Foundational Claims – excerpt from Supplement

In order to establish the logical principles that God exists and that He is in control of nature, God turned over the world (with the miracles of the exodus and Sinai). He did this in front of an entire nation. He left no room for questions. Yet missionaries would have us believe in the paradoxical teaching that attributes divinity to a human being on the basis of the garbled report of people who were devoted followers of this human being!?

Just for the record let us contrast the foundational events of Judaism against the foundational events of Christianity.

Every religious belief system (including atheism) must by definition present a teaching on that which is not visible in the physical world. Judaism teaches that there is one God, Christianity teaches that belief in Jesus provides forgiveness for sin, and atheism teaches that there is no God. None of these teachings could be verified through a physical science experiment.

In order to maintain a minimal sense of credibility, any given religious belief system must explain how it is that it received this knowledge from the realm of the invisible.

Judaism is the only religious belief system that comes with the claim that the foundational elements of knowledge came from the realm of the invisible directly to an entire nation. God Himself spoke to Israel and showed them that He is the only God (Exodus 20:1, Deuteronomy 4:35). God Himself allowed the nation to listen in as He spoke to Moses, affirming Moses’ position as God’s prophet (Exodus 19:9). These two articles of information (God’s reality, and the truth of Moses’ prophecy) are the foundations of Judaism, and these were given to the nation directly from God. In stark contrast, the foundational concepts of Christianity were allegedly revealed to individuals (Jesus, and Paul) who passed on what they claimed to have seen and learned. Judaism stands on the testimony of a nation, Christianity (like Islam) stands on the word of individuals.

We could classify miracles into two categories, there are “Wall Street Journal” miracles, and there are “tabloid” miracles. A faith-healing or even a resurrection, are not events that impact the world at large. A respectable newspaper will not put a faith-healing as a headline article because it has no broad ramifications. On the other hand, if the entire army of China were to drown in the sea, the event would make headlines in every respectable media outlet.

The foundational miracles of Judaism impacted the physical lives of nations in a concrete way. The Egyptian army, the world power of the time, was drowned in the Red Sea. A large nation (Israel) was set free from slavery, while another large nation (Egypt) suffered terrible losses. The Nile turned into blood for seven days, the country of Egypt was covered with darkness for three days – events that are visible for miles around and to countless people. In contrast, the alleged miracles of Jesus touched the lives of individuals. Not any individuals, but only those who already had put their faith in him (Mark 6:5). The alleged resurrection was only witnessed by people who already believed in him.

The miracles of Judaism were preserved by the physical descendants of those whose lives were impacted by these foundational miracles. In sharp contrast, there is no family that lives today that claims to descend from those who were healed by Jesus.

In short, the miracles of Judaism are credible from every angle. Christendom acknowledges that God went to these lengths to establish the credibility of the principles of Judaism. And again, the principles of Judaism are logical and straightforward. Yet Christendom expects people to believe that the same God will condemn everyone to hell for not believing the paradoxical teachings of the trinity and the incarnation on the basis of a few “tabloid” miracles?!

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73 Responses to Foundational Claims – excerpt from Supplement

  1. tildeb says:

    Two things. First you state as if true that:

    Every religious belief system (including atheism) must by definition present a teaching on that which is not visible in the physical world. Judaism teaches that there is one God, Christianity teaches that belief in Jesus provides forgiveness for sin, and atheism teaches that there is no God. None of these teachings could be verified through a physical science experiment.

    Atheism is a null set. It contains no beliefs or principles or foundation tenets. It is empty of belief in gods or a god (that’s what the term ‘atheism’ means… ‘a-‘ for the negation relevant only to ‘theism’ which means belief in a god or gods. The term ‘atheism’ is used only in the sense of belief. It does not include any reference to knowledge, which is reflected in the root term ‘gnosticism’. Referring to one’s lack of knowledge about a god or gods is why we have the term agnosticism. One can be – and Richard Dawkins readily admits to the identity – an agnostic atheist.

    What you have done is completely misrepresent atheism to mean what it doesn’t: a belief that there is no god. Simply put, you are trying to make an absence of belief mean a belief in the absence. This is not accurate, not reflective of the term, not another kind of belief whatsoever. Not believing you are a fish does not translate into saying I believe you are a fish of a different kind anymore that not believing in a god or gods does not translate into saying I believe in no god. A non belief is not another kind of belief.

    So trying to pretend using misrepresentation and falsehood to paint atheism as a kind of religious belief is reasonable or legitimate is nothing more than a lie, an intentional deception, to serve some other purpose than respecting what;s true.

    Secondly, there should be lots of evidence for these foundational claims you present as if true. There isn’t. In fact, there is an absence of evidence where it should be plentiful. That’s why most Jewish scholars agree that these foundational claims are not historically valid. There is every indication that there was no wholesale Jewish slavery in Egypt, no exodus, no vanquishing of an Egyptian army. There is overwhelming evidence of continuous Jewish occupation in the NME. Claiming otherwise requires people like you to produce compelling evidence from reality for these historical claims. Unless and until you do so, you’re simply stating what you believe is the case, and do so knowing full well that these claims stand contrary to and in conflict with what reality shows us to be the case.

    • tildeb Welcome back! Thanks again for your comments. First – about atheism being a belief – I actually wrote this article before our previous interaction where you taught me that not all atheists are believers – so when I wrote it I wasn’t “intentionally” misleading anyone – I understood the dictionary definition of atheism (as opposed to agnosticism) to mean a belief that there is no God (and I got this definition from my understanding of the English language). I now accept that many atheists would fit your description of atheism if they were describing their world-view to others – but when it comes down to it you get statements of faith such as a faithful confidence that life could not have originated by an intelligent creator or that all faith communities “must” share the same negative statistics without seeing the actual statistics – so I didn’t change the wording because it reflects facts on the ground Second – as for the lack of archaeological evidence to the events described in the Bible – it isn’t as empty as you claim – there is a consensus amongst archaeologists that there was a major influx of population into Canaan at around the time of Joshua – I wrote about these under the category “Bible Criticism” – so the evidence isn’t as much as the Bible believer would want but it isn’t as absent as the opponents would want either. Either way – your accusation that my position is based on “belief” implying that there is no evidence is false – the evidence I have is the testimony of a nation and the unique nature of this testimony – perhaps you would argue that this is inadequate evidence – but it is not “blind faith” In any case – I sincerely appreciate your input because you are arguing from the human sensitivity to truth 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

      • I meant “Bible Trial” – here is the link -https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/category/addressing-atheism/bible-trial/

      • tildeb says:

        Regarding atheism as a belief, you say “I now accept that many atheists would fit your description of atheism if they were describing their world-view to others – but when it comes down to it you get statements of faith such as a faithful confidence that life could not have originated by an intelligent creator or that all faith communities “must” share the same negative statistics without seeing the actual statistics,

        I think the misunderstanding belongs with you… in the sense of what constitutes the basis for confidence you attribute to the same kind of ‘faith’ used to support religious beliefs about a creator and creationism.

