Monday, December 31, 2012

Science and Atheism

Fine, but should they?
There seems to be a deep link between science and atheism.

For example the mission statement of The Richard Dawkins Foundation states: Our mission is to support scientific education, critical thinking and evidence-based understanding of the natural world in the quest to overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance and human suffering. (Of course, this means overcoming intolerance of good people. Bad people, for example someone like myself who gives his children a religious education should not be tolerated. Obviously.)

However how solid is science?

Here are 5 retracted science studies from 2012:

Korean scientist Hyung-In Moon took the concept of scientific peer review to a whole new level by reviewing his own papers under various fake names.

Computers and Mathematics with Applications published a one-page article entitled "A computer application in mathematics" by the perhaps fictitious M. Sivasubramanian and S. Kalimuthu. It was actually a spoof, unnoticed by the journal's editors.

The Dutch social psychologist Diederik Stapel has pondered some deep questions. His research has found that, paradoxically: failure sometimes feels better than success; beauty ads make women feel ugly; power increases infidelity among men and women; and comparing yourself to others might help you persevere with studying or dieting but ultimately won't make you happier. The only problem is that his research appears to be either mostly or completely fabricated.

In 2008, scientists published a paper in the International Journal of Andrology stating that cellphones in standby mode lowered the sperm count and caused other adverse changes in the testicles of rabbits. In March 2012, the authors retracted the paper. It seems the lead author didn't get permission from his two co-authors and, according to the retraction notice, there was a "lack of evidence to justify the accuracy of the data presented in the article." The lead author lifted data and figures from his two previously published papers that doom rabbits and their sperm. But alas, one of those papers also was retracted this year and the other soon will be.

In early October Hisashi Moriguchi, a visiting researcher at the University of Tokyo, claimed at a New York Stem Cell Foundation meeting to have advanced this technology to cure a person with terminal heart failure. However, two institutions listed as collaborating on Moriguchi's related papers — Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital — denied that any of Moriguchi's procedures took place there. By Oct. 19, the University of Tokyo fired Moriguchi for scientific dishonesty even as the investigation was just getting underway.

As in any other human endeavor, when it comes to science, "Trust, but verify".

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Shermer's Fallacy


I'm skeptical of skeptics

In the August, 2006 issue of Scientific American magazine page 34 Michael Shermer’s “Skeptic” column is devoted to the topic of “Folk Science”, which seems to mean any beliefs not based on scientific experiments.

One example of folk science is prayer. Shermer cites a study published in the April, 2006 American Heart Journal. In this study, about 1,000 heart surgery patients were prayed for by members of several religious congregations and were found to have no better outcome than other heart surgery patients. According to Shermer this proves conclusively that prayer for sick people does not help them.

The weakness of this conclusion is appalling.

Obviously, prayer involves communicating with an intelligent being who has free will. Therefore the person offering the prayer, the manner of its offering, the subject of the prayer and other circumstances may be crucial. It is not as simple a process as administering a drug to heart surgery patients. Prayer is not a medication; it involves creating a relationship.

To give an analogy, let’s say I want to do an experiment to discover whether or not writing letters to the President of the United States has any affect. One thousand people will write to the President asking that their federal income tax be lowered. Then we will check to see if their taxes drop compared to other people or not. If not, then we can conclude scientifically that the President either does not exist or he never reads his mail.

An experiment like that is obviously absurd junk science which no one would take seriously. Therefore one wonders why Dr. Shermer finds the AHJ study to be so compelling and in fact why the editors of Scientific American magazine even published his column. Could there be a need in scientific community to grasp at any straw which seems to disprove monotheism, thereby discrediting the clergy and increasing their own prestige?

Monday, December 17, 2012

How Atheists Kill



A book called Escape from Camp 14 was published earlier this year. The book tells the story of Shin Dong-hyuk and through the lens of Shin's life unlocks the secrets of the world's most repressive totalitarian state, North Korea. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people are being held in its political prison camps, which have existed twice as long as Stalin's Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. Very few born and raised in these camps have escaped. But Shin Donghyuk did. Shin knew nothing of civilized existence-he saw his mother as a competitor for food, guards raised him to be a snitch, and he witnessed the execution of his own family.

One wonders how atheists are capable of inflicting such incredible cruelty on their fellow men. How can they kill with no guilt?

I suspect that the answer may be, because according to atheists, nothing is really alive in the traditional sense of the word.

Monotheists understand that something is alive because it has a soul. When something dies it "gives up the ghost".

Atheists of course do not believe in a soul and therefore have trouble defining life. Murder simply means changing a bag of chemicals, known as a human being, from one state to another somewhat different state. Nothing fundamental or terrible has happened. It's like unplugging an appliance. The bag of chemicals is still there, it has just stopped moving and eating.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Justice or Witch-hunting?


rapist - or not?
This week a Hasidic man was convicted of having sex with an underaged girl.

What is interesting to me is that this type of trial, regarding underage sex, seems to be unique in the American legal system. I cannot think of another case where a person could be tried and convicted based solely on the testimony of one witness, with no other evidence that any crime even occured.

Let's say for example a young man would come to the police and tell them that eight years ago when he was 12 his next door neighbor John Doe tried to poison him. John gave him a bottle of soda and he drank it. After he drank it he fell down feeling extremely ill while John taunted him saying that it was poisoned. The boy was unconscious and vomiting for hours until he gradually over several days recovered. The boy never went to a doctor or called the police or told anyone about what had happened because he was afraid of revenge from John Doe. Now however the young man has gotten older and summoned up the courage to turn John Doe in. John Doe, a well respected middle aged family man with no prior criminal record, denies vehemently that anything like this ever happened.

Would any district attorney prosecute John Doe and would any jury convict him? I really doubt it.

If instead of poison soda, the crime was sex, them seemingly John Doe could very well end up doing many years of hard time. I wonder why that is exactly?

Seemingly the public considers adults having sex with minors to be a very serious threat and therefore Draconian methods must be used to stop it.

