Friday, 13 August 2010

30 Dumb Proofs

Someone a long time ago made a snarky list of dumb theist arguments. (Here) I suppose it's about time we do it for Judaism. It's a joke of course (so nobody get offended that I'm misconstruing things) but I have to say that everything I'm about to list I have literally heard (in some shape or form) from real people. It's actually pretty depressing (but still funny.) Anyway feel free to add and have a Shabbat Shalom!

1. Parents don't lie to their children. Therefore Judaism must be true

2. Only Judaism of the three Abrahmic religions had a mass revelation myth. Therefore Judaism must be true

3. The Torah says some crazy things that no human would write. Therefore Judaism must be true

4. The Gemara got some science sort of right. Therefore Judaism must be true

5. The Bible is an amazing book. Therefore Judaism must be true

6. The Gemara is an amazing book. Therefore Judaism must be true

7. Maimonides was smart. He believed in Judaism. Therefore Judaism must be true

8. Jews use less drugs and drink less alcohol then non-Jews. Therefore Judaism must be true

9. Orthodox Jews have a low divorce rate. Therefore Judaism must be true.

10. People died for Judaism. Therefore Judaism must be true.

11. If I treat the Torah as a crossword puzzle I can make after-the-fact prophecies. Therefore Judaism must be true.

12. The Torah says bad things will happen to the Jews. Bad thing happened to the Jews. Therefore Judaism must be true

13. The Jews are still around despite having a rough time. Therefore Judaism must be true

14. Logic and rationality are a load of crap. Therefore Judaism must be true

15. God must have a plan for man. The Torah is a plan for man. Therefore Judaism must be true

16. The Torah says the universe had a beginning. The Big Bang Theory says the universe had a beggining. Therefore Judaism must be true

17. A lot of bad things happened to the Jews specifically. This must mean God hates them specially. Therefore Judaism must be true

18. Some archaeology supports certain things in the Bible. Therefore Judaism must be true.

19. The Documentary Hypothesis is wrong. Therefore Judaism must be true

20. Science changes. We say Judaism never changes. Therefore Judaism must be true.

21. Learning Gemara is fun. Therefore Judaism must be true

22. Jews have an obligation to believe Judaism is true. Therefore Judaism must be true

23. Jews are smart. Therefore Judaism must be true

24. The Gemara and its commentaries take up tens of thousands of pages. Therefore Judaism must be true

25. State of Israel. Therefore Judaism must be true.

26. War of Independence, Mivtza Sinai, Six Day War, Yom Kippur War. Therefore Judaism must be true

27. "I have faith." Therefore Judaism must be true

28. "You're just as biased as me!" Therefore Judaism must be true

29. "If it was obvious we'd have no free choice" Therefore Judaism must be true

30. "If it was obvious everyone would become Jewish" Therefore Judaism must be true

31. "So and so got better when we davened for him/her" Therefore Judaism must be true






Okay it was 31 proofs. Can anyone think of anymore, this was fun. ;)

52 comments:

Lisa said...

You left out "Strawman, strawman, strawman. Therefore, Judaism must be true."

Oh, wait... no. No, you didn't.

gamzoo said...

you sound a lot like XGH

Puzzled said...

I've heard 7 a few times with JB substituted for the Rambam.

tesyaa said...

I was just going to say exactly what Puzzled said.

tesyaa said...

I've also heard that monotheism is better than believing in Jesus, therefore Judaism is the best default choice.

JewishGadfly said...

Ha, fun. I also enjoyed that link you posted. How about:

The Torah says that the Torah is true. Therefore Judaism is true.

Shilton HaSechel said...

>You left out "Strawman, strawman, strawman. Therefore, Judaism must be true."

Don't blame me blame the people saying these dumb things. Judaism could be 100% true and these would still be crappy arguments. Yet people keep using them!


RE: JB

The Modern Orthodox LOOOOOOOOVE bringing up JB!!! How could I forget!

Philo said...

I've heard #28 so many damn times. Look for a YouTube video called "Bryon the Atheist".

OTD said...

I love #13

Baal Habos said...

Even the Christians believe in the Old Testament. Therefore Judaism is true.

Kollel Yutz said...

If R' Dovid Gottlieb, who knows all the arguments of the goyishe philosophers, can believe in it, than judaism must be true.

Baruch Spinoza said...

Christianity and Islam are false. Therefore, Judaism must be true.

Puzzled said...

Hmm, couldn't 7 also be used to show the truth of the Aristotelian metaphysics? And what exactly does it do with Einstein, Hawkings, and Newton?

Puzzled said...

There was once a man who worked miracles, and he said it was true, so it's true.

There was a man in (choose your borough of NYC) who God spoke to and said it was true.

Rabban Gamliel said...

Well now I just have three more responses to post on your supposed contradictions in the Torah and then I will have posted comments on all of them. For the future I would reccomend you check up on the claims
of contradiction yourself before posting.

Here are some "dumb proofs" I see from "skeptic" bloggers all the time.

1.I'm not biased so Judaism must be false.

2.A consensus of experts say (fill in the blank) so Judaism must be false.

3.So many experts couldn't be wrong so Judaism must be false.

4.When enough people say something it must be true.

5.Most people aren't Jewish so Judaism must be false.

6.If you're not biased you will know all truth like a download into a computer. I'm not biased so Judaism is false.

7.Arguments on behalf of Judaism must be the result of bias since I am not biased, so Judaism is false.

8.I saw arguments on behalf of Judaism being argued against on skeptic blogs so Judaism must be false.