        This is not the case.

        Confidence comes from good Bayesian reasoning… a preponderance of evidence raising or lowering the level of confidence in some hypothesis. This is NOT faith of the religious kind, where one believes something on the strength of assumption, assertion, and attribution that something is so… without any need for compelling evidence for a hypothesis and no need to account for evidence contrary to the hypothesis. Simply believing is sufficient to meet the faith criteria.

        The evidence in favour of a creationist model is not only unsupported by reality but is absent where it should be clearly present. For someone using Bayesian reasoning, this tilts confidence only in one direction: away from belief that it is possible or likely to the far end of the spectrum where it is highly unlikely, highly improbable. We make statement based on this level of confidence all the time, and we invoke no faith but a preponderance of evidence to do so. We assume our cell phones will work because they always do, the sun always rises, things fall down. We aren’t using faith as you suggest but a reasonable prediction that the laws of physics will remain stable. For someone to suggest they won’t requires significant evidence that, until provided, offer us nothing to counter that the laws of physics will remain constant and reliably and consistently so. For a creationist who believes in a divine creation event is to suggest a creator without any compelling evidence in its favour. This is clearly a faith statement because, in fact, it is made and believed in spite of overwhelming evidence against it. The opposite – a lack of belief in such an event or agency – is not equivalently a faith statement but a use of Bayesian reasoning based on compelling contrary evidence. That’s the difference between a faith-based and evidence-adduced belief; the former relies on faith, the latter on reality’s arbitration of it. It’s not a question of apples and oranges but belief in unicorns and bicycles.

        • tildeb I recognize the distinction between faithful confidence which is rooted in logic and reason as opposed to statement of faith which is not three points – One is – by what logic can one conclude that a question that the greatest minds have been working on for 150 years (the origin of life) and all they accomplished is that they discovered that the problem is far more complex than ever imagined – that intelligent creation cannot be the answer? Two – I hear from atheists statements of faith that are clearly distinct from faithful confidence – and this on a regular basis Three – The assumption that religious belief has no rational basis is without basis – you could argue that you disagree with the logical methods but many faith-communities give some rational argument based on some evidence to the truth of their faith 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • tildeb says:

            If by ‘they’ you’re referring to biologists and the ‘150 years’ their work after the publication of Darwin’s seminal work about how life changes over time (and NOT the ‘origin of life’ itself), then your conclusion that ‘all they (have) accomplished is that they’ve discovered that the problem is far more complex than ever imagined is not just a non sequitur but one that simply ignores and omits a vast store of knowledge gained specifically and directly from the explanatory model. The entire field of genetics comports perfectly with this model. Applications, therapies, and technologies based on it work for everyone everywhere all the time. Modern biology makes no sense except in the light of evolution. So, working backwards, we have a much better idea of how life evolved. Nowhere – NOWHERE – in this pursuit is there any evidence at all of a creationist event. In fact, where there should be evidence, there isn’t. It’s is absent. Starkly, population genetics indicates all of us come from not two individuals but from the smallest bottleneck of about 12,000. This is a fact. It is not open to contrary belief about a founding couple. Your genes do not agree. No creationist story explains this shared lineage. No creationist model accounts for the overwhelming evidence contrary to it. That’s a problem creationists must account for and, so far, have utterly failed.

            So to maintain any level of confidence in a creationist explanatory model that does not comport with compelling evidence adduced from reality is equivalent to just making stuff up and pretending it;’s reasonable when it is not. That’s not the fault of evolutionary science – an investigation that could have comported with a creationist model. It’s the fault of people who prefer to believe in a history that has no basis from reality to grant it any confidence whatsoever. It is – to all appearances – to be a fiction… a fiction that is necessary to believe if the religious creationist model is to be sustained and taught to children as if reasonable and equivalently likely to our roots as the evolutionary model presents with evidence from every single field of inquiry save incompatible religious belief.

          • tildeb I said “origin of life” and that is what I meant – and if I would not know you better I would accuse you of intentionally trying to mislead by conflating abiogenesis with evolution – but I know you better so I beleive you did this in sincerity. But in any case – what logic would tell you that if after 150 years of working on it – the appreciation for the problem of ORIGIN of life only grew – that “science will certainly find a natural answer”? 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • tildeb says:

            Abiogenesis has nothing to do with evolution. Conflating the two is not something those who understand evolution do. No one knows how the origin of life came about, but we do know it probably involved chemistry and physics rather than magic.

          • CP says:

            “Starkly, population genetics indicates all of us come from not two individuals but from the smallest bottleneck of about 12,000. This is a fact.”

            Unless you “have the faith to believe” mankind has mined 100% of genetic knowledge, it is only fact based on the knowledge we currently possess. This sounds dangerously similar to a person of religion.

          • tildeb says:

            If we came from a founding couple, our genetic makeup would demonstrate this. It could have been the case. But it isn’t. That’s not a faith statement. It’s a reasonable conclusion based on widely available, testable, and repeatable genetic information. The possibility, the likelihood of this reliable information fooling us so consistently and reliably because it somehow and in some unknown way ‘hides’ a deeper genetic ancestry is as close to zero as you can possibly get. Yet you are willing to grant to the nearly impossible a level of confidence unwarranted by reality. That’s faith in action. Recognizing the genetic information to indicate a bottleneck of about 12K for our shared ancestry is not. It is a reasonable conclusion that warrants greater confidence because it comes from accumulated evidence adduced from reality and not from our beliefs imposed on it. Your willingness to be credulous in the name of religion is just as unreasonable as a willingness to be credulous to any product peddled by snake oil salesmen.