On the other hand however apparently any American man who has ever been acquainted with an underage girl, including his own daughter, had better hope and pray that this girl never becomes hostile and vindictive toward him. If she does and if she can tell a very emotional although fictitious story of underage sex with him, he may spend decades in prison while the false accuser is hailed as a courageous heroine.

Does ever generation perhaps feel an emotional need for its own Salem witch trials to somehow exorcise its evil and cleanse the community?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Everyday Manna from Heaven


One of my personally favorite foods is the banana.

A banana is inexpensive, nutritious (a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Potassium and Manganese, and a very good source of Vitamin B6), tastes good and comes in its own attractive, easily removed wrapper, which is biodegradable and environmentally friendly. It requires no cooking or seasoning.

Atheists will argue that actually the original, wild banana was not that perfect. The wild banana is just a few inches long and consists of 80% edible pulp and 20% seeds while our bananas, thanks to thousands of years of selective breeding, consist of about 96% pulp and 4% seeds.

This echos the argument made nearly 2,000 years ago by the governor of Judaea Quintus Tineius Rufus to Rabbi Akiva ben Joseph, at that time the elderly rabbi emeritus of the Jews, approximately in the year 130 CE.This conversation may have taken place while Rabbi Akiva was in prison, condemned to death by Tineius Rufus for the "crime" of teaching Torah. Apparently Tineius Rufus was interested in matching wits with the condemned prisoner, perhaps assuming that the Jewish scholar would be somewhat docile under the circumstances.

Midrash Tanchuma (Tazria, 5) recounts:

"Once the evil [Roman governor] Turnus Rufus asked Rabbi Akiva, 'Whose deeds are greater - God's or man's?' He replied, 'Man's deeds are greater.' Turnus Rufus asked him, 'Is man then capable of creating heaven and earth, or anything like them?' Rabbi Akiva replied, 'I was not referring to the sphere beyond man's ability, over which he has no control. I refer to those creations of which man is capable.' He then asked, 'Why do you circumcise yourselves?' Rabbi Akiva replied, 'I knew that that was the point of your question, and therefore I answered in the first place that man's deeds are greater than God's.' Rabbi Akiva brought him grains of wheat and some bread, and said: 'These grains of wheat are God's handiwork, and the bread is the handiwork of man. Is the latter not greater than the former?' Turnus Rufus answered him, 'If God wanted you to perform circumcision, why did He not create the child already circumcised while still in the womb?' Rabbi Akiva answered, 'Why do you not ask the same question concerning the umbilical cord, which remains attached to him and which his mother must cut? In response to your question - the reason why he does not emerge already circumcised is because God gave Israel the commandments in order that they would be purified by performing them. Therefore David wrote, 'Every word of God is pure (or, purified).'"

In any case, we see that in many cases God has allowed man to put the finishing touches on a divine masterpiece, and the same is true of the banana.

Let's take a moment and thank God for this gift.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How to Spot Intelligent Design

 Crockfords Casino - they know design  when they see it

About a month ago an article appeared in the news about Phil Ivey an American professional poker player who is regarded by numerous poker observers and contemporaries as the best all-around player in the world today. 

During two nights of card playing in August, Mr Ivey won £7.3 million at  Crockfords Casino in London. 

The casino refuses to pay. 

The casino apparently believes that this could not have occurred through random chance and therefore some sort of cheating (in other words what might be called "intelligent design") must have been involved, even though every move was observed by an inspector as well as having been recorded on ten cameras and no sign of cheating has been found.

The reason for this is obvious: when a great number of improbable events, such as hundreds of winning hands of cards dealt to a certain player in a matter of hours, are all clearly accomplishing a certain purpose, such as making that player very wealthy, then we can assume that those events are not merely good luck but are being controlled by an intelligent designer, such as a cheating card player.

Therefore when we see the immense improbability of the universe possessing the qualities which would make life possible, of life forming from simple chemicals or of more advanced life evolving from simpler life, we clearly understand that an intelligent designer is involved. So many unlikely events would have to happen separately and all of them accomplishing the purpose of forming intelligent life. This is infinitely more improbable than Mr Ivey's winning streak, which the casino is assuming could not be the result of blind chance.

This cannot be dismissed by arguing "Well, if God did it, then who created God." anymore than Mr Ivey's attorney can argue "Well, if Mr Ivey cheated, then who created Mr Ivey?" The question doesn't make sense. Nor can one argue "Well, some sort of cards had to be dealt. It could have been these as well as any other." because we know that specifically those cards were dealt which served the purpose of enriching Mr Ivey and this implies intelligent design, not mere chance.

Monday, November 12, 2012

God is Not a Delusion



The Heroin Diaries by Nikki Sixx chronicles each day of Nikki’s life, from December 25, 1986 to December 23, 1987 based upon a diary which he kept at that time.

Nikki Sixx is an Italian American guitar player and song writer. He was born in 1958 (named originally Frank Feranna). In 1981 he was a founding member of the hard rock band Motley Crue. Having acquired new management in 1983, Motley Crue began achieving major success in 1984 and reached its peak in 1990. In 1987, the period covered by this book, they released the Girls, Girls, Girls album.

In his book, Nikki describes his consumption of huge quantities of alcohol, cocaine and heroin. He often suffered from cocaine induced paranoia, frequently locking himself in his closet (page 19). He seldom bathed (page 104). He was very rude, neglecting to visit his grandmother during her terminal illness or attend her funeral (page 145) and refusing to speak to his mother and sister (page 305). At one point he was arrested for throwing a bottle of whiskey on a crowded train (page 373). He performed innumerable sex acts with women who were total strangers. He was also an extreme atheist, and when a friend mentioned God, Nikki pulled down his pants, pointed his two middle fingers in the air in an obscene gesture and screamed “F--- you God! If you’re so real, strike me down.” (page 355)

In any case, he was so ill and self abusive, it appeared as if he would not survive very much longer (page 383).

Yet he is still alive today, and still performing. In fact, he has since married twice and fathered four children, with whom he seems to have a strong relationship.