9.I saw arguments against Judaism posted on a blog by skeptics so they must be true so Judaism is false.

10.Frum people are biased whereas it is evil to say all skeptics are biased so no skeptics are biased so Judaism is false.

JewishGadfly said...

RG,

Many of your comments seem to be some caricature of skeptics as claiming that they lack any bias and therefore Judaism is false, as a basis of skepticism. Over the past year, I can recall two posts from skeptics about bias (1, 2), and both were about carefully examining their own biases and/or suggesting that all--including themselves--must be on guard against it.

That's what you seem to be missing--that skepticism is specifically about examining propositions and evidence for a position. The basis for skepticism, then, is not claiming that one lacks bias. It is actively working to avoid bias and seek truth via reason and evidence, and it is the fruit of that exercise--not a proclaimed lack of bias itself--that undermines belief in Judaism.

no one said...

The way to learn torah is as seeking for justice-not as a blanket assumption that everything in gemara is true. Making gemara or rambam as absolute truth has caused harm to Gemara study. If the gemara would say it is from Sinai then there would be a problem. If the torah itself would say it is from Sinai there would be a problem. But as these books stand they are simply tools to seek justice and truth.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"JewishGadfly said...
RG,

Many of your comments seem to be some caricature of skeptics as claiming that they lack any bias and therefore Judaism is false, as a basis of skepticism. Over the past year, I can recall two posts from skeptics about bias (1, 2), and both were about carefully examining their own biases and/or suggesting that all--including themselves--must be on guard against it.

That's what you seem to be missing--that skepticism is specifically about examining propositions and evidence for a position. The basis for skepticism, then, is not claiming that one lacks bias. It is actively working to avoid bias and seek truth via reason and evidence, and it is the fruit of that exercise--not a proclaimed lack of bias itself--that undermines belief in Judaism."

I wasn't making comments about skeptisism. I was providing a list of arguments that I have seen too often. The basis of real skepticism is something admirable and what I employ. Skepticism in the sense of dividing people up into religious and skeptical can have as base a basis as the real flesh and blood person espousing it. It is only in that sense that skepticism has as large a following. It is the reason that more often than not on these Jewish skeptic blogs there is a skepticism on what Judaism at least supposedly says but a general beleif in whatever happens to be supposedly at least the truth as believed in the secular world at the moment.

Puzzled said...

RG, I'd add that one can easily be 'written out' of the skeptical world for being skeptical - for applying laws of economics to government programs, for demanding actual evidence about someone like Saint Abraham, for expressing skepticism about Western medicine...

However, the only reason a skeptic needs to reject Judaism is that the arguments for its factual claims are pitifully weak.

Rabban Gamliel said...

So you say. In any event the arguments for much of the factual claims of the "skeptics" is pitifully weak. It is on the basis of those arguments (the very basis of how they evaluate factual claims)that they reject Judaism.

Puzzled said...

I don't see why that should be true. Why do I need to make a 'factual claim' in order to reject literal Judaism? Look, any orthodox Jew will be happy to tell me, I'm sure, that the whole thing falls apart with Sinai. Now, if one side claims that God appeared on a mountain with a book, and gives a rather silly argument, and further claims that most of what is written in that book (by God) was not meant to be taken seriously, because He also whispered in Moses' ear that it should be understood as meaning something entirely different - and the other side says that didn't happen, and the book was written by humans - which side has the burden of proof here? It doesn't sound to me like the second side is making any factual claim, other than 'people wrote it' which is the default position given that the book exists. Why should the skeptic offer proof at all? All the skeptic needs to do is puncture the proofs offered by the other side.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"Puzzled said...
I don't see why that should be true."

I think we need to separate our debates here. I am talking about arguments that are silly uttered by skeptic bloggers. A silly argument meant to be the basis of deciding fact is still a silly argument and leaves you with no argument at all. A silly argument is never a better argument.

"Why do I need to make a 'factual claim' in order to reject literal Judaism? Look, any orthodox Jew will be happy to tell me, I'm sure, that the whole thing falls apart with Sinai. Now, if one side claims that God appeared on a mountain with a book, and gives a rather silly argument, and further claims that most of what is written in that book (by God) was not meant to be taken seriously, because He also whispered in Moses' ear that it should be understood as meaning something entirely different - and the other side says that didn't happen, and the book was written by humans - which side has the burden of proof here? It doesn't sound to me like the second side is making any factual claim, other than 'people wrote it' which is the default position given that the book exists. Why should the skeptic offer proof at all? All the skeptic needs to do is puncture the proofs offered by the other side."

The skeptic needs to make a factual claim because otherwise nothing can be proven. Go prove you are really communicating with anyone. Why should we believe in atoms? We have never seen an atom. Why should we believe in morality and ethics? What do they look like, smell like, taste like or sound like? You have to be believe something and as cozy as it may be for a skeptic to pretend he doesn't believe anything, it's not true. Science for instance is not data. Science is an explanation of the data and yes scientists will not say oh consensus means we can't question the truth of an idea that has achieved consensus. That would just be defining science as being about what most scientists say.

Puzzled said...

Well RG, I can't argue with what you say, but you are absolutely right about separating different discussions. If skeptics offer silly arguments towards proving something, by all means you should ridicule them. And yes, a skeptic tends to believe in things, and to believe that there is sufficient evidence for them, although certainly you can see that there must be certain rock-bottoms epistemologically speaking. All true - but not all claims are on an equal footing. Extraordinary claims are less likely to command our belief than ordinary claims. I happen, by the way, to not be a strong believer in atoms; I'm a Quinean. But what has this to do with your rather more extraordinary claim about God writing a book on a mountain? That all claims require evidence doesn't somehow excuse you from providing evidence for that extraordinary claim, and all the skeptic says is that he withholds belief in this claim until evidence is presented. So yes, on other topics a skeptic must make a factual claim, but does he need to make one on this one? Perhaps that the Bible was written by men, but that is not a particularly extraordinary claim.

