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.

56 comments:

Ironmistress said...

Banana used to be the symbol of freedom in the age of Communism.

During the Soviet regime bananas were amongst our favourite imports to our Estonian friends. Bananas weren't available in the USSR, and the bananas were like a taste of freedom there.

jewish philosopher said...

At least the USSR never became a banana republic.

simcha said...

I don't think atheists would make such an argument. The particular argument you are referring is one noted by Kent Hovind who was attempting to refute evoltionry theory by pointing out that the banna was entirely to perfect for human consumption and the likelihood of a fruit evolving to be so perfectly adapted for human consumption seemed unlikely. Proponents of evolution then noted that the original design of the wild banana was unsuitble for human consumption s served as a proof rather than foil for the theory of evolution. I would point you to such characters as Kenneth Miller who while being a christian (and not an atheist) still believes in evolution. It's not an atheist claim, it's an "evolutionists" claim.

simcha said...

I don't think atheists would make such an argument. The particular argument you are referring is one noted by Kent Hovind who was attempting to refute evoltionry theory by pointing out that the banna was entirely to perfect for human consumption and the likelihood of a fruit evolving to be so perfectly adapted for human consumption seemed unlikely. Proponents of evolution then noted that the original design of the wild banana was unsuitble for human consumption s served as a proof rather than foil for the theory of evolution. I would point you to such characters as Kenneth Miller who while being a christian (and not an atheist) still believes in evolution. It's not an atheist claim, it's an "evolutionists" claim.

jewish philosopher said...

The wild banana is edible and evolution originated with and has been promoted by atheists not monotheists.

Anonymous said...

Agree totally.

Where creation is perfect: God did it.

Where creation is imperfect: God allowed humans to perfect it.

Where's God: humans did it.

jewish philosopher said...

I think that a good parent wants his children to make a little effort. Don't we appreciate something more when we contribute something?

ksil said...

you, along with your friend ray comfort (LOL) have become laghing stocks.... mazal tov!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2z-OLG0KyR4

dawkins rips him a new one.... laughing stock indeed

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3MLJUOW9NE

Anonymous said...

"I think that a good parent wants his children to make a little effort. Don't we appreciate something more when we contribute something?"

Maybe, but that's not the point.

Dave said...

TP, I know that this post is not intended to be proof of God, but let's do a thought experiment.

Although it is not logically possible to prove that something does NOT exist, including God, every rational person does weigh evidence in his own way to arrive at conclusions. And, every open minded person does leave open the possibility that he could be wrong.

My question for you, is, what possible new evidence (however improbable), could emerge that could convince you that the God of the Torah does not exist? What would make you change your mind? What new scientific, archaeological, or empirical information would it take?

jewish philosopher said...

I think that the fossil evidence appearing the way Darwin expected it to appear - very gradual, trial and error change, would be a convincing proof of atheism. However we know that isn't the case.

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2012/06/special-creations-plural.html

Dave said...

JP,

So, if some new fossil findings, filling in the "gaps", appeared, it would disprove the "Jewish God" in your eyes?

jewish philosopher said...

It's not merely gaps, there would have to be a complete revision of the evidence as it appears before us now.

It's sort of like saying "If we could prove that there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz, would you then accept that the Holocaust is a hoax?" Well no; the entire pattern of evidence of the Jewish experience during the second world war points to a holocaust.

Dave said...

Well, the fossil evidence appears to be in the right order in terms of age and depth. It seems you main problem is the gaps, no? What else doesn't fit, in your opinion?
Suppose we also were able to observe evolution occuring. (Actually there are examples where we have, on a small scale)

jewish philosopher said...

According to evolutionists, the way life developed is through an extremely gradual process of variation and natural selection, or in other words de novo genetic mutations which increase fertility gradually accumulating one on top of the other. However this is simply not what the physical evidence shows us.