          • tildeb says:

            There is no disagreement here. “These primeval people aren’t parallel to the biblical Adam and Eve. They weren’t the first modern humans on the planet, but instead just the two out of thousands of people alive at the time with unbroken male or female lineages that continue on today.”

            It is that smallest population that has been calculated to be around 12,000. That is compelling genetic evidence that there was no creationist event where the oldest of our common ancestors were two people POOF!ed into existence.

          • LarryB says:

            Where’s your links

          • cflat7 says:

            …amazing how some people can be so cocky with limited information.

          • LarryB says:

            tildeb,
            Thanks for the links, something to consider. Of course as usual I will be looking for disagreement. This is not settled science.

          • LarryB says:

            tildeb,
            BTW, How do you squeeze your comment between my first comment and cflat7? I gotta learn this.

          • tildeb says:

            I was just relying from email and that’s where it was put.

  2. Eleazar says:

    >>>>>>Two – I hear from atheists statements of faith that are clearly distinct from faithful confidence – and this on a regular basis <<<<<<

    Perhaps like John Chrysostom, the Crusaders, or certain Scotsmen, those aren't "true atheists" ?

    • RT says:

      Our level of trust in the unseen is all between 0 and 100%. There are atheist that are not sure that what they believe is right and so are Christians and Jews who are not 100% sure. We all choose base on the evidences and it’s only normal not to be sure. It’s foolishness to say that you could not be wrong. As a believer of G-d, I admit that I could be wrong, but the evidences of the existence of G-d makes more sense. In other word, I would require more faith to believe in atheism than to believe in the existence of God. The same is true for Yeshua, it would require more faith to believe in Yeshua as the messiah, than to believe he was not the true messiah. Someone should not have to force himself to “believe”, only what makes more sense should be believed. If the evidences points toward a direction, then it’s what you should believe. I am not saying I am right, but this is what is compelling to me as the “truth”, knowing that I could, and may be wrong…

      • tildeb says:

        I would require more faith to believe in atheism than to believe in the existence of God.

        This is nonsensical. It does require faith to have no believe in some ludicrous proposition. I sincerely doubt you, for example require ‘faith’ to have no belief in, say, some Aztec god of corn any more than an atheist requires faith to have no belief in any of the OT gods (and their wives).

        Because (if you’re referring to the Pentateuch) you have no evidence from reality for the fundamental tenets of your religious faith in these creator gods, you require faith and not compelling evidence to continue believing (with a fairly high degree of confidence I’m willing to assume) in such divine agencies, believing in events contrary to the laws of physics, believing in magical properties incompatible with reality as we understand it to operate, none of which you adduce from reality. If you could, you wouldn’t require faith of the religious kind. You would require knowledge.

        So to pretend your religious faith in any way derives from evidence really isn’t true, is it? In fact, you continue to empower through you willingness to grant faith to certain religious tenets claims that are antithetical to overwhelming contrary evidence adduced from reality. And the evidence for that claim is your own admission to require faith to believe in your god but not, say, Centeotl.

        • RT says:

          “This is nonsensical.”

          No it’s not, to believe that you evolved from a bacteria all the way to being a complex human organism requires you to have as much Faith as believing G-d created us. In fact, the chance of having a protein created by chance is simply impossible. Evolution does not even mention that part, because that is simply unconceivable scientifically speaking. To say that the first DNA arrived on earth from alien only puts the problem farther as well. So, in my opinion, to believe in a god makes more sense.

          Do not forget that we are all the fruit of what we have been though. If you went to school, you probably have been thought that we evolved and have been fed that it was the truth. If you wonder, I was fed the same thing, being raised in a non-religious family.

          Evidences is really not the point, as you have no evidences and I do not either. Was I there when G-d showed his miracles to Israel. Could someone have written the evidences to have a strong nation with one G-d, just to have control over them and for them to fight the battle when they needed too? Yes, but do you have evidences of any specie evolving? Any proof that evolution is true? You can show me your evidences and I could throw you the same useless sentence… “So to pretend your evolution in any way derives from evidence really isn’t true, is it?”

          But if evolution is more compelling to you and make more sense to you than a G-d who created all thing, it’s your choice to believe so. And if you prefer not to abstain to believe in anything and ignore the question, it’s your choice too. As we are all in the black and try to see what is impossible to see, your guess is as good of mine, but still, for me, it makes less sense to say that I came from nothing, than something created me.

          I honestly think you are angry at religion and you really want to believe that you hold the truth without acknowledging you could be wrong, because, in the end, as all human being, we are prideful and acknowledging you are wrong would defeat your argument and destroy your ego.

          P.S. All human do the same and I am not an exception, and not trying to put myself out of the basket…

          • RT I don’t see a need to judge tildeb’s motives

            1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • RT says:

            Yes you are right. Sorry Tildeb.

          • tildeb says:

            I think it is a recipe for disaster to pretend respecting reality’s arbitration of claims made about it is simply an equivalent position/opinion/belief to making stuff up, imposing it on reality, and then and pretending it’s true.

            I think all of us are harmed by this ludicrous approach claiming a false equivalency.

            As is so often the case, those who deny evolution either do not understand evolution or refuse to understand on religious grounds. There is an inverse correlation between religious belief and understanding evolution. Why do you think that is?

            What you’ve written here indicates you are subject to both ignorance and refusal. In this age of information, such profound ignorance is a choice.

