Monday, June 13, 2011

The Atheism Myth


[Read it!]

This morning I was watching The Atheism Tapes, a collection of six video taped interviews with prominent atheists conducted in 2003 by the BBC. Specifically, I listened to lecture #2, which was with Steven Weinberg, a physicist, Nobel laureate and the only distinguished scientist interviewed. (Richard Dawkins is a popular science writer, however he has done very little original research in his field of animal behavior.)

Now, why exactly is this eminent scientist, Nobel prize winning physicist, undoubtedly a brilliant man far more intelligent than myself I assume, an atheist? Well, he says why:

"What happened was that much of the early basis for religious belief was dissolved by science. It wasn't that scientific discoveries made religion impossible... it's that they made irreligion possible. It became possible to understand how things worked without the religious explanation and particularly, I think, more important than anything any physicist did, was what Darwin did, Darwin and Wallis."

That's it - evolution did it, no God needed.

However, taking the question one step further, how do we know that evolution did it?

In my opinion, it seems very clear that evolution could not have done anything. It is impossibly improbable and the fossils indicate sudden, not gradual, changes.

The proofs from homologies, embryology and vestigial organs have already been discredited by books like Evolution a Theory in Crisis by Michael Denton and Icons of Evolution by Jonathan Wells and by websites like trueorigin.org.

Nevertheless, atheists are unperturbed. Atheists remind me very much of Christians who insist that Jesus fulfilled numerous Biblical prophesies, although any objective person sees this is clearly nonsense. Christians want to believe something, have grasped an excuse to believe it and will not be discouraged by anything.

In recent years, one of the new arguments for evolution is "junk DNA" - the portions of a genome sequence for which no discernible function had been identified. In a nutshell, Michael Shermer explains in "Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design" page 74 "We have to wonder why the Intelligent Designer added to our genome junk DNA" .

Well, we need wonder no longer. Jonathan Wells has just published a new book "The Myth of Junk DNA". He explains how as time goes by, more and more "junk" has been discovered to be quite useful. Just as an example, endogenous retroviruses were regarded as clearly junk, inherited from some ancient viral infection. Two years ago, biologists discovered that this alleged junk may be essential to human life: "These results demonstrate that syncytin-A is essential for trophoblast cell differentiation and syncytiotrophoblast morphogenesis during placenta development, and they provide evidence that genes captured from ancestral retroviruses have been pivotal in the acquisition of new, important functions in mammalian evolution."

"Genes captured from ancestral retroviruses" is of course the atheist interpretation. Why not genes designed by God?

51 comments:

NC said...

Since it would be impossible for you (or I ) to physically and personally examine the evidence ourselves and run experiments, by necessity we must rely on the expertise of others to do so. This is true in just about any technical field in the modern era.

So how do you selectively 'accept' the expertise of some cherry picked bits of scientific knowledge (relying on the expertise of others, like Wells or Denton, since you can't verify things yourself) , when it supports your religious outlook, but reject the overwhelming expertise when it opposes your world view?

You know the simple answer: confirmation bias.

You lack the scientific knowledge, training, and expertise to formulate any kind of informed opinion. I think a little humility is in order.

In simple language, "you have no idea what the f-k you're talking about"

But while you are expressing your seemingly informed opinion about evolutionary biology, I was wondering if you could please give us your scholarly opinion about quantum theory, plate tectonics and analytic functions in number theory, after you read about them on the internet.

jewish philosopher said...

And can you explain to me exactly when you studied in depth in a Christian seminar the more than 300 Messianic prophecies made in the Old Testament and then fulfilled through Jesus' life, death and resurrection?

http://www.whoisjesus-really.com/english/preview.htm

So how do you selectively 'accept' the expertise of some cherry picked bits of theological knowledge (relying on the expertise of others, like Dawkins or Sam Harris, since you can't verify things yourself), when it supports your religious outlook, but reject the overwhelming expertise when it opposes your world view?

You know the simple answer: confirmation bias.

You lack the theological knowledge, training, and expertise to formulate any kind of informed opinion. I think a little humility is in order.

In simple language, "you have no idea what the f-k you're talking about"

nc said...

Religion is revealed knowledge, silly man. Science is not.
So how is one to reconcile contradictory "revealed" knowledge systems? Study them more? Majority?

