How Did They Decide?

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

How Did They Decide?

Christianity stands on the words of a few men. If the disciples of Jesus would have ignored him as did most of the Jews of his day, no one would have ever heard of him. It is only because these men believed he was the Messiah that the world knows of the existence of Jesus of Nazareth.

How did these people come to their conclusion? How did these followers of Jesus decide that he was the Messiah prophesied by the Jewish Bible? What was the motivation behind their decision? Was it a deep loyalty to the words of the prophets or was it some other factor that induced them to come to this conclusion?

It is not easy to determine if someone arrived at their conclusion on the basis of intellectual searching or if the conclusions were generated by some external factor and it is not…

View original post 308 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Are We Them?

Are We Them?

Some of us find ourselves in societies which place much emphasis on human dignity and the rights of the individual. It is so tempting and so convenient to look out from the safety of our respective societies and pass judgment upon those societies and those people who don’t share our values. “Look at them,” we say, “see how their society is so corrupt and so evil, I am not them, we are not them and we will never be them.”

But is this true? Can this be true?

Did you ever watch a pantomime? The actors maneuver their bodies in a way that would convince the audience that they are negotiating with a physical reality when in fact there is nothing there. The actions and the motions of the actors project a reality which is no reality.

Human dignity is real but it is invisible. Even if all of the actors on the stage of life were to maneuver their actions as if human dignity does not exist, it will still exist and it will never be stamped out. But since human dignity is invisible it is so easy to forget it or to walk right through it.

Every one of us is an actor on the stage of life and every one of us is a member of the audience. As members of the audience we look at the stage and we “see,” or perhaps we don’t see, human dignity. It depends on the actors. It is to the degree that the actors play their part in demonstrating that human dignity is a reality that the audience will see it as such. And it is the responsibility of every actor to ensure that his or her audience sees human dignity as the reality that it is.

Almost every action and almost every word can project the reality of human dignity or the denial of that holy reality. There are so many levels of projecting that reality or of denying it. A word of respect or a word of contempt, an act of kindness or an act of callousness, consideration or insensitivity, shame or honor, nobility or crassness, all of these contribute or detract to the overall image that our audience perceives.

It is not always easy to identify the right path. In some situations we need to be cruel in order to be kind, in others we need to confront and oppose in order to bring peace and in some extreme situations we may need to kill in order to save lives. There is no hard and fast rule but that we are all on the same stage and the minds and the hearts of the entire audience is interconnected. And since we are the actors, our words and our actions make all the difference because we are the show and there is no other show.

The audience will only see human dignity as a reality if it is projected as such by the actors. And human dignity will only be real in the hearts of the audience to the degree that the actors have succeeded in portraying it as such.

You are on stage, it’s your turn to act, and this is the most important show on earth.

Reflection on a visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Humility and Arrogance

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

Humility and Arrogance

Christians contend that God had to come down to earth as a human in order to “humble Himself”. I find this argument completely self-defeating.

God is humble and man is arrogant. By “taking on” the form of a man God cannot become “more humble”.

In any case; if God wanted to become “more humble” than the Christian narrative is completely self-defeating.

Let us try to appreciate a drop of God’s humility.

In order to teach a fallible people that He is the One who they ought to worship He turned the Nile into blood for a week. Let us step back and absorb this. Imagine the Mississippi turning into blood for a week. Imagine a significant body of water near you turning into blood for a week. Just stop and think how it would impact your life and the life of the people around you. Think of…

View original post 197 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Persuasion vs Education IV – by Jim

A brief note on missionary tactics:

The missionary is not out to educate. He does not attempt to persuade with reasoned arguments. And he is not interested in an exchange of ideas. He has his viewpoint, and he does not care about yours. Generally speaking, he is not listening to you, while he demands that his own voice be heeded. In this regard, Christian missionaries and atheist missionaries are quite similar.

