materialist.

Anon-- You're changing the subject. What does evolution have to do with the Kuzari argument?

Anyway, its in the fossils, abundantly. Go to the museum.

jewish philosopher said...

You know at you my last job, my manager kept telling me to arrive on time, work diligently, stop the long private phone calls, so I told him that I don't believe in a manager like him. It's just amazing how fast my income dropped to zero.

"You will find out when you die that there is nothing."

I'd like to see proof of that. Wishful thinking.

"I am unabashedly a materialist."

So how does free will exist?

NC said...

I explained to you why I think what I do, there's no need to debate in circles topics we've already covered.

"I'd like to see proof of that. Wishful thinking."

Do you need such proof regarding dogs, insects or monkeys?

Anonymous said...

NC:

I'm so jealosu of your faith. You know for sure that the Universe came from nothing, life came from non-life, five pounds of meat can make a mind, all because people with PhD's said so. I don't have enough faith to be an atheist. I'm too much of a realist.

jewish philosopher said...

I'm sorry nc, however the atheist belief that God is psychotic is merely something called "projection".

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

The God of the Bible is the kindest and most loving being imaginable, although sometimes tough love is the truest love.

Your only defense mechanism is to imagine God possesses all your own failings and to raise the standard of proof needed to believe in Torah to an impossibly high level. You have no real arguments.

NC said...

I'll ask again. Do you need proof that there is no afterlife or free will regarding dogs and cats? How do you know that well behaved dogs don't go to some cat-free, meat-rich heaven to spend the rest of eternity?

"The God of the Bible is the kindest and most loving being imaginable, although sometimes tough love is the truest love."

Tell that to the Nazi's victims or the victims of the tsunami. You don't know how ridiculous you sound when you call that "tough love". Is that supposed to convince anybody?

"You know for sure that the Universe came from nothing, life came from non-life, five pounds of meat can make a mind, all because people with PhD's said so."

False dichotomy. Are the only 2 options that and a psychopathic biblical god?

Part of growing up is learning that things aren't black and white. Pre-schoolers learn that. I can live with ambiguity and uncertainty. You and JP evidently have a problem with that.

jewish philosopher said...

The kindness of suffering I have already demonstrated here

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/08/kindness-of-suffering.html

While the holocaust is indeed a modern day miracle

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/06/holocaust-clear-evidence-of-gods-hand.html

The psychotics and psychopaths are the atheists themselves: stalin, Mao, Jeff dahmer, Jim jones, Reinhard Heydrich, the nauseating list goes on and on.

Animals don't have free will; neither do trees or hurricanes. If they did I suppose we would try them in court as humans are.     

Anonymous said...

NC:

The universe exists. That violates the laws of nature. To explain the existance of the universe, you need to go outside the laws of nature. Scientists did this when they came up with multiverse to explain the fine tuning of the universe. They say supernatural stuff is happening, just in other universes. The only alternative is to say we don't know. But you seem so sure about the revelation at Sinai not happening, and there being no afterlife. I wish I had your faith.

NC said...

"Animals don't have free will"

How do you know? Perhaps they don't make "moral" judgments the way we do (although there is some evidence that some higher apes have a moral sense) but maybe they have the same ability to do what they "want" and don't just react deterministically. Anybody who has had a dog knows that it has emotions, love, loyalty and decision making ability.

NC said...

"The kindness of suffering I have already demonstrated here"

The pscyhopaths act according to God's plan.

Really, I am not convinced by an argument that mass killing is actually loving kindness and mercy. I haven't heard such Newspeak since reading 1984.

"although sometimes tough love is the truest love."

So if your children REALLY misbehave, you will show them your love by killing them? I've heard some fathers who murdered their children actually make that argument, claiming they were relieving the children of suffering their mother.

jewish philosopher said...

Like most societies, the Torah does impose death penalties, however as in any civilized community those must be administered only with due process.

I can speak for myself having free will because I perceive that I do. Would you advocate prison time for a chimp who steals a banana, since he freely chose to commit a crime?

I'm sorry NC, however rather than saying something sensible, you justify your atheism the way all atheists do, by jumping behind one logical fallacy after another:

Appeals to authority
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_authority#Examples_of_appeals_to_authority

Arguments from incredulity
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_ignorance#Argument_from_incredulity_.2F_Lack_of_imagination

Question begging
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begging_the_question

Appeal to Ridicule
http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-to-ridicule.html

And truth is, after all is said and done, if I'm actually wrong, I have really lost nothing. I have lived overall probably a happier life than you have lived probably in a nicer community than yours and I will of course not suffer in the afterlife for denying Darwin. However, if I'm right and you're wrong, you will burn in hell forever while I will enjoy eternal paradise.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/06/jewish-heretics.html

Shalmo said...

