Sunday, September 13, 2009

JP's Phallacies-- a Rehash

No, it's not a spelling mistake. Its just a joke about JP's obsession with sex.

I'm going to briefly recount JP's false arguments "proving" god and the divine origin of Torah, along with a 1-line rebuttal.

Claim: There is no morality without God or the Torah.
Rebuttal: People make laws to make livable societies, while individual guilt, conscience, and empathy are part of human nature (except for psychopaths), and give an evolutionary advantage in helping perpetuate our genes.

Claim: The watchmaker analogy proves that there was a Creator.
Rebuttal: The watch is not analogous to biological material, which we observe to grow, replicate and change itself without "intelligent" intervention.

Claim: The mass revelation claims made in the Torah could not have been fabricated.
Rebuttal: Yes they can, as can be all claims made by other religions.

Claim: The feeling of free will and self-awareness proves that we have an immortal soul.
Rebuttal: That we have those feelings says nothing about what causes those feelings.

Claim: Atheism produces immorality and degeneracy.
Rebuttal: As a proportion of the population, violence in the world is decreasing, as the world is becoming more secular. (Proof: average lifespan has increased despite wars)

Claim: The Torah contains unique wisdom that could only have been written by God
Rebuttal: The Torah contains plenty of mistakes (factual errors, contradictions and anachronisms) as well as customs and stories copied from neighboring peoples.

Claim: The Torah and Judaism don't change.
Rebuttal: The Talmud and subsequent rabbinic interpretation completely changed Judaism, nullifying some laws and adding new ones.

Claim: The oral law is from God and was given to Moses
Rebuttal: The Bible itself contradicts this in many places. The Talmud at times completely twists the words of the Torah.

Claim: Justice is administered through the afterlife and hell.
Rebuttal: Absolutely no evidence for this other than rabbinical statements in post biblical times.

Claim: Skeptics most prove their skepticism, i.e. that God doesn't exist or didn't write the Torah
Rebuttal: The flying spaghetti monster and celestial teapot arguments demonstrate that the burden of proof is on the believer, not the skeptic.

Claim: Evolution is an unproven theory promulagated by atheist crackpots.
Rebuttal: The overwheming scientific evidence (direct observation+inductive reasoning) shows that it is correct, and it is held to be true by the vast majority of biologists and has stood the test of scientific scrutiny. (Had it not withstood this scrutiny it would have been dropped long ago like blood-letting or exorcism).

Having said all of this it may still be rational for a person to believe in God and OJ, as long as he recognizes that it is a leap of faith for which there is no proof. I wouldn't call all of the religious people on earth "irrational", unless their faith brings them to do destructive actions to themselves or others.

27 comments:

G*3 said...

Having said all of this it may still be rational for a person to believe in God and OJ, as long as he recognizes that it is a leap of faith for which there is no proof.

Is faith rational?

Holy Hyrax said...

>Is faith rational?

LOL. Perhaps not Spock, but it certainly is human. And its a great part of our humanity.

Off the Derech said...

>Is faith rational?

No. It's stupid. Nor is it human. It's awful, is what it is.

DrJ said...

Is faith rational?

I understand rational in the sense of using reason and human drives to achieve a purpose, and that religion does. Something rational doesn't always have to be "the" correct answer or entirely logical. Rational people get married, become politicians, and do all kinds of "illogical" things. Prof Leibovitz frequently compared the committment to serve god to the decision to love a woman-- not entirely logical, or explainable, but still rational. An act of will.

Holy Hyrax said...

>No. It's stupid. Nor is it human. It's awful, is what it is.

No, you're inhuman for suggesting somthing like that. Implying henceforth that all people that have faith are inhuman. Grow up already JP.

G*3 said...

> its a great part of our humanity.

Well, you're entitled to your opinion. But I see it as just another useful shortcut we use to get around having to think through every single thing we do. Like all such shortcuts, it should be treated with caution.

> I understand rational in the sense of using reason and human drives to achieve a purpose, and that religion does.

I agree with the first part of that sentence, but not the second. Irrational isn't delusional, and emotional reasons can be legitimate reasons to do something (like marrying someone).

It isn't delusional to recognize and accept that your religion requires a leap of faith, and then take that leap for emotional, social, or other reasons. But those reasons are not rational, and say nothing about the objective truth of the religion.