E-Man said...

Puzzled, isn;t Rg just showing the pathetic arguments on one side while SH is showing the pathetic arguments on the other? Neither are focusing on the valid arguments on either side. RG seems to just be saying that SH is focusing on one sides idiotic claims so I will show that both sides have idiotic claims.

Rabban Gamliel said...

Puzzled said:"Extraordinary claims are less likely to command our belief than ordinary claims."

AS it should be at the first level of thinking. If however the ordinary claim is really when examined a more absurd belief as it often is it should be dumped or considered a crude approximation. For instance Einstein's Theory of Relativity is an extraordinary claim but it makes sense since our ordinary views of motion are common sense but absurd.

"I happen, by the way, to not be a strong believer in atoms; I'm a Quinean. But what has this to do with your rather more extraordinary claim about God writing a book on a mountain? That all claims require evidence doesn't somehow excuse you from providing evidence for that extraordinary claim, and all the skeptic says is that he withholds belief in this claim until evidence is presented. So yes, on other topics a skeptic must make a factual claim, but does he need to make one on this one?"

Yes he does. It is not true that the believer is claiming that he doesn't need evidence for God writing the book (although that is not really what is claimed if you mean it literally which is how it seems you are taking it). The believer feels he has evidence for his religion and as a consequence even if you can't prove every detail it is enough. We have beliefs all the time that are proven to our satisfaction by just believing in the root assumptions.

"Perhaps that the Bible was written by men, but that is not a particularly extraordinary claim."

That's a good example of belief on both sides.

First of all just to be accurate no one claims the Bible was not written by men. The issue is whether God influenced how it should be written. Further no one, Jewish at least, claims it was written by God on a mountain even metaphorically. The Torah was written in the "mind" of God outside of time. This is because it says God looked in the Torah and created the world.

Rabban Gamliel said...

Now back to the point I wish to make about your argument being a good example of belief on both sides. Suppose an investigation would turn up no human authors for the Bible. Indeed suppose that an investigation turned up that monkeys banging randomly on typewriters and using other writing implements randomly have been writing all human books and documents and that even the claim that there is not enough time for such an event is false because monkeys have been the ones typing that the universe is only 15 billion years old. I can assure you that reaction to the news would largely be dictated by every ones metaphysical stance. Most, me included and every Evolutionist on the planet would believe that somehow humans really wrote those books, our eyes be damned. Some miracle was making it that we only saw monkeys typing them out. We all have our metaphysical bias and to the extent that data fits in fine otherwise our eyes be damned. There are all sorts of weired phenomena that are not reproducible consistently but are able to be handled by the same methods as scientists use. What do scientists say? It varies. Some are open to the paranormal others like Sagan would be willing to have everyone who reports say a UFO phenomena be inaccurate no matter what contortions of known fact is involved (say the soberness and good standing of the eyewitness or the documentation of facts). As uncomfortable as it is to say we all have our rock bottom assumptions that we may not switch just because they feel true. I'll give an example. It feels absurd to me to say there is no cause to the universe. Another says why because he fails to see causelessness as something that shouldn't be. I see a dinosaur bone and say there must have been a dinosaur. Another says no. Why should there be such an assumption? he says. How do we prove each other wrong. We can argue on the same basis if we have such a basis but we all have a point where we make a decision as to truth or falsity based on I hate to say it, our bias or to be more generous our instincts which boil down to helping form our biases. Too often today's skeptics try to make it as if they are not making arguments, but you can't get away from them. Hell if skeptics really make no arguments then they deserve no credit for any brilliant ideas they have. Sorry skeptics but you will have to argue your position just like anyone and the less pedestrian or loudmouth (in the case of say Dawkins) skeptics know that.

"I happen, by the way, to not be a strong believer in atoms; I'm a Quinean."

What is that?

Rabban Gamliel said...

Now back to the point I wish to make about your argument being a good example of belief on both sides. Suppose an investigation would turn up no human authors for the Bible. Indeed suppose that an investigation turned up that monkeys banging randomly on typewriters and using other writing implements randomly have been writing all human books and documents and that even the claim that there is not enough time for such an event is false because monkeys have been the ones typing that the universe is only 15 billion years old. I can assure you that reaction to the news would largely be dictated by every ones metaphysical stance. Most, me included and every Evolutionist on the planet would believe that somehow humans really wrote those books, our eyes be damned. Some miracle was making it that we only saw monkeys typing them out. We all have our metaphysical bias and to the extent that data fits in fine otherwise our eyes be damned. There are all sorts of weired phenomena that are not reproducible consistently but are able to be handled by the same methods as scientists use. What do scientists say? It varies. Some are open to the paranormal others like Sagan would be willing to have everyone who reports say a UFO phenomena be inaccurate no matter what contortions of known fact is involved (say the soberness and good standing of the eyewitness or the documentation of facts). As uncomfortable as it is to say we all have our rock bottom assumptions that we may not switch just because they feel true. I'll give an example. It feels absurd to me to say there is no cause to the universe. Another says why because he fails to see causelessness as something that shouldn't be. I see a dinosaur bone and say there must have been a dinosaur. Another says no. Why should there be such an assumption? he says. How do we prove each other wrong. We can argue on the same basis if we have such a basis but we all have a point where we make a decision as to truth or falsity based on I hate to say it, our bias or to be more generous our instincts which boil down to helping form our biases. Too often today's skeptics try to make it as if they are not making arguments, but you can't get away from them. Hell if skeptics really make no arguments then they deserve no credit for any brilliant ideas they have. Sorry skeptics but you will have to argue your position just like anyone and the less pedestrian or loudmouth (in the case of say Dawkins) skeptics know that.