Both groups of missionaries like to put undue pressure upon their target. The Christian missionary has two main tricks up his sleeve in this regard, guilt and fear. The Christian missionary argues that disbelief in Jesus will place one in eternal torment. It is more reasonable to accept his propositions, however dubious, than to risk eternal punishment. He uses this fear to coerce belief.

Similarly he plays on one’s sense of guilt. Because of your wrongdoing, Jesus had to die, he will tell you. One cannot but be horrified at the idea that a man should die a horrible death on his behalf. If a man should then reject this crucified man, he only seems to compound the wrongs done to him, wrongs that are supposed to be due to one’s guilt. Rejection of Jesus only seems to compound that guilt. This guilt also helps to coerce belief.

The atheist missionary also attempts to coerce assent to his propositions. His tools are a little different. He uses social pressure, rather than fear or guilt. He will attempt to make his target fear appearing foolish and small-minded. He employs words like “oogity boogity” and “poofism” in an attempt to humiliate his target and any opposition. This is not argument. This is bullying. The atheist says, in effect: “You do not want to look stupid, do you?” He is appealing to the target’s ego not his intellect.

Much like the Christian missionary, the atheist missionary will brook no dissent. The atheist missionary knows that he is right and he cannot be questioned or contradicted. He will assert that atheists are the very best people he knows, the most open-minded and the most reasonable. To question one is not to be tolerated. Atheists release studies that show themselves to be the most intelligent people in the world. This too is mere bullying. Who does not wish to be considered intelligent? But if you are not an atheist, you are obviously feeble-minded. (One must wonder if one’s I.Q. automatically jump 30 points when abandoning his religion.) If one should ask if an atheist could have erred on some point, one is accused of stereo-typing atheists.

Missionaries do not give a fair hearing to their opponents; they are convinced of their perfect rectitude. They do not allow argument. The Christian missionary declares all those resistant to their message blind, regardless of the evidences and arguments presented. The atheist missionary is not much different in this regard. He too will insist that you listen to his message. But he will take up a mocking attitude when you point to the flaws in his claims. Just as the Christian missionary calls his target blind, the atheist missionary calls his target biased, ignorant, or a “true believer.” Both the atheist and the Christian missionary sidestep the arguments with personal attacks and often with hostility.

Both missionaries will also consider themselves a greater expert in Torah than the Jew who studies and practices it daily. He is not only an expert in his field but yours as well. When he misrepresents Torah through his ignorance, he will maintain that really he is much more versed than the person who has devoted so much time to it. Address his field, however, and he assumes your ignorance. The Christian will tell the Jew that he just does not understand the NT. The atheist (who claims that science is his purview) will say that anyone who criticizes a scientific conclusion or a dishonest method just does not understand science. Still, he will not grant that the Jew knows Torah better than he does. The Jew is supposed by the missionary to be too blind or stupid to understand his own books, history, or heritage.

One should not allow such distasteful tactics to influence his decisions. If the missionary claims are true, they should demand assent by virtue of reason, not emotional appeals. One need not allow himself to be bullied by guilt, fear, or social pressure. One must carefully analyze arguments and not be moved by the idea that he will be burn in hell or be perceived as intellectually inferior. These manipulations are not the tools of the educator but the bully.

Jim

Posted in Addressing Atheism, Uncategorized | 177 Comments

Facing Reality – an open reply to Tildeb

Facing Reality An Open Letter to Tildeb

This letter is my response to the comment you posted here

https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2015/12/27/tug-of-war-an-open-letter-to-tildeb/#comment-25320

I thank you for your comments but I would appreciate if you check out your facts before you write. I am not a scientist and it took me time to research the extravagant assertions that you make. I do however appreciate that your questions prodded me to study this subject.

In previous comments you praised and lauded evolution above and beyond any and every other scientific thought that ever crossed the mind of man. In light of your enthusiastic exaltation of evolution I challenged you to tell us about one technology or therapy that we have today as a result of mankind “discovering” the theory of evolution.