Big difference from science. I go with consensus of experts, whose knowledge is not claimed to be revealed.

jewish philosopher said...

How do you define science? Information derived from exact, repeatable laboratory experiments? No one claims that evolution is based on that.

Atheism is just another false religion, not better or worse than any other.

natschuster said...

NC:

I remember reading all about how happy yher evolutionists where when they discovered junk DNA. It was even the basis fro Dawkin's book, the selfish gene. Then a few years later, they had to backtrack when it was discovered that junk DNA wasn't really junk. I got all that information from the scientists themselves.

Ksil said...

Jp, please ban NC, he is making you look like a complete moron. (i know that is not hard, but still!)

Thank you

Rotflmao!!!!

jewish philosopher said...

ksil, in your opinion, anyone who would want to ban sex outside marriage is a complete moron. lol.

ksil said...

huh?

Rambam said...

While it is true that Dawkins is best described as a popular science writer, that does not mean he is not a serious scientist or did "very little" work in his original research field. Following your link I see 40 or so articles from the late 60's through about 1990 that all appear to be scholarly, not popular. I have published a handful of papers and that has taken a lot of years of very hard work on my part. You belittle Dawkins because he has transitioned to more of a pop sci writer. What does that make you? How many peer-reviewed scientific articles have you authored? How many has Jonathan Wells authored? I understand he is nothing but a Darwin critic and theologian. He never did any science that wasn't Darwin bashing. In fact he got his second PhD in bio after being appointed to do so by his religious leader. Perhaps he may have been less than open-minded in his studies? Has he written any articles in any real journals?

jewish philosopher said...

"I listened to lecture #2, which was with Steven Weinberg, a physicist, Nobel laureate and the only distinguished scientist interviewed."

I think that statement is accurate. No one regards Dawkins to be a "distinguished scientist" to the best of my knowledge.

NC said...

1. "How do you define science?" Look it up yourself. It's not what you claim. Like theoretical physics or mathematics cannot be "reproducible lab experiments". You're limiting of science to technology is simply false.

2. Many discoveries, had they not been discovered by one famous scientist, would have been discovered by somebody else, as the time was ripe. This was true, for example, with evolution, nuclear physics, and relativity, which were being worked on independently and in parallel. So Darwin was lucky enough to get it published first.

3. Right, Natshuster, so scientists are wrong about everything, since they had to revise something. Those filthy conniving lying Jew scientists, they just want to pull with wool over people's eyes. We were so much better off in the middle ages, when various quacks, witches and clergy provided us with knowledge about nature. They were so honest, scientific and objective in those days. Such nostalgia! Todays scientists are midgets, compared to those ancient towering giants of knowledge. And since there was such a complete communication network in those days, they could all verify the truth of each other's claims. They never made mistakes, faked or lied about anything!! Yea, let's hear it for bloodletting and potions!!

NC said...

Lets do a thought experiment. Let's take a highly technical subject, like the epidemiology of tuberculosis. An outbreak of TB has just occurred. A team must be assembled to deal with the problem. You are the president, and are presented with 2 options:

1. Select a random group of non-professional bloggers, who collect their information by reading wikipedia and other widely available material on the internet and popular books about TB, and now consider themselves to be knowledgeable and educated on the topic. This group proposes plan "A"

2. Select a group of highly trained professionals, who, after a dozen years of college and postgraduate training in epidemiology, acquired additional years of experience and training through their work. This group proposes plan "B"

You are the president. Which group would you select, to implement which plan?

JP and Nathan, you are group 1.

jewish philosopher said...

NC, let's put it like this. What fundamental difference is between a Christian theologian who claims to have found "300 prophesies" in the Old Testament fulfilled by Jesus and an atheist scientist who claims to have found "29+ Evidences for Macroevolution"? Both are experts in their fields, with years of academic work behind them. Both are drawing conclusions, not from exact, repeatable laboratory experiments, but from their interpretation of past events and the existing evidence of those alleged events. Both have an ideological agenda to promote.

What you are doing is, since your religion is promoted by most scientists, for obvious selfish reasons

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/05/atheism-in-nutshell.html

you are sticking a label of "science" on your religious beliefs, making atheism therefore supposedly as unquestionable as the laws of gravity. This is just illogical nonsense.

natschuster said...