            You may think it is pious to be ignorant about evolution, to remain ignorant of evolution, to dedicate one’s self to being ignorant of evolution, to dismiss the validity of the scientific method altogether when it comes only to evolution, to be so selectively dismissive because that the same method of science informs all the technologies, applications, and therapies that work based on evolutionary theory, a theory supported by science in every field of inquiry and offers us an explanatory model second to none in human history. The theory of evolution is the most productive scientific theory ever devised, yet you equate this understanding to be an indoctrination equivalent to any religious indoctrination that has no equivalent evidence to support it, no equivalent insight that produces new knowledge, no equivalent applications that work, no equivalent therapies that work, no equivalent technologies that work, no evidence-linked explanation on how a divine agency caused creative acts and by what mechanism. You offer nothing equivalent but simply CLAIM indoctrination equivalency. You CLAIM understanding why evolution is true to be like ‘just another opinion no better and no worse than believing an agency of Oogity Boogity! intervened in reality and Poof!ed us into existence… but with identical damage to a section of our DNA shared by all other apes from an ancient simian virus, just Poof!ed Chromosome 2 of 23 into having not one one but two centromers to look exactly like a vestigial telomere rather than the 24 chromosomes in all other apes. I mean, seriously, the list of supporting data from reality for the evolutionary explanatory model is so ubiquitous and absolutely consistent across all related fields than all other areas where humans claim knowledge that to claim all of this amounts to an indoctrination is beyond ludicrous.

            But with a flip of your hand, you pretend this mountain of consistent and reliable data all pointing in one direction only is somehow just an equivalent belief. Really. The scope of this error in the false equivalency you are making is beyond belief, beyond reason, beyond knowledge, beyond understanding. It can only be made if the ignorance is profound or the refusal to understand what constitutes compelling evidence unshakable. That level of dedicated ignorance requires something equivalent to religious belief. That would explain the negative correlation between religious belief and understanding of evolutionary theory.

        • tildeb the question is not faith versus logic – it is how much weight we give to different pieces of evidence. 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • tildeb says:

            Right. Logic can be perfect in form even if the premises are not true or even knowable. That’s why metaphysics relies on logic to give the appearance of ‘evidence’ to cover up the presumptions being made for the premises being true by fiat.

            So the issue really is one of the role of evidence to inform beliefs made about reality. And the evidence for the fundamental tenets you mention to link the cause of your beliefs – a divine creative agency – to the product of your belief – your religion – is lacking. To then claim one believes because of compelling evidence exported FROM reality to grant confidence to your religious beliefs denies what’s really going on: you – not reality – are importing confidence TO whatever you think bests supports your religious beliefs.

            This methodology is a guaranteed method to fool yourself into believing whatever you want to believe is true independent of your beliefs. Reality plays no arbitrating or mitigating role using this method. The confidence you grant is first manufactured by you and not affected by evidence independent of you. That’s a methodological failure to find out what is true independent of your beliefs.

  3. Concerned Reader says:

    by what logic can one conclude that a question that the greatest minds have been working on for 150 years (the origin of life) and all they accomplished is that they discovered that the problem is far more complex than ever imagined – that intelligent creation cannot be the answer?

    The logic of a shared reality that is not conducive to that conclusion. Lets assume for a second, that G-d is real, that he is active in the world.

    Theologians of all sorts use some common arguments for the existence of G-d.

    The watchmaker argument
    The 1st Cause argument
    TAG

    All of these arguments have something in common. They propose that some transcendent entity exists, and is responsible for the world’s creation. Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Mahayana Buddhism, and other faith systems employ these exact same arguments in favor of their belief system.

    What is the problem with that? That these arguments (if they were deemed logically valid in the sense that a scientist uses the word valid,) it would “prove” all the mutually exclusive claims about the nature of divinity expressed in each faith system. IE does TAG or the watchmaker prove Judaism? Christianity? Islam? Or Hinduism?

    The agnostic position is the default position of all people when we enter the world. We are all born without any sense of any religious system, or a lack of a religious system.

    Science is open to correction, open to reformulation of assumptions, inherently it resists dogmatism. (this is not to say it doesn’t occur,) but the scientific method actively resists it because it recognizes that we share a consensus reality. Up is up, down is down, whether you or I believe it.

    A faith system by contrast is based on dogmas. By that I mean, if a central religious claim were proven false, the whole system would collapse. For Christianity, if Jesus is not messiah, the system falls apart. For Judaism, if Sinai and the enslavement of the people in Egypt did not happen, Judaism would fall apart.

    Atheists resist theism because most theists start the conversation with, “what’s wrong if this is true for me?” If an atheist granted intelligent design, the method of science that has proven to work, would give way to myriad opinions about the designer, and what his mission statement is.

    Do you get on the new airplane design because its verified to work in our consensus experience of reality, or because it was designed by a theist who shares our belief?

    • Concerned Reader I would not employ the argument of intelligent design to prove Judaism because as you correctly point out – it doesn’t. What it does do – as it relates to the question of “origin of life” is that theism is the more logical position – on the one question of origin of life 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

      • tildeb says:

        Theism does not answer any of these questions. It substitutes an honest ‘I don’t know’ with a fiction and then claims the fiction is as probable as anything the emerges from honest scientific inquiry. I don’t the truth value of that claim because it comes from a belief imposed on reality that has no means to check its work.

        • tildeb It was you who conflated evolution with abiogenesis (I said origin of life and you responded as if I said evolution) And it is not logical to say that the answer to abiogenesis lies with physics and chemistry simply because everything that we know about physics and chemistry has been used to try to explain abiogenesis for the past 150 years and it hasn’t worked – not only hasn’t it worked but as we learn more the deeper our appreciation for the gap that exists between physics and chemistry on the one hand and the origin of life on the other. The logical conclusion adduced from reality tells us that the answer will not be found in the physics and chemistry that we know but that some intelligent force outside of what we can measure and see acted upon the reality we can see 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • tildeb says:

            I assumed (and said as much) you were trying to make a link to your origin of life reference with evolution because you used the 150 year reference. If not evolution, then to what does your reference mean?

            You say, “The logical conclusion adduced from reality tells us that the answer will not be found in the physics and chemistry that we know but that some intelligent force outside of what we can measure”. No. That’s not the logical conclusion. In fact, it is contrary to how we gather and then model for testing the information about reality.we adduce. Furthermore, this assumption you make about ‘some intelligent force outside of what we can measure’ guarantees you will not adduce any information linked in any way to the reality you think you are accurately describing.

            So when compelling evidence from reality is adduced that is contrary to and in conflict with your ‘Just so’ creation story, you then seem compelled to deny the links with reality we do use to gain knowledge about reality to effect and that we then use to inform applications, therapies, and technologies that work in all other cases – except, you say, in this case where you deny the results of population genetics by denying the physics and chemistry available for us to study. This is not logical. In fact it is special pleading by you… for no other reason than to maintain a fiction because it’s religious and dismiss by fiat the very reality you pretend to describe.