"I happen, by the way, to not be a strong believer in atoms; I'm a Quinean."

What is that?

Rabban Gamliel said...

"E-Man said...
Puzzled, isn;t Rg just showing the pathetic arguments on one side while SH is showing the pathetic arguments on the other? Neither are focusing on the valid arguments on either side. RG seems to just be saying that SH is focusing on one sides idiotic claims so I will show that both sides have idiotic claims."

You got the point :) but then you are the E-Man.

Shilton HaSechel said...

RG,

>If however the ordinary claim is really when examined a more absurd belief as it often is it should be dumped or considered a crude approximation.

Nobody is saying otherwise though I would assume we have different standards.

>The believer feels he has evidence for his religion and as a consequence even if you can't prove every detail it is enough.

יאללה! Bring on the evidence I'm all ears. (Kuzari "proof" has been dealt with ad nauseum so I hope you have something more clever up your sleeve.)

>We have beliefs all the time that are proven to our satisfaction by just believing in the root assumptions.

examples?

>That's a good example of belief on both sides.

Well the skeptic just says I don't know and there is no reason to think God was involved while the believer says I know there is a God, and I know he was involved. Hmm I wonder who needs to have proof. . .

>The issue is whether God influenced how it should be written.

The Gemara and Orthodoxy in general both believe that Moshe was only taking dictation and had no input (some grudgingly allow him to add a big letter here or there). So yes the Orthodox essentially deny that man had anything to do with it.

Shilton HaSechel said...

RG,

Your mistake is giving Orthodox Judaism more legitimacy than any crazy claim out there. Maybe I think Scientology is correct maybe I'm a devout worshiper of The Flying Spaghetti Monster? Prove me wrong. Why according to you do skeptics need to make arguments AGAINST Orthodoxy when I don't see you or any frummies feeling the need to make arguments against Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Christianity, Islam, Bahai, Paganism, Mormonism, Zoroastrianism, not to mention Karaism and Samaritanism *exhale* Nu! If I have an intellectual obligation to argue AGAINST Orthodoxy then you have the same obligation to argue against every world religion and you cannot justify your belief in Judaism without showing all the others to be wrong.

Shilton HaSechel said...

Unless of course you're a "many paths to God" sort of fellow.

Puzzled said...

E-man: Yes. But there remains a fundamental difference between the two positions.

Chaim said...

SH,

I'm patiently waiting for you or david a. to respond to RG's attempts to resolve your Pentatuchal contradictions.

Puzzled said...

>AS it should be at the first level of thinking. If however the ordinary claim is really when examined >a more absurd belief as it often is it should be dumped or considered a crude approximation. For >instance Einstein's Theory of Relativity is an extraordinary claim but it makes sense since our >ordinary views of motion are common sense but absurd.

I'll take this as it is meant and leave aside that no one in physics accepts TOR as a final description anymore. What established TOR, for a time, as the standard model? It was not some demonstration that common sense was absurd, it was a piece of evidence. Namely, Einstein's prediction, using relativistic methods, of an observed shift in position of celestial bodies during an eclipse. This was then found to exist. That is, his extraordinary claims were met with extraordinary evidence.

>Yes he does. It is not true that the believer is claiming that he doesn't need evidence for God >writing the book (although that is not really what is claimed if you mean it literally which is >how it seems you are taking it). The believer feels he has evidence for his religion and as a >consequence even if you can't prove every detail it is enough. We have beliefs all the time that >are proven to our satisfaction by just believing in the root assumptions.

Feels he has evidence? Sorry, emotions don't carry much weight on this question. In any case, what is this evidence? Some feeling that things require a maker, even if accepted, gets you nowhere towards why Judaism is more correct than Christianity or Deism. As to your denial that TMS means that God wrote the book, it's just another example of altering the claim to fit the particular use. If TMS is not supposed to mean that God wrote the book (which we don't follow) then the conclusions that are supposed to follow from TMS don't follow anyway.

>First of all just to be accurate no one claims the Bible was not written by men. The issue is >whether God influenced how it should be written. Further no one, Jewish at least, claims it was >written by God on a mountain even metaphorically. The Torah was written in the >"mind" of God outside of time. This is because it says God looked in the Torah and created the >world.

It says - namely the midrash, so more correctly they say, meaning a particular group of rabbis. How about this - before insisting that Judaism is the correct religion, and OJ the only correct version of Judaism, let the orthodox get their story straight rather than having a bunch of contradictory texts and mystical claims and "God works through contradictions."

>Most, me included and every Evolutionist on the planet would believe that somehow humans really >wrote those books, our eyes be damned. Some miracle was making it that we only saw monkeys >typing them out. We all have our metaphysical bias and to the extent that data fits in fine >otherwise our eyes be damned.

Yes, I regularly teach my students that data do not come with their own interpretations and are interpreted in line with the philosophical presuppositions of the observer. I completely agree with you that no amount of evidence will change the rock-bottoms, and that two people with (relevantly) different rock-bottoms cannot have a productive debate of a higher-level issue.