Its interesting that Anonymous above dismisses the New Testament because of contradictions not realizing the Torah has far more contradictions

Did Moses really speak to god? Some parts of the Torah say he spoke with him face to face. But then Exodus says Moses could not speak to god face to face because seeing god would kill him so god had to cover his face with his hand.

Jesus did miracles among masses of people. Both the supposed cruxification and resurrection were witnessed by masses of people. Do those not count as mass revelations?

There are mass revelations of Mary all the time all over the world. Does that make catholicism true?

Shalmo said...

And Anonymous you are just flat out wrong, either by ignorances or deception about hinduism. Mass revelation is all over hinduism.

there is a lifetime of readin on hindu national revelations here: http://www.sanatansociety.org/indian_epics_and_stories.htm

NC said...

"if I'm actually wrong, I have really lost nothing."

If you are making Pascal's wager, then perhaps you should consider the possibility that you are wrong about Jesus. For if you don't accept him as your savior, you are damned.

Just as you are willing to take your chances on that, I am willing to take my chances with Torah.

"I will of course not suffer in the afterlife for denying Darwin."

So that's the criterion for not suffering in Hell? I haven't seen that anywhere in the Talmud.

My life is happy, thank you.

"The universe exists. That violates the laws of nature."

You lost me. How can existing violate nature, which by definition is about physical existence?

NC said...

"I can speak for myself having free will because I perceive that I do."

And because you are able to tell us. What about somebody or something that can't communicate with us? Just because a chimp can't tell us doesn't mean he doesn't have "free will". And species punish their own kind for violating their own rules.

jewish philosopher said...

Regarding the emotional benefits of monotheism, I think this article regarding a distinguished scientist and atheist is informative

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/01/chandra-good-atheist.html

Therefore, even if atheism is true I am actually losing nothing and gaining a great deal. Think of it as being similar to going to the gym daily and eating a healthy diet. Even if it won't guarantee longevity, you may still get hit tomorrow by a bus, it certainly won't do any harm.

I, and I think every sane person, knows that he has free will and our criminal justice system is based on this assumption. 

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/05/crime-and-punishment.html

However free will implies a God given soul, refuting atheism.

NC said...

"Therefore, even if atheism is true I am actually losing nothing and gaining a great deal."

As I said previously, I have no problem with that approach, with one caveat: that ones religious belief is not used as an excuse for aggression-- be it war, or infringing on somebody else's rights. Then its not harmless.

Regarding free will, lets try another angle.

You say that your certainty about free will comes from your own perception about yourself. Indeed, our sense of "self" seems to be uniquely human. By why does that feature of humans, prove God any more than any other unique feature of any animal? What about the emotions of a dog? Is that any more or less "god-like"?

jewish philosopher said...

If we indeed have free will, obviously that could not have evolved naturally from simple chemicals, disproving atheism.

If we do not, then our entire criminal justice system makes no sense, as I've explained.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/05/crime-and-punishment.html

jewish philosopher said...

And as far as aggression goes, it would appear that atheists are way, way ahead of Orthodox Jews on that one.

I won't bore you with a list of all the 20th century atheist mass murderers, not necessarily Communists either. The victims total in the tens of millions.

Number of 20th century Orthodox Jewish murder victims - maybe two or three.

Eclipse said...

"Regarding Jesus, his fellow Jews killed him..."

Well this shows you are ignorant about basic history. Jesus was killed by crucifixion, which was practiced only by those really killed him, the Romans.

Anonymous said...

Shalmo:

The ascension was not witnessed by anyone. The tomb was found empty after three days by the soldiers, according to Mathew, by his followers according to Mark, by Mary and Mary Magdallen, according to Luke, and by the Women, according to John. The othere miracles where not witnessed by the whole nation, but by othere
people's Grandparents.

jewish philosopher said...

According to the New Testament, the Jews demanded the Romans kill him, according to the Talmud, the Jews did it themselves. Same idea, anyway.

Anonymous said...

NC:

The Universe came from nothing, which is a violation of the first law of thermodynamics. Y'know, energy cannot be created or destroyed. And if you have a singularity like the primeval atom, you have an ifininte amount of gravity, as per the General Theory of Relativity. SO you need an infinite amount of energy to escape it. So no Big Bang.

Anonymous said...

