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 But alas, one of those papers also was retracted this year and the other soon will be.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".

48 comments:

natschuster said...

If a person were to claim that he saw a murder, an atheist might very well believe him. If the some person were to claim that he saw a miracle, an atheists would not believe him because of his a priori beliefs that miracles don't happen. This is called being dogmatic. But atheists accuse theists of being dogmatic and disregarding evidence. I don't get it.

Constitutional Insurgent said...

There's a huge difference in your analogy natschuster; a murder actually leaves evidence of cause.

A miracle can quite often have a myriad of explanations....none of which point to a miracle.

Brian Westley said...

"Trust but verify" is exactly why peer review and replicatability are part of science -- they help guard against fraud and spurious results. What religion has something analogous to this?

natschuster said...

CI:

What about a case where there is no other evidence but the witnesses's testimony? And what abut a case where there is no other explanation?

Dave said...

"atheists would not believe him because of his a priori beliefs that miracles don't happen.This is called being dogmatic."

No, Nat, this is called being "not psychotic".

A person who reports seeing a supernatural event that nobody else sees or saw would most likely have had an hallucination. Generally other people don't believe them, and recommend medication, or to get off recreational drugs.

We call it "reality check".

Dave said...

I assume that the purpose of this post it to justify your rejection of evolutionary biology, archeology and anthropology, and similar things that contradict the bible. Am I right?

The weakness in your argument is that in the examples that you gave, it is usually scientists themselves who rat out the fraud, and it is the scientific community that rejects them. They are the exception to the rule of a few cases of fraud out of the hundreds of thousands of articles published.

Furthermore, evolutionary theory does not rely on the claims of one or a few potentially unscrupulous scientists, but rather on the confirmatory research of thousands. Nobody says evolution is true "because Darwin said so".

As a non-expert your ability to "rat out" a fraud or bad science negligable, and most people would have little reason to accept your arguments.

Scientific theories do change, and it is entirely plausible the evolutionary theory might change or be superceded, but it is certainly not going back to creationism, which was replaced precisely because it did not explain things as well as evolution does.

jewish philosopher said...

"they help guard against fraud and spurious results"

They seem to be doing a poor job.

"I assume that the purpose of this post it to justify your rejection of evolutionary biology, archeology and anthropology, and similar things that contradict the bible."

No, it's more like to cast a little doubt on the infallibility of scientists, as in naive people who proclaim "Atheism: In Science We Trust".

Dave said...

Science does makes it easier to be an atheist, but deductively it does not follow, that if you believe in science, you must be an atheist.

Dawkins represents himself, not the scientific community. His militant atheism is not the norm.

But I do agree with you, that ultimately, people must put their trust in something, since as an individual you can't do and know everything yourself. An intelligent person knows his own limits and on whom to rely and when. Nobody is infallible.

"They seem to be doing a poor job."

Excuse me, but what rate of fraud/bad science would you consider a "bad job"? Similarly, what rate for corrupt rabbis do you consider excessive?

You have to look at rates, not absolute numbers or individual cases.

natschuster said...

Dave:

Dave said...

"atheists would not believe him because of his a priori beliefs that miracles don't happen.This is called being dogmatic."

No, Nat, this is called being "not psychotic".

A person who reports seeing a supernatural event that nobody else sees or saw would most likely have had an hallucination. Generally other people don't believe them, and recommend medication, or to get off recreational drugs.

We call it "reality check".

But why would you accept the testimony of on person about murder? Maybe he is hallucinating? Adn waht baout a miracl winessed by lots of people?

natschuster said...

Scientific theories do change, and it is entirely plausible the evolutionary theory might change or be superceded, but it is certainly not going back to creationism, which was replaced precisely because it did not explain things as well as evolution does.

Actually evolution does a very poor kob explaining jst baout everything there is in biology. Its just that it is the only naturalistic theory around, and atheists are dogmatically wedded to naturalism. Its not about the evidence, its the dogma.

natschuster said...

"Trust but verify" is exactly why peer review and replicatability are part of science -- they help guard against fraud and spurious results. What religion has something analogous to this?