Puzzled said...

>AS it should be at the first level of thinking. If however the ordinary claim is really when examined >a more absurd belief as it often is it should be dumped or considered a crude approximation. For >instance Einstein's Theory of Relativity is an extraordinary claim but it makes sense since our >ordinary views of motion are common sense but absurd.

I'll take this as it is meant and leave aside that no one in physics accepts TOR as a final description anymore. What established TOR, for a time, as the standard model? It was not some demonstration that common sense was absurd, it was a piece of evidence. Namely, Einstein's prediction, using relativistic methods, of an observed shift in position of celestial bodies during an eclipse. This was then found to exist. That is, his extraordinary claims were met with extraordinary evidence.

>Yes he does. It is not true that the believer is claiming that he doesn't need evidence for God >writing the book (although that is not really what is claimed if you mean it literally which is >how it seems you are taking it). The believer feels he has evidence for his religion and as a >consequence even if you can't prove every detail it is enough. We have beliefs all the time that >are proven to our satisfaction by just believing in the root assumptions.

Feels he has evidence? Sorry, emotions don't carry much weight on this question. In any case, what is this evidence? Some feeling that things require a maker, even if accepted, gets you nowhere towards why Judaism is more correct than Christianity or Deism. As to your denial that TMS means that God wrote the book, it's just another example of altering the claim to fit the particular use. If TMS is not supposed to mean that God wrote the book (which we don't follow) then the conclusions that are supposed to follow from TMS don't follow anyway.

Puzzled said...

>First of all just to be accurate no one claims the Bible was not written by men. The issue is >whether God influenced how it should be written. Further no one, Jewish at least, claims it was >written by God on a mountain even metaphorically. The Torah was written in the >"mind" of God outside of time. This is because it says God looked in the Torah and created the >world.

It says - namely the midrash, so more correctly they say, meaning a particular group of rabbis. How about this - before insisting that Judaism is the correct religion, and OJ the only correct version of Judaism, let the orthodox get their story straight rather than having a bunch of contradictory texts and mystical claims and "God works through contradictions."

>Most, me included and every Evolutionist on the planet would believe that somehow humans really >wrote those books, our eyes be damned. Some miracle was making it that we only saw monkeys >typing them out. We all have our metaphysical bias and to the extent that data fits in fine >otherwise our eyes be damned.

Yes, I regularly teach my students that data do not come with their own interpretations and are interpreted in line with the philosophical presuppositions of the observer. I completely agree with you that no amount of evidence will change the rock-bottoms, and that two people with (relevantly) different rock-bottoms cannot have a productive debate of a higher-level issue.

>I'll give an example. It feels absurd to me to say there is no cause to the universe. Another >says why because he fails to see causelessness as something that shouldn't be.

A cause is different from a creator, and a creator is different from a creator who appears on a mountain to give a law book to Moses while telling Moses something different that only the rabbis know. I agree with you that there must be a cause to the universe; however, I don't identify that cause as a willful creator.

Puzzled said...

>Too often today's skeptics try to make it as if they are not making arguments, but you can't get >away from them.

Yes, again, skeptics make positive arguments. However, I do lots of things. I make positive arguments. I breathe. I eat. I don't necessarily do all these things at once. One thing I do is look for flaws in other people's arguments. When I'm doing that, I'm not making a positive argument.

>What is that?

W.V.O. Quine was a prominent British philosopher of science. Among his most well-known positions, he argued for ontological relativity - the ontology to be considered is relative to the types of formulas to be considered and the domain of the quantifiers. As he put it "to be is to be a value of a variable." Perhaps his best-known position was the "web of belief" and his argument that no claim was falsifiable (contra Popper) on its own. Any amount of evidence seeming to falsify a particular claim can be reconciled by making changes to other beliefs. The picture this gives is of a web, with certain beliefs that we are less likely to give up near the center, and the more easily given up ones towards the edges. When new data comes in, it is incorporated at the edges, and thus we make changes at the edges; if that isn't sufficient, we make deeper changes. However, two people need not have the same web. In particular, combining these two positions, we have the issue of the atomic theory. We have the lab data that is so interesting to quantum theorists, which I have never seen directly. That it happened at all thus occupies a very weak portion of my web. I am now asked an ontological question about atoms. Well, my ontology would be forced if I wanted to incorporate those observations deeply with no further changes in my web, but I'm under no compulsion to do so. At the same time, I can perfectly well construct formulas in a way that never refers to atoms in my daily life. Unless I am assigned to teach chemistry or physics next year, I never discuss atoms, and I never act as if they exist. So why should they be in my ontology? When do I ever quantify over a domain that includes them? Now, what will I do if I am assigned to teach chemistry or physics? Simple - the same thing I do when I'm assigned to teach English. I teach Kafka's Metamorphosis without committing myself to believing that Gregor really exists and really turned into a bug; I teach Twain without committing myself to the belief that Tom Sawyer is real - I simply commit myself to the belief in them as literary figures.

Puzzled said...

>Too often today's skeptics try to make it as if they are not making arguments, but you can't get >away from them.

Yes, again, skeptics make positive arguments. However, I do lots of things. I make positive arguments. I breathe. I eat. I don't necessarily do all these things at once. One thing I do is look for flaws in other people's arguments. When I'm doing that, I'm not making a positive argument.

Puzzled said...

