Sunday, January 30, 2011

Rebellion in the Classroom


[a book that poisoned millions]

A recent survey has indicated that the majority of public high school biology teachers are not strong classroom advocates of evolutionary biology, despite 40 years of court cases that have ruled teaching creationism or intelligent design violates the Constitution, according to Penn State political scientists.

How remarkable that so many people have not yet lost their minds.

Evolutionists are outraged that these teachers are hindering "scientific literacy" (meaning the spread of atheism) in the United States.

What's interesting to me is how scientific progress seems to have slowed almost to a halt since since evolution was first widely taught in American public schools in the 1960s.

Between 1910 and 1960, the United States progressed from what would now be considered a primitive, agricultural way of life, with horse drawn wagons and outhouses, to the age of automobiles, televisions and passenger jets. Life expectancy increased from 50 to 67 years (25%). From 1960 to 2010, the only major changes are that land line telephones have been replaced by cell phones and television has been replaced by the Internet. Life expectancy has increased from 67 to 75 years (10%). Much of our (now crumbling) infrastructure has been in place since the 1960's, if not far earlier. The US manned spaced program, once the pride of American science, is now dead.

Can it be that indoctrinating children into believing that they are monkeys (naked apes), rather than sparking scientific genius, has had the opposite effect, convincing them to simply "turn on, tune in, drop out" (Timothy Leary 1966)?

65 comments:

NC said...

1. I don't know about too many American high school youths going around thinking they're monkeys...its a bit of hyperbole, wouldn't you say?

2. More importantly, what's the connection? You like draw lots of non-existent connections between things.

3. Crumbling infrastructure is due to political problems, not evolution.

jewish philosopher said...

I'm not making the connection, the American Institute of Biological Sciences apparently did when they introduced evolution into public school classrooms with the belief that this was imperative to advancing American science. Did it work? You tell me. Yet evolutionists continue to repeat this nonsensical claim today.

Anonymous said...

NC:

Evolutionary psychologists teach that all human behavior can be explained in evolutionary terms, and that humans are no different qualitativley than apes. So that means that have no free will. The next inevitable step is that we can't control our behaviors.

NC said...

" and that humans are no different qualitativley than apes. "

I suppose that depends on what you mean by "different". If you mean, "made up of the same biological material, and subject to parallel drives and learned behaviors", then perhaps they are not that different. Physically many of our structures are almost identical.

On the other hand, human brains have a much larger cortex, giving us much higher intelligence, speech and many other capabilities.

So what's wrong with that? I don't get your complaint, Anon. Slippery slope is not a scientific argument.

And, animals are subject to punishment, too, just not by humans. In their own natural habitats many social pack animals are punished for breaking the rules. They then learn to obey them. Call this free will if you want.

Does JP show any higher level of "free will"? He only obeys because of his community and because of his fear of suffering in hot excrement in the afterlife. Not that I'm knocking obedience, and just saying its not that different than many animals, who exhibit behaviors that appear to us to be "moral".

Your confused because you don't really have a definition of "free will" that can't be applied to some animals as well.

jewish philosopher said...

If there is no free will, then no punishment is ever warranted. Would you punish a volcano that killed 20 people? So why kill a man who killed 20 people?

Although animals may practice retaliatory aggression

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v373/n6511/abs/373209a0.html

they practice cannibalism as well

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/sharkland/animal-cannibalism/1946/

That doesn't make it a positive thing.

Anonymous said...

NC:

Even social animals fight over mates and for dominance in the group.

And evolutionary psychologists use evolutionary arguements to explain all kinds of anti-social behavior. If people commit rape, murder, or go to war, its becuase itis in our genes. We are at the bottom of the slope already, according to them.

NC said...

So what all of you are saying is:

Man, in an attempt to have a more orderly and liveable society, punishes people who violate societal rules. We don't punish other species because they are not part of our society and it is pointless. (although the torah does "punish" some dangerous animals)

What's so mysterious about that? Is that supposed to prove that there is free will, god, soul?

JP and Anon, I think that when otherwise unexplained suffering or disaster strikes, you two find comfort in either blaming the victim (for his sins) or by reframing suffering as loving kindness. You thus relieve your own anxieties about the obvious unpredictability of this world.

