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Sorry no longer take comments. Post's 'labels' are unreliable for linking or searching. Use the INDEX OF POSTS instead. 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.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Proof of God from Miracles (part 2) or Kuzari Argument Part 15

Updated twice on 1/1/2018

Before reading this post, please at least skim   Proof of God from Miracles or Kuzari Argument Part 9  which can be considered part 1 of Proof of God From Miracles

Kuzari proponents argue  How could the ancient Israelites come to believe in miracle manna from G-d, if manna was not really a miracle food from G-d ? 

Lets read Psalms. (source Jewish Publication Society's 1917 edition of the Hebrew Bible in English.)

Psalms Chapter 78:20 Behold, He smote the rock, that waters gushed out, and streams overflowed; 
can He give bread also? or will He provide flesh for His people?'
21 Therefore the LORD heard, and was wroth; 
and a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also went up against Israel;
22 Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in His salvation.
23 And He commanded the skies above, and opened the doors of heaven;
24 And He caused manna to rain upon them for food, and gave them of the corn of heaven.
25 Man did eat the bread of the mighty; He sent them provisions to the full.
26 He caused the east wind to set forth in heaven; and by His power He brought on the south wind.
27 He caused flesh also to rain upon them as the dust, and winged fowl as the sand of the seas;
28 And He let it fall in the midst of their camp, round about their dwellings.
29 So they did eat, and were well filled; and He gave them that which they craved.
30 They were not estranged from their craving, their food was yet in their mouths,
31 When the anger of God went up against them, and slew of the lustieth among them, 
and smote down the young men of Israel.
32 For all this they sinned still, and believed not in His wondrous works.

Psalms Chapter 105:40 They asked, and He brought quails, and gave them in plenty the bread of heaven.

Psalms 78:24 {ETA 1/1/2018 in conjunction with verse 28 bread of the "mighty", which some translate as "angels" } and Psalms 105:40  suggests  manna was food for heavenly beings. otherwise the two verses make no sense.  (Side note: Do you really think there are heavenly beings and they are eating Manna ? )

{ETA 1/1/2018 The interpretation that the Torah/Tenach is referring to manna being food for heavenly beings or even supernatural food as some scholars have just suggested is open to doubt. Other scholars interpret the Torah/Tenach that manna is food from heaven in the sense there is food from the Earth. Are you surprised that ancient people could believe that the gods controlled the supply of food or provisions that derive from heaven or from Earth ?  Many Orthodox Jews till this day pray to Yahweh for rain, because they believe he can provide it or withhold it, just like many other peoples believe (or maybe believed would be more accurate) their supernatural beings can do so.}

It is widely believed by scholars that Manna was probably a natural substance of some sort. A common opinion being an exudation from certain plants with additional  help from insects.  It is known some ancient people  would ascribe certain foods or natural substances  to be the food of the gods or foods associated with supernatural.  For example, Honeydew (plant-insect secretions)-ambrosia- nectar by the Greeks. Why could not this be so for the ancient Israelites ? Why must we insist the manna was truly a supernatural substance ?  Maybe it was a natural substance that for political or theological purposes was eventually claimed to be divine or to have supernatural involvement for it's provision. 

Previous posts discussed the idea the Sinai story as a national foundation myth, myths which are known not to be fully reliable. Heavenly manna could be part of such a mythology.  

Here I will present a different argument.

Did the ancient Israelites consider manna miracle food  ?  {ETA 1/1/2018 Did the ancient Israelites truly believe all the miracles and wonders ? }Read verse Psalms 78:32 For all this they sinned still, and believed not in His wondrous works.

It seems the ancient Israelites did not believe miracles had occurred !  {ETA 1/1/2018 Apologetic response may include the text does not 'really' mean they did not believe in the miracles. Nonetheless, the text does describe a situation where the alleged miracles lacked enough convincing power. That people were not fully convinced of the miracles.}

{ETA 1/1/2018 Another apologetic response -  the Israelites "really" believed in the miracles, but were not convinced they were from Yahweh. That is a bit of a stretch if you read Psalms 78:32 For all this they sinned still, and believed not in His wondrous works.}

This informs us that we really do not know that the bulk of the  ancient Israelites always accepted that something truly miraculous occurred regarding manna. Psalms all but writes such was not the case. 

The Kuzari argument for manna miracles requires an unbroken chain of an Israelite/Jewish national tradition of believing in the manna miracles.  But we have evidence from our holy texts that such an unbroken chain of national tradition seems not to have existed. 

Contined Kuzari Argument Part 16 - Permission To Receive Rabbi Kelemen

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Pascal's Wager

Pascal Style Wagers go something like this. If you follow the religion you potentially get benefits (maybe on Earth and in Heaven) from a Deity, but if you do not follow the religion all sorts bad things (maybe on Earth and in Hell) could happen to you.  So it makes more sense to follow the religion because you don’t lose much when following it and have much to gain.  Some may add that the religion advocates good traits, so even if the religion is false you gain on Earth. Some people tweak the argument that even if there is only a small percent chance the religion is correct you should follow it. 

It is a sort of fall back position when the apologetic gives up trying to convince you based on logic, reason and evidence for their religion. To keep you ensnared or to ensnare you they may use the Pascal Style Wager.

1) A  problem for Judaism is the wager works better for the religion that claims the worst sort of punishment and the best benefits for following it. Probably some Christian denomination would qualify.

2)  There are competing, contradicting, mutually antagonist religions and religious denominations, and some claiming that if you follow that other ‘guys’ religion or denomination  you are doomed.  

Most if not all religions think they have at least some evidence that truth is on their side. Each can use the Pascal Style Wager, leading to logical conundrums.   