Beleiving that your emotions reflect reality is irrational and misguided, but isn't quite delusional. Beleiving that your emotional/societal attachments dictate what is reality is delusional. Possibly clinicaly, as a delusion is a break with reality.

Holy Hyrax said...

>it should be treated with caution.

I will agree with you here. I think everything in life (any hashkafic outlook, even political) has to be treated with caution.

Off the Derech said...

HH: Do I smell sour grapes?

Holy Hyrax said...

>HH: Do I smell sour grapes?

I don't know, check your fridge JP.

DrJ said...

Wikipedia has an excellent discussion of rationality
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rationality

From what I understand the key is using reason to achieve one's goals, given one's social, emotional, and intellectual environment.

Objective truth is not a criterion for rationality.

I am not defending religion's claims, as should be obvious from my blog. But I am understanding of whatever it is in human makeup that makes us believe.

So we can't really speak of religion itself being rational, but we can say that believing is rational.

Anonymous said...

JP is OTD !! its finally all making sense now,......

DrJ said...

"JP is OTD !! its finally all making sense now,....."

That would be interesting. That has been one of the theories all along.

Anonymous said...

i feel stupid that i ever deabted with JP

jeez

DrJ said...

It just a theory, isnt it? Does anybody really know?

Off the Derech said...

I hope you're not serious.

Holy Hyrax said...

Of course we are serious. You guys are exactly alike.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekQ_Ja02gTY

lol

Off the Derech said...

Did anyone other than HH (or Garnel) claim I'm JP?

DrJ said...

I had suggested that JP is a closet skeptic, not that he was specifically OTD or anybody else. Besides, the writing style is different (documentary hypothesis??)

Garnel Ironheart said...

Claim: There is no morality without God or the Torah.
Rebuttal: People make laws to make livable societies, while individual guilt, conscience, and empathy are part of human nature (except for psychopaths), and give an evolutionary advantage in helping perpetuate our genes.

Counterrebuttal: People make laws but they don't make morality. Breaking the law of a country means imprisonment or fines but it doesn't make you an objectively bad person. You haven't blemished anything other than your personal record. There is no need for teshuvah. You do your time, pay the fine, etc. and you're considered rehabilitated. Nowhere is there an attempt to make you a better person. This is the distinguishing difference between religious and secular mortality.

Claim: The watchmaker analogy proves that there was a Creator.
Rebuttal: The watch is not analogous to biological material, which we observe to grow, replicate and change itself without "intelligent" intervention.

Counter rebuttal: Fine, change it from watchmaker to self-learning software maker which also grows, replicated and changes itself without "intelligent" intervention and start the argument all over again.

Claim: The mass revelation claims made in the Torah could not have been fabricated.
Rebuttal: Yes they can, as can be all claims made by other religions.

Counter rebuttal: Maybe, but we're the only one that's survived to this day to talk about it. Remember that along with mass revelation most religions also promise they'll last forever. Only we have. The rest are relics of history.

Claim: Atheism produces immorality and degeneracy.
Rebuttal: As a proportion of the population, violence in the world is decreasing, as the world is becoming more secular. (Proof: average lifespan has increased despite wars)

Counter rebuttal: Life span is increasing because infant mortality is decreasing as a result of better public health systems, sanitation and mass immunization. In fact, the bloodiest war in history was initiated by an atheist regime. Atheist regimes in Russia and China killed more of their own people than the total number of people killed in wars in the previous 10 000 years. Religious wars generally don't result in huge amounts of senseless death because the religious leaders would rather convert the captive population in order to deomstrate their superiority. In terms of destruction of life, atheism is unparalled in history.

Claim: The Torah contains unique wisdom that could only have been written by God
Rebuttal: The Torah contains plenty of mistakes (factual errors, contradictions and anachronisms) as well as customs and stories copied from neighboring peoples.

Counter rebuttal - this assumes that the Oral Law was invented later. Most frum Jews reject this assumptions.

Claim: The Torah and Judaism don't change.
Rebuttal: The Talmud and subsequent rabbinic interpretation completely changed Judaism, nullifying some laws and adding new ones.

Counter rebuttal: new laws are generally based on old ones as the system evolves in response to new and changing circumstances. This evolution is also predicted in the Torah. Laws which were nullified also generally only come in one of two types:
a) Can't do them (Temple based laws, purity and tumah)
b) Don't do them - avoidance of shofar on Shabbos Rosh HaShanah because of concern with carrying
In all cases however, there is a consistent method which led to these changes.