Shalmo:

I scanned the site you posted, and I couldn't find any mention of a national revelation like Sinai. The closest thing I found was some of the Gods appearing as humans in their various incarnation. But not to the whole nation.

Anonymous said...

Energy exists in both positive and negative quantities. The net energy of the universe has been surmised to be zero, so there is actually no problem with any laws of thermodynamics. Of course, this area of physics is at the forefront of new exploration and discovery, and so it will definitely take time before firm conclusions can be reached. But it is always better to say "I don't know - yet!" then to substitute a foolish and presumptive answer instead.

http://www.astrosociety.org/pubs/mercury/31_02/nothing.html

jewish philosopher said...

So we don't exist?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 8:37

That cojecture is that since Omega is zero, that the expansion momentum and gravity are balance just so, that the net energy in the Universe is zero. But that is only right now. The dark energy use to be weaker, so the sum total was not zero. And it is getting stronger so it won't be zero much longer.

And even if the sum energy is zero, what caused to big bang? And how do you get around the problem of the singularity?

Anonymous said...

accrdding to the articel you linked, this concept is based on inflation. Stephen Hawking sauys inflation didn't happen. The right kind or particle that can make the infaltionary scenario work hasn't been found. Big problem.
And the article itslef says that inflation happened after the Big Bang. So it untimately doesn't explain the Big Bang itself.

Eclipse said...

"According to the New Testament, the Jews demanded the Romans kill him, according to the Talmud, the Jews did it themselves. Same idea, anyway."

The New Testament was written by people who wanted to appease the Romans and therefore could not afford to make the Roman authorities look bad. The historical reality is that Pilate was a brutal man who would never have needed any urging from the people over whom he ruled to put someone to death.

You are repeating a vicious lie that has been used against Jews for centuries. Where in the Talmud does it say the Jews did it themselves, and for what? By that time, they no longer had the power to inflict the death penalty, not to mention that there were many itinerant preachers at the time who claimed to be the messiah, and that alone would not be grounds for putting someone to death. Plus, Jewish law prohibited holding court or executions on Passover. So your data is wrong on all sides.

jewish philosopher said...

" Where in the Talmud does it say the Jews did it themselves, and for what? "

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_in_the_Talmud#Execution

NC said...

Anon/Nathan-

"And the article itslef says that inflation happened after the Big Bang. So it untimately doesn't explain the Big Bang itself."

So with that one sentence you demonstrated how science disproves itself. It discovered the big bang (which in retrospect creationists claim proves the bible and god), and also discovered how it couldn't have happened. Gee, why didn't those dumb scientists think of that?

jewish philosopher said...

It can happen once you believe in God.

Mike said...

Shalmo,

"There was no such thing as a settled canonization of texts until 100 AD and even after then we see textual variants."

Josephus, who died around 100 AD disagrees with you Shalmo. Of course he doesn't HAVE to be right, but he was aware of the Sadduccees as well.

I think you're claim to greater knowledge than Josephus of the historical reality of Jews and Judaism rings a bit hollow. "Universal" in this sense does not have to meen 100% agreement on everything. An overwhelming agreement on what constitutes canon is sufficient.

jewish philosopher said...

I think Shalmo is a Muslim, and in Islam the doctrine of Taḥrīf or "distortion, corruption, alteration" of all Biblical books, Jewish and Christian, is very important.

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

Anonymous said...

NC:

That's the point I've been making for the longest time. The empirical evidence leads us to a creation and a Creator. Any other explanation gets us into trouble with the facts or the logic, or the laws of nature.

Neptune said...

"While the holocaust is indeed a modern day miracle."

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/06/holocaust-clear-evidence-of-gods-hand.html

This has got to be the most disgusting comment of all your years of blogging. The holocaust is a miracle? Tell that to my great grandparents, great aunts, and great uncles who were murdered in what was undoubtedly one of the most horrifying evils to ever grace this planet. If the holocaust is a miracle, your god is a seriously abusive parent. I'd love to see you approach a holocaust survivor, say this to their face, then wait for their reaction. It won't be pretty.

jewish philosopher said...

That's probably why he deserved in that case. You've proven my point.

The Jewish Enlightenment began in Berlin in 1783 with the publication of a translation of the Pentateuch into German by Moses Mendelssohn. From there it spread across Europe, particularly Eastern Europe, causing the most flagrant, voluntary abandonment of Jewish observance in history. Millions of Jews embraced secular Zionism, Communism and Socialism.

As the Torah predicts, devastation followed. Beginning in Berlin, spreading across Europe but primarily eastward, the war against the Jews spread, just as the Jews’ war against God had spread.