I have no need for such childish mental gymnastics. Shit happens. Some people are bad, some are good, most are in between. Societies condense around common cultures and rules to make life better for everyone. This includes law enforcement. If you want to enshrine the concept of "free will", fine, but because you imagine you know that it exists and what it is, you can't use it to prove anything beyond yourselves.

jewish philosopher said...

I argue in favor of free will because it's something which I experience. I don't feel like a robot typing this right now because like some sort of teletype machine I just have to type it automatically.

I would add additionally however that if indeed people are merely teletype machines, then condemning killers and other criminals would be as nonsensical as condemning a volcano or lightening bolt. He just did what nature made him do, no more or less.

Sane people do not think like that, regardless of what atheists may say. In fact, it's so crazy, even atheists don't really think like that.

NC said...

JP, the flaws in your arguments are glaring.

1. Your "experience" of free will is of no significance regarding reality. What is important is behavior, which is the only thing that is observable. You "experience" sadness or anger. Does that make "sadness" or "anger" something that independently exist, beyond your emotions?

2. I already explained why we hold people accountable and punish them: to control behavior. It works with animals and it works with humans. It doesn't work with volcanoes.

ksil said...

i think they should teach about jesus in public schools.

if they really cared about the children of America they would try to save them and secure a place in the afterlife for them

NC said...

I'll give you a lesson on what "sane" people think.

L Ron Hubbard in 1952 invented the religion of Scientology. Since then, an estimated 50-100,000 people (probably mostly sane) around the world have come to believe in an idiotic, fabricated story about Xenu and Thetans. The religion is, in essence, a giant fraudulent money making pyramid scheme, recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt religious organisation.

Now, please tell me how in the age of internet, printing presses, air transport and telephones, how people could have come to believe this ridiculous story? But its a fact, they have.

So how can the Kuzari come along, and claim that Jews, living 2500 years ago, without modern technology, couldn't have believed Ezra or whomever else came along and told them that generations ago there was a mass revelation, if it weren't true? He presents them with the scrolls. If they would ask, "how come are fathers didn't know about this event?", he would say, "they forgot!". And that would be it. Those who believed him, came to be known as "Jews". And those who didn't remained Pagans or whatever.

Is that so incredible, given what you know about human nature from the Scientologists and the Mormons?

jewish philosopher said...

"Your "experience" of free will is of no significance regarding reality."

That's just silly. Feelings are very significant. If you are ever examined by a physician, and you are conscious, typically the first question is "How do you feel?" 

I think in this post I explained the fundamental difference between Judaism and other religions.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2011/01/does-ezra-jesus.html

Just ignoring the facts changes nothing.

"I already explained why we hold people accountable and punish them: to control behavior. It works with animals and it works with humans. It doesn't work with volcanoes."

It actually doesn't work too well.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recidivism#Recidivism_rates

Besides that people are punished because to allow crime to go unpunished would be unjust. Adolph Eichmann was a peaceful civilian when was he was hanged; many criminals are punished for murders committed decades ago and have since lived completely normal lives.

"And those who didn't remained Pagans or whatever. "

Any indication that those Jews existed? Where did the go?
  

NC said...

" Adolph Eichmann was a peaceful civilian when was he was hanged; "

That's called "vengeance". A very human and animal emotion.

jewish philosopher said...

Divine also

The LORD is a jealous and avenging God, the LORD avengeth and is full of wrath; the LORD taketh vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserveth wrath for His enemies. (Nahum 1:2)

But according to atheism entirely irrational. Since everything is nature, the Holocaust or any crime is no more or less than a natural disaster. We don't drop bombs on a dormant volcanos in vengeance, do we..

Mike said...

""Your "experience" of free will is of no significance regarding reality."

That's just silly. Feelings are very significant. If you are ever examined by a physician, and you are conscious, typically the first question is "How do you feel?" "

This round goes to JP. The burden of proof is on NC to demonstrate that the universal, and intuitive perspective of human beings that they have free will is merely apparent and not real. Let's move on.

MC said...

"Now, please tell me how in the age of internet, printing presses, air transport and telephones, how people could have come to believe this ridiculous story?"