W.V.O. Quine was a prominent British philosopher of science. Among his most well-known positions, he argued for ontological relativity - the ontology to be considered is relative to the types of formulas to be considered and the domain of the quantifiers. As he put it "to be is to be a value of a variable." Perhaps his best-known position was the "web of belief" and his argument that no claim was falsifiable (contra Popper) on its own. Any amount of evidence seeming to falsify a particular claim can be reconciled by making changes to other beliefs. The picture this gives is of a web, with certain beliefs that we are less likely to give up near the center, and the more easily given up ones towards the edges. When new data comes in, it is incorporated at the edges, and thus we make changes at the edges; if that isn't sufficient, we make deeper changes. However, two people need not have the same web. In particular, combining these two positions, we have the issue of the atomic theory. We have the lab data that is so interesting to quantum theorists, which I have never seen directly. That it happened at all thus occupies a very weak portion of my web. I am now asked an ontological question about atoms. Well, my ontology would be forced if I wanted to incorporate those observations deeply with no further changes in my web, but I'm under no compulsion to do so. At the same time, I can perfectly well construct formulas in a way that never refers to atoms in my daily life. Unless I am assigned to teach chemistry or physics next year, I never discuss atoms, and I never act as if they exist. So why should they be in my ontology? When do I ever quantify over a domain that includes them? Now, what will I do if I am assigned to teach chemistry or physics? Simple - the same thing I do when I'm assigned to teach English. I teach Kafka's Metamorphosis without committing myself to believing that Gregor really exists and really turned into a bug; I teach Twain without committing myself to the belief that Tom Sawyer is real - I simply commit myself to the belief in them as literary figures.

Shilton HaSechel said...

Chaim,

>I'm patiently waiting for you or david a. to respond to RG's attempts to resolve your Pentatuchal contradictions.

My purpose was to merely point out the problems. I did say from the onset that there were traditional answers to most of the contradictions and I don't know how fruitful a discussion about it with RG would be. Once again no religion has problems which cannot be solved, my purpose was just to show that there lots of problems that NEED solving.

But maybe when I have some time I'll try responding to RG's weaker points (one of his "answers" evinced a clear lack of knowledge of Deuteronomy as he was thrown off by one of my typos).

I wish david a. would do it for me though, I'm rather lazy

E-Man said...

SH said- "I don't see you or any frummies feeling the need to make arguments against Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Christianity, Islam, Bahai, Paganism, Mormonism, Zoroastrianism, not to mention Karaism and Samaritanism "

I guess you haven't read all the literature on the subject. Throughout history Jewish philosophers have dealt with why any type of paganism is not true. Also, they have gone through why karaitism and samaritanism is not true. Irregardless of that we must think logically here, why list all the reasons why other religions/ways of life are not true when all you care about is one religion? I don't expect a Christian to disprove every other religion in the world, but I want him or her to explain to me why they believe in Christianity. To disprove all other religions is a waste of time if you believe in ONE religion. The skeptic claims that there is no such thing as real religion which would require him to prove why all the known religions are false.

The believer in one religion only needs evidence as to why his or her religion is true. The skeptic, in order to prove no god, would need to disprove every theory of god, otherwise he or she can not claim there is no god with certainty.

But getting back to your point, the Rambam explains why multiple gods doesn't make sense, why a god that is not absolutely powerful makes no sense and why why a physical god makes no sense. Are there any other religions that do not fall under this category other than Islam? And Islam is dealt with by, at the very least, the Kuzari. So Jewish thinkers have already dealt with the other religions claims, no? Why beat a dead horse?

People only recently have been trying to disprove Judaism. The reason for this is because Islam and Christianity, the rulers of the world (other than India and China) believed Judaism to be valid and, for the most part, true. Islam and Christianity claimed to believe in the same G-D as the Jews. The only real difference between the theologies was that Christianity believed Jesus came and changed everything, while Islam believed Muhammed came and revealed the true book from G-D. However, Islam believed in a revelation to the Jews at Sinai and many other similarities (I am not sure of everything because I really don;t care to read the whole koran).

Shilton HaSechel said...

>have dealt with why any type of paganism is not true.

no Classical Jewish Philosophers AFAIK critiqued Eastern Religions etc.

>Also, they have gone through why karaitism and samaritanism is not true.

Well to be honest the Karaite - Rabbinical debates brought poor arguments on either side. I've never seen a Rabbinnical critique of Samaritanism specifically.

But OK fine I agree - assuming you can demonstrate YOUR faith there would be no need to go knock down the others.

>The skeptic, in order to prove no god, would need to disprove every theory of god, otherwise he or she can not claim there is no god with certainty.

You're assuming that God is the default position. I would say that God/religion are not default positions so the skeptic can sit back and drink his/her tea. Just because these (religion, God etc.) are old and universal concepts does not mean they are the default. So I don't think one can seriously say that the burden of proof is evenly borne by both religion, and skepticism.

Rabban Gamliel said...

Shilton HaSechel said:">The believer feels he has evidence for his religion and as a consequence even if you can't prove every detail it is enough.
יאללה! Bring on the evidence I'm all ears."

See below for your answer in the two styles you ask for. Absolutist and relativistic.

"(Kuzari "proof" has been dealt with ad nauseum so I hope you have something more clever up your sleeve.)"

I seriously wonder if the Kuzari proof is being understood correctly by amateur skeptic bloggers so in a hurry to cut off debate, so as to shore up their own belief system against religion. So I am not sure if it really has been dealt with.

">We have beliefs all the time that are proven to our satisfaction by just believing in the root assumptions.

examples?"