NC:

We know a lot more about nature than poeple in the Middle Ages. That is why we no longer say things like spntaneous generation. We now know that the cell is not a simple blob of jelly. What we know today causes problems for those who want to stick to purely naturalistic explanations.

natschuster said...

Science is a career. That means there is a lot of careerism. Some scientists are afraid to question the Scientific Orthodoxy. And scientists are perfectly capable of fraud. False information even finds its way into the peer reviewed canon.

Rambam said...

"No one regards Dawkins to be a "distinguished scientist" to the best of my knowledge."

That's ridiculous. I do. Berkeley did. Oxford does. The editorial boards of top journals do. Did you even look at that CV you posted? His popular writing may outshine his scholarly work (may), but so what? He is definitely a distinguished scientist.

Anyhow, here is another instance of your pathetic dishonesty, backtracking, and twisting. You said he did very little research in his field of expertise. Fourty-some papers over multiple decades is a lot. You told a flat out lie to advance your pathetic little argument and when called on it just tried to change the subject..

pathetic liar..

jewish philosopher said...

Please. Dawkins has published a couple of dozen peer reviewed articles (usually in partnership) and has never won a scientific award of any kind.

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110116052050AAKJlBE

He's an atheist propagandist and, I strongly suspect, general scumbag, nothing more or less.

NC said...

" Both are drawing conclusions, not from exact, repeatable laboratory experiments, but from their interpretation of past events and the existing evidence of those alleged events."

Wrong. Christianity like other religions is revealed knowledge. Some of their expert "interpretation" of events and existing evidence is in reference and deference to that revealed knowledge, as is yours. It is not analytic, critical or objective.

In the humanities, sciences, philosophy there is no revealed knowledge. There is no "faith".

NC said...

Nathan, so if I understand you correctly, as the President, you would elect team "A"

OK, at least we know where you stand.

jewish philosopher said...

"Christianity like other religions is revealed knowledge."

So the problem with the more than 300 Messianic prophecies made in the Old Testament and then fulfilled through Jesus' life, death and resurrection

http://www.whoisjesus-really.com/english/preview.htm

is that they deal with a personal God. Therefore they are obviously false and can be dismissed immediately by any numskull.

On the other hand, 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

have nothing to do with a personal God and therefore must be accepted unquestioningly as true.

I'm afraid that I don't quite follow the logic in that.

Someone sits down with a bunch of fossils and says "Worms turned into people over the past few hundred million years. The fossils prove it." I am supposed to accept that as unquestionable fact. Even though it's clearly nonsense

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/03/evolution-science-hijacked-by-atheism.html

I have to accept it since most scientists endorse it, although they have obvious personal reasons for doing so.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/05/atheism-in-nutshell.html

However if someone sits down with a Torah scroll and says "God wrote this", as I have

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/06/gods-wisdom.html

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/05/torahs-amazing-honesty.html

that's simply nonsense and requires no further discussion.

Why? Is it the lab coat,

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

because I'm not wearing a cheap white smock, I lack credibility? If that's the problem, I can buy a lab coat on amazon for twenty bucks.

http://www.amazon.com/medline-Mens-staff-length-white/dp/B000NWTPAQ/

Sounds like you have some confirmation bias to me.

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

natschuster said...

NC:

What does TB have to do with evolution? And are you saying that scientists are incapable of error and fraud?

natschuster said...

NC:

What if your prfessionals said that TB is caused by the positions of the planets, and could be cured by drinking wart juice. Would you listen to them, or use common sense?

Rambam said...

So you won't admit you were wrong about the "very little" remark. Just gonna go ahead and move the goalposts huh?

You are such a child.

jewish philosopher said...

If he did a lot, where's his award?

NC said...

"And are you saying that scientists are incapable of error and fraud?"

Of course not. But as a matter of likelihood it would be extremely improbable that a whole community of experts were collectively perpetrating a fraud. You would have to give a whole lot of evidence of a cover up for me to believe that. No such evidence exists.

"....and could be cured by drinking wart juice. Would you listen to them, or use common sense?"

Cheap trick, Nathan. You know we're not talking about a bunch of lying or insane scientists. That wasn't my question.

Nonetheless, from your answers, all other things being equal, it seems that you would choose team "A". Good luck. Personally I'd go with the experts rather than your amateur pseudoscientist bloggers.