On page 384, Nikki describes how he overdosed on heroin and had a near death experience. When he woke up in the hospital two days later, he wrote “maybe there is a God”. That was the turning point of his life. It was a very long hard road to recovery from there, however today he has been clean and sober for eight years. He now describes drug use as “retarded” . Well, better late than never.

The fact that belief in God can have such a powerful, life saving therapeutic effect, would seem to validate that God is in fact real, not a delusion. After all, do we ever find a situation where believing in something completely false could have such a beneficial effect and help people to function, rather than hinder them?

Monday, November 05, 2012

What Everyone Thinks Can Be Totally Wrong

The god of Imperial Rome - hot or not?
Of course we know logically that the appeal to the people is a logical fallacy. It is silly to argue that "If many believe so, it is so."

Nevertheless, it is perhaps instructive to see a remarkable example of this from ancient history.

If we were living in the year 150 CE, an apostate Jew would have boasted to a loyal Jew, that it's obvious that those who worship Jupiter are right while Jews who persist in worshipping their invisible God are wrong.

After all, Jupiter was the main deity of the Roman Empire.

The Roman empire was vaster than any seen in previous history and few seen since.

The Romans had brutally destroyed the Jewish community in Judea.

Rabbis were tortured to death by the victorious Romans.

Jerusalem was wiped out and replaced by a Jew free Roman city dedicated to Jupiter and a temple to Jupiter occupied the Temple Mount.

Jews were singled out to pay a special tax to the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus in Rome.

What could have been more blindingly obvious than the fact that Jupiter was real and he was succeeding while Judaism was finished? No doubt thousands of weak Jews indeed accepted that argument. (This is a sort of natural selection you might say. Throughout history, the worst Jews are constantly dropping out while the best gentiles convert and drop into the Jewish community.)

Well, where is Jupiter today? I don't believe he has had one worshipper in perhaps 1,500 years while probably a majority of mankind believes in Jewish based monotheism in some form.

And tens of thousands of people still pour over the words of those martyred rabbis.

This should remind us today how all the latest ideolgies, however popular, will surely sooner or later land in the dustbin of history while we will still be here.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Church of Atheism

this could just as well be Richard Dawkins the atheist leader
It's interesting how atheists passionately insist that atheism is not a religion. This is apparently done in order to make an impression that atheism is superior to mere religion. Atheism is some sort of scientific fact, according to it's believers, not just a religion.

On the other hand, I recently came across an article on salon.com. The author, Chris Stedman, a homosexual atheist, descibes having begun searching for an organized community of nontheists, which led him to a reception following a public discussion organized by a nonreligious group. At the reception he was shocked to discover that religion — and religious people — were roundly mocked, decried, and denied. He heard comments such as “Wasn’t it wonderful how intelligent the panelists were and how wickedly they’d exposed the frauds of religion? Weren’t they right that we must all focus our energy on bringing about the demise of religious myths?” and “We have the superior perspective; everyone else is lost,”

Stedman claims that as a former Evangelical Christian, these words were hauntingly familiar, and they represented a kind of sure-handed certainty and dismissal — a kind of fundamentalist thinking, really — that he’d hoped to leave behind with his “born again” beliefs.

So when you come down to it, atheists are not merely religious, but religious fundimentalists. Their belief that there is no Biblical God and evolution created us is ultimately no different than a Christian's belief that Jesus Christ is his lord and savior and anyone who believes differently is evil.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Gonorrhea: The New AIDS?

As true now as it was in the 1940's
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease which if left untreated will cause sterility as well as other painful complications. Untreated gonorrhea infection spreads to sites other than the genitals, such as the joints, skin, heart, or blood. It may even be fatal.

And apparently there will soon be no treatment for it.

Gonorrhea can be transmitted from either partner to the other by vaginal and anal sex as well as by fellatio.

It is true that latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, reduce the risk of transmission of STDs such as gonorrhea. However very few people actually do use them consistently and correctly, for many reasons, between the discomfort of condom usage to the lack of sobriety of people having sex.  Surveys indicate that most sexually active unmarried Americans seldom use condoms at all. During fellatio it seems to be unheard of.

This should give a little bit of pause to potential atheists out there who are looking forward to a life of sexual freedom. They could well be in for a life of permanent misery. And it helps us to appreciate the great wisdom of the Torah's emphasis on chastity.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Free Will: The Atheist Battle Against Sanity

Sam Harris - another zombie
Sam Harris, the atheist activist, recently published a book called Free Will.

Harris states clearly: “Free will is an illusion. Our wills are simply not of our own making. Thoughts and intentions emerge from background causes of which we are unaware and over which we exert no conscious control.”

So there you have it. Not only is design in nature an illusion according to atheists, however our constant subjective experience of making choices to do one thing and not another is an illusion as well.

Logically, therefore, all praise for good behavior or criticism of bad behavior is irrational since the person doing those things had no choice.

To me this is reminiscent of the doctrine of transubstantiation  the belief that,in the Eucharist, the substance of the bread and the wine used in the sacrament is changed into the substance of the Body and the Blood of Jesus, while all that is accessible to the senses remains as before. Somehow nothing really is what it appears to be. Or something like that.

Even the New York Times reviewer has mixed feelings:

Couldn’t it be that we need the experience of what Wegner and others call “perceived control,” at least as a model of voluntary behavior, to get on with our lives and to have our achievements recognized and to be instructed by our failures? (Doesn’t Harris enjoy his success? I bet he does.) Finally, what happens to traditional qualities of character like courage, villainy, leadership? Poof! However correct Harris’s position may be — and I believe that his basic thesis must indeed be correct — it seems to me a sadder truth than he wants to realize.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

The Invisible God


The fact that God has no body is one of the fundamental principles of Orthodox Judaism. The antiquity of this belief is seen in Deut. 4:15 which notes “for you saw no manner of form on the day that the LORD spoke unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire”.

Sometimes my children ask me “What does God look like?” I have to explain that we cannot see Him. Then they ask “Why not?”

Atheists also like to ask, “Isn’t God simply an imaginary friend?” In other words, doesn’t God’s invisibility imply that He may not exist at all?

To me it seems obvious that God must be invisible and in fact this is one of the first things which attracted me to Judaism, rather than for example Christianity.