One rabbi, who was later murdered, commented “Because people no longer believe in hell, God brought hell to this world.”

Neptune said...

So God and Hitler were partners in crime? Please, share this insight with Elie Wiesel and as many holocaust survivors as you can find.

The murderers made no distinction between Orthodox Jews, secular Zionists, Communists, even converts to Catholicism

How any deity who isn't either evil or psychotic torture and murder innocent people in 1939 for something done in 1783 by people long gone?

jewish philosopher said...

It's a bit of a win-win situation for atheists, isn't it? If people sin and suffer no consequences in this world, then that proves there is no God. If people sin and do suffer consequences in this world, then there is also no God, because it would mean that God is "psychotic" which cannot be true.

jewish philosopher said...

Here I discuss suffering in general

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/08/kindness-of-suffering.html

Bob said...

I still think NC bests you when discussing evolution, but you defeat him in these basic theologic arguments.

Anonymous said...

But NC usually winds up saying that we have to accept wht the scientists say without question. This is known as the logical fallacy of appeal to authority.

MC said...

NC said ...
"If you assert this, I again demand that you justify this special pleading by giving me one or more examples of mass revelation claims that turned out to be true. I will thus be able to know, by inference, that mass revelation claims are different than other religious claims, and are generally true."

I think that there is no need to invoke a requirement for other religious "mass revelation" claims. It is sufficient to look at historical examples of facts that are accepted as such, because they were claimed to be witnessed by an entire nation. One can ask: is it reasonable to assume that any of these cases, in which nationally witnessed events occur, are most likely to be a by-product of fabrication? E.g. is it at all possible to assert that, for instance, the American Civil War most likely did not happen, and that what's written in the textbooks, including the social and legal repercussions of the Civil War, are all erroneous, or a by-product of a massive lie?

You would counter that we should hold religious claims to different standards of evidence, but that merely reflects bias on your part. An unbiased observer, when considering, for instance, tails of Jesus walking on water, would not be convinced that such a tail is true based primarily based on the absence of compelling evidence. The small number of witnesses renders the historicity of such a claim as no more than speculative at best, and no stronger than the opposite assumption, namely that the event never happened.

NC said...

MC, you are confusing the Kuzari argument with rules of evidence.

The number of claimed witnesses has nothing to do with the validity of the claim, since it is only the bible itself the reports the number of witnesses present, without records of the witnesses themselves. There are no independent witness reportings where we can say, X people witnessed Jesus, Y people witnessed Sinai. It is only the bible itself that claims x or y people were present.

The American civil war is believed not just because of tradition, but because of multiple, independent and corroborated sources verify that it happened. There may be a few families around who have specific traditions in their lineage, but for most of us, its just history in textbooks.

The real point about revelation is that people LATER than the actual purported event came to believe it (since we don't actually know what early people believed), and that is the crux of the Kuzari argument: how could these people have come to believe a fabrication, without having a tradition.

So my demand remains valid. If you claim that, unlike other all other religions whose claims and traditions are all fabricated yet believed, our tradition is true because it is believed. The only difference in the claim is the tradition of mass revelation, which, because of special pleading, cannot be used to prove its own truth. That is, UNLESS you show me that traditions of mass revelations CANNOT BE FABRICATED. The only way to do that, would be to provide other examples.

Regarding accusation of bias, the Kuzari argument is the most biased of all, because in essence it claims that only Jews would not be stupid enough to believe a false claim, whereas the remaining population of the earth consists of idiots who will believe any stupid story somebody tells them.

jewish philosopher said...

"There are no independent witness reportings where we can say, X people witnessed Jesus, Y people witnessed Sinai."

This post explains the fundamental difference between Christianity and Judaism.

Anonymous said...

NC:

The point of the Kuzari arguement has nothing to do with Jews being smarter. The point is that no one, Jew or Gentile would believe in something so esy to falisfy.

Brian Westley said...

OK, so if "supernatural" does not mean "contradicting the known laws of nature" so what exactly does it mean?

Using your bizarre definition, as I already pointed out, would make Mercury's precession "supernatural." It wasn't, and isn't. Newton's laws, while very close, were wrong. It had nothing to do with anything supernatural.

Sane people realize that science and scientists aren't infallible, and that scientific theories are always incomplete and even sometimes wrong, and that observations and testimony (particularly of fantastic things) aren't always credible.

jewish philosopher said...

"Sane people realize that science and scientists aren't infallible, and that scientific theories are always incomplete and even sometimes wrong,"

I'm fine with that.