Just about every statement any Rabbi of the Talmud said was challenged. Every opinion needed to be defended.
That's peer review.

jewish philosopher said...

"Dawkins represents himself, not the scientific community."

Dawkins was the University of Oxford's Professor for Public Understanding of Science from 1995 until 2008. He's not exactly an outcast either.

"Excuse me, but what rate of fraud/bad science would you consider a "bad job"?"

Entire fields of science have been discredited, such as scientific racism.

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

Cited in the New York Times:

“The big problem is that the culture is such that researchers spin their work in a way that tells a prettier story than what they really found,” said Jonathan Schooler, a psychologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “It’s almost like everyone is on steroids, and to compete you have to take steroids as well.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/03/health/research/noted-dutch-psychologist-stapel-accused-of-research-fraud.html

Dave said...

JP, you didn't answer the question. What rate, percentage?

Nat-- "That's peer review."

Yes, and subsequent peer review has shown many of their statements to be nonsense.

"But why would you accept the testimony of on person about murder"

Only if it is coherent and corroborated. If he claimed he murdered somebody, and the supposed victim was alive, or appeared to have died of natural causes, or his story was contradictory I wouldn't believe him.

"Adn waht baout a miracl winessed by lots of people?"

Bring me the witnesses and let's see if the testimony is credible. There have been lots of witnesses for UFO's but none credible, so we reject it.

But please Nat don't start up with the stupid "mass revelation argument" again, you've beat it to death already.

"evolution does a very poor kob explaining jst baout everything "

I'll look for an experts opinion on that matter, not yours. In any case it does a lot better than creationism.

jewish philosopher said...

"What rate, percentage?"

Even if merely 10% or 20% is nonsense, science has lost my unconditional trust.

Dave said...

OK, so if Rabbis from the Talmud demonstrably got at least 10-20% wrong on matters of nature and factual history, would they lose your trust?

I'm not admitting that figure, BTW, I assume that the number for science is much lower, depending on your time frame (how modern) and how you quantify the knowledge. But let's say 10% is correct for the sake of argument. Given uncertainty, wouldn't you bet on 90%? Whose talking about "unconditional trust"?

If a cancer doctor, backed by professional literature, tells you his cure has a 90% cure rate for your brain tumor, and a naturopath tells you that his diet cures everybody, who would you go with?

natschuster said...

"But please Nat don't start up with the stupid "mass revelation argument" again, you've beat it to death already."

And I don't recall you refuting it.

"I'll look for an experts opinion on that matter, not yours. In any case it does a lot better than creationism."

If you actually read the experts you will find that they say that the reason we can't admit creationism is because saying "G-d did it" is not allowed because it is not trestible, not falsifiable, etc. This means that they aren't following the evidence, bu rather dogmatically asserting that creationism is cheating.

natschuster said...


"I'll look for an experts opinion on that matter, not yours. In any case it does a lot better than creationism."

Appeal to authority. Not good.

Anyway, read what the experts say and you will find so much apologetics, and ad hoc explanations to try to answer the problems. There is a lot of, "well, we hope to have an answer for you." Or, even better, "we know evolution happened. It just had to. So there must be an answer." That's dogma.

natschuster said...

What I really don't understand is how people can say that "G-d did it" is not allowed because it isn't falsifiable, then they say it has been falsified. Can you say "contradiction?" I guess it isn't about evidence, it is about dogma. Unless, of course, the evidence supports the dogma.

jewish philosopher said...

"OK, so if Rabbis from the Talmud demonstrably got at least 10-20% wrong on matters of nature and factual history, would they lose your trust?"

No one today follows the Talmudic medical advice. The Talmud is needed to discover God's will not medicine.

And the problems with science are far from being a couple of little bloopers here and there.

Charles Darwin was a scientific racist.

http://www.racismreview.com/blog/2009/02/12/charles-darwin-did-he-help-create-scientific-racism/

Freud was a fraud.

http://www.amazon.com/Why-Freud-Was-Wrong-Psychoanalysis/dp/0465091288

As was Margret Mead.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derek_Freeman#Freeman_vs._Mead:_A_self_described_heresy

Israeli archeology is a contradictory mess.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2010/12/david-and-solomon/draper-text

And let's not forget classics like the Tasaday tribe

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

and the Piltdown man.