The gist of your response seems to be that since evolution is so broad in its scope, my question is almost belittling the glorious majesty of evolution. According to your assessment, science makes no sense without evolution.

It seems that you did not understand my question.

There are scientists that study the present, the real world that you and I live in and there are scientists who study the past and the abstract. Those scientists who study the real world give us technologies and applications that work for us every day. These scientists do not need to ridicule those who disagree with them, they don’t need to demonize them and they do not need to ratchet up their rhetoric. Reality speaks for itself.

When we are dealing with the abstract, with the mysteries of the past, or with realms way beyond our reach, reality is invoked, but its invocation doesn’t sound too real.

In my previous letter to you I wrote about the limitations of science. It seems that you did not get my point. I will provide some illustration.

Let me introduce you to a concept of which most people are unaware. It is called geosynclinals theory. A 1960 textbook described this theory as “one of the great unifying principles in geology. In many ways its role in geology is similar to that of the theory of evolution, which serves to integrate the many biological sciences… the geosynclinals origin of the major mountain systems is an established principle in geology.” (The Geological Evolution of North America, Ronald Press 1960, pg. 43)

Ether is a bit more popular than geosynclinals theory. In the famous Scopes trial of the 1920’s the judge’s final decision included the following quotation; “To deny the teacher of biology the use of this most fundamental generalization of his science (evolution) would make his teaching as chaotic as an attempt to teach … physics without assuming the existence of ether.”

Perhaps you have heard of the book “Ecoscience” written by Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren. This book, which was published in 1977, predicted major famine and ecological catastrophes which never came to pass. These people proposed radical measures for the government to utilize in order to protect the universe. These measures included forced abortions, involuntary sterilization, and taking away children from people who somehow circumvent these laws. This was after these same two authors had incorrectly predicted an oncoming age of global cooling (“Overpopulation and the Potential for Ecocide” 1971).

Did the scientific community act upon the reality which demonstrated that these people’s understanding of reality was completely off the mark? Did the community of scientists ostracize these people for their fascist ideology?

No! not at all! Dr. Holdren was appointed in 2009 by President Obama as Director of the White House office of Science and Technology. Paul Ehrlich is a respected figure in the scientific community and is the recipient of numerous prestigious prizes.

For many decades in the latter half of the 19th century various scientists were absolutely convinced that the earth was about 100 million years old. This was confirmed by scientists who studied physics, astronomy, geology, biology and geophysics. In other words this theory, extolled by scientists as true “without the slightest possibility of error,” was confirmed by many scientists from a variety of disciplines using a variety of methodologies and aligned “perfectly” with all of these fields of study. But today, scientists realize that the 19th century scientists were all working under wrong assumptions and that they were influenced by each other without consciously realizing it.

I am sure you heard of the planet Vulcan. It was supposed to be between Mercury and the sun and its presence was confirmed by mathematical calculations and even by actual “sightings.” For decades, many scientists were convinced of the existence of this planet which does not exist in the world of reality.

So you see tildeb, I am not overawed by a “consensus of scientists from various fields etc.” and if you are the follower of reality that you claim to be, neither should you.

My request for one practical application of evolution should be read in context of the limitations of science when it comes to matters that are not so readily discernible.

But let me pause to help you understand the point I was making in my previous post. Most of these mistakes were honest mistakes (I would suspect that Holdren and Ehrlich’s mistakes don’t fall into this category). The scientists were simply using the information that they had at the time and this was the best they came up with.

We cannot fault the scientists for making mistakes, but there is something that we could fault them for. Each and every one of these mistakes was predicated on the same false premise. In every generation there is some information that scientists know and there is some information that they don’t know. Amazingly, in every generation the scientists assume that what they do know is about 99.9999 percent of what there is to know and what they don’t know is a mere speck of dust that can be ignored. If the scientists would have been humble enough to acknowledge reality and accept that they know very little about nature, then these mistakes would not have been made with such arrogant confidence. They would not have ridiculed those who opposed their pet theories the way they did and they would have more quickly opened their ears to hear their error.

