I was actually surprised to see the video of the debate between Shmuely Boteach and Christopher Hitchens in JP’s latest post. I think that Boteach does a decent job defending Judaism, but less so theism in general. Although Hitchens powerfully argues for atheism, I feel that Hitchens’ militant anti-religious stand is not helpful and distracts from the important message, which should be about humanistic morality. Hitchens fails to distinguish between purely religious tenets and culture or customs that accompany people who practice religion. Just as any people have customs and practices peculiar to them, so do Jews, and they shouldn’t be faulted for that. This assumes that we consider Jews as a nation or a people, not just people who practice the religion. Furthermore, he does indeed use straw man arguments against Judaism, using marginal/extremist positions or Biblical era Hebrews as representing what Judaism is today. This would be like dismissing modern day European culture or values because of slave trade from 200 years ago. Jews and Judaism evolved, just as other cultures have, and we don’t need to be taking shit for what we presumably did to Amalek 3000 years ago.
Having said that, I cannot help myself but laugh out loud at how JP twists the meanings of words in a pathetic attempt to accuse others of what he is guilty. For example, throughout his posts, JP repeatedly attempts to discredit atheism by calling its proponents drug addicted sex fiends and Nazi holocaust deniers. This would be classic ad hominem—attacking the character rather than the idea. But JP, with breathtaking idiocy, tries to use this term to refer to our asserting the fact that, in comparison to modern times, ancient man understood little about the world around him and had poor awareness of history given the lack of writing. Since many aspects of religion involve history and nature, early man’s ignorance of these subjects obviously affects the reliability of his knowledge and insights into the world, including religious insights. They weren’t stupid, they were just ignorant and therefore unreliable historians. This isn't an ad hominem attack, its just history.
So take your pick. JP is either an idiot or delusional.
According to Wikipedia, the definition of “argument from ignorance”:
A logical fallacy in which it is claimed that a premise is true only because it has not been proven false, or is false only because it has not been proven true. The two most common forms of the argument from ignorance, both fallacious, can be reduced to the following form:
• Something is currently unexplained or insufficiently understood or explained, so it is not (or must not be) true.
• Because there appears to be a lack of evidence for one hypothesis, another chosen hypothesis is therefore considered proven.
I think that this pretty much summarizes JP’s argument for his Judaism. Since Hitchens drinks, atheism must be wrong, and therefore JP’s ultra-extreme fundamentalist Judaism must be right.