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

I would put more however stock in fields chemistry, physics and medicine which can be verified in repeatable, exact laboratory experiments.

Dave said...

Nat-- Appeal to authority is not a logical fallacy unless I'm using in expert in the wrong field. Check your Logic 101 course.

And with all due respect I am not going to address any more of your comments as long as you perseverate on the same failed arguments.

JP, I'm not just talking about medicine. Also cosmology, history, zoology, etc. And since they were obviously wrong about all of those things, they have much worse than a 90% track record, so I think I'll ignore everything they said.

But you, other than quote mining and digging for examples, have still not addressed the question. You have not logically and objectively determined the level at which scientists cannot be trusted. And chemistry and physics support evolution and modern cosmology, BTW.

Your position comes down to-- "I trust the rabbis, including matters of cosmology and biology, since they are mostly right, and I don't believe the scientists, since they are mostly wrong."

I think you have made clear your thinking.

jewish philosopher said...

"JP, I'm not just talking about medicine. Also cosmology, history, zoology, etc"

First of all, Talmudic science may be erroneous.

“You must, however, not expect that everything our Sages say respecting astronomical matters should agree with observation, for mathematics were not fully developed in those days: and their statements were not based on the authority of the Prophets, but on the knowledge which they either themselves possessed or derived from contemporary men of science.” Maimonides Guide for the Perplexed, CHAPTER XIV

http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/gfp/gfp150.htm

Secondly, the midrashim may be erroneous.

"We have yet a third book called Midrash, that is sermons. This is analogous to the bishop standing and giving a sermon, with one of the listeners deciding to write it. In regard to this book, those who believe it well and good, but those who do not believe it do no harm." Nachmanides, Barcelona Disputation

http://www.israel613.com/books/RAMBAN_DISPUTE_E.pdf

Thirdly, the Talmudic Aggada may be allegorical.

"The third approach is to recognise that many Aggadot are intended to teach profound truths, and that the teachings thus operate on two levels: "overt" and "hidden". Thus any impossible assertion was, in fact, intended as a parable; further, where aggadot can be understood literally, they may be taken on this level. This is, in general, the view of the Rabbis. "It is proper … to carefully analyse [the aggadot] … when any of these seem far-fetched we must immerse ourselves in the various branches of knowledge until we understand the concepts." (Maimonides,in his preface to the tenth chapter of Tractate Sanhedrin)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aggadah#Interpretation_of_the_Aggadah

"You have not logically and objectively determined the level at which scientists cannot be trusted."

As much as anyone else, for example politicians or business men.

"And chemistry and physics support evolution and modern cosmology, BTW."

Actually science supports creationism.

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

Dave said...

Since I don't want to troll, I'll leave it at that.

natschuster said...

Dave:

"And with all due respect I am not going to address any more of your comments as long as you perseverate on the same failed arguments."

You brought up National Revelation, not me.

natschuster said...

Anonymous Dave said...

"OK, so if Rabbis from the Talmud demonstrably got at least 10-20% wrong on matters of nature and factual history, would they lose your trust?

I'm not admitting that figure, BTW, I assume that the number for science is much lower, depending on your time frame (how modern) and how you quantify the knowledge. But let's say 10% is correct for the sake of argument. Given uncertainty, wouldn't you bet on 90%? Whose talking about "unconditional trust"?"

A lot of the Science in the Talmud was actually based on the best Empirical Science of the day. Teh Rabbis were listening to the experts. If they didn't listen to the experts, you would say they were wrong. I guess the Rabbis just can't win.

Anonymous said...