One more point before I get to evolution. The general public does not know about the fiascos of science. The blunders are relegated to the back pages of arcane history texts and the holy doctrine of the infallibility of science is trumpeted from every textbook and media outlet.

This, tildeb, is a mockery of reality.

Let us go back to evolution, the theory which has your heart. I had asked you for one application or technology given to us by the knowledge learned through acceptance of evolutionary theory.

Now perhaps you could have answered that the progress that has been made in the study of antibiotics and the resistance that is developed by living organisms towards them is a study rooted in the theory of evolution. This would also be true in relation to progress that has been achieved in the fields of breeding plants and animals.

But these examples would not prove your point. Please allow me to remind you what I have already written on this subject. In my post entitled “Random Reality” I clarified that I believe that evolution happens. It is happening today and no one can deny it. What is open to question is the aspect of the theory that asserts that it is random mutations that fuel the evolutionary process. There is very little in the way of evidence that can support this aspect of evolutionary theory and there is much that can disprove it.

Furthermore, the assertion that all life emerged from one original life-form is not as clearly established as you claim. Let me note that there are scientists that share my religious world-view who believe that common descent took place – http://www.aish.com/ci/sam/48951136.htmlso the theory of common descent does not “threaten” my religious worldview, but I don’t see any compelling reason to accept it.

Neither of these examples (resistance to antibiotics or the breeding of plants and animals) requires a belief in random mutations fueling the evolutionary process or a belief in common descent. Both of these evolutions are extremely limited in their scope and have no application to the broad theory of common descent.

I would hazard a guess that at this point you are bristling with indignation. All of the sciences that you mentioned align perfectly with the theory of common descent, or so you say, so how could anyone cast doubt on this theory that has been validated again and again? A staggering amount of new knowledge was discovered as a result of science accepting evolutionary theory and an avalanche of applications, therapies and technologies were given to man through evolution.

The problem is that reality is not what you want it to be. Genetics does not align “perfectly” with the theory of common descent. Paleontology does not align “perfectly” with common descent. And neither does geology or medicine. There are serious problems with the theory of common descent that each of these sciences presents.

You must be exasperated by now. Didn’t the holy “talkorigins” website answer each and every challenge to the glorious theory of evolution posed by those evil creationists? And if I were to tell you that the creationist websites answer every challenge posed by the evolutionists you would wring your hands in despair. Didn’t you tell me again and again that creationists are not scientists? Creationists arrive at their knowledge through the evil method known as “faith” while the immaculate atheists (almost) never misrepresent reality. The fact that some creationists claim that they oppose the theory of common descent based on science and not on faith can be ignored because we “know” that creationists always operate from faith. Furthermore, the creationists have an obvious agenda but the atheists are as altruistic as the driven snow. How could I compare the arguments of these primitive fools to the sophisticated reasoning of the sanctified atheists?

Do you realize tildeb that hundreds of scientists do not believe in evolution? Many of these scientists are atheists. Many of these scientists are accomplished scientists in many fields and they don’t see things your way. There are more scientists that oppose the theory of evolution than there were scientists that opposed every mistake that science made from geosynclinals to ether to Vulcan and to global cooling. Oh, you can dismiss those scientists who disagree with you from your world by labeling them with the appropriate dehumanizing appellations so generously supplied by the Church of Darwin, but these scientists do exist in the world of reality.

Perhaps you are up on every challenge to evolution ever presented but for the benefit of the readers allow me to record some details of the controversy. (I realize that the word “controversy” in the context of evolution is blasphemous to you, but I have no other way to word this truth.)

It is a “well known fact” that humans and chimpanzees share 98% of their DNA, or is it? When the scientists threw out those numbers to the general public they were under the Darwinist induced stupor that the vast majority of DNA is a useless vestigial remnant from the ancient past. They called this “junk DNA.” According to their “knowledge” there was no reason to include junk DNA in the calculation of similarities between the two “twins” on the “tree of life.”