"So the problem with the more than 300 Messianic prophecies made in the Old Testament and then fulfilled through Jesus' life, death and resurrection...."

Is that they claim to have access to knowledge that no other humans have. That is unique revealed knowledge, which isn't subject to scrutiny, dispute, or denial. Every later theologian relies on that revealed information. Nobody can reproduce it or verify it.

That is clearly nonsense.

In medicine, for example, of somebody claims to have made a discovery or research finding, and he claims that only he can perform it but nobody else can verify it, well, that would be rejected as nonsense.

"because I'm not wearing a cheap white smock, I lack credibility?"

I think your lack of credibility speaks for itself. I think it just a matter of probabilities here. One one hand, with JP the blogger, backed by a tiny cadre of fundamentalist scientists; on the other, we have an overwhelming majority of professionals who have invested most of their professional lives doing research and understanding biology.

Who is most probably right? A or B?

jewish philosopher said...

"Is that they claim to have access to knowledge that no other humans have. That is unique revealed knowledge, which isn't subject to scrutiny, dispute, or denial. Every later theologian relies on that revealed information. Nobody can reproduce it or verify it. That is clearly nonsense."

To save time, let me try and help you a little. I think what you are trying to say, is that belief in God and the Torah is based on faith, meaning wishful thinking,

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

a logical fallacy and obviously a poor way to make decisions.

Atheism, on the other hand, is based on facts and evidence.

I'm sorry to burst your bubble, however actually the opposite is the case, as I've demonstrated.

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

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/05/atheism-in-nutshell.html

"I think it just a matter of probabilities here. One one hand, with JP the blogger, backed by a tiny cadre of fundamentalist scientists; on the other, we have an overwhelming majority of professionals who have invested most of their professional lives doing research and understanding biology."

What would you have said in Europe 400 hundred years ago - a tiny cadre of Jews denying Jesus while an overwhelming majority of professionals who have invested most of their professional lives doing research and understanding the Bible and theology affirming him?

You keep coming back to the same logical fallacy of appeal to authority. The fact that an authority says something does not necessarily make it so.

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

You can do whatever you like, however I refuse to "drink the Kool Aid" - to become an unquestioning believer in some ideology, or to accept an argument or philosophy wholeheartedly or blindly without critical examination.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drinking_the_Kool-Aid

natschuster said...

NC:

If the scientists said something rediculous that wasn't even based on science as much as theology,then I would probably go with B. I think I know theology as well as any scientist. Knowledge of TB is based on empirical obsevation. Evolution is based for the most part on theology and metaphysics.

NC said...

I get it. Religion is not "appeal to authority", and scientific reasoning is.

A few too many beers, maybe?.

nc said...

Nathan,

An if a rabbi told you something ridiculous about biology or medicine you wouldn't believe him either, right?

jewish philosopher said...

Excuse me, however where have I ever written anything remotely similar to "Almost everyone who has spent decades studying the Talmud concurs that it is of divine origin therefore it must be. Anyone questioning that just doesn't know what he is talking about."

Yet you continually, again and again, ad nauseum defend evolution by arguing "Almost everyone who has spent decades studying biology concurs that Darwinian evolution is true therefore it must be. Anyone questioning that just doesn't know what he is talking about."

NC said...

A religious scholar is not a scholar about natural history. He is an expert in theology. (the rules and dogmas of his religion, etc). He is not qualified to determine the historical origin of his own documents, nor anything about nature, since he lacks the proper tools to evaluate it. He is therefore NOT an authority on that matter. (Your own example of Christian theologians is a case in point, who are no different than "Talmud scholars" in matters of history or science)

In contrast, a microbiologist or geneticist absolutely are able to opine on the matter of evolution, since it is within the realm of describing natural phenomena.

From the wiki article about appeal to authority:

"There is no fallacy involved in simply arguing that the assertion made by an authority is true. The fallacy only arises when it is claimed or implied that the authority is infallible in principle and can hence be exempted from criticism."

Which is exactly what clergy does with their "revealed knowledge"-- regarding history, origin of documents, and origin of man.

What I am telling you, and you keep denying, is that in complicated technical matters you can not simply rely on amateur knowledge and logic alone. You need experts.