For us to see something, for something to be tangible to us, it must have borders and limits and it must exist in space. Therefore, logically, an infinite being who created space itself cannot be visible. God is everywhere and furthermore everywhere is within God, therefore it is impossible to see Him.

Additionally, God’s level of reality is different from ours. Let’s say someone is thinking about a person. That person exists only in his imagination. The imaginary person cannot see the person who is imagining him. Likewise, we are like thoughts in God’s mind. He is the only true reality. This is what (Jeremiah 10:10) meant “The Lord God is truth”. He and He alone is real.

God is not our imaginary friend - just the opposite. We are God’s imaginary friends.

This makes clear the fallacy of Richard Dawkin’s question, “Who created God?” This question assumes that God is a material being. God is essentially entirely unlike any physical being, therefore He requires no creator.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Masturbation: A Cautionary Tale


The Talmud Niddah 13 states "Whosoever emits semen in vain deserves death", "He is as though he shed blood", "He is like one who worships idols" "A man who wilfully causes erection should be placed  under the ban" "He  is called a renegade, because such is the art of the evil inclination: To-day it incites man to do one wrong thing, and to-morrow it incites him to worship idols and he proceeds to worship them." "He who excites himself by lustful thoughts will not be allowed to enter the division of the Holy One, blessed be He".

It should be noted however that Sefer Ḥasidim section 176 does permit masturbation if there is danger that otherwise one will have intercourse with a forbidden woman (meaning any woman except his wife who is not niddah). Consult a rabbi regarding this.

In any case, the Talmud considers masturbation to be an extremely negative behavior. However following this teaching can be very difficult, particularly in today's world were online pornography is so easily available.

The Steipler obm offered the following advice:

The only hope of a young unmarried man is to study Torah for the sake of Heaven and to pray that the Holy One will have compassion on him and save him from sinning. You should not expect the rescue to happen in one or two days, however. Yet , with time, if you persist in the deep analysis of Torah texts, as much as your ability will allow, together with a good study-partner, without wasting any time in conversation, you will see how your urge for evil becomes dimmer. You will thereby succeed in your Torah study, as well as in your observance of the Torah... When you finish praying the Amidah, before taking the three steps backward, pray that the Holy One will rescue you, as well as all your brothers among the people of Israel, from this most bitter of sins.

To one boy who had essentially given up trying he wrote : An essential requirement is not to despair, G-d forbid. We must always hope that the Holy One will help us, for as it is written: Is G-d’s power limited? Furthermore, one who comes to purify himself is sent help from Heaven. Another important principle is not to fall into sadness. One who is unmarried should not think of his past till after he gets married. He will then have time to repair.

Let us all pray for a good new year devoted to loving God and loving those who serve Him.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Judaism and the Celebration of Legalism

90,000 Orthodox Jews celebrate Talmud study at MetLife Stadium 8/1/2012
An atheist, formerly orthodox Jewish, blogger wrote an article, in which he comments:

I'm pretty sure I don't have the personality type to find such absurd rules [certain minor Talmudic customs] meaningful even if I did believe in God. ("Does God really care how I tie my shoes?" I asked as a kid when I first learned that rule.)

What he seems to be saying is that any religious rules should be short and general, such as the Golden Rule. Laws about diet, dress, sex, etc. are unnecessary and even sacrilegious. This attitude is a basic part of modern American Protestantism, and therefore it isn’t surprising that someone raised in American society might feel this way.

One could look at this from a different perspective, however.

First of all, all pre-modern religions tended to be legalistic. Muslims have Sharia. The Catholic Church has Canon Law. The Hindus have a caste system.

Judaism, however, may be the most extremely legalistic. We revel in Talmudic law. The greater an expert a young man was in the fine points of almost totally irrelevant Talmudic laws, the greater a hero he was in the Eastern European shtetl and the more prized he was as a husband. This is still true in many ultra-Orthodox circles. Can one imagine even the most law abiding American citizen fanatically pushing his children to become experts in all of American law, even the most rarely, marginally applicable details? I think it could be correct to call traditional Jews not merely legalistic but hyper-legalistic.

The reasoning seems to be as follows. We see each additional law as being an additional sign of God’s love for us. The Mishnah Tractate Makkos 3:16 states “God wished to increase the Jews’ merits, therefore He increased the number of their commandments.” God in His great love for us wants our entire lives to be dedicated to serving Him and increasing His glory. Therefore He has created the huge body of Torah law to make it possible for us to do just that. In the blessings which we say before the Shema each morning and evening, we ecstatically praise God for the great love He has shown us by choosing us and teaching us His laws. We beg Him to help us understand and observe those laws. We see this as the highest honor; the exact opposite of absurdity.This is a life dedicated to the service of God and therefore eternally, cosmically important.

The absurd life is the life of an atheist, unfortunately. He eats so that has strength to work. He works so that he has food to eat. He continues this cycle until his body no long functions, then his remains may be thrown into a dumpster. A life lived like that is truly illogical and nonsensical. Absurd, in other words.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Talmud Trumps Atheism


no junk in the trunk


 In 1972, the term "junk DNA" was coined by scientists to describe DNA which did not not have any apparent function.

This was believed by evolutionists to be a clear proof of evolution for the following reason:

In copyright law there is a problem when determining if one source has copied another source because it is possible, particularly with topics in narrow subfields, that two authors could converge on a similar sounding passage to describe the same concept. However, errors in the passages are independent of the subject of the text and of each other. Multiple shared errors, particularly in grammar or spelling, become increasingly improbable for two independent writings. If there are several shared errors between two passages the only reasonable explanation is that one is a copy of the other or that both were copied from a common source.

This same concept applies to pseudogenes [an allegedly defective segment of DNA ]. While it is possible that two independently evolved genes will look the same because they both do the same thing, after an error invalidates a gene, the sharing of this same error between two species is extremely strong evidence showing that both species derived from the same source in which the mutation first appeared. By analyzing shared inactivation mutations in non-functional pseudogenes, scientists can construct phylogenetic trees and prove common descent.