Since those numbers were produced, the ENCODE study recognized that the junk DNA is quite important and is actually functional. You would expect someone to go and revise the numbers. (When junk DNA is included in the calculation then the similarity drops to 75%) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3246854/

Tildeb, how long do you think that it will take for the scientific community to make this correction known to the general public?

I mentioned the tree of life. You seem to be under the impression that this concept is aligned perfectly well with the sciences of anatomy, genetics and molecular biology. But sadly for your “reality” this is not the case. – http://science.sciencemag.org/content/284/5423/2124.full

http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2014/origins-of-eukaryotes-who-are-our-closest-relatives/

You quoted Dobzhansky’s exaggerated statement to the effect that belief in evolution is the backbone of biology and you add to all related fields of knowledge.

Perhaps it may surprise you to know that Dobzhansky was a theist and his essay was an argument for theistic evolution – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nothing_in_Biology_Makes_Sense_Except_in_the_Light_of_Evolution

Furthermore, Dobzhansky was making a point. He wanted to say that you need to recognize that the same natural laws apply to all living creatures in order to understand biology. But it does not follow that in order to understand biology you need to believe in one theory over another as to why the same natural laws apply to all living creatures.

To apply Dobzhansky’s statement to all of the sciences that you associate it with is simply ridiculous. Atomic theory is completely unrelated to evolution. Medicine does not need to believe in evolution in order to work. Your statements concerning the overarching scope of evolution are rooted in dogmatic fundamentalism and not in reality.

But why would anyone doubt evolution in light of the “evidence”? And again, the question is not if evolution happens, but is it random? And the answer to this question is that there is almost no reason to believe that the process is random while there are many reasons to believe that the process is not random at all. The rapid evolution of various species tells us that this is not a random process

http://discovermagazine.com/2015/march/19-life-in-the-fast-lane

The phenomena of convergent evolution also tells us that this is not a random process

http://genome.cshlp.org/content/14/8/1555.long

https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn22510-ultrasonic-insect-evolved-tiny-mammal-like-ears/

You extravagant claim about evolution’s role in the sciences is demonstrably false. It is because of a dogmatic belief in evolution that the majority of any given organism’s DNA was dismissed as vestigial “junk DNA.” Subsequently it was discovered that this DNA is not junk at all. Believing the theory of evolution impeded scientific research and progress in this case. Certain vestigial organs were also dismissed as useless monuments from the past on the basis of evolutionary theory but in fact some of these organs are quite functional. Here too, adherence to the theory of evolution impeded scientific progress.

Let us address the subject of common descent.

As I stated, I am not a scientist but a student of human conversation. I have seen arguments for and against the theory of common descent. I have not only read the arguments but also the techniques of persuasion used by the proponents of both sides of this debate.

I can say this. The technique used by many in the camp of those favoring common descent is the same technique used by the liberal media in the realm of politics and by the Church in its debate with Judaism. They demonize those who disagree with them. I am not saying that you cannot find this technique used by creationists. After all, many of them are educated in the rhetoric of the Christian Scriptures which elevates this technique to the level of virtue. But to deny that it is being used by the proponents of evolution is to deny reality.

It is not as you say, that there are mountains of evidence for the position of common descent and some flimsy shreds of data that are used to cast doubt on this theory. It is also not as you say that every question asked by those who do not accept common descent has been answered by those who do accept the theory. There are serious questions that have not been answered and the opponents of common descent have presented arguments to counter most of the arguments presented by the proponents of common descent.

Perhaps some questions are better than others and perhaps some answers are better than others but there are serious questions on both sides. The argument that you brought from endogenous retroviruses sounds like a good argument in favor of common descent but things are not as clear-cut as you make them sound. The phenomenon of convergent evolution is a very strong argument against common descent and the answers provided by the proponents of the theory are not very satisfying.