JP:

I know we went through this already recently, but reading Richard Elliot Freedmans’s site, he has an interview on Belief.net in which he says regarding the J and E sources:
“Those two sources come from a very early period of Israelite history. We know this for a variety of reasons, especially since they use a very early level of Hebrew than the other parts of the five books.”
How do the rabbis explain (or do they?) different kinds of Hebrew in the Torah text? That J and E sound like different Hebrew than P and D? And that if you take the J stuff and read it as one text, it all makes sense and is in written in the same kind of Hebrew? Same with E?

http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/2004/02/The-Editorial-Team-Behind-The-Bible.aspx

Also, this new book, edited by Jeffrey Tigay (professor) claims it has empirical evidence that other books of the biblical era were put together in the documentary hypothesis fashion. It is called “Empirical Models for Biblical Criticism.”

Maybe worth a read?

Also, if national revelation was part of a long forming tradition, it would not have suffered the same acceptance problems as if it were suddenly sprung on the nation.

This is probably the best way for those like myself to argue with a Rav Dovid Gottleib – he’s assuming an event occurred and was then sealed in the Torah text and then that Torah text was disseminated and read and known by the Israelites, and all of this happened quickly.

The best argument against that is, if that sequence of events never happened, the myth of national revelation would have likely formed over decades and centuries (like a lot of myths seem to form.)

A kiruv line like this (Deuteronomy 4:33): “Has any other people heard the voice of God[a] speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived?” makes sense in this secular scheme: it could have been written well after the myth had formed. Not predicting, but looking back.

As the Jews “invented” a new kind of G-d (again, over centuries, with changes along the way) they would have likely been the only ones with a story of G-d and revelation (until Xtianity and Islam I suppose.)

The above saddens me – because I love the idea that national revelation happened. But I think if you go with the academic view, it all makes a depressing amount of sense.

Tuvia

jewish philosopher said...

"How do the rabbis explain (or do they?) different kinds of Hebrew in the Torah text?"

How are they different? Like Middle English

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

compared to modern English? For example here is the beginning of the Canterbury Tales in the original and in modern English:

1: Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
2: The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
3: And bathed every veyne in swich licour
4: Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
5: Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
6: Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
7: Tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
8: Hath in the ram his halve cours yronne,
9: And smale foweles maken melodye,
10: That slepen al the nyght with open ye
11: (so priketh hem nature in hir corages);
12: Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
13: And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
14: To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
15: And specially from every shires ende
16: Of engelond to caunterbury they wende,
17: The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
18: That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

When April with his showers sweet with fruit
The drought of March has pierced unto the root
And bathed each vein with liquor that has power
To generate therein and sire the flower;
When Zephyr also has, with his sweet breath,
Quickened again, in every holt and heath,
The tender shoots and buds, and the young sun
Into the Ram one half his course has run,
And many little birds make melody
That sleep through all the night with open eye
(So Nature pricks them on to ramp and rage)-
Then do folk long to go on pilgrimage,
And palmers to go seeking out strange strands,
To distant shrines well known in sundry lands.
And specially from every shire's end
Of England they to Canterbury wend,
The holy blessed martyr there to seek
Who helped them when they lay so ill and weal


I've never noticed something like this in the Torah. Methinks someone is pulling your leg.

"Also, if national revelation was part of a long forming tradition,"

Then many differing version of the myth should have developed.

I think I covered all the potential scenarios here.

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2006/12/truth-of-judaism.html

Anonymous said...

The only thing I can say JP is that I bet they are not pulling our legs – everything Friedman says may be open to debate – I’m sure there are other academics who would love to take on the idea that old Hebrew = more recent Hebrew and show how J and E and P and D are all from the same time and place.

The reason the idea survives (so far) is generally the case challenging it is weaker than the currently accepted idea.

This is pretty classic academic/scientific stuff.

So, I appreciate your take on things – but I still believe in a crowd of fighting academics there are few that would agree with you on the point that all the Hebrew is the same.

At the very least, there are probably many detailed reasons why they see the Hebrew as coming from different eras. The same way we identify Shakespearean English as from another era as our own version.

So more study I think! Then the question of documentary hypothesis style documents that the other book is talking about.

It’s just the evidence moves more in the direction of the academic view. But I’m no expert.

I think we are all a little bit superficially informed on these matters.