          • tildeb
            I may be mistaken about this – but my understanding was that once Darwin introduced evolution as a model for the speciation of life people began searching for the origin of life. And I make no “assumptions” – functional design does not come about by chance – and this is the underlying assumption (yes I realize that I used that word) for any science – because if this were not true than any evidence can be dismissed as coincidental/accident – and if years of research consistently broadened the gap between the laws of physics and chemistry as we know it – that means that the evidence points in the other direction (away from physics and chemistry as we know it) – to cross out that line of reasoning because it doesn’t fit into a nice box is not scientific. And there is a prediction that can be tested – that the gap will only widen further.
            And please don’t assume that you know what I will answer for questions that you haven’t asked me (or that I have not responded to) – that is also not scientific

          • tildeb says:

            Well, certainly people started working backwards to see if the hypothesis – the explanatory model of common ancestry through natural selection – had any merit. But as for the starting point with certainty, no one knows.What we do know today is that we are descended from common ancestors with every other living thing on the planet and this is compelling evidence that there was starting point. The ‘smoking gun’ rests with the fact that all avenues of inquiry seamlessly agree with the hypothesis, which is why the model has gone from hypothesis to theory. Put another way, this theory is better informed by evidence that aligns with the explanation than any other scientific theory we use to effect today… including germ theory, nuclear force theory, the theory of gravity, and so on. When you disagree with evolutionary theory, you are disagreeing with what constitutes science as a method of inquiry into reality. Nothing is better informed. Nothing has more compelling evidence. Nothing competes with the thoroughness of the theory demonstrated by reality. The only reason – the ONLY – reason to cast doubt on evolutionary theory is for religious reasons… reasons that have no equivalent evidence in its favour. None. Zip. Not a single application, not a single therapy, not a single technology built on any religious model. This contrary belief exists only by power of the willingness of people to believe it in spite of what reality shows us.

            So, when you say something like “functional design does not come about by chance” as if this reveals some inherent weakness in evolutionary theory, you are demonstrating a significant lack of understanding how evolution works. It does not work by chance. At all. Real genetic information is reproduced by natural selection. Natural selection means fitness. Fitness means the rate of successful reproduction into the second generation. This is demonstrated by reality. Included in this physical transference of genetic information. But no reproduction is always perfect. If you are typical, for example, you posses somewhere between 6 and 6000 minor alterations in your genes not passed on from your parents. Multiply this typical alteration by thousands of generations and genes may express these differences – shaped by natural selection – as much as entirely new species, meaning the last offspring is unable to successfully mate with the earlier ones. This is not ‘chance’ but a physical process well understood. Dysfunctional changes to the genetic code of offspring that hinders reproductive success multiplied by thousands of generations obviously die out. So the functioning you claim is designed is not true. There is no design other than natural effects of chemistry and physics on genes through inheritance , minor genetic alterations, reproductive fitness, and time. This is what compelling evidence from every avenue of inquiry demonstrates… including your own DNA. To still assume design after learning what evolution means – and the overwhelming evidence for it – is to demonstrate a belief contrary to what reality shows us to be the case.

            Sometimes natural selection increases complexity for some genetic sequences. Sometimes it decreases it. Sometimes there’s no apparent change to organisms supremely adapted to their environment. But nowhere from reality is there any indication that the expressed complexity relates to a ‘design’… other than some kind of physical and chemical y selection mechanism.

            If POOF!ism were true, then it makes no sense for your genes to contain common ancestry evidence with critters unrelated to you today. Yet we find this evidence ubiquitous in every species studied. That’s why there’s every indication all life is related to common ancestry that goes well beyond the species boundary. If it didn’t, then there would no reason for a Japanese cabbage to have a genetic code dozens of times greater than your own or to have parts of your genetic code found dormant in a carrot. POOF!ism as an explanatory model simply does not comport with reality. It could…. but it doesn’t. Why is that?

          • tildeb
            I didn’t right that line “functional design doesn’t come about by chance” to attempt to refute evolution – I wrote it to explain why it is logical to assume that the origin of life didn’t happen by chance. Your argument presented here in favor of evolution is built on the premise (and a logical one at that) that when we see order (as in different streams of evidence pointing to the same conclusion) we assume that there is a system in place that brought about this order – which is the same logic that I am using to explain why I believe that the origin of life didn’t happen by chance
            Additionally – your statement that the only reason someone would doubt evolutionary theory is faith (as you define it) – is demonstrably false – http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/

          • tildeb says:

            Your link actually proves my point. Only the ignorant or religiously motivated dissent from the great synthesis that is Darwinian evolution and genetics.

          • tildeb
            This is circular reasoning – how do you know the motives of those who doubt Neo-Darwinism? and how do you measure their scholarship?
            In any case – you are changing the subject – you claimed that the ONLY grounds to reject Neo-Darwinism is “faith” – this is clearly not the case

          • tildeb says:

            We’re not talking about neo-Darwinism. We’re talking about creationism vs evolution.

  4. CP says:

    tildeb,
    You write; “So trying to pretend using misrepresentation and falsehood to paint atheism as a kind of religious belief is reasonable or legitimate is nothing more than a lie, an intentional deception, to serve some other purpose than respecting what;s true.”

    Your writings lead us down the yellow brick road to see the wizard of atheism. When we get there, you throw back the curtian to reveal the religious man behind pulling the strings. There’s audible gasp as the reader is surprised by the apparent truth, yet no one seems to notice, with the skill of a magician, you’ve excluded the atheist from the story.

    Putting aside smoke and mirrors; every person makes a personal decision on what and what not they believe. To decide not to decide is a decision in itself. The atheist, like everyone else, makes this decision on what they value as evidence or lack of. Everyone places differing values on various forms of evidence; some place more value on rocks and cosmos, some on biology, some on logic, some on the spiritual traditions of mankind and some on personal experiential evidence. The atheist decides not to decide just like the religious man decides to decide. However the atheist, refusing to be classified as another religion feels some sort of almost religious obligation to distance themselves from the religious person’s decision making process, when in fact the process is the same, the only difference is how they’ve decided to interpret and value the various forms of evidence.