Well ok let's assume that I am wrong. Now how is someone to arrive at an idea without root assumptions? Well he'll have an idea that's based on an idea that's based on an idea that's based on idea and so on forever ad infinitum. That can be in an infinite spacial dimension but since we only have three dimensions of space and at any point in spacetime time is finite in extension we have this alternative basis for our thoughts. We have ideas that may be based on other ideas but at a certain point they are based on principles that are based on no further ideas but just on our individual beliefs and instincts.

">That's a good example of belief on both sides.

Well the skeptic just says I don't know and there is no reason to think God was involved while the believer says I know there is a God, and I know he was involved. Hmm I wonder who needs to have proof. . ."

Both. Remember you have the skeptic saying there is no reason to think that we can resolve the issue of God. It's one thing to argue you don't know something. It is another to argue you can't know. It is one thing let's say to say I don't know if there are other universes. It is another to say we can't know. That already requires proof.

">The issue is whether God influenced how it should be written.

The Gemara and Orthodoxy in general both believe that Moshe was only taking dictation and had no input (some grudgingly allow him to add a big letter here or there). So yes the Orthodox essentially deny that man had anything to do with it."

That wasn't my point. My point was that it seemed like Puzzled was thinking Judaism says that God gave a book without any writing it.

Rabban Gamliel said...

Shilton HaSechel said:"RG,

Your mistake is giving Orthodox Judaism more legitimacy than any crazy claim out there. Maybe I think Scientology is correct maybe I'm a devout worshiper of The Flying Spaghetti Monster? Prove me wrong. Why according to you do skeptics need to make arguments AGAINST Orthodoxy when I don't see you or any frummies feeling the need to make arguments against Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Christianity, Islam, Bahai, Paganism, Mormonism, Zoroastrianism, not to mention Karaism and Samaritanism *exhale* Nu! If I have an intellectual obligation to argue AGAINST Orthodoxy then you have the same obligation to argue against every world religion and you cannot justify your belief in Judaism without showing all the others to be wrong."

Ok if you want me to argue against all other claims I'll do it now. In the past and to this day amongst NonJudeo influenced faiths each people or place had its own orthodox religion that despite its contradictions with others were all considered true. In Japan most people therefore are both Shinto and Buddhist for instance. We introduced the idea of an absolute faith that accepts none else. So we were the first to say our faith is the true faith. So we have priority. We said it first. There I just pitted one claim against all other claims.

"Unless of course you're a "many paths to God" sort of fellow."

I do have a parallel idea to that. My idea is that different peoples have through their faiths an inkling to a level of reality that they are thus seeing in their own way.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"Puzzled said...
>AS it should be at the first level of thinking. If however the ordinary claim is really when examined >a more absurd belief as it often is it should be dumped or considered a crude approximation. For >instance Einstein's Theory of Relativity is an extraordinary claim but it makes sense since our >ordinary views of motion are common sense but absurd."

I'll take this as it is meant and leave aside that no one in physics accepts TOR as a final description anymore."

Most don't but Roger Penrose and perhaps others do and I agree with him.

"What established TOR, for a time, as the standard model? It was not some demonstration that common sense was absurd, it was a piece of evidence. Namely, Einstein's prediction, using relativistic methods, of an observed shift in position of celestial bodies during an eclipse. This was then found to exist. That is, his extraordinary claims were met with extraordinary evidence."

His evidence was good enough it did not have to be extraordinary. If you can prove something extraordinary by ordinary means it's good enough. If you can prove through ordinary means no one entered or was in a bank and yet money that was through ordinary means seen wasn't in there later, you have still proven money mysteriously disappeared.

You can have two attitudes to science. You can either say it is teaching us what happens to be but reality can be absurd and the human minds logic then would be unreliable in which case why should science work or you can say that we learn from science to improve our logic by seeing that if something in science defies our expectations it is that we haven't used our minds correctly.

">Yes he does. It is not true that the believer is claiming that he doesn't need evidence for God >writing the book (although that is not really what is claimed if you mean it literally which is >how it seems you are taking it). The believer feels he has evidence for his religion and as a >consequence even if you can't prove every detail it is enough. We have beliefs all the time that >are proven to our satisfaction by just believing in the root assumptions.

Feels he has evidence? Sorry, emotions don't carry much weight on this question."

I wasn't using the words "feels he has evidence" to mean emotions

"As to your denial that TMS means that God wrote the book, it's just another example of altering the claim to fit the particular use. If TMS is not supposed to mean that God wrote the book (which we don't follow) then the conclusions that are supposed to follow from TMS don't follow anyway."

That makes no sense. It is enough for TMS to mean God gave us a code to live by for all the conclusions to follow. Obviously if God didn't give the Torah there is nothing to talk about.

So you believe that Judaism says Moses did not write the Torah and at Sinai he was given a book containing the story of his life to his death already in finished form?

"A cause is different from a creator, and a creator is different from a creator who appears on a mountain to give a law book to Moses while telling Moses something different that only the rabbis know. I agree with you that there must be a cause to the universe; however, I don't identify that cause as a willful creator."

What kind of a creator do you have?

"One thing I do is look for flaws in other people's arguments. When I'm doing that, I'm not making a positive argument."

Sure you are. You are declaring something a flaw. You are not being unsure when you declare something a flaw.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"Shilton HaSechel said...
Chaim,

>I'm patiently waiting for you or david a. to respond to RG's attempts to resolve your Pentatuchal contradictions.

My purpose was to merely point out the problems. I did say from the onset that there were traditional answers to most of the contradictions and I don't know how fruitful a discussion about it with RG would be. Once again no religion has problems which cannot be solved, my purpose was just to show that there lots of problems that NEED solving."