It reminds me of my friend who believes “The Fed” is illegally profiting to the tune of billions each year in our current economic system. He has all kinds of beliefs about how the system really works – how bankers control things in all kinds of ways that defy conventional understanding. It’s all about some new world order, and all kinds of ancient secret societies, etc.

Anyway, the less he really knows the more this stuff persuades him. I think if he ever met employees of the Fed and discussed it with them, he would blown away by how off he is in his impression of who they are and what they act like, and their backgrounds.

The closer you get, the less extremist, conspiracy style stories seem authentic, or verifiable, or accurate. But from afar? Very compelling.

The DH may be an instance of that – from afar it is “laughable.” But up close? We never really look that closely do we? I contend it is just too boring to do it.

Believing the Fed runs the world is much more fun.

And as far as studies showing that prayer works – mainly I imagine terrible studies. So many of those: vitamins are good, vitamins are bad, butter is good, butter is bad.

Then there are those studies that show that we can “influence” water molecules with our mind.

You ever see books showing the fraud and nonsense that passes for some studies on things like ESP, etc? It is a racket and an industry – people love studies showing supernatural stuff. They never seem to survive long though – like the Mayan Calender. Lots of light, very little heat. All baloney really – but five years ago? Mayan dooms day was all the rage.

The better studies would show that prayer does not work. But no one cares about those.

We want to believe. We want so much to see evidence. We simply can’t help ourselves. I know I can’t often.

Tuvia

jewish philosopher said...

Can you actually read the Torah in Hebrew? And as this post makes clear, academia is just as much prone to fraud as anything else.

Anonymous said...

I’m sure academia has fraud – it has everything in it. arguments, fraud, theories that rise and die, and others that rise and rise.

It’s a conversation, and it all washes out eventually. Remember cold fusion? It all kind of comes out in the end.

This is why we rely on it – an open process. Remember? The problem some see in religion is it is a closed process. Shut off from normal debate.

But it gets weirder in religion because we are asked to say things like we KNOW the the Torah is true.

Can’t we even agree that this is not a sentence that makes any literal sense? How do we know? Why do we have to say we know?

Can’t we say: we HOPE the Torah is true? We’d love it to be true? We wish it to be true?

Why can’t we acknowledge this sentiment? Why is it a known that the Torah is true (or else you are a kofer and will lose your place in the world to come.)

Tuvia

jewish philosopher said...

"Shut off from normal debate."

Aren't we debating?

"we are asked to say things like we KNOW the the Torah is true."

How do you know that the Apollo moon landings really happened? 

Also, I think that if you could read the original Hebrew, you would know that it's the same language throughout the Torah.

Anonymous said...

old hebrew versus more recent hebrew in the text of the Torah is a specific enough thing to actually investigate. if i can figure out how to investigate it, i will try...
tuvia

jewish philosopher said...

Keep me posted Tuvia.

There are books of the Bible which are written in radically different styles in comparison to the Pentateuch (Job comes to mind) however even there I am not aware of any way of dating it as being older Hebrew or newer Hebrew.

Ducky's here said...

However, these were all exposed as frauds and retracted. The process functions very well.

Religion has no such fail safe. When the historic record debunks the Exodus story and the O.T. story of Jericho, there is no retraction. There can be no retraction.

jewish philosopher said...

Sure there is. If you find out that your religion is false, you can just change religions. People do it every day. I discovered that the Christianity and atheism which I was raised in were both wrong so I became a Jew.

Mendel said...

Should we also trust but verify the words of the Rabbis? or should we just accept what they say because they are great men?

jewish philosopher said...

What words and which rabbis?

Mendel said...

Like commentaries on the Tanach, such as Rashi's, Rabbis who tell us what they think the Halakha is, such as RamBam, or today's Rabbis who also tell us what they think the Halakha is, but some disagree.

Yuri said...

"in the Bible the line always followed the father, including the cases of Joseph and Moses"

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/patrilineal.html

"Zipporah was one of the seven daughters of Reuel/Jethro, the Midianite priest or prince"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zipporah#Biblical_references

"Asenath is a figure in the Book of Genesis (41:45.50; 46,20), an Egyptian woman whom Pharaoh gave to Joseph son of Jacob to be his wife. The daughter of Potipherah, a priest of On, she bore Joseph two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, who became the patriarchs of the Israelite tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim."