    The atheist like the religious person has decided what is currently relevant & irelevent to them. No matter how much it is denied, the atheist indeed has system of belief.

    • RT says:

      “Putting aside smoke and mirrors; every person makes a personal decision on what and what not they believe. To decide not to decide is a decision in itself.”

      Right on CP…

    • tildeb says:

      It’s in reference to theism that atheism means anything at all. That’s your’ religious man behind the curtain’. So for your analogy to make any sense, I suspect you’re thinking of agnosticism when it comes to pondering evidence in your analogy.

      In the same way you have no reason to believe that pigs can fly when presented with the faith-based belief that they can and do, atheists have no reason to believe gods or a god exists when theists claim this one or that one does. Both have the same amount of evidence from reality… none.

      We share the same approach in almost all fantastic physics-denying claims that have no compelling evidence from reality to support the claim and significant evidence against them. Why people are to suddenly make room for a fantastic belief just because it’s religious while still contrary to what reality arbitrates is the case, seems reasonable only to you in the attempt to excuse this exemption, this special case, on the basis that one’s lack of belief in this one case is really another kind of belief. (reminiscent of the schoolyard response tactic, “Oh yeah? Well, you are, too!”)

      Put another way, just because some things are not fish does not mean it’s reasonable to call a bicycle – based on the introduction of a ‘special category’ just for bicycles, mind you – another kind of non fish.

      It’s really poor thinking that intentionally tries to muddy the puddle enough to make the ludicrous – by special exemption – seem deep and mysterious while deriding all attempts to point out the obvious – that it’s just a shallow puddle according to all the evidence from reality.

      • CP says:

        tideb,
        I find it fascinating to hear how much you claim to know about life and the universe, yet obviously blind to much about yourself. I do thank you for the comedic routine of displaying your vast knowledge of simpleton doctrines, claiming they are the authority of Scripture which in the light of Science are left with no choice but to bow to your logic. It is entertaining, like watching blindfolded children play pin the tail on the donkey.

        Perhaps I could convince you to peak out the bottom of your blindfold and offer you a gift in return. You’ve this spoon fed notion that you’re nothing like the religious person of faith. Yet where do you get your information? Are you a Genetic Scientist? Perhaps a distinguished Astrophysics Professor? Or are you like the religious man who has faith in the Writings of others? I contend you are a man of faith indeed and your god is Science. Are not those who declare; “We should put our trust in Science, for she holds the promise of eternal life”?

        The difference between us is; one of us values Science while calling Spirituality, fantasy. While the other values both as gifts from God.

        Your use of the genetic bottleneck theory disproving Adam & Eve really doesn’t work on so many levels. First, you have to believe what you read is true, not skewed by desire for fame and fortune. Second, you have to assume complete knowledge; that nothing as yet undiscovered has effected the data. Third, you must assume a particular interpretation of Scripture to compare the data to.

        In this case the last is the most compelling for me to share. For long before modern Science, ancient Jewish Midrash on Genesis calculated the Earth to be about 15 billion years old, mankind about 25 million years old and Adam & Eve given God’s spirit and paced in Eden about 6000 years ago. Glad to see you’re finally catching up.

        While I value Science, it’s search for first causes and delving into quantum physics, it is merely the long road to the same destination. The difference being, acknowledgement of a gatekeeper and submission to the Owner.

        The Scientist will find the old adage is true; “Is not what you know, but Who you know”

        • tildeb says:

          I understand why the method of science works to reveal how reality operates. I trust causal connections every day as do you. What I don’t do is confuse my preferred beliefs with reality but allow reality to arbitrate how much or little confidence to place in various claims. You don;t have to be a physicist to lend a very great deal of confidence to acting as if gravity were true. Just step out a sixth story window and find out for yourself. I don’t have to be certain that an inoculation will be 100% effective in order to understand that my chances of remaining free from various pathogens is statistically increased by improved herd immunity. You don’t have to believe in evolution to gain tremendous benefit from its practical use in medical care. But claiming all this confidence is equivalent to belief in a divine agency of Oogity Boogity exercising POOF!ism is simply not true. Nor is it true that I gain confidence by the medical community eliminating smallpox because I worship and practice burnt offerings at the alter of science. I am thankful honest and earnest researchers and scientists do all this heavy lifting for me and I think deserve our highest accolades for doing so. I am also thankful for so many clever people able to find ways to then applying this knowledge to practical life affirming effect. There simply is nothing equivalent in practical knowledge produced by your religious faith and pretending there is an equivalency is silly.

          The amusement is all mine when you utilize the power of science every day and risk your life on it with easy confidence yet are willing to cast doubt on the same science if and when it comes into conflict with your religious belief. This kind of intellectual capitulation usually goes by the name of hypocrisy. It’s both funny and quite sad at the same time depending to what extent the hypocrisy is shown because it indicates a much lower level of intellectual integrity specifically to make room for some element, some central tenet, of religious belief that is incompatible with what science has shown us to be consistent and reliable modeling. We call this successful modeling ‘knowledge’. You should respect it because unlike religious belief it has survived reality’s arbitration of it. And that has absolutely nothing to do with belief or lack of belief in some of its explanatory models.

          • tildeb
            To put science that can be proven in the visible realm together with the abstract search for the past is not science

          • tildeb says:

            Abstract search? You’re the one claiming to know creationism is true. I keep saying no one knows how life began but that using science we can make reasonable deductions as we work further back into time.

          • CP says:

            “We call this successful modeling ‘knowledge’. You should respect it because unlike religious belief it has survived reality’s arbitration of it. And that has absolutely nothing to do with belief or lack of belief in some of its explanatory models.”

            We call this relational experiential ‘knowledge’ of the Creator. You should respect it because unlike science it has essentially survived unchanged by reality’s arbitration of it. A good example is the reemergence of the State of Israel. It has nothing to do with science or its explanatory models.

            The claim of the atheist only finds validity through the presumption that man is merely a complex biochemical machine void of spirituality. The evidence of known history points otherwise, therefore the claim of the atheist is in fact partially a spiritual choice veiled behind modern science deflecting self admission of ones own rebellion to the thought of submitting to a higher moral power by which they will be held to account for their actions.