It has now been discovered, following an immense federal project involving 440 scientists from 32 laboratories around the world, that the human genome is packed with at least four million gene switches that reside in bits of DNA that once were dismissed as “junk” but that turn out to play critical roles in controlling how cells, organs and other tissues behave. The discovery, considered a major medical and scientific breakthrough, has enormous implications for human health because many complex diseases appear to be caused by tiny changes in hundreds of gene switches.

So the junk DNA is not junk at all. The American Association for the Advancement of Science has gone so far as to call this finding a "eulogy for Junk DNA".

Interestingly, the results of this "immense federal project" could perhaps have been found simply by studying the Talmud. Rab Judah said in Rab's name: Of all that the Holy One, blessed be He, created in His world, He did not create a single thing without purpose (Talmud: Shabbos 77b).

This is also implied by Proverbs 9:10 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom". We cannot begin to have wisdom without the fear of God. A world view based on atheism is bound to be distorted and false.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Food Webs and Evolution

an illustration of a food web

One thing which I have never seen evolutionists address is the evolutionary development of food webs.

Every plant and animal species, no matter how big or small, depends to some extent on another plant or animal species for its survival. It could be bees taking pollen from a flower, deer eating shrub leaves or lions eating the deer.

Photosynthesis is the beginning of the food chain. There are many types of animals that will eat the products of the photosynthesis process. Examples are rabbits eating carrots or worms eating grass. When these animals eat these plant products, food energy and organic compounds are transferred from the plants to the animals.

This would mean seemingly that first the plants evolved, since they need only carbon dioxide, water and minerals. Then herbivores evolved which eat the the plants and finally carnivores evolved which eat the herbivores.

One problem with this theory however is that there is no sign from the fossil evidence that this is so. Entire new ecosystems seem to pop into existence in each geological era. We don't see first grass, then deer and then lions appearing.

Another problem is that even plants are not merely producers in the food web, but they are also consumers. They need animals to produce carbon dioxide which is used for photosynthesis. Animal manure is also a component of topsoil which plants require. Furthermore if herbivores have no predators to reduce their populations they would destroy all plant life. It would seem that an ecosystem coming into existence one piece at time would be an impossibility. This would seem to be a valid example of irreducible complexity.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Science Validates the Torah Again

We were right all along.
                             
This week, the American Academy of Pediatrics published the following policy statement concerning circumcision:

Systematic evaluation of English-language peer-reviewed literature from 1995 through 2010 indicates that preventive health benefits of elective circumcision of male newborns outweigh the risks of the procedure. Benefits include significant reductions in the risk of urinary tract infection in the first year of life and, subsequently, in the risk of heterosexual acquisition of HIV and the transmission of other sexually transmitted infections.

In other words, leading researchers in the field have concluded that circumcision is a good thing.

In ancient times, the Greeks and Romans bitterly opposed circumcision. Likewise the atheistic Soviet government suppressed circumcision. In recent years atheists such as Christopher Hitchens have bitterly denounced the practice as child abuse.

After thousands of years of insults, as well as thousands of innocent Jews put to death for practicing this mitzvah, the eternal wisdom of the Torah is now being validated by science.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tomchei Shabbos - a Tradition of Kindness

A little Tomchei Shabbos volunteer
One of the most remarkable organizations in the Orthodox Jewish community is called Tomchei Shabbos.

The way Tomchei Shabbos works is basically as follows. If an Orthodox Jewish family is struggling to make ends meet, they may contact the local office of Tomchei Shabbos and request assistance. From that point, they will receive every Thursday night a box of groceries dropped on their doorstep. The box will probably contain basic necessities such as bread, fruit, vegetables, chicken and fish. This package can be of great help to families on a desperately low budget. The food is, to the best of my knowledge, paid for by donations and the work of boxing it and delivering it is done by local volunteers.

This is very similar to the food banks which are common place in many areas, however it goes a step further than any non-Jewish organization that I am aware of, in that the food is delivered directly to homes, saving people the embarrassment of appearing at a food bank location.

"who is like Thy people, like Israel, a nation one in the earth" (2 Samuel 7:23)

This is of course part of Jewish tradition stretching back thousands of years. Judaism invented the obligation to do kindness.

Leviticus 19:18 states “Thou shalt not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.”

Leviticus 19:34 states “The stranger that sojourneth with you shall be unto you as the home-born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”

Deuteronomy 26:12 mentions the tithe of crops which must be given to the poor in the third and sixth years of the Sabbatical cycle while Leviticus 23:22 states that the remnants of the harvest must be left for the “poor and the stranger”.

Deut. 15:7 mentions the obligation to give loans to the poor according to their needs. This loan must be given without interest (Leviticus 25:36) and it must be forgiven in the Sabbatical year (Deut. 15:1).

We are obligated to celebrate our holidays together with the strangers, orphans and widows (Deut. 16:14).

How radically different this is than the thoughts of a recent icon of atheism, Christopher Hitchens, who wrote in his book Letters to a Young Contrarian page 140 "Don't be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish." [he was] and "Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you." [he didn't].

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Maybe Evolution's Not So Bad

not so bad really

Getting away from all the atheist polemics about how evolution has refuted the Watchmaker Analogy and therefore evolution is the basis of atheism and science has proven evolution and therefore atheism is scientific and believing in God is not, what do scientists really believe regarding evolution?

Well, I recently came across a 2006 statement from the International Council for Science, which is endorsed by virtually all of the world's leading scientific organizations. Apparently, this can be considered to be the current official scientific opinion about evolution:

We, the undersigned Academies of Sciences, have learned that in various parts of the world, within science courses taught in certain public systems of education, scientific evidence, data, and testable theories about the origins and evolution of life on Earth are being concealed, denied, or confused with theories not testable by science.

We urge decision makers, teachers, and parents to educate all children about the methods and discoveries of science and to foster an understanding of the science of nature. Knowledge of the natural world in which they live empowers people to meet human needs and protect the planet.