Easy. This story occurs in pre-history (75 million years ago), and is completely beyond or ability to confirm OR REFUTE. If a person is looking for a feel good spiritual experience, and finds it with Scientology, they figure--hey it's no different than blind faith in any other religion.

The collective national experience of the exodus, including, but not limited to the revelation, includes a detailed account of a 40 year sojourn, in which all members of a given nation were participants. A detailed set of laws is purported to be traced back to that event, with many reminders of that event incorporated into the legal system. It's harder to believe that a tradition regarding this would simply disappear, until Ezra reintroduced it, and the absence of such a tradition would beg an explanation.

It also raises the question of why comparable religious claims don't appear to be prevalent, if people are gullible enough to believe fictitious events that are purported to occur to entire nations. The answer is that you're chances of successfully attracting adherents are much higher if your religious claims are totally immune to falsification. People then feel free to believe if the belief system is sufficiently affirming of their own psychological needs.

Had L. Ron Hubbard attempted to establish scientology, based on a claim that during the time of the revolutionary war, the entire country experienced a national revelation of the tenets of scientology, and actively followed laws derived from a primordial scientology text for a couple of decades, before abandoning their observance, no one (excluding psychotics) would have believed him. All the more so, if a reintroduction of these laws entailed many strictures, both in public and private life.

Anonymous said...

NC:

My point was not to deminstrtae the existance of free will, but to demoinstrate that teachinbg evolution can undermine morality because it teaches that all humnan behavior is wired into our genes by evolution and natural selection. Ther is no point in trying to be moral because we just can't help it. Clarence Daroow used this arguement to defend Leopold and Loeb from a murder charge.

Joseph said...

One problem with either genetic or environmental determinism is that genes and environment do not suffice to explain human behavior. There's something else.

NC said...

Nathan-- This is the classical philosophical debate about materialism so we won't resolve it here in our little amateur debate. But your conclusion that "Ther is no point in trying to be moral because we just can't help it" does not follow. It is also not borne out be fact-- there are secular societies that value morality, and it has nothing to do with god.

MC--I have no illusions as to what people will or won't believe. Given the extensive world history of religions, cults, and other schemes, its pretty clear that you can get people to believe anything given the right leader and set of circumstances. So any assertion that says, "people wouldn't believe X" simply rings false and is without any real evidential basis. All of your responses keep on making the same claim-- this or that case is different, and that's why X is believed and Y would not be. But the fact is that ALL cults and religions are different from each other and yet they exist. So I simply fail to see why YOUR distinction should make the difference. Its a classic special pleading fallacy.

Anonymous said...

NC:

I'm not tlaking about philosophy. I'm talking about the possible consequences of teaching evolution. If we are just the products of our genes, we can't help but do bad things.

And lots of people living in secular societies are religious. And lots of non-religious people had learned morality from religious parents. And lots of atheists are moral parasites, they borrwo morality from their religious neighbors. But all that is really a side point. The point is the

Anonymous said...

Who said we "are just the product of our genes"?
Society and our conscience also control us.

Anonymous said...

But our conscience is just the prioduct of our genes if we just evolved from apes. And our social behavior is just the product of our genes. Anyway, I'm just saying what the evolutionaty psychologists say.

ksil said...

"if we just evolved from apes"

thats different than "common ancestry" - which is a scientific fact (not an "if") FYI

Shalmo said...

JP I have asked you before why God won't send us prophets anymore. Care to answer this time?

In the time of Elijah YHWH was willing to send fireballs from heaven to convince the people where the truth lies, so why not today?

If I saw a prophet doing miracles like Moses I would believe him in a heart beat. Why does your god refuse to act? Especially since all over the Tanakh he sends his prophets miracles to serve as proof for the people.

NC said...

Consider the fact that many human rights groups and leftist social causes, are in fact made up of secular, often atheist members. I don't think you'll find to0 many bible thumpers in Human Rights Watch, for example.

I'm not saying I agree with these causes. But the idea that there would be no morality or justice simply because of what evolutionary psychologists say, is just plain silly and illogical.

JP regarding your comments in the post about scientific progress: There was indeed a "spasm" of progress following the industrial revolution, in terms of lifestyle. But I don't know what a proper objective measure of scientific "progress" would be. Certainly you can't expect improvement in human lifespan to be linear. And I'm hard pressed to comprehend the connection between cutting NASA budgets and teaching evolution in schools...