But experts in the right field. Not a computer programmer or a ex-biology teacher.

natschuster said...

NC:

#1. Science doesn't say that we have to accept authority. Science doesn't sya anything. I can use my judgement when scientists say absurd things. The Torah does say we should listen to our leaders, that is, scholars. That is wh appeal to authority is not a falicy in Judaism.

#2. The Talmud does say some things that contradict the modern scientific ocnsensus. When this happens I consider one of several possibilities:

#I. The Rabbis were mistaken, but that is okay because they were
Rabbis not naturalists.



#II. The Rabbis where following the cutting edge science of the day.




#III. The Rabbis were right, and modern science is wrong.


#IV. We don't really understand what the Rabbis meant, e.g. it is allegorical.

#V. The Rabbis are following rules and guidelines of Halacha that are different than science. e.g. Ein La Dayanim Elo mah She Eynaiyim Ro'os.

jewish philosopher said...

"The fallacy only arises when it is claimed or implied that the authority is infallible in principle and can hence be exempted from criticism."

So I'm doing just that - criticizing them, while you continue to say I cannot, implying that they are infallible in principle.

You appeal to authority, I appeal to evidence. Your religion is faith based while mine is fact based.

I think what you're saying is that only a large number of scientists are permitted to dispute another large number of scientists. By that logic, perhaps only a large number of Catholic priests can dispute a large number of Catholic priests or a large number of rabbis can dispute a large number of rabbis. I don't see any reason, beyond confirmation bias

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

to declare that only the opinions of scientists have any validity on any topic.

You can do whatever you like, however I refuse to "drink the Kool Aid" - to become an unquestioning believer in some ideology, or to accept an argument or philosophy wholeheartedly or blindly without critical examination.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drinking_the_Kool-Aid

nc said...

"You appeal to authority, I appeal to evidence."

You are unqualified to evaluate the evidence, just as I am unqualified to evaluate whether or not string theory is wrong.

Nothing personal.

"Science doesn't sya anything."

Nathan you can believe what you want. I'll go with the experts, sorry, nothing personal.

"That is wh appeal to authority is not a falicy in Judaism."

Exactly. See JP, even Nathan makes the distinction!

jewish philosopher said...

NC, again, for the sake of expedience, let me try to help you a little.

I think what you are claiming is that if a vast majority of eminent, let's say Nobel prize winning, scientists, believe that a certain concept is true, then it is true beyond reasonable doubt and any rational person should be willing to literally bet his life, his afterlife, his family's lives, everything in this world and in any other worlds, on the truth of that concept. This applies even if the concept appears to be absurd, even if the scientists are not able to provide convincing evidence supporting the concept to a layman and even if there is a clear self serving reason for the scientists to promote the concept.

Personally, I beg to differ.

I think that this attitude is no different fundamentally than the attitude of the followers of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Jim Jones or Kim Jong-il. "Yes, to me this seems crazy, however who am I, with my tiny intellect, to question the amazing wisdom of the Great Leader? I will gladly give up my life, and take anyone else's life, if the Great Leader so commands. I know that he knows best."

Sorry, NC, no Kool Aid for me. I'm not going there.    

NC said...

"I think that this attitude is no different fundamentally than the attitude of the followers of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Jim Jones or Kim Jong-il."

You have grave difficulties making distinctions. Nobody is following a "great leader". Its about whether or not you have confidence in the integrity of the system or not. Clearly you don't, otherwise you could not be arguing that they are just perpetrating a big lie.

"even if the scientists are not able to provide convincing evidence supporting the concept to a layman "

So I assume that by similar criteria you don't accept, say quantum physics or numeric function theories. either.

"any rational person should be willing to literally bet his life, his afterlife, his family's lives, everything in this world and in any other worlds,"

Whose betting their lives? Besides, you risk your lives just by living on this earth. Its hard to take that argument seriously. Do you live in such fear?

jewish philosopher said...

"Whose betting their lives?"

Well, if I begin driving a car to the mall on Saturday morning based on the belief that evolution not God created us, then I am risking my afterlife. If the scientists are misleading me, then I'm going to hell forever.

Let me give you an analogy.

I have a son who is 9 years old and quadriplegic due to cerebral palsy. Let's say I take him to a doctor, Dr Genius, the chief of neurology at Johns Hopkins Hospital

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/neurology_neurosurgery/

Dr Genius examines my son and tells me "Good news Mr Stein! We can cure your son using the latest stem cell therapy."