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

Mendel said...

Like for example, should we trust everything Rashi says about the Tanach, or should we verify it for ourselves, and if it doesn't make sense, give a more reasonable explanation?

Should we always trust Rabbis who tell us what they think the Halakha is, or should we verify it for ourselves, and if it doesn't make sense, make a more reasonable Halakha?

jewish philosopher said...

Yuri, your exzmples are prior to the acceptance of the Torah at Mount Sinai, therefore Torah law did not yet apply. For example, Jacob married his sister in law Rachel, a union prohibited by the Torah.

Mendel, yes if your Torah knowledge is as great as Rashi, you may well disagree with him, as other Biblical commentaries often did. However you cannot disagree with someone whose knowledge is incomprehsible to you.

Mendel said...

How do I know if my Torah knowledge is as great as Rashi?

Don't you often disagree with scientists whose knowledge of biology and other sciences are greater than yours?

Also, isn't always following what apparently knowledgeable people say similar to the "appeal to authority" that you often write about in your articles?

jewish philosopher said...

No rabbis in recent centuries felt capable of understanding Rashi and therefore contradicting him.

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2010/03/jewish-literature-seeing-effects-of.html

I wouldn't disagree with a physicist whose work I don't inderstand.

Mendel said...

"No rabbis in recent centuries felt capable of understanding Rashi and therefore contradicting him."

Of course they understand Rashi, you can't understand much of the Torah without understanding Rashi. They simply don't contradict him because of his superior knowledge in the area. And they wouldn't contradict him even if they disagree with him.

But what I'm saying is that this is not consistent with the advice of "trust but verify" because you're just trusting Rashi, and not giving a different interpretation at those times where you believe that Rashi is wrong.

Also, isn't always following what apparently knowledgeable people (such as Rashi) say similar to the "appeal to authority" that you often write about in your articles?

"I wouldn't disagree with a physicist whose work I don't inderstand."

Yes, but you often disagree with Biologists and other Scientists, whose work I'm sure you don't FULLY understand (that's alright, not many do), and whose knowledge of the subject is superior to yours and most others.

Yet, you don't think it's OK to disagree with Rashi even though he fits in the same category. I'm sure you don't FULLY understand his work, and his knowledge of the Torah is superior to yours and most others.

Personally, I believe that always following what apparently knowledgeable people (whether it be Rashi or some scientist) say is similar to the "appeal to authority" that you often write about in your articles, and "appeal to authority" is a fallacy.

jewish philosopher said...

I think that the structure of Jewish literature validates the oral law.

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2010/03/jewish-literature-seeing-effects-of.html

Rashi quotes from the Talmud and Midrashim generally. What problems do you have with him?

Mendel said...

"Rashi quotes from the Talmud and Midrashim generally. What problems do you have with him?"

I don't know. What problems do you have with him? I never said I have a problem with Rashi necessarily; all I said was that I don't agree with Rashi because of "appeal to authority", but rather because his commentary generally makes sense based on the Torah and Talmud. And I certainly was not referring to just Rashi, but all commentators, many of whom are more questionable than him.

Anonymous said...

In order to have any knowledge it's necessary to make certain assumptions. I.e. science presumes that an objective world exists and acts orderly (qm doesn't contradict this, the order there is randomness) w/o this no scientific knowledge can be reached. Athiests make the assumption the natural world is the only reality. The question is is it reasonable to make such an assumption as opposed to religious ones. Athiests believe that so far as the world appears to be this way this assumption is most reasonable. They will therefore not accept witnesses for miracles etc. This isn't dogma it is simply a reasonable and practical assumption as opp. To religious assumptions which have no basis. The agnostic approach is to not make any assumption on this matter they will work with such testimony. Personally I agree with the athiest approach cuz in life we must make assumptions but we should remember its only an assumption.

Anonymous said...

You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.

jewish philosopher said...

You can safely say you're a moron when all you do is quote Christopher Hitchens.