Personally I think that its important to expose school children to evolutionary theory, but I'm not against teaching religion either. If its really important to a particular person, he can pursue studies in either direction later on.

jewish philosopher said...

"JP I have asked you before why God won't send us prophets anymore. Care to answer this time?"

God speaks to people who are truly interested in listening. He is not wasting time with wicked and cynical people.

"If I saw a prophet doing miracles like Moses I would believe him in a heart beat."

Or you would say it's a hoax.

"Consider the fact that many human rights groups and leftist social causes, are in fact made up of secular, often atheist members."

Commonly atheists feel guilty about the cruelty they practice in their own lives, so therefore they console themselves a little by publicly supporting the weaker side in any major conflict (Palestinians, blacks, Hispanics, whales, etc).

John Lennon is the classic example. Cruel to is first wife and son

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynthia_Powell#Divorce

he then became a became a peace activist

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Lennon#Anti-war_and_civil_rights_activities

"I'm hard pressed to comprehend the connection between cutting NASA budgets and teaching evolution in schools..."

The point is that teaching evolution, rather than turning the US into a scientific powerhouse, seems to actually have been followed by stagnation or regression. Maybe there is a connection.

Anonymous said...

NC:

Evoltionary psychologist claim that all behavior can be explained in evolutionary terms. The behavior of chimps can be explained in evolutionary terms. And we are no different than chimps, according to evolutionists. The social behavior of chimps is explained in evolutionary terms. Same thing with humans. And the brutality and cannibalism that chimps practise, is explained in evolutionary terms. Same thing with humans killing, raping, etc. Its in our genes. If you are an evolutionist, what other explanation for behavior can there possibly be? And once you say that rape is hardwired into our genes, what point is there in telling people not to rape? They can't help it.

Now, people who question evolution say that G-d gave everyone a soul and a moral sense. This is why atheists can have morals. Or some atheists internalized the moral their religious parents taught them. Some atheists are moral parasites, who borrowed their morality from their religious neighbors. And some people, like the some of the civil rights acivists, aren't really moral at all, they just claim to be, like Stalin, Mao, etc. whom many of these people admire.

MC said...

NC:

"All of your responses keep on making the same claim-- this or that case is different, and that's why X is believed and Y would not be."

The example you cited, and the example critics of this argument tend to cite, typically involve a single problem (there are others, but this is the most prominent): they involve claims--that they imagine to be comparable to the Exodus--that are inherently immune to falsification.

Events that occur to isolated individuals (Buddha, Mohammed), or even anonymous groups of individuals (Jesus feeding the 5000) cannot be conclusively disproven. Thus people who are inclined to believe will believe based on blind faith.

The Sinai revelation, exodus, etc. is a claim that would not have been immune to falsification by ancient Israelites. The foundational experience of an entire nation, occurring over a set of decades, resulting in a comprehensive set of laws, is unlikely to disappear completely, without a trace, only to be later reintroduced by charismatic personalities. The claim made by an Ezra figure could have been tested against common knowledge, and hence falsified.

Of course we disagree on the extent of human credulity. You believe that human beings, given the right circumstances, will believe absolutely anything. I disagree with this premise, particularly when the consequences of that belief entail regular self-sacrifice.

If the world was filled with mutually contradictory national revelation narratives, involving

NC said...

" And once you say that rape is hardwired into our genes, what point is there in telling people not to rape? "

Nathan
"Now, people who question evolution say that G-d gave everyone a soul and a moral sense."

You answered your own question. We have a moral sense. Plus societal benefits and mutual good. I don't know about the soul or god part, that doesn't follow logically.

MC
"The Sinai revelation, exodus, etc. is a claim that would not have been immune to falsification by ancient Israelites."

Incorrect. That is your error. In the pre-modern era historical falsification was difficult or impossible. There would be no documentation or personal memories for events from 1000 years prior. There were ancient skeptics, however: the non-Hebrews. Think about it. The surrounding peoples, when told by the Hebrews of their Abrahamic and single god who gave them revelation--what would have been their response? "Bullshit". "You guys are making that crap up" "We prefer our own BS story". etc.