"The history of most fossil species includes two features particularly inconsistent with gradualism: 1. Stasis. Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear; morphological change I [sic] usually limited and directionless. 2. Sudden appearance. In any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors; it appears all at once and 'fully formed.'" (Gould, Stephen J. The Panda's Thumb, 1980, p. 181-182)

http://www.macroevolution.net/stephen-jay-gould.html

If in a criminal case all the evidence points to John Doe not John Smith, you can't really claim that this is no problem. Smith is really guilty, however we just haven't found that evidence. 

Likewise, all evidence points to repeated special creations, not evolution.

Dave said...

JP, get ready to become an atheist (unless you backtrack from your answer)

1. You quote Gould completely out of context. He argued for evolution throughout, and his comments pertained to the RATE of evolution, not against evolution itself. Nice try

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Jay_Gould#Controversy

2. The bottom line of your objection is missing data,the intermediate/transitional forms. (Missing data exists throughout science which uses induction.) So if I show you even just ONE clear example of evidence of one species transitioning into another, you would have to be convinced, since this is exactly what we would expect to see with evolution.

3. Here is one: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/04/080421-lizard-evolution.html

and here are more:
http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/lines_03

Welcome to atheism!

jewish philosopher said...

"He argued for evolution throughout, and his comments pertained to the RATE of evolution, not against evolution itself."

Of course he did, just like Christians argue that Jesus is the messiah in spite of his having died. These are ad hoc apologetics.

"So if I show you even just ONE clear example of evidence of one species transitioning into another, you would have to be convinced, since this is exactly what we would expect to see with evolution."

Not really. This is a straw man argument. The Watchmaker Analogy demonstrating that God created life states that since machines with many moving parts and accomplishing a certain purpose always are created by an intelligent designer likewise the human eye or heart must have been created by an intelligent designer. To defeat Watchmaker you would have to find machines with many moving parts and accomplishing a certain purpose which you can show were not created by an intelligent designer. However of course there are none.

Anonymous said...

"To defeat Watchmaker you would have to find machines with many moving parts and accomplishing a certain purpose which you can show were not created by an intelligent designer. However of course there are none."

Hmm. By your definition, a solar system or universe could indeed be "machines with many moving parts and accomplishing a certain purpose." The solar system accomplishes the purpose of maintaining 8 or 9 diverse planets in the orbit of a central star. The universe accomplishes the purpose of expanding. All their parts are moving and spinning. Neither machine can be shown to have been created in the way a watch is created by human beings. Post hoc reasoning has postulated intelligent creators for these machines, but such reasoning has been--in addition to post hoc--inconsistent, incoherent, and inconclusive. Scientific evidence and reasoning say it is more likely that no intelligent creator was involved in the development of these machines.

Watchmaker is defeated. Many others have defeated Watchmaker, too, and better than I have.

Besides, defining natural things as "machines" is to assume the thing you are trying to prove. It's circular reasoning and a logical fallacy because by definition machines are assembled things.

jewish philosopher said...

"The solar system accomplishes the purpose"

Indeed, it can be argued that the laws of physics demonstrate intelligent design.

http://www.reasons.org/articles/design-and-the-anthropic-principle

Dave said...

Straw man?? JP, you really changed the subject. I asked you what would change your mind about God, and you said acceptable fossil evidence for evolution. After you specified what that was, I provided it. Now you're switching to a watchmaker analogy which is a completely different (and fallacious) argument, and has no bearing on the physical evidence for or against evolution.

Regarding Gould, I was merely calling you out on an often-used tactic of creationists, to selectively take quotes from an opponent authority to "prove" your own point of view. This is of course a dirty trick and not valid (because you select the quotes that suit you and ignore everything else he said).

So I can only conclude that your original answer to my theoretical question was not genuine, and no evidence for evolution could get you to change your view. If there is something else, please say what it is.

Dave said...

"Indeed, it can be argued that the laws of physics demonstrate intelligent design."

So why couldn't it be, that the laws of mathematics, chemistry and biology be intelligently designed, such that it allowed evolution to occur?

jewish philosopher said...

Evolution allegedly defeats Watchmaker and monotheism by explaining how watches indeed don't need makers. But actually there are no watches without makers.

Using an opponents own words against him is a common and legitimate tactic in law and politics.

jewish philosopher said...