We agree that the following evidence-based facts about the origins and evolution of the Earth and of life on this planet have been established by numerous observations and independently derived experimental results from a multitude of scientific disciplines. Even if there are still many open questions about the precise details of evolutionary change, scientific evidence has never contradicted these results:

In a universe that has evolved towards its present configuration for some 11 to 15 billion years, our Earth formed approximately 4.5 billion years ago.

Since its formation, the Earth – its geology and its environments – has changed under the effect of numerous physical and chemical forces and continues to do so.

Life appeared on Earth at least 2.5 billion years ago. The evolution, soon after, of photosynthetic organisms enabled, from at least 2 billion years ago, the slow transformation of the atmosphere to one containing substantial quantities of oxygen. In addition to the release of the oxygen that we breathe, the process of photosynthesis is the ultimate source of fixed energy and food upon which human life on the planet depends.

Since its first appearance on Earth, life has taken many forms, all of which continue to evolve, in ways which palaeontology and the modern biological and biochemical sciences are describing and independently confirming with increasing precision. Commonalities in the structure of the genetic code of all organisms living today, including humans, clearly indicate their common primordial origin.

We also subscribe to the following statement regarding the nature of science in relation to the teaching of evolution and, more generally, of any field of scientific knowledge :

Scientific knowledge derives from a mode of inquiry into the nature of the universe that has been successful and of great consequence. Science focuses on (i) observing the natural world and (ii) formulating testable and refutable hypotheses to derive deeper explanations for observable phenomena.

When evidence is sufficiently compelling, scientific theories are developed that account for and explain that evidence, and predict the likely structure or process of still unobserved phenomena.

Human understanding of value and purpose are outside of natural science’s scope. However, a number of components – scientific, social, philosophical, religious, cultural and political – contribute to it. These different fields owe each other mutual consideration, while being fully aware of their own areas of action and their limitations.

While acknowledging current limitations, science is open ended, and subject to correction and expansion as new theoretical and empirical understanding emerges.


This statement is followed by a listing of pretty much every scientific organization in the world - in other words, this seems to be the official consensus of opinion of the global scientific community at this point in time.

Interestingly, I have almost no problem with this. The word "evolution" can mean simply "change" or "development". As I have pointed out, I don't see any problem with the idea that life has changed over time. As far as the cause of this change over time, the statement leaves that unexplained.

The single sentence I would object to is "Commonalities in the structure of the genetic code of all organisms living today, including humans, clearly indicate their common primordial origin." I would say the truth is "Commonalities in the structure of the genetic code of all organisms living today, including humans, clearly indicate their creation by a single intelligent designer." I would just change those few words, and beyond that I have no problem with the the official consensus of opinion of the global scientific community.

My problem therefore is really with atheists who misuse, abuse and distort scientific conclusions for the sake of their own sectarian agenda; who  make evolution into basically a substitute for God.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Nietzsche - an Atheist Icon

[the great man, about age 31]

Friedrich Nietzsche is certainly one of the most famous atheists in history, coining the phrase "God is dead".

He is also known to have been one of the great inspirations of the Nazi Party, which was founded twenty years after his death. The Nazi philosopher Alfred Baeumler loved Nietzsche. Hitler personally attended the funeral of Nietzsche's sister in 1935. Supposedly, a copy of Thus Spoke Zarathustra was given to every German soldier in the Nazi era and it was revered as a bible by the Hitler Youth. (This did not begin with the Nazis, actually. During World War I, German soldiers received complimentary copies of Nietzsche.)

What would Nietzsche himself have thought of the Nazis? Probably not much. He was not an anti-Semite or a German nationalist.

So what was it which drew the Nazis to him?

Seemingly, the answer is the following.

Nietzsche believed that the strongest desire of all life is the will to power - the striving to reach the highest possible position in life. This would imply, among other things, that a man can only find happiness and satisfaction in life by dominating others. Nietzsche provided a profound philosophical foundation for the rejection of Judeo-Christian altruism and the embrace of violence and cruelty.

According to Nietzsche, the will to power is the most fundimental human need, superceding survival, reproduction or anything else. Based upon this,  it is easy to understand why fanatic Nazis gladly chose death in battle rather than surrender.

The core of Nietzsche's teachings formed the core of Hitler's teachings. Although still debated by scholars, Nietzsche, the atheist, may have been to Fascism what Marx, the atheist, was to Communism.

From this we see that there is no limit to the evil which may be spawned by the Godless mind.

Nietzsche never married nor fathered children. He became demented at age 44. The dementia became progressively severe until his death at age 55.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Why Girls Seldom Drop Out



Watching this video clip, I think it's pretty obvious why no woman with half a brain would want to abandon the Orthodox Jewish community, where people date briefly without touching, marry young and stay married, and instead become a secular American girl.

I'll be the first to admit that relationships are difficult everywhere. As Sartre commented "Hell is other people". However certainly little could be worse than the insanity which most American young women put up with today.

Special Creations - Plural

[the current model]


Ideally, atheists would like to imagine that the universe has always existed. Aristotle believed in a Universe existing unchanged throughout eternity. Millennia later, as monotheism waned, this idea became popular again. In the early 20th century the common worldview held that the universe is static — more or less the same throughout eternity. No creator needed.

Furthermore, atheists would like to imagine that life has gradually developed. Obviously, for a complex machine such as a living thing to pop into existence suddenly would require an intelligent designer - or, in other words, God. However a very, slow gradual process conceivably could be natural and spontaneous. Therefore Darwin wrote:

As natural selection acts solely by accumulating slight, successive, favourable variations, it can produce no great or sudden modifications; it can act only by short and slow steps. Hence, the canon of "Natura non facit saltum," [meaning "nature does not make jumps"] which every fresh addition to our knowledge tends to confirm, is on this theory intelligible. (Origin of Species Chapter 14: Recapitulation and Conclusion)

Today however we know that the universe was suddenly created about 13.75 billion years ago.

About 4 billion years ago life on earth appeared suddenly .

About 530 million years ago many forms of more advanced life appeared suddenly . Here is a photo of the Precambrian-Cambrian boundary.