My response challenged the very legitimacy of your contradictions from a secular point of view. I frankly found it too easy.

"But maybe when I have some time I'll try responding to RG's weaker points (one of his "answers" evinced a clear lack of knowledge of Deuteronomy as he was thrown off by one of my typos)."

How about responding to some of my stronger points in addition to my at least what you consider weaker points? If you can't respond it is more than a disagreement. It shows you want to go past the evidence I present to uphold your point of view. I went for the kill on those posts and I have three more to go. I frankly can't see how I can write what I wrote and supposedly I said nothing devastating to you and if you have successful come backs I'm all ears and curious to see them.

"I wish david a. would do it for me though, I'm rather lazy"

I frankly doubt that if my points were weak you guys would have still left me talking to the walls but would have swooped down at me like eagles.

Shilton HaSechel said...

>I seriously wonder if the Kuzari proof is being understood correctly by amateur skeptic bloggers so in a hurry to cut off debate, so as to shore up their own belief system against religion.

The Kuzari proof in any shape and form (that I've heard so far) is complete rubbish. What do you consider a "correct understanding?" Gottlieb's version? Kellemen's version? They've been dealt with plenty. And they were rubbish 5 years ago and they're still rubbish now. They fail to PROVE anything except that these guys are clever showmen.

>It is another to argue you can't know.

Never said you can't just said I don't and not knowing is a rather legitimate reason for rejection unless some evidence pops up.

Shilton HaSechel said...

As to the contradiction game...

I said from the beginning that there were traditional answers what don't you get about that? I'm sorry that I don't have the zitsfleisch to argue out everything with you.

>It shows you want to go past the evidence I present to uphold your point of view.

Or that I'm lazy. Or that Baal Habos might be right and this isn't a source of disbelief but rather a RESULT of disbelief.

>I said nothing devastating to you

Lol only theists are devastated by arguments against them. Me? I would just say "Nu so now I'll daven with kavanna again."

>I frankly doubt that if my points were weak you guys would have still left me talking to the walls but would have swooped down at me like eagles.

Well for starters anyone who says the Pesach offering is not mentioned in Deuteronomy clearly doesn't know the book. Seriously? I wrote chapter 15 instead of 16 by mistake and you victoriously announce that "Wrong in Deuteronomy 15 it doesn't talk about the Pesach offering." You're right, but that doesn't quite deal with the problem if you would but go to the next chapter.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"Well for starters anyone who says the Pesach offering is not mentioned in Deuteronomy clearly doesn't know the book. Seriously? I wrote chapter 15 instead of 16 by mistake and you victoriously announce that "Wrong in Deuteronomy 15 it doesn't talk about the Pesach offering." You're right, but that doesn't quite deal with the problem if you would but go to the next chapter."

I can briefly comment for now. I thought you were talking about Deuterononmy 15. So I was only commenting about Deuteronomy 15. You clearly did not know the book of Samuel enough. So a law can clearly be harder to remember as you did the same with Exodus as I will show.
Ok here is Exodus saying the same thing as in Deuteronomy and Rashi on it demonstrating something you would not see in the English translation as a further demonstration.
Exodus 12:1-5
1. The Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,
2. This month shall be to you the head of the months; to you it shall be the first of the months of the year.
3. Speak to the entire community of Israel, saying, "On the tenth of this month, let each one take a lamb for each parental home, a lamb for each household.
4. But if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor who is nearest to his house shall take [one] according to the number of people, each one according to one's ability to eat, shall you be counted for the lamb.
5. You shall have a perfect male lamb in its [first] year; you may take it either from the sheep or from the goats.

Rashi:"Either from the sheep or from the goats: Either from this or from that, for a goat is also called lamb, as it is written: “and a kid (lamb of goats)” (Deut. 14:4). — [from Mechilta]

Deuteronomy 14:4 "These are the animals that you may eat: ox, lamb (literally lamb of sheep), and kid (literally lamb of goats),"

RabbanGamliel said...

Well I'm back and will slowly comment tonight. I see now that your verse in Deuteronomy adds herd so read that way if you wish to translate "and" as "or" it still is no contradiction. In one spot it is talking of having to take from amongst the choice of what the Torah labels lambs, namely from the young sheep and goats and then in Deuteronomy it would be saying you may substitute from the cattle. This would be like how in the Talmud or even nowadays people talk of the general and not mean to exclude the particular that may go against the general. Rashi takes "and" though to mean also so he writes "and cattle: These are slaughtered as the chagigah [Festival offering]. If a large group was formed for the Passover offering, they bring a Festival offering along with it, so that the Passover sacrifice will be eaten after the required satiation. Our Rabbis also derived many other things from this verse. — [Sifrei ; Pes. 70a]"

jrs said...

problem is, anyone making those claims in the 'outside world' is clearly an idiot; no serious intellectual bothers with nonsense like that.
In the frum world, OTOH, many leading 'intellectuals' proudly use every one of these arguments, convinced they've now presented a highly sophisticated, unimpeachable case for the truth of the Torah (always hedging their bets and defiantly stating that we don't owe anyone any proof 'cuz we KNOW we're right).
And the shul audience (whose reading is limited to hamodia, artscroll and the d'var torah sheets distributed in shul) ooh & aah , impressed at the rav's erudition & how easily he runs rings around the silly skeptics & goyim.

anon said...

You left out these stupid arguments:
Bible codes prove Judaism.
Gematria proves Judaism.
Biblel predicts bad things happen if dont follow the Bible, The Shoah happened. This proves Judaism. (I kid you not check out Permission to Beleive by Kelemen)

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