Another logical error that you make is about disproving something. Just as it is not possible to prove that something does NOT exist (like god or the FSM) it is not possible to 100% prove that something did NOT happen. Ancient man did not busy himself with disproving things.

" is unlikely to disappear completely, without a trace, only to be later reintroduced by charismatic personalities."

You're quite wrong about that, too. The bible itself describes this process. It doesn't have to be "without a trace". In Yehoshua, Shoftim, and in the time of Ezra people seem to have forgotten their supposed traditions. Just read the texts. Such basic things as sacrifices, passover and rosh hashana were "forgotten". (From my historical perspective, they weren't actually forgotten, they werent there in the first place, and they were innovated at that time.)

" I disagree with this premise, particularly when the consequences of that belief entail regular self-sacrifice."

I remind you of the numerous fraudulent religious cults that require far more sacrifice than Judaism.

NC said...

"God speaks to people who are truly interested in listening. He is not wasting time with wicked and cynical people."

How convenient...What, he's got limited time and effort so he can't "waste" it?

jewish philosopher said...

Let's say that for God to speak to people and for people to respond with "F--- you" would be beneath His dignity.

Why doesn't the President of the United States, instead of sitting in his office signing laws and making speeches, personally go out and tell homeless to people on the sidewalk to stop shooting heroin and get a job?

An audience with the President is quite a big deal, generally reserved for dignitaries not every bum. God is even a little more important.

NC said...

God wasn't listened to in the biblical times, either, and that didn't stop him from talking. He was "disgraced" by your standards. So why the silence now?

jewish philosopher said...

They were listening a lot more. And God is very patient, merciful and forgiving. But eventually, enough is enough. I like to think of it as tough love.

Anonymous said...

NC:

SO where did the moral sense come from? If it evolved then why is it better than any other evolved behavior? Why is it better than rape, which also evolved?

And the revelation at Sinai certainlay was falsifiable. Anyone listening to someone trying to convoince them tht G-d spoke to their Grandparents would ask, "Then why didn't muy Grnafather tell me?"

And in the book of Nehemia, it does seem to say that the people forgot about succos. But they clearly remembered the Torah. They only, at the most, forgot one mitzva. But the same posuk says that the Kohanim and Leviim where instruting the people, so there was a core of scholars who did not forget.

NC said...

" "Then why didn't muy Grnafather tell me?"

Answer:"Because they forgot"

That is the exact same answer you tell an assimilated Jew who has no family tradition, when he asks, "why didn't my father tell me this?"

"Kohanim and Leviim where instruting the people,"

At Ezra and Nehemia's intructions.

It would be interesting to understand how they could have forgotten a major feast, Succot in only 70 years of galut.

Perhaps because they hadn't been celebrating in hundreds of years, or perhaps not at all?

SJ said...

>> The US manned spaced program, once the pride of American science, is now dead.

China invests to cultivate its young and the USA invests to cultivate its old.

The space program is one of those things that should be given a blank check.

Avi Bitterman said...

"From 1960 to 2010, the only major changes are that land line telephones have been replaced by cell phones and television has been replaced by the Internet."

You mean aside from the fact that we can now grow certain human organs and use them to replace defective ones, and all without immunosuppressants?

Anonymous said...

NC:

Did everybodies Grandfather forget? And why didn't they write such an important event down?

The posuk in Nehemia talks about Kohanim and Leviim who explained the Torah to the people. So there obviously a core of people who knew the Torah. And the people asked Nehemia to teach them, so hey knew what the torah was. And it is possible that the people didn't actually forget. They knew about Succos, but theylost track of the date.

And I would tell an assimilated Jew that there exists a record of the revelation in the Torah. Someone did write it down.

jewish philosopher said...

"You mean aside from the fact that we can now grow certain human organs and use them to replace defective ones, and all without immunosuppressants?"

I don't see much actual progress.

Life expectancy is increasing more slowly than previously, and may be starting to decline.

http://longevity.about.com/b/2011/01/26/cdc-reports-decline-in-life-expectancy.htm

NC said...

"Did everybodies Grandfather forget? And why didn't they write such an important event down?"

Your question is that of a western skeptic--you'll only believe something until conclusively proven true by evidence.