About 450 million years ago, there was a sudden transition from trilobites to jawed and bony fish. Here is a photo of the Ordovician–Silurian boundary

About 374 million years ago, there was a sudden transition from early fish to the first true amphibians. Here is photo of the Devonian-Carboniferous boundary.

About 252 million years ago, there was a sudden transition from giant amphibians to reptiles and primitive mammals. Here is a photo of the Permian-Triassic boundary.

About 200 million years ago, there was a sudden transition from smaller reptiles to giant dinosaurs. Here is a photo of the Triassic-Jurassic boundary.

About 65 million years ago, there was a sudden transition from dinosaurs to mammals. Here is a photo of the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary.

For atheists, this is a nightmare. They now have to deal with not one but eight special creations. In response, they have tried to save their religion by first of all denying that these transitions were really so sudden; they try to interpret the evidence to make them as long as possible, however the evidence seems to be against that. Additionally, they have invented the silly doctrine of punctuated equilibrium.

For Judaism, however, as I have explained, I  don't think this is a problem.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Body’s Protein Cleaning Machine





[the protein ubiquitin - the cleaning machine]

According to a recent article in the New York Times, proteins are the machines that carry out the directions of genes. They must be formed at a certain moment and destroyed when they are no longer needed, or when they go bad. 

A cell is something like an orchestra, with thousands of players. These are the proteins. They must all work together in harmony and play their parts at the right moment.

A cell knows when to eliminate a protein by using a tagging system. Every cell has within it a special protein that is everywhere: ubiquitin. Out of the thousands of proteins, this one tags damaged and bad proteins, binds to them and creates a molecular “kiss of death” until they are chopped up and degraded.

Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s are caused by proteins accumulating in the brain and destroying brain cells. The reason we don’t get Alzheimer’s when we are 10 is that when we are young, the bad proteins are disposed of quickly. With age, the cell’s machinery may lose the ability to do that.

It's incredible to consider the vastly complex and perfectly orchestrated machinery which is functioning in each one of our 60 to 90 trillion cells.

How accurate the Jewish prayer said after elimination is: Blessed are You, Lord, Who heals all flesh and acts wondrously.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Bird Brain

[no dummy]

The expression "birdbrain" is used to mean someone stupid. With a brain about as big as human thumb, we certainly wouldn't expect birds to be terribly intelligent.

Actually, birds exhibit intelligence sometimes associated with apes and small children.

In addition, birds are remarkably sensitive.

The New York Times recently wrote that robins can find worms with their sense of hearing. The worm’s tiny bristles rustle against the sides of their burrows.

Birds are able to navigate using a magnetic sense, still not completely understood.

They have other talents which humans do not. They can use each eye independently. They can fly with one eye closed and half of their brain asleep and still navigate better than a human driver texting in traffic.

The proverbial "eagle eye" is not a myth either. Bald eagles are renowned for their excellent eyesight. They have two foveae or centers of focus, that allow the birds to see both forward and to the side at the same time. Bald eagles are capable of seeing fish in the water from several hundred feet above, while soaring, gliding or in flapping flight. This is quite an extraordinary feat, since most fish are counter-shaded, meaning they are darker on top and thus harder to see from above. Fishermen can confirm how difficult it is to see a fish just beneath the surface of the water from only a short distance away. Eagles, like all birds, have color vision. An eagle's eye is almost as large as a human's, but its sharpness is at least four times that of a person with perfect vision. The eagle can probably identify a rabbit moving almost a mile away. That means that an eagle flying at an altitude of 1000 feet over open country could spot prey over an area of almost 3 square miles from a fixed position.

When we see the birds fly by, remember that we are seeing creations of God which are far more sophisticated than any man-made drones.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Give Happiness a Chance



We would all like to feel satisfied and have a sense of well being. But how can we reach that goal?

Fortunately, a highly respected social psychologist, Dr. David G. Myers, has reviewed thousands of recent scientific studies regarding what makes people happy and he has published his findings in a book called “The Pursuit of Happiness” , Avon Books 1992.


First of all being rich does not make people happy (page 31), so scratch that. Having happy ancestors does have a big influence (page 122); however for most of us, it’s too late to choose our parents. So what can we actually do to become happier?

Well, in a nutshell, here it is:

- Develop a strong faith and trust in God. page 183
- Believe in an afterlife. page 200
- Focus on spiritual rather than material accomplishments. page 188
- Focus on the present moment more than on the past and the future. page 51
- Focus on what you have, not on what you are lacking. page 56
- Focus on what others are lacking, not on what they have. page 56
- Focus on helping others, not helping yourself. page 194
- Develop good relationships with family and friends; try to be part of a supportive community and family. pages 142 and 155
- Try to find employment which suits your talents. page 129
- Maintain a healthy diet. page 77
- Exercise. page 77
- In general, care for your health. page 76
- Get enough rest. Allow quiet time to relax. page 138

This is the true, common sense, scientifically proven path to achieve greater happiness, not the endless pursuit of wealth, fame, sex, drugs, fattening food and alcohol. All of those things bring a brief thrill, but at a high cost and they cannot provide long term satisfaction and well being. (For proof, read the biographies of the rich and famous.) Many people, especially young adults, are distracted by such things, sometimes wasting years and sometimes ruining or terminating their lives in the process. Instead, simply the quiet, sober, healthy, generous, religious life is what really works. Difficult and boring, perhaps. But in the long run, much happier.

It's interesting to note how the attitude of psychiatrists to monotheism and spirituality has almost completely reversed itself over the past century. According to Abraham Verghese, all along, the majority position of Psychiatry has been that Psychiatry has nothing to do with religion and spirituality. Religious beliefs and practices have long been thought to have a pathological basis, and psychiatrists over a century have understood them in this light. Religion was considered as a symptom of mental illness. Jean Charcot and Sigmund Freud linked religion with neurosis. DSM3 portrayed religion negatively by suggesting that religious and spiritual experiences are examples of psychopathology. But recent research reports strongly suggest that to many patients, religion and spirituality are resources that help them to cope with the stresses in life, including those of their illness. Many psychiatrists now believe that religion and spirituality are important in the life of their patients. The importance of spirituality in mental health is now widely accepted.