3) The argument assumes the Deity of the religion will behave a certain way. Meaning if you follow the religion even for disingenuous reasons the Deity will deal with you in a kindly manner.  

Sincerity is the sort of trait I assume "G-d" would desire.  If there is “G-d” I  assume it would be more or less repelled by following the religion for such reasons as advocated by Pascal Style Wagers. 

However, a religion may claim it's Deity does not care about sincerity and then I think my objection fails for that religion.

Do you want to worship a Deity who has no issues with the reasons to worship as advocated Pascal Style Wagers ?

4) Suppose there is a religion that advocated or advocates evil or unfair laws or negative traits ? Will you follow the religion because Pascal Style Wager ? 

I do not think the Torah or Judaism is exempt from this critique. If there was a "G-d" I assume it would not want you to follow a religion that advocated or advocates evil or unfair laws or negative traits.  If it did,  it is not a god I desire to worship, nor could I. That is something out of my control. 

5) There can be costs and  sometimes dangers associated with following some  religions. 

Consider Orthodox Judaism. It is an expensive religion. Yeshiva  tuition and Kosher food are expensive. Maybe you would love to eat shrimp but can not because the religion forbids it. There are numerous Holidays and the weekly Sabbath  that can  restrict income potential and uses of your time. And that is just a tiny example of the  huge costs associated with Orthodox Judaism. ( Some may object that Judaism is not burdensome and or that the earthly benefits of Judaism are so great as to outweigh the costs. That is not an intellectually honest response; this post is not the place to refute it).  Orthodox Judaism is expensive, can restrict potential enjoyments in life and proposes some negative traits. THESE ARE ACTUAL REAL TANGIBLE NEGATIVES AND COSTS as opposed to alleged rewards and punishments from an alleged Deity. 

6) When entering a wager,  you desire assurances the terms and outcomes of the wager can be fulfilled. 

For example. An individual offers you a wager. Toss a coin. If it lands heads he will pay you 613 million dollars. But if it lands tails you pay him only 13 dollars.  Seems like a good bet but only if the coin has at least some chance of landing heads. If it does not you should not accept the wager.  But we may also reject the bet even if the coin toss is fair. Maybe the guy will just run away after the bet so you will never get anything even if the coin lands heads.  In short, unless the terms of the bet can be reasonably expected to be fulfilled why bother with the bet ?  
There are good reasons not to take the Pascal Style Wager seriously. We do not have assurances the terms of the wager can be enforced or will be enforced. There are good reasons to believe the alleged benefits and punishments are bogus. It is very unlikely there is any existence of a ‘life’ after death. There are many religious people who have not enjoyed great rewards on this Earth and have suffered  greatly here on Earth.  There is no valid evidence for supernatural,  any religions or cults.  So the threats and rewards are more bluff and puff than substance.

For Orthodox Judaism there is also evidence it's claims are not likely true. This makes the application  of the Pascal Style Wager for it even more problematic.  For example, if you know the individual offering the toss coin bet is not truthful or not  reliable you become even more reluctant to accept his wager.

7) Why should we consider there is X% probability or X%  chance the religion  or cult is true or even the possibility it may be true ?  Does it make sense to consider  invented probabilities within a calculation ? 

There are and have been thousands of religions and denominations and cults.  Suppose we give each a tiny percent for each being true, then you may  end up with with the conclusion that there is a high probability at least one religion or cult is true.  This only happened because of invented probabilities.  

To what may this be compared ? Lets  assume there is a tiny percent chance elves exist or existed, a tiny percent chance flying fire breathing dragons exist or existed, a tiny percent chance the  phoenix exists or existed etc: etc: then you may end up with with the conclusion that there is a high probability that a fantastical creature exists or existed. You could make up other examples. 

One way out of this conundrum is to use probabilities that have support and not just assign made up probabilities that XYZ is true.


I would rather make decisions based on the best evidence and what seems most likely,  not wagers on things that there is at best tiny evidence for their existence. 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Proof of God from Ontological Argument

I  do not think the Ontological argument can be considered a Jewish arguments for G-d  The Ontological Argument was devised by the Christian Anslem.

The argument proceeds along the lines :

1) G-d is a being who possesses all perfections

2) Existence is perfection

Therefore G-d exists.

Or the argument may proceed as follows.

I can conceive of great things. I conceive XYZ as the greatest thing. Does XYZ exist ? It must, otherwise it is not the greatest thing. I can conceive of “XYZ with the attribute of existence” and that would be greater.  Thus G-d being the greatest thing must exist. 

Sophistry, logical conundrums, word games and puzzles are not proofs of G-d.  Just because you can add the attribute of “real existence” to the definition of G-d, or think G-d necessities the attribute of real existence, or that perfection requires existence does not mean that G-d exists in reality.

I am not sure that premise (1) is an accurate  portrayal of G-d.  For example, some may argue we can not give G-d attributes. He is unknowable. But some people may wish to define G-d as in premise (1).  

For premise (2)  I am not sure existence is a ‘perfection’. Something either exists in reality, can potentially exist in reality, does not exist in reality, or cannot be made to exist in reality.  Here is the gist: Is an abstract beautiful geometric structure that can only be 'seen' in your imagination less perfect or less great than if it could actually be manufactured ?  (Sort of assuming a structure in your imagination is not something that can be considered as existing in reality. For example,  I can conceive in my imagination an elf, and I think most would agree that is not an elf existing in reality.)