Obviously ancient peoples did not think like you. If they did there would be no religion at all in the world.

The history of religion is replete with examples of people being presented with "books", by charismatic, manipulative or authoritative characters, who then accept their claims. I think Ezra and Muhammed are such examples.

What's your problem with forgetting? Do you know much about your own ancestors beyond 2-3 generations ago? How much was written down?

Kal Vachomer 2500-3000 years ago. You didn't demand documentation, because for most things it didn't exist.

NC said...

NC, I get the feeling that for some reason you think that ancient Jews were skeptical, evidence-based rationalists, while everybody else was superstitious, gullible and subject to manipulation. I see no objective reason to believe this is true. If so, there is every reason to believe that ancient Hebrews could believe a myth just as easily as anybody else.

NC said...

I think this is an interesting assumption Nathan and JP are making, in asserting that Jews wouldn't believe a mass revelation claim unless it were true.

The two of them are highly skeptical, rational, review all of the scientific and historical evidence and come to their conclusions. And based on their considered reasoning, they reject the truth of evolution and all world religions, except Judaism.

They assume that ancient Hebrews were the same. They were presented with the Hebrew Bible, and after considering all of the evidence pro and con and the alternatives, accepted the Hebrew Bible and rejected other religions. Had the claims of their religion not been in line with the evidence they would have rejected it.

But not the remaining 99.9% of the world's ancient people. They accepted every illogical and fraudulent claim, ignored the evidence, and were willing to accept whatever some fraud spoon fed them.

Anonymous said...

I see no reason to believe that ancient people where more gullible than modern people. Many people believe in ghosts, or UFO's. But I don't think that anyone would accept the claim that there was a revelation that the whole nation saw, but nobody remembers, or wrote down. Noboduy claims that there was a national revelation of ghosts, because everyone know that no-one would believe it.

Anonymous said...

People have a need to believe in something beyond the merely physical. This is why people are receptive to religious claims. But people, even people in ancient times have always been aware of something called reality. The reality is that if the entire nation experienced a revelation, then it is inconceivable that everyone would forget it, and not write it down. SO nobody would accept a claim G-d appeared to their grandparents, but nobody remembers but the person who made the claim.

Anonymous said...

THe Jewish people accepted Avodah Zara sometimes, also. That is becuase it served a purpose, and was not falsifiable. They were less credulous than other people. It's just that no one would believe that a major event like
G-d appearing to the whole nation, and nobody remembering it, or writing it down, just isn't going to happen.

NC said...

Nathan:

I don't mean gullible or stupid. But definitely less informed, more superstitious, and more inclined to accept fantastic or supernatural claims. And since there were few copies of books and texts, and most people didn't have them or were illiterate, they did not have the means to verify or refute such claims.

So the difference between us boils down to: I say that they would believe such a claim, and you say no. Its totally hypothetical, because many obviously did accept the claim. How can we test this? I propose a thought experiment.

I suggest you consider the following: You reject Islam, right? I believe you would say it is because it was the claim of one man. Now, can you actually PROVE that Mohammad DID NOT get the Quran by divine revelation? The answer is no. Mohammad obviously lived and there is copious documentation of his actions, saying, and journeys. There is bountiful additional "midrash" about his life. His followers obviously believed in his revelation. So, can you "prove" that it didn't happen? it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, even given modern tools of science.

Now imagine ancient people. It would be enormously difficult for them to disprove anything that was claimed to have occured centuries earlier. And they would be faced with an ostensibly authentic book dating back centuries, and presented by one of the few literate scribes. And they're constantly being berated by their prophets for having forsaken and forgotten god and his torah. And, they probably had some traditions of proto-texts and customs anyway, so it all fit in.

[I'm sure you're familiar with the book Chilkiya "discovered" in the Temple which the people accepted, in Divrei Hayamim. As a result many profound changes were instituted, including getting rid of ovada zara in the temple. I imagine some people might have said, "wait a minute, we never had this book, where was it earlier?". But for the most part the tanach says they accepted it. So this is an example of a people believing a book with which they were unfamiliar]

There should be no question in your mind that such a claim would be credible.

NC said...

Remember, Ezra didn't say that there was mass revelation yesterday or last month. That would be falsifiable, I agree with you. But he told them that it supposedly happened almost 1000 years prior.