Garnel Ironheart said...

Claim: The oral law is from God and was given to Moses
Rebuttal: The Bible itself contradicts this in many places. The Talmud at times completely twists the words of the Torah.

Counter rebuttal: The Bible never contradicts this. The Talmud at times interprets the words of Torah using the Oral Law as a guide instead of going with the simple literal meaning of the text, true, but if you read the simple literal meaning of the text it often doesn't make sense without the Oral Law (eg. do we eat matzah for 6 or 7 days on Pesach?) Only when the Oral and Written Laws are put together does the whole system make sense. Detractors remove the Oral Law and say "See, it's all garbage!" This is dishonest.

Claim: Skeptics most prove their skepticism, i.e. that God doesn't exist or didn't write the Torah
Rebuttal: The flying spaghetti monster and celestial teapot arguments demonstrate that the burden of proof is on the believer, not the skeptic.

Counter rebuttal: the flying spaghetti monster is in the same class as the "God can't create a rock He can't lift argument". Whether or not such a monster exists is irrelevant to the nature, origins and ongoing existence of the universe. Whether or not God does (He does, by the way) is extremely relevant to those things.
Further, the onus of proof is on atheists as the religious system precedes theirs and they are the ones seeking change.

Claim: Evolution is an unproven theory promulagated by atheist crackpots.
Rebuttal: The overwheming scientific evidence (direct observation+inductive reasoning) shows that it is correct, and it is held to be true by the vast majority of biologists and has stood the test of scientific scrutiny. (Had it not withstood this scrutiny it would have been dropped long ago like blood-letting or exorcism).

Garnel Ironheart said...

Counter rebuttal: Evolution as a rock-hard fact is hold only by the vast majority of scientists when you eliminate or ignore those scientists who disagree. Like global warming (everyone agrees it's happening because anyone who disagrees doesn't count), there are problems with the theory. Yes, at present it is the best explanation from a scientific perspective as to how things appeared but it does not answer all questions, has at times been propped up by falsehooods (hello Piltdown man!) and still has holes which its adherents would rather ignore.

And OTD is not JP. I'm OTD.

DrJ said...

A few points, Garnel

1. Secular punishment does involve "teshuva"-- often punishment and parole decisions are based on an assessment of the criminal's admission of guilt and regret-- this is part of prisoner rehabilitation.

Besides, when has "Jewish" teshuva actually worked? Are Jews any "better" now than they were before?

2. Regarding violence-- See Steve Pinker's lecture
http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_on_the_myth_of_violence.html

3. Even if there is a God who created the world he is not relavant since he disappeared or died or is asleep--he turned the world over to people, the last we heard from him was 3000 years ago if you believe the biblical story. If you can still hear him have a great time.

4. Any serious biologist who would deny evolutionary biology would be considered a crackpot and laughed out of his profession.

5. The oral law, which was written down in about 200 AD many centuries after the Torah was written, contains many factual errors regarding physics, medicine, biology, and other fields, so it could not have been inspired by god. If the science is wrong (based only on their knowledge at the time), everything else written in the Talmud is also unreliable. Additionally, many passages in Nach seem unaware of or contradict what we know of as rabbinic Judaism. The talmud reliably reflects what was normative rabbinic Judaism in the post exhilic period but is unreliable about earlier events.

Garnel Ironhart said...

1. I agree that these are often factors considered but otherwise when the sentence ends it ends and the prisoner is tossed back onto the street.
As for the comment about Jewish teshuvah, well yes we are better than before. We don't worship idols, we don't burn our children for Molech...

And even if we're not getting better nowadays, that means we're not doing teshuvah properly. It says nothing about the concept.

3. God remains extremely relevant as it is only due to His ongoing intervention that the world continues to exist. Your typing that he is asleep was made possible by His generously granting you the power to do it

4. No, only those dogmatic biologists who let their emotions overcome their adherence to the scientific method.

5. The factual errors you refer to are not the Oral Law. The Oral Law is just that: laws. Observations, medical advice and general thoughts are recorded in the Talmud but they're not the Law itself. As for Nach, there are lots of passages that affirm that the Oral Law was known and also ignored by the majority of the population (just like today).

G*3 said...

> People make laws but they don't make morality… Nowhere is there an attempt to make you a better person. This is the distinguishing difference between religious and secular mortality.