          • CP Please don’t judge motives 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

          • CP says:

            R’B,
            I must commend you on an excellent article. After reading the article you linked to I could only imagine the time and effort you put in to provide tilbed reasoned and solid answers to his challenges. Kudos to you for meeting tilbed on his own ground. I have taken a different approach with tilbed. By judging him by the same standards he judges me, in effect holding up a mirror so that he can see himself.

            tilbed openly affirms the spiritual man denies Science when choosing a world view. I merely point out he denies the Spiritual when choosing his world view, while pointing out it doesn’t have to be either/or but rather affirming a synergistic combination of both. To deny the breath God breathed into oneself is to be in rebellion. There is no judgement in such an observation and hiding behind Science to deflect the conviction of the spiritual portion within, is admittedly my opinion.

            However, ‘IF’ this planet is shared by two types of human beings; those from Adam & Eve with the breath of God breathed into them and those outside the line of Adam & Eve without the breath of life, then it is possible I owe tilbed an apology. For indeed at the end of his life he will be no different than the plants of the field turning back to the dirt from which he came. However I find this position untenable as even animals will be held accountable before God.

            I do not judge tilbed, God is Judge. However it is obvious he denies the Spiritual component as he searches for knowledge in only one arena thereby limiting his possible discoveries to only what exists in that arena. Why would someone do that ?

          • CP thanks for the compliments – much of the work was done by Rabbi Bogacz in his book “Genesis and Genes” I don’t think you appreciate where tildeb is coming from – he is coming from a place of morality and justice – he sees so much injustice and immorality done in name of spirituality (such as the terrorist attacks of 9/11) and how humans use arguments from the unmeasured and unmeasurable realm of “spiritual” to justify these acts – religious people have made it not only easy to dismiss the spiritual as subjective fantasy but they almost made it morally attractive

            1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

  5. RT says:

    “I keep saying no one knows how life began but that using science we can make reasonable deductions as we work further back into time.”

    We can make reasonable deduction only if the premise is right. If for example, G-d is not true, then the whole concept of Creationism is wrong. If evolution is wrong, then the whole concept, and its studies are wrong too. I do not believe the idea of evolution explain sufficiently how life began, nor how we “evolved” or are here today. You might think that the “god theory” does not answer the question of how life appear. You are right in a way. Believing in G-d does not explain how life arrived scientifically speaking. Science should be sought on explaining how we arrived here. Unfortunately, I think that the theory of evolution does not work. Maybe, there is another explanation that could be sought, but as long as the evolution model is here and people want to accept it as fact, then we are all stuck.

    • tildeb says:

      Stuck? Yes, we’re stuck with an explanation that powers all kinds of applications, therapies, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere all the time, everything from modern medicine and drug therapies to oil and gas extraction and biodiversity, from crop sciences to animal husbandry, from silvaculture to genetically modified foods, from anthropology to linguistics. Yes, how very unlikely it is that this explanatory model that strangely and mysteriously aligns across the board and to which we put all kinds of practical and efficacious use is actually cause for reasonable doubt… with the hope, of course, that a ‘better’ explanatory model comes along.

      But that’s not good enough for you, RT, because… oh right… incompatible religious belief. So it must be the science that we should hold in doubt because, well, just because every indication it is true must be held in doubt, right? There must be another explanation that comports to POOF!ism even though evidence that should be widely available if true is singularly lacking.

      Your skepticism here is not related to reality or evidence from it in any way, RT, and reality fully comports to the explanatory model. That’s why it’s a scientific theory… because it has successfully met all challenges to it by reality All. Your doubt is manufactured wholly by your religious belief not in the service of what is true but in the service of maintaining a belief incompatible with it.

      • RT says:

        Don’t you use the same double-standard? Tell me any scientific would be taken seriously if he doubt evolution? I am not talking about Religion, and yes, creationism use a double standard and arrives with the conclusion before the evidences. But in a sense, to prove it wrong, Darwin did the same. I am just saying that evolution, regardless of Religion, is flawed. I have no argument as to prove creationism, and not trying to. Most studies arrive with the conclusion and are bias. They can hardly to be taken seriously, but so is the same with Darwinism. You example do not show evolution and are extremely week.

        http://news.nationalpost.com/holy-post/what-has-gotten-into-thomas-nagel-leading-atheist-branded-a-heretic-for-daring-to-question-darwinism

        • tildeb says:

          No, I don;t use a double standard. Show me a model that does a better job while explaining why all the applications, therapies, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere all the time based on evolutionary theory still work within this new explanatory framework. Until you can do that, you’re not in serious contention. Nagel’s shtick is trying to use consciousness as if evolution cannot possibly account for it. It can and does… just not to the extent Nagel thinks it must do.or the theory fails. For this approach, he was taken to task quite rightly by evolutionary biologists and neuroscientists. We are at the very beginning of this new field of neurobiology. Of course it isn’t going to produce complete explanations yet. This is going to take time.

          Nagel does not offer a different explanatory model that accounts for all the evidence in evolution’s favour but points at something not well understood – how consciousness arises – as if it is contrary evidence when it is not. It is an avenue for further inquiry. We know that mind is what the brain does. It is understood in neurobiology to be an emergent property. Should another explanatory model do a better job than evolution describing and by what mechanisms how life changes over time, then the author will gain a Nobel. Evolutionary theory is not some faith-addled dogma that stands between people Nagel and evolutionary science; it’s the method of science itself. Nagel fails to do good science and substitutes half-baked metaphysical philosophy as if of equivalent descriptive value about reality to talk about consciousness.

          This is a really poor methodology and Nagel should know better.

          Note the disparaging non sequitur thrown at atheists generally in the article and Dawkins specifically, as if to point out Nagel’s scientific flaws and incorrect assumptions in his thesis are the real motivation to criticize these faults, as if some atheist dogma were a similar kind of faith as religion relies upon to pretend there is some inherent weakness in evolutionary theory. There isn’t. Our modern understanding of biology that informs genetics, simply put, makes no sense except in light of evolution. No other theory – including this supposed ‘problem of consciousness’ – comes even close.