I thank Dr Genius and make an appointment for two weeks later.

Being a cautious person, I go home and start googling and probably order a few books on this topic. What I discover troubles me. True, neurologists are almost unanimously supportive of this treatment. But, first of all, apparently there has not yet been one clearly documented case of a cure using this treatment. Secondly, there have been numerous cases of patients soon after therapy dying of cancer. Thirdly, there are allegations that doctors are being paid large sums by pharmaceutical companies to promote this treatment.

When I return to Dr Genius, I explain to him my concerns. He seems a little exasperated and tells me simply that this issue is far to complex and technical to explain to a layman. Either I trust him and his colleagues or I don't, take it or leave it. [In reality, no doctor I've ever met answers questions that way, but I'm just saying theoretically.]

I don't think that I'm a fruitcake conspiracy theorist, however I feel that I have a healthy skepticism of human nature.

Anyway, personally, I would explain to Dr Genius that unless he can answer my questions in terms that I can understand and make me comfortable with what he wants to do, then he his touching my kid over my dead body.

But maybe that's just me. Maybe you would happily sign off and tell Dr Genius "Doc, you're the expert! Who am in with my tiny intellect to ask dumb questions. Where do I sign off? Let's rock and roll!"

NC said...

If not one, but many experts suggested to you to use "gene therapy", then it would be unlikely for you to discover "via google" that the treatment isn't useful. It would be unlikely that not just one but multiple experts were telling you the same thing, if it were just bullshit that you could read off the internet. Widely available information is obviously available to experts as well as you.

Other than evolution, can you give me another CURRENT example of a widely accepted medical procedure or treatment, that you have found, via lay reasoning and sources, to be fraud?

So your analogy isn't good. Scientists are sometimes wrong, but it is usually scientists themselves, not lay people like you, who find out about their error.

I still don't understand why you go to hell for believing in evolution. Since when does one get punished by god for just thinking something?

jewish philosopher said...

In the United States today, the Food and Drug Administration generally will put a stop to phony medical treatments. Hopefully. However regarding prehistory, on the contrary first amendment freedom of speech guarantees the right to say anything  you like no matter how crazy.

"Scientists are sometimes wrong"

They are? Ok, so maybe evolution is wrong. In fact, I'm sure it is. But you expect me to believe it and risk going to hell forever by apostatizing to atheism just because the consensus of scientists support it. 

So anyway, in regards to a seemingly very suspicious, crackpot medical treatment, I personally would not bet my child's life on experts, even a consensus of experts, who insist "Just trust me; you can't understand this." If you can't explain it satisfactorily to me, if you can't make me feel safe with it, it's not happening. Same thing with evolution. No Kool Aid for me. I'm too much of a skeptic and I'll think for myself, thank you.

But I guess you view things quite differently. 

NC said...

Believe me, I am just as much a skeptic as you are regarding what I read. In fact, because of my epidemiological training, I can understand and critique medical articles better than most of my medical colleagues.

But I think you can only trust your skepticism, on a complicated topic, if by virtue of your training and knowledge, you are qualified to do so. In your example I would seek the advice of medical professionals that I trust, to weigh and interpret the medical data. I certainly would not rely just on my google search of lay sources or anonymous forums.

"on the contrary first amendment freedom of speech guarantees the right to say anything you like no matter how crazy."

True. However, frauds are easily exposed. Maybe not immediately, but after a short while. The medical community very much relies on accountability and people being able to replicate other's work. Having said that, bias can and often does pose a problem, since ultimately it is a human endeavor. And yes, occasionally there is a fraud. But its usually an individual or a team working together.

"the Food and Drug Administration generally will put a stop to phony medical treatments."

Usually peer reviewed work does the preliminary screening before something gets to the FDA. Furthermore, the FDA makes decisions based on panels of "experts" who you like to deride.

"But you expect me to believe it and risk going to hell forever by apostatizing to atheism "

Are you positively certain that accepting evolution would lead you to "convert to atheism"?

jewish philosopher said...

"In your example I would seek the advice of medical professionals that I trust, to weigh and interpret the medical data."