"So why couldn't it be, that the laws of mathematics, chemistry and biology be intelligently designed, such that it allowed evolution to occur? "

But the fossils show it didn't.

Dave said...

"But the fossils show it didn't."

But I just provided you with evidence which you yourself specified.

"Evolution allegedly defeats Watchmaker and monotheism by explaining how watches indeed don't need makers. But actually there are no watches without makers."

So this says that even if the evidence for evolution would be perfect and complete, because it opposes your common sense (watchmaker analogy), it can't be true.

At least you are being honest in your obstinacy.

Dave said...

"Using an opponents own words against him is a common and legitimate tactic in law and politics."

Yes, and it's dishonest if it is out of context and incomplete.

Anonymous said...

"But the fossils show it didn't."

What research supports this, as the scientific literature says the opposite.

jewish philosopher said...

According to my understanding of evolution, as I explain here 

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2008/03/evolution-science-hijacked-by-atheism.html

and my understanding of the fossils, as I explain here

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2012/06/special-creations-plural.html

the two are polar opposites.

Anonymous said...

Ah, it's "your understanding of evolution." No wonder.

Dave said...

I think our positions are clear, and for the sake of not being a troll, I'll stop arguing here.

natschuster said...

Dave:

Evolution means that one species changes into another. The probelm is that the fossil record doesn't show this. If it happened why doesn't it show up in the fossil record. All the fossil record shows is different species living at different times. Punctuated equilibrium is an attempt to explain why species to species change is not found in the fossil record. But why not just take the fossil record at face value, and say that it shows what really happened, a series of separate creations?

natschuster said...

Dave:

The example of the lizrd you linked might not show species-to species change, but rather modofication within an existing species. No one questions whether this can happen, and it poses no problem for the Torah. Furthermore, it may very well be epigenetic and not evolutionary at all.

And the whale fossils you link to don't show species to species change, just different species living at different times. And pakicetus is no longer considered a whale ancestor, but rather a side branch that died out. This keeps on happening to every fossil that is considered transition. they discover that it isn't really, and the real ancestors remain undiscovered.

natschuster said...

Dave:

Evolution means that one species changes into another. The probelm is that the fossil record doesn't show this. If it happened why doesn't it show up in the fossil record. All the fossil record shows is different species living at different times. Punctuated equilibrium is an attempt to explain why species to species change is not found in the fossil record. But why not just take the fossil record at face value, and say that it shows what really happened, a series of separate creations?

Dave said...

JP, please note that I am, at popular request, responding to Anon/Nat's questions. I am not trolling.

"various primary sources FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD supporting it"

Supporting mass revelation? What sources, besides the Torah itself??

" in an unbroken chain since it began without one missing link,"

very funny. There is a HUGE BLACK HOLE since there are NO written sources that can be dated before the Septuagint codexes or the Dead Sea Scrolls. The "unbroken chain" is mentioned in the Mishna in Avot, but that was written in 200 CE.

" ending today with millions of Jews still learning and practicing the Torah- is not sufficient evidence..."

As should be the billion practicing Muslims who believe in their divinely revealed Q'uran through the prophet Muhammed.

There is NO difference in the logic, can't you see? Its just that Judaism is older, but so what?

"WITHOUT USING THE WORD CIRCULAR REASONING."

I use this only in regards to the Kuzari argument about mass revelation (not about all of Judaism). It means self-referential, or trying to prove something's truth only from "internal" information. Kind of like believing that Harry Potter really existed, from the story itself and the fact that 7 books wrote about him. At most, you can say that the story is internally consistent, but even that it questionable, given the outright contradictions between biblical Hebrew religion and Rabbinic Judaism.

There are many problems with the Kuzari argument, and I refer you to Larry Tanner's excellent (but lengthy) discussion of the subject for a detailed rebuttal.

http://larrytanner.blogspot.com/2010/09/kuzari-principle-index-of-posts.html

And, I am not trying to convince anybody to be an atheist. There are many good reasons to believe in god and/or Judaism, and I am simply rebutting the fallacious ones.

Dave said...

