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A fairly accurate, but incomplete INDEX of Posts & good overview of this blog READ SOME REASONS TO REJECT ORTHODOX JUDAISM my April 2014 post or click link above. Highlighted words lead to other posts almost all in my blog. Born into an Orthodox Jewish family (1950's) and went to Orthodox Yeshiva from kindergarten thru High School plus some Beis Medrash.Became an agnostic in my 20's and an atheist later on. My blog will discuss the arguments for god and Orthodox Judaism and will provide counter arguments. I no longer take comments. My blog uses academic sources, the Torah, Talmud and commentators to justify my assertions. The posts get updated. INDEX OF POSTS SEE MAY 2017 or click link above.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Science of God - Schroeder Part 5

UPDATED THRU 11/20/2014

Final installment of my non exhaustive discussion of Schroeder’s chapter the Origin of Humankind. This post read concurrently with  Part 1, Part 2 , Part 3,  Part 4 provide ample reason to seriously question the intellectual honesty of the chapter. 

A) Page 126 Schroeder “However, in line with ancient main stream interpretation of the Hebrew text, it may be (and I emphasize the word may) that Adams had an ancestor”. My previous posts have revealed the tenuousness of the assertion.

B) Page 131 he writes the fossil record “confirm”  the biblical account as per biblical commentaries, [presumably the ones he cites.]. This is a not so subtle change from page 126 cited above where the words “may be” are used. Perhaps he no longer doubts.  An argument can be made that the leap from “may be” to “confirm” is not compelling. 

C) Page 138 - Schroeder interprets the Genesis sequence as: Plant Life,  Aquatic Life, Land animals, Humans and claims this is consistent with paleontology. (My post  Genesis and Evolution strongly suggests the Torah sequence and evolution are incompatible. Earlier chapters of Schroeder’s book try to reconcile evolutionary sequence and the Torah, and will require further posts to discuss). 

Not that it would prove anything if the Torah or any ancient story had some major landmarks in the same sequence as evolution theory. It may occur by chance and or with common sense observation. For example:  Agricultural humans rule, eat, work and otherwise utilize cattle, so it makes more sense for cattle to come before people. How else would the people survive ?  Also, cattle eat grass, so it makes sense the grass had to come before cattle. But grass needs water, so water came before grass. No divine knowledge would remotely be required to get some or all of the sequence correct. 

Moreover, if the uncertainty of Tanach's hebrew words/verses plus cherry picked Jewish commentary citations are thrown into the cauldron, just about anything can be cooked up. Consider, Rambam himself claims he can argue the Torah means Ex-Nihilo creation or the Universe is Eternal {eta 2/19/2014 or at least some forms of 'Eternal' }(page 199 The Guide to the Perplexed translated by M. Friedlander second edition revised throughout). 

D) Page 140 - Schroeder writes when dead the soul leaves the body. That is supportable from some bible commentary. However he goes on to imply that Talmud Keliim 8:5 says there is no way to distinguish a dead human from the beast discussed in Keliim. However, Keliim says nothing about distinguishing a dead human and the dead beast of Keliim 8:5. They  probably are distinguishable when dead or alive. {ETA 12/18/2014 No doubt, that in Talmudic times certain animal bones would have been difficult or impossible to distinguish from human bones.)

E) Page 140 thru 142 are also discussed  in my prior posts on this chapter.

F) Page 143 Schroeder says “Science has also confirmed the biblical assertion that less-than-human creatures with human like bodies and brains existed before Adam”.  There are several things wrong with the statement. The Torah never says directly anything of the sort and even contradicts such an assertion in Genesis 2:7 Then the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Even the commentaries never say anything of the sort (i.e that Schroeder pre-adamite-soul-less humans, i.e cro-magnon, neaderthal  were wandering around thousands of years before Adam.). With a big stretch, looking for nuance,  and adding words such an assertion can perhaps be shoe horned into one lone commentator’s speculation, Ramban. Ramban never says his speculation is based on an oral tradition. Rather its based on Ramban reading things into the words and letters of the Torah. What we are left is Schroeder’s  speculation on a Ramban speculation.

Even if the Torah/commentators did say such a thing it would not be unusual since many cultures talk about human like beings existing.

G) Page 143-145 Schroeder informs us writing began about 5000-6000 years ago around the same time of the rise of large cities. Schroeder explains a "key element", "the missing factor" that explains the transition; it  was the neshama (soul) given by god around 6000 years ago.  Really ? Are there no other natural explanations. Perhaps people acquired skills over time that allowed more efficient  agriculture and on a grander scale. Perhaps people gathered in larger cities because of economy of scale. Perhaps bigger was better i.e for warfare and or division of labor. This could have led to the necessity of recording information as we do in writing. Perhaps an  increasing sophistication of all forms of communication allowed the coordination and construction of larger cities. Consultation with an expert would likely provide other reasons as well.

Moreover, simple numeric recording existed over 6000 years ago: 

“Tallies by carving notches in wood, bone, and stone were used for at least forty thousand years” History_of_writing_ancient_numbers

And simpler systems of recording information have been found:

“The best known picture writing system of ideographic and/or early mnemonic symbols are:
Jiahu symbols, carved on tortoise shells in Jiahu, ca. 6600 BC
Vinca signs (Tartaria tablets), ca. 5300 BC
Early Indus script, ca. 3200 BC” History_of_writing

And language was already in our ability over 6,000 years ago:

“The time range for the evolution of language and/or its anatomical prerequisites extends, at least in principle, from the phylogenetic divergence of Homo (2.3 to 2.4 million years ago) from Pan (5 to 6 million years ago) to the emergence of full behavioral modernity some 150,000 - 50,000 years ago." History_of_language

Schroeder’s claim  resembles an appeal to ignorance argument. The soul of the gaps.

{ETA 11/20/2014 Page 6 The Story of Human Language (course I) by Professor John Mcwoter 2004

“It is highly likely that human language emerged in Africa, with the emergence of Homo Sapiens or possibly earlier species of Homo. Supporting this is the fact that there is a gene called Foxp2 that is connected with the ability to use language, and it traces back 100,000 year, long before the 50,000 - year mark that big bang theorists designate as the birth of language.” The same book provides the following figures:

150,000 - 80,000 BCE Estimated time human language arose
4,000 BC - Probable origin Proto European
3,500 BC - First attested writing
3,000 BC - Probable origin of Semetic 

[Orthodox Jews should note European Language probably arose before Hebrew per this source.] }

H ) Additional information with a different emphasis than mine is found at: graham review and perak review

I have since written 5 more Posts on Schroeder's book Start with Chapter 1

“We are living in the material world, and We are material girls. Material,  boys” (My modification of a pop song by Madonna)

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