That's what I'm doing with evolution. Check out the Discovery Institute.

http://www.discovery.org/csc/fellows.php

"I certainly would not rely just on my google search of lay sources or anonymous forums."

The red flag for me would be when the doctor brushes asides my concerns by claiming the entire topic is "too complex and technical for him to explain to me. Just trust me." This is ultimately what all evolution advocates, including you, end up doing. I'm not buying it.

"However, frauds are easily exposed."

Probably not so easily when it involves not exact, repeatable laboratory experiments but rather speculation about prehistoric events.

"Are you positively certain that accepting evolution would lead you to "convert to atheism"?"

It seems to do it for Steven Weinberg, quoted in this post.

NC said...

"That's what I'm doing with evolution. Check out the Discovery Institute."

Although I identify with some of the political views expressed in that site, (particularly the pro-Israel ones) it is a greenhouse of conservative ideology, and I would not bet my professional scientific knowledge on it. To me that would analogous to:

http://www.sayingnotovaccines.com/

or

http://www.coldlasers.org/therapy/What-is-cold-laser-therapy/

A slick, well designed website with a clear agenda, collecting together seemingly scientific articles and writers who support a specific point of view.

That is not scientific inquiry.

The internet is a wonderful thing but you have to filter.

Let me ask you-- you are learning nursing, right? Now, would you want to learn nursing from an accredited, recognized institution of higher education? Or would you rely on a web "course" run off of a server in Russia that confers "degrees" for a modest fee, paid with a credit card?

jewish philosopher said...

I think you are trying to avoid confronting the basic flaw in your belief system, which is that you appeal to authority rather than evaluate the facts.

Ultimately, you are claiming that if a vast majority of eminent, let's say Nobel prize winning, scientists, believe that a certain concept is true, then it is true beyond reasonable doubt and any rational person should be willing to literally bet his life, his afterlife, his family's lives, everything in this world and in any other worlds, on the truth of that concept. This applies even if the concept appears to be absurd, even if the scientists are not able to provide convincing evidence supporting the concept to a layman and even if there is a clear self serving reason for the scientists to promote the concept.

Hence, you believe in evolution and, therefore atheism.

I think that this attitude is no different fundamentally than the attitude of the followers of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Jim Jones or Kim Jong-il. "Yes, to me this seems crazy, however who am I, with my tiny intellect, to question the amazing wisdom of the Great Leader? I will gladly give up my life, and take anyone else's life, if the Great Leader so commands. I know that he knows best."

NC said...

Also--There are lots of people who believe in evolution who are genuinely religious. The ability to reconcile seemingly contradictory ideas or beliefs varies among people.

For example, you reconcile your literal understanding of some Torah stories with your acceptance of modern physics. Like how did Noah's ark work, or the sea splitting, etc. That there are no "miracles" today. You find a way.

Similarly, people find a way to make evolution fit into their belief system.

Personally, evolution isn't what makes me a skeptic about Orthodoxy. To me, the best evidence that the Torah is not literally divine, is the Torah itself; that it reflects a moral and metaphysical outlook of man and nature, specific to the time it was written. Honestly, no matter how hard I try (and I have), I can't get past that one. Why would a divine book tell us the best way to seek justice if a girl is raped is to pay Dad 50 bucks and then marry the girl? Why would it tell us to kill "witches"? That the best way to punish sinners is to wipe out a whole generation with a plague.

Nobody has given what I consider a satisfactory answer to that, other than that "such were the social codes of the time". Which means the whole Torah is just the moral codes of the time.

jewish philosopher said...

"There are lots of people who believe in evolution who are genuinely religious."

There are observant Jews who genuinely believe in Jesus.

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

This is called syncretism

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

"That there are no "miracles" today."

Actually, there were very few radical open miracles ever.

However the Holocaust could be called a miracle.

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

About the rape thing, prosecuting rape as a serious criminal offense may have unintended consequences. For example, the perpetrator may choose to kill the victim in order to eliminate the witness rather than face a harsh rape punishment. This is in addition to the fact that this is a moot point, since Orthodox Jews never commit forcible rape.

"Why would it tell us to kill "witches"? "

Witchcraft is associated with idolatry and deviant religious beliefs and practices which must be eliminated in order to impose Torah observance.

"That the best way to punish sinners is to wipe out a whole generation with a plague."

