SEE THIS LINK FOR BLOG SUMMARY AND SOME REASONS TO REJECT ORTHODOX JUDAISM

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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.

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 https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-resources/how-many-stars-are-there/ )

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

MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THIS POST:

KEEP UPDATED ON VALID MEDICAL ADVICE AND FOLLOW IT,  IGNORE ADVICE AND OPINIONS OF ANY THEOLOGIAN (or anyone else) INCONSISTENT WITH VALID MEDICAL ADVICE.

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 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_coronavirus_pandemic_in_South_Korea

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.

MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THIS POST:

KEEP UPDATED ON VALID MEDICAL ADVICE AND FOLLOW IT,  IGNORE ADVICE AND OPINIONS OF ANY THEOLOGIAN (or anyone else) INCONSISTENT WITH VALID MEDICAL ADVICE. 

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  https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#Genetic

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.