        • Concerned Reader says:

          “religious people have made it not only easy to dismiss the spiritual as subjective fantasy but they almost made it morally attractive”

          That’s exactly it rabbi. The point any atheist can rationally make is that Metaphysics do not equal truth, not even philosophy guarantees the truth.

          As Tildeb mentioned, you can formulate a rational argunent, but this doesnt make the Premises of your argument true.

          Take for example, that the ancients could read the Torah, and clearly viewed the Torah as supporting the Geocentric model ie the Ptolemaic model. It was the unquestioned belief for centuries.

          While the Ptolemaic model functioned, it functioned very inefficiently, and it could not explain all the available observable data.

          For example, the Ptolemaic model assumed a perfect designer, assumed that the earth was anchored in one place, and also assumed perfect Symmetry in the orbits of planets, (circular orbits, because circles were perfect mathmatically ie beautiful/signifying deity.)

          It turns out that reality says that the earth moves around the sun, in an eliptical orbit.

          Religious people have believed based on their texts things that we know are demonteably wrong today, and religious people will defend the book instead of looking at the world we share.

          Whether you believe in evolutionary biology or not, it has been proven to be an indespensible accurate tool in the development of medical treatments, and useful texhnology. Its a model that produces net positive results.

          • Concerned Reader
            Can you point to ONE technology or medical treatment that was produced because of Neo-Darwinist thinking?

          • tildeb says:

            There are hundreds of examples, under such headings as”population genetics, serial transfer production of live vaccines, and phylogenetic analysis, have been widely applied. Other areas, such as infectious disease and aging research, illustrate the dramatic recent progress made possible by evolutionary insights. In still other areas, such as epidemiology, psychiatry, and understanding the regulation of bodily defenses, applying evolutionary principles remains an open opportunity.”

            The theory of evolution combined with genetics – what biologists call the Great Synthesis and you call ‘neo-Darwinism – has been the most productive explanatory model of how reality operates than any other scientific explanation. The applications, as I’ve already pointed out, cross many fields of study. All comport to it.

          • tildeb
            The question is – why the venom? Nagel is an atheist – why can’t you guys disagree with him like detached atheists?

          • tildeb says:

            Being an atheist does not grant Nagel the right to do very poor science and then challenge a foundation of modern biology as if he has a ticket to do so… because he’s an atheist. That’s ridiculous. May I suggest that critiquing biology is probably best carried out by biologists in the same way that sussing out the strengths and weakness of various interpretations of the Pentateuch is best left to scholars with specialized training in this field. Why so many philosophers presume to sit in judgement of science and find it philosophically wanting is the height of hubris because the value of science as a method of inquiry is demonstrated daily in any fair comparison and indisputably greater in efficacy than all the metaphysical meanderings and musings done by philosophers throughout history… atheist or not. To also presume an area of little understanding – like ‘consciousness’ – is evidence for something other than naturally occurring unguided materialistic processes is replacing an honest ‘I don’t know’ with a dishonest “but let’s insert whatever we want and call it an answer.’ Again, whoever does this deserves to be taken to the mat for committing this all too common thinking error… atheist or not. I’m not going to grant special dispensation to someone stepping beyond their ability to think well just because we share some other opinion. It’s not a question of Us vs Them but a respect for what is likely true and an equal respect for explanations well grounded in adduced evidence.

          • Concerned Reader says:

            http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA215.html

            Everything from vaccine development to organ transplantation. Aspects of the agriculture industry, (like breeding of livestock to get favorable traits and avoid disease,) relies on Darwin’s findings.

            It has proven very very useful.

          • tildeb says:

            If the explanatory model wasn’t true, then we should find discrepancies in other areas like genetics and molecular biology. We don;t find these at all. In fact, what we find neatly and seamlessly comports to it. The point here is that there is no contrary evidence, no evidence that simply doesn’t fit (the rabbit fossil from the Precambrian response).

            Why does this matter?

            Because those who claim there is contrary evidence indicating a ‘weakness’ in the model, simply and honestly put, are not telling you the truth. They are misrepresenting typical detailed quibbles found in any science as if contrary to or in some way in conflict with the model. This is the Big Lie used to try to smuggle creationist doctrine mislabeled as ‘critical thinking’ that examines ‘strengths and weaknesses’ into science classrooms to reveal to the students an imaginary strengths and weaknesses framework that is not the case. At all. It’s a lie from top to bottom that relies on gross distortions and inflated quibbles to pretend these are ‘evidence’ to support the distortion. It’s underhanded, intentional, and purposefully deceitful.

            So rather than inflate the quibbles, why not present a better model? ‘Godidit’ is not a scientific model. It is a equivalent substitution to ‘I don’t know’, which not equivalent to an explanatory model. This should be obvious, but the issue is so muddied by religiously inspired vacuous claims using nebulous metaphysical terminology that by the time someone thoroughly dismantles the apologetic nonsense, the audience is bored beyond tears and the belief continues in the form of ‘Godidit’ as if an equivalent explanatory model.

            The clue we need to recognize is when a scientific model is criticized not on its scientific merit directly but by a detour into metaphysics, philosophy, and religion… none of which have to deal with reality straight on and demonstrate causal links to it claimed effects. The science resides in the direct linking mechanisms, so counter arguments that start talking about ‘purpose’ and ‘natures’ and ‘design’ by unknown, unseen, property-less divine agencies are not talking science and so should keep their intrusive voices out of the scientific issues they try to use to disguise their motivated deceit.

        • RT says:

          As I am not a biologist, my argument will be little. I usually avoid those arguments anyway. I will conclude by agreeing with CR: “Religious people have believed based on their texts things that we know are demonteably wrong today, and religious people will defend the book instead of looking at the world we share. ”

          We have to be careful not to disprove the obvious truth like so many Religious people did in the past. I do not want to pretend that the earth is flat, just because my interpretation of the text could mean too. (I know it does not mean that in Hebrew).

  6. Dina says:

    Hi Tilly, nice to see you again!

  7. Dina says:

    Rabbi B., have you read Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused World of Modern Atheism, by by Rabbi Moshe Averick? If not, I highly recommend it. He takes on the typical arguments of the New Atheists (such as Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens).

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