In follow up to my last comment, in my humble opinion, here are the "good" reasons to believe in god (and/or Judaism)

1. It can make you healthier physically and psychologically.
2. It can be neither proven nor disproven, so pick what helps you and makes sense to you.
3. It gives you a community and helps strenghthen communities.
4. It helps in giving every act meaning.

Now if course its possible to obtain these things without religion, but I think its harder. So adopting belief can be seen as a rational act (even if parts of the belief are not "true").

So I am not opposed to enlightened religion. However, when it is used as a platform for ignorance (such as rejection of science) or for harm (as in bigotry), then I am opposed. And that often happens when people adopt religion for the wrong reasons.

natschuster said...

Dave:

The Difference between the Koran and the Torah is that the Torah was revealed to the entire nation. If it didn't happen that, then someone got the entire nation to believe that Hashem revealed himself to their ancestors, and nobody asked why their grandparents didn't tell them. Its so easily falsifiable. The same can't be said of the Koran, because the only Mohammed is said to have experienced the revelation. Not falsifiable like the Torah.

And again, the Torah does not say the my Grandfather believed in the Revelation at Sinai. But he wouldn't have if it didn't happen. Not circular.

natschuster said...

Dave:

Why does religion make people happier? Could it be that humans have a soul that has needs, as well as a body? What would be the evolutionary explanation? Or is it just another thing that atheist hope to have an answer for someday?

natschuster said...

Dave:

The Difference between the Koran and the Torah is that the Torah was revealed to the entire nation. If it didn't happen that, then someone got the entire nation to believe that Hashem revealed himself to their ancestors, and nobody asked why their grandparents didn't tell them. Its so easily falsifiable. The same can't be said of the Koran, because the only Mohammed is said to have experienced the revelation. Not falsifiable like the Torah.

And again, the Torah does not say the my Grandfather believed in the Revelation at Sinai. But he wouldn't have if it didn't happen. Not circular.

Anonymous said...

In follow up to my last comment, in my humble opinion, here are the "good" reasons to believe in god (and/or Judaism)

1. It can make you healthier physically and psychologically.
2. It can be neither proven nor disproven, so pick what helps you and makes sense to you.
3. It gives you a community and helps strenghthen communities.
4. It helps in giving every act meaning

How can this be true if ultimately the religion is false?
Then you dont really beleive and it is pointless.

Anonymous said...

In follow up to my last comment, in my humble opinion, here are the "good" reasons to believe in god (and/or Judaism)

1. It can make you healthier physically and psychologically.
2. It can be neither proven nor disproven, so pick what helps you and makes sense to you.
3. It gives you a community and helps strenghthen communities.
4. It helps in giving every act meaning

How can this be true if ultimately the religion is false?
Then you dont really beleive and it is pointless.

Dave said...

Whats with the double and triple comments, JP?

jewish philosopher said...

Apparently some people are accidentally posting a couple of times. I'm having a very hectic week so I have not been filtering it out.

Dave said...

Hmm. What changed? I'm not sure if I did anything differently.

jewish philosopher said...

I think I'm just publishing whatever is coming in.

Ducky's here said...

How about that Webberman case?

Is he Vaad Ha’Tznius or do they just procure for him.

A regular Satmar Mutawwa'în.

jewish philosopher said...

Isn't this a he said/she said thing? Who's to say what really happened?

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/02/25/brooklyn-rabbi-accused-of-molesting-girl-since-she-was-12/

Dave said...

"How can this be true if ultimately the religion is false?"

First, falsehood and truth are not dichotomous, things are not either 100% true or false. There are shades. Even if one rejects the literal story of revelation and instead uses a metaphorical meaning, and accept that the basic development of rabbinic Judaism is historically correct, you can have the basis of faith. You accept a system, like you accept your nationality and national story.

Second, being in a health profession, I often see families who "believe" in the abilities and strengths of a sick or disabled loved one, even in the absence of objective evidence. This faith helps them get through the difficulties, and also helps the sick person, in that they get maximum effort and encouragement.

So I don't see a contradiction between belief (even if not based on objective truth) and benefit.

Sometimes faith can lead people astray. I can't say exactly when faith becomes dysfunctional. I think you know it when you see it.