You think an ancient nation can't told that it forgot something from 1000 years prior?

Supposedly they forgot about pesach in the time of King Josiah. And they "forgot" about Rosh hashana and succot in the time of Ezra. You say these were just details. So I say that the mass revelations story is just a detail, in the existing tradition of god speaking to Moses. "O, yea, BTW, everybody was there at the mountain when Moses got the Torah".

Why would that be so hard to believe, even if your dad and his dad "forgot" about something from 10 centuries ago?

I don't have to convince you that they would believe it. Its the history of religion. You have to prove that they WOULDNT believe it, using an argument by special pleading.

Anonymous said...

The revelation at Sinai was more than just a detail. It was the basis for the nations laws, culture, etc.

The posuk says that Chilkiya found "HaSefer", the book. The implication is that they knew what it was.

Anonymous said...

The posuk says that that in the time of Chizkiyahu, the people observed Pesahc like they hadn't done since the time of Shlomo. Later, it says that in the days of Yoshiyahu, they observed pesach like they hadn't done since the days of the Shoftim. So this obviously doesn't mean they didn't keep Pesach, because they kept Pesach in Chizkiyahu's time. It means that they kept it with a greater enthusiasm, not that they forgot.

Anonymous said...

Forgetting the Revelation at Sinai is more unlikely than forgotting WWII, or the American Revolution. No one would be able to say that America didn't fight in WWII and be believed. And no-one could claim that, for example, we fought a major war with Russia in 1923 and be believed. IF someone would say that 1000 years ago, G-d revealed himslef to the entire English nation, what would happen?

NC said...

"The revelation at Sinai was more than just a detail. It was the basis for the nations laws, culture, etc."

The lawgiving to Moses per se is the basis, not the phenomenon of mass revelation. They accepted Moses words and his teachings.

"Forgetting the Revelation at Sinai is more unlikely than forgotting WWII, or the American Revolution."

You're confused, Nathan. We're not arguing about how likely it is that something can be forgotten. Nor are we arguing about whether the revelation actually happened. We're arguing about people BELIEVING that something happened which they forgot or did not know about. An important distinction, Nathan. And if you're talking about 1000 years, yes.

"IF someone would say that 1000 years ago, G-d revealed himslef to the entire English nation, what would happen?"

And how likely would it be TODAY if somebody new claimed that the QURAN was revealed by God to a prophet 1500 years ago? Wouldn't they think he's a luney? And what about RL Hubbard's idiotic story?

Most people would not believe him, but a few would, and that would be the core to start the religion.

The fact is, it happened.

And hasn't it ever happened to you that somebody told you that something happened which you completely forgot, and you believed him?

Now imagine the passage of 1000 years...

Look, anon, I know that I won't convince you. But if you read the history of world's religions and myth-making (such as the Greek Pantheon) you will see that myths were very much part of the ancient world, and your proto-"rationalist" approach, which you try to apply to ancients, is something that only came about much later, in the era of the Greek philosophy and raionalism.

Just a casual perusal of the Talmud reveals this transition. They were clearly influenced by Greek logic and reason, but at the same time held on to many superstitions and myths. (see other comments about talmudic comments on magic, midrashim, etc. )

So I can't necessarily tell you EXACTLY how the revelation myth came about (as with most other founding myths), there are a number of possibilities JP and I have already mentioned. And maybe it actually happened in some manner. Suffice it to say that in the ancient world these were part of ones identity and beliefs, and were not subject to scrutiny and testing by their adherents.

NC said...

Remember that Karl Popper only came up with his "falsifiability" idea about scientific theories in the 1900s. In the pre-scientific era nobody used it.

I therefore doubt that anybody who lived 2500 years ago used that criteria for judging the credibility of myths and traditions. It simply wasn't a distinction.

BTW, falsifiability has its limits. Something can be untestable but true. "No man lives forever" is not falsifiable, but undeniably correct. The problem with falsifiability as a criterion is that it doesn't account for inductive reasoning. (Think about that!)

Anonymous said...

Your scenario requires someone telling the entire antion that there was a national revelation, and that everyone forgot it, and nobody wrote it down, and everyone believed him. That's very differnt than other religions.

Anonymous said...