Consider this proof for Satan: I can conceive of an evil being. I conceive ABC as the most evil being.  Does ABC  exist ? It must, otherwise it is not the most evil thing. I can conceive of “ABC with the attribute of existence” and that would be even more evil.  Thus the Devil/Satan being the most evil thing must exist. 

Some may object that unlike the attribute 'evil' the attribute 'perfection' requires existence in reality. I have argued previously that I am not so sure 'perfection' requires existence in reality.  And even if your definition of perfection requires the attribute existence in reality, that does not mean the most perfect thing will actually exist in reality. In any event, perhaps 'evil' requires the attribute of existing in reality ! For if 'evil' does not exist in reality, then can you claim 'evil' exists at all ? 

Is your head starting to bleed yet ?

A major problem with the Ontological argument is the lack of connection to the empirical world.  It relies on arm chair philosophizing to deduce things about reality. The best way to  understand  reality is to examine empirical data (the scientific method) and not arm chair philosophizing.

Happy Holiday Season and New Year !

Friday, October 20, 2017

Kuzari Principle or Argument Part 14

This is a continuation of my Kuzari argument posts began here, but perhaps may be understood as a stand alone. 

An important assumption of the Kuzari argument is there is a chain of national transmission of national events going back to the original witnesses of the Sinai-Exodus story.  Moreover,  national traditions of national events can not be introduced to a people. For example, people would say they have not heard such from their fathers.  Thus national traditions of national events must be true or probably true. (Kuzari proponents may qualify which national traditions qualify for the Kuzari argument. For example, they may require a certain minimum number of people, or only certain kinds of national traditions  etc: ) 

Can national traditions of  national events be introduced without there being a history of such traditions amongst the bulk of the people ? 

Lets see what the Tenach writes.

Judges2:8 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being a hundred and ten years old. 9 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill-country of Ephraim, on the north of the mountain of Gaash. 10 And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers; and there arose another generation after them, that knew not the LORD, nor yet the work which He had wrought for Israel.11 And the children of Israel did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baalim. 12 And they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the peoples that were round about them, and worshipped them; and they provoked the LORD. 13 And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and the Ashtaroth. 14 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and He delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and He gave them over into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. 

Essentially Judges 2 informs that the bulk of Israel abandoned Yahweh worship, and fairly soon after the alleged Sinai - Exodus stories !. So who would pass down the alleged national traditions ? Would the Baalim worshiping parents inform their children of the revelation at Mount Sinai of the commandment "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me"  Exodus 20:2 ? Or that Yahweh was the god who wrought miracles for their people in the Exodus  ? Probably not. If so, at some later time the notions  that Yahweh uttered at Mount Sinai “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me” and that Yahweh performed Exodus miracles were introduced by a smaller cadre of individuals or became believed for reasons other than national tradition In short, the alleged unbroken chain of national transmission of the Sinai-Exodus story was likely broken and a national tradition of a national events were introduced after the alleged events occurred.

Also consider these other examples which indicate national traditions of national events can be introduced into a mass of people even though they have no recollection of the traditions. 

1) Ramban Numbers 15:22 9 - In the days of the wicked Kings such as Jeroboam MOST PEOPLE forgot the TORAH and COMMANDMENTS COMPLETELY.

[Thus at some future date the commandments must have been reintroduced to the bulk of the people. They were told the commandments were from G-d even though they had no recollection that these commandments being from G-d. Thus the national tradition consisting of G-d giving these commandments were introduced to a population having no record of such commandments. ] 

2) Talmud Sukkah 20a - For in ancient times when the Torah was forgotten from Israel, Ezra came up from Babylon and established it.

[The bulk of the people forgot the Torah. Do they tell Ezra we have no recollection of this Torah from our forefathers and so we can not accept it ? No. So a national tradition consisting of this Torah was given to our forefathers can be introduced. ]

Continued Part 15

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Sukkos Feast of Tabernacles Pagan Parallels

For this post all these refer to the similar festival more or less: Feast of Tabernacles/Tabernacles/Tents/Booths, Feast of Ingathering, Feast of the Lord, Sukkos/Sukkot other various spellings.

Unlike Ancient Egypt which relied on the Nile for agricultural water, ancient Israelite life and death depended on rain. They thought Yahweh could provide or withhold the rains. Even today in times of drought many religious Jews pray to Yahweh to end the drought.  The Talmud also discusses prayer for rain.  Supplication to (alleged) supernatural beings or magic for rain was practiced  by numerous cultures in ancient time. We now know there is most likely no supernatural involvement for rain and that magic will likely have no effects. 

The  Rambam style apologetic (extensively discussed in Explanations of Pagan Customs in Judaism with some notes on Maimonides  ) that the Torah merely adopted pagan customs as an accommodation is falsified by the Sukkos festival. The festival was held to ensure rain. Talmud Rosh Hashona 16A: on tabernacles judgment is passed in respect of rain. Why did the Torah enjoin on us to pour out water on Tabernacles?  The Holy One, blessed be He, said, Pour out water before Me in Tabernacles, so that your rains this year may be blessed.


Ancient Israel by Roland De Vaux Volume 2 1965

Beginning page 496 - Feast of Tents - no doubt it was a farmers feast, feast of ingathering of produce, an agricultural feast. 


The Ancient Gods by E.O. James 1960

Beginning Page 160 Feast of Booths - was held for much the same purposes as corresponding festival in the agricultural ritual among the Canaanites and elsewhere in Western Asia. Booths made of greenery parallel gigunu in the Babylonian Akitu festival (fertility ritual). In the Israelite Temple water libation offered to Yahweh so that the rains of the year will bless you. [ This latter ritual can be likened to magic.]


Seasonal Feasts and Festivals by E.O. James 1961

Beginning on Page 113 Sukkoth - celebrated October/November when vintage had been completed. The time and setting suggest a Canaanite origin connected to the grape harvest. Urgently needed rains in October.

Zechariah14:16 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. 17 And it shall be, that whoso of the families of the earth goeth not up unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, upon them there shall be no rain.

Purpose was to promote fertility at the end of the harvest and to secure much needed rain. 


Jewish Publication Society The Jewish Study Bible 1999 Berlin and Brettler

Page 1266 “Sukkot, stands at the beginning of the rainy season and is the time for petitioning rain from the Lord (Rashi).” 

Page 402 Deut 16:13-15 Origin was a fall harvest festival. The name more likely relates to the erection of temporary shelters in the fields during crop tending and harvesting.

Page 573 In second Temple period water was poured during Sukkoth festival, probably as a request for rain.


Ancient Texts for the Study of the Hebrew Bible - Keton Sparks 2005

Ancient Near East parallels for Sukkot Festival

Beginning page 168 - the October/November Mesopotamian Kisler Palm Festival - Date harvest. Ceremonies included sacrifices, prayers, laments, myth recital. A palm frond was offered to Marduk. Palm fronds waved or offered to Deities.

Page 210 Israel’s use of booths during the great autumn festival parallels closely in the Ugarit autumn wine festival.   

[ Judges21: 19 And they said: 'Behold, there is the feast of the LORD from year to year in Shiloh, which is on the north of Beth-el, on the east side of the highway that goeth up from Beth-el to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah.' 20 And they commanded the children of Benjamin, saying: 'Go and lie in wait in the vineyards; 21 and see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in the dances, then come ye out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin. 

Dancing and other ‘ACTIVITIES’ in the vineyard were practiced by some ancient societies and were related to fertility rituals. ]

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Proof of God From Guarantees Or Holy Sage Statements Part Two

This a a continuation from Proof of God Frrom Guarantees Or Holy Sage Statements  (part one) so please read that post first.

I  am biased against the claim there are Rabbis or men or women that have divine communication or can work miracles or have prophecy.  I am referring more to modern times. This predates my atheism and is related to my Orthodox Jewish Litvak-Misnagid upbringing which was inclined to look upon such claims as bordering on hero worship even avodah zorah (idol worship) and for other reasons related to religion. 

Many of the folk engage in hero worship and spread  bubbe-meises (tall tales) to buttress their hero. Other religions also claim miracle stories and  prophecies.  The stories are used for kiruv or missionary work. The tall tales often can not be authenticated.  All good reasons why we should remain skeptical. .

In addition, what is the more likely explanation of these tall tales - violation of natural laws or mistaken/wishful thinking of people or worse ?

How often did the  alleged prophetic advice of say a Rabbi turn out to be true and  how often false  ? All the true outcomes are touted while the false ones are forgotten about. 

Often a certain denomination will claim our Rabbi has given so much advice that has proven itself to be good. What they fail to consider how many times the advice failed.

Moreover, even if Rabbi XYZ has a wonderful track record of success it would prove nothing ! Consider that there are thousands of Rabbis giving advice. By chance alone Rabbi XYZ could have a good track record. He is touted and the others are not mentioned.

Finally, does the Rabbi claim his advice is coming from G-d ? From the cases I have seen it is his followers who attribute a divine involvement not the Rabbi.  This attribution is unwarranted. The Rabbi could have numerous reasons for giving his opinion ranging from consulting experts, weighing pros and cons, interpretations of holy texts, intuition and whatever. 

I have asked religious people to give me a single example of a documented and authenticated miracle and never get a response. I have asked for a single example of a valid prophecy and every one is weak and often for multiple reasons.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Kuzari Part 13 Miracle of the Sun continued

How might the Kuzari argument/principle advocates respond to the Miracle of the Son Sun (as described in Kuzari Part 13 ) ? 

Response 1) The mass of people who claimed they witnessed supernatural events are wrong for one reason or another. 

But this response destroys the Kuzari principle, because then a mass of people can be wrong about  witnessed event(s). So the Kuzari proponent seems forced to select Response 2.

Response 2) The Miracle of the Sun involved supernatural events. 

First - that response  would lend to support to the Pope/Vatican claim the Miracle of the Sun supports the truth of Christianity. I have difficulty accepting such a notion after being taught that Christianity is a false religion.

But there are deeper problems with response 2 and it highlights some problems with the Kuzari Principle.  First, not all witnesses to the events on October 13,1917 claim anything supernatural happened.  In other words we have competing mass claims. Secondly,  imagine this event happening over 2000 years ago. The believer’s story gets recorded, have reason to tell their children and authorities may have reasons to perpetuate the story. While dissidents are forgotten, leaving the impression all agreed a Miracle occurred. 

The third problem is many experts have offered natural explanations of what occurred on October 13,1917 and it is more reasonable to accept natural explanation than claims of miracles. In other words, we need not accept a mass of people claim as to what really occurred at an event and thus the Kuzari principle is flawed. 

Next up Kuzari Part 14

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Kuzari Argument Part 13

Updated 7/14/2017 for several typos for the date of the Sun miracle.

This is a continuation of of my Kuzari Posts begun here.  It might be helpful to skim my prior Kuzari argument posts, but this post is more or less a stand alone, at least for people who have some familiarity with the Kuzari argument. 

This post will flesh out an alleged  miracle and it’s consequences I very briefly cited in June  2014.

Lets examine one version of the Kuzari 'proof' that the Exodus with all the miracles and the Sinai revelation really occurred.

Rabbi Gottlieb (RG) Principle: Let E be a possible event which, had it really occurred, would have left behind enormous, easily available evidence of its occurrence. If the evidence does not exist, people will not believe that E occurred.

This can be briefly restated as: If  people believe an event occurred, then evidence must exist for the event's occurrence. 

[RG means to say a mass of people. RG does not mean if a only a few people.]

Lets try to apply this principle to the ‘Event’ = On October 13,1917 in Fatima, Portugal: 
The Sun miraculously  danced or performed other miracles in the Sky. Other miraculous things occurred:  wet clothes became suddenly and completely dry; wet and muddy ground that had been previously soaked because of the rain that had been falling became dry.”

The main source I will use is the book The Sun Danced - Myth, Miracles, and Modernity by Jeffrey S. Bennett 2012.  He is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Religious studies.  Some Sociologists study origins of myths, their evolution, use in society etc: Such disciplines have much more relevance to religion and myth formation as opposed to Math or Philosophy or Math Philosophy.

Beginning in the spring of 1917, three  shepherd children living near Fatima reported apparitions of an Angel, and apparitions of the Virgin Mary, who the children described as the Lady of Fátima. They also claimed a miracle would occur.

Page 113 -  The children claimed a miracle would occur in order that all should believe.  70000 to 100000 people gathered near the children. [ I have seen sources that had figures as low as 30000. There was a large mass of people at the event.]

Page 116 - And indeed an alleged supernatural events happen on  10/13/1917 “For the vast majority of those present, there was no doubt that something supernatural had occurred.” [I want to stress some very important points. We have eyewitness testimony of thousands who believe that something miraculous occurred at Fatima, just like Kuzari proponents claim there were eyewitnesses at Mt Sinai. But there is a big difference. We actually know for a fact that there were many thousands at Fatima who claimed something supernatural occurred, while we have no evidence of anybody even being at Mt Sinai.]

If you read the book it describes more mythology develops around the story: For example Page 167 - 168 Hundreds of sick and dying came to the apparition site for miracle cures and alleged success stories circulate - many more come. Claims that soil from the site cure people. Page 178 A bomb placed beside the azinheira failed to explode.  (Page 94 Azinheira - an oak tree - apparitions had occurred there. See my post Tree animism in the Bible ).  Page 120 Vandals cut down the Azinheira or so they think ! They cut the wrong tree down a sign God protects it and his people from anti-clerics.

[I have no doubt many people at the site  did not accept the miracle of the sun.  But is that really relevant ? We don’t know every alleged witness to Mt Sinai accepted it was a revelation from G-d.  Besides the RG Principle does not require every person accept the story. For the Sun Miracle the vast majority of witnesses believed that on October 13, 1917 the supernatural had occurred. Can thousands of eyewitnesses  be wrong ? Moreover the fact that some at Fatima experienced the supernatural event somewhat differently does not disprove the event.  Eyewitness testimony is like that, and perhaps God chose some to see  the miracle one way and others to see it somewhat differently.]

Page 124 The apparition claims spread beyond the local sphere, becoming translocal and national-level realities. 

Page 1 More than twenty million participate in the apparition cult. Every year several million travel from around the world to the apparition site.  The Sun miraculously danced proving the children visions were of divine origin.  

The miracle is sanctioned by the Catholic Church. 

The story eventually is used to fight communism. 

Page 4 - It is a National Miracle

Page 117 Accounts of the miracle are passed down as family history. [Just like the Sinai story was allegedly passed down from alleged witnesses to an alleged  supernatural seminal event to their children. Would my father lie to me about the supernatural events of October 13, 1917 ?  Plus, thousands of children hear other children talk about the supernatural events of October 13, 1917 as those other children heard from their Uncles or Fathers. And so after many generation millions believe the miracles of October 13, 1917. If millions believe a supernatural event can millions be wrong ?]

[What is interesting about the story: The children had  primed people for the anticipation of a miracle. Many of the witnesses  already  believed in the supernatural already. {And as I have written in my prior Kuzari posts priming of the witnesses and prior belief in supernatural by the witnesses were also present at the alleged Mt Sinai event.}  The story is rooted in religious and political subdivisions in 1917 and earlier Portugal. {Could the the Mt Sinai story have similar kinds of roots - religious and political subdivision amongst the ancient Israelites ? Propaganda purposes for one reason or another ?} The intertwining of a popular religious movement with Portugal History and the appropriation of a religious movement for political purposes and the cults relationship to the rise of Authoritarianism Politics. {hmm}. Religions and Mythology don’t develop or operate in a vacuum like  Event--------> Belief in Miracle/Religion/Mythology. It is a much more nuanced as the book explains for this Fatima miracle.] The Miracle of the Sun is UNIQUE as far as I know.
If it is so easy to fool people with a Sun miracle why have
not other religions made use of it ? And arguably is was a Nation 
changing event for  Portugal and was used to fight communism. It 
must be a true miracle. Convinced ?

Continued Kuzari Part 13 continued

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Kuzari Argument Part 12

Updated 1/4/2018 to clarify the event.

It would be helpful to skim my prior Kuzari posts begun in Part One

Lets examine one version of the Kuzari 'proof' that the Exodus with all the miracles and the Sinai revelation really occurred.

Rabbi Gottlieb (RG) Principle: Let E be a possible event which, had it really occurred, would have left behind enormous, easily available evidence of its occurrence. If the evidence does not exist, people will not believe that E occurred.

This can be briefly restated as: If people believe an event occurred, then evidence must exist for the event's occurrence. 

Lets try to apply this principle to the ‘Event’ =  Thousands of people saw enemy aircraft. (This is eyewitness testimony that gets written up in the press as actually happening.}

Lets try to apply this principle to the ‘Event’ =  Enemy aircraft flew over British South Africa, 1914 just prior to WWI "

Thousands of people saw enemy aircraft. (This is eyewitness testimony that gets written up in the press as actually happening.}

Turns all those thousands of people were wrong and so was the press. 


"British South Africa, 1914 In the war scare setting of British South Africa in 1914, local newspapers erroneously reported that hostile monoplanes from adjacent German South West Africa were making reconnaissance flights as a prelude to an imminent attack. The episode coincided with the start of World War I. Despite the technological impossibility of such missions (the maneuvers reported by witnesses were beyond those of airplanes of the period and their capability of staying aloft for long periods), thousands of residents misperceived ambiguous, nocturnal aerial stimuli (stars and planets) as representing enemy monoplanes (Bartholomew 1989)."

The monoplane scare  is yet another example of masses of people misinterpreting the event(s),  here clearly due in part because of  preconceived prejudices. This is yet another example of how even masses of people can misinterpret events and evidence for those events. The RG principle is not a reliable {eta principle to determine if people's beliefs about events are true or not true.} 

Continued Kuzari Argument Part 13 

Monday, May 29, 2017


I think this is a complete index of posts including dates.  It is organized roughly by category, but there is so  much overlap. And the post's content may overlap categories. Very rarely did I put the same post into two different categories. 

Many posts have multiple parts. Usually I provided the titles, dates and links to the first part only. 

If you desire a summary of my blog see this post
Some Reasons to Reject Orthodox Judaism 4/2/14.  It has links to many (but not all) of  my other blog posts and is an incomplete index of posts.

Book Reviews

The Challenge Of Creation - by Rabbi Slifkin 11/19/16 - a critique of RS’s apologetics

The Science of God - Schroeder Chapter 9 - 12/9/2013 a critique of Schroeder’s apologetics

The Science of God - by Gerald Schroeder Chapter 1 thru 4  12/9/14 a critique of Schroeder’s apologetics.

The Tenacity of Unreasonable Beliefs - Fundamentalism and the Fear of Truth by  Solomon Schimmel, 11/29/14 with my additional commentary and discussion of some common apologetics, some  reasons why religions persist and more.

Torah Holidays - Origins/Pagan Parallels

The Torah Scapegoat - Azazel  10/22/13

Yom Kippur Origins  10/27/13 Pagan Parallels

Passover Origins; & short note on Human Sacrifice  11/11/13

Sabbath, Day Seven and Moon Cults or Fertility Cults 8/18/13

Sukkos Feast of Tabernacles Pagan Parallels 10/18/2017

Torah Rituals/Laws - Pagan Parallels - Repudiation of Apologetics

Proof of God from Circumcision by the Jews on the eighth day of life  8/12/13

'Statute Forever' in the Bible  3/2/14 Are the Torah laws divine or just superstitions ? Refutes Rambam style apologetics.

'Cut Off" in the Bible  2/27/14 Are the laws and their punishments divine or just superstitions. Refutes Rambam style apologetics.

Explanations of Pagan Customs in Judaism with some notes on Maimonides  3/18/14 - includes refutes of Rambam style apologetics.

The Bible Serpent and Magic  2/26/15

Human Sacrifice in the Bible  1/14/14

Pascal's Wager 12/27/2017

Torah Discrimination or Unfair Laws, Pagan Parallels

The Bible, the Brother, and the Widow  2/4/14

The Bible, The Husband, and The Virgin  2/3/14

Suspected Adultery and the Bible Remedy  1/18/14

The Bible, The Priests, The Female and the Disabled  2/17/14 

Oral Law Part Two - Treatment of Women - Sexist laws 

Challenges to the Torah and Orthodox Jewish Narrative

Some Reasons to Reject Orthodox Judaism   4/2/14

The Dangers of Circumcision as found in the Talmud  1/15/14

Circumcision and Maimonides 3/18/14

Who Wrote the Bible  12/10/15 - Strong evidence the whole Bible can not be from the Mosaic period.

The Challenge of Noah,  11/3/16 - the Noah story as an argument against Orthodox Judaism, refutations of some Orthodox Jewish apologetic responses.

Jewish Oral Tradition  8/27/16 

Genesis and Evolution  9/27/13 - Some discrepancies and why they are irreconcilable in intellectually honest fashion. 

Genesis and the Big Bang  9/10/13 Some discrepancies between Genesis and modern cosmology  and why they are irreconcilable in intellectually honest manner.

Proof /Disproof of God from Kosher Animals  1/10/14

Proofs of Orthodox Jewish Narrative Repudiated

Kuzari Principle or Argument  Part 1  7/24/13 ( These posts include Rabbi Gottlieb’s and Rabbi Kelemen’s versions among others either directly or indirectly.) Probably most Orthodox Jews would consider this argument the strongest argument for Judaism. Some use it to "prove" the existence of G-d.  I devoted more posts to this "proof" than any other.  I have also included links to several other Ex-Orthodox Jews who address the argument in a different fashion than myself. The argument may have merit to distinguish the claims of one religion/myth from another but it has too many weaknesses to be used as valid evidence or proof  for the alleged Mount Sinai Divine revelation or the existence of G-d.

Kuzari argument part 2  1/27/14

Kuzari Part 3 6/23/14

Kuzari Argument Part 4  7/13/14

Kuzari Part 5  8/23/15

Kuzari Argument Part 6 9/4/15

Kuzari Argument Part 7 11/16/15

Kuzari Argument Part 8 11/30/15

Proof of God from Miracles or Kuzari Argument Part 9  12/26/15

Kuzari Argument Part 10  12/28/15

Kuzari Part 11  12/29/15

Kuzari Part 12 6/4/2017

Kuzari Argument Part 13 6/28/2017  A 'mass' miracle involving the 'Soun'.

Kuzari Argument Part 14 10/20/2017 Is there an unbroken chain of Sinai-Exodus story transmission ? Can national tradition of national events be introduced ?

Proof of God From Miracles (part 2) or Kuzari Part 15 12/31/2017

Kuzari Argument Part 16 - Permission To Receive Rabbi Kelemen 3/27/2018

Kuzari Argument Part 17 - Apple White Theorem, Rabbi Kelemen 3/28/2018

Kuzari Part 18 Unbroken Chain ?, Hints For Rabbi Kelemen April 5,  2018

Kuzari argument Part 19 plus some Critique Rabbi Kelemen's Book of Permission To Receive April 7, 2018 Applying Rabbi Kelemen's criteria to the Torah informs s the Torah is suspected of not being divine. The Ten Commandments. 

Kuzari Argument Part 20 Rabbi Kelemen Incunabular Argument Permission To Receive - Mainly about 'the Rabbi's Past Theory

Kuzari Argument Part 21 Rabbi Kelemen Bomb April 23, 2018

Proof of God via Jewish Survival, Jewish Suffering, and the Bible Predictor  8/12/13

Proof of God from Israel     1/28/15

Proof of God from Prophecy    1/27/15 - also includes comments on proofs from Israel.

Proof of God from Circumcision by the Jews on the eighth day of life  8/12/13

Proof of God from Gematria ,Bible Codes 7/23/13

Proof /Disproof of God from Kosher Animals 1/10/14

Proof of God from Mummy  10/14/15 Supernatural preservation ?

Proof of God from Prayer- Miraculous Recoveries 7/12/15

Proof of God from Hebrew  5/15/15 Is Hebrew script divine ?

Proof of God from Purim Fest 1946 or Prophecy of Nazis in Megillah    3/17/15

Proof of God from Guarantees or Holy Sage Statements   1/27/15

Proof of God based on Claim of Prophecy of Nazis in the Talmud    11/26/14

Proof / Disproof of God based on Fallow  11/25/14

Proof of God from Gaza Rockets  8/5/14

Proof of God from Secrets in Holy Texts (Part 1 and Part 2 3/22/2018}   5/16/14 Included are some examples: Life Span, Moon Renewal, Dead Stars

Kalam Cosmological proof of God repudiated by Theology  2/16/14 - Does Genesis even describe creation Ex-Nihilo ? If not, then the proof backfires.

Proof of God from Life; Genesis 2:7  8/27/16 Pagan Parallels, Genesis false myth        

Proof of God from Miracles or Kuzari Argument Part 9 12/26/15

Proof of God from Coincidences in Bible and Hebrew Bible Codes 11/3/15 

Proof of God from Morality    5/27/14

Proofs of God Repudiated 

Proof of God Burden 5/27/17  - Who has the burden of proof ?

Proof of God from the Gaps, Sherlock Holmes, and Absence of Evidence 3/10/16 - faulty reasoning.

Proof of God from Free Will, Justice, Consciousness, BLANK  8/4/15

Proof of God from Thermodynamics 12/19/15 also includes additional refute that God must be the Designer.

Proof of God from Fine Tuning    1/16/15 I do not think Rambam would approve of this argument. 

Kalam Cosmological Proof of God - Premises and Conclusion repudiated    6/11/14, includes Laws of nature from God ?

Proof of God from Big Bang  9/8/13

Proof of God from Morality    5/27/14

Proof of God from Origin of Life  - 9/2/13

Proof of God through Design 8/20/13

Proof of God from Design Part 2 or Disproof of Evolution 1/18/16

Proof of God from Ontological Argument


Psalms, Ancient Near East Texts, Prayer, Science March 22, 2018

Saul, The Witch, and the Ghost 7/21/16 - Tenach belief in ghosts, witches. Do we go up or down after we die ?

Tree Animism in the Bible    1/1/15

Bible Patriarch Ages 8/2/13

Origins of some Torah/Bible laws and the Jewish Chosen People Idea    7/10/14

Moshe became horny and suspicion of Torah from Mount Sinai 9/5/13

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Proof of God Burden

UPDATED Thru March 17, 2018

For competing beliefs who has the burden of proof ? 

This post is not about proving or disproving a particular belief. It is about who shares the greatest burden of proof when it comes to competing beliefs. {ETA May 30, 2017 - On whom does the burden of proof fall more greatly on.}

The answer must consider at least the following:

1) Ranking  the burdens of proof.

2) The nature of the belief.

3) Null Hypothesis.

4) Consequences of the belief.

(ETA 5/28/2017 The 4 ‘principles’ I have outlined are not mutually exclusive but may work together. See below) 

Consider three people, call them T, AT, AG.

 Ranking  the Burdens of Proof

It is usually the case there is a scale of the burden of proof. This will become clear as you read this post.

The Nature of the Belief

a) The person making any claim of belief has at least some burden of proof.

Consider this question: Is mental telepathy real ?

T - I believe it is

AT - I believe it is not real. 

AG - I have no belief on the matter.

AG is making no claim of belief. It can be argued AG has the least burden of proof.

b) The more extraordinary the person’s belief  the more the burden falls on that individual.

Consider the belief that walking on the lines on concrete pavement causes bad luck. Then consider the belief that wealth is correlated with health.  The first belief would have a higher burden of proof than the latter belief. {ETA May 30, 2017 - The burden of proof falls more greatly on the first belief.}

Or consider this question: Is mental telepathy real ?

T - I believe it is

AT - I believe it is not real. 

AG - I have no belief on the matter.

Mental telepathy if real would require  rethinking much  of science. It is an extraordinary claim. The order of the burden of proof is T, then AT. AG is essentially neutral and so perhaps he has the least burden of proof. {ETA May 30, 2017 - The burden of proof falls more greatly on T.}

Another Example

Consider this question. Do you believe a man was 100% dead and after sometime rose from the grave.

T - I believe it.

AT - I do not believe it.

AG - I have no belief on the matter.

A 100% dead man coming back to life is an extraordinary claim. The order of the burden of proof is T, then AT. AG is essentially neutral and so perhaps he has the least burden of proof. {ETA May 30, 2017 - The burden of proof falls more greatly on the T.}

Null Hypothesis

Typically when we do a study of the effectiveness of a new drug, the Null Hypotheses is the drug does not work. Then evidence is gathered to overturn the Null Hypothesis.
We don’t start with the Null Hypotheses that the drug does work and seek to overturn that Hypothesis.  In other words,  the burden of proof is laid on the person believing  the drug does work.

Did Humans evolve from prior primates ?

AT - I believe they did

T - I believe it did  not happen

AG - I have no belief on the matter

The Null Hypothesis is Humans Did not Evolve from Primates.

Using the typical Null Hypothesis approach, AT has the greatest burden of proof.  

Consequences of the Belief

Consider this:

A man is accused of murder.

T - I believe he did it.

AT - I don’t believe he did it.

AG - I have no belief on the matter.

Since a life is at stake, T has the greatest burden of proof. {ETA May 30, 2017 - The burden of proof falls more greatly on T.}


Consider Orthodox Judaism (OJ)

T - I believe it is true

AT - I don’t believe it is true

AG - I have no opinion on the matter

Lets apply the principles I have outlined:

First: Is OJ an extraordinary belief ? I think everybody will agree it is. The greatest burden of proof is on T. {ETA May 30, 2017 - The burden of proof falls more greatly on T.}

Second: The Null Hypothesis is OJ beliefs are not reality.  The greatest burden of proof falls on T. {ETA May 30, 2017 - The burden of proof falls more greatly on T.}

Does belief in OJ have important consequences ? If you believe it, and especially if you follow OJ it can have  important consequences and enormous costs, including some extremely negative ones. Again the greatest burden of proof falls on T. {ETA May 30, 2017 - The burden of proof falls more greatly on T.}

Some may argue the AT (if brought up as an OJ, call him ACJA) can potentially be  punished by G-d and so that also has consequences thus the greater burden of proof should fall on ACJA. However, that is a threat of punishment, and a threat of a potential consequence versus a real consequence. The latter is more compelling. In addition, other religions also have threats, some threats even worse than OJ  if ACJA don't follow those religions. Does ACJA have the burden of proof  to disprove every religion in the history of mankind ? Moreover, just like in the murder case a potential murderer may walk free, nevertheless, the burden of proof falls on T. 

Do god(s) exist ?

T - I believe so.

AT - I don’t believe so, 

AG - I have no belief on the matter.

Apply the principles I have outlined. 

First: Is belief in god(s) an extraordinary belief ? Something that can not be seen, heard, detected in the lab or by science, tasted, felt, smelled etc: would qualify as extraordinary. The greatest burden of proof is on T. {ETA May 30, 2017 - The burden of proof falls more greatly on T.}

Second: The Null Hypothesis is god(s) are not reality.  The greatest burden of proof falls on T. {ETA May 30, 2017 - The burden of proof falls more greatly on T.}

Third: Does belief in god(s)  have important consequences ? Such beliefs are almost always  associated with religions which are associated with other beliefs, rituals, laws etc: and if you follow the religion it  can have enormous  consequences and costs, including some extremely negative ones. Again the greatest burden of proof falls on T. (Also, see my comments on OJ above).{ETA May 30, 2017 - The burden of proof falls more greatly on T.}

Belief in god(s) and not any religion, something like Deism  would have fewer potential negative consequences unless it is used as a crutch to avoid learning about how nature works. 

{ETA May 28, 2017 The introduction mentioned the '4 principles' may interact.

For example: There is a man who can without any trickery walk on 10 foot deep water.

T - I believe it is true

AT - I don’t believe it is true

AG - I have no opinion on the matter.

Such an event is outside our everyday experience, miraculous even. Because it is so extraordinary the null hypothesis is the man does not walk on water.   T has the greatest burden of proof. {ETA May 30, 2017 - The burden of proof falls more greatly on T.}

The same reasoning would apply to belief in anything extraordinary and outside of everyday experience: Supernatural, souls, demons, angels, gods, devils,  life after death, etc: Because those beliefs are extraordinary the null hypothesis should be they all are false. Thus the greatest burden of proof falls on anybody who believes such things.}{ETA May 30, 2017 - The burden of proof falls more greatly on people who believe such things.}

{ETA 3/17/2018

From the book - Invitation To Critical Thinking by Rudinow and Barry fifth edition 2004

Page 237 

In general the burden of proof is placed on the affirmative position. The reason being it is much harder to prove the negative. For example someone who believes the healing power of the mind or the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life is expected to produce the evidence. It would very difficult for somebody to prove  intelligent extraterrestrial life does not exist. 

[Same applies to  people who argue for existence of souls or supernatural beings. It is they who have the burden of proof. Somebody who claims a holy book is from the supernatural has the burden of proof of showing so.] }