You claim adherence to reality. Reality demonstrates that in every generation scientists tend to overestimate the value and weight of the knowledge that they possess. To ignore the past and to assume that the present is different is to ignore reality.

 

I would like to credit Yoram Bogacz’s book, Genesis and Genes, for triggering the thought for this article and for sending me in the direction of most of the scientific information.  

 

 

Posted in Addressing Atheism, Uncategorized | 39 Comments

My Redeemer Liveth – Job 19:25

My Redeemer Liveth – Job 19:25

The book of Job describes how Job, a just man was afflicted by tremendous suffering. The book tells us how his friends discussed his suffering with him. In the course of the conversation Job declares; “For I know that my redeemer lives and that he will be the final one remaining on earth” (Job 19:25). Many Christians believe that Job was referring to Jesus and to Jesus’ eternal nature when he spoke these words. These Christians cannot imagine anyone else being called “redeemer” aside from the Christian Jesus.

The Christian conviction in the rightness of this interpretation is so deeply entrenched in the Christian psyche that many Christians see this verse as the highlight of the book of Job. I once spoke to a Christian scholar and when I mentioned the book of Job, he quoted this verse as if this was the centerpiece of the entire book.

But what is this verse saying? What is the context of this verse? What do the verses preceding and following this verse tell us about Job’s intentions?

Chapter 19 in the book of Job is one of Job’s responses to his friends. Job’s three friends pointed to Job’s suffering as a sign of Job’s sinfulness. They told Job that only sinful people suffer and that his suffering proves that he is unrighteous.

Job vehemently disagreed with the assessment of his friends. Job argued that he was righteous before God and that his suffering is unrelated to any sin that he had committed. In the course of his argument Job expresses a desire that his words be written in a scroll and engraved, with a pen of iron and lead that they be carved in rock forever (Job 19:23,24). Job felt that his arguments should be preserved for future generations.

It is in this context that Job speaks of his redeemer. Job is telling his friends that he is convinced of the rightness of his argument. If his friends fail to see the truth in his argument he wishes that his words could be preserved forever. Job tells his friends that he knows that future generations will vindicate him and recognize the rightness of his claims. If his words will be engraved in rock, Job is certain that truth will prevail and that the future generations will “redeem” him from the mockery of his friends.

The redeemer that Job is speaking about is not some divine redeemer that will take away his sins because Job did not believe that he sinned at all. Job was talking about a human redeemer that will take his side and accept the truth of his arguments. Job was expressing confidence that the last generation of men on earth will be men of truth. Job believed that truth must ultimately prevail and that falsehood cannot last. And because truth is on his side, he is confident that his redeemer must live and that those who side with the truth will outlast those who take the cause of falsehood.

It is clear that Job was not talking about Jesus and that he was not thinking about Christianity. In fact, Job was expressing confidence that humanity will ultimately come to the truth and that the light of truth will inevitably overpower the darkness of the lie. And since Job knew nothing of Jesus it is clear that he believed that this will happen without the services of the Christian Jesus. Truth will ultimately prevail. That is the message of this verse and that is the message of the entire Bible.

Posted in Scripture, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Incarnation and Definition of Marriage

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

Incarnation and Definition of Marriage

Reverend Smith’s gaze shifted from Mary to Jane and back to Mary again. The Pastor broke the long silence: “What! You want to get married in MY church?! Don’t you know where I stand on the issue of same-sex marriage?”

Mary looked the Pastor in the eye: “This is not a “same sex marriage” – don’t you know that Jane is an incarnation of a man. She is one hundred percent man and one hundred percent woman. I fully expect you to sanction our marriage.”

Reverend Smith looked at Mary. It was Mary who broke the silence this time: “What’s the matter? You don’t believe in the incarnation?”

“I have four problems with your incarnation claim” said the Pastor. “Number one; there is no such thing as an incarnation. The Bible speaks of male and female as if it is self-understood that these are two…

View original post 387 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment