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About Me

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 and understanding of this blog READ SOME REASONS TO REJECT ORTHODOX JUDAISM my April 2014 post or click link above. 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. IF YOU GET A MESSAGE THAT THE POST IS MISSING - LOOK FOR IT IN THE INDEX or search or the date is found in the address.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Proof of God From Mathematics (including William Lane Craig)

Updated 12-17-2020

Theologians have put forth various arguments for supernatural based on mathematics.
I have a good background in Mathematics and Physics. This post will be my own point of view.

{Terminology : When I write ‘willy nilly’ that means no patterns exist. No ‘laws of nature’ exist. Complete and utter randomness at every level. Complete chaos. The total inability to make any predictions of the world and the total inability to describe the operation of the world. Willy Nilly does not include those interpretations of Quantum Mechanics that suppose there is randomness in the world. Because,  even those interpretations have precise equations describing the alleged randomness which in turn allow the predictions of ensembles, large masses and how averages behave.

When I write of mathematical models I mean the equations that physicists use and that would include chemistry. It would include so called laws of nature.}     

Some math may be likened to a game. Some games (for example chess) have made up pieces and made up rules on how the game is played. In many math subjects there are made up objects, definitions and axioms and the rules of the math game. The rules may also include certain types of logic axioms.  People then try to deduce what follows from all that. Those sort of math subjects are no more mystical than say chess. (Sometimes the definitions and axioms and rules are based on observations of nature and so may in fact model nature. If the math provides for certain predictions then it may turn out we find those predictions occurring in nature.).

Some math is really just tautologies.  A simple example is the solution to the equation x = x/2 + 3 which gives x = 6.  Those sort of math subjects are not mystical but tautologies. You may object that there is something deeper in some equations and they are not tautologies. My response is that if you were intelligent enough you would comprehend and see the tautology. Instead we have to work out the solutions and then think we have discovered something. 

I think most if not all math falls into the two categories: Games and Tautologies and do not provide any evidence for supernatural anything.

Some Theologians attempt to argue for the existence of the Lord using math and physics. For example per  Dr. William Lane Craig (WLC):    

1. If God does not exist, the applicability of mathematics to the physical world is just a happy coincidence.

2. The applicability of mathematics to the physical world is not just a happy coincidence.

3. Therefore, God exists.            

I am of the opinion that our world does not operate willy nilly. The world behaves  in a way that can be modeled by math, even if we do not know what the correct math models are at the deepest level.  The worlds  behaves a certain way and we model it using math. This is not to advocate the world  is made out of math. Also, I am not sure the objects of the math models have their correspondence in the world. For example, I am not sure something called Hilbert Space really really exists in the world even though we can model the behavior of tiny particles by assuming they have  “states”  in Hilbert Space and follow the mathematics of Hilbert Space.

It is my opinion the world is not being controlled by math. Rather, the math is modeling how the world behaves. The world  happens to follow certain patterns and those patterns can be described by math.

 There are many branches and subjects in math and some have been found useful to model the world. No doubt new branches of math will be invented in the future some of which may be found to have utility to model the world. Physicists observe the world and how it behaves and have developed math tools or borrowed them from mathematicians to model the behavior of the world they have been observing. Sometimes the mathematics makes predictions which are  later found out to be true. That gives additional support that the model is doing a good job modeling nature.  One example is Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity which in part was motivated  to resolve the problem that Maxwell’s Equations were inconsistent with certain parts of Newtonian physics. Einstein later  noticed that his model predicted the equivalence of mass and energy, the famous E=M*C*C. M being mass and C being the speed of light and E being Energy. His prediction was not confirmed until years later.

 Does any of this mean G-d  must have designed the world based on math or decreed that math would govern it ? I do not see a problem with the claim ‘it is a brute fact the world follows certain patterns which can be modeled by math'.  Why does the world have any patterns ? That too can be a brute fact.

Was the Lord  constrained to make the world in a particular way ? Could the Lord have made a willy nilly world or that operates in a way that can be modeled by one mathematical model or perhaps another etc: ? If we assume we live in a world that can be modeled by a particular mathematical model it does not follow the Lord was involved,  since the Lord  could have made a willy nilly world or a world modeled on a different mathematical model , right ?         

Some might object that ANY world that can be modeled by math needs to have the Lord as it’s designer.  I do not see how positing the Lord as a designer  has any more explanatory power than just claiming ‘it is a brute fact the world follows certain patterns which can be modeled by math'. I am not sure claiming the Lord Did IT has any explanatory power at all. It is really an invocation, even a pure invention of the imagination of a big mystery thing called the Lord, that is alleged to explain what is alleged to be an issue that cries out for an explanation.

Finally, if our world was willy nilly it strongly suggests we would not have evolved or exist long enough to ask questions.  The reason why we can ask questions is because we live in a region were things are not willy nilly and thus have patterns and thus sometimes can be math modeled.  In other words why do we observe our region has patterns and can be modeled by math ? Because if our region was willy nilly then it would not have patterns (and therefore could not be modeled by math) and thus we would not be here. But since we are here that means our region has to have patterns and thus be susceptible to being  modeled by math. 

Friday, October 16, 2020

Every Life Is On Fire How Thermodynamics Explains The Origins Of Life by Jeremy England 2020 - book review

Every Life Is On Fire How Thermodynamics Explains The Origins Of Life by Jeremy England 2020

Jeremy England  who claims to now be Orthodox Jewish wrote a book that explains a hypothesis of how life emerged from non life by purely natural means (i.e without invoking supernatural beings or god(s)).  If you encounter a religious person arguing that life could not emerge from non life because of probability problems or irreducible complexity etc:  refer them to JE’s book and my blog post Proof of God from Origin of Life.  In many scientific passages Jeremy had a knack for providing good analogies and explanations so that laymen could access the gist of the science.   I would highly recommend his  book to learn about how Thermodynamics explains the origins of life.  

Jeremy peppered his book with his interpretations of the Bible and some of  philosophical digressions. This post will not be discussing science but some of Jeremy’s  Bible and philosophical material.
I am not really sure why he injected all the Bible talk into the book. Maybe the publisher thought it would increase sales ,  maybe Jeremy really sees correlations or analogies of his science with the Bible,  maybe to share his Bible interpretations or perhaps he had other motivations.  I found his Bible talk a distraction and not helpful. Also it reminded me of a person who wears red sun glasses and then sees red where it ain’t.  What I mean is Jeremy is really into his science as well as his Bible studies so he begins to see the Bible as providing analogies, relations  or insights into science and Thermodynamics that are not there.  It requires squinting real hard,  ignoring a bunch of other stuff, twisting yourself into a pretzel and then imposing interpretations on the Bible text that I believe just about nobody else would find convincing. (This post will include  a few examples of what I mean.) My comments in blue.

Beginning Page 7 Jeremy mentions the Exodus (chapter 3) story  of Moses at the burning bush. The Lord provided three signs for Moses to show the enslaved Israelites.  A staff turns to a serpent and then back; Moses hand gets snowy and unsnowy; river water and dirt turn into blood. Jeremy thinks the three signs can be a comment on the border between life and non life; hammers home the question of where life comes from ; and how to distinguish life from the inanimate material background from which it might have emerged. He goes on to claim the signs are a “cogent and detailed guide for explaining emergent lifelikeness in the language of physics.”

This has to be the most novel interpretation I have ever seen for the signs, is inconsistent with the Exodus text and is pure invention. Moreover I did not read in the Exodus a “cogent and detailed guide for explaining emergent life likeness in the language of physics”.  Maybe Jeremy was doing the backward translation he advocates  - see below for more about his backward translation advocacy.

Page 59 - Jeremy is explaining Statistical Mechanics with a thought experiment of putting a frog in a blender.

I found it funny that he chose a frog which in many translations of Bible have as one of the plagues.

Beginning Page 148 Jeremy discusses hilltops where small changes in the direction you roll down can greatly impact where you end up. [The book had described the physics of rolling up and down Energy hills etc:] He then proceeds to discuss the burning bush story in Exodus 3 which took place at Mount Horeb, which Jeremy translates as Mount Sword and swords can stab etc: Jeremy explains the sword making process - hammer glowing red hot (now soft) metal.  Unlike hammering cold metal, the hot metal will allow permanent shape change. That is an example of not all states of a material are as good at absorbing energy and bringing about shape change. A hot state is at a higher energy level and closer to tipping points.  Jeremy then mentions Genesis 4:22 Tubal-Cain invents black smithing, Yaval discovers animal herding Gen 4:20 and Yuval invents musical instruments.  Jeremy writes this is a stunning combination of collective behavior (herds), irreversible reshaping by external drive ( black smithing)  and shape dependant energy abortion thru resonance (music).  Jeremy write those three concepts attach to the emblem of the sword, which is also the name of the Mountain where Moses comes to understand where life begins and ends.

Mount Horeb - Ibn Ezra explains Horeb relates to dryness and the mountain was so named because of dryness and little rainfall. Also, the Strong Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible:  Horeb - to parch (thru drought) and then relates the word can be extended:  desolate, destroy, kill,  dry up.  Horeb can also give rise to a cutting instruments (from it’s destructive effect) including swords.

Many scholars give credence to Kenite/Midianite Hypothesis for the Origins of Yahwism.  Those scholars have established a relationship between Yahweh, the Kenites-Midianites and Moshe. The Kenites-Midianites  were  smiths and this suggests they would or potentially had reason to associate a deity with smoke and fire. There are gods associated with smithing for example the Greek Hephaestus or the Celtic Gofannon and others as well.  

{ Page 37 in the book Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan by William Albright 1968 - metal working was a specialty of the Midianite group among whom Moses settled.}

{The Anchor Bible Exodus 2006 by William Propp Page 36 “Fire is the medium in which Yahweh appears on the terrestrial plane: in the burning bush (3:2), in the cloud pillar (13:21-22, 14:24), atop Mount Sinai (19:18, 24:17) and upon the tabernacle (40:38).”   “It is possible epitomize the entire story Exodus as the movement of the fiery manifestation of the divine presence (greenberg 1969:16-17)” } Propp’s verse numbering may vary from other sources.

The Midianite were blacksmiths and sword making is something they may do.  Mount Sword would be an apt name for a war god as well as a blacksmith deity. We do know that Yahweh is a war god and in addition is associated with fire.  I am not claiming that Horeb should be translated as Mount Sword. But if Mount Horeb was really Mount Sword that would provide additional support for the Kenite/Midianite Hypothesis, as well as Yahweh being a smith deity.

I am not sure what Jeremy means by Moses comes to understand where life begins and ends at Mount Horeb and where this is in the Bible text.

Page 181 Jeremy discusses the burning  bush and asks how can the bush survive the fire while many other things ordered structures would be consumed ?  According to Jeremy it is because from the perspective of a living thing the particular driving forces swirling around it do not look like a flame because they have a pattern to them that the life was born to recognize.

I do not think the Torah story is related to the physics Jeremy is describing, but I am not sure that was part of Jeremy message. Anyway it is a poor analogy. 

If there is a kernel of truth to a burning bush here are several natural explanations:

A) Certain crystals can form on desert plants and in an evening light their glow appear as a mysterious fire that appears to burn but not consume. (Page 403 The Torah A Modern Commentary Plaut, Bamberger, Hallo1981) B) Discharge of atmosphere electricity like St Elmo’s fire (Page 39 The Interpreters One Volume Commentary On The Bible 1982) C) Volcanic steam  seen from a distance rising over a shrub on a mountain (page 230 Myth Legend and Custom In the Old Testament by Theodor Gaster 1969) D) Some scholars have proposed that Moses, some of his followers and some Prophets were in altered mental state(s) brought about by consumption of or absorbing certain chemicals, or brought about by other means. E) Related to certain gas emanating from the Earth. The gas would burn but leave the bush unharmed. I had read this a while ago where the author explained it in more detail but can not recall the text. Per my recollection something like this can occur in volcanic regions.

Page 245 Jeremy critiques Intelligent Design attacks on Darwinian ideas. Our inability to think of a model does not mean we will not find one in the future.  

I agree with Jeremy  and will add that ID relates closely to my post God of the Gaps and the Argument from Ignorance.
Page 248 Jeremy points out some intelligent people behold the awesomeness of the Universe etc: and feel confirmed that G-d-Did-It. But then explains that is not an inescapable conclusion and in addition too many smart people feel they have no need of G-d for it.

I agree with Jeremy.

Page 248. Jeremy is critical of those who attempt to disprove the Bible’s account of the World or who claim there is no evidence to support the Bible.

Why be critical ?  Would he be critical of people who attempt to disprove the Koran’s (or any mythology or holy text) account of the World or who claim there is no evidence to support them ? It would be good to know when the Bible is accurate and when it is not. Why should I accept any story as true unless there is evidence to support it ? This applies especially to the Bible.

Page 248 Jeremy claims “The Bible does not propose itself as a set of falsifiable claims;” Some things “superficially” sound like claims. The Bible tries to teach a method to interpret human history and individual experience that leads one to speak in a new language about humanity and one’s life.

If the Bible makes certain claims we can sometimes figure out their likely truth. I agree some parts of Bible may be metaphor, allegory, figures of speech and the like, but that is not license to claim other portions are that as well. The Tenach does try to interpret Israelite history which  in a nutshell is G-d-Did-It because.... and it makes up reasons. Not sure what Jeremy means by a new language because the Tenach shares much of the perspective of some other ancient near east cultures. (Jeremy explains what he means by a “new language” shortly see page 249).

Page 249 Jeremy explains the “new language”. “This new language essentially is learned thru backward translation, by assuming the biblical text is faithful in it’s account of things even given what else one knows to be true about the world, and engaging in the painstaking work of constructing arguments for what the scripture might have meant when it said something.”  Calls for proof and evidence miss the point entirely.

Sometimes we need to figure out what the bible meant. The best way to do this is by studying ancient near east cultures, religions, languages and myths. Sometimes the Bible seems pretty clear what it meant. I wonder how Jeremy will decide which “backward translation” is the appropriate one.  

Why assume the biblical text is faithful in it’s account of things ?

Would he grant that assumption to the Koran or other alleged holy texts ?

Jeremy claims calls for proof and evidence miss the point entirely. It depends what the point is. If the point is to determine if events in the Tenach  are true then calls  for proof and evidence seem relevant. Also religions often make demands on the society. For example IF the Torah prohibits say homosexuality because the Lord said so, and IF the Torah provides death penalty for homosexuality  because  the Lord said so and IF people want to follow the Lord’s word shouldn’t  those people  find out IF the Torah is even from the Lord or IF  the Lord exists ?

Page 211 Regarding the Exodus’s  signs, Jeremy writes:  “The staff and serpent point out that the same thing can look different depending on how one talks about it.”  The snowy skin sign provokes us to think about boundaries between categories, and reminds us that complicated structures can gets assembled from simpler parts that condense together.

Really ?

Page 223  Thru the Exodus  signs the Lord was teaching Moses how to argue against the dehumanizing slant of some versions of physical materialism according to Jeremy.

Really ? 

Page 225 According to Jeremy some people believe humans are nothing but clumps of dust and thus committing murder is  easier for them.

This is related to a common religious argument. See this post Proof Of God From Morality

To conclude this already too long post I will repeat that I only cited and written about some of  Jeremy’s Bible and philosophical rumblings and ramblings and I hope to eventually comment on more of them. When reading Jeremy’s book do not skip his Bible stuff because he sometimes discusses science in those passages.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Proof of God From Number of Stars in Talmud

This proof is based on alleged secret knowledge regarding the number of stars possessed by the authors of the Talmud. Knowledge that had to come from the Lord. Before reading this post please at least skim Proof of God From Secrets In Holy Texts. I have seen similar type proofs from other religions and like those proofs this one also fails.

The proof uses a section of Talmud Berachoth 32b.

Talmud Berachoth 32b

Resh Lakish said: The community of Israel said before the Holy One, blessed be He: Sovereign of the Universe, when a man takes a second wife after his first, he still remembers the deeds of the first. Thou hast both forsaken me and forgotten me! The Holy One, blessed be He, answered her: My daughter, twelve constellations have I created in the firmament, and for each constellation I have created thirty hosts, and for each host I have created thirty legions, and for each legion I have created thirty cohorts, and for each cohort I have created thirty maniples, and for each maniple I have created thirty camps, and to each camp I have attached three hundred and sixty-five thousands of myriads of stars, corresponding to the days of the solar year, and all of them I have created only for thy sake, and thou sayest, Thou hast forgotten me and forsaken me!

Before discussing the proof I would like to discuss the Talmud citation itself.

The Talmud is responding to concerns that the Lord has forsaken and forgotten the Jews and probably not intending an estimate of the number of stars. The Talmud attempts to pacify by writing the Lord created thousands and thousands of  stars for the Jews sake. As if that is consolation.  Hundreds of thousands of Jews killed, stop complaining and look at the stars created for your sake ! Talk about religion being pie in the sky.   

Also the Talmud response is not a response at all. The response does not address forsaking, nor does the Talmud respond to the issue of remembrance . The Lord creating stars at the creation is not evidence of his remembrance of the Jews  thereafter. 

In short the Talmud’s response is a non response and an evasion.  The Talmud is trying to uplift the spirits of the Jews by purporting to show how important the Jews really are to the Lord. There are similar self centered statements in the Talmud about how important the Jews and the Torah are to the world.  Most likely these things were invented by the politicians, priests and theologians to provide hope to the distraught, perpetuate the religion, tribe and nation.  Is it any wonder that to this day many Orthodox Jews think the world revolves around the Jews and because of the Jews ? 

The Proof

Lets discuss the proof. If I did the math correctly the number of stars based on the Talmud above  is 

12*30*30*30*30*30*30*365000 = 1.06 * 10^14 stars. 

Somebody has informed me to multiply that figure by a myriad which is claimed to be 10000 which then gives 1.06 * 10^18 stars.  It is claimed how could the Talmud know the number of stars so accurately unless the Lord had provided the information.

The Refute 

Why I do not find the proof convincing.

1) The number of stars at the start of our Universe  (right after the Big Bang),  was zero. As the Universe expanded at some point stars began to form because of gravity acting on the random densities of matter.  The Talmud does not specify the time since ‘creation’ where the number stars are being counted. It seems to take the number of stars as fixed and counted perhaps when G-d placed them in the firmament. If the Talmud meant the initial number of stars then the Talmud gets it wrong.  If it means the number of stars around the times of the Talmud it is still likely wrong since the number of stars are estimated at (7 x 10^22) or perhaps (2 x 10^23) in the observable universe. Source )

Using the skyandtelescope lower figure, the Talmud figure of 1.06 * 10^18  is short by about 10^22 stars which is large discrepancy. This large difference suggests there was no secret insight regarding the number of stars.

2) The Talmud is using the twelve Zodiacal constellations. However, the Zodiacal constellations are meaningless under astrophysics. The Zodiacal constellations  consists of ancient man imposed patterns on certain parts of the sky. They have no relevance to the number of stars.  In addition the shapes of the Zodiacal constellations had changed and will continue to change over time. The Talmud using a useless concept like the Zodiacal constellations to calculate the number of stars does not impress us with secret scientific insights.  In addition, the Zodiacal constellations were invented by the pagans and there are many more than 12 constellations and so using the Zodiacal constellations is useless. The Talmud and Tenach  should have  rejected the use of constellations since they have no astrophysics relevance. The Talmud’s use of Zodiacal constellations suggest there  was no secret insights regarding science.

3) The ‘firmament’ as understood by Tenach and Talmud does not exist.  The Talmud using a useless concept like the firmament does not impress us with secret scientific insights.

4)  Talmud's terms hosts, legions, cohorts, divisions, camps, and maniples. These sort of terms relate  to the Roman military and have nothing to do with astrophysics. There use does not impress us with secret scientific insights.

5) Since the Universe is billions of years old what are the number of stars ? Many stars have died a long time ago yet for some we still see their light - should those count ? What about newly forming stars ? Or dying stars ? Stars that have disappeared ? Or exploding stars ?  What about star's  invisible to the naked eye ? In short, the number of stars will depend on the parameters and criteria chosen to do the counting and when we do the counting. Since the Talmud did not provide the parameters nor the criteria the Talmud’s number of stars is meaningless as a proof of anything. The number of stars is meaningless unless many parameters and criteria are specified. 

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Corona Virus and The God Virus



Updated thru 3/19/2020 

The God Virus by Darrel W. Ray - The book nor I  intend the words ‘God Virus’ or ‘religion’ or ‘religious’  to apply to every of the various god(s), religions or interpretations of their god(s) and religions of mankind. This post uses the words interchangeably.

The book supports in great detail the analogy of religion (and also some political systems) as a virus and this post is inspired by the chapter The God Virus and Science. It is not a review or summary of the book or chapter,  so please to not disparage the book based on my post. Read the book which I intend to do more carefully over time.  

In the Ancient Near East, disease, plagues, famine etc:  were attributed to supernatural agency and this tradition is continued till this day by religion. ( for example see Human Sacrifice ? in the Bible Part 3 , The Danger of Census Taking and the Tenach ).  Thus no surprise when religious claim Corona was sent by their particular deity or supernatural agent.  Or that their deity can intervene with the abatement if we pray to it or what not. Many Jews, Christians and Muslims are now using the Corona Virus scare to propagate their religions. There are Theologians claiming the Corona was sent by a deity for  sinful ways  or for some other reason. That the Messiah is coming ! I wonder how they know the mind of their deity ? When I have asked some questions about their deity the response is often that their deity is a mystery, but now they know the reason for Corona. 

However, science has explanations for diseases and plagues. Those explanations do not involve supernatural agents. Informed modern people rely on medicine not divine agents to get healthy, just like they rely on science for building power plants etc: etc: Science is a threat to the God Virus. The more science demystifies then the more supernatural agency explanations retreat.  The more science can do to cure disease the less the God Virus is needed. Also, the God Virus never was an explanation for plague or disease or anything. Why lightning ? Zeus, as if that enlightens. 

The more science demonstrates that a holy book’s histories are unreliable the more the God Virus needs to defend itself. For example the holy book needs to be interpreted and reinterpreted.   

At some point one asks  why bother with supernatural agency ? Why bother claiming special divine status for the holy book ?  

The God Virus may defend  itself using various strategies- here are some examples. Attack science and scientists. Or Circumscribe Science's boundary. Or God Virus claims parity with science. Or God Virus claims science is religion too. 

 The God Virus can co-opt the trappings of science (but not real science) which is great way to propagate itself in a culture that respects science. Intelligent Design, which is really Pseudo-Science. Or Science proves God Virus. Or God Virus  finds science in the holy books.  Or holy book is consistent with science.

The book warns of the God Virus co-opting medicine, physics, archaeology, psychology etc: to its own ends. For example the mission statement of the Bible Archaeology Search And Exploration Institute exists to dispel the notion the Bible is collection of fables and legends.  (They claim to use scientific methods. But science does not start with the conclusion and then seek to support it.) 

God Virus claims it can diagnose or cure disease or help  abate disease or protect from disease - examples include: Torah study; prayer; using molten lead; finding and casting out demons; laying hands - faith healing;  defective Tefillin (phylacteries) and fixing them; amulets and segula  (protective or benevolent charm or ritual);  pilgrimages to holy man grave sites or holy sites; stuff paper wads in Wailing Wall with pleas to their deity; holy water and or other 'miracle' locations ( examples:  Lourdes,  Fátima in Portugal) ; “Rebbe" miracles; “Rebbe” prayers; give charity... and on and on. 

Children can die because the parents God Virus is against modern medical treatment. Adults have died because their God Virus is against modern medical treatment. Testimony to how far the God Virus can infect the brain. The God Virus can disable critical thinking.  

Many of those God Virus diagnoses and cures involve cash payments and help propagate the God Virus.

I am not being critical of giving to charity.  I myself have contributed large sums to it and eventually large amounts of my assets will end up in charities.  I do not give charity with any hope of getting  benefits now (say cures or health) or rewards in ‘heaven’.  But ask yourself, what percent of the money you give to ‘charity’ is really going to ‘charity’, and what percent is really going to propagate the God Virus ?  By all means give to worthy charities, but not with the expectation of some divine reward or divine intervention of  Corona Virus.   

I had publicly offered the following challenge on the use of molten lead by any Rabbi:  I will pay an agreed upon sum to an agreed upon charity if under a valid controlled study the use of molten lead can diagnose ailments. On the other hand,  if the test fails, then the Rabbi must cease and desist. So far not a single Rabbi has taken up the challenge. (To clarify - not all Rabbis or Orthodox  Jews give credibility to molten lead diagnosis. I suspect most do not.) 

A person may feel a personal connection to his supernatural agent.  A terribly sick individual with little hope of survival gets better and claims a miracle happened .Or a man gets advice from a ‘Rebbe’ and great things happen. A miracle is claimed, the “Rebbe’ a prophet  - the man now owes allegiance to that “Rebbe’. The book writes “The god of personal experience trumps science and prevents examination, explanation and learning.”  

Science has an approach that religions do not have.  Science involves: gathering data, developing  models, explanatory power for a wide range of phenomena,  making predictions based on models, testing those predictions against observations and ability to falsify model. Science has peer review, replication of results. Some of the cutting edge science models may be difficult or perhaps even impossible to experimentally falsify, but they are rooted in  underlying models that can be falsified.  The cutting edge models may be attempts to unify underlying models. They may be extrapolations of underlying models or from underlying models. 

The book writes “Science has continuous error correction where religion has no method to correct errors.”

To the degree sciences undermine the fear objects of religion (supernatural, punishment for sin, disease, plagues, catastrophes ) and their holy books, it will be seen as a threat.  

I can offer no consolations of hope from a supernatural agent nor a hereafter. You and I are lucky to have experienced our brief time as human beings. To Marvel at the Universe, the Beauty of Nature and to Experience the Joy of Living.

{P.S.  Some Orthodox Rabbis were pontificating that Torah study could protect against Corona Virus. No need to take precautions such as reduced shul attendance or reduced yeshiva class sizes. To the extent their minions abide by such beliefs it did and will  spread the Corona Virus. Some of those same Rabbis (all ?)  have since revised their advice.

We also have the events in South Korea where religion spread the Corona Virus: 
“During the first four weeks, South Korea controlled the potential spread of COVID-19 by using high-tech resources like tracking the use of credit cards and checking CCTV footage of confirmed patients. However, since 18 February, the number of cases increased to more than 1,700 after discovery of the fact that patient No. 31 is a member of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus. It was difficult for KCDC to screen the patient because Shincheonji teaches that illness is sin. Many members were uncooperative with KCDC and could not be contacted. About half of confirmed cases were linked to the Shincheonji Church as of 27 February; this was verified by health officials.” Retrieved 3/19/2019  from

Shincheonji is considered a fringe cult yet has hundreds of thousands of members. Shincheonji is an evolution from and mutation from main stream Christianity.  Main stream religions provide a reservoir from which mutations of the religion can occur and sometimes with dangerous consequences.}

FYI - I am sponsored by no organization or individual(s). I receive no compensation (monetary or otherwise) related to my blog.  All posts are written solely by me and with no assistance.



Saturday, January 25, 2020

Genetic Fallacy and Religion and God Origins

Revised 1/25/2020

“A critic uses the Genetic Fallacy if the critic attempts to discredit or support a claim or an argument because of its origin (genesis) when such an appeal to origins is irrelevant."  Retrieved 1/25/2020

Example A)  A Neo-Nazi organization publishes research showing the superiority of the ‘white’ race. 

If I were to argue the research is probably false because the source was a Neo-Nazi organization, some would argue I have committed the Genetic Fallacy.  I would argue it is very reasonable to discredit the research because of the lack of credibility of the organization putting out the research. They are a biased source and historically Nazis have written and pontificated falsehoods. Here an appeal to origins is very relevant and provides good reasons to argue the study is probably flawed or at least not to be trusted.

Example B)  An ancient culture claims their god assisted them in battle. 

If I were to argue the claim is probably false because the source was an ancient culture, some would argue I have committed the Genetic Fallacy. I would argue no. First, that ancient culture could be a biased source. Second, ancient people were prone to attribute events to supernatural beings and were superstitious. Third ancient cultures were prone to make up stories or evolve myths. Thus an appeal to origins and likely origins is very relevant. I have good reasons to argue the claim is probably just another tall tale.

Example C)  A ancient country believed there is a State god watching over them, defending them or punishing them.

Lets suppose that psychiatrists have demonstrated humans have a psychological need for a father figure. Then I  can argue the country’s  belief is rooted in their psychology and that their deity probably does not exist. Some would argue I have committed the Genetic Fallacy. I would argue that here an appeal to origins or likely origins is very relevant and I have good reasons to claim the country’s belief is probably false. 

Example D)  A ancient country has a book they believe is divine. 

I examine the book, (for example the Bible)  and it has significant and numerous parallels to  ancient near east myths, rituals and laws and that the book’s origins are likely in ancient near culture, myth rituals and laws and therefore their belief is probably false. Some would argue I have committed the Genetic Fallacy.  I would argue that here an appeal to origins or likely origins is very relevant and I have good reasons to assume their claim  is  probably false. 

Example E)  An ancient culture XYZ, claims a dying and rising person/god event occurred.

Lets suppose there were several ancient cultures with similar sorts of claims of people dying and arising or dying and rising god(s). It seems the origin or likely origin of XYZ’s  story is in such ancient myths, and therefore their belief is probably false. Some would argue I have committed the Genetic Fallacy.  I would argue that here an appeal to origins or likely origins is very relevant and have good reasons to claim the event is probably just another ancient myth. 

Example F)  A religious fundamentalist writes a book disparaging fairly well accepted science, for example Evolution, or that the Universe is billions of years old. The book includes 'new' discoveries, novel interpretations of scientific data, The individual claims that their 'research' is being blackballed by the established scientific community and a conspiracy exists against their religion. 

If I were to argue the book is probably false because the source was a religious crank, some would argue I have committed the Genetic Fallacy.  I would argue it is very reasonable to discredit the book because the book's motivation was in a felt conflict between the science and the religion. Here an appeal to origins is very relevant and provides good reasons to argue the book is probably flawed. 

In summary, for each of the examples above I have not 'proven' any of proponent's position FALSE. However, the proponents historical record, the qualities of the proponent, the origin or likely origin of the proponents beliefs are very often relevant to determining the probable falseness or truthfulness of those beliefs. Psychiatrists, Biologists, Neurologists, Economists, Anthropologists, Sociologist etc: have put forth cogent reasons, data and theories, for the potential origins of people’s  religions and  beliefs in god(s). Examples include Father Figure, Opiate of the Masses, Agency seeking, Tribal Survival, Politics etc: etc:. An appeal to those reasons, data and theories are very relevant to the determination of the veracity of the religions and their god(s). If those theories, data and reasons are good, then it is more likely the  religions and their god(s) are rooted in human culture and psychology etc: rather than the religion being true and their god(s) really existing.