If the Revelation was falsifiable, it would have been falsified.

NC said...

JP, are you blocking some of my comments? I am not being offensive or harassing.

"If the Revelation was falsifiable, it would have been falsified"

Somebody seems very confused and doesn't understand what "falsifiability" means. Are you saying revelation is or is not falsifiable?

jewish philosopher said...

Not as far as I know, however I have been getting tons of spam comments in the past few months. Possibly in the process of deleting them, a real comment might disappear too, but I try to be careful.

Anonymous said...

I understand that falsifiable means that it can be shown to be false. If the Revelation and somebody claimed that it did, it would be very easy to prove that claim false. Why didn't anyone remember, or write it down. That didn't happen, so it must be that that scenario is false. The other explanation, that the Revelation did happen, must therefore, be true.

NC said...

" or write it down."

They WERE presented with a text that was written down!

Ezra, or whichever scribes, "proved" to them the story-- Ezra presented them with such a text. As did chilkiya in his day. And it was believed. [there were also probably proto-texts prior to that, but we have neither them nor torah texts going back that far.]

Falsifiable in essence means "capable of being refuted". It DOES NOT mean that if something was not falsified, it is true. The claim of the existence of an afterlife, has not been falsified. That does not mean its true.

Furthermore, even in science, the falsifiability test fails as a sole criteria for truth. The are examples of this in cosmology.

So I think you're saying the the Revelation story IS falsifiable. And I have shown that the mass revelation claim was NOT testable in the eyes of ancients, as any scenario that you come up with for them "refuting" it, I show how they could in fact plausibly be made to believe it. And my assertion is backed by the biblical narratives about discovery of long lost texts being presented and used as tools of change. The Torah also makes reference to texts which have never been found.

So ancient man would find it very plausible, that an old , but long lost holy text about their god and history, presented by a respected and literate scribe, is authentic.

This is in fact how Islam and Mormonism began.

Anonymous said...

If someone presnted them with a text, they would have said "How come this is the first time anyboday has ever seen it, or heard of it." The Posul about Chijkiya finding a sefer calls it "Hasefer". That implies they knew what it was.

And to the best of my knowledge Islamn does not talk about long lost book.

Anonymous said...

And, to the best of my knowledge, the Book of Mormon was claimed to have been written by the Angel Moroni.

NC said...

""How come this is the first time anyboday has ever seen it, or heard of it.""

How do you know they would say that?

The Quran modifies significant parts of the biblical story to fit Muslim religion. How come nobody Muslim said, "wait, we never heard this before? Nobody ever told us the Ishmael was brought to sacrifice and not Isaac!"


"The Posul about Chijkiya finding a sefer calls it "Hasefer". That implies they knew what it was."

If they knew what it was, they certainly weren't familiar with its contents, because they weren't living by it. They changed a lot of things because of it. Same with Ezra's time.

So this proves that people can be presented with a holy book with which they aren't familiar, and accept it. As long as the message is crafted carefully, in consonant with a people's ethnic background and traditions.

Anonymous said...

Why would the moslims know about anyhting that was in the Torah in the first place? It wasn't given to them.

And the Novi makes it quite clear that people new what the Torah was. They were violating it anyway. And they were familair with it. They fact that it says "Ha" The means that they knew what it was.

Anonymous said...

And I read that the Koran does not say that Ishmael was bound on the Akeda instead of Yitzchak. Some Moslims have that Tradition. Other Moslims question it, just like the Jews would have questioned a claim about a National Revelation if it never happened.

NC said...

Since the "Novi" book was written down long after the events described, and the meforshim came long after that, you actually have no idea what the people did or did not know, notwithstanding the letter "ה".

Nathan, you can interpret holy books however you want. I'm sure your rabbis will make everything wrap up in a nice neat package. I'm going by the plain meaning and using critical analysis.

And I am not an expert in Muslim theology, and the details are unimportant. Suffice it to say that people will believe anything, contrary to your protestations. If you are going to base your understanding of history based on what people 3000 years ago supposedly believed-- well-- there is not much else to say.

Anonymous said...

NC:

Interesting. When the Novi support seems to suport what you want to believe, then we follow it. When we look a little closer and see what it really is sayoimng, thne it was changed centuries later.