God created us to serve Him. Don't serve Him, you get uncreated.

However the Torah was written, various people at various times and places could critique it and claim that they could have written it better. Anyone can make claims like that. For example, prohibiting polygamy, slavery and child brides would have been incomprehensible to most people in most societies.

God created us and He has attached an instruction manual ("Torah" means "instruction"). I would advice following the manufacturer's manual on any highly complex new purchase. You don't know how it's put together and just "fooling around" trying to make it work may have bad results.

NC said...

On complex matters, I evaluate the facts of who I should believe or not, since I can't personally evaluate or verify all facts myself. I cannot for example personally analyze fossils or run proton collision experiments or interpret them myself. I am forced to rely on experts. When a new medication comes out, I must rely on articles (and critically review them) from respected journals so I can decide who, in my judgement, are credible sources. I can't run a drug experiment myself.

On matters of everyday life, where I CAN judge the facts myself, I don't have to rely on anybody, so I can use your "duck" test, sometimes.

I think that is entirely rational. What is so Hitleresque about that?

Your attempt to portray the simple common sense of deferrence to experts in a field, as the same as blindly following a mass murderer is really dumb, JP, its beneath you.

NC said...

"You don't know how it's put together and just "fooling around" trying to make it work may have bad results."

Yea, but what if the manual is really old and outdated and pertains to an old model what doesn't even exist any more?

I don't claim to be able to write it better. But because overwhelming common sense tells me that it was written by men at the time, and is therefore mostly relevant for a long disappeared society, its relevance for me is limited.

"since Orthodox Jews never commit forcible rape."

Which, even if true, only confirms my point. The Torah and Tanach are full of rape, and the Torah wouldn't have legislated it if it werent an issue. And the fact that is legislated what it did, shows that its writers did not see it as such a grave offense, as, say, collecting wood on Shabbat which called for death.

Animal sacrifices are another example. I know why people did them, and I'm not criticizing them. But clearly sacrifices was a way of appeasing in those days, by all people. Not now. Yet a full fifth of the entire Torah is dedicated to laws of sacrifice. This screams out to me: this books was written for people in its day, because of who they were.

natschuster said...

NC:

Why is modern crimibal justice better than the Torah? What good does putting arapist in jail do for his victim? And some people woudl consider marrying the victim a worse punishment than jail.

And throughout history, people claimed to have powrs na dtook advantage of ignorant people. So naybe people who claim to be witches deserve a punishment.

jewish philosopher said...

"I think that is entirely rational. What is so Hitleresque about that?"

I am a common German worker living in Munich in 1938. The vast majority of German politicians, economists and scientists insist that we must invade Poland and "eliminate" the "Jewish threat". Well, it may sound stupid to me, and I have a lot of questions party officials don't want to answer, however using your logic I should passively accept the wisdom of all those great people who seem to have raised Germany out of economic depression and military impotence. How can I question the Savior of Germany, who has put food back in children's stomachs and national pride back in my heart? That's exactly how every false ideology works. "Who am to question [fill in the blank]?" Atheists do the same.

"But because overwhelming common sense tells me that it was written by men at the time,"

The Torah bears no resemblance to any other document written in it's time, all of which were written using pictographs and advocated idolatry and glorified violence, none of which advocated altruism.

"The Torah and Tanach are full of rape"

I can only recall the Concubine of Gibeah Judges 19:24

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0719.htm

Which precipitated a major war which included the complete destruction of Gibeah Judges 20:21

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0720.htm#21

and the rape of Tamar by Amnon 2 Samuel 13:14

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt08b13.htm#14

which was followed two years later by the revenge killing of Amnon Samuel 13:29

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt08b13.htm#29

So anyway, it would appear that the incidence of rape of among the ancient Israelites was pretty low and the consequences for the perpetrators, if it did happen, were a little harsh.

ksil said...

"its beneath you."

no, its par for the course!

JP, keep it up! this is great theatre, watching you eating NC's lunch day in and day out!!

i cant wait to eat my cheeseberger for lunch (and hopefully, secretely try to lure some of my fellow frum colleagues wuith me!)

burn in hell for all eternity?!?! LOL HAHAHAH - this blog is funnier than the john stewart show!

jewish philosopher said...

Addicts always deny the consequences of their behavior. It's part of the illness.