When we meet an atheist, we should pity him. Not only has lost the next world, which he doesn’t believe exists; however he has lost this world as well. He finds pain difficult to cope with since he believes that disasters happen without reason. He believes that his existence will soon end. He believes that human accomplishments have no permanent or cosmic significance. In light of this, he may try to squeeze out whatever pleasure he can from his fleeting life, with little concern for how this affects other people or even how it affects his own long term future. He may very well become an addict – obsessed with alcohol, drugs or some other substance or behavior, which makes him feel good at first but not for long. Finally, as he grows older and his hopes of pleasure dim, he may prefer suicide. He has nothing to look forward to, so why bother any more?

Richard Dawkins attempts to put this in a positive light when he says, “if you're an atheist, you know, you believe this is the only life you're going to get. It's a precious life. It's a beautiful life. It's something that we should live to the full, to the end of our days, whereas, if you're religious, and you believe that there's another life, somehow, that means you don't live this life to the full, because you think you're going to get another one. That's an awfully negative way to live a life. Being an atheist frees you up to live this life properly, happily, and fully.”

Whatever “religion” he is referring to, it doesn’t seem to be Orthodox Judaism. The life of a Jew is filled each day with immense gratitude to God for all His blessings and with boundless joy for the opportunity to serve Him. The Jew is not on an endless pleasure treadmill, chasing rainbows that turn out to be illusions. He is accomplishing great things each day by studying Torah, praying and performing Jewish rituals. In addition to that, Jews believe in loving each other, which alleviates so much of the isolation and loneliness common in our self-centered world. Tragic stories such as people committing suicide in a park so that they would not “die alone” are unimaginable in the Orthodox community.

It’s also noteworthy that Judaism can help a person develop a tremendous amount of self-control. It’s probably no accident that virtually all addiction recovery programs consider belief in God to be an essential component.

What a gift atheists are throwing away. Someone wishing to “live to the full, to the end of his days” needs to accept God and His Torah.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Fighting Heretics: FAQ

[somebody's got to do it]

Aren't we commanded to love all other Jews, including heretics?


No. The universally revered Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan in his book Chafetz Chaim (1873) writes in the Laws of Evil Speech 8:5 that Judaism mandates us to hate, insult and disgrace any Jew who denies the divine origin of any part of the Pentateuch or the legal portions of the Talmud.


Are there other rabbis today who are preaching or practicing such behavior?


Yes. The Yad L'Achim agency in Israel conducts a very active program to harass Jewish Christians who are attempting to convince other Jews to convert to Christianity and this is endorsed by many respected rabbis. Jewish skeptic bloggers are no better than Christian missionaries and in fact may be worse. Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman wrote "now an evil has sprung up worse than idolatry and this is atheism".


How has the Internet created a small but tragic wave of Jewish heresy?


The Internet has made pornography easily, privately and universally available. This in turn has led to sex addictions which have then led Jews to convert to atheism. The Talmud Niddah 13b insightfully comments: Rab stated "A man who wilfully causes erection should be banned because he incites his desires upon himself". R. Ammi stated: "He is called a transgressor, because such is the art of the evil inclination: Today it incites a man to do this, tomorrow it incites him to that and the next day it incites him to worship idols and he proceeds to worship them." In our times, atheism has replaced idolatry. Imagine the effect it would have on society if cocaine were to be legalized, it would be cheaply and conveniently available by mail order to anyone with a credit card and furthermore people would on a weekly basis receive free sample packets of cocaine in the mail from drug companies. This is basically what the Internet has done, however regarding pornography not cocaine, something which at least from an Orthodox Jewish point of view is probably equally harmful. Every individual, family and community must cope with and battle with this new reality. I hope that my blog can make some small contribution.


Why do I occasionally use 
crude slang terms when criticizing Jewish heretics?



This is done to emphasize that the motives which these people have are in no way intellectual or idealistic, rather their choices are based on the most degrading, debased and disgusting impulses.



Aren't people who accuse others of something usually guilty of it themselves?


Not to my knowledge. I don't think that law enforcement officials for example are typically thieves and murderers. I  don't think that child protection service workers are typically child abusers. I don't think that drug enforcement agents are typically drug  addicts.


Do you advocate using violence to fight Jewish heretics?


No. I don't advocate, have never advocated and have never been guilty of doing anything illegal to fight Jewish heretics. I have however been myself victimized by Jewish heretics who have contacted my wife, my rabbi, my employer, law enforcement officials, child protection services, Google and others to make complaints. I  have also received violent threats. In addition most Jewish heretic bloggers do not allow me to comment on their blogs, although I  welcome their comments on my blog.


Doesn't criticizing Jewish heretics violate the blogger.com content policy concerning hate speech?


This policy seems to be interpreted very liberally by blogger.com. This blog for example has been sitting out  there for years with apparently no problem from blogger.com. Apparently blogger.com does not want to become an arbitrator of political and religious beliefs.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

How Did Life Originate?


[E. coli, a common bacteria]

The earth formed 4.5 billion years ago. It was then bombarded with huge meteorites for 600 million years. Bacteria appeared about 4 billion years ago, or approximately just as the bombardment was ending.

The New York Times reports that according to Chris McKay, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Laboratory in Mountain View, Calif., the rapid appearance of complex life was  “like Athena springing from the head of Zeus”. In the same article, John Sutherland, a biochemist at Cambridge University in England, said geologists and astronomers were more interested in talking and speculating about the origin of life than chemists were, even though it is basically a problem of “nitty-gritty chemistry.” The reason, he explained, is that “chemists know how hard it is.”

In fact, bacteria, although the simplest form of life, are incredibly complex. Scientists cannot begin to create a bacterium from simple chemicals and even creating a computer simulation of one E. coli has not yet been completed and will be extremely challenging.

Andrew H. Knoll the Fisher Professor of Natural History and a Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University has stated "We don't know how life started on this planet." and describes it as being a great scientific mystery.

Of course it will remain a great mystery, as long as scientists insist on denying the obvious answer: God did it.