So there is no objective morality. So what?

> Fine, change it from watchmaker to self-learning software maker which also grows, replicated and changes itself without "intelligent" intervention and start the argument all over again.

The analogy is flawed because its assumptions are flawed. We know that a watch, or a piece of software, has a creator not because it is complex, but because in our experience all watches and software are artifacts. We have no such experience when it comes to universes, and so are not in a position to know whether a universe requires a Creator.

> Maybe, but we're the only one that's survived to this day to talk about it. Remember that along with mass revelation most religions also promise they'll last forever. Only we have. The rest are relics of history.

1. Longevity is not proof of validity. It is a point in Judaism’s favor, but is by no means conclusive.
2. Forever is, well, forever. We can’t say that Judaism has lasted forever until the end of time (if there is such a thing). The best we can say is, so far, so good.
3. The rise and fall of religions can be explained by sociology. Christianity got its big break through Constantine, Islam through Arab armies. Paganism started to disappear when Rome outlawed it and was wiped out by the Catholic church in the middle ages. It can be argued that Judaism survived because Jews were seen as outsiders and were forced to live in separate places, wear distinctive clothes, barred from trade guilds, etc.
4. The longevity of the religion has nothing to do with the problems of the Kuzari proof.

> Atheism produces immorality and degeneracy…

This is at best a pragmatic reason to be religious. Which is kind of silly. Even assuming that atheism begets amorality and violent deaths, the argument is, “Pretend to believe in God so that we don’t kill each other.” Why not just not kill each other?

Anyway, the argument is fallacious. While it is true that the communists were atheists, they killed people because of communism, not because of atheism. The Nazis, who I assume you are referring to by “the bloodiest war in history was initiated by an atheist regime” were mostly Christians.

G*3 said...

> this assumes that the Oral Law was invented later. Most frum Jews reject this assumptions.

Which still doesn’t explain why Torah Shebiksav would say one thing if, according to Torah Shel Baal Peh, it means something completely different.

> new laws are generally based on old ones as the system evolves in response to new and changing circumstances. This evolution is also predicted in the Torah.

From your mouth to chareidi ears! There are plenty of people who claim that the avos practiced Judaism exactly as we do today, including all of the layers of rabbinic laws and commentary.

> but if you read the simple literal meaning of the text it often doesn't make sense without the Oral Law

Which explains why the Oral Law was invented, but is not a proof that the Oral Law is the genuine interpretation.

> the flying spaghetti monster is in the same class as the "God can't create a rock He can't lift argument". Whether or not such a monster exists is irrelevant to the nature, origins and ongoing existence of the universe.

Its obvious you haven’t partaken of His Noodly Goodness. The Flying Spaghetti Monster created the world so that we could enjoy His pasta, and constantly renews the world so that we may continue to do so. It is His will that we humans enjoy meatballs with spaghetti, and occasionally with elbow macaroni when we run out of spaghetti. How dare you blasphemy against the FSM by saying his existence is “irrelevant to the nature, origins and ongoing existence of the universe!” I hope that you come to find comfort in his Spaghetti. Ramen.

> Evolution as a rock-hard fact is hold only by the vast majority of scientists when you eliminate or ignore those scientists who disagree.

You answer this yourself a sentence later when you wrote, “at present it is the best explanation from a scientific perspective as to how things appeared.” That it is not perfect would be a problem if it were a religious claim, but it is not. Science doesn’t claim to have perfect explanations, only ones that are good enough to explain observed phenomena.

Also, the whole religion/evolution debate is an example of a false dichotomy. Even if evolution was proven to be a huge mistake, that isn’t a point in favor of religion. It would just mean that evolution is wrong.

DrJ said...

One additional point:

The erroneous "factual observations" in the Talmud are used for determining laws. For example, if the malacha of shchita was actually adjudicated by Moshe at Sinai, you would have thought that god would have mentioned to him that fleas don't spontaneously generate from dust or that worms don't spontaneously form in fruit. Or various other errors about female anatomy and physiology that determined the laws fo niddah.

The Rabbis in the talmud, although perhaps being clever, had NO magical divine spirit, and had no better insight into history than anybody else. But for various sociological reasons their view became the dominant one as being the authentic carriers of the Hebrew religion.

As G3 said, the survival of the ideas says nothing about their truth. In the history of man many ideas and peoples survived, and many disappeared. Thats how history works.