Dave said...

BTW JP if you use ITunes I think you will find this interesting (perhaps even enlightening).

https://itunes.apple.com/us/course/hebrew-scriptures-in-judaism/id512201207

"The Hebrew Scriptures in Judaism and Christianity"

It is an Itunes U course from Harvard. Very interesting knowledge and insights about the origins of both religions. Tought by a "modern" Orthodox Jew.

jewish philosopher said...

I'm actually living in Boston for the next few months. Maybe I should zip over to Harvard and give a few classes. "Evolution: a pseudoscientific hoax" "Sodomy: the case for reinstating capital punishment" I bet I would get a little attention.

Dave said...

Perhaps sprinkle it with a little d'var torah on heretics burning in Hell :-)

jewish philosopher said...

Just a few hundred years ago the president of Harvard was a strict Puritan who was strenuous in attempting to keep people to his idea of morality, making strong use of jeremiads to try to prevent indifference and especially to try to get government officials to enforce public morality.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Increase_Mather#Belief

So I don't see any problem with my somewhat conservative ideas being reintroduced to the Harvard curriculum.  I'm bringing them back to their roots a little.

Dave said...

"Somewhat conservative"???

Anyway, college campuses these days have become bastions of ultra-liberalism, you don't have a chance.

Its even worse in Israeli universities. Unless you are a post-Zionist or anti-Zionist radical you can't become a professor with tenure.

jewish philosopher said...

Hey, at least I don't have a post about burning witches, which was once popular in the Boston area.

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

Ezra said...

Nosson Slifkin has refuted this elsewhere

Anonymous said...

Dave- I was waiting for your response.
"How can this be true if ultimately the religion is false?"

"First, falsehood and truth are not dichotomous, things are not either 100% true or false."

How do you know? If there is no truth or false in this world- wow- then nothing is certain. Everything is relative. There is no right or wrong- as there is no way to objectively measure it.
Perhaps thats how colleges came to be bastions of ultra liberalism.
Where is this world heading?????
We are destroying our own selves and future with these backward mindsets. Morality is being thrown out the window.
WHY DOESNT THIS BOTHER ANYONE????
JP- maybe you should give a course on the ramifications of a ultra liberalism with no clear distinctions of right or wrong, and boundaries.
These people claim to be modern but they are destroying our society! Because they are so smart everyone listens to them. But their mindset is so tainted. They speak with logic, but something is VERY off.
Did you ever notice BTW- that atheists have the most unclean mouths- and PEOPLE LISTEN TO THEM AS if they know it all!
That Hitchens guy- I listened to him once and was so disgusted! What a low life!!

We have to wake up!
Something has got to start a revolution!It is getting worse and worse!
In the olden days you used to have to fight to keep your religion if it was different from the govt! Now you have to fight to keep any religion- for fear of being called feeble minded and not "enlightened." (to put it nicely)

Dave said...

Anonymous,

You need a some cognitive behavioral therapy and to read a little history.

Your comment seems to imply that the world is worse off now that it ever was, because of "liberalism".

This is false by any objective measure.

The very freedoms, health and liberties you now comfortably enjoy are a result of "liberalism" that previous generation's reactionaries thought was corruption and the end of decent society.

OMG a black riding in the front of a bus! A woman voting or going to work! A Jew going to Harvard! What have we come to!!!

Anonymous said...

I think liberalism is a great thing- until the past few years. I like that it helps those who are less privileged have a voice and rights. That is a great thing about our country.
The question is really- is there right and wrong? Are there lines we dont cross?
same gender marriage bills- is the epitome of that question- the question of how much this country holds of family and religious values.
Liberalism used to be an expression of religion- in a sense- charity to the less fortunate. There used to be a strong sense of traditional values that permeated through the country. The pledge of allegience, has the words- "...One nation, under G-d." On the dollar bill it says- In G-d we trust. Liberalism was not a contradiction to religious values. It supported it. Now, unfortunately, it has changed- which is why my attitude towards it has changed. The morality and decency of our country- is changing with these immoral platforms.